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141 thoughts on “Wading in to the OPV Debate

  1. Challenger

    A really good post from Chris!

    I’m definitely coming round to idea that it’s actually better to preserve high-end platforms that can cover a wide variety of tasks instead of trading some in for ‘Corvettes’ that are quite inflexible and can only take on roles of a limited scope.

    My only exception (which Chris seems to share) is a hope that MHPC can eventually provide a large enough programme to contribute to the RN standing commitments, even if it’s only on a small scale and ad-hoc basis. Even if the mine-hunter and hydro-graphic elements aren’t needed until past the mid 2020′s id like to see some of the basic hulls introduced and utilised first.

  2. mickp

    I have come to the conclusion that rather than go for semi fighty corvettes at the expense of T26s, I’d rather have the full complement of T26s. The one permanent surface commitment of the RN that must be continued at all time is defence of the UK’s and dependencies waters / EEZs. Most of the time this amounts to low threat patrol tasking and River / Clyde type vessels (see below). Other taskings, eg piracy patrols etc can be carried out by the DD/FF fleet in peacetime – they need effective training. In peacetime, CVF will I guess sail with perhaps 3 escorts rather than a wartime 4/5/6. I see the DD/FF fleet strength being 18 minimum and 22 maximum (see below. In time of crisis, ther ‘other taskings’ would have to be drawn down as required – the key is that home / dependancy waters are still covered.

    Our ocean patrol fleet is currently 3 Rivers and one Clyde (plus the Archers for inshore / back up). I think this is small considering our Uk / dependency waters and the greater potential for ‘nuisance / terrorist / asymmetric threats’. I’d like to see another 3/4 Clyde type vessels which would allow 2 patrol vessels based in FI, 1 in Gib and 4/5 in UK. If HTMS Krabi is the latest Clyde Batch, then go with that design – basically a Clyde with a 76mm gun and a couple of 30mms perhaps. I’m not sure it has or needs a hanger – possibly for the 2 FI ones, would an extendable one do? Anyway – current design upgunned modestly but not verging into corvette territory.

    Let’s then push to get a couple of GP first of class T26s into the water soon as possible to work up and fully validate the base structure without all the fancy add ons etc. Delay retirement of the first two T23s while this is on to at least temporarily up FF numbers.

    MHPC should be designed first and foremost to meet the MH requirements with secondary PC capability. Only need to start MHPC to fit in with Hunt / Sandown replacement. Later versions can ultimately replace Rivers / Clydes etc

  3. Challenger

    @mickp

    I totally agree on the point about preserving T26 first and foremost.

    However, instead of mucking around with more River/Clyde/Krabi vessels why can’t MHPC be accelerated, not to provide any specialist Echo/Hunt/Sandown replacements just yet, but at least a stripped down version which can add to the patrol fleet and take on the kind of ‘ocean patrol’ tasks you described?

    The common hull will be around the right tonnage for an OPV and it’s not a role which requires a particularly specialised design (just a flight deck, maybe a small hangar and a few light guns). So what’s the problem?

  4. WiseApe

    Eminently sensible suggestions, especially the up-gunned Clydes. Afterall, we’re only talking about fairly “non-fighty” roles aren’t we? I’d even delete the hangar and 76mm if money’s too tight; in this instance I think usable numbers are preferable to ending up with too few because we try to gold plate a patrol boat. I’m not convinced we need to introduce another class of warship between Clyde and our frigates, especially just before we decide the budget for our new frigates.

    If you must fantasy fleet, then how about some cruiser escorts for CVF/Amphibs? Rail guns fore and aft, laser CIWS, anti satellite Asters…

  5. Challenger

    @WiseApe

    Ha-ha, you’re ‘cruiser escorts’ sound amazing, all we would need to do is find a few billion and it’s sorted!

    My essential point was that id rather see existing or planned programmes extended and tweaked to maximum effect rather than start up a whole different production line for a single role class. That means securing T26 first and then looking at exploiting the MHPC hull for some patrol capability second.

  6. mickp

    @challenger – no problem with that, but I think the reality is MHPC is in the fairly long grass, so do what we can now at least cost

  7. Chris.B.

    I always know when I’ve got a link from TD, because I log in to Blogger and there’s this bloody great spike on the pageviews chart! Many thanks sire.

  8. Challenger

    @mickup

    I don’t particularly disagree with what you’re saying, id be fine with a few River/Clyde/Krabi ships if they were kept very simple and thus cheap. It’s just a question of where the money comes from and whether it impacts on anything else. If it’s a straight choice between those cheap OPV’s and a couple of T26 then id sadly have to side with the latter over former every time.

    If the money could be found from another source then it would probably be a different story.

  9. WiseApe

    @Challenger – Absolutely agree with your essential point. Besides, by the time MHPC sees the light of day the Chinese may have swept the high seas of pirates for us.

    @Chris B – Every man jack of ‘em is a Patriots fan :-D

  10. mickp

    @Challenger – T26 is absolutely No. 1 priority in my book so agreed

    If however, there is a bit of extra money floating around for the RN and a small construction window, as has been mooted re Portsmouth, then at the moment, assuming T26 can’t be accelerated, I’d take the cheap OPVs not just as they can take some of the strain and its boost numbers but for a ‘business case’ of enhancing our EEZ security in these uncertain times, from an asymmetrical rather than blue water threat standpoint. Same basic Krabi style – flight deck yes, hanger not sure fully justified, possibly an extendable shelter for temporary basing in the FI. 76mm main gun, ideally strales capable, sans munitions, but a normal 76mm will probably do for the time being, a couple of 30mm (basic but could upgrade to seahawk sigma) and some mini guns. Why 76mm? Fundamentally for show – for all of the most likely adversaries to be clearly overmatched and for UK joe public who expect warships to have proper guns on. We can surely do a deal on 76mm and 5″ from Oto to cover all future Uk ships?!

  11. Chris.B.

    @ WiseApe,

    Know how I know you’re lying? Because no real man would support the Patriots with Brady at quarterback.

  12. Challenger

    @WiseApe

    I think it’s very easy to get whipped up by media criticism plus cyber talk and forget that Somalian pirates are an international concern and that it isn’t the RN’s sole responsibility to step up and shoulder the burden.

    Furthermore the people that own and operate the targeted ships are beginning to get together and pay for perfectly legal civilian protection in the shape of large commercial hulls being operated by armed security personnel, so maybe in a few years it all won’t be such a big deal whether the RN has a ship in the area or not!

  13. Wstr

    This article is making me hungry for a revisit to the SIMSS concept covered in the ‘A Ship That Is Not A Frigate’ series of posts. TD didn’t you mention that an update was one of the ideas in your ‘To Do’ pipeline?

  14. Challenger

    @mickup

    If any extra money surfaced then great, all that you described sounds perfectly good and logical.

    Unfortunately it’s a big IF.

  15. Repulse

    mickp, I agree about more Rivers.

    Challenger, the MHPC concept is not even close to fruition, don’t waste money and effort on it until we have matured our thoughts and the technology has been proven. Why waste valuable money.

    For the sake of approx 25 mil per year we could have approx 4 leased stretched Rivers with full maintenance…

  16. Mark

    The tasks set by the government will not reduce the budget will not increase so does the current ft/dd support all the tasking required by the government if it does then the navy blogs and letters to the editor can stop the hard luck stories now as the navy has adequate ships for the task, if not then replacing a like number of type 23 with type 26 will simply not work or will the navy give up something else to buy more.

  17. IanB

    I think the scrapping of Type 26 for OPVs is a bad idea, even for small corvettes such as the Holland class(which i think are overpriced), i was toying with replacing the 5 GP Type 26 with the South African MEKO 200 Valour class, they are fairly capable with long legs and possibly get 2 for 1 type 26 so that would make:

    x6 Type 45 AAW Destroyers
    x8 Type 26 ASW Frigates
    x10 MEKO 200 Corvettes/Light Frigates

    @ Challenger

    I believe you spot on the money, i dont think wasting money on more Rivers is the right way to go, its the MHPC or nothing. VT now BAE came up with the perfect design a few years ago with a financing plan similar to the Rivers, based on the Kahreef hull without the combat systems but with a large fight deck, hanger and working deck (bit like an enlarged BAM) but has also long legs.
    Now these hulls can be made now as GP ships and used as patrol vessels until the hunts and the sandowns start retiring then a retrofit of minehunting equipment, so a smooth transistion without gapping.

  18. jedibeeftrix

    good article chris.

    for myself it boils down to wartime, and thus i want at least twelve T26 partnered with six T45.

    the thirteenth can be turned into three post-ships for a permanent tasking somewhere.

  19. Simon

    Following on from a few facts provide by X, SomewhatInvolved and APATS, I’ve put a few things into a spreadsheet.

    Firstly I’ve classified “tasks” as either zero, medium or long-range. “Zero” means no time spent in transit, “medium” means 2-weeks out, 2-weeks back and “long” means a month out and back.

    Zero: 2 x RFTG, 1 FRE, 1 TAPS = 4.
    Medium: APT(N), CTF, NRF = 3
    Long: APT(S), EoS, and one more = 3.

    I won’t show the working but the above requires 12.1 ship years per year, which if you use the 85% availability of T23 this means 14.3 ships required. You then assume 1 in 4 ships are in refit and you’re at 18.98 ships. Funny huh!

    The latter 1 in 4 comes from SomewhatInvolved’s statement that a ship undergoes 14-16 months of refit followed by 3 months of regeneration every 7-8 years.

  20. IXION

    As a proponant of patrol ships I think this whole argument is getting out of shape and a little bit up itself.

    There are those and fair do’s to them who think the whole patrol ship idea is bollocks. I respect that; it is coherent logical and based on a proper apreciation of their view neeeds of the RN. Take a bow. (and a stern and all the bits in the middle)

    IF you accept that 12-13 t26 are enough for the jobs that need doing then the argument stops there really, doesn’t it? After all why spend money we don’t need to, when it can be spent on keeping our top notch stuff and crews up to snuff. I am cool with that.

    The MHPC is bit of a red herring in my view. it emminates ‘from the establishment’ and is an establishment attempt, (from the published sources) to wind 3 different functions into one hull for reasons of a longer production run, thus lower costs, some cross capabillity, and general utillity. Again good idea on the face of it, At Ixion towers we cool with that as well. After all ther supposedly will be a sepperate budget for it in due course. If you are all satisfied with that then acording to your world and defence view everything is hunky dory.

    It has never been prosposed as far as I am aware except by the commentariat, as a presence ship, anti piracy ship etc.

    In this respect Chris B seems to have nailed it.

    Where the arguments get all pear shaped, is when the ‘we want 8 and we won’t wait’ cry goes up. The criers of this chant (include certain admirals and many ‘on board’ comentators); are of the 12 t26 aint enough and we demand at least, (insert random figure here) school. Usually followed by a comment that if a ballon goes up anywhere we won’t have enough ships left to anything else than deal with the trouble that was the origin of the ballon going up.*

    It is then that the prejudices of the chanters come out and the straw man of any random design of OPV from River to National defence cutter gets a written kicking for not be a t26 and suffering from any number of suposed faults. When a different design is proposed for OPV use rather than extra t26 that is where the fur seems top fly. MHPC rears its head and critcism of ‘now you are talking about a 4 ship navy’, (T45 T26 MHPC and proponants favorite design of deep sea OPV), is made. This neatly avoids the reallity that we currently have (T45,T23,MCM, Patrol,Survey,), a 5 ship navy, and no one is proposing that T26 takes on the MHPC role in future, so it will be at least a 3 ship navy anyway.

    The argument therefore is:- IF THERE ARE EXTRA FUNDS OUTSIDE THE EXISTING T26 BUDGET, how should they be spent? It is then that other factors get dragged in; and if we can get 2-3 (I am suspicious of higher figures, but a SIMMS design may allow for 4-5 ships) for one extra T26 then what is best value for money? Critics of the OPV have to recognise that it is intrinsic in the ‘All T26/T45 navy’ that there will be less of them than an T26/T45/opv Mix. Even the mighty USN is now looking at replacing the Perrys, which it originally did not think it would have to, because of the costs of an AB/LCS fleet.**

    * Where does that phrase come from?
    ** Surely the LCSand Zummwalt are extant proof that sometimes the established service experts can really F**k things up, and sometimes the Emperor really is stark naked:- like the awkward little boy says he is…

  21. Challenger

    @IanB

    It seems the jury is out for a lot of people on just when MHPC will bear any fruit and whether it will be able to deliver the effective modularity of mine-hunting, hydro-graphics and patrol tasks that’s claimed. So yeah if possible id like to see some of the basic hulls produced slightly earlier to take up some of the patrol commitments, but at the moment I won’t be making any assumptions or pinning all of my hopes on it.

    As for any other kind of purchase in the interim, well id be happy with a few Clyde/Krabi type ships (albeit with a hangar), I think anything else would be in danger of becoming too expensive and too ‘flighty’, thus blurring the lines between what is a high-end escort and what is a low-end patrol vessel.

    The problem is the money. If you accept that T26 has to be ring-fenced then it’s going to have to come from somewhere else…

  22. jedibeeftrix

    Insomuch as I believe we should have sufficient escorts to escort the maximal ambition of our power projection capability then I too am of the “balloon going up” crowd”.

    I think that twelve T26 would be acceptable in that four T45 and eight T26 should be sufficient to protect a taskforce composed of the bulk of our carriers, amphibs, RFA support, points, and associated STUFT.

    So, one to spare on the requirement for thirteen.

    Personally, i’d spend the £360m on CEC and TAS, but if there is anything to spare then by all means whack it in the MHPC pot, or use it to build a couple of APATS sufficiently capable minor warships (post ship).

    p.s.

    http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/12/messages/798.html

  23. Not a Boffin

    There are a number of reasons MHPC ain’t coming over the horizon in the near future, but the most important are :

    1. The whole concept of doing MCM in a non-FRP, not low-signature optimised (hence larger and cheap) is entirely dependent on developing UXV to the point where they can be used. For the most part, they are currently powerpoint engineering – yes I know there are a couple of examples out there, but ask yourself whether they actually meet performance and availability requirements. So until they are developed, no-one is going to ditch the current hulls, which means no-one is going to build these “new” MHPC.

    2. There is NO near-term money, nor any in prospect. In fact, the noises from MB and Tracey Island are that we are still in slash and burn mode. All the noise about building another couple of OPV has been generated by Portsmouth pollies and BAES to try and avoid the looming lack of steelwork in Pompey post PoW and pre T26.

    3. No-one in government or BAES actually wants to build more ships earlier as it will upset the cherished “one complex ship per year” drumbeat upon which the exit point of the TOBA is based. In other words, it kicks the can of shipbuilding restructure down the road for a few more years, but will make the actual pain worse.BAE would have got all the money for the promised restructure, but not executed it and HMG would be looking at worse headlines closer to an election. It would be possible to avoid this by trying to replicate elements of the Norwegian shipbuilding industry here, but as long as we’re in the EU, that won’t happen.

  24. x

    LCS and Zumwalt to me say the USN is going through a period similar to that experienced by the RN (and to some extent the French) at the latter end of the 19th century. Too much money. Too much technology. Too many opinions. And rising threats in a multi-polar world, but not clear and present dangers.

    LCS is crap. Got that? Ok? Moving on.

    Zumwalt to me is the zenith of the modern era electronic missile egg-shell escort. Like all things at the end of its evolutionary track it looks, well absurd. I think follow on classes of European escort will creep towards it and I expect the next USN escort to look well like an Arleigh with new electronic gubbins and perhaps better engines. But in the next 50 years or so we will see end to navies as we know them. Probably armies and air forces too.

    Zumwalt is more Dreadnought than Warrior in that it is a cumulation of established technologies and not a revolution in the cohesive application of cutting edge technologies to provide a solution. Apart from turbines there is nothing in Dreadnought that would be really that out of place in even the 1860s; rivets, steam, steel, turrets, bridges, and breach loaders all known. Does that mean we should by trawlers to patrol work and wait for aircraft industry to screw us with a new generation of pilotless aircraf? No. We have to bridge the grap between then now. We can’t afford to repeat a Sandys. And that means T26, CVF, etc. etc. is is unavoidable. Too many here party like its November 12, 1918. “It will never happen again….” As a semi-historian that makes me ache. It always happens again……

    Navies exist to sink ships of enemy states. Not to play policeman. Haven’t any of you learned that capers like Iraq and Afghanistan are wastes of treasure, time, and lives? The British Army was successful in Ulster because it was working in its own country support an established civil where the majority of the populations, from both communities, really just wanted a quite life. So not the same. Can any of you espousing patrol craft actually tell me what you mean by patrol and what you hope to achieve? You can’t. If 9000 service men in Afghanistan have achieved next to nothing what do you think 150 Jacks and Jills spread across a few hulls will achieve? Is the problem with combating piracy the fact that the pirate chaser has a radar that can track super sonic golf balls? Or is it the ROE as defined by on the whole left of centre Western governments obsessed with human rights, race relations, and fairness? And what happens if the rhubarb hits the fan and the penguin goes up what good are the OPVs? No good at all. Save a bit on hulls, waste the wages and training of 150 sailors who should be really crewing a frigate in the fight.

    Again where are the calls for the RAF to take to Tucano and Cessna Caravan to save on Eurofighter costs? There are none. The annoying thing is Eurofighter is a one trick pony. A frigate can do its designed role and still do patrol work (whatever that is). One of things that many get here excited about is swarm attacks on ship. What better training for a crew than chasing and identifying small boat traffic in the Caribbean? And so on..

    To be combat effective 12 is the absolute minimum T26 needed. To propose less says you have no understanding of naval warfare or world history and that you are in effect seeking uni-lateral disarmament. Why bother comment on a defence blog if you basic position is war will never come and the Americans will always save us? Next time you defer to a big chap at the bar ask yourself why? The UK has perfectly good laws to protect the subject going about his lawful business. You will defer because deep down in your lizard brain you know might gets its own way.

  25. Swimming Trunks

    OK – Devils advocate time… Ignoring the “peace time” roles mentioned wouldn’t more, cheaper hulls be more benefical during war time?

    I think most people would agree anti-ship missiles and submarines are the major threats against future surface ships. A lot of studies suggest salvos of missiles can be “thinned” but are likely to score hits. Now a current multi-role vessel could survive a hit but would most likely be crippled and out of the fight. A smaller, cheaper ship would fare even worse but importantly there would be 3 other ships available.

    If the capabilities of a modern frigate could be spread through out these 4 ships (radar, TA, missiles, MCG,helicopters, etc) they might also be more survivable than all being on a single hull (eggs in basket) AND we would have more hulls which could be upgraded over time if required.

    This could be done by having modular systems ( :) ) or sub-classes, similar to the refitted Leanders.

    Now, assuming a replacement of 3 to 4 baseline hulls for a Type 26 what about reducing the number of T 26′s to 6 and having 21-28 Mini-Frigates. Combined with the 6 T 45′s you could have 6 to 12 taskgroups depending on whether you have the T45 and T26 together or leading seperate squadrons, with 2-4 Mini-Cruisers. Another option might be to make the T26′s a AAW ship – T46′s?

  26. x

    You are missing the point. If we were proposing say 50 T26 and you said lets scrap 10 and buy 30 OPV instead their may be some merit. But scrapping frigates when we have 12 that CAN FIGHT for very FEW OPV THAT CAN DO BUGGER ALL REALLY EVEN IN PEACE TIME ISN’T SAVING ANYTHING. ACTUALLY IT IS A WASTE OF WAGES AND BUNKERS. What do you think you are going to achieve with these OPVs?

    I am off to teach my pet rock astrophysics.

  27. Observer

    “FEW OPV THAT CAN DO BUGGER ALL REALLY EVEN IN PEACE TIME ISN’T SAVING ANYTHING. ACTUALLY IT IS A WASTE OF WAGES AND BUNKERS. What do you think you are going to achieve with these OPVs?”

    Nitpick point here x, the low end OPVs you expect can’t fight. Others have higher expectations of them and equip them to the scale of expectations. i.e 76mm, quad-pack harpoons, helo, EW, decoys etc.

  28. x

    @ Observer

    You say potato; I say that I know what I am on about. I like playing fantasy fleet as much as the next carbon based life form.

    For reference in British parlance this is an OPV,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_class_patrol_vessel

    As for “Others have higher expectations of them and equip them to the scale of expectations. i.e 76mm, quad-pack harpoons, helo, EW, decoys etc.”

    60% of the cost of an escort is its weapons and sensors. How does buying 4 to 6 sets of these save money over 2 sets needed to outfit a frigate with base line equipment? Why would an OPV need any of that stuff? I thought the argument went here that sending gold plated ships after pirates was stupid? Where are the costs savings then in building a corvette to do a job more suited to a trawler and two RIBS? Where is the utility to the fleet in buying a small hull full of a kit that can’t put up with extremes of weather T26, T45, and CVF can? We loose a T26 in combat and we replace it with a smaller ship? Really? Didn’t the Falklands show that you can’t afford hulls just for the North Atlantic? Or didn’t you factor in B1 T22 escorting the carriers? Or how the blunt nosed T42 B1 suffered ploughing the sea? One of the advantages, perhaps the advantage, of modern escorts is their size. Big bunkers. Good stores. Dry ships. Stable weapons platforms. Better helicopter platforms so that expensive £40m plus helicopters can be operated safely. Less crew fatigue. Better working environment. So I am sorry I am not convinced.

  29. Observer

    And I am pointing out that you get what you put into it, so calling an OPV useless because you chose not to fully equip it is hardly the fault of the OPV now is it?

  30. Swimming Trunks

    The article is mainly about coastal combatants against China but the quoted passages are relevent for a blue water fleet:

    “The salvo equations make the case for a more distributed fleet simply and clearly. They show mathematically that in combat between missile-armed warships, numbers are the most important property a fleet can have. Specifically they show that if your fleet has three times as many combatants as mine, then for parity in loss ratios (in other words which side will have ships remaining when all of the opponents are out of action) to overcome your numerical advantage each of my ships must have thrice the offensive power, thrice the defensive power, and thrice the survivability (“staying power”) of yours.  Brief reflection shows why. If you put one of my big ships out of action, I simultaneously lose its offensive, defensive, and staying powers. Another fact demonstrated by the salvo equations is the advantage of out-scouting the enemy and launching a first effective attack. This phenomenon was first observed in the five big Pacific carrier battles of World War II, but the reward is even more pronounced in the missile era.Third, the salvo equations show that if ship numbers and staying power are both small, then an unstable combat situation arises in which the shift from total victory to total loss occurs within a very small swing in the offensive and defensive effectiveness of the two sides. When we must fight at sea again, then small numbers of large, offensively potent warships that have little staying power against enemy missiles are at a great disadvantage, especially in coastal waters when there is little defensive depth of fire and abrupt surprise attacks will occur—as is already evidenced by the combat record in the missile era of warfare to date.”

    “Big expensive ships are often multi-purpose because the marginal cost of adding an additional capability is relatively small. But should a carrier, Aegis destroyer, or large amphibious ship be attacked, a similar penalty can occur. Loss of the ship performing one task results in its loss for performing all other tasks. We put 5” guns on DDGs because that didn’t cost much more, but DDGs will seldom be risked for naval gunfire support and should not be counted on for the NGFS mission. An LCS lost employing its mine clearance module is lost for use with any other module”

    http://www.informationdissemination.net/2012/06/is-there-connection-between-your.html?m=1

  31. Not a Boffin

    The argument on distributing combat capability is moot. Put simply no-one procures for attrition any more, yet everyone knows that the more of your own platforms you have, the better your ability to survive a battle is.

    However – that is not the problem facing Western navies. The problem is that of limited budget – including that of operations and maintenance. Crew and fuel are among the highest through life costs, which is why multipurpose platforms are preferable. All these ideas of smaller but more numerous ships fall down when you factor in that you’re buying more steel and systems, you need more crew and you will burn more fuel. All of which costs money that we don’t have.

  32. Chuck Hill

    @ Simon says: January 12, 2013 at 12:40

    “Following on from a few facts provide by X, SomewhatInvolved and APATS, I’ve put a few things into a spreadsheet.

    “Firstly I’ve classified “tasks” as either zero, medium or long-range.

    “Zero” means no time spent in transit, “medium” means 2-weeks out, 2-weeks back and “long” means a month out and back.
    Zero: 2 x RFTG, 1 FRE, 1 TAPS = 4.
Medium: APT(N), CTF, NRF = 3
Long: APT(S), EoS, and one more = 3.

    “I won’t show the working but the above requires 12.1 ship years per year, which if you use the 85% availability of T23 this means 14.3 ships required. You then assume 1 in 4 ships are in refit and you’re at 18.98 ships. Funny huh!
    “The latter 1 in 4 comes from SomewhatInvolved’s statement that a ship undergoes 14-16 months of refit followed by 3 months of regeneration every 7-8 years.”
    —————
    The question is, what came first the number of ships available or the tasks that number of ships could perform?

    Surely the number of warships you need is based on the number you need to fight the war you expect, not on peacetime tasks that could be performed by lesser ships.

  33. IXION

    ok x

    I agree with yur comments about the’ never again argument’.

    Zum’t are an evolutionary dead end. they are not the new Dreadnought/ Warrior. And so vastly expensive they managed to get even the USN a near heart attack. Just go back and look at how many they were going to have, when the program started. Indeed if you put together a few of the early 2000′s statements, the USN was going to be Zum’s and LCS. Yea right.

    Of course we will get involved in an existentialist total war at some point in our future. However it is very likely to happen over the lifetime of the next frigate/ destroyer, say 25 years. No it isnt, stop crying at the back British Army of the Rhine wannabies: – no matter how much you ask the Russians they won’t come back. The chinese are half the world away, and despite the yellows under the bed scaremongering of some of the press and some of the ‘experts’, are not giving any signs of actually being set on world domination, by conquest. If I was Korean of Japanese, I would be worried; but 12000 miles away I couldn’t realy give toss. So yes it will happen again, but we are into the Martians landing in the car park likleyhood of problems if we are preparing for a major Pier to Pier surface actions.

    As far as what OPVs are for, they are for exactly what we have been doing with the ships for the last 30 years Libya, Lebanon, Horne of Africa, Carribiean, post tsunami, etc etc. because they could have done all that. Oh and all the support for amphib actions that took place as well.

    It just depends on what type of OPV,you get if you think super MHPC, then yea they are limited. If instead you look at some kind of, Bay sized patrol ship, with a support/amphib function then that is what they can do in a ‘real’ war. The SIMMS Idea is of a different type but again they have non combat roles in ‘real’ wars.

    BTW the ‘We are not floating rozers’ brigade would have more support from me, if EVERY add for the RN add for the last 30 years, was ‘not look at us fighting piracy/drug smuglers’ etc…..

    I do not propose reductions from 12 T26 under current situations, (given we are going to become elephant keepers) others may, that is for them to justify.

    No one I know is saying we should drop T26 for OPVs alone.

  34. Jonesy

    @NaB

    “All these ideas of smaller but more numerous ships fall down when you factor in that you’re buying more steel and systems”

    Unless you are comparing the streamline of three or four different classes of minor war vessel into one. One single logistics chain, one training course for power train, sensors, boat handling gear, galley fits, hvac, comms etc, etc across patrol, droggy and MCMW fleets.

    Then you have the operational deployment benefits. Logistics support in the field very much easier when you have one hull class to stow spares for than 2 classes of MCM, another class of Droggy hull, two classes of patrol ship etc. The ability to swap crew from an MCM straight to a droggy hull to a patrol hull in emergency could be massively useful…even if you dont do it every day.

    X,

    Who’s talking about small OPV’s apart from you??. The minimum I’ve seen discussed on here is the Spanish BAM or the similarly sized BAE 90m hull. 90m is the magic number for oceanic pitch response. The recurring theme is the Dutch Holland boats which are only about 5m shorter than a Leander or Thetis class (Thetis class being a towed array ship that doesnt have gucci diesel-electic propulsion btw!).

    MHPC, due to the droggy req. and need to stop a future T26 doing an ‘Alacrity’ in potentially mined waters, has to be oceanic capable. Why are we going to build two classes of OCPV…the answer clearly is to lead in to MHPC if we want to increase numbers with cheaper to deploy capability.

  35. x

    “No one I know is saying we should drop T26 for OPVs alone.”

    Never said anybody said that. But when I see numbers of 8 T26 being OK to some here it is the thin end of the cheddar.

    Anyway it seems Call Me Dave has found the UK another war this time in Africa…..

  36. x

    @ Jonesy

    Smaller than a frigate. SMALLER THAN A FRIGATE.

    The Hollands are still about 700t “lighter” than B1 T22. The trouble is I don’t think many here aren’t sure what they are espousing.

  37. Challenger

    This going round in circles does become a little tiresome, although for some reason I keep coming back for more!

    Just a few observations though…

    1. If we broadly agree that 18 high-end escorts is the minimum the RN requires (for the Gulf, for FRE and for a task-group) then their really isn’t much of a margin for change.

    2. Their is no obvious source of extra cash in this age of austerity so any procurement of a light patrol ship would have to come out of the budget being allocated to another project.

    3. As X and others have pointed out OPV’s are cheap because they are small and lightly armed, plus they have quite limited value outside of that narrow scope of operations.

    4. As soon as you start putting fancy kit on any ship it begins to become expensive and I think as well it starts to blur the lines between what is a fleet escort and what is a patrol ship.

    So my conclusion is that broadly the choice boils down to staying on track and keeping all 13 T26 with no divergence of funds for anything else, or scrapping a single ship, giving us maybe 250-300 million for the procurement of up-to 6 very cheap and basic OPV’s.

    The decision is naturally based on how comparatively useful you think a single T26 is verses a larger number of OPV’s and vice-versa. One of the obvious problems is that nobody can really agree on just what the RN surface fleet should and shouldn’t be doing and what kind of ship can best achieve each different role.

    I think id be OK (just about) with sacrificing 1 T26 (no more than that) IF it bought a minimum of 4 OPV’s and IF they could be someone forward based and have rotational crews to cut out transit time and keep UK based rest/refit periods down. If enough money could also be found for 4 extra Type 2087 sonar’s then that would of course be a great bonus (how much do those sonar sets cost?).

    Those are some big ifs, I remain dubious as to whether it’s worth the effort and whether it could be effectively achieved.

  38. Challenger

    @X

    I think you were on-to something by comparing the current USN situation to that of the RN in the late 19th century.

    More money does sometimes bring bigger and better kit, although in the case of the Zumwalt’s and LCS it seems to have been disastrous. Too much cash seems to sideline innovation in favour of gold-plating everything with as much functionality as possible.

    32 ships down to 3 in the Zumwalt’s case, and we think we have it bad with T45! (although I guess they do have about a million Arleigh Burke’s to soften the blow).

  39. jedibeeftrix

    @ chuck – “Surely the number of warships you need is based on the number you need to fight the war you expect, not on peacetime tasks that could be performed by lesser ships.”

    Yes!

    Talk of enough escorts to meet peacetime tasks is besides the point. While that may be nice, what it has to meet is a wartime requirement.

    6x T45 and 12x T26.

    Given the 6:1 rule obvioulsy i’d like 7x T45 and 14x T26, but that ain’t going to happen, so we’ll have to pretend deep refits don’t happen.

  40. Not a Boffin

    Jonesy

    The MHPC “rationalise” argument is fine when you’re talking about droggies, MCM etc and the current disparate fleet.

    What I was driving at is the suggestion that you can have more role specific hulls in place of multi-purpose frigates, that was being postulated by some.

  41. Simon

    Chuck Hill,

    Obviously the wartime role is the more important. But as you can see the 19 ships can deliver 12 ship-years of service (using the same maintenance and availability figures).

    Assuming this is 4 T45 and 8 T28 I’d suggest this represents cover for two task groups if there is no risk to the supply line, or a single large task group if escorts are required for the tankers and LSL. Picking the former could marry up as two groups of:

    1 CVF
    1 LPD
    2 LSL
    2 T45
    4 T23/T26
    2 MARS
    1 WAVE
    1 Argus/Victoria

    These can then work on continuous rotation till the end of time :-)

    We can’t afford to lose even a single T26 without losing 1 availble escort.

    Is it possible that the T26′s without 2087 can have it fitted quickly? The reason I ask is that you only ever need 8 in service as long as they can be transferred from idle to active ships?

  42. Simon

    “We can’t afford to lose even a single T26 without losing 1 availble escort.”

    …unless we’re happy to do 8-month deployments rather than 6-monthers!

  43. Repulse

    @Jedi / @Challenger / @Simon, I think you have summed it up in terms of the majority thoughts on the first rate fleet make up.

    The “sacrifice” of one T26 would have to buy enough OPV presence to relieve the current stress on the fleet know. This to me means more foward based HMS Clyde type arrangements, everything else would seem pure fantasy.

    @Simon, I think the Argus / Victoria / Fort Is is the interesting bit for the RTFG (or my Power Projection Group – PPG :)). I really hope we get a future replacement that supports both the Solid Replenishment, Aviation Support and Hospital roles.

  44. Mark

    Except of course that the group Simon out lines is about equivalent to op telic which is a one off large scale intervention that does not need rotated and in future will be 2/3 rds of that size according to defence planning assumption.

    If 12 type 26 is what people want then the navy will have to meet all its tasks demanded by the government with that number if it can’t then its not the right answer.

  45. x

    There is a little bit too much talk that infers that the RN has agency, it doesn’t, it is a branch of government. Therefore whether the government can satisfy what it believes is its needs for maritime security is its own concern. The RN isn’t a supplier, it isn’t BAE or indeed Railtrack. That many here frame the RN as a quasi-business shows how far business practices have invaded the governmental sphere. And you only have to look how well that works when you look at say the NHS. What is needed perhaps is a heavy dose of Realism (capital R!) in that the first role of government is to physically protect the realm. And not implement wish-washy ROE chasing Third World bandits.

  46. Martin

    @ chris

    Some good points raised here. It seems clear its only worth loosing a t26 if the replacement boat is sufficiently cheap enough but actually capable of replacing a standing patrol that can only be carried out by an FF/DD i.e not APT(n). The most obvious patrol to replace is likely APT (S). It has the longest transit time and arguably takes the hardest pounding on any vessells sent. Perhaps it would be better to build two better armed corvettes and have them rotate as the castles use to do. it will deffinatley be easier to get this type of vessell for the 150 – 175 millon mark. this way we loose only one T26 but we save an entire role. We also end up with two vessells higher up on the TD fighty scale. Maybe a Khareef with better sonar and GT engines although she is probably too manpower intensive for our budget. Any body know of a light frigate type vessell with less than 100 crew for the 150 million rnage with ASW and point AAW capability on the market?

  47. Simon

    The force I outlined was actually lifted directly from our Response Force Task Group COUGAR 11…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Response_Force_Task_Group#Composition

    I replaced the Forts with MARS and forgot to include the SSN.

    Assuming, of course, that the mighty wiki is at all accurate ;-)

    Repulse,

    I too wonder about the hospital ship. This is where I see the opportunity of the LPH being a Landing Platform Hospital – I do not jest, it’s a great way to slip a cheap LPH (or two) through as both Argus and Victoria need replacing soon. Dilligence too for that matter so maybe we need a Landing Hospital Dock/Repair… hee hee :-)

  48. IXION

    Simon

    I am not that interrested in ‘small’ opvs@ precisley because of the criticism they are one trick ponies.

    I would much prefer the semi LPD 12-18000 tons ship for the role, possibly without well deck: (to increase speed, reduce fuel cosumption and cost)- more a class of 3 or 4, any 2 of which could together replace ocean on operations and an LPH in a shooting war.

    Bu thats just my opinion.

  49. Mark

    Simon

    That force has a single type 45 and a single type 23 yours has 2 type 45 and 4 type 26.

    The government cabinet state which tasks it wants completed and what contingency it wants, it then gives the mod a budget to complete those task. Within that budget the rn has a set of tasks to complete and a budget to do that. The default setting by many is to many tasks the budgets wrong? But the senior military people accepted the tasks and budget so maybe its the equipment that’s wrong or there is sufficient assets for the tasks.

  50. Martin

    alternatively we could buy 2 khareefs for the FI and 2 un modified Clyde’s based in the the Caribbean that way we could replace both APT (S) and APT(N) for the loss of just 1 T26. It would keep Portsmouth shipyard open and leave us with 1 T45 and T26 in Gulf 1T45 and 1T26 with RFTG West of Suez and 1 T26 for FRE/Home waters and 1 spare T26 for ad hoc and NATO tasking tasking.

  51. Peter Elliott

    @Martin

    Its not about the capital cost.

    Are you suggesting that one Frigate crew will be enough bodies to staff your 4 new patrol boats?

    If not where does the extra headcount come from? Given TOBA I am not unduely worried about finding a bit of capital to build a couple of boats in Portsmouth if we need to, but its very unclear to me where the crews will come from? Especially if Ocean’s crew gets sucked up supporting the rotational work-up overlaps between QE and PoW.

    I am also not sure that smaller patrol boats are suitable in seakeeping terms for the tasks you mention? Given the need to operate in those parts of the world in bad weather surely something bigger is needed – even if that means bigger and less fighty with a smaller crew?

  52. Simon

    Mark,

    I’m being a wazzark! Of course you’re right. The RFTG had 2 escorts. What I did was allocate the available escorts I’d calculated into the RFTG.

    You’re also correct in that there’s nothing to say we will not need a T45 or T26 elsewhere at the same time as mobilising 3Cdo in the overloaded RFTG.

  53. Peter Elliott

    @Simon

    Maybe once QE and PoW are in service we can use up Ocean’s remaining hull life as an RFA ‘Argus replacement’?

    Peter

  54. Mark

    Simon

    Yes indeed but were I’m coming from is the Royal Navy currently today has the ability to conduct and maintain significant combat capabilities in multiple arenas and support them pretty much indefinitely as we can see in afghan, the gulf and on standing tasks or interventions as seen in Libya. These are capablities few others if any outside the us could do. What it must do is maintain the current capabilities and get all it current and planned ships in service which are more than capable of meeting the governments requirements. What it must do is ensure the type 26 does not get grand ideas about becoming an arsenal ship and costing as much as the type 45.. Problem I have is few of the navy websites that tell us of the navy’s great demise are willing to admit that and insist it needs more ships and we should scrap the other services to pay for it. When the idea is floated that if more ships are needed and how that maybe facilitated from within the navy’s current budgeted program’s the hysteria rises yet more.

  55. Martin

    @ Peter Elliott

    It depends on how many crew a t26 will have. If its above 150 then we could get close. All for something bigger but not sure how far down the fighty scale we could go and still carry out the primary duties of apt (s). Also there is zero money to develop something new. My suggestion with Clyde and Khareef is that they are available and kind of fit the required task all be it with some deficiencies.

  56. Simon

    Well now,

    I think I agree with IXION, Mark and Peter Elliott. What is the world coming to!

    Ocean as hospital ship for interim.
    2-4 LPH (ish) to replace her, Argus, Vic and Dill manned by RFA.
    T26 should not get delusions of grandeur.
    The current state of play of navy numbers is about right.

  57. Gloomy Northern Boy

    Rather than worry about establishing RN patrol assets anywhere why not:
    1. Establish a formal coastguard function to serve all the British Overseas Territories with kit and fittings appropriate to protecting fisheries, oil exploration et al – funded preferably by other branches of Government or the various Islands themselves
    2. Ensure all the relevant distant islands have a decent modern runway with two or three bloody big hangers that we can discreetly put stuff in if required – I think this is happening in any event.
    3.Use said territories as a test bed for UAV’s and remote control intelligence gathering/systematically unnerving our enemies/remote control warfare if required.
    4. Deploy RAF and other MOD geeks to these various remote spots (they don’t get out much anyhow!), guarded by the relevant Regiment.
    5. Concentrate limited resources on full-on warfare capability.
    6. Make absolutely sure that steps 1 through 4 are working well enough to ensure that the products of step 5 arrive in time and in numbers if and when required.
    I should add that I advocate this because it is my firm belief that as the resource wars of the forthcoming century start to unfold, our various scattered bits of rock (and their maritime zones) may well come in useful – but only if we can defend them in the first place – hence my emphasis on full-on warfare, probably waged at sea and with adequate air cover.

  58. Alex

    A thought. Big uncertainties about the whole MHPC, OPV, C2/C3, SIMSS debate are:

    1) How much will they cost?
    2) How much contribution to the overall tasking bill can we expect?
    3) How much of the Mine Warfare and Hydrographic stuff can be covered by an ordinary ship with fancy kit?
    4) How does crewing work best for these ships?

    I don’t think there’s much doubt that if we had a couple of super-Clydes or Thetises or Hollands or Black Swans or BATISMARs or BAMs or whatever, we’d probably find a job for them. On the other hand, there’s no hurry to replace the survey or minehunter flotillas, so those can wait. We also have a worry about Portsmouth running out of work between carrier and T26.

    So let’s build a demonstrator or two, pick up some boring tasks, and do some experiments. Then, we’d know what could be expected, how well the modular M and H gear works, if the ship needs changing to support them, and if so, how. We might decide to go with task specific solutions in the end, but at least we’d have facts and we’d have a couple of useful additional hulls and a south coast shipyard. We might find pure modularity would work. We might find a patrol hull could be adapted for survey (extra thrusters and whatnot).

  59. IXION

    NAB

    Thats ok so long as that is the position then we have 12
    -13 t26, and 6 t45, and thats fine no need for more fast pointy ships. or ships of any kind.

  60. jedibeeftrix

    would you even save £360m by not ordering the thirteenth?

    by the time you account for development costs, and payments against the shipbuilding contract for a given workload per year, what exactly is the saving………….

    £180m?

  61. IXION

    Sorry I am not proposing that we cut any T26 to pay for OPV’s given the level of commitments we are ..err committed to.

  62. IXION

    One thing occurs to me. If we give the EU the bums rush we will be left with a huge EEZ to patrol for fishing mainly.

    Of course all those spanish and french fishermen will just park up their uge expensive trawlers and say ‘oh that’s ok I don’t miud going broke….

    In reality we will hae the mother of all fishery protection jobs to do for some time.

    Any thoughts on how we do it?

  63. martin

    @ Repulse

    I think Govan is probably the only yard Guaranteed to get the work. Next will be Scotstoun. I think the Portsmouth yard will continue to provide maintainance work but we are dreaming if we think we can keep three yards with an entire RN surface fleet of around 30 vessels and RFA vessels built in Korea. Post CVF it will be hard enough to keep 1 yard.

  64. Not a Boffin

    The trouble with the shipbuilding spread is that neither Clyde yard has all the bits it needs to be viable on it’s own and Portsmouth has a somewhat bizarre launch method (which allegedly costs more), dating from the T45 programme. There is also the design function in Filton, which is where many of the concept and feasibility stage types work from on T26 having expanded the original NDP.

    Govan has the biggest building slip (although it’s outside) which would let you build something LPH/CVS sized, good-sized sheds and steel facilities, but very little in terms of technical offices and outfit workshops. These are all at Scotstoun, which has small building ways (although undercover). The only useable drydocks (necessary for pre and post CST activities) are at Scotstoun. Most of the technical staff on the detailed design side work from Scotstoun.

    Portsmouth has a fantastic steel facility, massive undercover building sheds, but a limit in the size of what can be built in one go – doesn’t mean you couldn’t build two halves and stitch ‘em together in C or D lock though. There are extensive outfit facilities (as you’d expect given the Fleet Support function also lives there) and plenty of technical staff.

    The trouble is that neither Clyde yard is capable enough to stand alone now, which makes closing one (and it would probably be Scotstoun or bits of it) difficult to justify. Pompey could just about stand alone, but would have to make serious efforts to recruit and retain design and build expertise and there is a perception that it’s launch method is vastly more expensive than Govan, although I’d love to see a real comparison.

    The nub of the issue is that because the two Clyde yards are essentially indivisible, you’re left with the option of either shutting shipbuilding on the Clyde (brave decision that man) or shutting/mothballing the shipbuilding part of the Portsmouth operation (less pain because the dockyard will still remain – unless the Independence vote goes Wee Eck’s way in which case the rump UK has no indigenous shipbuilding).

    The only other option would be a messy compromise where the Clyde yards are consolidated and large chunks of Scotstoun sold off.

    There is no easy answer. I’d personally go for the shut the Clyde option, because the overhead of technical staff in Pompey can to some degree be shared between the build and refit organisations. There is also a political battle within BAE Maritime SS between the Clyde and Pompey, with quite a few of the senior people having grown up on the Clyde. It would be a very brave man who signed up to end shipbuilding on the Clyde……

  65. x

    “Which yards do we expect the future MHPCs to be built at?”

    Appledore or Daewoo……

    Sorry couldn’t help me self.

  66. Simon

    Just fancied doing a little more spreadsheeting ;-)

    Assuming our naval fleet needs to project to 10,000nm.

    One Month On Station
    We would need four tankers to guarantee availability of the three required to maintain one on station at all times. These would require five (!?!GP!?!) escorts to guarantee availability of the three required for each supply run.

    Two Months On Station
    We would need six T45 to guarantee availability of the two required on station to support the task group. This allows each T45 to be replenished with missiles every two months – i.e. we can deliver 2 x 48 Aster every two months.
    If we keep these ships on station for 6-months then we can support three within the task group but in this case we deliver 3 x 48 Aster every six months, which is less overall!

    Six Months On Station
    We would require…

    2 CVF
    2 LPD
    3 LSL
    Argus, Victoria or Diligence
    8 T26-ASW
    2 Wave

    …to guarantee availability of…

    1 CVF
    1 LPD
    2 LSL
    2 of Argus, Victoria or Diligence
    4 T26-ASW
    1 Wave

    …on station at all times.

    All this assumes a ship availability of 85% and one in four RN warships being in refit at time of war.

    I have not fiddled these results. They are based on things I’ve read about MARS sitting alongside CVF for a month and the perceived necessity to project our force a total of 10,000nm. The only thing that is a little fabricated it my use of the six T45 to keep two on station for shorter cycles in order to maximise the area air defence capability.

  67. martin

    The inital contract was for 6 sets of 2087 and that cost £340 million. However I have no idea about the marginal cost of each set beyond that.

  68. rec

    There seesm to be a rumour doing the rounds that an order for 4 khareef type vessels is about to be placed for the Royal Navy, is this spurious?????

  69. Observer

    rec, probably. The RN really has no use for lower end ships like corvettes, other than the Rivers, and those are still giving good service.

  70. Challenger

    @Simon + Martin

    So scrapping the thirteenth T26 would be able to pay for extra sets to bring the other twelve up-to a common standard, although with no real money left over for anything else.

    @Rec + Observer

    Sounds like a rather spurious rumour to me, I agree that the RN would struggle to find a defined role for a clutch of Khareef’s. Too expensive and ‘fighty’ to be cheap patrol vessels and too small and under-armed to be proper fleet escorts.

  71. Not a Boffin

    “There seesm to be a rumour doing the rounds that an order for 4 khareef type vessels is about to be placed for the Royal Navy, is this spurious?????”

    It’s absolute hoop. To the best of my knowledge the Omani ships don’t even work yet! For reasons alluded to above, there is no requirement in the RN for those ships. Nearly a re-run of when some window-licker suggested that the 3 Brunei ships built on the Clyde and rejected by Brunei should be brought into the RN. That was a lucky escape…..

    Similarly, all this nonsense regarding S2087 needs some context right now. A thirteenth hull is always going to be more useful than having an extra four sonar sets. I suspect that by the time the sets were needed, the electronics cabs and elements of the wet end would need a bit of a redesign / respecification. Not least because half the electronic components will no longer be available……

  72. Not a Boffin

    Depends entirely on the threat, where you are (ie the environment) and how you do your re-supply.

  73. mickp

    Presumably the non 2087 T26 will still have a decent hull sonar and presumably that, with a help gives a better than basic ASW capability?

  74. Challenger

    @mickup

    Yeah it could well be the case that the 2087 frigates will be the top notch sub hunters whilst the others will still offer a half decent additional capability.

  75. ArmChairCivvy

    NaB, agreed
    “all this nonsense regarding S2087 needs some context right now. A thirteenth hull is always going to be more useful than having an extra four sonar sets. I suspect that by the time the sets were needed, the electronics cabs and elements of the wet end would need a bit of a redesign / respecification. Not least because half the electronic components will no longer be available…”
    - the set has acquired some mystical properties here (or should it be roses to the marketing dept?)
    - same product has been improved since for the Italians and is in the next iteration for the USN (no contract yet?)

  76. Simon

    NaB,

    “Depends entirely on the threat, where you are (ie the environment) and how you do your re-supply.”

    Okay, you’re pegging it at 15 knots from Blighty to the theater of operation (e.g. South Atlantic), at which we have total sea control. The enemy is known to have an SSN fleet.

    My question is really does 2087 give us anything during the above cruise. Are subs such a threat so that at 15 knots an ASW “picket” will not be enough?

  77. Not a Boffin

    Against an SSN, I’d be very cautious about just having an ASW “picket”. That’s a term that usualy applied only to AAW and then only if you don’t have long-range SA.

    However, your scenario is non-sensical – if the oppo have an SSN I don’t have total sea control until I’ve sunk him or have him permanently marked.

    That’s where all these hypotheticals fall over. There are usually several ways to crack a problem, depending on your assets.

  78. mickp

    @challenger, thanks

    It really like to understand the expected difference between ‘full fat ‘T26 and ‘GP’ T26 – is it strike length cells and 2087, just 2087, or more than that?

    I assume GP needs the 5″ gun (we’d want flexibility on NFS without using our TAS ships), CIWS, Sea Ceptor and Helo?

  79. x

    @ ACC

    By 2087 many here mean first rate TAS sensor. Just as many here use Phalanx for CIWS.

    It is the capability not the specific piece of hardware we are on about.

  80. Not a Boffin

    Sorry X – as far as the UK is concerned S2087 means just that. Might get upgraded for supportability etc, but it will be essentially the same system cross-decked from T23 to T26. Just like Artisan, SeaCeptor and anything else that ain’t nailed down.

  81. x

    @ NaB

    Well yes and no. I would prefer all T26 to go to sea with 2087; but in a broader sense I mean with complete set of ASW sensors. And yes there are already a number of 2087 sets in service, but not enough to equip all T23/T26. If we get to T26 9 or 10. that is to say approaching the end of the build well into the future and say funds were available for TAS I would want the RN to buy them whatever their make or model.

  82. Challenger

    From my point of view it’s not just a matter of capability, it’s the unease of having a fleet within a fleet for the sake of 1 extra unit.

    18 high-end surface ships (don’t really like the term escort because it implies they are only effective in defence of a larger capital ship or task group) seems to be the absolute effective minimum that the RN needs. That being the case id rather have those 18 fully kitted and standardised than have 14 officially ‘full fat’ and 5 fitted for but not with bits of kit.

  83. Not a Boffin

    I don’t disagree gents – except the bit about 18 vs 19. However, the budgetary facts are that eight ships sets were funded and fitted (Westminster onwards) and that no-one appears to have the requirement / funds / gumption to challenge that number. Even for a new-procurement ship class, which should indicate just how tight the money is.

    Given that it’s not too long since a number of people were bimbling around the corridors of MB suggesting that since the demise of those delightful gentlemen of the Red Banner Northern Fleet, there is/was no submarine threat, you should be able to see how difficult it is to get people to take it seriously.

    In MB capability world, “doubling up” on capability is baaaaad. Hence description of MRA4 as an ISTAR asset (true, but not it’s main strength), the reduction in the Merlin CSP, skill-fade in the MHF – but don’t worry we still have SSN to do ASW…….

    In a similar vein, standby for much description of ASaC7 as an overland ISTAR asset, with the intention of preserving Sentinel. People in town can have very short memories….

  84. Simon

    NaB,

    Semantics, semantics ;-)

    By “sea control” I mean I have “in theater” sea control. In other words there’s no way the enemy subs can make a move without me knowing and splatting them. The area of vulnerability is on the supply line.

    So forget about the “sea control” just assume I’m escorting a tanker at 15 knots from a relatively safe area to another relatively safe area. Only the transit area in between is unsafe territory.

    Does the 2087 actually offer much in this situation. I appreciate that it will tell me something is there but if I’m leaving “there” at 15 knots then should I be concerned?

  85. x

    @ NaB

    I know we are talking ideals. And I understand what you mean that 13 hulls is better than 12; even agree with you because kit can be moved, but only to another hull. But only if the 5 T26 (sans 2087) (that is the ones in service) have hull sonars and other toys. If not all we have done is is purchased 5 very large OPVs with a good engine fit out. That is why I say 12 not 13.

    There are no right answers. And as you say we have no money or more properly we choose to borrow money for other reasons.

  86. Challenger

    @Simon

    ‘Need’ is a difficult one to pin down, but I think it’s something that is definitely very useful to have, it would make me feel better!

  87. Not a Boffin

    Simon – there may be no such thing as “supply line escorts” – depends entirely on what the mission / ORBAT / threat is.

    Missed your reply on Sea Control. However, you’ve missed my point – you can’t have that level of in-theatre control against an SSN unless you have him marked 24/7 and he doesn’t know it. As to the effectiveness of 2087 vs SSN it depends on the environment and his capability. It would certainly make it harder for the oppo, but then so would a lot of things. Doesn’t mean he couldn’t prosecute a successful attack.

    You can construct as many “scenarios” as you like – the bottom line is that playing fantasy fleets on here will change nothing in the real world. There are a bunch of people in the Naval Studies department of dstl who get paid to produce their models and spreadsheets – I doubt their output will reflect what actually happens either.

    X – I don’t think anyone sane (and I loosely include some people in MoD in that term) are planning on buying “empty” frigates. Last time I looked GP T26 looked pretty much like an ASW T26 only without the tail fitted. What is happening is that various people on here are indulging in flights of fancy about running on equipment-less T23 or building more T26 but without kit and this is being confused with reality. There is absolutely no money to do such, even were it to be worthwhile (which it’s not IMO), so give it a stiff ignoring and move on……

  88. Challenger

    @X

    My fear is that the general purpose variant won’t stop at not having Type 2087. I know none of us are yet aware of just what each subclass will and won’t get, but as you say it would be a major problem to end up with essentially 5 very large OPV’s.

  89. x

    NaB said “I don’t think anyone sane (and I loosely include some people in MoD in that term) are planning on buying “empty” frigates.”

    Um. I hope not. But by the same token I wouldn’t be surprised to see only 8 T26. We may be in the beginning of a transition in how war is conducted with all this talk of UAVs and what have you. But from here to there, whether that will be, in technological terms is still decades away. A dollop of HE delivered at a few thousand feet per second will kill you today, tomorrow, and the day after that; a concept for a micro-robotic organism that can kill a tank, feed millions of starving refugees, and emit no greenhouse gases is a still a concept. We need to focus on the former and not dismiss it because of the latter just because the latter may arrive at some point in the future. No repeat of Sandys thank you very much. In a time of contracting budgets, mixed production drum beats, and lengthy lead times we need to concentrate on knowns. It isn’t about fighting tomorrow’s war with the equipment design to fight yesterday’s war it is about recognising some fundamentals. For the next few decades war at sea will resemble the Falklands more than it will Star Trek. And then it will become something else because that is the natural order. My fear is that after we launch our super UAV off the flightdeck of our Black Swan, resplendent on the bow its single super stabilised RWS mount with its awesome 40mm gun that fires awesome collapsible ammunition, when it returns it will tell us there are a half dozen Chinese frigates with 127mm guns, supersonic AShM, more cannon, more missiles, and a few helicopters bearing down us. Or even Indian frigates. Or Turkish frigates. Or Saudi frigates……

    We shall see.

  90. Simon

    NaB,

    Your’re being evasive ;-)

    How would a sub track and engage me if I am doing 15 knots and have a hull sonar and Merlin?

    I am trying to understand why 5 frigates do not need 2087 in the minds of the DSTL. I’m simply reverse engineering the fleet design using the scientific method… Hypothesis and test.

  91. Challenger

    @Simon

    I think that’s a large part of the problem, their doesn’t seem to be a clear plan and reasoning for why we have decided to get 8 ASW and 5 GP T26 beyond the fact that 8 sonar sets are all we felt we could afford and we want to replace our remaining T23′s on a 1 for 1 basis.

  92. Not a Boffin

    The same principles that apply to emitting EM radiation apply to sound only in some ways with even more complexity. SSN weapons are not all torpedoes. Towed array sonars are not necessarily useable all the time. The list goes on…….

    I might ask you where Johnny Gaucho got his SSN from.

    What on earth makes you think there is anything like a comprehensive fleet design to reverse engineer in the first place?

  93. Simon

    NaB,

    “What on earth makes you think there is anything like a comprehensive fleet design to reverse engineer in the first place?”

    Just hoping that the MoD/RN have at least some credibility ;-)

    Challenger,

    I honestly think that we don’t actually need any more than 8 x 2087 sets.

  94. x

    @ Waddi

    Not if cuts into T26 numbers; nobody here doesn’t want the waters of the UK and CD patrolled. This isn’t about being anti-OPV.

    If the balloon goes up we can pull Wave Knight back from the Caribbean to support the Fleet. We couldn’t pull an OPV from the same patrol and expect it to hunt Russian and Chinese submarines.

  95. Waddi

    Reality is that we wont get 13 T26 and they won’t be specced as they are planned. Sad but true, look at T45 compared to the original numbers and armament. I would love 13 T26 complete with ASM and Tomahawks but i am also jaundiced enough by decades of HMG defence procurement to know that it is simply not going to happen.

    If, when the inevitable does happen, the RN will have to wrangle some OPVs out of the MoD, just like the Dutch had to do. I hope I am wrong but history and financial reality suggests that maybe 9 T26 with “fitted for not with” weapons systems is what we will get. Ask for 13 get 9, then start negotiations of what you can have to fill the hole.

  96. Not a Boffin

    “Still think we don’t need an OPV?”

    Actually yes. The biggest benefit you bring to a DISTEX scenario is useable amounts of trained manpower, the ability to produce power, potable water and provide long distance comms, plus medical facilities.

    Not things you find in abundance on your average OPV. But definitely on RFA or DD/FF.

  97. Jonesy

    Wonder how this news will impact T26 affordability:

    “The treaty is expected to see Australia use the British-designed Type 26 Global Combat Ship when it comes time for the nation to consider a future frigate program.”

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/breaking-news/australia-and-uk-sign-defence-treaty/story-fn3dxiwe-1226556750604

    Worth noting the Aussies have a mirror image requirement to MHPC on the books as well…and have had the full Venator presentation!

  98. x

    @ Jonesy re Aussie requirement and T26 and whatever-MHPC

    And Canada soon too. I shall go out into the snow with a smile on my face dreaming of a Commonwealth class…..

  99. Challenger

    @Jonsey

    It’s nice to know that Brazil and Australia are almost all the way there with T26. Not bad for a class still in the design stages!

    @X

    I thought Canada ruled out T26 for it’s frigate replacement programme? Some guff about home-grown design/building industries?

  100. Challenger

    @X + Waddi + NaB

    I think it is indeed important to keep in mind that very few of us are anti OPV’s, but the majority of us are strongly pro T26.

    If a few hundred million was suddenly squeezed from another source then id happily see roughly 4 Krabi style OPV’s procured (anything more would be too expensive and ‘fighty’ to justify the effort), but if it eats into the T26 programme then no dice!

  101. x

    @ Chally re Canada

    Yes I know. But as Jonesy points out with “Aussies have a mirror image requirement to MHPC on the books as well…and have had the full Venator presentation” and Canadian defence having little direction I can hope that they see sense and share in the build of a frigate (family) with us and the Aussies. The Canadians in the past have been very good at blending off the shelf systems. The best example is their Tribal class. And a shared frigate programme doesn’t mean the ships have to be identical twins,

    http://www.hazegray.org/navhist/canada/postwar/stlauren/margaree1.jpg

    and

    http://www.twogreens.co.uk/navy/IMAGES/LOW_F103.JPG

    share a lot of DNA. So please don’t harsh my mellow about a Commonwealth class. :) ;)

  102. Alex

    I shall go out into the snow with a smile on my face dreaming of a Commonwealth class…

    aka the Commies? HMS Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, etc?

  103. Gloomy Northern Boy

    The Argentine are currently claiming Brazilian support in respect of some islands somewhere…all hulls sold to Latin America probably need a small remotely-controlled explosive device embedded in the keel just in case!

    More broadly, I think the RN need the Frigates – but we need a proper Coast Guard tasked to undertake constabulary duties and disaster relief at home and in respect of our overseas Territories and interests…supported variously by the DFID, Trade and Industry, Foreign Office, Home Office et al – not the MOD! OPVs belong there, probably alongside SIMMS and some hydrographic and research vessels (some of them ice strengthened). All those far-flung sea areas will matter to us in years to come.

  104. Challenger

    @Gloomy Northern Boy

    Any Brazilian support for Argentines territorial claims is purely verbal and devoid of any substance, they are happy to tell them want they want to hear at the moment but I seriously doubt they are stupid enough to risk international cooperation and trade for the sake of Argentinian aggression.

  105. Challenger

    @X

    Lets hope the Canadians see sense, as you say they can sign up to the programme and share the basic hull but still fit them out according to specific requirements.

    No arguments here for a Commonwealth class, keep the faith!

  106. WiseApe

    A change of name from Type 26 to Commonwealth Class might not be a bad idea. Anyone got Hammond’s email? Of course for commonality’s sake the USN should really follow suit with a hefty order.

    @X – tell him he can’t park that there.

    @GNB – “All those far-flung sea areas will matter to us in years to come.” – Sounds like a good reason for letting the RN look after them?

  107. x

    Wise Ape said “tell him he can’t park that there”

    I want to make some clever joke observation about a certain section of our society and parking anywhere and everywhere they choose on Friday but as Ben Elton used to that’s “getting a bit political”.

    Commonwealth Class sounds better than Global Combat Ship. 24 ( ;) !) for us, 8 for Oz, 12 for Canuckistan, 3 for Kiwiland, and 36 for 13 Colonies. 83 in total…….WW2 scales of production.

    @ Chally

    It is the only way we will get serious exports. And even then it will probably only be IP and few bits and pieces of kit.

  108. IXION

    In Australia there is a general pro Republican feeling in Australia.

    It is Buy and large much politer than the Scottish independence movement. I know they lost the last referendum, they probably won’t lose the next.

    Commonwealth class might be a bit provocative – at least no one is suggesting ‘Colonial Class’.

    Seriously for a moment, are we really sure the Ausi’s and Canadians will want to buy British- Surely they will want to build at home anyway, and want their own kit, dose it really bring any benefits to us???

  109. x

    @ IXION

    It all depends whether they change the name of the country. Australia’s official name is Commonwealth of Australia, rather like the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (which is in a republic). Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are commonwealths too. India, official name Republic of India, is in the Commonwealth. So…

    As for building at home they can do that. Go read the history of the St Laurent class. As I said it is all about blending the off the shelf equipment.

  110. Waddi

    @ IXION

    Spreads the design and development costs across a greater number of hulls so some financial benefit to us. Manufacturing costs no change. Australia are building up their construction capabilities though at present the Canberra and Hobart classes (part) are being welded in Spain and assembled in Oz. Might possibly see blocks built here and assembled in Oz but that has to be a long shot.

  111. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @WA – Certainly – but my key point was that my proposed Coastguard should NOT be charged to the MOD, and should NOT reduce the number of full-on warships in the RN by replacing frigates with OPVs; I am arguing for a different organisation with a different task and a new budget line…albeit one with considerable value as a trip wire…

    On the Commonwealth issue, I’m not aware that Republican sentiment in Australia is also anti-Commonwealth – and I suspect that when push comes to shove the Anglosphere are generally likely to hang together; not least because if we don’t we will most assuredly hang seperately!

  112. WiseApe

    ” I am arguing for a different organisation with a different task and a new budget line” – Good luck with that, or as NaB would say: There. Is. No. Money. Actually, as I and others have said, there is but MoD can’t have any of it.

  113. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @WA – My point exactly; there is money; perhaps there is also more chance of getting it for a new task with at least some touchy-feely aspects to it – which is not the MoD; but which might have some utility in terms of ISTAR/constabulary duties/serving as a trip-wire.

    Just a thought.

  114. Jed

    I am arguing for a different organisation with a different task and a new budget line”

    It already exists, its called the Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and its part of the Department of Transport. Of course it doesn’t currently do what you suggest, but the agency exists.

    OR,

    You could go the root I have suggested countless times; Put “coast guard” vessels in the RFA, a MoD agency that uses civilian merchant mariners to provide a certain set of capabilities. a “Coast guard” vessel under the blue ensign, crewed and managed by the RFA could of course carry MCA, Immigration, MAFF or officers of other agencies as required, and of course could carry RN / RM as required for VBSS ops.

  115. Observer

    It’s tougher on the budget to have dual organisations that can do the same thing. There are benefits too of course, training for war and training for constabulary work are totally different, one chases down underarmed groups trying to slip in and tries to bring them in alive, the other fights on par or slightly above par and fights to kill.

    This bleeds into equipment too. Fighty ships are more about long distance endurance and heavy weapons, while Police vessels are high on speed for pursuit and low on the anti-ship/anti-air missile side. Which runs back ironically into the OPV debate.

    A Coast Guard interceptor I can see as a 30-40 knot speedboat-like ship with a single 0.5 calibre or 25mm gun, maybe with a 40mm GL for flexibles like illumination, flare or marker rounds, and navigation radar. They don’t really need anything larger. Warships can’t get away with this kind of loadout.

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