SDSR – Analysis #05 (Royal Navy)

I am going to cover aircraft carriers and their aircraft in a separate post so this one covers just the surface and sub surface fleet as described by the 2010 SDSR. Future Force 2020 will provide;

  • nuclear Continuous At Sea Deterrence
  • maritime defence of the UK and its South Atlantic Overseas Territories
  • an enduring presence within priority regions of the world to contribute to conventional deterrence and containment
  • powerful intervention capabilities from our surface and submarine fleets
  • the ability to land forces from the sea by helicopter and over-the-beach with protective vehicles and supplies from specialist ships
  • the ability to command UK and allied naval forces at up to Task Force level

No real change from existing arrangements and the following content on naval forces (excluding aircraft carriers) amounts to the grand total of 526 words. The SDSR simply describes capabilities we will have; building mostly on what the Royal Navy already has or planned and details the force reductions.

  • Confirmation of the seventh Astute SSN
  • A surface fleet of 19 frigates and destroyers
  • Confirmation of the Type 26 frigate after 2020 but no numbers
  • 3 Commando Brigade able to land and sustain a group of 1,800 personnel
  • Wildcat and Merlin helicopters aligned to the overall force size
  • 6 RORO ferries, the existing Points class
  • Maritime ISTAR based on network enabled warships, helicopters and submarines
  • Streamlined Naval regional structure
  • 14 Mine Countermeasures vessels
  • A global oceanographic survey capability and ice patrol ship
  • RFA scaled to the surface fleet
  • HMS Ark Royal decommissioned immediately
  • Reduce by 4 the number of frigates
  • Place at extended readiness a landing and command ship (Albion class)
  • Either HMS Ocean or HMS Illustrious to be decommissioned
  • One Bay class LPD(A) decommissioned

This is self evidently light on detail, as much of the SDSR is and many blanks remain to be filled in.

Confirmation of the seventh Astute is great news; SSN’s are an extremely flexible and powerful capability, providing aspects of sea denial, special forces support and extensive ISR. The decision is in all likelihood driven by the need to retain submarine skills, painful and expensive memories of the development of Astute show how these need to be retained. The Astute class has had a rather unlucky start but once it starts coming into service proper it will provide the UK with a seriously powerful capability.

A surface fleet of 19 frigates and destroyers means that it is likely that the existing Type 22’s will be decommissioned without replacement. The Type 22’s are relatively old but have excellent flag and ISR capabilities but they are manpower and maintenance intensive. As the Type 45’s come on stream the existing Type 42’s will also be decommissioned, these have been more or less out of service for some time anyway and seldom deployed in recent years. The end result will be 6 Type 45’s and 13 Type 23’s although there might be a dip in numbers of Type 23’s before the Type 26 comes into service, depending on the Type 26 project.

Type 23
Name Out-of-service date
HMS Argyll 2023
HMS Lancaster 2024
HMS Iron Duke 2025
HMS Monmouth 2026
HMS Montrose 2027
HMS Westminster 2028
HMS Northumberland 2029
HMS Richmond 2030
HMS Somerset 2031
HMS Sutherland 2033
HMS Kent 2034
HMS Portland 2035
HMS St. Albans 2036

It also seems unlikely that Sonar 2087 will be fitted to any more Type 23’s than planned and no mention was made of any upgrades to existing capabilities, Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) for example.

After 2020 the Type 26 will be introduced to replace the Type 23’s but there is no indication of final numbers. It seems unlikely that they will be on a like for like basis and the future of the two tier Future Surface Combatant programme is uncertain. The reduction in the frigate and escort numbers is far from ideal but in reality it is what the Royal Navy has been operating with for some time and is better than expected.

The reduction of amphibious ships, one of the Albion class and one Bay Class (likely Largs Bay) is again in line with a reduction in overall amphibious but these are tremendously versatile ships and are a real loss. The reduction Royal Navy manpower of 5,000 personnel will also include the Royal Marines so a shrinkage in the overall force strength seem inevitable and is reflected in the reduction in shipping capacity.

The SDSR states that the Royal Marines/Royal Navy/Royal Fleet Auxiliary will be able to land and sustain a force of 1,800. The combined embarked personnel capacity of 3 Bay, Ocean/Illustrious and a single Albion class is in excess of 2,200 so the shipping capacity is sufficient but the loss of cargo, vehicle lane capacity and landing craft will make any landing a slower affair.

The RFA will be scaled back and there is no mention of the MARS programme to replace some of the aging RFA tankers but the Points class RORO ferry PFI will be retained. It has been reported that the likely RFA cuts will be Largs Bay, Bayleaf and Fort George. The loss of Fort George will be particularly hard felt as they are large and versatile (Fort Victoria Class) but the fuel only role of the Leaf class, moving fuel between overseas locations has largely been taken over by civilian contractors. Fort George has been busy recently, drug busting, aviation training and all manner of other tasks.

No change to Merlin and Wildcat means that the RN will actually be quite well quipped in the frigate and anti submarine helicopter department although with the loss of Nimrod MRA4 some of the upgraded Merlin’s may need to be permanently based onshore.

The future fleet of 14 Mine Countermeasures vessels is a reduction of 2 from current strength and the SDSR states ‘global oceanographic survey capability’ not ship/s so the future composition of the survey fleet is uncertain. This capability could be contracted out or configured as a modular a capability aboard other vessels.

Either Ocean or Illustrious will be decommissioned pending a short review. This is a significant loss of capability, especially if Ocean goes.

The Royal Navy’s non carrier outcome from the SDSR mirrors that of the whole document, a few cuts here and there, a general reduction in capacity, a vague notion of jam tomorrow, a worrying lack of detail but maybe not as bad as feared.

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November 5, 2010 11:28 pm

The loss of a a Bay and one of the Albions seems to be one of the most idiotic things they can do in my opinion. To have another poke at the overseas aid budget surely we could bump the Bay under their budget. Much of what was revealed in the SDSR especially to do with the much loved and talked about naval side of things we seem to have predicted rather well. (Apart from the loss of a Bay) Overall though the Royal Navy is still barely holding on it will be death by a thousand cuts as we all know.

November 5, 2010 11:40 pm

CASR made an interesting proposal. They ventured that Canada would buy two, instead of the one Bay class LSD(A) on offer, so the RN could keep both Albion class LPDs.

I like this, because the LPD is more than “just” a transport, and in itself provides a good (longer duration) expeditionary capability.

Having previously to make do with only one old Fearless class LPD for years, the RN and RM should now what a pain in the a$$ it is to have your sole LPD in dock.

If something must be sacrified, I’d axe Illustrious and keep the amphibs untouched as much as possible – so keep HMS Ocean and both LPDs. As the fixed wing aviation future will be rocky at best, might be smart to focus on helo amphib ops, for now anyway.

19 “figs” could still form 4x escort groups of 4 FFs each (generally the baseline number) which could mean one escort group for the CVF or Amphib Task Force, one escort group on seperate deployment (Med, Indian Ocean), one (joint NATO/EUNAVFOR?) training/port calls and one escort group equivalent on overseas duty (1 FF to Falklands, 1 FF Carib etc.). The three remaining ships out of the 19 would be tits up in drydock.

You could still form a good, deployable navy from these fleet numbers, so the UKRN must examine what it still has and not reminisce too much on what once was.

If all T45s and Astutes could be fitted with T-LAM or SCALP-Naval, then there is still considerable striking power (and what about the future SSBN – could it be a Ohio equivalent SOF/SSGN…?)

November 5, 2010 11:52 pm

I agree, personally I would have swung the axe at the invincible class and got rid of all three of them* because as you said the future of fixed wing aviation looks rather bleak. We will shortly have no harriers anyway so why bother to keep any of the invincible class around not as if they will be needed for harrier practise.

*(Yeah I know a bit of a moot point as Invincible is gone already Ark Royal is on it’s way but still Illustrious could be given the chop)

November 6, 2010 12:36 am

“3 Commando Brigade able to land and sustain a group of 1,800 personnel”

Q – is this a force of two commandos, or one commando and supporting elements?

“reduction Royal Navy manpower of 5,000 personnel will also include the Royal Marine”

Q – heard this elsewhere, but not seen it corroborated, will this mean the loss of a commando?

November 6, 2010 2:15 am

I agree about Illustrious however I think if you look at what they have announced thats exactly what is going to happen anyway. Short review looking at Ocean and Illstrious surley has to find in Oceans favour. The Ship is 15 years younger and the only heluicopter carrier we have. Its a real shame about the Albion and Bay class. Lets just hope they dont get sold.

November 6, 2010 8:45 am

we’ve kept ships, but we havent kept capability.
We have amphib ships, but do we have an amphib capability?
It was already marginal when we had a 4/2/2 fleet, that at a push could land 4000 men with supplies and some vehicles.
Thats an acceptable force, barely.

But 1800 men?
Come on, that would be ignored or slaughtered by a halfway competant african warlord.

We arent the US, we cant cut a few ships and maintain capability.

November 6, 2010 9:58 am

“…But 1800 men? Come on, that would be ignored or slaughtered by a halfway competant african warlord…”

Not quite – see Liberia. 1,800 troops is a reinforced (battalion) battlegroup, ie RM Cdo of 700-ish, PLUS helos, PLUS landingcraft, PLUS RE and arty assets and Logpack.
It’s a flexible over-the-horizon airmobile and/or sea-mobile force perhaps supported by Apaches (short legs, but still) PLUS precision fire support from naval (missile) artillery; I daresay a considerable intervention force.

Keep in mind that the Royal Marines are exactly that; a fast intervention – raiding – force and rarely a (land) campaign force (their deployments to A’Stan were out of character imho and a waste of their expertise).

To keep it short, with three RM Cdos (battalions) one can be kept afloat aboard the 4-fig Amphib Task Group with the other two Cdos in training or stand-down/refit.

Btw, this is what I suspect is all the UKRM reduction is about; slimming down of the 3rd Cdo Brigade Staf) and more a focus on seperate Battlegroup/Battalion ops.

November 6, 2010 11:13 am

cheers admin.

so using Marcases logic above the 1800 figure will include at most one marine and a company from the attached army battlion as the teeth?

November 6, 2010 1:13 pm

An Albion class is going into extended readiness, not being sold so it would be similar to the old Fearless-Interpid situation?

In terms of manning, if we retain Ocean wouldn’t that also allow us to retain a Bay? Surely the extra manning and gas turbines of Illustrious make it far more expensive to operate?

I also fail to see the reason for progressing with the Type26 programme, when the better option would seem to come to an agreement with DCN and anglise the FREMM. Being able to offer different propulsion (RR v GE) would surely make the FREMM a better competitor to MEKO offerings in international competition?

November 6, 2010 2:12 pm

“I also fail to see the reason for progressing with the Type26 programme, when the better option would seem to come to an agreement with DCN and anglise the FREMM”

that might be true, but as long as surface warships remain a strategic industry then we need to retain the ability to build [and] design warships, so panel-bashing a FREMM in Govan doesn’t really cut it.

November 6, 2010 5:14 pm

jbt said “Q – heard this elsewhere, but not seen it corroborated, will this mean the loss of a commando?”

Can’t see this. Hasn’t the trend been to add a battalion to brigades? 16AAB has now 4 (2 Para + 2 line) and doesn’t 3 Cde also include a battalion from The Rifles?

November 6, 2010 5:22 pm

Jbt said “that might be true, but as long as surface warships remain a strategic industry then we need to retain the ability to build [and] design warships, so panel-bashing a FREMM in Govan doesn’t really cut it.”

Even though shipbuilding in the UK had declined naval architecture has actually flourished. Therefore by letting Govan bash out FREMM we don’t loose much if anything; though I agree a Brit design would be better. But it might be the lesser of two evil if BAE shipbuilders are kept in work. FREMM isn’t a bad design. It is designed around systems “we” are now deploying. Why pay for a fresh sheet design? The 100million T26 design money we would have been better spent giving the Darings the weapons they are missing (perhaps even fitting Gulf bound T23 with Phalanx.)

November 6, 2010 7:48 pm

What about the ice patrol ship? You didnt cover that, whats the status? Last I read endurance is crippled in dry dock with the axe hanging over her head…

Somewhat Removed
November 6, 2010 7:57 pm

Just to add to the discussion, Illustrious is on the verge of emerging from a deep refit in Rosyth so having already invested in her refit, it might add to the argument for retaining her. Ocean refitted in 2007 (according to Wikipedia) but she does not have the top speed of Lusty – more factors to consider in her performance. Not sure which is the better command and control platform.

I agree with Dave that we should look to our European allies for design options for the T26, and FREMM is a distinct possibility. Our air defence ships have far more in common with the Horizon, DZP and Sachsens that anything American. However, I would not underestimate the value of British design – there are many significant factors in our warships such as evolution of command system design, locations of key compartments, redundancy in systems and the integration of weapons and sensors into a single combat system that mean we are able to operate more effectively. The off-the-shelf export-oriented options are far more likely to have a very basic set of systems with the extras bolted on. Whilst that might make them financially more attractive, it takes away from our high-end operational capability – assuming of course that we are not yet prepared to throw that away.

T26 should be just a larger, more up-to-date T23, probably with very similar systems and a very similar layout. Bigger means more space for systems such as towed arrays and UAV’s (the maxim of steel is cheap and air is free still rings true) and more bunks for embarked forces, evacuees, captured pirates, etc. T23 has proven, probably by accident rather than by design, to be a brilliantly versatile platform. Why improve on a good formula? Besides Type 23’s were cheap anyway so improving the design slightly can’t be that expensive?

X, why give a T23 Phalanx? Air defence, we have Sea Wolf (shortly SWMLU), surface defence we have the new ASCG. If Wolf misses, it’s too close for Phalanx. No room anyway.

November 6, 2010 8:13 pm

SR said “X, why give a T23 Phalanx? Air defence, we have Sea Wolf (shortly SWMLU), surface defence we have the new ASCG. If Wolf misses, it’s too close for Phalanx. No room anyway.”

T23 was designed with space for a CIWS. Phalanx is self-contained, it doesn’t penetrate the deck, all it needs is cooling water and drain. Sea Wolf is super, but like all complicated weapon systems it can go down (not often but it does crash.) Giving T23 a CIWS is belt and braces. FYI though SW VLS is an improvement over the conventional trained variant (especially with the solid state gyros) it isn’t that much of an improvement. Note T22 B3 are fitted with GoalKeeper.

November 6, 2010 8:29 pm


last time I looked a French FREMM class frigate cost far more than a Type 26 is expected to.
In fact the FREMM almost costs as much as a Type 45.


November 6, 2010 8:40 pm

When it was decided that the RN will have the capability to land & sustain 1,800 personel it looks very much like someone looked at the Al-Faw operation & just thought “ok lets scale it for half of that”.

There is no rhyme or reason to it.

The same goes for the RFA fleet, it’s as though the idea that an opponent would target one of them, “is just not the way things are done old boy…..”.

As for the rest of the surface fleet, have you seen how many crashes & grounding’s there has been over the past 10 years, go further back if you want but it just gets worse. Why so many accidents? Doesn’t it point to a bigger problem?

With, now, 19 main unit’s, how much experience does he/she get before they are in charge for, what is it, 2 years or so?
Is that becoming just a “tick the box” exercise, on the way up the ladder?

As for the ships supposed armament, all i’ll say is “Meh!”.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 6, 2010 8:41 pm

SWMLU has extended the engagement ranges of the VLS system by a margin that makes rengagement of a mach 1 missile possible if tracking and engaging at max range. A CWIS system would add another layer of integration, allowing a last resort if both SWMLU and decoys fail.

November 6, 2010 8:58 pm

APATS said “if both SWMLU and decoys fail”

Thanks! I forgot about the decoys.

@ GrandLogistics

Do you have faith that BAE will keep the costs down? If it were up to me I would just build more Darings without Sampson and the Aster 30s. FREMM seems a good compromise.

November 7, 2010 8:49 am

The fact that the Airborne Anti-submarine front is well covered by Merlin/Lynx. What covers the Commando front once the Seaking fleet is retired, (Reported as 2016) Hand over the RAF Merlins? The Fleet Air Arm can make far better use of them than the RAF do.

Somewhat Removed
November 7, 2010 9:55 am

X, if you can show me where a Phalanx is designed to fit on a T23 then I will happily buy you beer and never post again.

Anyway, talk of fitting Phalanx to anything is pointless. We don’t have enough for all our surface escorts as it is, mainly because half of them are mounted on trucks in Afghanistan providing point defence for the FOBs. Even the Type 45’s which were supposed to carry a pair don’t have them fitted. RFA’s that should have it don’t, and the systems are now so old they really need upgrading to 1B status. Besides, SDSR isn’t exactly a belt and braces piece of thinking, is it?

Come to think of it Ark had 3 Phalanx fitted so 3 more in the spares pool.

Hasn’t Goalkeeper been deleted from the Type 22’s?

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
November 7, 2010 11:38 am

Yes, I recall reading that before the recent review, it was proposed to focus the RAF’s heavy helo transport fleet on the Chinook and give all the Merlins to the RN to replace the Sea Kings. Which on the face of it makes some sense. Quite a lot to do to marinise the RAF Merlins, though – they lack all of the folding bits for a start.

The Goalkeeper still seems to be an effective system (and it’s a lot more powerful than Phalanx). I don’t know the state of the RN’s Goalkeepers, though – they’re getting on a bit now (as are our Phalanxes).

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 7, 2010 12:21 pm

The point about Goalkeeper mounts is a good one. There will be 4from the 22s and 2 from Bulwark. 1 each for the T45? The Dutch mount them aft on the hangar roof of their AAW Ships where the Germans have a RAM launcher. Could we fit a single goalkeeper mount aft on each T45?

November 7, 2010 12:32 pm

I think the bits and pieces pulled of the redundant hulls will sit in Pompey. Yes because of the money. But also more frighteningly because there is nobody in MoD(N) with any imagination and back bone.

SRM said “X, if you can show me where a Phalanx is designed to fit on a T23 then I will happily buy you beer and never post again.”

There is space for a CIWS. I shall now have to go off and find my source. Don’t bother with the beer as I am tea total. And you mustn’t joke about not posting you are to valuable here!!!

When I was in Pompey for Navy Days there was a Goalkeeper on the T22. If they weren’t in use they would have been lifted off.

If commentators here can build vast fleets in their minds I surely can fantasise about popping Phalanx onto ships fitted for, but not with them. What is worrying is that at the moment the latter is as much of a jump as the former.

Somewhat Removed
November 7, 2010 2:16 pm

APATS, nice idea but Goalkeeper isn’t like Phalanx; it needs a significant below decks presence, in particular the magazine (which is enormous) and power arrangements. So unfortunately hot-swapping it onto a 45 isn’t going to work. Look carefully at the Dutch and you’ll see it isn’t over the hangar itself but off to one side. Phalanx, despite being non-penetrating, still needs a ship feed for power (and chilled water I think). T45 will have this installed (fitted for but not currently with) on the port and starboard waists forward of the hangar.

I’ve seen a couple of T22’s with a blanking plate over the original Goalkeeper mount. I don’t know if this means it has been permanently deleted, or possibly removed for spares for Albion/Bulwark/Illustrious.

Somewhat Removed
November 7, 2010 2:24 pm

TD, if the Goalkeeper comes off the T22’s and Lusty goes into the dead ships bin, then only Albion will have the weapon fit. I suspect, given the considerable mounting difficulties of Goalkeeper it will be allowed to expire gracefully and leave us with a single-type CIWS across the rest of the fleet.

November 7, 2010 2:25 pm

With ref to 3 Cdo Bde. Has anyone noticed that when the Bde deploys it is 42, 45 and 1 Rifles. 40 has always deployed as part of an Army Force. Thereby giving one Cdo at least in this country or training that could be rapidly deployed. It is my understanding that the original aim was that 1 Rifles would become fully Cdo in c. 4/5 years from joining the Bde. However, this may have changed as I heard that Riflemen were only ‘going through’ on a voluntary basis. I cannot see less than 3 Cdo’s being acceptable but then there is some bias in my thinking.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 7, 2010 2:41 pm

SR The T45 has enough space for an entire new VLS silo and the possible fitting of Harpoon. It displace 7,000 tonnes plus. The Dutch had Goal Keeper on their 3,000 tonne Jacob Van Heemskerk class FF. In these days of saving money can we afford not to seriously examine the option of fitting unused mounts to the 45?

Somewhat Removed
November 7, 2010 3:36 pm

APATS, you’re right, there is plenty of space. I would only argue that since the ship has already been designed for Phalanx, it might be a bit odd to invest a significant amount of money retrofitting a different system. I’m sure there’s a good reason why Phalanx hasn’t appeared on the T45’s yet, though I cannot imagine what that might be.

November 7, 2010 4:57 pm

That is why Goalkeeper sits on its own little deck house on the LPDs.

November 7, 2010 5:02 pm

Fitted for but now with Phalanx is academic – its a pile of pants anyway – in the anti-missile CIWS role anyway, with the 1B version’s optronics it can be used for anti-helo or anti-surface (swarming small boat?) roles.

In the 1980’s the US Navy did a series of tests using instrumented Harpoon’s and target drones, which showed the short engagement range of the Phalanx’s gun and the low mass of the penetrating round meant that more often than not the upper decks of the Phalanx using vessel were heavily damaged by debris from the break up of the target missile – the inertia keeps it going. This could kill upper deck monkeys, damage weapons and sensors etc.

So Phalanx might be better off shooting down rockets and mortar bombs fired at Kandahar airfield !

Having said that the same mount is used for SeaRAM – which was tested by RN some years ago. So we can have missile versus gun CIWS debates if required ???

Personally I believe T45 should have at least two SeaRAM mounts as the Aster has hardly been tested in particularly challenging scenarios yet (multiple supersonic targets?).

By the way, just to add to the other discussion, there was never space designed into the T23 for Phalanx, because at the time the Sea Wolf was the bees knees, so there was not considered to be a need for Phalanx. Add to the fact that there is not actually any where you could put one where it would have decent weapon arcs (mind you, didn’t stop is sitting a single Goalkeeper in a stupid place on T22B3).

El Sid
El Sid
November 7, 2010 5:32 pm

Having said that the same mount is used for SeaRAM – which was tested by RN some years ago. So we can have missile versus gun CIWS debates if required ???

So 20th century….

Now that T23’s are being fitted with 2x ASCG, does that have any anti-missile capability or is it just anti-speedboat?

November 7, 2010 9:33 pm

mission kill and a dead top deck crew is better than a sinking ship.
Not ideal, but i’ll take what i can get

Somewhat Removed
November 9, 2010 3:56 pm


Hopefully you’ve joined me!

I too have seen many of the large rig support ships operating in the North Sea and actually, you may have a point. Commercial standard they may be, but they have a large working deck, helicopter pad, plenty of accommodation, a commercial (and therefore proven) propulsion and domestic package. They also have the capacity to carry two large workboats – substitute in any variety of heavy RHIB, small patrol boat, offshore raiding craft, etc.

Could there be an FSC(C) option here? Commercial design maturity would risk reduce the costs of development, the design is sufficiently flexible, support costs could be the lowest of any vessel in service and the design, whilst not up to that of a front line warfighting machine would certainly be enough for the envisaged constabulary, MCM, survey and other tasks these vessels could be called upon to do. The Rivers are basically commercial standard with some RN enhancements – why not one of these?

Have I lost it, or is this viable?

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
November 9, 2010 5:20 pm

S-R @ CVF page

Up to speed on C1, C2, C3.
Not up to speed on FSC – A, B, C.

However the main thing is the dire situation we find ourselves today.

On where we are today I have issues with the T45, too small, not robust enough and single point of failure due to only having 1 VLS pack.

Add in the usual pacifist RN weapons fit and it looks to be a lot of money for very little bang.

Onto the 13 new vessels, I took the numbers pointing towards 6 C1 ASW vessels of a similar scale to the T45 and 7 lower end C2 GP vessels with a bit of everything.

Consequently the the fleet is starting to look a bit threadbare.

This is where I joined your discussion on what the RN needs at the OPV level, old C3 designation now seemingly the FSC C.

My main point was that the C3 / new OPV vessel is a price driven vessel not a size driven vessel. We are currently half way through a size revolution the warship design, it is happening in all navies and it is important to work out why and what the benefits are.

Take bow USS Spruance, the “Dreadnought” of this particular trend.

Therefore your comments about size are to my mind out of date, as you note and I have noted earlier in the CVF debate, steal is cheap and air is free.

This is the driver in the size revolution.
Shipbuilding is incredibly efficient at the moment.
Simple shapes and design re-use have transformed the value proposition of anything that floats.
Size also increases the capabilities of any vessel and allows for mid life updates without a total rebuild.

Consequently the Holland classs is only a transitional vessel in the current “bigger is better” trend. Therefore we need to go the whole hog and using the budget available produce the most effective vessel possible.

My thoughts are tha the C3 platform would be more effective at the 6K ton mark than the 4K ton mark and be all the more robust and survivable with an extra 6m in width. The extra volume and stability of the beamier hull can then be put to good use with a step change in the vessels capabilities.

Specifically you mention flight deck only, I would contend that a bigger hull means that space for the much needed hangar is not an issue. We might not have enough helicopters for all the hulls in the water but if the lack of one means that it is a C1 vessel doing “Dickson of Djibouti” impressions instead of a C3 then we will have thrown the baby out with bath water.

Consequently that is the basis for my idea of the £50mill colonial sloop. Again this would only be the start and te bsic concept can be gamed upwards to find out if bigger is better at this capability level.

£50mill = Basic vessel, stripper spec, flag waver.
Good enough for anti pirate / anti drug patrols.

Next step is the £30mill or the £50mill upgrade to see what we can get in war fighting capability for that sort of money.

The one thing hat I would emphasise is that in terms of endurance and sea keeping the C3 vessels should match or better the standards of the C1 and C2 vessels.

My main issue in all these discussions is trying to bring in the real world to very military specific mindsets. If the spectre of a 19 hull patrol / escort fleet doesn’t start ringing alarm bells then the RN is doomed.

To finish, I agree with your idea but would want to go further. You know instead of 2 more T45’s I would suggest two new T46’s at 12.5K tons and two VLS packs.

Size is on today’s agenda.
Armour will be on tomorrow’s agenda.

As always any issues, corrections, typos, info then lets be having them.

Somewhat Removed
November 9, 2010 8:20 pm


I can’t agree – except that I did get my designations wrong, sorry, good call. I do however think that you have your logic slightly skewed, so allow me to explain.

It is my understanding that C1 and C2 have been merged into one concept, the T26, which is suitable for both roles. This can be fully justified with the experience gained with the current Type 23 fleet. Half of the hulls have the 2087 sonar, which combined with the modified hangar for Merlin makes them front line ASW combatants on par (or above) with anything anyone else is operating today. The other half have no towed array at all, and the internal space is used instead for deployment-specific outfits which can include a full Flag staff embarked. With the retirement of the Type 22’s, this will become more commonplace.

Type 26 will be exactly what it’s name suggests – an evolution of Type 23. It already has the range, economy and balanced sensor fit to conduct independent patrols anywhere in the world. It was cheap to build and is a versatile, effective platform capable of doing everything from counter piracy to high end warfighting.

Take the T26 then, and the C1 and C2 requirements. C1 is designed to be ‘high end ASW’. Type 23 with the 2087/Merlin fit pretty much answers that requirement, so there are no big developments required there. It still has to be a high-end warfighting-capable warship, so a modified civvy vessel is out of the question. The Type 45 hull is big, granted and I do stand by the maxim that steel is cheap and air is free. But I don’t think you need to go much bigger than the current T23 to fulfil the C1 requirement and you certainly do not need the Aster/Sea Viper system on an ASW frigate. Point defence is sufficient and CAAMM will provide that.

C2 – general purpose escort. Type 23 without sonar answers that again; cheap to build, efficient to run. Evolve the concept with a better ASuW fit, maybe enhance the design with an improved RHIB launching/handling system, redesign the hangar around Lynx and UAV’s (or just build one huge hangar on all T26’s to satisfy all requirements), go for IEP across the board. Maybe the design could be simplified to reduce costs, but it may just be cheaper to build 13 Type 26 hulls and vary the fit according to the C1 or C2 requirement. The cost of building new hulls is in the R&D – designing two different vessels will be more expensive than building twice as many of one. And don’t forget commonality of spares, etc.

Bottom line – we will likely still end up with 19 ‘escorts’ – 6 T45 and 13 T23 with (hopefully) 13 T26 to replace them. The C3 requirement is separate and is all about replacing the OPV, MCM and survey capabilities, which is where a smaller Holland, larger River or adapted RSV come into play.

What exactly is ‘pacifist’ about our current weapons fits? Stay clear of playing fantasy navies – we are not the United States, we cannot and likely will not ever get into the game of having dozens of cruise missiles on every hull. Future operations, if they happen, will be about precision strike and not overwhelming firepower. Some of our kit is a little dated I agree, but still effective, and the replacement projects are lining up to take their place – SWMLU is here as is Sea Viper, CAAMM isn’t far off. We must cut our cloth to fit.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
November 9, 2010 11:01 pm

S-R @ 8.20

I think we are 6’s and 7’s regarding the discussion as to what shape and kit any future C3 type vessel should take.

On the points you raise about the T26 and how it fits in with the old style C1 and C2 designations you are on the money and very close to the situation I was describing. Consequently not much to discuss at the high level.

You mention T26 following the T23 situation with low and high specs, high does ASW and the low spec is a more GP vessel. Again no issues just a case of the RN getting into design re-use especially if the T45 hull is involved.

Where I do have issue with your analysis is that my post said nothing about T26 C1 / C2 style vessels it was all about the need for the C3 vessel to step up to the plate and do the more mundane tasks that have been delegated to the much larger frigate fleet in the past.

As I mentioned I see the C3 vessel as being cost limited and not size limited. Consequently if you can develop a hull that matches the C1 / C2 ships for endurance, pace up to 22 knots and sea keeping then it is a case of why not?

Once we have the basic vessel in the water for £50mill we can look at what value for money upgrades can be made to increase the capabilities of the vessel.

You make mention of the fact that the T23 can undertake anti piracy stuff and also WI guardship duties, but that to my mind this is a criminal waste of resources especially in a 19 hull escort fleet.

The £50mill frigate is purpose built for these types of low intensity operations, it has the sea keeping, the endurance and the physical presence to do this type of work successfully.

Add in the £30mill / £50mill upgrade and it would be a useful addition to any battle group up to and including a Cold War style WP – NA – Kitchen Sink style engagement.

It would fight in a Joe Bugner at Tesco mode, little offence but would annoy lots of people so that something purpose built could banjo them when they were not looking. As they say “every little helps!”.

Now where I really do have to take issue with you is your description of the T23 and what is needed to replace it.

The T23 is very much like a Porsche 911, it is a triumph of development over design. It has come a long way from being an 80’s sonar tug to a fairly competent and effective platform. To make the T26, sorry Global Combat Ship relevant for the roaring twenties it needs to be a step change above the capabilities of the ship it is replacing.

If it is not, same basic concept and 2nd hand kit the question has to be why bother building new?
What exactly would we be getting for all the effort?
The same abilities but using less crew?
Surely that is not enough to keep the fleet current?

The question then would be how can it be improved and at what cost? My first thought would be that the hull has to be enlarged and the vessel made more robust. The T45 hull is not in my opinion good enough, it is not robust enough and the stern needs work to offer the flexibilty and that means we should be looking at –

170m wl x 24m x 4.5-5.5m = 9-10K tons standard.

As mentioned earlier this larger hull will not cost any more money to build compared to a T45 hull as it will introduce efficiency savings due to the less cluttered nature of the internal layout and no GT’s.

4 x med speed diesels = 45MW / 30 knots poss more.
Hangar big enough for 2 Merlins.
Flight deck big enough for a Chinook
Space for land attack and S-S missiles.
Thrifted T45 A/A sensor suite.
Sonar – choice of high level towed array or cheap and cheerful hull mounted unit.
Two seperate versatile VLS packs
Probably go for 2 big guns at the pointy end.
2 CIWS systems – GK or Phalanx if the money is tight.
All systems fully containerised, fully accessible and fully retrievable –
All the shipyard has to do is join the cables.

Crew = 120 – 150, space for 300.
Cost = £150mill for the basic ship.
Cost = £150mill – GP version / £250mill for the high end version.

Robust, therefore some old fashioned armour around the vitals and an external belt.
280′ x 48′ x 24′ @ 2″ citadel = 500 tons’ish
400′ x 14′ @ 2″ external belt = 400 tons’ish to keep the bad guys 40mm stuff outside the hull.
Consequently LCS capable in extremis, that is use the two guns at the pointy end for land attack.

Big and simple with lots of COTS and modularity.
One change I would put forward is a move a away from the pacifist weapons fit on the T45.
Dave the Rave in the Commons claimed that the T45 was multi purpose and I think that as its stands that is some way from the mark.

Please note that the above comments are designed to generate a dialogue, controversy gets things going.
One question is how much space does a towed array unit take up?
You talk about using the space if it is not fitted for flag accomodation, how exactly does that work?
How much armour do we have on ships at the moment?
Is it kevlar based or old fashioned up market steel?
Any on a T45?

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
November 10, 2010 12:19 am

SR et al

The cost section I put in above for the T26 does not read well.
The correct explanation –

Cost / Basic ship = £150mill
Cost / Weapons + sensor fit = £150mill for the GP model / £250mill for the high end model.

Total cost = £300-£400mill depending on the weapons and sensor fit.

Extra Comments:

Running costs will be less than a T23, hopefully significantly less.
The capital costs will be reduced if hand me downs are used.
Lifecycle = 20 years at least with incremental upgrades every five years + 10/12 year extension on refurbishment.
Style / Appearance = KGV (II) meets Akitsuki in Ikea