TYPE 27 – One tier, evolvable and affordable

A guest post from McZ

Since roughly ten years, the RN is struggling to bring up a viable plan to replace the current T22 and T23 classes of surface combatants. Four different projects fielding three workgroups were formed, and while they delivered on analyzing the strategic environment, they failed to translate into actual acquisition. Instead, FSC and predecessors fit well into the wider picture of the emerging funding gap.

To understand the funding gap, we need to know it’s driving mechanism. Armed forces in general, but air arms and navies in particular, have very long planning circles. The US Navy reflects this by their 30 years shipbuilding plan. This means, equipment replacement is planned to fall somewhere in a certain timeframe of a recurring 30-years cycle.

The funding gap is simply the quantity of maligned, delayed or outright-cancelled-but-reinstated requirements, measured in money. The strength of the fleet is the same quantity measured in numbers and quality of equipment. There seem to be three phases: for the first 10 years, the gap be handled with extending service life of equipment, the next 5 years will see lowering numbers, followed after another 5 years by an outright earthquake shaking the whole organization.

This is were we are now.

My proposal to fix it is radical, so please fasten your seatbelts.


The current RN-plan for the next two decades looks as follows:

  • MHPC is a replacement for MIW, survey and patrol vessels
  • Type 26 is due to deliver 8 ASW-frigates and 5 GP-frigates to replace T23
  • MARS is a plan to replace the logistics force

Bottom line, it is presumed to deliver 8-10 MHPC vessels, 13 T26 frigates, and an unkown, but ever decreasing number of logistics vessels, last count was 5. Costs are yet unknown, but there are rumours that MHPC is a £1.4b programme, that each T26 will cost at least £0.3b and MARS as a whole is tagged £0.8b. This means: 28 vessels spread over five tiers of capability for £6.1b! The thing is: neither is it believable, that BAE can or wants to deliver a major war vessel at £300m each, nor is MARS sealed, nor is anything known about MHPC. My conclusion is: better calc with £8b, or even £9b.

This plan collides with the simple and brutal reality, that we have already overspent the shipbuilding budget. If we count T45, Astute, amphibs, CVF and Vanguard-replacement together, we come to roughly £28.5b. According to NAO-numbers, the 30-years shipbuilding budget is £29.7b (((38b budget – 17% equipment) – 8% cuts) / 3 arms / 2 half of what is sustained shipbuilding = 29,716).

TDs SIMSS concept in this regards is quite right when it points out: we cannot proceed building high-end vessels only. This opens the question, if ANY high-end vessels are affordable and needed.

One notable observation is how high unit prices push the funding gap farther.

Let’s assume that we have relatively constant annular expenditure, but with variing portions for the surface fleet. Then we basically we have three cases:

(a) The SC-budget is on the high point

(b) The SC-budget is on the low-point

(c) something inbetween

When looking @(a), we can assume a 500m vessel would be affordable at this point, as there are £600m in the pot. We would still have to ask, if one vessel is better than two or three, but as long as we are here and we take no spending hollidays, anything’s OK. If we look at (c), we will see a delay, a drop in numbers or a cancellation, because we only have £400m to spend in this year. Still we would get a £200m-light frigate in time and budget, in fact two. Then we finally drop to (b), with only £200m available. The hi-end vessel gets built when Easter and Christmas falls together. Still, we could get a light frigate, and if only in a blank patrol config.

Conclusion: the current program is not hardened against fluctuations in the budget. If they are not hardened, they get messed up and widen the funding gap.

Using a (up to) £200m-vessel, we could adapt very well to any situation. In good and medium years, the balance moves directly to the equipment budget. In poor years, we get a vessel without bells and whistles, but certainly no delay, and therefore no drop in numbers.


Change is required, but the truth is that the MoD lacks the expertise.

The simple fact, that people at TD are constantly making better and more mature yet cheaper proposals and that the guys at ShipBucket do constantly design vessels from existing parts without taking £127m for it, is a thing that I scratched my head since years.

So, how do we fix it?

When I talked to a mission planner of the USAF, he showed me some little piece of software. It was basically some sort of mission planner, which allowed him to provide his fighter jet’s with equipment according to mission, define how many extra fuel he needed a.s.o. The software could work on a cell phone or a tablet computer. A 8-year-old kid could arm that fighter with a week training.

If we look at other sectors, we can make an interesting observation: faced with deficiencies, most of the companies invest in tooling.

These influxes made me think. What if we give the MoD-staff the tools needed to develop a low-threshold basic understanding and skillset for designing and outfitting warships? What is required to make it work?


From the start, it was clear, that any freedom of action needs it’s limitations, because achieving economies of scale were one point that I wanted to incorporate. Clearly having the whole outfit of a vessel being subject to customization is contradicting this goal.

I solved this by defining a set of ‘irreducables’, a common set of equipment which allows even a ‘blank sheet’ to act as a patrol vessel. This equipment can be procured in large batches. Together with other functional requirements I incorparted them into a first outline:

(1) A shallow draught of max. 15ft; this opens around 1,000 harbours around the world to this day unaccessible to our vessels

(2) A blue-water capability up to SS7

(3) A basic kit of ARTISAN, a hull-mounted sonar, ECM system, a main gun (minimum Oto Melara 76), two smaller gunmounts, basic AD (Starstreak or CAMM), decoys and torpedo defence, electro-optical sensors

(4) One helo (as they will be in short supply) and one or two VTOL-UAVs

(5) Electric propulsion

(6) Range of 7k nm @ 15kn,

(7) Capability to store some ISO 20ft containers

(8) Cost below £200m, better under £150m

This vessel is the so called baseline-variant.


The rest of the kit would be tailored to mission and could be modularized. First, I thought about containers, but while this is a valid approach to add below-deck facilities, it’s rather complicated to modularize weapons this way. It would also have made it harder to take over state-of-the-art equipment. So I dropped this for the on-deck kit.

To make adaption as easy as possible, I decided that a clear two-end-solution would be best. Have the standard kit and accomodation on the forward section of the vessel, and have a mission deck in the aft section, being open or closed depending on outfit. The helo-pad would be one part of the mission area. The mission area will have a basic ‘interface’ (the Lego-baseplate), which means a pattern of fixing points and networks-connectors. The beam should at least allow to accomodate 8 Sylver-VLS-cells abreast, to open the basic design to high-end options. Handling equipment and roofing get a set of standardized fixing point on both sides of the ‘box’.


The ability to be a force in itself + the interface + the supporting low-threshold skillset in shape of a software is the core of the concept. The software allows defining a mission-tailored outfit of the baseline-vessel, and also delivers a fixed blueprint for contracting purposes, as all elements are standardized.

The software should get the following jobs done:

  • ‘define’ requirements and generate solution proposals from a knowledge-base
  • ‘plug’ existing components to the interface according to mission
  • ‘control’ cost of the design process
  • ‘assist’ the following contracting cycle
  • ‘track’ effectiveness
  • ‘deduce’ more efficient ways to keep the knowledge base up-to-date

Remember the Lego-analogy?

The software would act as a virtual brick builder, some type of pseudo-CAD. The software defines the contract, and the supplier has to make his offers against the software. If he cant’, no contract. If he tries to escalate costs, ask where the software described the cost-driver. What is not supported in the software, will not be contracted. To get equipment into the softwares knowledge base as pluggable, the equipment has to be cleared, which includes cost and time deadlines. If a supplier cannot meet the harsh conditions of the new procurement system, he may f*** off.


Before we cut steel, one last word to the baseline. By design, I was searching for a predominantly green water solution. But there arises a question: can the basic concept be translated to blue water?

The answer is: absolutely. The baseline-vessel is interchangable, as long as the interface is featured.

So, at any time we could use a vessel which is

  • larger overall
  • having with deeper draught for better blue-water caps
  • ice-strengthened to operate in the Arctic
  • having a more risky high-tech hull, such as tumblehome, semiplaning, SWATH, trimaran, you name it

The interface makes sure, that the MoD/RN has the expertise to outfit any vessel featuring it. Using another platform would (at least partially) eliminate the large production run, but even this can be diminished if the basic kit remains the same. Also, the basic kit may not fit neatly into another platform.


So far, so good. Having laid out the environment, we can carefully begin to make a design proposal.

Due to harsh criticism of the Khareef, I set out a renewed search for a valid design. Only lately I came across the DAMENs website and found the SIGMA range of frigates and corvettes. SIGMA is more or less a ship family, but far more sophisticated and well thought out than the french GOWIND designs. They use a standardized set of basic building bricks, which can be tailored (with a 13m beam) from 69m to 150m.

The first vessels were built in time and to cost for Indonesia. The last contract as signed in 2008 with Morocco, with the first vessel delivered this month. According to GlobalSecurity, the contract called for three vessels, one of them being slightly larger than the other pair, for €510m. Completely equipped with sonar, radar and a basic kit fulfilling the requirement mentioned above.

The article is a very good read, worth a look. It gives an insight into why BAE will never manage to be a major player on the warship world market. At least if they don’t manage to define such basic building blocks.

I also considered that tiny Austal-trimaran, in fact if we had a program togther with Oz, Nz, Canada or Malaysia or Singapore, I would take it. But my guts told me to go steel.

As my baseline vessel I choose the (yet non-existing) SIGMA 11213 (means: 112m length, 13m beam) light frigate design. The modifications are as follows:

  • length of 112m to increase fuel capacity
  • sustainable max speed is 26kn; we may improve this by adding more powerful diesel engines of 9-11k MW
  • shorter superstructure and movement of helopad more to the midships, to allow for a mission bay
  • replacement of the SMART-S radar suite by ARTISAN
  • if matured and somewhat simplified, introduce a SkySail-system to lower fuel consumption (OK, OK, everyone has it’s engineering p**n, that’s mine

If we estimate cost, with the SIGMA 10513 a a basis.

  • Original vessel £148m
  • savings in the superstructure will pay for aditional section.
  • Changes in machinery will add around £4m, this will have lower impact as we buy 64 instead of 2, 4 or even 16 engines, but we leave it.
  • ARTISAN vs. current SMART-S adds £6m (it’s an estimate based on available public source docs +50% to quiet criticism)
  • that’s it; bottom line: £158m, OK, let’s round it to £160m

As most equipment is procured at higher numbers, we could use management techniques from the corporate sector. Through this, numbers may fall – and thats a careful guess – by up to 20%. But this is not in the scope of this proposal and therefore not calced into the numbers.

This is the point, where I can see the large-ship-steel-is-cheap-and-air-is-free-chaps getting a rush of blood to the head. Calm down, boys. This is no cargo vessel and no Arctic-ASW-combatant BY DESIGN.

As mentioned above, making such would pose no problem, but this also is not in the focus of this proposal.


So we have a viable plan to replace T23. But we are still overspent, and we still lack the numbers. How can we fix this?

If we add-up the current surface fleet, we get something like the following picture, with all prices being the bare minimum:

  • £6.0b  =  6 T45 or eventual replacements
  • £4.0b  = 13 T26
  • £1.4b  =  x MHPC

Makes £11.4b. Available due to the total 30-years budget are £7.5b.

This is were the concept of a one-tier surface fleet and the supporting tooling will show it’s power.

What if…

  • we put a 24- or even a 48-cell VLS on the mission area?
  • we put a hundred CAMMs aboard + adding a pair of those french land-based ASTER-launchers?
  • we put that reusable hypersonic UAV fired from VLS into the mission area, that possibly makes up AD in 2030

All this would mean, short of SAMPSON, we could replace T45 by a T27. Certainly, we would pay more than £158m or even £200m, but we would not need any development of a whole new vessel. Each vessel would cost a third or a fourth of a large AD-combatant. This all means, if we take 12 AD outfits instead of 6 T45-successors, to current prices we would save up to £4.5b. This is more or less the number to build 30 baseline vessels. Plus we could use the MHPC-money for another 8 or 10.

So, the new plan would look like this, economies of scale excluded:

£6.4b  = 40 T27

£1.0b  =    for developing/integrating new equipment options for the interface

Makes £7.4b

Savings are £4b, and we will just fit into the 30-years budget. In other words: back on track. In fact, with the 100m left, we build the SIMSS-prototype.

Also, we would have made a comback on numbers, and we would be ruthlessly common.

The only high-end capability not reproducable using this pattern is SAMPSON. Instead we would have a network of ARTISANs and UAVs. The connected computing power of the battlegroup will certainly outperform the single one-trick pony of today. One T27 may in itself never be as good as a T45 on AD. But if the T45 must compete with 2, 3 or even 4 T27 affordable for the price tag of one T45, it would be outclassed.


Well, the obvious is the nearest.

The next construction programme is MHPC. It looks as the RN is looking for something in the 90-100m range.

Why not taking the Type 27?

It adds actually very low risk to the program itself and it fits darn well into the price tag intended.

As it is, we could get 8 light frigates out of MHPC, and would still have some money to adapt the MIW and hydrography equipment.

When the vessels for MHPC are delivered, JUST KEEP BUILDING. Actually, we could instantly cancel the £127m T26-contract and turn it into something material.


Bottom line, let’s recapitulate a bit.

All numbers I mentioned may be hampered by the fact of general availability to the public domain. To prevent criticism, I have added a 50% margin of error, apart from numbers being backed by a source.

This proposal has shown evolving the surface force to the next decades by very simply, atomic measures:

  • (re)introducing a very basic design-skillset into MoD by using a simple software, doing basic shipbucketing, cost analysis and contracting assistance
  • connecting this skillset to the real world by introducing a standardized outfitting-interface aka mission bay + plugs
  • using a basic light frigate seaframe featuring this interface as a baseline
  • achieving economies of scale by ordering the baselines equipment in larger numbers
  • this way getting an affordable alternative to T26 AND T45(-successor) to get the budget back on track
  • avoiding duplication by always asking for adaption of the baseline, if a new requirement emerge

What it doesn’t deliver is anything kind of a high-end asset. No more floating imperial star destroyers.

What it delivers is a basic war vessel, patrol-capable OOTB and flexible by design, and an evolutionary fluid entry into a new set of thinking in acquisition. Individual vessels can well be outfitted with a VDS or even a volume-search radar, and can grow to the necessary height if required.

The latter is is just plain good old British tradition, isn’t it?


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September 28, 2011 9:08 am

I’m in. I think your point about the interface is similar to the one I was making about SIMSS – designing around the space that connects up the various access points.

Meanwhile, watch a Kongsberg NSM do its stuff.

September 28, 2011 9:49 am

The plan sounds great, but didn’t the Dutch navy turn down the SIGMAs for being too vulnerable?

September 28, 2011 10:34 am

A v good and entertaining piece

… one of the billions saved will also give us the “floating imperial star destroyers” through the refit of the other carrier to cats&traps (in due course)

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 28, 2011 10:53 am


Loads of issues to chew upon.

My first thoughts on the MOD / RN attempts at ship design is that the issue is not one relating to a lack of skills it is to do with a lack of leadership.

This then multiplies as the vacuum at the top encourages every Tom Dick and Harry to go large on their own hobby horses and tie the whole process down into a never ending series of meetings and reviews producing nothing but spending a lot of money.

Also I think that we need to break the cost down of any vessel into basic hull and mission / war load.

The enemy at the moment is the Treasury.
Until the MOD / RN get one over them we will be into a long hard slog to get anything.
Start low, do things quickly and do them to budget then the RN may have a chance to move things forward.

To go over old ground the CVF programme needed a mild steel prototype to get things started.

Container ship at £100mill should have been the programme base.
Fill the slices that would normally hold containers with all the stuff needed.
Fit pre-fab hangars and accommodation on top and away we should have went.
Rent some F18 A/B’s from National Guard and start singing “We are Sailing” in a 1970’s stylee.

Any plan now needs to be fast, nimble and efficient.
That comes from leadership and not endless meetings.

September 28, 2011 11:07 am

Well said ” the CVF programme needed a mild steel prototype to get things started”

In their final form (which hasn’t been decided, or at least not communicated, yet) they will be the key ingredient to “carrier-assisted operations”.

What those are/ will be I can imagine, but still looking for a proper document on the concept (if priorities are not steered so that the “other” ingredients will also be in place, then we might be looking at a colossal waste of money… don’t get me wrong: I am for maritime-oriented defence posture and carriers as part of it)

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 28, 2011 11:24 am


What is the main driver in your analysis?

Cost, size or capability?

Cost – That is capital cost, manning costs, running costs?
Size – You go big on a 5m draught and then talk about a hull mounted sonar.
Capability – What is your benchmark?

Patrol / Presence?
War fighting?

You seem to want a lot of hulls in the water but what has happened to the RFA support element?

Consequently my thoughts on your design are that it is –

Too trad,
Too short legged,
Not VFM enough,
Too limited,
Too expensive.

Also could you redo the numbers as they are hard to follow.
Why Artisan over Smart-S?
What costs do you have?

SC budget – What is this?

September 28, 2011 12:52 pm

McZ, good article and lots of things to chew over. My main question at the moment is why wait to start with the MHPC when the T26 design is not finalized? Also, I still see a need for the high end platform to have a different design otherwise there would be too many comprises (plus I think it would actually be a harder sell to get the high end kit past the treasury).

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 28, 2011 3:41 pm

McZ @ 2.57

I think we agree on the basic point – the issue with the RN / MOD is a lack of leadership – would JF find a role in today’s Navy?

Regarding my other points I am just trying to work out what the main drivers are for your plans?

Are fleet numbers too low?
Are the existing designs too high level / too expensive?
Do we have current needs that are not being met but the existing or planned fleet?

Is your “11213” a patrol frigate in it’s baseline spec?
Is size important or is it secondary after cost?
Have you thought about boat handling / well deck?

My thoughts are driven by a viewpoint that the current plans are unsustainable / not fit for purpose.

Basic point is cost, the figures are far too high.
Second point is that because of limited funds and high costs the design has to do too much for too long – issue is the same for FRES / T26 / CVF – their use is envisaged into the far future no matter what the far future holds.

CVF – 50 years – copying the Americans.
T26 – building until 2033 – ridiculous.
FRES – in service until 2050? as a given at the start not a nice to have after 25 years service?

Need to up the pace of – Need / Develop / Design / Build / Service.
Need to lower the cost and introduce TQM – find a quality level then work to lower the cost.

Finally any thoughts on MARS / Ocean 2 / A+B replacement?
18 knots for the flagship is bringing the fleet back to the standards of 1895.

Fluffy Thoughts
Fluffy Thoughts
September 28, 2011 4:25 pm

I read this at work; it has been bugging me ever since. I don’t want to see another Type-21 debacle.

Types 45 and 23 are better than what is on offer. MHPC is not a [fighting] warship…!

September 28, 2011 6:39 pm

Well done matey, BZ on a great article, well written, enjoyed reading it on my commute to work this morning. Which means I have not really had time to digest or fully analyze – Except to say, you appear to be way, way of the mark with characterization of the issues of air defence e.g. many Artisans are equal to or greater than a single SAMSON due to greater processing power – it ain’t that simple :-)

Sill I applaud your efforts !

September 28, 2011 6:51 pm

Oh dear, just been and looked at the Sigma – great 2500tonne ship for coastal navies patrolling their own EEZ – I would not want to live on one of these on a standard RN 6th month deployment…. don’t think the accomodation would be quite to the same standards as a T45 !

Why did you put the emphasis on green water ops, what is your strategic analysis that leads you to this focus ? How much money do you have left over to spend on “Corvette Tenders” to go with these wee things ?

September 28, 2011 7:06 pm

McZ, A few points whilst I’m still digesting…

* Quoting 6bn for the T45, whilst true, is distorting the numbers and in my view is an anomaly which is unlikely to be repeated. My understanding is that this number includes all the legacy costs of the failed Horizon programme and the R&D for Sampson etc. This was compounded by the eventual reduction in the number of hulls for which the costs of the CVF programme was largely to blame. The real lesson is to get a better mix of new vs existing equipment on new ships and stick to the number of ships originally planned – which seems to be the message from the T26.
* You could link together multiple Artisan equipped ships to give the same area coverage as the Sampson, but I thought one of the benefits is that you can see things coming along way away so you have a chance to shoot it down. What you are suggesting would not give you this or things such as anti ballistic missile defence.
* Government budgets I don’t believe fluctuate as drastically as you suggest, there is no reason why not to plan ship deliveries for a five year period.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 28, 2011 7:11 pm

McZ @ 5.21

T21 – Wasted by Sea Cat.

If it had been built with a better missile or an up Market gun it would have been a world beater.

Now on the issue of the T27 – what displacement are we talking about?

112m x 13m x 5m = 3,500 tons full load.
Looking at 300 tons of fuel oil for 7K miles at 15 knots.
My numbers work at 15 tons per day at 15knots

Not sure how this compares with the T12 (L) / T21 / T23?

As you have probably guessed I see this as too small too short legged and too limited.

You seem to use the MARS money to finance the T27 build, that is take out capability from the RFA then give them a huge flock to look after.

My thoughts on the SIMSS / Colonial Sloop aka the Global Patrol Vessel to all the social workers lurking.

60 days endurance at 400 miles per day / 15 knots.
That would be 20 tons per day or 1,200 tons all in.

Colonial Sloop = 147m x 25m x 5-6m = 11k tons full load / 16MW for 22 knots +
Patrol Frigate = 177m x 25m x 5-6m = 14k tons full load / 32MW for 28 knots +

The driver here is parametric design.
Work out the cross section and then flex the length to suit.
Cost is an issue but the design is very efficient.
Capital cost has the following –

Navigable hull = £45mill.
HMS Clyde sensor suite or better = £5mill.
Warload = £10mill.

That would be my baseline.
To tie my ideas into the T27 then a patrol spec would need to be worked up.

Navigable hull = £65mill including £5mill of better sub-division / armour.
Sensor suite = £30-35mill – Artisan and CIC, ex T23 if required.
Interested in the Endurance Class fit out
Warload = £30-35mill – limited ASW / area AAW with 24 VLS tubes / S-S missiles and guns.
Hoping for ESSM levels of capability.
Second hand Harpoon if money is tight.

Looking at a price point of £130mill / €150mill.
VLS – Mk 41 or Sylver depending on cost.

Cost is the driver.
Big and simple = cheap to build and run
All the warload will be RO-RO / LO-LO / BO-BO.
Size offer utility, flexibility and growth.
Would aim to flog them after 15 years if the price was right.

Final point on their suitability to fight wars.
War fighters are whatever we choose them to be.
WW2 showed that the simpler the structure the longer the ship stayed afloat.
See IJN convoy escorts 1943-45.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 28, 2011 7:16 pm

Repulse @ 7.06

The T45 programme cost £6.6bill.
For that expense we got 6 limited Tier 1 AAW hulls.

Consequently the fully accounted cost of a T45 is £1.1bill.

Please note that this does not include the R+D money spent on the forebears of the Sampson radar in the dim and distant past.

September 28, 2011 7:50 pm


Thanks for the time you took to write the piece. While its an interesting take its not one I agree with.
I would say that the design stage is not where you want to be looking for short cuts or to reduce you program Ino this is a favourite area to look for cost saving as its difficult appreciate what’s happening. Material and design will contribute to less than 10% of the total program cost but influence minimum 44% of total cost. This is often were programs start going wrong as programs are rushed thru the design stages without having full maturity at each stage. The ship bucket design idea does happen at the start of all engineering programs using very senior engineers and parametric sizing models. That is in essence the easy bit.

While I like the idea of scale able hulls one of the problems with mono hulls is that to increase the length of a monohull you usually have to increase its beam and draught to give it its stability. This is a area I believe where the triton hull form has benefits in that the stability is provided by the outer hulls meaning your central hull with accommodation and machine spaces can maintain an constant cs allowing simpler scaling up of the hull length.

I think your budget for a 30 year ship building program will be type 26, mhpc and mars and nothing else. About 7b total for both the hulls and the modules that go in them anything else is wishful thinking.

September 28, 2011 8:51 pm

McZ has some interesting ideas, but he’s focused all of his maths on unit price. This is only one part of the overall cost of such a force.

The compliment of the Type 45 is meant to be 190, and the Type 26 130. That’s a naval force of nearly 3000 sailors. The Sigma frigates have a crew of about 100; 40 of them would be 4000!

That’s a third increase in pay, training requirements, pension funds, military housing…and all that before you even start to work out the extra logistics forces required to maintain such a big fleet.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 28, 2011 9:02 pm

Mark @ 7.50

You are having a laugh.
You want to spend more time on the design phase.

The issues you raise are down to the complete lack of corporate knowledge within the MOD regarding the design of frigates.

Regarding the T26 we are in the middle of the Assessment phase where we are analysing options And designing systems.

£127mill and 45 months – Good work if you can get it.

You have to ask what systems are involved

Artisan – out a catalogue / off an upgraded T23
TAS – out a catalogue / off an upgraded T23
AAW – out a catalogue / off an upgraded T23
S-S – out a scrapyard
Gun – out a cracker
CIC / CMS – the big unknown.

Consequently what is there to design?

When all this is finished it will be onto design proper.
Do you really want to spend more time on this?

September 28, 2011 9:23 pm


Exactly were in my post have mentioned anything to do with type 26 program.

Ive experienced a number of both civi and miltary programs and what I mention is repeated continually. However as you appear to know better than any of the professionals ive ever worked worth or the conventional engineering principles I suggest you open your own factories and shipyards and show us what we have been doing wrong all these years.

September 28, 2011 10:15 pm


I have staid out of this so far,

I like the Sigma design very much as a green water vessel and would like to see dozen in the RN.

I see you have done the maths on price on range etc, and I am not going to argue. The principle one basi ship doing all those jobs is again interresting.

However I am not convinved the vessel is the right sizem someone else posted about habitability, I am concerned about that range and seakeeping. As someone has already said the numbers or relativly (accent on the relativly) short ranged vessels, would increase the drain on the RFA unless they are forward based.

I am also not sure they meet the high requirement in its entirety,
In short not convinced.

September 28, 2011 10:59 pm

McZ said “My guess is: strong separation of sensor-pickets and battery vessels, mixed in a 1:2 or even 1:3 ratio.”

Yep I can see some merit in that approach. I have wondered for a while now if (perhaps a smaller) CVF should have been outfitted with SeaViper. And that such a ship would be accompanied by an escort of 4 diesel frigates (think Iver Huitfeldt but only with a PDMS system and two CIWS.) These frigates would the base for the balance of the ASW helicopter screen. (Two Merlin say as per Absalon.) This would leave T45 for other work.

September 28, 2011 11:29 pm


Good point about T45 replacement I am of a similar view to X re CVF so it fits in.

In your case you are rather recomending a leander sized vessel. Tha should be enough. IMHO it seems fiesable.

September 28, 2011 11:40 pm

I thought it was an interesting article with a different perspective McZ, so well done on that mate.

But the more I think about this kind of thing, the future of the Navy and all that, the more I lean towards just a Type 45 Mk.II

See the thing is, I look at the Type 23 frigate a lot. I mean literally, I have the picture of HMS Somerset that is used on the Type 23 wikipedia page as my desktop background, and I now can’t change it even if I wanted to.

But anyway, I look at the Type 23 and think to myself “complete package”.

It has sufficient radar and missile systems to protect itself. It has a gun. Sonar. Torpedos. Harpoon. Helicopter.

It can do some of the things a Type 45 can do and even some things it can’t (thanks to fitted for, not with).

So I think we should just resurrect the Type 45 from the production line bin. Put towed array’s on them. Maybe just fit it with Aster 15, not Aster 30. Take off the long range area search radar and just stick with SAMPSON, or maybe trade out Sampson for Artisan if that proves cheaper.

And then just get on and build them. Fitted with everything they need.

September 28, 2011 11:54 pm

And I am never convinced about arguments about reducing draft. This is about sea power not harbour power. :)

September 29, 2011 12:29 am

I’d have to agree with X. I’d want a ship prioritised for blue water operations over green/brown.

All Politicians are the same
All Politicians are the same
September 29, 2011 12:38 am

A very intersting article.

1. The arguements for few and high end vs many low end will run and run on here without a doubt.

2. I struggle to see how we can justift spending 145 million pound on the design phase of T26. I do not often agree with FBOT but he is spot on here.

3. The problem with a 45 batch 2 is that they would actually need some mods to make them GP platforms, they are horrfically noisy beasts at the moment.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 29, 2011 12:40 am

McZ @ 10.42

I struggle to understand your views on the Endurance class LPDs?

They are not small – 141m long for 8,500 tons full load.
They have a good sensor fit that can be thrifted and improved upon as it is 10-12 years old now.
It is a very capable and flexible platform and the going rate for a copy is £80mill approx in today’s money.
You also have the Absalon data point to add to the cost picture
£165mill each in 2005 with a very good patrol spec warload and a big boxy, capable hull.

Finally I have to ask two questions –

T27 – What is the main driver?
Is it cost, capability or size?

What issues do you have with the SIMSS concept or it’s second cousin the Colonial Sloop?
They are robust, capable and cheap.
Fit a warload of £60mill + on them and they will go toe to toe with a patrol spec T23.

Bullet points will do, I know it will be a pain but it will help the debate.
Either that or we ask TD for an indexing system.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 29, 2011 12:48 am

Alpats @ 12.38

Why are the T45 ‘s noisy?

Has the MOD lost all it’s corporate knowledge that it gained in doing the T23’s and the Astutes?

I fear that when it comes to design we are far too much project based, starting from scratch with ever new ship type.

That is doing Right Hand Design with no Left Hand Side support.

All Politicians are the same
All Politicians are the same
September 29, 2011 1:09 am


Perhaps “noisy is a slight overstatement” but a lack of rafting and the use of gas turbines has made them “not quiet”. The 23 is an extreme example as they can run on 2 Dgs rafted and insulated on 1 deck when they go ultra quiet.
Apparently the 45 also has an extremely distinctive IR signature when viewed through a periscope.

September 29, 2011 4:17 am


Question; If £145 million has been earmarked for development work on the Type 26, plus the fact there will be additional development money that will have to be spent builidng a first ship and getting it tested, approved etc, will it cost more or less than the above to get a Type 45 Mk. II up to scratch for ASW work?

To clarify, we’re talking about dumping the long range area search radar (that BAE never wanted anyway), fitting it only for the shorter ranged Aster 15, fitting a towed sonar array, perhaps messing about with the arse end (where’s Mandelson when you need him?) to put in some kind of basic docking for small boats, and then adapting the design to make it quiter/harder to detect by submarine.

Will all that cost more than the full expense of developing the Type 26 from scratch?

As is painfully obvious, I’m not a Naval engineer. But I’m guessing that T45 Mk.II would come in cheaper.

September 29, 2011 8:04 am


If your using a mature design your using everything that comes in that ship and what ever interfaces it has were ever they have them. If your planning to change any of the interfaces in the ship your using a mature hull design very different. I would say take a look at the mature design of apache and chinook we took and effective changed there interface.

September 29, 2011 11:50 am

T45 was specifically designed to be quieter than T42 which were mechanically similar to the T22. I can’t recall if the T42 had masking tech’. T22 was noiser than Leander.

Electric ships are quieter. No shafts. No need for variable pitch prop’s.

Further to my comment about draft if you go to your charts you will see that the six feet saved between something the size of T45 and say a T21 hardly makes any difference. A ship that is twice the displacement doesn’t have twice the beam or length!!! Which means there isn’t a great increase in deck space for weapons etc. But the increase in volume means bigger bunkers and stores and so less reliance on auxiliaries.

September 29, 2011 12:18 pm

We should have given the French the £145m for the rights to FREMM. It is where T26 will eventually end up.

September 29, 2011 12:20 pm


Was not one if the issued raised in the recent Desi briefing that the electric propulsion was too noisy for asw operations hence why it wasn’t being selected for type 26.

Brian Black
Brian Black
September 29, 2011 12:27 pm

The type 26 “capability decision point” is (was?) scheduled for this October. So we might soon begin to see a few details of the ingredients for this particular recipe.

I’m particularly curious as to what form the general purpose frigate will take. Is that t26 without..? Or will it come with capabilities of it’s own. Perhaps a nod towards air defence to mitigate against the small number of t45, as with France’s AAW FREMM since cutting back the Horizons.

September 29, 2011 1:17 pm

@ Mark

Yes. And though I concede t I am only an armchair admiral I did think it was utter bollocks. Are the diesels in T23 noisy? Is there any direct rigid connection between prime mover and the prop? No. Do electric ships have variable pitch propellers that have a large boss that increases the acoustic signature? No. Are the signatures of small primer movers scattered though out a hull easier to manage? Yes.

It should also be remembered that SSKs are the quietest things afloat. And what type of engines and drive do they use? :)

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 29, 2011 2:51 pm

X @ 1.17

Electric propulsion –

I fear that we have a case where one design of one technology set when installed in a RN vessel is too noisy for ASW not that the whole suite / range of the technology is too noisy.

Hope they do better with the CVF.

As for the T26, the prime movers have to med speed diesel.
The last thing we need is a make work scheme for RR GTs.
The powertrain could full electric or hybrid, the main thing is no GTs.

September 29, 2011 3:26 pm

McZ @ 10.42

On network centric, distributed computing AAW architectures. I am in IT, I get where you coming from. I was using Link 11 (via the archaic CAAIS as part of GWS 25)at the grand age of 17, so non of this is new. However datalinks and distributed processing are not the only part of the picture, as I think you know. The attributes of the sensor are equally important, be it frequency range, radiated power, antenna type etc. You can argue all day about dwell times and whether the SAMSON approach (back to back fast spinning antennas) is better for some things than fixed phased arrays etc. However even if the missile / air threat has not made a quantum leap by 2035 (hypersonic as opposed to supersonic threats ???) simply spreading a net of ARTISAN radars (with improved signal processing) does not equate to providing the same features / functionality of SAMSON. Also your base ship size is smaller, so you cant get the antenna as high, and thus your radar horizon against sea skimmmers has just closed in.

I am not sure what line of site Lasers has to do with this, sure they are secure, high bandwidth comms channel for datalinking, but “line of site” pretty much screws their utility for widely spreading your sensor net (Nelsons frigates had to be able to see each others flags, and visual comms is still used today but not for coordinating AAW)

So I think your vessel will never replace the area AAW specialist ship. Also T45 has a Chinook sized flight deck, a hanger for an EH101 or 2 Lynx, and good standard accomodation for 40 + additional marines (or whoever) – so while the requirement may change over time, as it stands your Sigma’s can’t do this element either.

September 29, 2011 9:46 pm

I think if the UK wants to play with the big boys still in 2040, the RN still needs a balanced high / med / low mix of significant surface vessels. Probably in the ratio of 1:2:3 in terms of vessel numbers respectively, or £500mn/£250mn/£60mn in today’s money for cost per vessel.

Looking at duties per level:

* high: high value escort and area defence – AAW / BMD
* med: med threat patrol, escort and offensive attack – ASW / AsuW (T45 batch 2 or T26)
* low: EEZ patrol, humanitarian aid, surveillance and survey – (Clyde mk II, SIMSS)

One hull type could in my view meet two of the roles but not three. Trying to building a hull for the high end requirement would just increase the base cost of the low end.

Basing the budget on 7.5bn (which I think will be higher in reality) would give a ratio of 6:12:18 which spookily enough is quite close to what we have now and not far from 40 T27s.

To maximise economies of scale though, the high and medium vessels should share the same hull. Build one high/medium and one low spec vessel every 20 months and we are sorted.

September 29, 2011 10:37 pm


not quite what i was getting at. In apache we changed the engine and the chinook the cockpit and they cost a fortune. You proposing to take a sigma vessel and change its power plant to electric and it radar and cms system. You are in essence just keeping its hull form and that’s the cheap bit.

September 30, 2011 3:38 am

Maybe it’s just unrealistic to assume that we can fill all these tasks without spending a bit of cash? Maybe we just have to accept that to build a frigate for ASW and General Purpose patrolling, we’re simply going to have to spend a few pounds. And with the budget the way it is, that’s just going to mean reduced numbers, and there’s no two ways about it.

Brian Black
Brian Black
September 30, 2011 7:16 am

The question, Chris.B, is what will the budget look like in ten years time? The elephant in the room is the unresolved funding for replacing Trident. It’s the perfect scheme to screw up today’s plans for the t26 programme.

September 30, 2011 7:35 am

Hi BB,

RE “funding for replacing Trident. It’s the perfect scheme to screw up today’s plans for the t26 programme”

The best part in the new RUSI “Looking into the Black Hole” essay is the one dealing with this issue, its timing and the effects on other procurement programmes.

The Navy, being a participant, has a chance to get out of the way, but not at the speed they are now proceeding with. E.g. FRES Utility will definitely be crowded out as it will hit the same time frame.

September 30, 2011 7:35 am

We have the Trident replacement.

And we have FRES.

And CVF.

And F-35.

And the new tankers for the RAF.

And A400m

And that’s just the tip of a very f**ked iceberg.

September 30, 2011 7:45 am

Hi McZ,

BAM must be priced per meter because in this source they give the 130m version a euros 130m price:
source on BAM
in Spanish, though. Likely to correspond closely to the much bigger arctic/antarctic version shown at the end
– I think the philosophy in modular design is very close to the Dutch example you chose as a starting point

September 30, 2011 7:55 am

“SSNs, SSBNs, amphibs and CVF will put us to the big boys. Escorts are not startegic assets but workhorses.”

I agree to a point, but are you seriously saying that your amphibs / CVF escorted by light frigates wouldn’t get decimated by a tier 2 opponent? Yes, of course you could put high end sensors / missile defence on the capital ships but I can’t see where you would save any money but you would be putting all your eggs in one basket and reducing flexibility.

“Too bad, the T45 costs 1b apiece, T26 will cost not much below 400m, MIW replacement will also cost money. Spookily, this makes 11b minimum, which is exactly my argument.”

Yes the T45 did cost alot more than £500mn, but it was a poorly executed project cut short and as I said before, introduced too much new equipment. I understand one of the reasons that the UK moved away from Horizon programme was that the RN wanted more than just an escort for a carrier group and ‘needed’ something for wide area defence. Ironically, by cutting the class to 6 vessels, CVF escorts is what we’ve got! Published costs for the Horizon suggest they were approx £500mn each. If the next time we partnership properly and keep the requirements realistic then this price is possible.

As Mark says, you keeping the hull of the SIGMA but are replacing the expensive bits. There is no reason why the the hull of a T26 would be significantly different from the hull of a SIGMA, if both were built in the same country. Again with proper management and re-use of existing equipment, why the T26 cost cannot be £250mn.

“BMD is not on the table, and honestly I fear the day HMG will get this capability on a warship, as the vessel will surely be moored in the Thames Estuary to protect the lads at Canary Wharf.”

With the proliferation of this technology, BMs will be key weapons in the coming years. The UK, along with Europe are already looking at ways of defence. I see a naval BMD as a future “must” for the protection of a task group and defending allies who cannot afford their own defence in times of crisis.

September 30, 2011 8:39 am

Re “good news”

The government has not given an end-date for the commitment to 1 per cent
equipment spending growth. As a result, it is reasonable to anticipate that
the 1 per cent assumption (and the accompanying assumption of level real
growth for non-equipment spending) can also be used for defence planning
beyond 2020, unless and until it is decided otherwise. Indeed, the greatest
financial value of the commitment comes in the years after 2020, when it will
be worth more than £1 billion per annum in additional resources.
Of those
projects still in the pre-Main Gate stage (i.e. without production contracts
having been signed), these are the three with the largest projected budgets
over the next decade[:] the successor
nuclear deterrent, the Joint Strike Fighter, and the Type-26 frigate.

The MoD is due to spend £7 billion over the
decade to 2020 on the initial concept, design and development phases of
this [Trident replacement] project, equivalent to around 11 per cent of the new equipment budget
over the decade from 2011/12 to 2020/21.

But the bulk of spending on
the successor submarines, total costs of which are projected at £25 billion,
is due to occur during the decade after 2020/21

probably reaching a peak of around
30 per cent of the new equipment budget by 2021/22 or 2022/23, when
the first-of-class begins production. It is likely to remain close to this level
until after the planned delivery of the first submarine in 2028

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 30, 2011 10:05 am

McZ @ 10.06

Q+D response 

Your viewpoint seems very Trad for the RN – the Incredible No-man.
My thoughts on a new vessel class / architecture – laundry list of issues.
Foreign experience, actual hull in the water – the MOD / RN will muck it up.

Consequently you seem to want all our bright new tomorrow’s built of better yesterday’s.
In this case the 21st century Leander, comfort in numbers.
As others have mentioned the idea is a dog and won’t work.

Next up the colonial sloop, can I take some time to better describe the concept as you appear to be unfamiliar with the design and the design process.

It uses the PSV / AHTS platform and component set but it does not attempt to look like one.
Closest living relative is the Endurance Class, so if you want to visualise that is a good place to start.
Also good for costs – £80-85mill per unit including 2 LCUs and 2 LCVPs and a rich sensor suite.
Another close relative would be the Makassar class.
Cheaper but not as well fitted out.

Now the Colonial Sloop / Global Patrol Vessel (GPV) –

147 m long at the wl x 25m x 5-6m full load.
20 MW installed power.
16MW motive power for 22 knots+.

48m = Sharp end containing all the gun armament.
2 x 1 – 155mm Army stuff @ 21m + 30m.
1 x 2 – 35 / 40mm @ 39 m
1 x 1 – Vulcan Phalanx CIWS @ 48m / stuck on the front of the bridge structure.

45m = Bridge and hangar structure .
Hangar = 250-300m2.
Mission Deck = 675m2 + 225m2 under the flight deck.

54m = Flight deck
Well deck = 39m x 15m approx.
Need to get a better understanding of the facilities on the Endurance / Makassar / Bay.

The basic ship structure would involve container ship ideas.
Full transverse bulkheads @ 15m centres to the main deck deck level.
Above this would be the mission deck.

Central core of the ship would be 15m wide.
Flanked by two 5m wide spaces containing tanks and voids.
Full longitudinal bulkheads would run in this space.

Costs = £60mill target.
Basic navigable hull with civil systems = £45mill
Military sensor suite – HMS Clyde or better = £5mill
Warload = £10mill budget so some stuff will be 2nd hand or refurbished.

I will leave the details of the £130mill Patrol Frigate spec for later.

Regarding your specific points – 

1) Not survivable – Wrong
See IJN escort design 1942-45 for evidence.

2) Easy to detect – Wrong
43 knot cat used to do down 22 knot monohull.
File under scraping the bottom of the barrel.

3) Only civil quality stealth – Not sure what you mean.
What was the military stealth budget of HMS Clyde, the T45s or even the T23s?

4) Symbolic value – Barrel scraping.
You claim it has no military value then you claim the public will love it.
Any thoughts on the symbolic value of the Largs Bay?

5) Green water capabilities – Works to T23 standards.
Anything closer and it will “unleash the Beast”.
Cheap knock off copy of the Skjold sitting in the well deck.

6) Bluewater speed – Wrong.
22knots + Beast + CB90 + helicopter is a good start.
Got an issue go 28knots for an extra £15mill.

7) Sensors – Wrong.
Better than HMS Clyde as standard, radar set very high up.
Plenty of room to upgrade – what can you get for another £30mill?

8) Electrical generation kit – Wrong.
COTS is good enough for cruise ships.
Any thoughts on the travails of the T45?

9) Hull – Wrong
See details above.

10) Medium gun – Wrong.
See details above.

11) Firing Angles – Wrong
40mm / Vulcan Phalanx have 270 degree coverage.
The bridge structure is cut away to allow this.

12) Cargo – Wrong.
The mission deck can be used for “stuff”.
Flexibility is your friend, don’t fight it.

To be continued …

September 30, 2011 10:30 am

I’ve seen some good conceptual designs where it is done like this:
“45m = Bridge and hangar structure .
Hangar = 250-300m2.
Mission Deck = 675m2 + 225m2 under the flight deck.

54m = Flight deck”
Though 54 minus 45= not much at all??

As a side note: No one seems to give T45 any credit for radar stealthiness?

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 30, 2011 11:22 am

ACC @ 10.30

147m = 48m + 45m + 54m.

Divide the ship into 3 sections –

Dumb pointy bit at the front – 48m
Intelligent bit in the middle – 45m – All mission deck with engines below.
Awkward bit at the back – 54m – Part well deck, part mission deck.
with aux spaces and fuel tanks below.

If you want to visualise, think of a more agressive Endurance class done properly.
Apart from the drive through vehicle deck it is the Colonial Sloop.
Needs tidied up and some things updated but it is closer to the concept than the Absalon.

As for the T45, it is just mainstream when it comes to stealthy.
People have done it better, people have done it earlier.

Interesting that it might have IR issues.
Plus powertrain noise issues.

September 30, 2011 11:49 am

Sorry, FBOT, read it quickly and thought you were counting in increments (rather than blocks)

September 30, 2011 12:34 pm

Been digesting the thread with interest, and while there are many fine ideas I’ve got to second Mark on the dangers of thinking you can design a warship like you would a lego set; its not simply a matter of plugging bits together, even with detailed a technical knowledge of those bits.

While its fun to sit around pontificating on where the Navy and shipbuilders went wrong with the ’45, it is simple hubris to believe that one can do better without any direct knowledge or insight into what has happened during that programme.

Mark is absolutely right; properly investing in the design phase is crucial to controlling costs through the ship build. MoD requirements may be very different or demanding to those put forward by other nations, making read-across from existing frigate design significantly more complex then the layman might expect. There is also no such thing as a ‘simple’ update of an older design for modern military requirements, in my experience.

I’ve worked on projects where big technical risks have been identified; mitigating plans put in place, but by the time the decision point is reached the design is too far advanced to make changes without impacting on a hundred other things. From and Engineering perspective it’s frustrating to let something go out the door which you know has technical flaws, but from the project management perspective a compromise has to be made against time and cost.

That £127million on the initial T26 design is money well spent if it helps avoid such problems.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 30, 2011 1:18 pm

SteveD @ 12.34

The problem with the T45 is that you could have written the script before the first meeting was held.

That is why some people on here including myself have so many issues with the T26 programme, it is just a case of repeating recent history this time as farce.

The T26 programme is all about the hull and the capabilities of the hull, everything else is marketing.
We have a well understood sensor suite and warload all that is missing is a better hull and lower costs.
What we have is a typical BWoS wild goose hunt as they try to bake in a huge profit margin and the MOD try to stop them as the Treasury is on their case.

Please note ship design and warship design is not a complex business, we need to move faster and we need to move smarter. The problem is a lack of leadership and a desk bound nomenclatura in the RN that needs to justify it’s existence.

You talk about MOD requirements being higher or different from everyone else.
The question has to be why?
Those standards didn’t help HMS Sheffield.

As for your second last paragraph I will file that under a text book case of bad project management.
Submarining issues to keep up with the programme.
Having a cheeky we solution up your sleeve in case it all goes breests up.
You run out of excuses and your get out of jail card doesn’t work because the space isn’t there / someone changed the plug.

Happens all the time be it auto, aero or civils.
From experience autos have learned or at least keep re-learning.

The £127mill is a joke.
Do we need 400-500 people over 4 years to assess options and pick systems?

After all this sorted out the real detailed design work starts.

September 30, 2011 1:35 pm

McZ at 291045z Sept

Ref: ” Think of a cable with a thousand AESA-transceivers, put to air by a small propelled probe. Operating height was 200m”

Kind of an off topic comment – be warned……

Not so far fetched matey ! In WWII many nations played with towed areostats and the German’s even experimented with a towed autogryo – of course these were to get human eys higher aloft.

Right now there would be nothing to stop you forward basing a Sea King Airbornse Survailance and Control (ASaC or “SK Whiskey”) on a T45.

More interestingly the latest radars on Merlin HM2 and Lynx Wildcat have phased array antenna’s and air to air modes.

So in my mind, an excellent adjunt to the role of AAW picket would a Boeing A160T Hummingbird long endurance VTOL UAV with the Sea Spray 7500E from the Lynx Wildcat, and a dedicated UHF line of site datalink back to “mother” (who would pass the contacts on the Link 16 net). This could have 12 hour endurance at the low end of “medium altitude” with of course a much expanded radar horizon for picking up those pesky high speed sea skimmers. Cram 3 into a T45 hanger for 24/7 coverage ???

September 30, 2011 1:39 pm


“Those standards didn’t help HMS Sheffield.”

The original design for the T42 was considerably longer with greater displacement. The design was cut down because of reduced government funding of the defence budget, not because the RN thought it would be spiffing idea to a pathetic little air defence ship!

Totally agree ref spend on “concept evaluation” phase :-(

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 30, 2011 1:59 pm

Jed x 2

Tethered electric helicopter with 1000 kg payload?
Send power up the cable and information back down.
Failing that a ballon / airship contraption?

On the T42s the stuff I heard blamed a single water main for the fire hoses.
It was too high up in the centre of the hull seemingly and the Exocet took it out.
Also the there was seemingly too much flammable insulation on most of the cables.

Comes from the US as rumours and scuttlebutt.

As for the shrinking T42.
DH / HW has to take some of the blame – didn’t ask enough about the cost model.

Cost = X or Y involved.
Cost is a single parameter model.

Cost = Length x X – shorter ships are cheaper no matter the warload.
Cost = Displacement x Y – lighter ships are cheaper no matter the warload.

This the reason why I think we need to split the cost into two –

1) Hull and powertrain
2) Sensor suite and warload.

Finally I would put a couple of heavy lift ships into the RFA.
Either that or treat them like the Point Class.
We should have brought the Sheffield home.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 30, 2011 6:09 pm

McZ @ 10.06 – Part 2.

13) No deck space – Wrong
Front – 800m2 of deck
Back – 1400m2 of flight deck.
Add in the hangar roof and the space on top of the front of the bridge / accommodation block.

14) Top heavy – Could be an issue but the hull dimensions help out.
Looking at 5m+ draught with a 25m beam with heavy engines and fuel / ballast tanks low down.
Compare and contrast with the T27 – 13m beam and 3.5m draught.
Given the two alternatives any thoughts on the height of the Artisan antennas?

15) Damage Control – Wrong, looking to raise current standards.
Big hull with a central core, thick plating, many voids and distributed systems.
Small crew could be an issue – I would look to add an extra Damage Contol section when required.
Shooting War – Naval reservists / Hot Peace or Libya – bulk up with desk warriors.

15) Compartments – Wrong.
Cheap and easy to fill up a big boxy hull with loads of sub-divisions.
The container ship style transverse framing / bulkheads at 15m centres will help.
Even the PSV / AHTS heritage will help, they are full of storage tanks below the work deck.

17) Wiring – Wrong but interesting.
Look to improve on current arrangements.
Wires out a catalogue, cable runs duplicated and trunked.

18) Mission Fit – Barking.
Flexibility is the key, all the sensors and warload are RO/RO or LO/LO or BO/BO.
If things change then the Colonial Sloop can change as well.
Currently we make a cherry cake by baking a plain sponge and then pushing the fruit in by hand – messy and expensive.

19) Containerisation – Barking.
We need flexibility to upgrade civil vessels in times of war, we need the systems ready to go.
Currently we do not have them, this programme will allow us to get started.

20) Pre-positioning – wrong end of the stick.
The RN needs to get out and meet the world, this ship will allow that.
The RN needs to use the proper vessel for the job.
Using a fleet oiler is showing our poverty to the world.

21) Sloop – Wrong
The Colonial Sloop is set up for NGS and self preservation.
Not quite a Mod Black Swan for the teenies but that is where the “Colonial” comes in.
If you are looking for a modern equivalent, that is where the Patrol Frigate spec comes in.

22) Seeking a mission – Wrong, see above.
We are now down to 19 escorts and that is not enough.
We need more ships, that was the reason for the MHPC programme.

23) New Operational Concepts – Wrong
Why is this an issue, why is this a problem, is the RN cast in aspic?
Surely the RN officer corps would love the challenge?
Currently the RN is living of it’s reputation.
They, we need to do better.

Apologies for being a bit confrontational but your laundry list was not reasoned analysis it was a cry for help of a service fearful of the future, lacking in confidence and trying to come to terms with a changing world.

I don’t know if the Colonial Sloop will provide all the answers but the questions for the current RN ship design process remain –

Why so expensive?
Why so limited?
Why so slow?

Shouts of we’re the RN / MOD, we’re special they just don’t cut it anymore.

September 30, 2011 7:17 pm

Can I ask FBOT if you are an engineer? The reason I ask is you condemn the cost of the T26 detail design phase, but from working in the commercial parts of two engineering consultancies the cost does not seem out of place i.e. £127 design versus a likely budget of £3,380 million for the build of 13 T26’s based on £260 million per ship – so the detailed design is 3.75% of the build budget, sounds about right to me based on experience in the road and rail sector – is there evidence from the maritime sector that this is out of step for military ships (bearing in mind military ships have all sorts of requirements that commercial ships do not)?

September 30, 2011 7:49 pm

McZ said “How do we make partnerships with foreign navies? Hasn’t this something to do with RN and foreign matelots subsidizing local pubs?”

Yes of course. But my comment was nothing to do with runs ashore.

The USN think with LCS there is need to get close in shore. Utter rhubarb. The difference in draft between a 8000t and 2750t ship hardly makes any difference. Escorts have no place close in. Well that close in that a few feet here or there make a difference. Pick an admiralty chart and notice how much of it is coloured white….

As for getting Jack his beer, big eats, and bag off well most ports worthy of an RN “diplomatic” visit will be navigable by most of the RN fleet (carriers excepted) of the last 60 years or so.

Seakeeping first, second, and last.

September 30, 2011 7:51 pm

SteveD said “That £127million on the initial T26 design is money well spent if it helps avoid such problems.”

Yes in a way you are right. But spending that money on buying a design that is already built and in service would be better. The trouble with BAE is that £126m will probably be a starting point.

September 30, 2011 7:55 pm

I’m also a little curious to what experience he’s basing all this on.

September 30, 2011 8:01 pm


Yes I hear what you are saying. And I agree medium speed diesels. To shove something like a Daring along at about 32 knots would need about 34,000hp.

I just thought it was utter tosh to say diesels, well diesel electric, was noisy.

Makes me head hurt.

September 30, 2011 8:54 pm

I would add the 126m sound about right to me as well.
x it didnt work so well with bays we bought that “finished” design. Only if you dont change anything on the vessel you buy will it not cost you any design money.

I know from experience not in the marine eng mind but some things aren’t right on first articular mainly due to things having to be ordered so early in the design phase due to long lead times 46+ weeks in some cases. Its not ideal but the reality shortened design phases.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
September 30, 2011 8:58 pm

Endurance series


Flat top Endurance – Endurance 160


Speed could be better but very flexible – amphib., UV mothership, HA/DR, sea control? ASW (Helos)? Drop in some CAMM and upgrade the 76mm…

The 160 can expand its medical facilities to take up an entire deck – replacement for Argus in ASS and PCRS roles?

September 30, 2011 8:58 pm

Hi x,

If the price increases because the customer changes their requirement then I would clear BAE of any wrong doing, if the cost goes up because BAE is not up to the job then I think they should cover the cost over-run.

Given that we wanted to export T26 there was never going to be a buy in of an existing design, however I think its very poor policy to pay the company who going build something to design it, depending on how canny they are there are plenty of opportunities to grow the build cost by forcing the MoD to issue change controls to change the specification – I know that appointing the same company to design a ship and then build it is common in ship building (or military aviation) but if you look at the civil engineering sector you usually pay your consultant’s to design something, they provide detailed design plans, and if they have quantity surveying expertise they will also draw up and run the tender process for you, and then you will appoint a contractor to build it. IMO I cannot but think that if this lesson was applied to T26 with say DCNS doing the design and monitoring of the performance and BAE the ship building that T26 would come in on time and on budget – something I fully expect not to happen with T26.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 30, 2011 9:09 pm

Tubby @ 7.17

My background is engineering.
Did sometime as a CAD monkey / Design Engineer.
Moved onto CAD systems and managing workstations.
Did the project man agent bit as well as procurement.
Next up was a long stint as a financial analyst / Finance Controller.
Now into market analysis and industry analysis.

As for your point I fear we may have to differ.
Option analysis and system selection is not worth £127mill.
Most of the stuff is catalogue engineering.
Most of the warload is carryover / second hand T23 upgrade stuff.

Your point about share of total programme cost falls down as you base it not on the workload required to do the job but you base it on the total cost which is based on numbers.

If you half the numbers wanted do you halve the workload at the design stage? Not in my book.

The problem is very basic – LHS engineering vs RHS engineering.

LHS engineering = Corporate knowledge, SME’s who follow the Market and generate a bank of understanding as to what the company can do, what the Market wants and how to close the gap as time moves on.

RHS engineering = Project engineering to get a specific task or programme into the build phase. Workload can vary over time and the scale involved but the design team is larger / more contractor based than the LHS organisation.

Main point is that no matter how big and how involved is the project you use the expertise and understanding of the LHS to get the programme up and running in a direction that has been pre-set.

The problem at the moment is that the RN / MOD do not have an in-house design team of any note. The organisation is filled up with desk warriors who ask lots of questions not SMEs who can answer them.

The builder has stepped into this breach by providing a project engineering team which grows and contracts in-line with the workload someone is prepared to pay for. From the outside continuity and corporate knowledge looks weak and design re-use appears non existent. Consequently worst of all possible worlds, we keep making the same mistakes over and over again and the leadership from the customer is weak and it’s direction is liable to change by the month to suit the latest front page on IFR.

The RN / MOD need proper corporate knowledge not a legion of desk warriors who are doing shore work to support their career progression.

We also need a Naval shipbuilder who wants to grow a business by being on top of their game and punching their weight internationally. That means competing internationally both at home and abroad and it means self funding new concepts and designs instead of waiting for the RN / MOD to point them in a direction.

RN / MOD = Need to find credibility, leadership and a desire to find new solutions to old problems.

BWoS = Needs to grow up, stop being a subsidy junkie and spend their own money wisely.

As I said before – patrol vessel Market is about to go big.
What did the French shipyard do – Go-Wind family – private venture into the water.
What will BWoS do – Go-Winge – nothing unless someone pays them.

September 30, 2011 9:09 pm

@ Mark

It didn’t work with the Bays because of the shipyards. I bet the Koreans could have followed the plans. Nothing at all to do with design changes. As I have said before ships ain’t ‘planes. I think I have told you before the unique ship isn’t unique. Just in case the meaning gets lost in the word play all ships, even ones in classes, are different one from another. Yes in some case only minor ways. But sometimes there can be fundamental differences too.

@ Tubby

The idea of exporting T26 is just as stupid. If it does happen by how much will HMG end up subsidizing the project? Where is the market? And if there is a market you only have to look at the quality products from other supplies already on the market to ask just how will the project “float”? How much will RN needs be handicapped by this export notion?

September 30, 2011 9:10 pm


I would disagree. If you have a company a rival one doing the manufacture of anothers design there is no incentive for the design company to take cost out of the manufacture phase. Ive seen both methods in action in civi aerospace and would strongly recommend design and build.

x no plane production run is the same either .

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
September 30, 2011 9:18 pm

@ Tubby – “you usually pay your consultant’s to design something, they provide detailed design plans, and if they have quantity surveying expertise they will also draw up and run the tender process for you, and then you will appoint a contractor to build it”

Didn’t we have that in the form of Admiralty design team(s)? ? Not very knowledgeable about this part of RN history – what were they called and what happened to them?

September 30, 2011 9:52 pm

A thorough piece on what kit to put on at what price http://fantasyfleet.blogspot.com/2011/08/what-would-modern-type-21-frigate-look.html
even though a bit haphazard on the ship design itself
– the same goal as what this thread has

September 30, 2011 9:53 pm


Some of your points I totally agree with – the MoD lacking corporate knowledge is very clear – indeed while I worked at TRL I project managed a specialist contract supporting Defence Estates on pavement engineering – the RE had seconded Col. Paul Chambers (he retired at a higher rank) who really knew what he was talking about, however he got turned down for a second posting in DE and got sent to Kosovo and his replacement had less knowledge than Paul did and the programme of work we were doing went backwards despite the best efforts of the civil servant who was co-managing the project for DE.

I also totally agree that a proper defence company would take a risk and build a design on their own funds and try to sell it.

What I am not convinced about is that detailed design of something as complex as a warship is ever cheap or easy – and this assumes that the requirement for GVA does not extend to the systems architecture on the T26. However I have no proper data points to compare it to (or my internet skills are to poor) as I cannot find a suitable comparison to compare T26 to I tried for FREMM and FFX (on the ground that South Korea and Hyundai have a reputation for value for money).


It’s a brave new world of exportability first, I wonder what will happen, I will admit I would have happily gone with an off the shelf purchase.

I even like the core idea of FBOT’s design – a 8,000 – 10,000 tonne “patrol frigate” which is mostly built to commercial standards with a 20 year design life and which has an off the shelf sensor and weapon fit which is optimised for cost not high end performance, though I hate the name colonial sloop and I want it to look like a warship with care taken to reduce the RCS and IR signature.

@ Mark,

You get design and build contractors in the civil sector, I got to spend a certain amount of time on a contract for the Highways Agency addressing deficiencies in the build of one such project – though to be fair lot of the problems where down to the materials used (materials being my background rather than engineering) – the point is that it is typical arrangement for one party to design and another to build – of course there are world of difference between that situation and the aerospace or maritime sector and I for one never discount the word of someone with experience when it conflicts with my theories.

September 30, 2011 10:04 pm

Hi GJ,

Quite like the Endurance 140.

Sacrificing troop/ evacuee/ hospital space for stores and fuel would give it the legs it needs. Light, cheap to operate helos on patrol duty; easily changed to bigger/ more sophisticated, according to tasking.

September 30, 2011 10:37 pm


Engineering is engineering at the end of the day so your experience is also relevant. In your example did the design agency have any control over the production budget ie they contracted Someone to build there design.

September 30, 2011 10:47 pm

Hi Mark,

Typically (at least how it was before DBFO became the main way of building roads) the client would procure a consultancy firm to do the detailed design, the would bring in quantity surveyor’s to do the cost control and a contractor to build the road. When I worked in the rail sector I was totally on the commercial side doing contract management so it was hard to be sure how it worked in this one case was more universal or not, but in case of the firm that I worked for they had a very large consultancy contract to do design work for stations and signalling on a major network upgrade (while the firm I worked for could do permanent way as well, they did not get any design work in this area), and again there was a separate company doing cost control and audit, and then Rail Track appointed contractors to build specific parts of the network upgrade.

I guess the difference between say building a road and building a ship is that there are a lot of companies who can keep to British Standards and build a road from the detail design of the road but few companies that can build a ship or jet both of which are inherently more complicated.

September 30, 2011 11:22 pm

Hi GJ,

Why the need to upgrade the 76mm; I’ll add bits to what the Fantasy Fleet blogger said about it (as his choice for a patrol frigate type of vessel):

It is also capable of being used as anti aircraft mode and against small boats. It has a wide variety of ammunition including HE fragmentation rounds and it can be used for shore bombardment at ranges of up to 30Km. Adding the laser-guided DART ammunition gives a high kill probability further out than relying on a ‘wall of metal’ defence against ASMs, closer-in, as used to be the case.

The funny thing is that the 76mm costs approx. $7m whereas the improved Phalanx pop-guns come at $10m
– ok,Phalanx comes with its own radar whereas the 76mm slots into the central system (and the price is without the under-deck magazine). In the totally theoretical situation that one or the other would be the only gun aboard, the Phalanx would come cheaper

At 120 rounds a minute the 76mm is hardly slow firing. The large rounds are also capable of providing better hitting power against gun boats or corvettes.It has been theoretically put forward that the ultra-precise DARTs could be used to cripple the engine room or power transmission should there be a need to stop a big vessel – you hardly want to sink it?!

The 76 mm’s range and a wide choice of ammunition gives a patrol frigate all it needs – including the capability to reach out and touch ‘baddies’ far ashore.
– now FBOT will slot me back to the gun salesman category!

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
September 30, 2011 11:31 pm

Tubby @ 9.53

My issue with the £127mill is what we are getting for the money.

We seem to be getting some option analysis and system selection.
Given the lack of progress planned for the T26 over the situation being worked on for the upgraded T23 that does not appear like a large workload to me.

Consequently I struggle to see the value in the contract.
My understanding is that the contract will not produce production ready drawings so that we are only looking at the concept generation stage with the detailed design still to come at extra expense.

On top of that I am worried that we appear to have fallen into the T42 trap.

Costs too high, wan’t to save money – don’t use your brain, just make it smaller.
We will pay for it in the long run.

Finally the Colonial Sloop is a piece of marketing to appeal to the Gin and Jag, Torygraph readers.
As for it’s appearance, have no fear my thoughts are post Absalon warfighter with a look that would scare the Treasury fartless.

October 1, 2011 7:36 am

I think a good point was raised; what happened to the Navy board of design? Still going?

I also see what FBOT is saying about this initial assessment phase for Type 26. £127 million for what? So they can come back and say;

– It’ll have the same towed array as Type 23,
– It’ll have the same attack sonar as Type 45,
– It’ll use Aster 15 missiles,
– It’ll use the same gun as Type 45,
– It’ll have Artisan radar,
– It’ll probably use the same engines as Type 45,

All stuff we kind of expect anyway. Then they’ll want probably double that £127m in order to draw up the plans.

Is this an expense we could be avoiding?

On the wider subject of design studies, maybe it’s not such a bad idea to have a separated design group to the builders. Look at construction – you have your architects and then you have your builders.

Look at Apple. They design their stuff, then someone else builds it.

Same with Sony. They designed the Playstation 3, but ASUSTek is the company that builds them in China. ASUStek also builds computers for people like Hewlett-Packard and Dell, as well as doing some work for Apple. (Incidentally the US Air Force research lab has hooked up over 1,500 PS3’s to build the world’s 33rd most powerful supercomputer, for studying objects in space).

Look at Maersk and how they go about their ships. Their newest designs will be built in South Korea (bigger than Emma Maersk).

Maybe it is time that the MoD started to take back the reigns of design for its ships, planes and vehicles, then just tender out the construction phase?

October 1, 2011 8:05 am

RE “Given the lack of progress planned for the T26 over the situation being worked on for the upgraded T23”

The cut-over between the life-extended T23 fleet (not necessarily all of them) and the T26s is far from clear. They are said to be good till 2035; the first one is already in the upgrade process.
– sea-FLAADS Main Gate was due in February this year; what happened was drowned under the noise of PR11. T26 Main Gate is November time? As has been pointed out that is just the decision about capabilities (and a go-ahead for detail design?).

Put that snail’s pace movement against my previous quote “probably reaching a peak of around
30 per cent of the new equipment budget by 2021/22 or 2022/23, when the first-of-class [SSBN]begins production. It is likely to remain close to this level until after the planned delivery of the first submarine in 2028”
– the above is talking about the whole new equipment budget, not Navy’s!
– the bulk of the T26s may end up being built 2028-2035; get a prototype in water for export promotion in the mean time?

October 1, 2011 9:35 am

Hi FBOT – £127 million seemed right for the detailed design phase but as it is only £127 million for capability study this does seem way over the top, I was expecting detailed CAD designs, finite element analysis, materials selection, selection of all the suppliers, scale hull form testing and a detailed electromagnetic study of the ship for £127 million!

October 1, 2011 10:29 am

This program will move to detailed design in November of this year if it passes the mod board. All information I’ve read say this includes detail design as there expecting main gate to begin production by 2014

October 1, 2011 10:43 am

Hi Mark,

November, I guess, is what is called Capability Decision Point.

Then, according to the MoD/BAE Prgrm Director:

+18 months of Stage 1.1
this ends with fixing the design (in a contract)

Another +6 months of Stage 1.2 leading to start of manufacture

So, from Nov ’11 to Nov ’13
– how long to the launch
– how long for the rest of it, plus sea trials?

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
October 1, 2011 10:50 am

@ ACC – Sorry, wasn’t clear. When I said up-grade the gun I was talking about the DART system, etc. I used to be a strong supporter of NGFS but after reading Futre British Surface fleet and other sources and arguments I’m not so sure.

I think the main draw back of the Endurance as Patrol/Sentry Frigate idea is the speed; however, this may not only be due to the installed power but the designs bow doors. Although very useful I believe Bow doors weaken the bow structure and so ships are limited in their speeds.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
October 1, 2011 11:07 am

Tubby @ 9.35

The document will have all the chapter headings you mention, unfortunately some will be summaries and some will be a list of bullet points.

They will have a list of approved suppliers and a hull form but I fear the FE work will be a work in progress.

One question that does trouble me – who is paying for the design work on the AAW version?
The RN don’t seem to be interested but it will be a candidate for the big export market.
BWoS putting their own money on the table?

On the subject of overseas partners it seems to be a case of anyone who is interested, we seem to be takers not makers when it comes to navies looking for help.

As has been noted on other blogs the first question that Dave the Rave seems to ask when he is off on a jaunt is “fancy a frigate”?

From what I hear it did not go down well in Switzerland, Paraguay and Uganda.

We have got ourselves in a sorry state.

October 1, 2011 11:19 am

The last bits an interesting question I have a suspicion that the first unit produced may not be for the uk. Or they may bring fwd by 2 years the uk type 23 replacement to 2019 as I’d quess 30months for 1st build and 24 months for 1st of class trails. Or they have a 24month buffer in the design and build phases for any difficulties

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
October 1, 2011 11:24 am

GJ @ 10.50

On the subject of bow doors on the Endurance the issues is more bow shape than strength. To get the stuff of the ship the hull form has to get very fat, very quickly and consequently it does not appear very efficient for 20 knots +.

Ferries sort out this issue so it is not a show stopper.

Another factor in the Endurance performance spectrum could be down to the ships it replaced – 50’s era LSTs which only seemed to move the type up from an 11 knot convoy to a 14 knot convoy.

Consequently the design brief might have been a bit backward looking regarding speed. The brochureware Endurance 160 seems to have made a step change in both beam – 25m+ – and speed – 22 knots plus – and all the Indications suggest bow doors can be provided.

Complicating matters is the fact that the export Endurance 140 being built has had the bow doors taken out. The design seems to be fairly flexible.

I think that if you asked for 48m length of deck before the bridge to bulk up on 155mm NGS and some gun based AAW they would be only too happy to help.

Think Defence
October 3, 2011 11:05 pm
Reply to  McZ

Hi McZ, just a few points to get the debate going (again)

Dont forget the SIMSS concept is not a frigate and should be limited to constabulary/coastguard/auxilliary roles. I was at pains to point this out

If things are expected to get a sporty (MCM in Telic for example) then they would have a load of bigger brothers (just like the existing MCM fleet)

OSV are sturdy, have significant levels of damage control and operate in harsh conditions, not with bullets flying etc and your point is well made but it all comes back to cost

Both Rolls Royce and Ulstein have designed and commissioned Coast Guard and Auxilary Naval Vessels