A Ship That Is Not a Frigate – Follow up and Feedback

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for their considered feedback and comments on the Security, Interdiction and Maritime Support System (SIMSS) concept I described recently.

For what is a hair brain scheme by some random chap off the internet for it to have gathered over 400 comments is a sign of just how engaged the Think Defence readers are, I don’t know of any other defence blog that has such a dedicated, diverse and well clever following, hats off chaps.

Since I started Think Defence I have been calling for innovation tinged with a healthy dose of financial reality. I might sometimes go off the reservation with the odd flight of fancy or wistful glance at metal boxes but generally, although I get accused of being too realistic sometimes, feet are firmly on terra firma.

I also try and counter the notion, a notion promulgated by various lobby groups, that it would all be fine if only those bigger boys in the MoD and Treasury would give the defence community just an odd billion or more extra.

This is so far from reality I don’t know they have the brass neck to even suggest it and is simply lazy thinking.

First off, there is no separate MoD and RN/RAF/Army, projects are bought into being by integrated projects team, the clue is in the name. Both service personnel and civil servants are involved. Main Building and Abbey Wood have as many service personnel as they do those famous pen pushing civil servants.

Decisions are made on a joint basis.

It is not the Treasury that determines how the MoD allocates the defence vote, it’s is clearly the MoD that sets its own priorities so when ex service chiefs start moaning about a lack of x or y they should look in the mirror first. It is their major projects that suck the life out of the lower echelons of equipment, the enablers, the foundations of a flexible and capable force. So whilst they insist on CVF, Typhoon or FRES but complain about a lack of body armour or training time or spares or almost anything else that actually matters I am never convinced by the protestations of innocence.

I am even less convinced and unlikely to even consider giving them the benefit of the doubt when they join the revolving door club, the easy slide into the weapon manufacturer’s board rooms and insidious and subtle corruption that goes with it.

Lobbying for more defence spending from within the expense account laden comfort of a directorship is hardly credible.

So whilst I do not excuse politicians or MoD civil servants I absolutely fail to accept that is all their fault either.

Successive limp wristed Prime Ministers and Secretary’s of State have never found the moral authority to force difficult decisions on the MoD, instead they are dazzled by the gold braid and chest baubles and seduced by the cock stiffening allure of a quick victory over some third rate opponent in far-away places.

Politicians, civil servants and the Service Chiefs need to assume a modicum of backbone and start thinking about the real defence needs of this fine country instead of treating it like some big game of cock measuring or a route to a comfortable retirement.

If the wholly inadequate SDSR did one thing right it was to mark the cards of the defence establishment.

No more wishful thinking, no more voodoo economics, no more punting decisions over the fence to the next post holder.

MoD, you are going to have to live within your means.

Where it all went wrong of course is the hollow promise of an end to salami slicing defence reviews or the matching of strategic objectives to the means of their execution but that is because of moral weakness at all levels, no change there then.

The services have been bought off with a promise of jam tomorrow, what is it called, ah yes, ‘a real term increase post 2015 to enable the vision of Future Force 2020 to be realised’

What a fucking sad joke, still let’s all carry on spending hundreds of millions on Type 26 or billions on CVF whilst cutting back on essential capabilities to save a few million here or there whilst pretending the land of milk and honey, commonly known as Future Force 2020 is.

The same applies for all the services by the way.

If it is possible for anything good to spring forth from the loins of SDSR it is a healthy dose of wake up guys, time for a spot of reality, but I don’t think many of the service chiefs actually get it.

Anyway, rant over, back to SIMSS.

Eating into the Surface Fleet

I deliberately suggested that we might trade a few Type 26 for a lot of SIMSS vessels to test the water.

Most people thought the design and concept was OK but no bloody way should we trade proper warships.

In the land of financial fairy tales I would agree, but we do not inhabit such a place and so these hard trade-offs have to be made. It’s not easy for the Navy to accept reality, the global combat ship is a comfort blanket. Those chaps in green can get rid of those famous cold war relics likes tanks and self propelled guns, despite them being repeatedly used in all manner of recent conflicts but suggest such an equivalent for the world’s finest naval force and anyone would think I was suggesting clubbing half a million baby seals to death, painting HMS Victory in a nice pastel shade of salmon and calling one of the CVF’s HMS Paris (this will probably happen anyway, but you get the picture)

But the surface fleet is already stretched beyond breaking point, we are at an absolute minimum and beyond the point of no return you hear the cry. We have been hearing that since Suez, it happens every defence review but I genuinely think we are pretty close to that point of reality, despite the regular trip to the theatre to watch the boy who cried wolf.

One of the reasons the surface fleet is thus stretched is because we insist on using them to cover tasks to which they are wholly unsuited and not available in enough quantities. We have tacitly recognised this by sending RFA vessels to cover some of the less combat oriented standing tasks like APT(N) in the Caribbean.

The notion of keeping a large combat vessel fleet and despatching them, chock to the gunnels with advanced sonars, weapons and their attendant crews is that they can easily step down and carry out these security roles but equally easily, step back up to the major combat roles that they are actually designed for.

In a land of zero financial constraint this is a sensible strategy but we are not, are we?

It also spreads our jam thinly, whilst a frigates crew is rounding up pirates in £$100 skiffs they are not practising with their hundred million pound anti-submarine sensors, for example. We might not have much notice of the next proper stand up knock down naval conflict, the very last thing I want matelots doing is building schools in Monserat. An extreme example but the point I am trying to make is that combat systems (crew and kit) should be at the top of their combat game, not arsing around being a force for good.

Again, this equally applies to the other services.

This needs continual, high intensity training as a group. When single frigates and destroyers are strung out across the four corners of the globe these training opportunities are reduced.

Of course any sea time is training time and it’s all good, but the key question for me is this.

With fewer commitments, or where those commitments where a proper warship is not the optimal tool and was therefore replaced with something else, would the decrease in stretch provide for an improvement in warlike training, particularly as task groups rather than singles?

You could argue that not only would the pressure on the training schedule be reduced, providing greater space for more realistic training, but qualitative improvements would also be seen.

It does not mean that the core of combat vessels would spend all their time training off Cornwall, as someone put it, they would still be available for cooperative training exercises with other partner nations, they would still carry out defence diplomacy missions as singles and they would still be available for any other tasking but the crucial difference would be, availability to do so properly.

If we want this then something has to give, develop protect a hard core but recognise that one might not need a one for one replacement for Type 23.

This does two things, first, it frees up funding, even in fiscal constraint and second, opens up an opportunity for something else to do those myriad of non-war roles that we press frigates and destroyers onto, the kind of things that characterise the overwhelming vast majority of Royal navy tasks.

That extra funding might even be pushed onto the combat vessels so they are actually fitted with not for.

People might read interpret this questioning about using some of the funding for conventional surface combatants as somehow being anti Navy but I get tired of that, it’s not the case at all. In fact, I see it as a means of preserving the combat ability of the Royal Navy and where a situation calls for a conventional warship I am in no way advocating sending SIMSS instead.

Re-read the proposal and look again at the title.

What is Something Else

Most naval forces have reacted to this need for something else by creating slightly modified frigates or corvettes.

The comfort blanket of the anti-ship missile, CIC and 3D radar is hard to let go and so designs have evolved that still keep these vestiges of being a proper naval ship but throw a bone to the crowd by fitting them with a multi mission deck or other such grandiose bollocks that means a small RHIB hangar and a spot of open deck space with a crane.

The problem with this approach is it still means those very expensive (in fact, even more expensive now because those small boat handling davits don’t come cheap you know) frigates are still tearing around chasing fifteenth rate opponents waiting for the day when they will actually need their variable depth sonar.

Still, they don’t half look good on the PowerPoint and Navy Days.

Net result, fewer hulls in the water and fitted for but not with.

Cue more complaints from ex 1SL’s now working in the defence industry, sea blindness, Falklands, trade routes, shipping lanes, imports and we are an island you know.

SIMSS takes a fundamental leap; you don’t need a frigate to carry out the majority of tasks of the Royal Navy. Yes we need frigates for when we need frigates and I want them to have the full on fighty capabilities but I see the continual reductions, spreading them too thinly and reduced combat effectiveness as a result of an unwillingness to recognise things have changed.

The second issue with the ‘mission deck’ frigate is they are not that effective at those secondary roles (the ones that generally are primary roles most of the time) because space is limited.

Is SIMSS the right thing for this something else role, should it be slightly more fighty, slightly faster, slightly smaller?

These are all valid discussions to have but something else, whatever it is, has to be from Poundland not Harrods.

Survivability and Fightiness

One of the commenters said that SIMSS should have a major war role and then we all piled in with suggestions of how we could add this sensor or that weapon system neatly demonstrating how easy it is to be seduced the little hussy named ‘specification creep’

Of course SIMSS would be vulnerable to a high speed anti-ship missile, its massive, but do we not accept the vulnerability of Jackals to Kornet anti-tank missiles or an A400 to an SU-30?

We have to accept differing scales of protection and approach the deployment of SIMSS exactly like we do an A400 or Jackal. The use of Intelligence, intelligent doctrine, appropriate countermeasures and where necessary, a protective big brother, all compensating for a lack of being a fully tooled up combat ship.

Using simple and relatively cheap countermeasures, whilst simultaneously being realistic about deployments is reasonable defence for a SIMSS.

That said, there should be no reason why self defence capabilities could not be increased with the addition of a modular weapon fit but we have to resist the urge to specify one from day one, build the space and connectivity yes, but do not allow this to delay or introduce too much additional cost.

With very careful design and deployment there might even be potential to equip SIMSS with a couple of niche weapons beyond those needed for self defence.

One commenter attested that all RN vessels should be able to fend of midget submarine lauched torpedo attacks.

Sorry, that’s not the case now, that’s never been the case (in a comparative sense) and is just not possible within a fixed cost envelope.

The HMS Cornwall Example

This was bought up as an example of a rapidly escalating situation where a more combat oriented vessel with a shallower draught might and therefore able to be closer to the boarding party. The suggestion was that something like a Khareef would have been far better than either a SIMSS or Type 22.

Arguably this is correct; it’s a very good point.

However, one could equally argue that the flexibility and space afforded by SIMSS could equally have made a difference. Instead of a poorly armed RHIB, operating with no air cover and unable to notice the arrival of the Iranians, an orbiting UAV like the cheap as chips Scan Eagle would have allowed the boarding party to withdraw in good order. Compliment the inflatables with a CB90 or similar and the Mexican standoff would have been over very shortly. SIMSS has the space to operate multiple UAV’s, multiple Wildcat’s and multiple powerful craft like CB90’s.

So there are a number of ways to look at this.

Svelte Supermodel or Curvy Fat Lass

Going large has disadvantages and these were highlighted by commenters, operating in shallow littoral environments would be off the menu and it must be recognised that many of the SIMSS roles require a close to shore capability.

I think this could be compensated by its ability to operate a decent number of small craft. Small craft in the SIMSS world does not be an 8m RHIB either, 20m patrol craft, landing craft, mexeflotes, USV’s and work boats are all within its ability.

The low maximum speed of 15 knots was highlighted by many people with some practical examples of where even a modest increase to 18 or 20 knots would make a big difference.

This is another trade off, installed power costs but perhaps an increase to 18 knots would not create that much of a price increase, it would come down to detailed design calculation but in general, the lack of speed is compensated by the fast craft and helicopters it carries and in some circumstances, increased hull numbers.

A two size class was also raised, the large SIMSS and a smaller type that used most of the subsystems, a mini SIMSS.

I like this idea, where’s that piggy bank?

Ready Made or Off the Peg

If we are proposing a new kind of vessel then surely it should be a custom design?

Yes and no.

The reason for only a modest set of modifications to an existing design is to cut down on cost and leverage the expertise, construction experience and supplier ecosystem that has developed in the offshore market.

A lower cost basic design means more hulls in the water and things to carry on them, simple as that.

The Holy Grail of Modularity

Another commenter made the accusation of SIMSS being in thrall to the notion of modularity, pointing to the LCS and STANFLEX realities.

Fair point, but if you actually look at the issues of STANFLEX and LCS you will see that modularity is not actually the root cause of their problems.

A commenter mentioned the complexity of modular systems, highlighting the need for self testing systems and connectivity issues.

All good stuff but look at the modules in the proposal.

Small Boats and UAV’s, already available from a number of vendors, straight off the shelf and fully mature

Containerised MCM, already available from a number of vendors, straight off the shelf and fully mature

Dive Support Systems, already in service

Storage for dry stores, fuel and ammunition, already available and very simple

Data Centres, already available from a number of vendors, straight off the shelf and fully mature

Living accommodation, office space, command space, workshops, kitchens etc, do I really need to go on?

Weapons and Countermeasures, you should note that I deliberately left discussions on weapons quite light. As long as we can fit a selection of automatic weapons and perhaps something like the SIGMA mount with LMM then this should be sufficient. Are we really saying this is a significant engineering challenge?

Countermeasures likewise, there are many systems available off the shelf that provide decent levels of protection. It’s not overly complex

In general, I fail to see the problems with payload modularity on SIMSS because I have very carefully limited the scope, fully aligned with the roles and likely operational context.



So I hope these words have explained further or addressed some of the doubts.

SIMSS might not be the solution, but neither is the status quo of demanding for more money whilst pissing it up the wall.

If there is one thing I do know, carry on normal jogging should not be the default stance.

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September 14, 2011 8:22 pm

TD – I am a big supportor of your SIMMS concept – as a way to fulfill the MHPC requirement with an off the shelf and very flexible ‘sea frame’ (yuck, almost as bad as war fighter).

However, to take up some of your points:
1. Asking for more (please sir…..) is not lazy thinking IF it’s backed up with arguments as to where it would come from, what the nation would go without instead, and how it would be spent (and if its a “realistic” definition of “more”)

2. What is wrong with using an existing RFA for existing “non-combat” tasks such as the Caribbean ? Be it a tanker or a Bay, its “sweating your assets” – I don’t see the problem

3. Warships on MSO tasking IS training. Why do you think a T23 bimbling around of Somalia can’t have the forward damage control party closed up practising their stuff ? Or the ops room manned for an anti-missile serial, or the sonar crew practising “warm water” ASW ops ? With modern electronic the ability to build in sophisticated simulation capabilities is immense – you don’t have to be in the fixed land based CIC / Ops Room simulators outside Portsmouth.

4. War versus Policing – the RN is not a coast guard, why is Somali piracy seen as a threat to national security ? In other words why rob the “fighting fleet” to increase the MSO flotilla ? Again, you want to think outside of the box, then put SIMMS under the blue ensign and have an RFA manned coast guard……

5. Fighting fleet numbers must be seen through a strategic lens – what does HMG want to do ? If it includes a purely national capability to field a carrier strike group, and amphibious group, and provide ships to NATO / coalition task groups, then this drives the ship numbers NOT peace time MSO tasking. If you accept you don’t want to / can’t afford to do it “all” then you accept lower numbers or compromises (i.e. only deploying your carrier as part of coalition ops, protected by French AAW units, and Italian ASW units) etc

I could go on, but I am supposed to be working….


September 14, 2011 8:24 pm

@JBT “so the 2000t 21kt ulstein sx119 is a go’er?”

Yay ! 20 of them, half in RFA, 4 paid for by DfID, oh and OK then, 1 less T26/27 because I don’t like odd numbers…… :-)

September 14, 2011 8:29 pm

@ jed – “Asking for more is not lazy thinking IF it’s backed up with arguments as to where it would come from, what the nation would go without instead. Fighting fleet numbers must be seen through a strategic lens – what does HMG want to do?”

Agreed; carrier/amphib task groups to fight wars demand and absolute minimum of 18 high-end escorts, it plain doesn’t work otherwise!

We have an MSCP (sp?) budget of £1.5b, spend it wisely.

September 14, 2011 9:26 pm

This is a concept I like also and it has benefits no doubt I agree armament should remain light but would have a 57mm gun on it instead of the 30mm.

Looking realistically what we have is 3 future surface programs the MARS (what is going on with it) MHPC and Type 26 probably totalling close to 7b pound marry that against what we have to do I think its 6 tasks. UK home waters and the GIUK Gap, Carribean and North Atlantic, Med, Falklands and West Africa, Gulf and East Africa and the Far East. Now assuming we go with 1 High Readiness 1 Low Readiness Task group at home we need 2 stores ships and 6 Type 26 ASW vessels to Join the 6 type 45, 2 waves carriers and carriers amphibs.

Assuming the 2 stores and 6 type 26 cost you 2.5b that leaves 4.5b to equip 6 fwd presence squadrons for the 6 areas listed. Thats a cool 750m per squadron. That a lot of SIMMSS vessels. Granted 1 or 2 of those task may still require a type 26 frigate but we could buy 4 simmss vessels and AOR (aegir 18 design) for each task and have plenty left over for modules if the simms vessel cost around the 100m pound mark. I personally like the Austral designs they give plenty of space in reasonably compact vessel and allow adequate speed for a reality low cost.

September 14, 2011 9:35 pm

The way I read the new RN phraseology, carrier-assisted operations is – not like Jed that we will have both – that in the main carrier/ amphib groups will operate as one, even if dispersed. Then the 6AAW +12 or 13 other escorts, even if only 65% available, will look better.

But the big picture will only look better with more presence. So, Jedi’s specimen looks good to me as a mini-SIMMS, which is what we should start with, and prove the concept.

September 14, 2011 10:33 pm

I think there would have to be some thinking about training Jack for this more combative “face-to-face” role. It would cheer up the gunners.

September 15, 2011 8:52 am

“The way I read the new RN phraseology, carrier-assisted operations is that in the main carrier/ amphib groups will operate as one”

Apologies if my wording appeared to indicate the retention of separate and independent task groups, i did not mean to imply as much.

Just trying to indicate that a taskgroup capable sovereign and strategic power projection, i.e. composed of both and carrier support and amphibious landing, is to be used in hot-wars against ‘near’ peers and that demands a sufficiently scaled escort fleet for it to operate in such a theatre of war.

If we still intended to keep two task groups then we would arguably need a minimum of 24 high-end escorts, as it is presently the absolute floor is 18-19.

September 15, 2011 9:02 am

Apologies, Jedi, for being too lazy to incorporate a specific reference to Jed’s point 5 (above yours)
– your wording was ambiguous, so I didn’t want to speculate either/ or around it; we are on the same page for hot wars
– for medium intensity I think there is enough for covering two independent task groups (even if not task independent, they might still be hundreds of miles apart for other reasons)

September 15, 2011 9:29 am

If ff and dd are not used for standing patrol tasks how many would be required to support a combined carrier amphibian group against r likely adversaries on a non enduring operation considering a us carrier sails with 5 escorts and it’s amphibs 3 generally

September 15, 2011 9:56 am

Hi Mark,

I would take the answer from the lower end of these two scales (the Kongo’s are on par with T45s; don’t know how to rate their ASW assets):
“The JMSDF maintains four Escort Flotilla, with each composed of 2-3 air-defense ships, including Kongo class AEGIS ship, and 5-6 anti-submarine destroyers, and 8 ASW helicopters, or as it is more commonly known, the 88 Formation”
– 88 means that their “luck” – success, rather – under and above the waves would be equally good
– so two thirds availability from a total of 19 minus (these) 7 = not much left, and geographic dispersion in the start situation also needs to be factored in

September 15, 2011 11:26 am

I do wonder about the “minimum sustainable fleet” claims.

Now, I’m not an admiral, but even so.
If we were to want to replay a falklands escapade, 6 T45’s seem more than sufficient, ok, we may need 7 incase one is in pieces in dry dock and cant be back at sea within the month.
Thats two to protect the carrier, two to protect the assault ships, and a further two to protect the Supply ships.
Stick ASW gear on the T45’s, and a further 6 T46’s without SAMPSON but with towed array sonar, and again, you have two per “group”
I am assuming there that sonar provides a bubble like radar, could be wrong, but if not, 12 and 2 escorts provides ample defence for the war fleet.
If sonar is, “bubbley”, then 10 T45+ ships should be ample. Yet the world will end if we fall bellow 18?

Again, I could be wrong, but the idea that an unsupported T45 or T23 or anything around the Falklands is a threat to Argentine Agression, or a single ship anywhere is a halt to any agression, is laughable.

The T45 could of course wipe out the Argentine airforce, but The T45 has little ASuW capability in a stand up fight an Argentine Corvette could sink it, it has no ASW capability.

The 23 would likely do better, having at least some capability across the spectrum, but against an anti ship missile, or acouple of vessels, or if attacked without warning….

Personaly, I dont believe the SIMSS is the best anti piracy weapon, but its certainly better than a T45 chasing a 20ft powerboat.
The way to deal with pirates is to bombard their ports.
A recon flight over Somalia would quickly identify pirate mansions. An AC130 or a B52 could make short work of them.

September 15, 2011 11:53 am

Hi DJ,

RE “The way to deal with pirates is to bombard their ports.”
– they only need ports for the hijacked (large) vessels
– but you are not alone; a Chinese Admiral while visiting DC suggested that going ashore is the way to stop this fooling around (for which there is no end)… joint effort, doubtless, considering where the idea was uttered

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 15, 2011 3:05 pm


Some pretty hard hitting comments on what is and isn’t credible regarding the SIMSS spec.

My initial thoughts are that speed is a big issue.

600 miles per day strategic range = 22 knots.
Looking at 16 MW installed power at £500K per MW all in.
That should provide 23 knots plus on 8-9K tons with a L/B of around 6.

My thoughts are that this should be the minimum spec.
Add in another 15m section for another 16MW.
That should get us up to 28/29 knots and T26 speeds.

If we need to save money better to fit a direct drive main set with a motor / generator arrangement to add in more power if required.

8MW – Med Speed – 18 knots
8MW – High Speed generators / cheaper for special occasions.

My other big difference with yourself is the well deck.
I think we should have a fully functioning LCT capable space.
The increased level of flexibility would cover the extra cost.

Finally the most recent talk on the T26 does not look encouraging.
Fat and expensive T21 on the cards.
The patrol spec is shocking.
We can do better.

Seemingly the T26 is the first RN ship to be priced in Euros.

€300mill is seemingly the Ryanair cost of the basic ship.
BWoS should be ashamed of themselves.

September 15, 2011 3:12 pm

Where did that “€300mill is seemingly the Ryanair cost of the basic ship.
BWoS should be ashamed of themselves” come from?
– are they buying the hulls from Navantia?

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 15, 2011 3:30 pm

ACC @ 3.12

Post on a naval forum.
The person talked about a basic ship cost of £260mill.
I for one can’t understand the significance of a £260mill price point.
A figure of £250mill would have been more natural.

To me that suggests that the programme currency is something other than GBPs.

However post suggested that the unit cost had been cut back quite severely since the start of the design process sorry assessment and optioneering process.

Add these figures to the “Engineer” article and we seem to be getting very little for quite a lot.

The warload on the “Patrol” spec seems to be all second hand so this cost if correct seems ridiculously high.

Big issue will be the powertrain.
If GTs are involved we are putting RR before the RN.

September 15, 2011 3:45 pm

Hi FBOT, ahh
“I for one can’t understand the significance of a £260mill price point.
A figure of £250mill would have been more natural.

However post suggested that the unit cost had been cut back quite severely since the start”
– original price point was approx. 500m
– 250 is bad, because it would then (have)be(en) halved! 260 much better?

September 15, 2011 3:46 pm

The barbary pirates were quick to cease harrasing any nation that could bombard their port towns.

September 15, 2011 3:52 pm

Hi DJ,

I was about to put that in my post (that USMC has had practice before) but thought it too “politically incorrect”
– especially when some of those barbary port towns were in Libya (that then wasn’t separate from what today is Algeria – maybe some ports in Tunisia were also involved, but that’s irrelevant)

PS Some nations still continued to pay ransom after the fact!

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 15, 2011 4:08 pm

ACC @ 3.45

The cost of a T26 is all about what BWoS can get away with.

That was the case with the T45 and they have the lead on the new class.

September 15, 2011 4:15 pm

Without saying anything about the current controversy, before we have more facts,
RE:”was the case with the T45″
– I think they were/ are actually good value
– the French benchmark documented, the Australian one folding (the figures, not the project) as we speak and Canadians dreaming that, by learning from everyone else, they can locally do improved Burke, with A-ballistic capability, for $1.3 bn a piece

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 15, 2011 4:36 pm

ACC @ 4.15

I fear we will be going over really old ground but the T45 was a bit of a train wreck.

Original plan = 12 hulls for £8bill.

£2bill – development.
£500mill per hull.

What we got = 6 hulls for £6.6bill

£2.7bill – development
£650mill per hull for a thrifted weapon spec.

If the ship is so good why can’t we flog it to anyone else?
Something is missing in your Panglossian view.

However back to SIMSS – how much and for what?

September 15, 2011 4:54 pm


RE “The warload on the “Patrol” spec seems to be all second hand so this cost if correct seems ridiculously high”

Not sure that’s correct as in the presentation at DSEi (available via BAE) web-site there will be a competition for a new medium calibre gun, so the only likely recycled weapon system will be the 30mm and possibly CAMM (but given the big overlap between T23 and T26 not so sure that’s give), as the there will be a main VLS system and CAMM – no mention far as I can tell of actual ASW and ASuW weapons, but given the VLS system I think we are looking at the VLS to cover land attack and ASW (ASROC?). Not sure about ASuW as the illustration’s show missiles amidship but Harpoon expires in 2020 so who knows what they will use on them (if anything at all).

September 15, 2011 5:14 pm

Hi Tubby,

CAMM, not even being in service (and the third – as far as I know – to join the active seeker generation after the US/Norwegian & Israeli offers), being recycled is a bit of a mistatement?
– ASROC takes whatever it needs as a payload (e.g. the Japanese put their own torpedo on it)
– as CAMM is a given, and quad-packing it into VLS that can take all kinds of other useful stuff is still a bit of a legend – that is the one I would like to know about

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 15, 2011 5:48 pm

Tubby @ 4.54

What warload will the patrol T26 have?

Gun – new – 5″ seemingly.
I would have preferred a naval 155mm but it has all NT a bit quiet.
Not a big issue, gun is already in service, cost?

AAW – FLAADs (M), newish but it will be the same as 2020 T23s.
Bit short legged for my liking – 50 KM – and compared to recent trends.
Second hand?

Radar – Artisan, again the same as the 2020 T23s.
Probably second hand in the majority of vessels?

ASW – Limited, hull sonar at least?

CIWS – Any progress on from V-Phalanx?

S-S / VLS – New US system?
Again cost per launcher, cost per missile?

CIC / CMS – No info on this?
Will the 2020 T23s be upgraded when the radar / missiles go in?

Looking a bit long in the tooth already?

September 15, 2011 6:36 pm


The 127 from OTO Melara vs. the most modern 5 inch package; here the cost for the latter (divide by three, as in the number of vessels in Hobart Class)
“BAE Systems has been awarded a contract worth up to US $65.8 million from the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) Alliance to provide the Mk 45 Mod 4 Gun for the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers (AWD).

“The Mk 45, with its unmatched fire support and mission performance, has been the system of choice for 11 navies around the world,”… “The Mk 45 Mod 4 is a 5-inch (127-mm), 62-caliber gun system that supports both Australian Navy standard munitions and extended range munitions, giving it superior surface and land warfare capability to meet the needs of the new destroyer program.”

September 15, 2011 7:54 pm

Hi FBOT and ACC,

Firstly I think that its quite likely that the T23 if they get substantive life extensions will have their service lives pushed into the 2030’s so I am not convinced that there will be loads of spare kit to transfer as I think its likely T26 will built in lower numbers and we will have to keep some T23’s going for a bit longer – but the Government does show a distressing tendency to gap capabilities.

ASW is rumoured to be transferring towed sonar’s from the ASW T23’s but I thought realistically you need both a bow sonar and towed for operations in littoral’s, is this correct? – I suspect we will get something like the Atlas ASO 94 sonar, presumably not least because when BAE part owned Atlas they would have gotten UK funding, across the whole build. Out of interest does ITT Defence who acquired EDO still do mil spec sonar’s optimised for ASW as all I can find is a system for DSVL which appears to be for navigation not ASW.


Not sure how easy it is port a radar and re-install due to the integration issues, I suspect there will be new build Artisan on the T26’s and I would not be surprised if Artisan is incrementally improved so that a Artisan of today is several generations behind the last Artisan installed on the T26 build.

I agree the main areas where we lag behind others is in our CIWS systems and installation of CEC. At some point I suspect we will be told that we need CEC if we want to play with the US, so I expect that it will be added in the latter half of the decade.

Prefer a larger calibre CIWS to Phalanx as part of the layered defences but to be honest both CAMM and the soft kill will be far more effective against ASuM’s than a CIWS and IMO mounting RAM as your CIWS is only a worthwhile investment if do not have any AA missiles.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 15, 2011 9:05 pm

Tubby @ 7.54

The “Engineer” talks about the concept of “future legacy”.
That is the first T26 will recycle stuff that is not even in the water at the moment.

That asks the question why are we going to update the Patrol 5 in the first place. Surely it would be better to update the best / youngest hulls to the new ASW spec and leave the others as is?

The ASW 8 will provide experience of getting the Artisan / FLAADS into service which will help de-risk the T26 introduction.

However the current plans seem to suggest that the T26 “Emperor” is bollock naked but nobody has had the bottle to start to laugh.

£260mill base cost for a new hull with T23 capabilities?
At some point a light has to go on somewhere.

Add this shambles to the MHPC project –

£1.4bill for 8 hulls?
£1.4bill for 20K tons in the water?

Starting to make the T45 programme look value for money.
Starting to make HMS Clyde at £10mill per annum look cheap.

September 15, 2011 10:09 pm


You seem continuously disappointed by T45 and you seem disappointed by T26 before we have gotten all the details. ACC has demonstrated that for all its flaws T45 was actually less expensive that similar ships being built now, and by that benchmark they are a success.

While I am underwhelmed by the T26, if it really does come in at £260 million a ship then it will be significantly cheaper than the project 17A frigate planned for India which is in the same weight class and could be considered a peer design and is expected to cost $900 million a ship and will have broadly similar performance.

September 15, 2011 10:20 pm


In relation to Type 45

If the ship is so good why can’t we flog it to anyone else?

Because like us they all want to design there own ships Norway, Spain, france, holland. korea, japan, all have there own AAW designs or variations built in there own yards and all cost a similar amount or more than a type 45 vessel. AAW designs cost a lot of money and have extremely complex radar systems. Sampson is the most advanced available and the question is also do we want to sell that level of capability. It for example took the US how long to sell aegis to any of its allies and in almost all cases is not the full system much like us trying to sell artisan to people.

The 1.4b for includes development of all the unmanned models and systems as well as they base vessel exact number of hulls is unknown at this time.

If as you appear to know how to do it cheaper and better I suggest you head up to Bristol and tell them how they’ve been doing it wrong all these years there always looking for new recruits.

September 15, 2011 10:48 pm

Hi Tubby,

Heh-he, you are reading old docs for “the project 17A frigate planned for India which is in the same weight class and could be considered a peer design and is expected to cost $900 million a ship and will have broadly similar performance”
– the first one is in water now, and it is within 5-10% (below) the cost of an Arleigh Burke (which are double, ie. $1.8 bn each)
– I did not want to include it as one of the benchmarks as 1. the Indians have been blaming Russian suppliers (ie. weapon systems and sensors, well, what else is there to a top-line warship today?), and 2. let’s see when the class of three will have been completed (France, 2; Oz, 3; UK, 6)

September 16, 2011 12:08 am


We obviously drink in the same intellectual pub as far as the whole procurement cluster f**K is concerned.

Subject to a bit more speed 18 – 22 Knots (not that far out as some PSV based ‘rescue ships’ in the north sea have that kind of speed.

I still think an as simple as possible 360 degre basic ciws is needed. (I like Phallanx but it is suspect).

Other than that I am not wedded to the X Bow, after all conventionaly pointed ships work very weel and the bow design does allow for easier weapons mounting etc..

September 16, 2011 12:16 am

FBOT is right.

I flatly refuse to accept the £250 mill figure for t26.

It is so far wide of the mark for published figures for other comparable ships, it has to be wrong, (It reperesents a return tin Inflationary adjusted terms to Leander type costs)

September 16, 2011 6:49 am

Ixion the £250 million won’t include the systems from the Type 23’s which if true will be almost everything bar the 5″ gun so it’s not that bad as for the CIWS why not look at the CTA 40mm with LMM which will give it a anti surface capability also I’d go for Austals MRV as the MHPC due to its greater versatility just up gun it also increase hanger size to include VTUAS as well as medium helicopter

September 16, 2011 7:43 am


Not really type 23 cost 100m in 2000 so why not 250m for a type 26 adjusted for inflation there about comparable.

As for the speed if 22 is slower than the container ships it maybe chasing or protecting then how is that a gd idea. I’ve yet to see a convincing argument that other capabilities on the ship will compensate

September 16, 2011 8:08 am

@TD, I agree that we live in the land of finite resources where any “new” money for the RN has to come from within it’s own budget. Of course we can hope for more money from the treasury, but we all know where that has got us.

We also have to recognize that the rule of 3 (one ship active, one training up, one in reserve / refit) still applies in the long term in almost all cases for first rate Destroyers / Frigates. Better maintenance / design can mean you can sweat your assets more in the short term, but to ensure that the crew is trained and practiced in all the required real war scenarios for example is crucial.

Therefore, if the UK plans to keep one carrier / assault group at constant readiness and to have a constant ASW / Patrol (not even thinking about BMD) presence in UK waters, the minimum in my view is 17 first rate ships. This breaks down as 3 groups of 5 carrier group escorts (2 AAW, 2 ASW and 1 GP/land attack), plus 2 ships to rotate the UK bit.

What this means is in my view, that these ships can only cover business as usual duties in Europe or short training exercises further afield. Therefore, no assets to cover long term standing commitments outside of Europe. Adding two frigates to make 19 will not help much.

I still believe that a fully fitted T26 will be £300mn. Therefore, cutting the numbers by 2 should free up £600mn to be spent elsewhere.

The SIMSS design does have its merits, and based on the realities I’ve just mentioned cheaper patrol vessels is the only option available if the RN wants to keep a worldwide surface presence. However, I agree with Jed etc that SIMSS is really a RFA vessel and should be designed to replace the current Diligence, Argus and Bay vessels – I definately don’t have a problem with them being smaller and more numerous.

Where I would like the money to go is on more traditional OPV / light frigate type vessels that can be built cheaply but could be upgraded in a time of crisis.

OPVs supported by more RFA vessels in my view would give us the maximum capability for our limited resources (outside of the high end core).

September 16, 2011 9:02 am


I do not know much about project 17A and was going on the information I found on wikipedia, indeed I was surprised that India had frigates in the 6,000 tonne range, I thought they mostly had smaller frigates of around 4,000 tonnes. More I look the more that a target price of £260 million seems really to good to belive.

As an aside, thanks to whoever recommend Brown’s “The Future British Surface Fleet: Options for the Medium-sized Navy” just got my copy of Amazon and even a quick flick through included some interesting information (like the premise put forward in 91 by Brown that the UK would never be able to afford a carrier in the size range of CVA-01) BTW does anyone know had to restick pages to the spine of book as my copy of Brown has a loose double page.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 16, 2011 9:27 am


The world has moved on from 2000.
Shipbuilding is much more efficient.

On costs you have to look at the alternatives –

Absalon cost £165mill.

All its kit is brand new not second hand “hand me downs”.
It’s AAW capability looks to be half a step ahead of the T26.
It has been in the water for 5 years while the T26 isn’t even in a proper CAD directory.

Consequently I ask again, what exactly are we getting for our Eur 300mill / £260mill?
We look to be getting 2K tons of worked steel, a couple of GTs to keep RR happy and very little else.

As for the T45 stuff –

USN = Aegis radar and battle management stuff / Mk 41 VLS / Standard missiles.

RN = Sampson radar and PAAMS battle management / Sylver launchers / Aster missiles.

BWoS has tried to sell pure Sampson / PAAMS.
BWoS has tried to sell hybrid Sampson / PAAMS.

Results have been mixed / poor.

All the countries you mention seem to have went down the USN route.
You have to ask why?

I fear we are stuck with a good system that will be costly to enhance / upgrade. The twirly stuff looks all a bit 70’s so in marketing terms I fear Sampson / PAAMS is about as dead as disco.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 16, 2011 10:01 am

Rep @ 8.08

You cannot build for tomorrow based on a whole series of better yesterday’s.

The rule of 3 has to go.
It is wasteful, self indulgent and plays straight into the hands of the Treasury.

Too many seem to join the navy to live in Hampshire rather than to see the world, any thoughts?

On the subject of SIMSS I fear you are looking at the world through Leander goggles.

SIMSS does not have to be RFA only.

SIMSS – Level 1 – Floating social worker / DfID good works / MH mothership.
SIMSS – Level 2 – HMS Clyde done properly, £60mill for NGS spec.
SIMSS – Level 3 – Patrol frigate with AAW out to 50km / ASW in a box and a hangar.

All would have 23 knot capability with med speed diesels.
All would have 90 day / 24K miles endurance.
All would have a well deck and a mission deck.

What would £120mill buy?
What would £150mill buy?

We will probably never know the answer because the RN has lost the will to ask the question.

The money is there, it just needs to be spent better.

HMS Clyde – £10mill pa rent – joke.
MHPC – £1.4bill programme for 8 hulls – sick joke
Endurance Class – £80mill each – why not?

September 16, 2011 10:51 am

Fbot the cost of absalon is 270m dollars at 2004 prices when it was launched possibly even sooner which it makes it very much a comparison with type 23 in 2000

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 16, 2011 11:14 am

Mark @ 10.51

The T23 was in production for over 15 years.
It’s spec was out of date when the last one commissioned in 2002.

The Absalon is a step ahead of the T23.
It is far ahead in most areas save ASW.

The debate centres around the T23 only in as much as we are looking at what we are going to replace it with.

We are looking at the costings of the Type 26 programme.
We are looking at the capabilities of the Type 26 programme.

The Absalon programme Is current, it’s spec and capabilities make it so. Nobody wants to build another T23 no matter what the 16th unit cost. Plenty of people are looking at the Absalon no matter that it has been in the water for 6 years.

However the T23 does offer some indication as to the capabilities of the Govan 2000 when they are not being priced out of work by BWoS.

T23 – 16th unit – Built 99 / 2002- £105mill – All new kit? – Value point.
Absalon – 1st unit – Built 2002 / 04 – £165mill – Loads of all new kit. – Another value point.

T26 – unit cost – Built 2016 / 20? – £260mill hopefully – Loads of hand me down gear – Value?

We seem to be buying a new bottle for our old wine.
In Tesco £5 for a bottle of wine is value, £5 for a wine bottle is not.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 16, 2011 11:29 am


Absalon and costs – most recent figure I can find is that the whole programme cost 2.7bill Danish Kroner.

The programme ran from 2002 till 2007.

That means in GBP terms £300 – 315mill for the pair.
The exchange rate flux over the past 12 months generates the GBP uncertainty.

September 16, 2011 11:32 am


Over old ground, yes, but important so that we can avoid sweeping generalisations:
– not sure who/ what you were referring to with the USN route chosen for all?
– my list was for those who have aimed for “world class”… then there are also very good “budget” solutions with same core systems
— Dutch, with DZPs (let’s remember Sampson is the British name for a radar that in a cousin form is on many ships)
–Norway and Spain with Aegis

Those differences in cost,in per cent terms, are as big as £50m SIMMS plus mission/ weapon systems vs. a £260 (target price)T26

September 16, 2011 11:35 am

Tubby, my heh-he was about doubling of the target price (happens even in “better families”-not just with BAE), not about you having used an old version (shows the limits of Wiki as a source, once the original piece has been included -typically accurate at the time and with best intentions)

September 16, 2011 12:00 pm

fbot program costs you quote are correct and that’s 2004-2005 prices If you give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that it’s not 2002 when the budget was allocated. You on only get the unit price you quote if you use today’s exchane rate which you simply can’t do. And this delivers a ship with a max speed of 23knts and 28 days endurance. The type 23 figure is for the last 4 at a restarted production so they are comparable and show we can get just a gd a vessel for similar if not less built in this country

September 16, 2011 12:42 pm

“If the ship is so good why can’t we flog it to anyone else?”
Because any nation who can afford such a vessel has an Arabian despot at it’s head. Arabian despots don’t buy ugly-looking vessels.

September 16, 2011 12:44 pm

Without knowing what the right answer is to the particular question, Ivar H. costs and T23 last batch/ T26 target would be the ones to put on the same starting/ chalk lines.

September 16, 2011 12:47 pm

RE “don’t buy ugly-looking vessels”
– Independence copies have sold to the Gulf
– actually I think she is a beauty, but the traditionalists would make her the ugly duckling

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 16, 2011 12:50 pm

Mark @ 12.00.

You make my point for me.

The pound is low at the moment.
The GBP cost in 2005/06 would have been a lot lower.

As for the T23, the costs of last 3 hulls relate to a contract signed in 96.
The previous contract also for 3 hulls was signed in 92.

So your point about re-starting the line doesn’t hold water.
First of all that is not how ship building works.
Secondly the gap was consistent with the numbers involved.

They are into batch not continuous production and any yard worth it’s salt can switch between any design in it’s catalogue very quickly.

Regarding your other points –

Range – Similar.
Endurance – No figures to hand but fuel not food would seem to be the key.
Speed – An extra 16MW to get you up to 28/29 knots would be around £8mill so not a show-stopper to me.

I would be more interested in the Absalon’s second tier area AAW ability rather than the T23’s point defence capability.

Finally we can build cheap / value for money ships in the UK.
Just a case that BWoS / MOD / RN can’t do it.

September 16, 2011 12:55 pm

My personal take is: any current frigate is too large i.e. has too much draught to act as a presence vessel. So is SIMSS.

Presence is to provide influence, influence you don’t get by sitting 20m over the horizon and send occasional helos or boats. Distance is almost orthogonal to presence.

The simple truth is, in absence of carrier air striking at the pirates bases and in absence of a real green water capability, our anti piracy efforts are returning effectively no results.

The occasional hyping of the Absalons crew for taking two or even a hundred pirate boats doesn’t change much. Even having 10 Absalons will not change much, apart from changing the cost-effect-equation much more into the pirates favour. Ditto counter-narcotics, ditto any other littoral security task.

All nations are building blue water navies. They are building for a questionable greatness, not the conflicts they actually have.

September 16, 2011 12:59 pm

First, thanks for once again clarifying your thoughts.

One can get the impression, we are really talking about a naval Jackal here. We can loose a Jackal, sorry’bout the lads, but it doesn’t has any symbolism. Loosing the third largest vessel in the fleet is a whole different matter. For most foreigners, RN = UK.

Apart from this, when I played with some scenarios, SIMSS failed to do the job on any task. Let’s make it easy, it’s peace, and the SIMSS is tasked with disaster relief. How? IMO, we have three choices:

(1) always have the equipment aboard; some sort of 24/7 solution; this means, the individual vessel is not multirole; as it cannot be everywhere on the globe, it has to be stationed somewhere near to possible disaster areas; the Atlantic vessel is clearly outperformed by current practive, Indian Ocean is would need an own vessel, Pacific also, but could more efficiently done by NZ or Oz
(2) bring in stuff from mainland UK; this is our current model, and we require no specialist vessel for this
(3) bring in stuff from a given overseas dependency; this is the french model, and SIMSS is the BATRAL; actually not very compelling

We can agree to disagree here, but IMO this circle cannot be made square.

“One commenter attested that all RN vessels should be able to fend off midget submarine lauched torpedo attacks.”

No, I stated that this is one of the possible threats. At least this should be the lesson from the Cheonan-sinking. Nowhere I said it must be able to do ASW. At least a vessel having a sonar can outmaneuvre the sub, which is the cheapest countermeasure.

“SIMSS has the space to operate multiple UAV’s, multiple Wildcat’s and multiple powerful craft like CB90’s.”

This is a battlestar, not a cheap presence vessel. The equipment costs £60+ and has higher operating cost as a light frigate sitting on it’s arse. The immediate deterrence factor is zero.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 16, 2011 1:12 pm

McZ x 2

What is the current depth limit for a T23?

What green-water presence do we have at the moment?

What percentage of coastline requires sitting 20 miles off- shore in a frigate at the moment?

I fear you are becoming an uber rationalist and letting your desire for the perfect to blind you to the productive solutions that regularly pass you by.

If you want to get up close and personal then you use a SIMSS – Level 2 – Colonial Sloop and stuff it’s well deck with all the fast floating kit you need.

40m x 15m x 10 m air clearance will carry a lot of stuff.
Green-water is only part of the forward presence equation.
The issues can be solved,

The only issue is what do we do today?
What can we do better, what can we do cheaper?

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 16, 2011 1:20 pm


To get back to SIMSS, any thoughts on the Endurance class?

I have asked before just a case of detail and how it fits with your thoughts?

From memory you mentioned crew but I think that it would be one of the easier issues to solve.

The ship seems to come with quite a troop of other transport assets –

4 x LCVP.
2 x LCU.
2 x Helos.

Big numbers to feed, crew and look after these assets?

September 16, 2011 1:22 pm

“Independence … actually I think she is a beauty”
Yes, she is.

The last order is $460m per copy, as I remember correctly. A fact that people constantly refuse to accept, that in current $ any LCS comes in $410m cheaper than a OHP, lower manning cost excluded. And compared to OHP, LCS-2 has according to it’s docs only 100nm fewer range than an OHP. This was before she went to sea. NAVSEA recorded a better economy than advertized.

September 16, 2011 2:48 pm


“I fear you are becoming an uber rationalist and letting your desire for the perfect to blind you to the productive solutions that regularly pass you by.”

Ah, yes, productive!

What a term.

I though, we seek a solution for the RN to execute it’s task primarily as effective and secondarily as efficient as possible.

Building vessels for vessels sake or for sake to get tonnage into the water has nothing to do with any of those principles.

“If you want to get up close and personal then you use a SIMSS – Level 2 – Colonial Sloop and stuff it’s well deck with all the fast floating kit you need.”
Oh, we are already at squadron level? How many vessels will we have to add to the concept to make it work?

According to TD, that ‘floating kit’ is presumed to do defence, influence, with one boat playing guard for other boats. SIMSS and actually your colonial sloop as well are in a sense the skiff-motherships of the RN.

How futile is that!? A squadron of SIMSS has 10, 20 or even 40 boats and a few ScanEagles, maybe a helo or two. There are basically around 30,000 skiffs on the coast of Somalia. The south china seas has around 50,000 fishery vessels, smaller boats excluded. The Straits of Malakka are passed by over 90,000 large vessels a year.

TD says, SIMSS is something like a blank sheet of paper. In itself, it is a vessel without value – IXION called it ‘expendable’ – having cargo space nobody needs. As such, we have to be honest: you have to add the cost for the boats, as they are part of the requirement, as much as a gun on a frigate.

“Green-water is only part of the forward presence equation.”
What else? To attract blue water mermaids to matelots?

“The issues can be solved”
A bold statement for yet non-existing vessels out of a not-yet tested concept.

How about this:
Hell, we should take those large 50ts trucks and make overland patrols in Afghanistan. The capability to pack motorcycles and quads in the well deck will make do for our low numbers of helos and armed recon vehicles. We can pack a 76 on the top of the roof. A yes, and a ScanEagle, we need to know where the bad guys are. Well, if we finally sort out, how exactly the bad guys are clothed. If we manage to do this, we mup them up with our high-speed fighting assets (mabye they will survive). The rest of the time we carry on constructing schools and providing mobile internet cafes to Kandahar.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 16, 2011 3:16 pm

McZ @ 2.48

The questions still stand –

What is our present green water capability?
Do we have enough hulls in the water?
What jobs need doing?

The SIMSS / Colonial Sloop family offers an answer to some of the RN’s current issues, how would you do it?

The MHPC budget appears to be available.

Is the current plan for 8 hulls at 2,500 tons each acceptable, affordable, achievable?

September 16, 2011 3:47 pm

We have hijacked this simss thread enough but I will add this your figures

T23 – 16th unit – Built 99 / 2002- £105mill
Absalon – 1st unit – Built 2002 / 04 – £165mill
T26 – unit cost – Built 2016 / 20? – £260mill

You do get that with the cost of inflation the buying power of money roughly speaking halfs in a decade so to buy your 165m absalon in 2016 would cost 320m roughly so t26 at 260m is value for money in my book

I have to say im with mcz on this the simss is required to replace the hunt class and the patrol vessels draft 2-3m. They are the vessels that currently operate in the shallow as acc has pointed out in the other thread no over the horizon mcmv capabilty has been so far developed. If we cant do that then the vessel will have to get into shallow water.

As I tried to ask at the start we have 7b surface fleet rfa replacement budget and most likely 6 task areas to equip for along with the carrier/amphip group. We need to ask how much is required to buy asw and stores vessels for the carrier group after that we have a pot off money for the 6 presence squadron areas.

For me thats 6-700m per area and as I like the austral mrv-80 or jhsv vessel that gives 3-4 of those + an rfa AOR vessel or possibly a type 26 + an AOR + a fast boat squadron (cb90/ hovercraft). The 6 tasking areas are very different and I think if we can allocate a block of money per area and the requirement off that area we may end up with a better equipment plan that just saying it has to be this ship and everywhere will be the same.

September 16, 2011 3:47 pm

ACC – Independence copies have not yet “sold” into the gulf, I believe Saudi and Israel have openly discussed a more well armed variant.

As for LCS1 range being almost that of an OHP, yes perhaps at 18kts cruising speed, BUT as soon as you wind up those massive RR gas turbines on your beautifully looking but frankly frakkin useless ‘seaframe” with no production “mission modules” in it, to reach this nirvana of 40 kts plus, where apparently the wake becomes its primary weapon de jeur against the small boat swarm, it soon runs out of gas ….. :-)

September 16, 2011 4:14 pm

Surely for MARS these are going to have to be much much bigger?

A thought regarding arming them.
The UK purchased 777 “gunned” CVR(T)s, some with high velocity 30mm cannons, some with low velocity 76mm cannons.
To what extent are the turrets wrecked or unsuitable for use at sea?
Not ideal, but half a dozen turrets, or even the vehicles, strategicaly placed, rather makes light of any threat from a pirate and an RPG.

Probably impossible, but who knows.

September 16, 2011 4:25 pm


MARS is MARS, and might be a should in my opinion by Dutch JSS – but because I mentioned RFA don’t accidentally conflate the two.

SIMMS – based on JBT’s slightly smaller faster platform

6 with the RFA for MSO – replacement for River class
6 with RN for global MCM deployment
2 with ? for Survey (could break the mold and put them RFA too)

All with identical base equipment fit for “whole fleet management” approach – shifting bits around as vessels go into refit NOT flying modules out to some god forsaken port in Africa !

Retain 6 Sandown class single role Minehunter.

DomJ – you truly must be drinking in the Pub. The CVR(T) is a unstabilised turret, welding or strapping down a Scimitar on deck would mean your not going to hit anything at any range if the sea is anything other than mirror like, and the ship is stopped. Bless you for thinking outside of the box as the saying goes……

September 16, 2011 4:31 pm

“no over the horizon mcmv capabilty has been so far developed.”

This October ATLAS (maker of Seafox) will have a 1 week campaign of demonstrations to the MOD and other customers (France surely among them) the concept of a system of systems, AKA a family of remotely-operated assets for MCM ops.

Almost certainly, it will involve the FAST, which is planned to be ready to go onto the Hunt class minesweepers in 2 years time and has already been trialed several times.

The Seafox I + COBRA clip will also feature if it is ready in time.
It promises to end the need for Seafox C (The I is the Search drone, re-usable. The C is the disposal drone, which is a one-shot kamikaze). The Cobra kit is a stand-off EOD kit working at depths of up to 300 meters, that can be clipped onto the Seafox I, making it a reusable Hunter-Killer.

Should make the whole process a lot cheaper… and require far less Seafox drones to be carried, as no C will be needed anymore.

September 16, 2011 4:50 pm


So will that allow operational at 1-2+ miles ranges for example. Are current mcmvs have a draft of about 7ft and were proposing replacing it with one of nearly 3 times that. Is this not the area were the US is having so much trouble with there lcs mcmv module.

Its not just mcmv its austere port entry for disaster relief work ect also.

TD how much do you intend to spend on the modules boat unmanned bits ect and how many data-links ect will be needed.

I think the rfa should have a much bigger role to play and the current 4 mcmv, bay class model in the gulf is a gd starting point. But in my mind were looking at that number of these vessels in each presence squadron.

September 16, 2011 4:58 pm

I agree with FBOT re “Surely for MARS these are going to have to be much much bigger” even though looking at all those task areas (and replacements) together is a must.

Now, why should our horse trading be about x or y fewer T26’s? I agree with TD that this capability
“The whole point of SIMSS is that it is big enough to embark a range of small craft and workboats, swarms of them if needed. So where the MCM work needs to be close in to the littoral for say an amphib route then not even a Hunt can do that. That is why the world and hi dog are developing a range of surface and sub surface unmanned systems, all of them being small enough to operate tight inshore. In this scenario, SIMSS becomes the truck and it carries 3 or 4 20m workboats which would be able to carry their own unmanned systems and venture inshore” is a MUST if SIMMS, one or two sizes, is to earn its way
– so why are we not substituting with and between the units of the £1.4 bn MSP- programme, rather than numbers of T26s?

September 16, 2011 5:04 pm

“So will that allow operational at 1-2+ miles ranges for example.”

Much further away than that.

September 16, 2011 5:16 pm

Away from the mine effects (magnetic,pressure, sound or otherwise triggered) is one thing, and remote/ automated/ preprogrammed operation holds great promise
– OTH is (?): can’t be visually targeted, within range of normal ATGWs or conventional medium artillery; here we are talking about launching smaller units to take and deploy ROVs etc (and recover them)

September 16, 2011 5:18 pm

Sorry TD I think I part company with you over Jss style stuff, becuase it beocms little more that a depot ship for exiaiting style MCMV, patrol boats etc does it not? (that is if i have you right).

Then we are keeping a dog and barking ourselves.. paying for simms and other craft as well.

As for extra t45/26 thats fantasy isn’t it?

September 16, 2011 5:37 pm

Hi Jed, something like that
“SIMMS – based on JBT’s slightly smaller faster platform

6 with the RFA for MSO – replacement for River class
6 with RN for global MCM deployment
2 with ? for Survey (could break the mold and put them RFA too)”

And the last two bigger and ice strengthened

September 16, 2011 5:49 pm

Well TD when you consider the US MCMV module is at $70m per unit it may start to get expensive if your packing 2-3 in 1 vessel. And that only includes a hand full of remote vehicles.


I ask because the US is using this AN/SLQ-48 Mine Neutralisation Vehicle and has a quoted operational range of a 1000 yards from the ship.

I didnt think Id say this but I agree with Ixion we cant have every thing. I think a couple of type 26s will have to go. I would look for RFA more like the Fort2/Dilgence type vessel as sort of sea based logistic command and resupply vessel then instead of it supporting a frigate on station multiple (insert as your choice) vessels operating over a wide local area.

September 16, 2011 6:29 pm

FBOT @ 10ish: “The rule of 3 has to go. It is wasteful, self indulgent and plays straight into the hands of the Treasury.

Too many seem to join the navy to live in Hampshire rather than to see the world, any thoughts?”

For the high end core which we expect to readily available for high intensity warfare I disagree. We are just kidding ourselves if we think otherwise in my view. This means CVF, destroyers, frigates and probably amphibs / fleet tankers. I know we’ve only got (hopefully) two CVFs coming, but I think we all would like to rewrite history and get three smaller ones. We also need contingency for accidents, losses etc. We can pretend we don’t but be found badly wanting when needed.

However, for the rest of the navy I totally agree. Love it or hate the vessel, but HMS Clyde has proved this; ratios of less than 2:1 are workable.

Don’t know if people join the RN to live in Hampshire, but I don’t think sailors will spend anymore time at home with what I’m saying.

I also like the Endurance class… I think we’ve agreed on this a few times now.

@TD, I like your revision. In the future the RFA having 3-5 fleet tankers / store ships, plus a dozen SIMSS (capable of amphibious lift, hospital, refueling / replenishing OPVs and MHMVs plus carrying flexible modules) gets my vote!

September 16, 2011 7:15 pm

Big, those then
“(capable of amphibious lift, hospital, refueling / replenishing OPVs and MHMVs plus carrying flexible modules) gets my vote!

I still go for “JBT’s slightly smaller faster platform” and available numbers

September 16, 2011 8:14 pm

Still very much doubt its use on the mine hunting – it’d have to counter them at distance :/

September 16, 2011 9:55 pm

Hi Mike,

Yes, the Kockums SAM3 remote & reprogrammable solution “literature” gives an example, where the areas (or also passages of a different form) are 15-20 km long, but of course passes required are many (so are those robo-vessels doing the work).

So that is sweeping, and mine field breaching. No reason why the various Seafoxes already used could not do the hunting, or more or less the demolition, following the sweep and spotted locations.

The thing is that even if the areas are extensive, it is not OTH. I guess only the USN with their helo methods are, as of today?


September 16, 2011 10:09 pm

Those questions have been answered in part 5, I don’t want to repeat again. The point is not the status quo, the point is that I refuse the SIMSS as the solution. I have made other proposals and will keep doing so.

In short: drop T26 ALLTOGETHER, introduce a light frigate as MHPC (we are heading that size anyway), have her equipped with a mission bay. After 8 or 10 vessels out of MHPC, simply keep building.

I will detail this later, but if we keep T26, we overspend our budget by 20%, even if it only costs 300m. if the price tag grows to 500m, we will reach that mark after 8 vessels. There is no way out. We must drop T26. We need a much cheaper design, but certainly not an OXFAM-combatant.

SIMSS is a truck, as you wrote, so I used the truck-analogy.

I just invented the SIMSV for the lads in green, as yu braught them on the table. Todays armies bread- and butter tasks are peacekeeping, civil assistance, mine sweeping, a.s.o. The ecosystem for trucks is even larger, with a large supplier base for special equipment. It’s the same as in the maritime domain. So it’s an valid argument.

Do you refuse it? Makes it a bad feeling in the stomach?

An answer to the practical example (disaster relief) will be appreciated.

Further, I don’t mock the pirates, I mock the idea to operate warvessels like somalian pirates. To think, that the ‘pirates’ (and by this, I don’t mean the poor soil on the boats) are amateurs at any rank may be one of our problems chasing them down. The idea to kill Mafia by military force is, well, obviously not working.

September 17, 2011 8:19 am

The following has probably been shown before, but this would get my vote for a new Clyde 2 OPV:


: probably asking for the “moon on a stick” with the refueling bit I admit, but a SIMSS type vessel could easily offer the rest. Would mean we would need a few additional “small” fast fleet tankers.

September 17, 2011 8:27 am

It may not be a popular view, or sensible for that matter, but I really think we need to at least consider the possibility that the “war” fleet, so carrier, and destroyers, should have returned to port in 82, gone for a training cruise around the north sea a couple of times a year (a few days once a month?) and done little else till 91.

3:1 is only required if you insist on deploying ships constantly, for little prtactical benefit, thats easy top cut to 2:1 for big stuff, and 3:2 for escorts if ships are not sent on world tours, or even just constantly cruising the Irish Sea.

September 17, 2011 9:16 am

Hi DJ, I agree with those (revised) ratios at the end of your contribution (as a planning basis)

Hi Repulse, v sensible , if the internal volume permits. The French found space in the Floreal patrol frigate design for another 100 ft long fuel tank (so you can use it for a 10k nm range, or refuelling others).And at 93.5m and 2.950 t it is not a very big ship!

I found a superb source on BAM
in Spanish, though. There is the mystical K-130 version (already costed) which must correspond to the much bigger arctic/antarctic version shown at the end

This source also has BAMs next to “proper” warships and “mere” patrol vessels for nice&easy comparisons.

Despite being a brilliant design, in my books BAM is for NATO waters and not a presence solution. I am all for the SIMMS with the innovative & voluminous hull form, but on the conventional hulls side of things I would maintain the Hollands as a benchmark. Just to tick more of TD’s boxes:
– there are two containers (spaces) under the flight deck. These can
– with use of the slipway launch MCM gear, and operate the on-board part of the overall system from that mission space
– again, using the slipway, add a towed sonar (and the helo can do the torpedoes bit of the ASW job, should such a threat exist; in normal operation there would be no”overheads” from this capability)
– the specialists/ Marines contingent of 40 is big enough (did not realise before: the helo operators are counted into this number)
– even though the sick bay is only for ten, should the need arise, the mission bay can be converted – with a containerised solution, of course

September 17, 2011 9:31 am

Using civilian components or building a completely civilian system which would make up 50% of the surfae fleet are totally different. The former is not part of my criticism, but the latter.

Still, it’s not clear what SIMSS is. Is it a warship? If not, what else? Where is the line to draw? Is the common politician capable to handle this?

Also, why are you keeping the MIW-part at any price? The logic I don’t understand. If we can put MIW-modules on SIMSS, we can pack them on any other vessel, too. From this one can deduce, there is no need for SIMSS in this regards.

The rest makes use of SIMSS as a boat and container carrier aka mothership. Why don’t you say then, it’s a mothership? I guess, because this would add a definitive warfighting role and would cripple the platform, which in itself is simply not war capable.

Re. disaster relief: Where is the vessel stationed? Where are the ISO-containers (bottling plant etc.)? How do they come together and when? Is SIMSS always carriing them? If yes, isn’t the individual unit a one trick pony? If no, when do you know you need disaster relief equipment? What is the advantge using SIMSS instead of another vessel sitting on it’s arse instead? You would also need other types of boats, where are they? What is the real difference to today’s situation? Isn’t the main difference the containers you mention?

September 17, 2011 9:43 am

Unreasonable assumption/ question “Is the common politician capable to handle this?”
– most Parliaments have Defence Committees; look at the US House & Senate, they may have members/Chairmen sitting over many decades

September 17, 2011 11:42 am


“Too many seem to join the navy to live in Hampshire rather than to see the world, any thoughts?”

– Like many others, I ended up living in Hampshire because I joined the Royal Navy, not vice-versa.


“Repulse – It may not be a popular view, or sensible for that matter, but I really think we need to at least consider the possibility that the “war” fleet, so carrier, and destroyers, should have returned to port in 82, gone for a training cruise around the north sea a couple of times a year (a few days once a month?) and done little else till 91.”

– I’ve already mentioned the ‘use them or lose them’ truism and I regret that your statement epitomises the naivety of so many views expressed in this forum. Such a policy as yours would be akin to reducing the England football team to a couple of training sessions each month, playing the odd friendly twice a year and then expecting it to win the World Cup.

The ships’ companies of major warships (and to a certain extent any embarked units) are not like boxes of toy soldiers. They are complex living and breathing organisms in which the individual cells perform specific but overlapping functions. These ‘cells’ are constantly changing as officers and sailors are promoted out of their roles, undergo professional training and promotion courses, broaden their skills in different units or are drafted to apply their knowledge (everything from the safe maintenance and operation of nuclear reactors and gas turbines to detecting and dealing with a supersonic ASM threat) with battlestaffs, training establishments, procurement teams and upkeep authorities. You can not turn such organisms off periodically, introduce untried and untested components and then expect them to leap into life and function correctly immediately after resuscitation even if (repeat) if they are sufficiently motivated to do so.

The same principle applies to ships’ mechanical, electrical and electronic systems. Like diesel engines, they run most efficiently when kept on load. Any sailor will tell you that a new ship/submarine, one just out of refit or one that has been alongside, even for a few days, will accumulate a catalogue of problems that are only detected and resolved once at sea. Moreover, any non-operational ship instantly becomes vulnerable to cannibalisation, not just for its hardware but also for its liveware (personnel).

There is a deluded philosophy these days that not exposing youngsters to risks somehow makes their lives ‘safer’ whereas it actually breeds complacency. I submit that not keeping warships and their personnel up to speed by deploying them in all manner of challenging roles courts danger too. As it is, the Royal Navy’s number of commitments, paucity of warships and submarines to fulfill them, reductions in number of courses and their length, dilution of training staffs, shortcuts in system trials and weapons training and lack of sufficient realism have resulted in several embarrassing incidents of late.

Take, for example, the proposal to curtail HMS Illustrious’s acceptance trials and training by several months so she could relieve HMS Ocean off Libya this Autumn instead of re-entering service next Spring. I’m sure the penalties were considered very seriously but to me it smacked of desperation. The way things are heading, I believe it is only a matter of time before we see the newsworthy occurrence of a truly catastrophic incident instead of one that’s simply embarrassing.

September 17, 2011 11:44 am


As I see it (And schip in TD if you have it wrong).

Simms is essentially a coast guard vessel (like US coast guard not our buch of civil servents in blue/black). Only It’s of someone elses coast.

It is more akin to a pointy ended mobile floating Police (with SWAT sqaud)/ emergency medical aid station, with some useful emergancy support capability.
In short rather that a war ship for time of war it is apeace ship for times of ‘Peace’. Peace in the sence of entering touchy areas to get civilians out, or beat up on pirates etc.

In short. (And this is the bit that the ‘Square jawed heirs of Nelson’ hate)..

It is what the vast majority of UK warships have done for the last 25 years.

The only difference is that SMMs starts from th eproposition that a suare hole is best filled by a square peg.

September 17, 2011 11:52 am

Good post, Dunservin

As we have an experiment in this “You can not turn such organisms off periodically, introduce untried and untested components and then expect them to leap into life and function correctly immediately after resuscitation even if (repeat) if they are sufficiently motivated to do so” on the go (CVF), how do you judge the chances of it working?
– prior to SDSR there was a meticulous plan how to shift ship’s companies around and through refits even keep the hulls in working order, but has the gap now stretched to be too big to manage (even not mentioning the lack of planes for 4 or so years)?

September 17, 2011 11:54 am


‘Such a policy as yours would be akin to reducing the England football team to a couple of training sessions each month, playing the odd friendly twice a year and then expecting it to win the World Cup’.

As opposed to the bang up job they have done winning every world cup since 82….

The way things stand, I believe it is only a matter of time before we see the newsworthy occurrence of a truly catastrophic incident instead of one that’s simply embarrassing.

Absolutely the point.

I make it all the time, encapsulated by TD’s famous remark about us being an

‘All furcoat and no knickers power’

We actualy need to knock of the idea that we can ‘send the fleet’ to beat up on johny forigner its been a fiction since the 90’s

September 17, 2011 11:57 am

The crack about the England team was not just a crack.

We are just as delusional about our footballing prowess, as we are about our full spectrum millitary capability.

September 17, 2011 11:59 am

That ” the idea that we can ‘send the fleet’ to beat up …” is hardly the same as doing our fair share in securing SLOCs (I won’t say in addition to the defence of the realm, because it is part of it)

September 17, 2011 12:03 pm

Hi Ixion,

There is no such thing as “full spectrum” as it is always to be judged proportionate to threats
– in foot ball, ban all the teams from the West of the Atlantic, all the way to the East of Malacca Strait, and we would look full spectrum footballers (no guarantee of winning, still)

September 17, 2011 12:03 pm


Do you believe the current idea of a response task force at a 2 to 1 ratio that works up and deploys in a similar way to the us carrier groups is workable in the long term with the high end ships only used like that. Or do we need to be more fluid and send individual ships on patrol as well.

Ixion where does the us coast guard do mine clearance and do u consider this a front line warfighting role.

September 17, 2011 12:16 pm


US coast guard has done it and anti submarine in WW2, but I do not believe they do either at the moment. The fact that Simms would, does not elevate it above that sort of vessel.


If and when I suggest (to refer to the maritime world but keep the football analogy) that there are teams now we cannot beat on their home pitch. And to maintain a squad that looks great on paper but cannot play away effectivly against certain squads; the Square jawed sons of Nelson go ape.

September 17, 2011 12:21 pm

First, I didn’t want to offend you, please accept my apologies if I did.

To your answer.

Using civilian components is OK, no agument here. Building a completely civilian system which would make up 50% of the surface fleet is totally different, especially if using the single vessel-design most unsuited to military use.

I struggle to get the logic. If we can put MIW-modules on SIMSS, we can pack them onto any other vessel, too. We can pack boats including CB 90 on any other vessel, too. No, not mexeflotes, but we have amphibs for that. From this I deduce, there is no need for SIMSS in this regards.

Anyway, the tasks mentioned requires SIMSS to either carry boats, UAVs or containers. This is widely known as mothership, why then don’t you say it’s a mothership? Instead you define a ‘blank sheet of paper’ against which nobody can be. Is there a problem, anything can be fixed, which is still a strong statement for something absolutely unproven. It may be true, but then it will depend heavily on the effort we put into. The fact that the MoD has not the expertise to manage such an effort is the way into desaster.

One word to the term ‘ecosystem’ here: all over europe, there are around 20 or so yards building war vessels. Worldwide, there are 50+. Any of those yards can design a vessel to requirement. If we want it cheap at any price, we should ask STX (Korea).

Building T26s or T45s is not the way forward, we cannot afford to proceed as we do. But the SIMSS is simply the next Bay-class (which BTW is far better suited as a mothership), to be sacrificed on the altar of hi-end units, if the thing go wrong, which they inevitably will. We need a plan to change the whole process, we need to harden surface ship procurement.

Finally, in short questions regarding disaster relief: Where is the vessel stationed? Where are the ISO-containers (bottling plant etc.)? How do they come together and when? Is SIMSS always carriing them? If yes, isn’t the individual unit a one trick pony? If no, when do you know you need disaster relief equipment? What is the advantge using SIMSS instead of another vessel sitting on it’s arse instead? You would also need other types of boats, where are they? What is the difference to today’s situation? Isn’t the main difference the containers you mention?

September 17, 2011 12:52 pm

Like I said, OXFAM-combatant.

It’s all about illusions, isn’t it?

IMO, no amount or type of vessel will stop piracy or drug trafficking. Because the forces behind that make $8-9b profit per annum. Maybe boycot of Dubai and Saudi banks may help, but who will buy our consols then?

To the civilians: I’m tired of bailing out compatriots, making a quick buck abroad and paying no taxes, but expecting full security from the mothercountry.

Same goes for some special FTSE-ranked companies, currently paying triple the bonuses than taxes, but if the sealanes are not held open, they cry like kids.

September 17, 2011 1:03 pm


I have to disagree until very long range mcm capability is proven to the same world class capabilty we currently have and we may be able to do that on current vessels it changes the nature and size of the simss and in my view is should be a top design driver of this vessel.

September 17, 2011 2:41 pm


Yes it is about illusions. In the case of the RN’s view of itself and the world, it’s more about dellusions.

This vessel will no more stop piracy and drug smuggling.

Just as all our warships have never stopped war.

As for the rest I would agree about the international companies I would like to see an RN insurance scheme, – pay the fee we will will protect you and if we fail pay the ransome. Don’t pay the fee and you can F off.


Fine if we need to keep current vessels then they stay until the capability of the container kit is proved then it stays.

In general there is clealry a view held by some thta the Rn’s job:-

1) Is to fight wars period.
2) To fight peer enemies
3) And to be world class in doing do
4) All the peace and anti piracy and rescue stuff

Is all very nice, but not something the RN should waste its rescources on.

Thats fine but what happens is that we we spend more and more on less and less ships.

When our citizens want rescued from being butchered in some third world toilet.

When the crew of the container ship are lined up on the rail and shot.

Cries from the RN of

‘Oh don’t worry about that, we have a handfull of ‘THE MOST POWERFUL SHIS IN THE WORLD’. (Followed by maniacle laughter); ready at Portsmouth for the Red Banner Northern Fleet when it sneaks up us; oh and by the world we have a world beating Minewarfare division… ‘

That will be greated by incredulity, and the fast cutting of funding by our political masters.

One analogy that sticks in my mind was British Rail in the 60’s

Faced with the threat from BUS and Truck transport, industry and the expanding motorway network; it defined itself as being in the rail industry not the transport industry. The result was the destruction of rail freight and decades of stagnation.

Define the RN as ‘break glass in the event of fleet to fleet conflict’ that is a way to see the RN’s funding being decemated.

September 17, 2011 3:34 pm

The sad thing with illusions is, they are hard to tackle.

For example, I constantly keep saying that the AH-64 in UK service is crap. I’m quite sure, I get 98% of the folks here straight up the wall with that.

The illusion behind having Apache is, that while it’s a fine bird, in UK context it means 4 helos aboard Ocean instead of 10 or 12 AH-1 or Tigers.

All depends on context.

The illusion T26 sells is, that we may get a 300m surface combatant. No reflection whether the hi-end-ASW-frigate has it’s role. The USN says no.

But the worst is the illusion that the MoD has the expertise left to guide a definition process. I think it was Gabriele who stated, that the RN got its requirements right. T26 and T45 as well are signs, they don’t. I bet my mortgage loan that we end up with between 6 and 8 for 500m+ apiece.

September 17, 2011 4:23 pm

Hi McZ,
” I get 98% of the folks here straight up the wall with” re:illusions

“Apache while it’s a fine bird, in UK context it means 4 helos aboard Ocean instead of 10 or 12 AH-1”
– if we could always go back to the decision point, and knew that we would be substituting AH for GR flying off ships, I would take the AH-1s any time
– only that the remanufactured Zulus that finally match Apaches have only just coming off the production line
– “or Tigers” I would take them, too. Just that they didn’t exist at the time (Australia chose it in preference over either of the two).

“All depends context”; and time: you can always choose a paper design, or buy off-the-shelf (in most situations the latter will do fine, and save money – also you can be sure to get it)

” No reflection whether the hi-end-ASW-frigate has it’s role. The USN says no”
– we don’t have any $1.8bn (AB)multi-purpose ships; We do have Astutes for roughly that kind of price per piece ( a must) and then we have Trident and CVF (no comment, so that we don’t go too far off the turf of a ship that is not-quite-a- frigate and whether getting them would be good value or not needed)