UK defence issues and the odd container or two

Royal Navy Type 26 Contract Awards

The Royal Navy Type 26 programme is progressing with news yesterday from BAE on the award of a number of design and development contracts.

Six Design Development Agreements have been awarded covering key areas such as propulsion, ventilation and electrical equipment, as well as combat and navigation systems. The design contracts have been awarded to the following companies:

Babcock for the ship’s Air Weapons Handling System

DCNS for work on the vessel’s propulsion shaftlines

GE Energy Power Conversion for the Electric Propulsion Motor and Drive System

Imtech for the  Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning System, and the Low Voltage Electrical equipment

Raytheon to develop the Integrated Navigation and Bridge Systems

Tyco Fire & Integrated Solutions for the ship’s Fixed Firefighting Systems

The latest contract awards build on the first four suppliers to the programme announced in September 2013. Covering propulsion and communications equipment for the ship, the initial Design Development Agreements were awarded to Rolls Royce, MTU, David Brown Gear Systems and Rohde & Schwarz. It is expected that a total of 25 agreements will be placed this year.

Read more at BAE, click here

Relevant website links below;

From the earlier batch of contracts

About The Author

Think Defence hopes to start sensible conversations about UK defence issues, no agenda or no campaign but there might be one or two posts on containers, bridges and mexeflotes!

158 Comments

  1. Ian Hall

    The big question is where will they be built? If Salmond and Sturgeon are successful , surely we can’t give a project like that to the yards in Scotland?

  2. Roders

    My best guess is Portsmouth, they’ve said they’ll close the yards but they aren’t going to do it until after the referendum.

    They should easily be able to ‘re-activate’ them, don’t know about the £300m investment in machinery though :(

  3. Ian Hall

    I think the Scottish yards are also due an overhaul, a simple task of relocating funds from Scottish yards to English yards

  4. Chris

    My vote would be Newcastle for building really big hulls and Pompey for the frigate/destroyer sized shipbuilding. I don’t think Portsmouth harbour would be viable for ship building in the 25,000t class or bigger. Anyway its good to have more than one capable Naval Yard – that would give us New Swan Hunter in the North East, VSEL in the North West and New Vosper Thorneycroft in the South. Although no doubt they’d all be owned by BAE whether they liked it or not.

  5. Not a Boffin

    Portsmouth is perfectly capable of building 25000te class ships, albeit they’d have to be in blocks and assembled in C or D lock.

    You do realise that there’s nothing left in Newcastle, other than the A&P yard in Hebburn – what used to be Palmers? Having spent some time there, while it’s a big dock, you’re going to struggle to get anything in there from the building hall, which itself is quite small. The Wallsend facilities were flattened about 5 years ago after the clueless Dutchman who bought the yard dug out the biggest building slip in the UK to accommodate a panamax-rated floating dock. The floating dock which subsequently transported the cranes etc to Bharati shipyard in India.

    More importantly, most of the people have long gone – many to Portsmouth, Glasgow and Rosyth. The shipbuild integration manager for QE cut his teeth on Illustrious 32 years ago.

    Pretty much all of those contracts are for systems that are “hull-independent” as well. Still plenty of issues to sort on teh ships yet….

  6. Challenger

    Don’t think the referendum is going to be a yes for independence. However if it were then their are plenty of alternatives, albeit several in need of regeneration.

    Portsmouth will still be in the process of winding down. Barrow can apparently build more than just subs if the right investments were made. Swan Hunter focuses on ship design these days but their still seems to be a largish site in place, Cammell Laird is bustling with it’s refit/repair work, could even Appledore build a frigate at a time?

  7. Not a Boffin

    Portsmouth is the only viable option and is perfectly capable of building ships up to 25000te, albeit using large blocks assembled in C or D lock for the bigger ones. 14 dock will be perfectly good for T26 sized ships.

    Barrow has slipways, but they’re limited in length and draft and accessing Buccleugh dock is also a bit of an issue. Building submarines and ships in parallel is also tricky – they have enough on their plate with Astute and Successor as it is!

    Other than the A&P yard in Hebburn, there’s nothing left on the Tyne. Having spent a bit of time in that yard, it was set up to build tankers and getting blocks of any size into the dock would be fun (160te max craneage), the shed’s not especially big either. There is nothing left in Wallsend after the clueless Dutchman dug up the biggest building slip in the UK to accommodate a panamax-rated floating dock – the same dock which was used to transport the yards craneage and plant to Bharati shipyard in India when it was bulldozed flat five years ago. Most importantly, all the people are gone – mainly to Portsmouth, Glasgow or Rosyth. The shipbuild integration manager on QE cut his teeth on Illustrious 32 years ago.

    Appledore building dock is too small and the outfit berth dries out at low tide anyway, far from ideal.

    Cammell Laird are good with steel work and commercial/RFA repair, but that’s a long way from building highly outfitted warships. Their facilities were optimised for extruding cargo vessels out from the shed onto the launching berth.

  8. wirralpete

    @NAB Biggest question for me is there enough space at portsmouth to build the ‘frigate factory’ that BAE says optimises production? ie two being bult simultaneously ala the FREMM frigate production facilities of DCNS (i think).
    If we are goin to build for RN at 12 monthish per ship plus add in any exports to likes of Chile ( pulling thru their 2087 sonars and 996 radars) or replacement Anzacs for new zealand etc then the ‘frigate factory’ method of construction is crucial i believe.
    Therefore Cammell Lairds is only place with land and infrastructure in place capable of building such a facility
    http://www.clbh.co.uk/facilities
    Biggest threat to numbers is cost of construction… If the investment is going to happen at Scotsoun anyway then in event of a yes vote replicate the investment in an english yard giving a lower hull cost through the frigate factory method of construction

  9. Not a Boffin

    Forget the exports – none of the navies you mention are going to bite on a ship that’s the size of T45 or thereabouts.

    The ship factory in Portsmouth was designed around building T45 at a rate broadly equivalent to one every twelve months. If you’ve been in the halls in Pompey you’ll know that there are two parallel halls, one for unit to block erection, fed from the panel line and one for ship assembly, fed from the block hall. the only odd thing about Portsmouth is the method of getting the ship into the water. Scotstoun has a covered building slip which is too small, which is why the proposed redevelopment basically orients the facility around a covered building dock. You’d have to do the same on the Mersey, which would essentially require you to either use 6 or 7 dock, filling in other docks to provide the adjacent hardstanding and largely trashing your existing infrastructure. Or replace the existing fab shed with a completely new facility, in which case you’re no better off than Pompey. In fact you’re worse off, given that the people who will support the ships in service would be colocated with the builder if Pompey was the build yard – there’s no shortage of infrastructure in Portsmouth.

    Most importantly, Cammell’s haven’t built a highly outfitted warship in thirty years – the nearest thing to it was the mid-section of that cruise ship that bankrupted the place in 2001. Don’t get me wrong – graet to see the place doing well, but there’s a big difference between what they’re doing and what is needed for T26 and beyond.

  10. mike

    I read that BAE stated they have “no plan B” – as in they wont be too willing to fork up the cost of re-establishing building facilities in what remains of the English yards.
    http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140603/DEFREG01/306030030/BAE-Adds-Suppliers-Type-26-Team
    Though couldn’t they invest that £200mill in English yards instead?

    I dont know jack about shipbuilding, nor about the yards, but I wonder in what state are these old English yards in, whether they have been maintained/mothballed or – in typical fashion – left to nature and yobs.

  11. wirralpete

    @NAB Thanks for the information regarding portsmouth wasnt sure how the construction hall was set up.
    Also for the insight into Lairds my thinking was to build a new dock/covered construction hall to the south side of the fabrication hall rather than use the current dry docks and facilities however costs would be more i guess and if portsmouths facilities are up to the mark then looks like thats the way to go with scotsoun investment transferred to pompey.

  12. Chris

    I thought about H&W but with the rise of Scottish nationalism and possible departure from the UK, you have to wonder if the desire to separate from Westminster might be catching…

  13. Simon

    NAB,

    Can you indicate what the standard and deep displacements are for T45 and the current (as planned) T26?

  14. Not a Boffin

    FFS not again. What about them?

    Most facilities bulldozed in 2004 or thereabouts, so they have their large open docks, cranes (apart from the one that fell over) and a single fab hall. No panel line, no major outfit or paint shops and most importantly, last time I looked about 150 staff of whom about 1/3 were contractors.

    Plus a less than stellar record in the last thirty years. Argus conversion (50% over budget), Fort Vic (lead ship, allowed to be bombed by the IRA), finished long after the second ship after attempts to sort her out at Cammells and Portsmouth Dockyard, two Strat Ro-Ro, much more expensive than the Flensburger ones and er that’s it, finished in 2003 or thereabouts.

    To give you an idea of what’s needed, a certain shipyard in the early 90s built (in the space of 4-5 years), one AOR, one Research Vessel and three T23s, plus refitted an ex-RFA for foreign service and one or two other small projects.

    The manhours expended on those contracts were about 6 million for the AOR, two and a bit for the research vessel and between 2.2 and 2.6 million for each frigate (learning curve effect). That’s a workforce of between 1600 and 2000 based on average numbers. In fact, there were also two frigates (the last T22 and one of the first T23) being finished in that time, as well as a cable ship, so the workforce was closer to 3000 for a large chunk of that.

    Put another way, if it takes 2M manhours to build a frigate-sized warship and you want to do it over two years, with a delivery every year, you’re looking at about 750-1000 people, of which at least 250 will be design / ops control / design eng staff, plus overheads like commercial, finance, purchasing, H&S, security, IT etc. The more you can share your overheads (for example by being within a secure environment that uses purchasing, commercial, IT etc for ship support), the more efficient you’re likely to be. Sharing facilities (steel stock yards, paint shops, pipe, sheet metal and outfit shops, sparkies boutiques and hair salons etc) with a support facility is also a no-brainer. Being able to balance design engineering load across build and support also helps, although they’re not fully interchangeable skillsets.

  15. Beno

    I think the ACA and QE class project has fully proved (if it were in doubt) the new way of building warships.
    Some chunks of QEC were 8000 tonnes approx. And designing the production and assembly of these blocks is all part of the process. If push came to shove, money would HAVE to be put in to develop a primary yard, but there are probably some security considerations. Eggs in one basket etc
    I think we all know that the break-up of the UK would be detrimental to all involved, and quite likely the world to be honest.
    Loosing Scotland engineering expertise (even if not immediately, but in and for generations to come) is not somewhere as an Englishman I want to go.
    BRITISH warships are commonly renowned to be the best in the world for war fighting quality per tonne. They have influenced the globe, stopped tyrants in their tracks, and protected our interests for hundreds of years.
    And I for one would prefer the Type 26 to remain a British project !

  16. ArmChairCivvy

    The frigate factory thinking has a parallel in the studies made about how best to gain efficiencies in both the construction and the operation of the QEs.

    Forgetting about the latter here (it is all in the design by now), the outcome for parallel construction was (estimated to be) that if you don’t get at least 37% then the savings quickly go to nothing. With mathematical roundation that is the “same” as building over two years and launching one (frigate) every year?

  17. Not a Boffin

    Don’t forget that the QE build strategy was driven primarily wrt its size relative to UK facilities and their capacity. The biggest block was about 12000 te and frankly they’d have gone for bigger blocks if they could have built up to full flightdeck level, rather than build to hangar deck and then build piecemeal on top of that (driven by shed size and block stability limits). There’s a proportion of inefficiency in that programme because they’re undertaking handover inspections of blocks and units etc more often than they would normally to contractually hand blocks between yards. For example Babcock are undertaking inspections of units at Rosyth after delivery from BAES, A&P, Cammells and Babcocks Appledore and will not contractually accept them until they’re happy. You wouldn’t get that level of inspection / process in a single yard. In some ways it’s good because it forces rigour, in other ways less so, because it’s cataloguing stuff you would normally expect anyway.

    The issue with efficiency is largely to do with the balance between steel and outfit trades. Essentially you need to optimise the production of steel units and assembly of blocks such that they can be outfitted at a rate that avoids a build up of steel units awaiting outfit, leaving the steel trades with a much reduced workload while they wait for outfit trades to finish the blocks for erection in the building dock / on the berth.

    You need steel trades primarily early in the build, outfit trades primarily later in the build. The optimium rate is one where you have sufficient steel staff to build units and maintain skill bases while feeding units to outfit at a rate you don’t need to throw manpower at it to make the programme timelines, again while having sufficient depth in the workforce that you can maintain a good age profile. Across all of this you have to ensure that neither steel nor outfit trades (which are not interchangeable as outlined in a previous post) are not short of work for any significant period.

    There’s also the QA, test and commissioning piece where you ideally want to be doing this through the build, while ensuring what has been signed off, isn’t beggared about with later. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to inspect and sign-off bits of a system where either you can’t get at it (because someone has run a load of cables or a piperun in front of it) or where some f8cker will drop the line after you’ve tested it to do something else, thereby invalidating your test and potentially contaminating your system.

  18. Simon257

    If the Scots decide to leave. Where are we going to carry out Deep maintenance on CVF and T45. Because if we are not going to build Warships in Scotland anymore, were certainly going to maintain them in Rosyth either.

    On Shipbuilding, doesn’t Devonport have a large slipway. The Carrier HMS Terrible was built their or is that part of the base, that was sold off?

  19. Bigx

    Yeah there’s been over 1000 people working on drill rigs and offshore power rigs for at least a year now your info on h&w woefully out of date.

    You beat them over the head for a security lapse. When pira breached army hq, the prime ministers security and many other areas smacks typical double standards.

  20. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Mike – BAE have one big customer for warships – they will come up with a Plan B sharpish if and when that customer requires it…with a bill attached…but are probably keen to avoid falling out with the Salmondistas until HMG are ready to lead the charge.

    And as a Gloomy Northern Boy, although I can see the obvious merits of Portsmouth, politically the PM that loses Scotland can probably make up ground in the North if they at least look at doing some Naval work on the Tyne and the Mersey…and the one slightly less obvious conclusion I draw from the recent elections is that although the Tories have few friends in the North now, the Labour Party are losing theirs as well. Not surprising given that the Guardian and Independent are their House Magazines…and those are journals not much read, fervently pressing beliefs not much held, in the average Core City Council Estate near you…

    The idea of UKIP making progress in Rotherham is still cheering me up… :-)

    GNB

  21. TAS

    The assessment by the RN Navigation community is that QE is too big to enter Devonport; it would never get around the Vanguard Bank. The original assessment also made the (perfectly valid) point that Faslane would be the best possible base for the QE class – close to the ranges, close to Crombie and close to Rosyth. Dredging work for Portsmouth is still not underway; that will be a massive amount of work opening up a completely new channel west of Spit Sand Fort.

  22. as

    There is a pair of short clips on the youtube.com/user/QEClassCarriers channel showing each of the yards involved.
    Two of them are based on the Tyne

    Martin McColgan, Assistant Project Manager, Tyne
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sepo1XAcV8

    The yard left on the Tyne is very small

    Alan Blakey, Shipwright Team Leader, Tyne
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6FiMzz9W2E

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A%26P_Group
    They have some good facility’s for ship servicing ship. So stuff may not have to go to Scotland for that.

  23. Simon

    NAB,

    Not sure if the “FFS” was targetted at my question(about T45/T26 std/deep displacements, or one of the build capability questions above?

    I mentioned a few years ago that CVF had an end-of-life design displacement of 75,000 tonnes which got shot down. Turns out it was true. Does this mean my semi-reliable source for T45′s end-of-life displacement of 8000 tonnes (deep) is true too?

    I’d just like to know what the banded 6000 tonnes of T26 actually is. Start-of-life? End-of-life? Standard? Deep? Metric? Imperial? Or are they still trying to pull wool over people’s eyes and use burthen tonnes? ;-)

  24. Not a Boffin

    So Big X – how many of those are contractors? 75%+ I’d wager brought in to do painting, welding and some outfit jobs usually. Logs of lagging and plumbing, some pipework and some electrical installation. Done to Defstans/Naval Rules or done to class and offshore rules? The contractors tend to be SME with a background in quick turn round ship repair. Not the same as build.

    The offshore power rigs you mention are either fabrication of steel jackets primarily for wind turbines or assembly of wind turbines prior to barging out to the Irish Sea fields. The drill rigs you mention are primarily ship repair and refit jobs, again using short-term contractors and they come there for the docks (it’s difficult to get semi-subs in many other docks in the UK).

    Got a panel line back yet? Nope. Got any real undercover block outfitting yet? Nope. Building lots of highly outfitted ship units and blocks yet? Nope. Built any ships in the last ten years? Nope.

    As for beating them over the head for a security lapse, I think it’s the catalogue of delivery failures that’s important, not just letting PIRA bomb Viccy’s machinery space. I didn’t mention the overruns on Schiehallion or the two Glomar drillships either.

    H&W are a very competent offshore fabrication and commercial ship repair outfit. They do not have the facilities or permanent staff to do complex warship build, have not built a ship since the Points and have no plans to do so.

    Simon – T45s will be docked in Portsmouth, as has always been the plan. QE docking will be slightly more tricky, but there’s no reason for a Class survey docking why she couldn’t go to H&W or to Verolme in Holland for that matter.

    There is nothing in Devonport of any interest wrt shipbuilding or even big ship repair. The only slipway left was in the South yard and had nothing to service it.

  25. All Politicians are the Same

    @TAS

    Would not want to drive QE in or out of Devonport. The LPD was emotional enough :) Rhu narrows will be interesting, not much room to mise your wheel over but thought it was always easier than Devonport.

  26. Simon257

    @ APATS

    I remember asking you the same question 2 years ago and getting the same answer

    However wasn’t Devonport the home of the Fleet Carriers? Plenty of images of Devonport with the Fleet Carriers moored.

    This is a superb shot:
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/alimarante/8552931733/

    If we can dredge Portsmouth Harbour, we can do the same for Devonport. Although Ark Royal did run aground once!

  27. monkey

    Its a pity the King George V Graving Dock is long out of commission at 366m x 41m x 15m deep and at the end of the Southampton deep water access channel (the only port in the UK so far to take post panama container ships (that 366m x 49m x 15m draft , bigger than the new Ford class carriers!)

  28. TAS

    Somon257,

    QE is significantly bigger than the old Fleet Carriers. Those ships needed plenty of tug support and even then navigating the Vanguard Bank turn was only possible at extreme high tides and at slack water (once or twice a month). You have to go north of Drake’s Island – navigating between Drakes Island and Deer Park is out as a) there are the old WW1 anti-U-boat blocks and b) it’s a moot point anyway as doing so would destroy the Millbay, Mountbatten and Cattewater harbours by redirecting the water flow and silting them up (the option has been formally shut off by the Environment Agency). You cannot simply ‘dredge’ this harbour. Dredging Portsmouth is at least possible, although it will be a considerable amount of work.

  29. x

    @ monkey

    I have wondered about Southampton too. I remember when I saw QM2 coming alongside for the first time with little or no fuss and then thought about CVF performing a similar manoeuvre……..

  30. Challenger

    Harland and Wolff diverged into the offshore energy market years ago, not sure when the last ship was built there but it’s clearly not their bread and butter these days.

    Sounds like in the doomsday event of Scotland going independent Portsmouth will be the only realistic choice for major shipbuilding.

    Appledore can still build specific sections and small ships up-to around 3,000 tons, Barrow does submarines and Cammell Laird is doing very well from repair and refit work on RFA’s plus other bits and pieces, but as others have pointed out they are all very different kettles of fish compared to major warship construction.

    Doesn’t Ferguson’s still exist on the Clyde? Although being Scottish it wouldn’t be of much use post independence and i believe like Appledore they could only build/launch vessels up-to the 3-5,000 ton range, but it’s nice to see a non BAE owned company still managing to build small ferries/merchant ships rather than going the way of everyone else.

    Portsmouth will still be in good enough shape post referendum that with any small drop of sanity a yes vote will see BAE put the 200+ million originally earmarked for the Clyde yards down there instead.

  31. Simon257

    @ APATS

    Well if the EA are involved that’s the end of that idea!

    Well there’s always Milford Haven!

  32. The Other Chris

    Worth noting as an aside that QM2 is far more manoeuvrable than QEC without assistance. Azimuth pods, multiple thrusters of higher rating. The Mermaid pods (and equivalents) are really impressive stuff.

  33. Not a Boffin

    Except when you think of them as very heavy items on the end of a (relatively) flexible beam subject to undex – and that’s without considering some of their teething issues with heat dissipation…..

  34. IXION

    N A B

    Politics is the art of the possible.

    Given it is widely recognised that it would be politically impossible to give work to an independent Scotland. And if you listen to snr politicians it is clearly regarded as political suicide to propose building in Scotland post ind.

    Where in the UK could be upgraded to handle Elephant repair and t26 build?

  35. Not a Boffin

    Not sure why one would try to undertake QE “repair” – I assume you mean Class docking – and T26 build in the same place. They have very different demands in terms of facilities and people.

    That said, let’s look at what is needed.

    QE Docking – essentially a large dock with a clear opening of about 40m at waterline , 80m clear breadth at quayside and between 290-300m long, with a water height over sill of about 10m. Depending on the scope of work, that’s it. Craneage is much less important once she’s built and you can generally hire in cranes of the capacity you need, provided hardstanding of sufficient load rating is available. Ideally should be a naval environment for efficiency (you can do much more work in a docking with secure storage for classified kit and suitably cleared people).

    T26 Build (and potentially ships of (say) 230m and up to 30000 te (eye on LPD replacement and potentially FSS).

    Primary requirement is to have a dock (and/or a slipway) capable of building ships of those dimensions, which is basically 230m long, 33-35m overall beam, 25m hull depth, drawing up to 8m of water (sonar dome). Ideally the dock or slipway will be covered to allow erection of highly outfitted blocks as efficiently as possible.

    Contiguous to that space you need a covered assembly fabrication shop where the units can be assembled into blocks, painted and outfitted. That basically needs a building with access door of 37m breadth x 28m height, with a floor rating of between 10-15 te/sq.m and ideally a couple of hundred metres length to have several units/blocks in assembly concurrently prior to moving to dock/slipway. The bigger the blocks, the better chance of meeting a 12 month delivery drumbeat for T26. Around that, you’ll need a decent sized panel line (mainly for any larger ships), a steel sub assembly area with plate rollers, frame benders, pin jigs etc, and decent over head craneage (150-200 te, plus some smaller ones). Plus a good sized paint shop and outfit shops (pipe workshop, mech workshops). You also need a good steel cutting facility adjacent to the panel line and steel subassemby sheds.

    Then you need extensive secure stores for FAT stamped equipment and other things, offices for about 100 people to control the build, plus about another 500-1000 to actually construct the thing and another 150+ for design / design engineering / drawing offices etc.

    For docking QE in ports navigable by QE, in the UK but outside Scotland, there’s only H&W that could dock her without modification. The other potential docks would be :

    A&P Falmouth (would need to extend no 2 dock by 50m) which is do-able but far from cheap and lose the dockside cranes.

    A&P Hebburn – again you’d have to extend taht dock by 50m or thereabouts and lose the cranes.

    Cammell Laird – you’d need to extend 5 dock by about 20m and drop the cranes, but definitely do-able.

    Portsmouth – Neither C or D lock could take QE in terms of length or beam. However, extending out to the prom and into three basin while combining those locks would easily accommodate the ship. Not cheap though.

    Devonport – not navigable, so not viable. Not just a question of dredging.

    Barrow – not navigable and no dock.

    For build facilities outside Scotland, you’ve basically got –

    Appledore, Barrow, Portsmouth, plus A&P Tyne, Cammell Laird and H&W as former shipyards being operated as ship repair concerns.

    Appledore is too small even for T26 and you can’t make it bigger.
    Barrow has a big build hall, outside slipways with assembly sheds reasonably close, but has big tidal restrictions and limits in access to Buccleugh dock. Plus it will be toppers building submarines – which don’t mix easily with warships.
    Portsmouth has been discussed in previous posts and could do virtually all of what’s required, moreso if the C&D lock merge was undertaken.
    A&P Tyne has only one open dock and access from the sheds to the dock is a bit tortuous. Doesn’t have all the facilities needed and will be short of people with real shipbuild (as opposed to block assembly) expertise.
    Virtually the same restrictions apply to Cammells and H&W, only both yards have more available docks. Both are short of the facilities and people required though.

    Basically, this says if Wee Eck wins, your cheapest option is to either use H&W or a European yard for QE class docking and keep Portsmouth as build facility.

    Up from that, you could extend either A&P yard or Cammell to provide the docking and keep Portsmouth for build.

    If you wanted a single site, you could spend some capital in Portsmouth to do the C&D lock merge and consolidate there.

    If you wanted to spend slightly less capital, but risk shortage of bodies and maintain more sites, then you probably opt to turn Cammells into a shipyard again, but that’s a lot of money and a big risk in getting enough people. Plus more overall infrastructure & op costs as you’re maintaining separate naval base ports and build/support yards.

  36. x

    Does anybody know what percentage of the vote will win the vote? If only 30% of those who live in Scotland turnout and the yes vote wins by 51% of that turnout it is hardly an overwhelming endorsement. Especially when you consider the costs to the rest of us in those circumstances.

  37. wirralpete

    @NAB…With the capital investment planned for the Scotstoun yard of £200m and the possible stripping out of equipment craneage presses etc from there and Rosyth the only yard for me would be Lairds (sorry to keep harping on )
    All your requirements for dock sizes, fabrication halls, steel fabrication bays, pipe shops, fitting shop, machine shop etc are in place and in use at Lairds
    …build the frigate factory with a new covered dock same as at Scotstoun south of the fabrication hall and the docks are in place to build your 30000t ships with fabrication hall in place at the dimensions you require?
    As regards the labour know for a fact the shipbuilding/oil rig/ship repair industry is geared to movement of skilled workers on contracts for a short term fix…. one friend (draughtsman) ex lairds worked on albion class and astute currently up in the wilds of n norway working on Statoil’s rigs….another sandblastin and paintin rigs in S China sea based in Perth… another recently returned to Lairds workin up in Rosyth and Lairds on QE carriers… as well as sparks, pipe fitters, welders who all did apprenticeships in lairds back in day working in oil industry all over world ….
    Long term over a 15 yr build permanent workforce would build naturally
    Just think recruitin workforce aint that big a problem
    Think land to expand into is bigger problem for Pompey giving an efficient build processs for the ‘frigate factory’… :-( preparing to be shot down in flames

  38. Not a Boffin

    Simon257

    “You say that Appledore couldn’t build a T26. So how did they manage to build HMS Scott, which at 13,500 tonnes is the fifth biggest ship in the fleet?”

    Firstly I know what I’m talking about, secondly I’ve spent some time in the Appledore yard itself, thirdly I understand the difference between tonnage and dimensions as a size limit, fourthly I’ve got a pretty good idea of what T26 looks like and finally I’ve built ships for a living.

    Here’s a couple of hints. Look up the waterline length of Scott. It’s about 20m less than a T26. Then ask yourself, How big is that building dock in the shed at Appledore? Here’s another hint. Do you think there’s actually 13500 tonnes of HMS Scott? Or is it about 6000te and a lot of water ballast?

    Does that answer your question?

  39. Simon257

    @ N A B

    Apologies if my question came over the wrong way. So the actual building hall is not long enough fair enough. (And on reading your earlier post , I see you said that! So Apologies again!)

    @ HMS Scott
    I always thought that she was heavy due to her having a reinforced Hull for ops in the Polar Regions.

  40. Not a Boffin

    Pete – with your handle that’s not surprising!

    On skills and labour, well aware of how it’s done. I could put 50% on my salary tomorrow just to go to Barrow, let alone Norway or SEA. However, I’d bet good money your mates are contracting into shipbuild / repair yards with good–sized competent core workforces who use contract labour to balance supply vs demand. Nowt wrong with it, we do it here, but always against a core organisation of designers, DO staff, production planners, test and comm engineers as well as the steel and outfit trades. There’s also the question of eligibility for security clearances, which does hurt.

    What the ability of your mates to go contracting tells you is that there’s a huge worldwide demand for skilled people for which yards are prepared to pay high rates. How does that help build a core workforce from scratch if it ain’t there first? From bitter recruiting experience, I’ll tell you. It doesn’t. Skilled labour availability is the number one concern throughout the WE shipbuilding industry and particularly so in naval engineering.

    As for the frigate factory, you appear to be suggesting that you dig a newbuild dock in what is currently the offshore support hardstanding. Fair enough, but it ain’t going to be cheap – you’d be easier doing what Pompey do and barge launch. The rest of the facilities aren’t really big enough or in the right places – you need to do major work with them as well.

    That said – it’s perfectly viable, just a matter of comparative costs with Porsmouth and availability of a core workforce. You’re still going to pay more for having a separate build and support facility, removed from a naval base. Your biggest problem is going to be finding a workforce willing to adopt the company rig of dodgy tache, shellies and curly perm!

  41. wirralpete

    @NAB Further to my points above…
    Politically can see big points gained from a government choosing a north west yard for the ‘frigate factory’ with portsmouth refitting FF/DD,s, minehunters in Pompey and submarines in devonport.
    Also much easier for your scottish workforce to commute down to Merseyside to use current skills based on the Clyde?
    Tin hat on again ;-)

  42. Not a Boffin

    Simon

    If I took Scott’s hull and put half an inch of thicker plate all round it (which you don’t), I’d end up with about 400 te extra steelweight. Polar ops tend to put small ice belt around the hull, but the primary change is in the grade of steel used.

  43. Peter Elliott

    @NAB

    Other posters mentioned the KGV Graving Dock in Southampton. I see it was taken out of use and the gates removed in 2005 and is now a listed structure. Is there any engineering reason why this could not be renovated instead of rebuilding the C/D locks at Portsmouth? Has the advantage of being just round the corner from Portsmouth so presumably all your skilled labour is already to hand.

    As for H&W I can imagine that they might be reluctant to mess up their core business by blocking their dock with a QE for several months at a time. The RN would probably have to wait their turn, which could mess up the readiness cycle of the two carriers or actually stop one deploying in a real emergency if the only suitable dock were blocked by a half built oil rig.

  44. wirralpete

    @NAB Fair enough mate see what you mean as regards connies as opposed core workforce was just thinking Baes Clyde workforce would go anyway, and you’d have to build up Pompeys, that you admit you have trouble recruiting in expensive and sunny south coast !!
    As for shellies perms and dodgy ‘taches… ‘Dont be mistaken dont be misled, we are not scousers we’re from birkenhead!!’
    Come up for the Open at Hoylake and see what the Wirral has to offer as well as great nights out over the water in the ‘pool of life!! ;-)

  45. Angus McLellan

    @x: It’s a simple majority vote. I’d have put an “of course” in there, but it can’t be that obvious or you wouldn’t be asking. While it’s a truism that people lie to pollsters about how they voted in the past, about how they’ll vote in the future, and – most of all – about how likely they are to vote, there is no reason from the polling (and from claims about canvassing results) to think that turnout would be anything other than high.

    If you’re minded to have a flutter, the latest turnout odds are to be found here [Oddschecker.com]. Ladbrokes are offering 16/1 on turnout under 60% and if you’re looking for the other extreme you can get 3/1 on over 85%.

  46. wirralpete

    @NAB … current core workforce is 1000 strong, given your comment for numbers needed to build a frigate every 12 mths (june 4 12.19pm) then 750 doesnt seem huge stretch given current core workforce

  47. wirralpete

    @NAB …. Currently refitting majority of RFA vessels so support facility effectively in place as well as people signed off for secret squirrel stuff methinks
    Again like you said comes down to cost and politics… be a big gain for all 3 parties up here

  48. x

    @Angus

    I hadn’t seen it mentioned anywhere. Not that I have looked for it. Yes I see what you are saying about intentions and turnouts. But not to put a threshold in place for such an important decision seems a bit, well, poor. But modern politics relies on the people not exercising their franchise.

    Bit of a worry that then.

    If the mandate is low I hope whoever is sorting out the mess from our end doesn’t roll over and take a kicking.

  49. Not a Boffin

    Pete

    - that’s almost being Welsh isn’t it??!!

    How many of those 1000 are contractors and how many with experience of complex naval build (as opposed to commercial ship repair / RFA support)?

  50. wirralpete

    @NAB … Nah your just lookin at map … more scousers in clwyd than welsh judging by where i work lol
    Understand what your sayin regards complex naval build, core is around 800 or more at moment i think …
    Was just thinking awful lot of complex warship shipbuilders from Clyde would be lookin for work with easy commutes and politically gives big points for labour /condems
    As you say is a balance between construction, and fitting out, that current workforce already do.
    Start from a clean slate and no history of BAE work practices and you could see major cost gains as i’ve seen over last 15 years in the automotive manufacturing industry on merseyside, trade union’s management etc have come a long way with JLR and Vauxhall making big strides in quality, efficiency and throughput

  51. Brian Black

    How much easier would this post-independence speculation be if the QE class were 50m shorter and had a dock in the arse end?

    X, turnout in Scotland for the last general election was 65%. The polls have not shown either side to have a comfortable margin of support, so we might expect to see a high turnout as more people see a real chance of affecting the result with their vote.

  52. x

    @ Brian Black

    Irrespective of whether turn outs are high or not in recent election for there to be no safeguards is faintly ridiculous.

  53. Not a Boffin

    I thought the most of the scousers were in Chester!

    Be careful with “fit out”. The current workforce doesn’t do naval fit-out, it does commercial and RFA fit out, which are significantly different, both in rules applied and complexity.

    “BAE work practices” are not the issue – this isn’t a union / productivity issue it’s more to do with management and project management process required by MoD and how BAE applies that to mitigate commercial risk.

    Have come across Peel holdings before – might even have been wrt CL. Trying to remember.

    Brian the post-indy speculation has very little to do with QE, nothing to do with some hypothetical LHD and everything to do with where to build T26.

  54. Waylander

    @NAB
    “Forget the exports – none of the navies you mention are going to bite on a ship that’s the size of a T45 or thereabouts”

    The displacement given for the T45s by the RN and RINA is 8,000 – 8,500 t,
    I thought the T26s were going to be substantially smaller at around 6,000 t ?

    Any chance of selling T26s to the Brazilian Navy or RAN?

  55. Dunservin

    @NAB

    Allegedly, Peel Holdings were responsible for the abrupt expulsion from Birkenhead (and subsequent bankruptcy) of the Historic Warships Trust along with the question mark over the futures of HMS Plymouth, HMS Bronington, HMS Onyx and U-534.

  56. NOt a BOffin

    “The displacement given for the T45s by the RN and RINA is 8,000 – 8,500 t,
    I thought the T26s were going to be substantially smaller at around 6,000 t ?”

    So do a lot of people….

  57. Brian Black

    Waylander, I think the Brazilians had been musing building their next aircraft carrier themselves. Their shipbuilding ambitions probably rule out selling units, though the T26 design might suit them.

  58. x

    @ Brian B

    The way things are going with T26 perhaps their ship will suit us…………..

  59. Angus McLellan

    @NaB: It wouldn’t be a surprise if lots of people, including ones who should know better, are wrong about something, whether that’s the prospects for the economy in 2007 or the size of the Type 26. But why are they wrong? How did it get that big? And why hasn’t somebody, somewhere let the cat out of the bag rather more publicly?

  60. Anixtu

    Dunservin,

    “Allegedly, Peel Holdings were responsible for the abrupt expulsion from Birkenhead (and subsequent bankruptcy) of the Historic Warships Trust along with the question mark over the futures of HMS Plymouth, HMS Bronington, HMS Onyx and U-534.”

    I expect it was related to the redevelopment of the adjacent warehouses into flats.

    Plymouth and Bronington are still present in the Float, Onyx has reportedly gone to the Clyde, and U-534 has been chopped op for preservation and display at Merseytravel’s Woodside ferry terminal.

  61. Simon

    From NAB’s various cryptic messages over the last six months and his wonderful ducking and diving I can only assume the following…

    The original 5400t and the new 6000t are the light (devoid of fuel, stores, crew, etc) displacements. This seems about right given the proposed hull size. I assume the ship length grew by 4-5 meters from the original 5400t figure too.

    So T26 currently stands at about:

    6000t light
    6700t standard
    7000t normal
    7500t full-load
    8000t end-of-life design maximum

    For note, the same sizing calcs put T45 at…

    6400t light
    7200t standard
    7500t normal
    8000t full-load
    8500t end-of-life design maximum

  62. paul g

    @Wirral pete … Nah your just lookin at map … more scousers in clwyd than welsh judging by where i work lol ” that’ll be Flintshire or Denbighshire sir, stopped being Clwyd about 25 years ago. I’ve done loads of work on the Wirral, freaks me out how the north side is all industrial and then a 2 min drive to the south side and it’s like a national park!!
    Peel holdings have a 50 year plan for the waterside ( I was involved in planning for major fibre links) They keep getting held up by yoghurt knitters trying to save the landscape. I drove along the boundary wall for the old CL yard it was ‘kin ma-hoosive. (and sadly a wasteland)

  63. wirralpete

    @paul g…. yeah my bad regardin flintshire and denbighshire
    Dont be misled by the ‘wasteland’ look of the Lairds yard plenty goin on inside ….was kinda my point as regards land to develop new build halls and fabrication facilities and office complexes
    Yeah we are lucky with our south and west sides of the peninsular esp me livin 5 miles from centre of liverpool on the edge of a local nature reserve and rolling countryside … thank f**k for ‘greenbelt’

  64. mickp

    I can see where T26 is heading unfortunately – numbers cut, equipment cut or worst case both

  65. Repulse

    Must admit whilst the current options for complex warship building are limited, I am encouraged by the number of potential sites assuming we have the foresight to not build luxury flats on them and ensure we keep the people skills.

    On another tack, the “beauty” of the WW2 Flower Class was it could be built in commercial yards – perhaps this is something we should consider in designing future OPVs and follow on minor warships.

  66. Roders

    @mickp

    I swear I saw TD write a while ago tat the main priority for the t26 was to get as many as possible.

    Plus the economy is picking up, if the budget is worked out on percentages of tax revenues – doesn’t that mean (with taxes going up) defense spending might increase a little bit too? Would be an easy way for a government to hide an increase in spending.

    If anything I think we’ll see all 13 purchased at least, of the same size – but a hell of a lot of ‘fitted for but not with’.

  67. Repulse

    @MickP: I think the 8 ASW vessels are safe as their role are clearly justifiable to decision makers outside of the core Naval planners. I know the TAS will be moveable between ships but fact is we will only have the skills and kit for 8.

    The 5 GP vessels are tied up in the argument about “send a £1bn warship to fight a pirate with a RPG”, so are at risk no matter BAE saying there will be 13.

    What I would like to see is a better argument for these additional ships through an identification of a clearer primarily role.

    My idea would be to build a modified batch 2 design targeted as a “RM Assault and Support” ship, something more akin to the Absalon class. The main difference would be a rear ramp more aligned to the original concept as the TAS restriction is not there. But I’m thinking the design should be able to support:

    - 200 Marines
    - 2 LCVPs on davits
    - Enlarged hanger capable of supporting 2 Mk4 Merlins
    - Rear mission bay capable of housing a deploying hovercraft and RM Vikings

    This in my view would also significantly improve BAE export chances.

  68. The Other Chris

    Maybe we should ask NaB to stick a PW3 reactor in the T26 seeing as the cost is rising anyway…

  69. WiseApe

    @Repulse – Or, we could have that AAW frigate we speculated on a couple of years back, when we were told the hull’s too small for Sampson. Problem solved now!

  70. Repulse

    @Wiseape: Would love to have Sampson on the T26, but with the 6 young T45s don’t see it as justifying in itself a larger order beyond the ASW ships. Longer term I would like a single top end Burke like platform, but looking at potential future ops and the expected fleet structure then I’d see a RM support variant as a very good idea.

  71. Repulse

    Going off on a tangent, personally would like the UK to separate the CBGs from the ARG coming out from the SDSR 2015.

    The CBG is all about sea based power projection, whereas the ARG is all about getting troops ashore and supported.

    I personally have no problem handing over the ARG to the RFA and Army, escorted by the RN and using RMs as door openers. The additional T26 variant I mentioned could act as both the ARG escorts and the RM platforms.

  72. Fedaykin

    @Repulse

    We know you would love SAMPSON on T26, doesn’t make it a good idea ;-)

    SAMPSON is a curious, expensive, advanced, extremely complex but ultimately unique solution. It will never be fitted to another class of warship beyond T45, it is just too expensive for what it does. ARTISAN on the other hand has a very good chance of exports as it is modern, affordable and does much of what most navies want out of a general purpose AESA 3D search radar.

    Now don’t get me wrong SAMPSON is brilliant but it isn’t the right choice for T26 when you look at its role within the fleet. ARTISAN gives the RN one of the best 3D AESA radars available on the market today made in Britain and at a reasonable price.

  73. Peter Elliott

    @Fedyakin

    Now fast forward 20 years:

    The Type 45 hulls are knackered having been run into the ground all round the globe while Type 26 slowly staggered into service and the last few Type 23 were made to struggle on and on.

    The Type 26 design is now proven in service and construction costs are stable or even falling as the factory spits them out reliably one per year.

    The next LHD design has been looked at but the Albions have had a quiet life and there’s no urgency to retire them. The shipyard needs work.

    Would you not conisder ordering a batch of AAW-Type 26 with the Sampson sets pulled through from the retiring Type 45s? Now maybe by that time the hardware may be obsolete and an upgraded son-of-artisan would be a better bet. But I’d at least consider the case in that situation.

  74. Fedaykin

    Maybe, but I think it is unwise to make any particular plans based upon what might happen in twenty years.

    Personally I would think pulling twenty year old radars, actually older then that considering when development started is of questionable benefit.

    By all means it might well be worth looking at an AAW dedicated variant whilst T26 is in build but in twenty years we do need to consider that it might not be as cost effective as one might think. By then T26 will be a twenty year old design with primary systems in concept that are over twenty years old even if purchased new. Would they be even available to support an extended build. It is the old “Long lead item” problem all over again.

    I would guess they would actually go for the same solution that we currently doing with T26. Designing a new vessel but lifting concepts and certain systems out of the previous class.

  75. Observer

    PE, you mean 40-50 years. 20 years is too short a span for ships. Ground vehicles maybe, but ships tend to have longer lifespans.

    Besides, just because you can bung a unit on top of a ship does not mean that it is a good idea. We tried that with our old missile gunboats, retired now. They became top heavy and less seaworthy, saved only by the fact that we kept them close to shore and that their area of ops is fairly placid weather wise. Balance considerations also play a serious part. A destroyer or frigate won’t do anyone any good upside down in the water.

  76. Peter Elliott

    Observer

    Right about stability considerations. Lets wait and see what characteristics T26 has as a ship rather than as a powerpoint slide. You may be right. Or may not. Also lets wait and see what kind miniturisation happens over the next few years with the ‘pointy end’ of the hardware that has to be shipped up high.

    As for ship lifespans I’m not so sure. 50 year lifespans are possible with the right readiness cycles and refurb regimes. And these will be appropriate for our capital ships that may well spend long periods operating ‘one-on / one-off’. But for the fleet Combat Ships (FF/DD) I’m not so sure.

    We have a fleet size that is numerically tight for the required tasks and very little slack. Put simply our Frigates and Destroyers are nowadays planned to be thrashed. And thats on peacetime ops before considering possible operations. It can only work if they are all in really good condition. Remember how poor the Type 42s became towards the end of 30 year lives. We also have an industrial policy to consider: retaining a sovereign capabilty to design and build complex warships is an offically declared goal. In that situation a ‘scrap and build’ policy to keep average fleet age down and utilisation rates up has much to recommend it. It also keeps the line open in case we do suffer wartime lossees or need to re-arm in a hurry.

  77. wf

    @Fedaykin: so what exactly were we doing spending a billion developing a radar we would never use outside of a T45 and cannot be exported? You don’t find the Yanks fitting anything other than SPY-1 on their ships, which funnily enough, they seem to have no problem exporting…

  78. Observer

    PE, most warships are actually very long lasting, much more than 20 years. It’s just that most of the time in the past you guys would simply sell them off once they reach a certain age. It’s in these 2nd hand buyers that the ships would serve out their 30+ lifespan.

  79. Fedaykin

    @wf

    How long has SAMPSON been out of production now? How many ships is it currently on…6 plus one shore test facility.

    SPY is currently in production. 106 SPY has been installed on the ships of six navies with more to come…

    Do the math, never say never but in all likeliness there will be no more SAMPSON will be built.

    Why was it developed at all that cost?

    National sovereign capabilities. Independence in defence development and procurement. Keeping BAE Systems alive. Politics. Protecting jobs Take you pick…

    The Royal Navy wanted SPY, Standard and AEGIS. Other considerations came into play.

  80. x

    I suppose it all depends on how you look at it. The collapse of the USSR caught everybody by surprise, European governments of the era being more centrist (left-ish) so keen to scale back armed forces. Need to replace T42 but Aegis being deemed too expensive before the end of the Cold War. CVF not being a replacement in scale for the Invincibles. Horizon not doing enough yet CVF not being CTOL leaving us with Baggers not an E2-esque airframe for ASaC/AEW. Going with the French and Italians as partners, not the more dependable Dutch and Germans. More cuts to defence. etc. etc. And so on. One day I will have to look at the timelines of all this to see when it all went wrong because it is right confusing. Sea Viper is an excellent system in an odd platform. Sometimes I wonder about Invincible being replaced with Cavour-esque vessel (even if meant heliborne ASaC/AEW if it meant a decent system spread across more platforms) and the RN having 9/12 of an Anglicised version of these,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Zeven_Provinci%C3%ABn_class_frigate

    and we have been able to keep SSN numbers up too. But we are where we are a large helicopter carrier with a tiny helibonre ASaC/AEW (that despite all the hoopla isn’t too “exciting”, a super missile on too few platforms that are odd, and falling SSN numbers. APATS is right to bang on about soft kill etc. , but if all you have is a few platforms dodging bullets without much capacity to hurt the enemy you have to ask why have a navy at all?

  81. jedibeeftrix

    @ PE – “retaining a sovereign capabilty to design and build complex warships is an offically declared goal. In that situation a ‘scrap and build’ policy to keep average fleet age down and utilisation rates up has much to recommend it.”

    Yes.

    A very important consideration, which perhaps explains why we are happy to thrash our boats.

    with submarines you can have 12 boats:
    > with a 27 year operating life
    > new design every 9 years
    > new boat every 27 months

    could this be adapted for surface warships?

  82. Not a Boffin

    “The Royal Navy wanted SPY, Standard and AEGIS. Other considerations came into play”

    Not entirely convinced about that Fed. Column 3 requirements in the Tripartite spec for PAAMS were (and possibly still are IIRC) beyond what a SPY1/SM2/Aegis ship can manage.

    That doesn’t invalidate your point re Sampson. Much like WR21 some very trick technology, but possibly a Betamax/VHS scenario. I’d be astonished if any more were ever built.

  83. jedibeeftrix

    with warships you can have 18 escorts:
    > with a 27 year operating life
    > new design every 9 years
    > new boat every 18 months

  84. Mickp

    @Repulse, I agree the GP T26 needs a rethink. To me it’s just a placeholder to argue we’ll get 13 T23 replacements but with the CVFs and current ‘threat analysis’ 13 broadly identical ‘frigates’ may not be the right structure.

    With 8 TAS t26s it gives us 14 high end escorts for the CVFs which is probably enough, just ( the numbers work better with 9 T26s on the 3 for 1 rule) Peacetime a T45 and 2 T26s as escorts (no less) , a FRE and possibly a spare for ME or APT(s). Full war conditions we can get at least 5 escorts for CVF.

    What else do we need? Your idea for an Absalon type variant makes a lot of sense in the current environment. A ships that can keep up with CVF, decent self defence so capable of independent ops in hot zones and able to carry out raiding ops with a reinforced company by sea and air. I think I would then be considering a cheaper GP frigate design to make up the numbers. More like a modern day Leander. Basic gun weapons fit, space midships for CAMM box, Lynx hanger, hull sonar and back tail fitted for but not with TAS kit. Peace time a show the flag gunboat, wartime a secondary line escort and ASW. I am thinking more in line of the first Venator design but with hanger rather than the more Corvette style 2nd one. Substance over style

  85. x

    Oh how I hate how the term GP is used here. All our frigates are general purpose, just that some of them have a TAS. Better to sacrifice one T26 to make sure TAS is available for all T26 than to start worrying about acquiring a vessel that was built to meet very specific Danish needs. If you want to do anything amphibious you are going to need a battalion at least. A reinforced company isn’t enough to do anything.

  86. Observer

    I don’t see anything wrong with “General Purpose” provided the basic capabilities are there.

  87. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Observer

    Precisely, we do not hear anyone talking about GP T23 and I doubt the vast majority of people even know which are TAS fitted never mind how that has affected their deployment profiles etc. yet now we have the T26 with a modern propulsion system, upgraded AAW capability, better MR gun and a mission bay which is somehow not worth using?

  88. Mark

    I’m probably in a minority but I can see no reason at all to maintain a full sovereign design capability in anything other than submarines.

  89. The Other Chris

    One aspect for sovereign R&D to consider is the importance for the UK to maintain sovereign design and build ability in certain areas (critical systems) as it assists with passing the Foreign Military Sales process in the US for particularly sensitive US equipment.

    The UK demonstrating it has a capability, even in limited run or in test material form, has historically eased that Senatorial system’s gears. The UK has not been immune to attempted and successful blocks on the transfer of US technology no matter how special the relationship.

    As for foreign options in place of T26, there’s huge assumptions that these vessels are without flaw when they are suggested.

  90. x

    @ Observer

    Did I say there was anything wrong with the term General Purpose? Where did I say there was anything wrong with the term General Purpose? Where? Come on point it out to me.

    There was a time when frigates were built to perform certain tasks. I will list them for you,

    1) Anti-submarine (T12)
    2) Anti-air warfare (T41)
    3) Fighter direction (T61)

    Even though saying that all three had some capability in all three areas. Due to costs, shortcoming in the diesel driven T41/T61 (primarily speed), and improving technology all three roles were rolled up into one hull the T12 and then Leander and the they became General Purpose. Just as T22 B1 to B3 were/are GP, Just as even T21 was GP. And oddly just as T23 is GP. Apart from TAS there is no flanning difference between a T23 with 2087 and a T23 without one. Even T42 was a GP frigate.

    The danger is that T26 will be built to the number of 2087 sets. Or just as bad some T26 will be built without certain equipment to save costs. Actually the latter would be the worse of all worlds because we would be paying over the odds for nothing more than a patrol frigate.

    @ APATS

    What do you mean? Where did I say that the gun shouldn’t be fitted to T26 that will have 2087? Or that Sea Ceptor shouldn’t be fitted? Come on where did I say that?

    I remember last time this came up you couldn’t quite grasp that not building one T26 (£500 million and climbing) could fund more TAS sets (at £40 million a copy) for all T26. All you kept on saying for about 3 to 4 posts “we have 8 asw and 5 GP T23″ etc.

  91. jedibeeftrix

    in principle, i still have nothing against the notion of sacrificing the 13th T26 in order to get twelve full fat versions, with the change (~£250m?), being thrown into the MCHP (sp?) pot.

  92. All Politicians are the Same

    @X

    I never claimed that you said the gun or Sea Ceptor should not be fitted. To help you I will repost here.

    “Precisely, we do not hear anyone talking about GP T23 and I doubt the vast majority of people even know which are TAS fitted never mind how that has affected their deployment profiles etc. yet now we have the T26 with a modern propulsion system, upgraded AAW capability, better MR gun and a mission bay which is somehow not worth using?”

    The obvious point is that the complete package is not worth using.

    I can easily grasp the arithmetic just not the value in sacrificing a hull to make every other one TAS fitted and that only even works out if we use your new £500 million and climbing figures which of course do not take any account of the extra training courses or through life personnel costs of running the extra TAS hulls.

    I note you choose to ignore my point about employment profiles, which hulls are fitted etc etc. I just look at what we use them for, how short we are, how often we need all those TAS sets and areas where they have issues.
    then I look at deployments and think the extra hull is of far more use.

  93. The Other Chris

    @ jedibeeftrix

    Sounds like it’s just “MHC” these days with the River replacements fulfilling the “P”.

    Though I’d hope MHPC continued with a view to future direction.

  94. Observer

    x, your timing was off, I was replying to Mick on why he thinks a GP T26 needs a rethink. You just had the bad luck of sticking your head out at the wrong time. :)

  95. El Sid

    @wf
    You don’t find the Yanks fitting anything other than SPY-1 on their ships, which funnily enough, they seem to have no problem exporting…

    Actually that’s not true. They fit SPY-1 to their cruisers and AAW destroyers (with AMDR to come on Burke Flight III), TRS-3D on LCS-1 and (the USCG’s) NCS, Sea Giraffe on LCS-2, SPY-3 on Zumwalt and Ford, and AN/SPS-48/49 on most of the rest. By comparison our emerging policy of Sampson on our AAW destroyers and Artisan on everything else starts to look quite coherent, particularly given the commonality between the two…

    So the USN’s only current warships below 9000t have a mix of TRS-3D and Sea Giraffe (plus AN/SPS-49 on the last of the Perrys). There’s a debate at the moment whether the new frigate will get a mini-Aegis fit along the lines of the Nansen. They probably can’t do a SPY-1F frigate for less than $1bn, and that’s probably too much for their budget, CEAFAR is a good possibility if they don’t mind yet another logistics train.

    Presumably the RN hope that the Frogs will pay for Thales to develop their SeaFire 500 AESA (as per the FREMM-ER concept) and we end up with that or AMDR2 on the T45 replacement.

  96. Brian Black

    Does the ever-expanding Type 26 suggest a smaller number (than 13) of ships, but fitted for all imaginable bells and whistles?

    Rumour control suggests an initial order of eight frigates; the defence secretary mentioned a possible order of eight as recently as December; that might be all you get!

    The expectation of T45′s availability, when the ship hits the flan, has been stated as four or even possibly five from only six vessels. If there’ll only be seven TAS available for the frigates, and the same 80ish% ship availability is applied, the Navy would only need eight frigates to achieve six or even an optimistic seven ship availability. That may be the extreme of planning optimism, and leave no margins, but destroyer numbers have no margin either.

    I suspect there will be a decision to look at a minor vessel to be used as a jobbing warship beyond a reduced frigate fleet. With ideas of small and cheap MHPC and LCS type multirole ships knocking about for ages, it seems inconceivable that the ministry will completely ignore those concepts in favour of a navy full of monstrous giants. A smaller vessel might also be seen as having more future export potential than the Type 26.

    With a simple bit of lingual trickery, the enormous fitted-for-everything T26 could even be styled “light cruiser”, freeing up the “frigate” title for an otherwise uninspiringly described followup MHPC / OPV / LCS class.

  97. Mickp

    I suppose all this depends, as we have discussed many times, as to what HMG mean by ‘GP’

    Ie everything other than TAS, or much less, ie no strike cells, reduced CAMM fit etc

    If T26 is getting as big as it is shouldn’t we go the whole hog and build it into a truly GP ship with area air defence and more strike cells?

  98. WiseApe

    @Mickp – Two problems with that approach – we won’t be able to sell them to anyone and, as APATS says upstream, fitting “bells and whistles” means more crew and more specialised training. Not cheap.

  99. El Sid

    @BB
    If we go back to using the rating system (counting VLS rather than cannons), anything with less than 20 VLS becomes a sloop-of-war. Given the way that destroyer and corvette have been twisted away from their roots, why not reuse some of the sailplan designations like barque/bark and brig?

    The whole thing needs to be rethought though, if the Zumwalt is a destroyer that’s as big as the Graf Spee. Get rid of anomalies like that (it’s a perfect fit for the old BM designation, battle-monitor) and classify the Burkes and other heavy AAW ships as cruisers (I’ve mentioned in the past how you could give all the T45′s county names beginning with D that include proper cruiser names like Devonshire and Dorsetshire).

    Given the flexibility of VLS tubes, the sensors are more distinguishing than the weapons. So – a grown-up radar and 64+ VLS is a cruiser, grown-up radar and 48+ VLS is a light cruiser, 20-47 VLS and a towed array is a (submarine-)destroyer (think of a Battle of Atlantic-style destroyer), 20-47 VLS and no tail is a frigate. Under 20 is a sloop. Job done. Optionally split that frigate designation into fast frigates with gas turbines and slow barks that only have diesels?

    Or have sloops as you slow fighty things and bark for the slow less fighty things. I’d have thought a bark is a perfect description for commercial oil support vessels etc adapted for military use – after all HM Bark Endeavour of Captain Cook fame was an adapted collier. Plus I like bark just for being a proper Celtic word long before Latin, none of this Roman muck polluting the language….:-)

  100. jonesy

    BB

    “With a simple bit of lingual trickery, the enormous fitted-for-everything T26 could even be styled “light cruiser”, freeing up the “frigate” title for an otherwise uninspiringly described followup MHPC / OPV / LCS class.”

    That really would complete the circle of bewilderment wouldnt it!.

    We started off with FSC as a like for like 23 replacement…then progressed down the S2C2 route towards the C1, C2 and C3 suite of hulls providing the wider Surface, UW and minor fleet capability sets. Then abruptly we’re back to FSC with the T26.

    Building a low volume C1 for pure Fleet ASW on the premise of a cheap patrol frigate coming in to be our ‘Lafayette class’ equivalent would seem to be describing C1/C2 and be revisiting an idea we’ve only just, correctly, rejected!.

  101. Repulse

    @x: “Better to sacrifice one T26 to make sure TAS is available for all T26 than to start worrying about acquiring a vessel that was built to meet very specific Danish needs. If you want to do anything amphibious you are going to need a battalion at least. A reinforced company isn’t enough to do anything.”

    I have a lot of faith that the current T26 will be a good ASW platform. However, as the TAS and stern ramp and mission bay were incompatible we have in my view a sub optimal design for other roles. I am not advocating buying Absalons but adapting a T26 variant to have similar capabilities.

    I disagree with the position that a company would be too small to do anything, civilian evacuation (such as Bengazi), humanitarian relief and small anti terror raids could be done by @200 troops. Plus 2 of these as part of the CVF escort (with RMs on the carrier) would give you your battalion.

  102. Not a Boffin

    Look, it’s perfectly simple. When people refer to the T26 ASW variant, what they’re talking about is a ship capable of conducting area ASW operations, on top of what they (as a frigate) would normally be capable of doing.

    When they refer to the T26 GP variant, what they’re really talking about is the same ship only without the TA sonar and if you wanted to be really extreme, without some of the UW signature reduction features. However, building a ship and then deliberately redesigning some of the systems to take features out only makes sense if you’re in Dstl or HMT.

    The “GP” designation basically means a ship that can do AAW self defence, ASuW and form part of a screen for ASW. It also means being able to do MIOPS, patrol and all the other normal things you’d do. There’s a requirement for a MCG because it’s useful and relatively cheap. There’s also a requirement to do land attack – with some form of TLAM or equivalent. That too is relatively cheap – putting a couple of Mk41 units in a hull costs you maybe 7-10m length, plus the cost of the launchers themselves. On the platform side you need a helicopter, ideally space for some form of UAV, room for additional boats, but above all, long legs.

    None of that looks anything like a corvette or a sloop or an LCS or anything particularly exotic. Mainly because those sorts of ship are generally designed to carry a reasonably heavy punch but not to stay out independently for too long. The sorts of roles you’re talking about also need a lot of people, which means a lot of space (whether they’re always aboard or not), which means size.

    The current issues with T26 are not how big it is (although that’s not going to help exportability). The issue is actually that no-one can adequately explain why the ship is (allegedly) as heavy as it is, nor does anyone appear to be in sufficient authority to resolve some of the more “interesting” platform conflicts. The weight is only an issue because the cost model is weight-based, plus the number of VSO that are convinced that they know what a ship costs, based on its weight. That means that irrespective of what it should actually cost or what it may end up costing, you’ll have people shouting that it’s too big which must mean it’s too expensive.

    TOC makes a very good point wrt to the putative “offshore” options – no one actually knows how good they are, they just look good in Wiki / Jane’s. Here’s a little though for people – what OTS options are there? How long into the future will that be viable?

    There’s a lot of talk about how the Burke’s are great ships. Possibly so, but they were designed at the same time as the T23. US record since then? Zumwalt, LCS anyone? The Dutch LCF, the F100, the Fridtjoft Nansen, FREMM, Type 125 all look good and have some good features internally, but then do we know what their damaged stability performance is? How about their resistance to blast, undex etc? Habitability?

    This is why sovereign design capability is important – you actually know what you’re getting – or rather you should do, which is why MoD and UK re-skilling is critical. We’ve paid a price on Astute, T45, QEC and T26 for relearning how to design ships. We’re not back where we should be yet, but getting there is really important.

    One more thought for the “send it all offshore mob”. You might be able to buy a European design this decade. What about next decade and beyond?

  103. WW

    @NaB said ¨MoD and UK re-skilling is critical¨
    So better to limit Type26 to 6-8 units (large, capable and probably very expensive too) and design a new, next generation DD/FF in the mid twenties?

  104. Mark

    As we now build ships in blocks why isn’t there a naval ship “frigate” equivalent to the f35 program? The likes of Japan, Australia, Canada, uk, holland, Italy, Turkey, USA all have similar frigate type requirements or program’s and I can’t see a Australian or American sailor looking for radically different habitability requirements to a uk one or the tech in a rn frigate to be anymore sensitive than that on f35.

  105. Fedaykin

    @Mark

    They did try exactly that Mark, it was called NFR-90 (NATO Frigate Replacement for 90s)! There was a whole load of bickering right from the start as nobody could agree on pretty much everything related to its design from weapons to size to work share. Britain France and Italy tried to push on after it failed with the CNGF program, but again couldn’t agree on the details and the UK pulled out to develop the T45 whilst France and Italy continued with the Horizon:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NFR-90

  106. Mark

    Fedaykin interesting that it didn’t work out clearly someone with a big enough stick wasn’t present to stop the children squabbling.

  107. Not a Boffin

    ” The likes of Japan, Australia, Canada, uk, holland, Italy, Turkey, USA all have similar frigate type requirements or program’s and I can’t see a Australian or American sailor looking for radically different habitability requirements to a uk one or the tech in a rn frigate to be anymore sensitive than that on f35.”

    Very different navies, with very different requirements. I’m also betting you’ve never been anywhere near a US ship Mark.

  108. ArmChairCivvy

    x mentioned the Dutch ships as value for money. There is also the BMD aspect, through the same wiki link:
    ” Although there are no plans to acquire the BMD-capable SM-3 surface-to-air missiles, De Zeven Provinciën-class frigates can pass on the tracking and detection data to other sea-based or land-defense BMD assets, including U.S. Navy’s warships, that can deal with a ballistic missile threat. This modernization program is scheduled for completion by late 2017 for the entire De Zeven Provinciën class”

    So we (will) have 4 BMD capable US ships out of Rota (forward based), and these Dutch ships. Is that where it stops; what can PAAMS contribute? CEC components were already ordered, before the whole thing was cancelled (on RN’s part). It is a small step to swap out SM2s for SM3s, but the Aster BMD capability is still(?) on the drawing board, and I presume they will come with pretty hefty boosters, so will that mean a silo change, too? On ships that are only just being introduced…

  109. Brian Black

    NaB, Burkes may well have been originally designed at the same time as the T23, but they continue to make them.

    Ship designs are not entirely static, and will evolve as every new batch hits the water. That’s something we won’t achieve with a domestic build capability if we only turn out half-a-dozen units before pulling the plug; an exception being where other customers want to buy the ship, as with the successful little River derivatives, but we plump for T45/26 that no one else wants and that we don’t want in significant volume.

    Burke might be an old class, but it can be kept relevant by being in production.

  110. Not a Boffin

    Brian

    Ask yourself why Zumwalt and LCS (plus LPD17) have had so many difficulties. Anything to do with it being 25 years since the US designed a major surface combatant? As for “batches”, depending on who you talk to there are two, three or five T23 batches. On 16 hulls.

    I would hardly call Krabi a major export success either.

  111. ArmChairCivvy

    @BB, RE “we won’t achieve with a domestic build capability if we only turn out half-a-dozen units before pulling the plug”

    My favourite quote from some report that compared NATO countries procurement and associated defence industry policies stated that the UK policy is to acquire a few units as templates to stay on the technology curve and maintain the ability to ramp up if and when needed. This discussion we are having has helped me understand the description (which I always thought was valid) better.

    @TOC, RE “Does T45 need CEC? Is CEC desirable given the two Navy’s are accountable to two different jurisdictions?”

    Soo-o, you won’t be shooting a missile down because you would need to refer it through the respective capitals? Or more like it, you can’t be shooting the missile down through the use of own assets anyway, but don’t want to network own assets (like the Dutch will do) to enable an ally’s asset to do so (over a wider area, or in better multiples than what that asset can accomplish on its own)?

    I appreciate that missile defence for Europe is a different story from fleet defence (networking the T45s with other detection assets). Maybe SeaCeptor is so good, with its limited area AD capability, that getting the upgrade crowded out the monies for CEC?
    - there are other CECs afloat… like keeping the Straits open in close co-operation with our good friend Observer’s navy (and air force)

  112. Fedaykin

    Turning back to the whole dry docking the QE class problem if Scotland go independent I am rather leaning towards a floating dry dock procured and tied up somewhere suitably sheltered but close to Portsmouth to support that kind of work.

    The floating dry dock shown here in the video can lift a Nimitz class carrier so QE class is hardly an impossibility.

  113. Mark

    Nab

    Been no where near a us ship. The only problem I have is all those navy’s may have different requirement but they have all produced vessels off roughly the same size all with a helicopter all with a surface to air system predominatly of American orgin and all have a sonar and all the navy’s are required to work together. Finances will dictate these countries will collaborate in the future if they want the capabilities they currently enjoy. Maybe it’s just aerospace got there several decades earlier.

  114. wirralpete

    @nab & mark … Was thinking with the US requirement for a more capable frigate rather than the LCS moving forward and BAE having significant shipbuilding yards for smaller vessels in the US, just flog them the t26 design and reap the benefits … RR for the turbines GE for the propulsion Raytheon for the navigation bridge systems Lockheed for mk41 etc etc and then plug and play whichever radar sonar missile fit you want
    As NAB indicates subsystems are the costly bits and large production volumes bring down unit prices ?
    As sequestration bites and LCS is based on a lower crewing concept than traditional USN practices maybe this is not as big an obstacle as some may deem …. more automation etc as in RN concepts moving forwards
    Thinking about t26 has space for 180 people anyway so mebbe not that big a problem NAB?

  115. Simon257

    @ Fedaykin

    I asked that on the Scotland, Submarines and Shipbuilding Thread, it’s the seventh post. No one answered that.

    Vigor Industrial have ordered one off the Chinese for $40 Million Dollars. Question is where would you base it?

    http://www.marinelog.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=3458:vigor-orders-giant-floating-dry-dock-for-portland&Itemid=231

    http://vigorindustrial.com/news-press/vigor_signs_deal_for_largest_floating_drydock_in_the_united_states

  116. Peter Elliott

    Mark

    It works well in Aerospace where you have a dominant customer who can lead on setting the requirments, as is happening with F35. Other partners chip in with bits and pieces but its quite clear who is boss. So wrangling is minimised.

    Both Typhoon and Atlas have been nightmares that have actually poisoned the water for future projects. So while Europe ‘should’ be getting on with designing a next generation MPA and a UCAV its all actually at a standstill and Airbus view the prospect of another mega-project with undisguised suspcion.

    There’s actually a big industrial advantage waiting to be claimed by the first European country that decides to re-arm, becuase a unilateral decision to invest in certain key projects will force the others to come to them when they eventually slacken the purse strings. Watchkeeper is turning out that way. Our economy turning up while Europe is still flatlining also gives a a critical time advantage.

    The obvious inital thing is to move heavan and earth to keep the Typhoon and Type 26 lines open after Rafale and FREMM are closed. And if we invest in a new turboprop MPA that significantly outranges C295 we will also be booking ourselves plenty of future industrial leverage when the Atlantiqes finally fall apart. Similarly if we were to create a new class of Heavy Armoured vehicle to replace C2 and Warrior (loosly based on a diesel-electric Merkva) we would force the French and the Germans to come to us in due course. Especially if we put a “Leopard” turret on top. And when Merlin replacement comes around be brave and create a folding tiltrotor with a pressurised cabin.

    OK – so I’m off into fantasy fleets to some extent. And we can’t do it all. But my point stands that for successful multi-national programmes someone has to lead. And economically and politically we have the opportunity for it to be us.

  117. Fedaykin

    @Simon257

    I didn’t realise large floating dry docks were that cheap, we are almost talking pocket change in defence procurement terms. It does rather beg the question why we don’t already have one, but I digress.

    As for where to site one, NaB is probably the best to make a suggestion there. I have pondered if Southampton might be a good location, it already handles the largest of liners and it is relatively close to the workforces of Devonport and Portsmouth.

    Of course if we are talking basing a floating dry dock at Southampton able to handle a ship the size of the QE class it does beg a further question. Why not just recommission the King George V dry dock? It needs new gates and pumps but I don’t see that as an insurmountable issue by any measure, it is capable of handling ships larger then the QE class and it wouldn’t require the preventative maintenance a floating dry dock would need.

    Maybe NaB could shed some more light on that matter?

  118. Brian Black

    The Americans have indeed had lots of problems with Zumwalt and LCS, NaB.

    But Zumwalt was intended to introduce a whole new kind of ship, and so was a very high-risk route to take. If you want revolutionary, then it isn’t going to matter how many iterations of meat and ‘tato frigates you’ve built before, you will still be almost guaranteeing unforseen problems and costs for yourself.

    And LCS has always been plagued by a lack of a clear vision as to what the ships were ever meant do, with different concepts pulling against each other -from streetfighter to a multi-mission frigate- and with novel design features and 45+ knot speed tossed in for good measure.

    The American’s problems have a lot to do with their generally messed up procurement system, too many cooks throwing ingredients into the pot, too much political manoeuvring, and a belief that all problems can be solved by throwing a few billion dollars at them rather than addressing the underlying issues.

  119. TAS

    ToC,

    Link 16 isn’t good enough. It’s air-defence only, only works line-of-sight and has restricted utility. Link 11 is the only near-real-time multi-environment link but is very dated. What we need (as I have repeatedly stated) is NATO Improved Link Eleven, NILE or, as the Yanks, call it, Link 22. CEC is about cooperative air defence only. Link 22 gives you a far more useful capability that is markedly less specialised.

  120. Observer

    Fedaykin, think either NaB or APATs mentioned that the KGV docks got flogged off to India somewhere above.

    See? I was paying attention! :P

  121. Peter Elliott

    But is it actually being used for anything at the moment? Have the surrounding docksides been redeveloped?

    If its not being used I’m sure the current owner would listen to offers.

  122. Fedaykin

    @Observer

    No they were talking about the floating dock Swan Hunter had on the Tyne.

    The King George V dock in Southampton is a fixed land based dry dock. They took the gates off in the last ten years which is almost a criminal act of vandalism IMHO of what is a historic structure.

  123. Simon

    “…our emerging policy of Sampson on our AAW destroyers and Artisan on everything else starts to look quite coherent.”

    Agree.

    I have this feeling that T26 is becoming a fattie simply because of the desire to sustain aviation operations for a significant period of time (e.g. continuous Wildcat presence for a month, or use the fuel space to tootle at 15 knots for 10,000nm – which then matches nicely to CVF’s design range).

    I’m not sure I’m that concerned about it though because most of the weapons fit-out for T26 is going to be lifted straight from T23. We then end up with a good sized hull that can become our future AAW destroyer platform.

    As I said some time ago. I would like T26 hulls 14-20 to replace T45. We then end up with a single hull-form that can morph as required similar to the way the Americans keep the Burkes going. It’s the only way we’ll be cost efficient and maintain enough hulls in the water to remain a major international player. We will not lose our ship design capability simply because we’ll continue to design all the other ships that are required, which are pretty varied. What it will do is stop the continual finger pointing of expense.

    I also happen to believe we should have done the same thing with CVF, Ocean, Albion and Bay and build 6-8 multipurpose LHDs on a 30 year rotation.

  124. monkey

    @Peter Elliott
    The KGV is still there within the Southampton container port at its north end ,it is surrounded by empty hard standing used for parking vehicles for import/export.
    The area is owed by the DPA (Dubai Port Authority) .The main fabric is intact (8′ of concrete etc ) but the gates and equipment to drain/fill the dock all need replacement. A new floating dock to service the big ships would probably be cheaper @ £40m than to restore them but if combined with a new Frigate Factory would be very useful indeed!

  125. Mark

    Peter

    “It works well in Aerospace where you have a dominant customer who can lead on setting the requirements”

    That’s not what the problems were with the purely european program’s they all largely revolve around work share which is ministerial and governmental problems. Requirements become a problem because they get to big for there check books and are simply ridiculous in some cases, the absolute classic read of requirement setting being “TSR 2 with hindsight” which you’ll find about the net. If you read it you can certainly see parallels in some equipment we see around today.

  126. Not a Boffin

    Simon

    Your feeling is incorrect young Jedi. Aviation fuel (F44) stowage on DD/FF is measured in tens of cubes. Two hundred cubes ~ 160te would not break the bank, nor would extra air spares for this month of Wildcattery.

    Ships fuel (F76) to do that sort of distance will be in the 800 to 1000 cubes range, cf a T23 that has 600 or so.

    The “extra” weight lies somewhere in the actual ship itself, but that’s the rub, no-one can credibly identify “what” that weight is.

    And we will lose our ship design capability, particularly for the DD/FF which are generally the most difficult to do properly. In comparison, a carrier is a piece of p1ss. I’d love to know what all these “other ships” you think will be designed actually are.

  127. Not a Boffin

    Brian

    Of course there were bound to be risks with Zumwalt – the point is that the experiential background knowledge to turn round and say that ain’t going to work (or at least not in an affordable manner) was missing. Same for LCS and same for the coastguard cutter programme as well. Their procurement system doesn’t help either and is at least as FUBAR as the design capability – no argument from me on that.

    There’s no such thing as meat and tatties frigates. They tend to be the hardest to do, because you’re trying to fit lots of capability into a “small” hull which makes the build cost worse.

    On floating docks for QE, it’s certainly possible, but would I suspect require a dock bigger than any built so far. Happy to be corrected , but I can’t think of any floating docks wide enough to accommodate QE (or a US CVN for that matter). Most floating docks tend to mirror commercial ship types so you’re really looking at 40-50m beam docks – about what those Grand bahamas cruise ship docks are. Not teh 75-80m you need for modern big deck carriers.

    In terms of location, you’ll need somewhere deep. You’ll need to get something like 10m of water depth in the dock itself, plus the depth of the dock base, plus navigational clearance, which can easily get you up to 20m or so, throughout the tide cycle, which means you’d have to put it somewhere near navigational channels, or in a specially dredged pocket in a port, or further offshore. All do-able, but tricky and some bits quite risky.

    KGV might also be possible, but you’d have to be careful not to knock the listed pump houses roof off as she came in. There is also literally nothing there other than a major car carrier berth, so you’d have to build offices, canteens, tool storage, stores etc, all for a serial that would happen once every six years or so. Again, do-able, but you’re spending money on things with very little utility outside the once in a few years event.

    On that basis you’d probably be better doing C&D at Pompey which could be used for other naval (and commercial) activity, or modify one of Tyne, Falmouth, Cammell’s docks, where at least there’d be the ability to use it commercially.

  128. Fedaykin

    Thanks NaB, I did wonder if there might be width issue with floating docks when I put finger to keyboard. On the other hand considering how cheap they are to build I don’t see that as an insurmountable issue.

    As for the listed pump house at KGV dock, I did think about that and almost put the solution up when I initially suggested it. It is simple really, just move it! Take it down brick by brick and shift it over a bit or to another site altogether. It is a fairly normal practice with sites of national historic importance that are in the wrong place.

    I agree putting C&D together at Pompey might well be a better solution as it then places it next to pre-established facilities in one place rather then bussing people around they country.

    I suppose the overarching point is to service the QE class there are alternatives to Rosyth from floating docks to adapting pre-existing facilities in a number of yards.

  129. Fedaykin

    For those interested the US Navy released a series in 2011 about the year long dry dock/refit of USS Nimitz.

    Episode 1 is boring but from the 2nd it is rather interesting:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ke6wUEWJg2w
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeA6t_HZqvQ
    Episode 4 crew stuff not relevant to refit
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KdkSLHO5l0
    Episode 6 more crew stuff
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LhHMpHa5aQ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avxFmP2hvtA
    Episode 9 crew stuff

  130. Simon

    NaB,

    Perhaps this sounds even less Jedi-like but I was working on more like 350-400 cubes of AVCAT (F44). I’m making some pretty wild assumptions that T23 is around the 5000-tonne (deep) mark, takes 600t ships-fuel (you seem to imply much less) for 7500nm and about 150t of aviation fuel for the embarked copter.

    If someone came along to me and asked for a ship that can take twice as much aviation fuel because they wanted to operate two embarked Wildcat back-to-back (like T45) then I’d immediately suggest a 7200-tonne (deep) design. Alternatively, if they said they needed a strike-length VLS to intrude below the waterline then I’d simply earmark the weight shift (when launch) as fuel and budget accordingly. So 1m of intrusion gives 170 cubic meters with 16 Mk41 launch cells.

    The bottom line is a) I don’t know what I’m talking about, b) I’m not going to start to try to teach you to suck eggs, and c) it all seems to feel comfortable given T26′s design requirements (as published). However I cut it I always come up with a ship bigger than T23 and smaller than T45, but edging closer to the T45 sizing.

    And we will lose our ship design capability, particularly for the DD/FF which are generally the most difficult to do properly. In comparison, a carrier is a piece of p1ss. I’d love to know what all these “other ships” you think will be designed actually are.

    Other Ships = tankers, supply ships, support ships, amphibs, MCMVs.

  131. Not a Boffin

    You’re way off on the T23 F44 stowage and I can’t for the life of me work out what you mean wrt Mk41 and intruding below the waterline. But hey-ho.

    We’ve bought our tankers for the next twenty-five plus years, we’ll be lucky to get stores ships and I assume what you mean by support ships is replacements for Argus, Dili etc. All of those are essentially merchant vessels, to merchant rules (or Naval Ship Auxiliary notation) and have little or nothing in common with warship design.

    Your MCMV (plus the droggies) = MHC, which if you believe what NCHQ are aiming at may end up looking like an offshore support vessel. Fantastic for all those who’ve suggested similar here – not so much for retention of design knowledge. Amphibs – maybe, should be naval standard but very different from DD/FF which are the difficult ones.

    It’s all about understanding the “why” as opposed to the “what” and the “how”. Not all of it is contained in Class rules or Defstans, much is institutional knowledge, which if not exercised at sufficient frequency is lost with its practitioners. It can be regained, but usually at the price of expensive mistakes and consequent political embarrassment.

  132. Simon

    NaB,

    I’m intrigued… What is it that makes a frigate or destroyer so difficult? Especially in comparrison with something like an LPD or carrier?

  133. James Bolivar DiGriz

    Simon,

    What I think NaB means (see
    http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2014/06/royal-navy-type-26-contract-awards/#comment-293845
    para 2) is that you have a relatively small hull into which to put
    - All of the ordinary ship things; engines,, drive-shaft, bridge, crew accommodation, stores (fuel & food), etc.
    - All of the common warship things; redundant systems, more crew accommodation than a commercial ship of that size, extra fire-fighting capability, helicopter & associated stores, defence aids, basic radar, etc.
    - All of the things specific to that type of warship; gun, ammo storage, ammo handling, other weapons (e.g. VLS), signal process (for sonar), advanced radar (for air defence), etc.

    If, during the design process, 20 things grow by 10 tons each, then you have a 200 tons extra which is more significant on a 6,000 ton ship than on a 60,000 ton one.

    You might choose to accept a 200 ton penalty in the latter case but for the former you may need to trim some or all of that 200 tons. That trimming may mean that you have to make compromises and choose to reduce (or even remove) something.

    When making that choice the decision is as much a military strategic/tactical one as a ship design one. Less fuel limits the time at see / ability to sprint, fewer VLS tubes limit the ability to fight, etc.

    That is just my interpretation and, in the interest of clarity, I am not at all involved in ship design or building.

  134. Not a Boffin

    What an excellent summary.

    The additional complications are that the vast majority of the “stuff” you want to put on needs to access the weatherdeck and may cause arrangement conflict (EMI, or RAS points relative to RFA and so on) all of which need to be deconflicted and are not necessarily compensated by other things going on the lower decks.

    You tend to have more multi-environment demands, signature issues and arrangement conflicts on ships that are required to be GP frigate / destroyers than virtually anything else.

  135. wirralpete

    @NAB & James …. Always thought the displacement figures of 5400t was unrealistic compared to the original 6000t+ that was being talked about around 2010
    Look if we’re goin to have a full fat frigate with 24/16 vls strike, as well as current t23 capabilities, plus a whopping big mission bay full of all sorts of kit plus the ability to have 60 RM’s and all their kit, then surely we need a big frigate nearer in size to a t45 than t23 ?
    Lets just get on with it !
    Like you say NAB need to give the people equating tonnage to cost the elbow and just go with it doesnt mean you have to put all the kit on all the time.
    But on second thoughts your probably talking about tonnage without anything on board?(light load i believe)
    In which case i’ll get my coat !

  136. Fedaykin

    Yep the QE class has drifted over the 70,000ton mark with hardly anybody blatting an eyelid or the press passing comment. Actually a fair few sources including those in the Royal still list it at 65’000tons.

  137. Fedaykin

    On another note I was watching this old episode of Sailors, if anybody has questions about why the new QE class won’t be based in Devonport I suggest they watch this!

    The Captains comment at 14:05 about getting the old Ark Royal out of that particular harbour rather sums up the issues!

  138. Fedaykin

    On another note I was watching this old episode of Sailors, if anybody has questions about why the new QE class won’t be based in Devonport I suggest they watch this!

    The Captains comment at 16:05 about getting the old Ark Royal out of that particular harbour rather sums up the issues!

  139. Not a Boffin

    Careful with the QE references. She hasn’t “drifted over” 70000 te, that’s always been part of the design. One of the nice things is that lots of growth potential is in there. What the figures actually mean is that she’ll enter service round about 65000 te. If growth goes to projections, she’ll end her life (safely) at 75000-ish tonnes – ie her structure is designed to take that additional load and she’ll still meet her stability requirements. In fact, given the absence of cats etc, I’d be surprised if she got much above 70000 by the time she’s 40+.

Comments are closed.

↓