UK defence officials say frigate newbuilding program likely to be scrapped

Babcock's Rosyth shipyard (Photo: Babcock International Group)

UK defence officials said it is likely an ongoing program to develop and build new frigates for the Royal Navy will be cancelled, local news outlet The Times reports.

The officials expect the cancellation of the Type 32 frigate program will be made following an upcoming defence review to be led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated two years prior that the construction of the new frigates will help make Britain “the foremost naval power in Europe.”

The £2.5 billion (US$3.09 billion) program stipulates that five frigates will be built at the facilities of Babcock International in Rosyth, Scotland. However, the National Audit Office revealed in November that senior navy officials had earlier expressed “concerns about unaffordability” and subsequently withdrew their plans for the ships.

Alex Chalk, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, assured that the Type 32 program remains a key part of future UK naval operations and that work is continuing to ensure its affordability.

The Scottish National Party meanwhile warns that the program’s cancellation would be “catastrophic” both for the Royal Navy and for Scotland’s shipbuilding industry, as work on the frigates would have employed more than 1,200 local staff.

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