Babcock Suffers Setback in Greece, Outlines Opportunities in Poland & Ireland

Babcock’s plans for the Arrowhead 140 hit a setback this week, with Greece announcing that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed with France’s Naval Group and MBDA to supply the country’s new frigates. 

Earlier this month, prior to the Greek announcement, Overt Defense sat down with Babcock at DSEI2021 to talk about Arrowhead 140 export opportunities. At the time, Babcock told Overt Defense that they felt that their offer to Greece was “an attractively priced option” that was competitive in the overall contest. 

In August, Babcock was confirmed as a finalist along with Navintia and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) to provide Poland with three multi-mission  “Swordfish” frigates that will replace the country’s second-hand Oliver Hazard Perry frigates. If Babcock wins the contract, they will sell the state-owned defence company PGZ SA a Technical Data Package (TDP) as well as providing technical support throughout the design and construction process. A decision is expected to be made by Poland early in 2022.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71), not pictured, completes a passing exercise with Polish Navy frigate ORP General Kazimierz Pulaski (F272) in the Baltic Sea, Sept. 26, 2020. Ross is currently on its tenth Forward- Deployed Naval Forces-Europe (FDNF-E) patrol in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Christine Montgomery)

Looking further afield, Babcock also sees opportunities to market the Arrowhead 140 design to New Zealand. The country’s Navy currently operates two ANZAC class frigates, which are expected to be replaced in the 2030-2035 time period. Cost is expected to be a major constraint on the acquisition. Which, when combined with the Arrowhead 140’s flexibility to conduct a diverse range of missions as a result of its mission and boat bays, leads Babcock to believe that it retains an edge in any future competition. 

Babcock currently maintains Australia and New Zealand’s ANZAC class frigates, such as HMAS Ballarat (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Markus Castaneda/Released)

Ireland, not a country known for its military expenditure, also has an outstanding requirement for a multi role vessel to replace LÉ Eithne (P31) as the flagship of the Irish Naval Service. While ships like New Zealand’s HMNZS Canterbury have been floated as possible contenders, Babcock believes that the Arrowhead 140 design can fulfill Ireland’s requirements, especially given Babcock’s existing relationship with Ireland.  

The Royal New Zealand Navy Canterbury-class multi-role vessel HMNZS Canterbury (L 421) departs from Pearl Harbor to commence the first sea phase of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014. HMNZS Canterbury is a derivative of a commercial roll on roll off (RORO) design and has been floated as the basis for Ireland’s requirement (Royal Australian Navy photo by Leading Seaman Imagery Specialist Peter Thompson/Released/140708-O-ZZ999-041-AU2)

Ukraine, which is undertaking an effort to modernise its Navy has a dormant “national flagship” program that Babcock believes could be resurrected in the future. Currently Babcock is building fast attack craft and modernizing two former Royal Navy minehunters for the country’s navy.   

160801-N-WB378-040 The Sandown-class mine countermeasure ship HMS Bangor (M109), foreground, and the landing ship dock RFA Lyme Bay (L3007), conduct mine detection operations in the Arabian Gulf, August 1, 2016 during SQUADEX 2016. SQUADEX 2016 demonstrates U.S. – U.K. mine detection capabilities in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Blake Midnight)

Earlier this week steel was cut for the first in class Type 31 frigate, HMS Venturer, while Babcock secured its first export customer for the type earlier this month

Additional Reporting by Matthew Moss