Tough Decisions on Ship Building Ahoy

There is a decision looming, possibly towards the end of the year that will see the future military surface shipbuilding landscape in the UK defined.

As the Type 45 build phase draws to a close the end point of CVF within view the only major build programme on the horizon is the Type 26. The end of the design phase for Type 26 is around 2013/2014 which is as we know is well within the timeframe for any referendum on Scottish independence.

The UK has a public private hybrid, although ostensibly BAE Systems is a PLC, in the ship building sector it only has one customer, the MoD, and that customer also defines the wider industrial policy as well. The Maritime Change Programme is informing the ship building and support environment, making sure that skills, capabilities and capacities match predicted and stable orders. Driving this programme is the 2009 15 Year terms of business agreement (TOBA) which defined a run rate of about £230 million revenue from the MoD per year. The MoD is committed to this 15 year programme, it would be on the hook for a large stack of costs if it pulls out.

The TOBA has at its core a need to reduce costs, BAE is under the cosh with both carrot and stick.

The SDSR demanded cost savings across the board and surface shipbuilding does not get a free pass.

There are two yards in Scotland and one in England

Govan, Scotsoun and Portsmouth each offer a range of advantages and disadvantages so there is no obvious contender. If Portsmouth goes it will also have implications for Birkenhead and the Tyne where Cammell Laird and A&P are based.

Whilst there is nothing unusual with block building very large ships like CVF where parallel fabrication can be used to speed construction it surely must introduce some measure of inefficiency and additional cost on smaller vessels.

The recent MARS contract was placed overseas partly because it was cheaper but mainly because of a lack of capacity, the UK shipbuilding industry is at full tilt with CVF but this isn’t going to last forever and a reduction in capacity is inevitable.

Maintaining the three yards at a reduced and realistic capacity is not viable, three yards with a build rate of one Type 26 a year does not make for a cheap build or viable industry.

Closure of one or more would seem inevitable, unpleasant for all concerned of course.

BAE have retained the services of Lek Consultanting to provide an impartial analysis but whilst this may provide a perfectly sensible outcome it may not take into account the political aspects.

It may come down to a simple choice between North or South and if the North decides to leave the Union then where does that leave our desire to retain onshore the ability to design, build and integrate complex surface warships?

BAE Systems must take this into account; it cannot be swept under the carpet and I would expect that no decision will be made until the referendum issue becomes clear.

A sting in the tale courtesy of the TOBA is that if any yards are closed, Mr and Mrs taxpayer, courtesy of the MoD’s budget, will be invited to foot the bill.

A cynic might think the recent announcements were BAE’s way of reminding the MoD to get a move on with Type 26 but I think long term it is clear that the current capacity will need to be trimmed back.

Perhaps there are options, selling a yard to Babcock, bringing forward other projects or  having a long term strategy for example.

Sad times.

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Observer
Observer
April 24, 2012 9:40 pm

Isn’t BAE also building 4 corvettes for Oman?

Observer
Observer
April 24, 2012 9:42 pm

Oops, my bad, the project was completed June last year.

Peter Elliott
April 24, 2012 9:58 pm

We have to be realistic and not just reach for the comfort blanket of T45 batch 2. Nice as that would be from a capability viewpoint its not going to happen.

The next complex RN warship after T26 is probably LPD replacement but that is too far off to help us in the 2015-25 period.

There’s presumably a few more RFAs round the corner that BAe could bid for. They’ll have to sharpen the pencil to beat the Koreans but that work could conceivably keep a yard plodding on.

Other choices: (1) close a scottish yard (2) get serious about export.

Export is really hard. Everyone wants technology transfer and ships built at home. Do we go like the French and get into bed with the Russians?

Also the export market is very competitive. So we need the export business to be lean and mean and very commercial.

Best option: spin a yard out of BAe as an arm’s length export specialist. The conjouring trick will be to give it real managment autonomy while still sitting within the TOBA umbrella. Maybe demerge it completely to some hard nosed venture capitalists, sweetening the deal with an initial order for the next batch of RFA: after that its down to them.

Observer
Observer
April 24, 2012 10:13 pm

I agree about the extreme competitiveness of exports, try “cost overruns” or “handover delays” between countries and see what happens. BAe would get their a-se handed to them on a platter.

If Britain is to be really serious about export, it needs to lose some tech to another country. Other people are always looking for the competitive edge, and tech is one area where the UK has a slight edge.

Astutes to Korea and Taiwan would not be unthinkable, that region is really heating up.

Phillipines would love to buy one, it’s been bashing heads with China recently, and Vietnam is getting worried too, but the ability of these countries to pay for it would be in question. Cash/barter? Sounds very old school, but resources are resources. Hell, take trade in coal/iron and sell it to China for a profit. That would be ironic, but money is money, even if it is in Yuan.

But you have to be fast, if the situation cools down, there is going to be less of a seller’s market, which might mean no sale.

Peter Elliott
April 24, 2012 10:22 pm

Maybe we should be designing products secifically for export?

An ‘Astute lite’ SSK maybe?

The experience of Canada with the Upholders casts a long shaddow over that particular idea but realistically it should be worth a dabble.

Chris.B.
April 24, 2012 10:43 pm

Frankly if BAE can’t find deals for export off its own back then you might as well just let it go. There are a number of companies here in the UK (BAE included) that could do the design of future vessels. Have the hulls built abroad and just shipped back here for the finally assembly.

x
x
April 24, 2012 10:47 pm

Export isn’t the way to go. What we have to do is convince the “ship builders” that bashing metal is best done by somebody else and that the best work is to be found in fit out as the Danes and Dutch have found.

x
x
April 24, 2012 10:50 pm

@ PE

I think many here would agree BMT Vidar to keep Barrow in work is the way to go. As long as we can have four.

michael p
michael p
April 24, 2012 10:55 pm

After Type 26 isn’t the MHPC the next procurement project ?
hopefully it will be a 2000t minor warship than a tiny patrolcraft/ minehunter or the JSBL for the RFA
I hope the go for LHD’s rather than a LPD to give us more flexibility.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
April 24, 2012 11:19 pm

TD

Q+D answer – nationalise the shipyards and award a management contract to whoever can do the work.

The whole framework / attitude that you describe is corporatism gone mad. If BWoS can’t sell on the open international market then it is not fit to sell to the RN period.

There is plenty of work out there if your designs and your tech is leading edge, Meko Mk3’s are just me-to stuff for a MOD / RN that doesn’t know what it wants or needs until it finds it in a foreign shipbuilders catalogue.

regarding workload going forward why was the MARS contract signed now rather than waiting 4 years until the CVF splurge was finished and things had calmed down.

As in most things MOD I fear a hidden agenda.
That is BWoS is actively working towards the closure of one of the yards.

As noted above the MHPC contract / product space offers huge opportunities for leading edge designs / new ways of working both o thge slipway and on the water.

Odds on BWoS rising to the challenge?
For me it is export or die.

BWoS don’t employ 3-4K workers on the Clyde they have 3-4K human shields to protect their market position.

Mark
Mark
April 24, 2012 11:28 pm

Dont think its the ship builders you need to convince about metal bashing abroad as its a government stipulation to metal bash in the UK.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
April 25, 2012 12:04 am

Err, this was the entire point of the BVT construct and the TOBA, so should be no surprise to anyone. It was always recognised that post-CVF with the “planned” size of the navy that there would not be enough work to sustain Scotstoun, Govan and Portsmouth (shipbuilding). Barrow is a different issue. But that’s what happens if you base your entire industry on naval output. There’s also Appledore to consider as well.

Everyone is agreed that the design skills need to be retained in the UK – trouble is that the surface ship design skills base is highly fragmented. Some is in Glasgow, some Portsmouth, some Bristol and elsewhere and the combat system design expertise is spread a little wider still.

It is almost certain that at least one yard will close. It could be Scotstoun (too small to be of real use) but there is a real centre of gravity of design expertise there – although many are leaving at the minute. It could be Portsmouth (good facility but over complicated launch method) and a real mixed bag of design capability (part VT holdover and some newer BAE transfers). It is unlikely to be Govan (big enough to build most of what we’ll need), but most design staff at Scotstoun.

Some (Thales in particular) think the answer is unmanned vehicle design and licence build – who knows why. Others think that design only and licence build is the way forward. Trouble is, if you don’t actually build ships, sooner or later the tricks associated with the actual physical article atrophy and in any case, eventually the licence builders will come and eat your lunch (Korea have already started and I’m not talking about MARS).

Personally think the Norwegian model is worth a look. They build some highly complex ships, largely one-offs in a small number of yards, largely leveraging their O&G sector. They don’t build their larger naval vessels, but then they don’t really have enough to make that viable. The UK does – just!

Angus McLellan
Angus McLellan
April 25, 2012 12:47 am

It seems questionable to me – FBoT’s back to the 60s nationalisation aside – whether any of the solutions proposed are workable. BAE have gone a considerable way towards integrating Govan (“metal bashing” or rather a Steelwork Centre of Excellence in BAE-speak) and Scotstoun. So maybe there are only two yards anyway.

And those “hard-nosed venture capitalists”, where were they when Kvaerner closed up shop and when Swan Hunter said good night? I’d guess that they probably don’t exist and won’t do this side of the next bubble. As for Babcock, they own Appledore, a nice little shipyard with a mix of business. Why buy another one with a doubtful future? And if, as seems to be the case, Govan and Scotstoun are joined at the hip, would you let Babcock buy up Portsmouth without selling Devonport? That gets messy.

For what it’s worth, the rumour mill says Portsmouth is the victim of choice. As for the referendum, thus the Scotsman, which never knowingly undersells a scare story about the horrors of separation: “Howard Wheeldon, an independent defence analyst with more than 40 years’ experience of the sector, said: If BAE decides to close a shipyard because of uncertainty about future work levels, I think it would be Portsmouth. It would be natural because Portsmouth is smaller than the Clydeside operation. They can build larger ships in Scotland and also do everything that Portsmouth does, such as constructing bits of destroyers. It is true that if Portsmouth closed and Scotland goes independent, all our shipyards would be in Scotland. But that’s not BAE’s concern, that’s the UK government’s concern.

And on the last, bolded point, it is an odd twist of fate that the two constituency MSPs for Govan are Nicola Sturgeon (Deputy First Minister and Alex Salmond’s preferred successor) and Johann Lamont (Labour leader; her deputy Anas Sarwar MP’s constituency takes in part of the old Govan seat). Oh, how BAE must have laughed.

So anyone who thinks the floaty bit of a hypothetical Scottish Defence Force is getting little boats has to be off on another planet. BAE wouldn’t allow it. Things would be as if FBoT was Chief Constructor I suspect, so much room for growth – and steel – would there be in the ships. Well, look on the bright side, steel is cheap – even after BAE works on it – and air is free. And it could be much worse. BAE don’t build expensive things that fly in Scotland.

martin
Editor
April 25, 2012 2:26 am

The Portsmouth Yard only came in to BAE ownership as part of the VT deal. I am guessing it will be the easiest operating to close for shipbuilding. That being said I think the yard is heavily involved in ongoing maintainence of existing vessels. With a buy of just 13 (if we even get that many) T26’s I don’t think we canexpect to keep even two yards going. However as with barrow as long as we have one then we maintain the capability. It’s not the MOD’s problem to worry about unemployment in glasgow or any where else. Maybe one yard at Govan with design at Scotstoun is the best soulution. Better to have one very viable yard that can reap the benfit of economies of scale than three seperate yards. If they up the tempo at Govan they can always transfer staff across from Scotstoun.

martin
Editor
April 25, 2012 2:56 am

maybe the best option is to close Scotstoun and put all type 26 production at Govan. Stretch out the T26 procurment and move up production of the multi mission mine counter measure vessel with production centred on Portsmouth. There is probably allot more export potential for this vessel than there is for a large frigate. If MOD procurment can be made fexible enough then we might look to sell production slot’s to foreign governments as we did with Saudi Arabia on Typhoon. If we are successful with exports then Scotstoun can always be reactivated by transfering staff back from Govan. Only major issue I can see is how much longer can T23 hold on if T26 production is slowed. However if we factor in some of the multi mission vessels into the fleet mix we could probably survive with less T23’s in the near term.

Observer
Observer
April 25, 2012 3:39 am

Another possible idea is to licence build USVs at the smaller yard instead of closing it down. Get either the US or Israel to allow licence production, then market it as a close range maritine coastal protection system, a single “command center” building and a squadron of USVs. Has potential for those looking for coastal defence on the cheap. 45-50 men for a squadron of 12 ships on a 3 shift rotation, 36 pilots ~9-14 maintainance crew. Sounds workable as compared to a corvette or patrol vessel single ship.

Chris.B.
April 25, 2012 4:43 am

On reflection, with all the Astute work and CVF, shouldn’t it be fairly easy to work a deal on where and when Type 26 takes over?

It might mean one yard has to shut, but if that’s what it takes to secure long term survival then so be it.

Observer
Observer
April 25, 2012 7:06 am

BAe did have a sale of corvettes to Oman, just completed last year, so it’s not like the yards were not doing any export business.

Repulse
April 25, 2012 7:30 am

As pointed out, the build of MHPC could keep Appledore open. Portsmouth could fit out the MHPCs, plus going back to VT days, it could build larger (200-500t) replacements for the P2000’s giving the RN a mid shore fast patrol craft which I believe it needs for both costal defence and Litterol environments such as the Gulf. The T26s and eventual replacement of the Albions should be enough to keep the Scottish yards open.

Also, doesn’t Appledore have a contract for new Irish patrol boats?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
April 25, 2012 7:59 am

BAE’s export history goes like this –

Brunei corvettes – Scotstoun design, rejected by Brunei, currently sitting in Barrow docks (been there about 4 years), allegedly being reactivated for a customer.

Trinidad & Tobago coastguard vessels – VT design and original contract, rejected by T&T, sold to Brazil and being commissioned as I write. Design licenced to Brazil for further ships.

Oman corvette, VT design and contract, in major difficulties with regard to ME design last I heard. £200M loss provision on a £600M contract.

BAE have managed to sell a design to Malaysia for a Malaysian build fairly recently. They also sold two corvettes at the back end of the 90s. However, that’s it.

Appledore do have a contract for the Irish navy which is great for a good little yard. However, the above describes our export performance for the last decade. Not exactly brilliant and in a world where there are plenty of second hand ships depressing the market.

x
x
April 25, 2012 8:24 am

@ Mark re “ship builders”

There is a reason why that’s in quotes. If you look at more broadly it isn’t just BAE that “builds” ships. It is HMG, the workforce, and it is the country, the man in the street, the voter, for who these ships are ultimately being built. We have to carry the idea so beloved of defence ministers of recent times that the ship is just a platform and that real value its construction in terms of wealth preservation as a whole is the fit out the high end value added stuff. Only 40% of the build costs of a warship is hull. And only a percentage of that is the metal.

@ NotABoffin

What if we got somebody like BMT to design a large diesel frigate (6,500t) with those MEKO style modules everybody here gets excited about, a crew of 75-ish, and with an eye to recycling, and just build them perpetually tweaking the design as we go? As soon as the capacity is there in the yard start building one, and then when there is capacity start the next one. And when the first of class is say 10 to 12 years old either sell it on or scrap it. And during those 10 to 12 years drive them hard with two crews. Perhaps long termism by committing to a buy of 12 one class is as much a crime as short termism in other spheres?

Waddi
Waddi
April 25, 2012 8:38 am

We also have another British shipbuilding company called Rolls Royce. Design office is in Norway but ships are built at whichever yard quotes the best price and has the capacity. Recently designed and built a new coastguard vessel for Iceland, fabricated in Chile for £30m! Twice the size of the Rivers. Sign RR up for MHPC get them to take over Portsmouth make half there, rest in Chile (that would please Argentina)leave the Scottish yards to build frigates.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICGV_%C3%9E%C3%B3r

martin
Editor
April 25, 2012 8:41 am

Has anyone had any thoughts of ditching T26 and reactivating production of T23. Given the new scaled back version of T26 with no strike VLS, 5500 tones and no 127mm gun. It is little better if any than T23. It’s also 4 knts slower than T23. Both will have Artisan 3d Radar and both will deploy Sea Ceptor and type 2087 sonar.
The last T23 was only built in 2001 for a cost of around £100 million including its Merlin helicopter. Can anyone see the logic in following the US which restarted Burke production. Obviously there has been defence inflation since 2001 (not least the takeover of ship building by BAE) but it surely must be cheaper and far less risky to go back to a proven design that is still relatively modern and capable. Estimate price for the T26 is £250 million each which in BAE speak means around half a billion or so. With escort number sin the fleet already cut to nothing another T45 style debacle would literally end the RN.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
April 25, 2012 8:57 am

NaB @ 7.59

You are our man on the inside so –

What is wrong with the Brunei ships?
What is wrong with the T+T ships?
What went wrong with the Oman ships?

I fear we are running before we can walk.
Project based design, building to whatever Sales can sell.
We need to go back to a businesslike, measured approach.

What do we understand?
What can we build?
What does the market want?
Spend time and effort to better align all three above.

On the subject of the Colonial Sloop.
We do have some design knowledge in the PSV / AHTS product space.
From memory we have RR doing some work in Norway and some foreign company with an office here.
In addition we did some ships at Govan in the last 10 years.

As currently planned the T26 is shaping up to be a “Me too MEKO”.
If we are wanting to build a truly competitive warship business we need to do better than this.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 25, 2012 8:58 am

Martin, was not aware we had made any final decisions ref T26. Whilst I agere on not reinventing the wheel,I think T26 can be made bigger than T23 but a lot of T23 equipment and ideas can be taken across.
The CODLAG propulsion and use of generators rafted and mounted well above the waterline should be retained. Perhaps utilising more efficient DGs and something like the WR 21 GT that is in 45 could easily see a ship that is not only more fuel efficient but also faster. The 26 kts at this satge is a figure plucked from thin air.
Artisan, 2087, DNA 2, sea Ceptor and Merlin will all migrate.
So the real questions are, 4.5 Mk8 or different gun, 30MM ASCG or other system and what sort of silo to utilise. Sea Ceptoe can quad pack in an existing T23 silo, So the existing 32 cell silo could carry 128 missiles out to 19NM a tremendous capbility. More likely a smaller silo will be used, a 16 cell T23 type silo would leave room for another silo either in initial build or refit.
A Mk41 silo perhaps or a bigger Astor silo. Not certain what sort of silo the new NSM will fit in.
Plenty of decisions to be made and those extra 2k tonnes over T23 offer more flex.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
April 25, 2012 9:09 am

Matin vs All PATS

This is why the T26 design process is both a sham and a shambles.
At the moment the best we can hope for is a sand blasted T23 with an ability to launch a rowing boat “oot it’s erse”.

Not a very good return for £127mill / £254mill / …

We can fit VLS at £500K a tube.
Yet we spend months flitting backwards and forwards / yes-no and no matter what we will still get it wrong.

The T26 should be seen as a platform / component set / information spine.
We are currently trying to work out the colour of the sofa cushions before we have built the foundations.
It is mental and shows the complete lack of understanding of basic business and design principles that blight MOD sponsored / BWoS led activities.

x
x
April 25, 2012 9:12 am

@ APATS

We know all the kit can be moved across. What Martin is saying why if the kit already fits what we have why go to the trouble and expense of designing a new vessel just build the design we have? Just to have a bigger ship? The only reason why I can see a need for a bigger ship is to bring accommodation into line with that found in T45 (and CVF?) But if there is more automation, a reduced crew (I think T23 could go to sea with a crew numbered in the 70s but I am only an armchair sailor), and a bit of imagination applied I can’t see why the T23’s messdecks can’t be laid out to give fewer ratings more space and more individual space.

I am all for big ships. But T23 works and works well.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 25, 2012 9:14 am

FBOT, The T26 should be seen as a platform / component set / information spine? It does help if we decide what we need it to be able to do.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 25, 2012 9:17 am

X, The reason i would go bigger is to allow for through life growth and extra systmes to be fitted. T23 is at max capacity at the moment. Steel is cheap and air is free, BAE designing a new hull is unfortunately exorbitant.

martin
Editor
April 25, 2012 9:36 am

@ APATS – BAE have already released fairly accurate video of the T26. Allot of info has also come out on the updated design. Obviously no decision has been made yet however leaky reports these days are almost as good as announcements.
I think we can be sure of displacement at 5500 tonnes (only 600 more than the upgraded T23’s)
ASW version with a speed of 28 knts (T23 has recorded 34 knts in sea trials)
General purpose version < 25 knts
Engine noise reduction but only in the ASW variant. General purpose variant likely to have diesel engines. (All T23 have noise reduction)
Radar is guaranteed to be Artisan 3D
Missile silo with 16 Tubes quad packing Sea Ceptor (likely to be either A50 or possibly just A35)
Gun 4.5 at best more likely 76mm
Harpoon transferred over from T23 along with Phalanx, Merlin and 2087

Best of all FBOT you will be happy to know that the stern ramp design capable of launching UUV’s and boats oot its arse is also gone.

I really don’t see what we are getting here for the £250 million (if that actually is the price) verses rebuilding the T23 for the same price or maybe less with a hell of allot less risk. It’s likely to be more stealthy but with what looks like the removal of the aft mission bay it will be inflexible and offer very little in the way of options for upgrade in the future. It will surely use more automation than T23 but there is no reason why we could not have more automated systems and smaller crews in a new batch of T23’s.
I take the point about having to maintain design skills but if this is the best our designers can come up with are they worth keeping. Maybe we should just keep building T23 till the end of time.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
April 25, 2012 9:36 am

TD et al

My thoughts on what to do?

Split the Workstreams into a hull component and a warload component.

The hull will be fully operational in a civil sense and it will include an information spine to hang stuff off plus plenty of deckspace and voids to fit stuff that goes bang.The warload component will look to put a VFM fit onto a large cheap hull with a menu pricing system to offer flexibility and competition. The first thing to be sorted would be the CMS and how this could be flexed to support a Patrol workload, a RN GP workload and a RN Tier 1 ASW workload.

Hull = cheap, central spine with large voids / tanks on the outside.
Large flight deck and hangar to offer flexibility.
Make use on containership practices to get large transverse bulkheads at 15m / 18m centres.
MSD of course / PSV AHTS component set / low crew numbers with a range between 60-120 depending on fit and mission.

Build 2 quickly – accelerate the current timings by 2 years.
GP spec and these can be tested and the design refined.
Build 3 new Bays – Mk2 design – and sell the originals – recover half your costs.
Build 1 new T26 – ASW spec and test thoroughly.
Build 3 more T26 – GP spec with increased AAW capabilities to pack the batting for the T45s using lessons learned.
Build 7 more T26 – ASW spec.
Build 5 new T27 – GP with Tier 2 AAW.
Sell 5 old T26 – GP spec – Recover half your costs using DfID money to sweeten the deal / make sure the books balance.

All through we can do the big push on exports.
First build / third of order – whichever higher built in the UK.
Other alternative work share arrangements could be looked at.
Bare hull sections overseas – UK fit out – even for RN ships.
Power module – 180 / 240 ft section built in the UK and barged to overseas work site.
Rent out a floating dock to allow work to go ahead in export markets with little shipbuilding infrastructure?

Finally when it was announced that Turkey may be getting involved –
Did anyone else have a double take on this news?
That is that they would be transferring technology and design knowledge to us?
That is how bad things have become.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
April 25, 2012 9:41 am

All PATS @ 9.14

That is the RN / MOD mindset writ large.
Work out the living room colours down to the finest detail including preferred supplier – Dulux or Crown – before the foundations can begin.

Absolutely mental.

Build the Christmas tree and then work out what lights / fairies / decorations you want to hang off it – simples!

x
x
April 25, 2012 9:46 am

@ APATS said “BAE designing a new hull is unfortunately exorbitant.” and growth

I know and I agree. I want plenty of volume and I want crews to have high standards of accommodation.

But I do wonder what mean by growth especially with with reference to current paradigm in ship design. Aren’t electronics getting smaller? Won’t whatever replaces say Artisan be in the exactly the same position and be reliant on a system with considerably more processing power than we have now but probably fit into a smaller volume (even if we have to have massive parallel system to keep pace with competing systems.)? Won’t power generation systems be more efficient? What BAE are offering in T26 is just T23 in a big box. It isn’t as if it is something radical like a Zumwalt or even a BMT pentamaran frigate. Who knows some radical technology may come along and sweep conventional warships from the sea? “We” can only build ships for now. And T26 doesn’t offer us much over a rebuilt T23, just buying and building FREMM, dusting off T45 for a second batch, or going cheap(er) and cheerful with a Danish CODAD.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
April 25, 2012 9:57 am

Martin @ 9.36

VLS – Sylver 35 vs Sylver 50 – Decision time.

That one issue tells you all you need to know about the madness of the T26.
That we would want to go S35 to save pennies is bordering on the farcical.
The question should be how do we fit S70 or L/A spec Mk 41?

Regarding what to do we should try and start up the MHPC programme to test out the basic hull design / build principles –

148m x 23m x 5m’ish – 9K tons full load.
Looking at 18MW MSD / electric motor install for 22 knots +
Patrol spec – HMS Clyde capabilities – £75mill incl FoC premium.
Weapons would be extra / second hand / taken from stores / ex T42 where appropriate.
1100m2 flight deck / 250m2 hangar / erse fitted for but not with rowing boat ejection.
Crew – As Clyde but with space for more.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 25, 2012 9:58 am

FBOt, we do however have some very specific decorations to hang which if they do not fit make the whole thing a waste.
X/Mark There are some differeing videos going around of T26. The very latest ones show the position of the Phalanz changed and a turret on the bow that does not look like a Mk8. it definitely shows 2 seperated silos forad and launch spaces for 3 boats in the super structure.
It cannot be difficult to design a new 140 odd M hull. Could we use the FREMM hull with our superstructure and weapons/propulsion?

martin
Editor
April 25, 2012 9:58 am

Given BAE’s inability to deliver Khareef OPV’s for less than £200 million a pop I think we should be very worried about the prospects for T26. With only 13 escort’s any over run and resulting reduction in numbers will simply wipe out what is left of the navy. Atleast T45 was a complicated design. One might understand a price tag of £ 1 billion each but if they can’t knock out OPV’s for less than £200 million in 2008 prices how are they going to build somethinh like T26 for £250 million in 2021 prices. Think we should all be very scared.

Desk Jockey
Desk Jockey
April 25, 2012 10:03 am

Well I got to admit TD covered the Maritime Change Programme bit and TOBAs pretty well, very few people even understand it in the MOD! Sums the whole situation up pretty accurately too.

Type 26 is the only game in town now and BAE are going to be playing some serious politics. Cancel Type 26 and you can kiss UK shipbuilding goodbye, there really is nothing else on the horizon and no money to fund it.

Type 26 is not going to be a stretch Type 23. There is a lot of thought going into it and T23 just does not have the room to keep going in the future, especially with the RN getting leaner. The US are happy to keep their Burkes with high manning requirements, the RN is not. All the tweaks to T26 may seem small in isolation, but cumulatively they will make a big difference.

BAE were meant to use the RN orders as a baseline, keeping the shipyards open is dependent on export orders. No export orders (BAE/VT’s record is really not good) and so something has to give. The Government is really trying to push the export card with the T26, but truthfully, the signs are not that encouraging. No one wants to spend that money and no one trusts BAE to deliver.

Hard times indeed.

Desk Jockey
Desk Jockey
April 25, 2012 10:09 am

By the way you need to stop thinking of MHPC as being about hulls, it is not. MHPC is about delivering systems that can do the job, with autonomous systems really coming along (Thales are all over this like a rash!), the thinking is that they will just buy a cheap and small hull which just acts as a mothership. Combining the Mine, hyrdo and patrol requirements just bulks up the numbers, although truthfull the patrol one does not fit in easily with the whole MHPC philosophy.

In short, it is not inconcievable that they will just something that is a small and complicated step up from a cargo ship and just fit it with what they need. Replacing the Rivers on this basis would be tricky though.

Simon
April 25, 2012 10:15 am

Can somebody tell me what BWoS stands for?

Cheers.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
April 25, 2012 10:15 am

Martin @ 9.58

You have been bitten by the BWoS bug.
The T45s are not / were not / should not be seen as complex / expensive pieces of kit.

It was just a basic hull to take an upmarket naval AAW system out to sea.

It was sensors / sensor analysis / CMS + missile control / VLS tubes.
It was a very simple system – the cost came in the capacity that needed to be included into the system.

However this should not impact on the cost of the basic navigable hull.
BWoS seems desperate to go with the rule of thumb that the hull should be 40% of the cost of the ship and therefore 66% of the cost of the warload so that when a requirement like the T45 comes up it can make a killing on the hull.

What is so special about the T45 hull – absolutely nothing.
It is only a basic steel structure to stop 3 containers of electronics from getting wet.
Everything else is sales patter / hype / contractor profit.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 25, 2012 10:17 am

Desk Jockey, Whilst mine hunting in a potential mine field or route survey work well with remote systems. initial detection is nearly always done by the plastic Ship. How do you conduct a lead through with an autonomous system? No doubt people have thought of this just wondering what their soulution is?

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
April 25, 2012 10:18 am

Desk Jockey @ 10.09

Why does cheap have to be small?
What level of war fighting does the Patrol requirement need?
What type of commercial platform is being looked at?
By any chance is it of the PSV / AHTS variety?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 25, 2012 10:20 am

No FBOT, The Hull is the place where people, live, work, relax, exercise, socialise, sleep and eat. It is not just numbers on a sheet of paper.

martin
Editor
April 25, 2012 10:23 am

@ APATS

How do you conduct a lead through with an autonomous system? No doubt people have thought of this just wondering what their soulution is?

From what I am hearing they have not really thought about it. For all the talk of UUV’s for mine counter measures and hunting I don’t think anyone has as of yet got a system fully operational. The US in particular seem to be having a pretty tough time and the MCM modual for LCS is rumered to be North of $70 million.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 25, 2012 10:25 am

Simon, BWoS stands for “British waste of Space” and is often used to refer to BAE.

martin
Editor
April 25, 2012 10:26 am

@ FBOT – The T45 is an incredibly complicated and versatile vessel. You need to get out of the thinking that every warship can be a container ship with a flight deck on top. There is allot more to it than that.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
April 25, 2012 10:26 am

All PATS @ 10.17

TD has posted pictures of various contraptions that can be launched from the patrol type ship and which can be used as a detecting screen to sweep an area of threats.

Not sure if they are unmanned ed or they have two guys in wet suits ready to bail out.

However they carry a mainstream detection suite and they do the donkey work.

The support / patrol vessel just offers a bed, a garage and a global reach / range.

Interesting to find out if a full on well deck would help with the transport and launch of the mine hunter contraptions?

148m x 23m x 5m’ish hull – Good for a 30m x 12m well deck?
What are the dimensions of the well deck on the mini RSN LPD?
Similar basic dimensions as above and it operates some pretty chunky LCMs.

Simon
April 25, 2012 10:28 am

APATS,

I had “Big Wad of Software” and not a lot else.

Thanks.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
April 25, 2012 10:29 am

Martin @ 10.26

Where is the complication?
What use does it serve?
Why do we need it?

You need to understand the capabilities of commercial shipping.
They have moved on while we want to sandblast a 30 yr old design and claim it as progress.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
April 25, 2012 10:32 am

All PATS @ 10.20

What are you describing?
Is it a T45 or the Disney Princess?

Now help me out here, what is the going rate for a cruise ship?
Cost per 10K tons of displacement will do just fine.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 25, 2012 10:32 am

FBOT, Yes that is mine hunting. A lead through involves precise Nav whilst transitting a a route which while probbaly hunted has not been fully cleared whilst giving directions to the vessel astern of you. Think what would happen in a Hormuz type scenario. That is not so easy to do with a UUV.

Desk Jockey
Desk Jockey
April 25, 2012 10:33 am

@APATS – the plastic ships are used to find the nasty odd things originally. That happens through a variety of ways. The plastic ships get called in when they know there is an area of high risk that needs to be investigateded.

Under the MHPC model, the ship would park just outside the risky area and send in the UUV, which itself may even be capable of dispering a swarm of sub-units. The ship then follows them a good way behind…

@FBOT – MHPC is still at a very early stage. There are no answers to your questions. Ask again in a couple of years time. Just don’t expect the MHPC order to give BWOS much work, that it very much up in the air.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 25, 2012 10:35 am

DJ, I am aware of how MCM ops are conducted and yes at the moment initial detections are ship based and sea fox used afterwards. I think future systems will work for mine hunting my question was about lead throughs.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
April 25, 2012 10:38 am

All PATS @ 10.32

Well we can’t do what we did before.
The two classes we have at the moment are a design dead end.
They cost too much and they do too little.

Consequently it is TQM time.

We have two capabilities we want to keep just a case of making them more affordable. That is where TD and his contraptions come in – they are small, they are capable in their basic duty and we support them with a big, cheap capable hull that does the hotel duties as they do the donkey work.

Hopefully someone will put up the old links.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
April 25, 2012 10:39 am

Anyone know if there is a European collaboration angle to this project
” Ask again in a couple of years time. Just don’t expect the MHPC order to give BWOS much work”
– and if there is, the hulls might sail over from Spain, under their own power
– and where was it again they build the Seafoxes; there would not be much fitting out left, to be done in the UK

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 25, 2012 10:42 am

FBOT, yes but the big cheap steel hotel cannot go into a minefield and the UUV cannot lead through tankers so do we lose a capability?

Simon
April 25, 2012 10:46 am

I’d keep the T45 (hull) production line going.

Assuming the hull is super-quiet and great for ASW.

Does anyone know if it would make a good ASW platform?

x
x
April 25, 2012 10:55 am

@ APATS

No there is no reason why we couldn’t fit “British” systems into FREMM. It has Aster and it has Merlin capable flight deck too. It isn’t as if these “systems” vary much in any of their physical characteristics is it? They all have consoles, cables, wave guides, antennae or whatever; they all need electrical current in similar amounts, voltages, and frequencies.

Basically what HMG have done is asked BAE to design a Mondeo from scratch, when there are other cars already on the market that fulfil 99% of our needs. I know each naval service has its own way of going about its business. But are we really saying that the French and Italians want something wildly different from what we need? This isn’t like HMG in the 70s or 80s saying lets not bother with T22 or T42 lets go and buy Spurance instead. Heck we were going to buy the same destroyer as the French and Italians. And what is the real difference between Horizon and T45, SeaViper. That the French and Italian ships have sonar, missiles, and a modern gun……

martin
Editor
April 25, 2012 11:01 am

@ FBOT – What does the Type 45 destroyer have to do with the Disney Princess. Nothing. It’s like me comparing my Honda Civic with a Challenger 2 tank and saying they basically do the same thing.

I am all for cheaper commercial designs for things like MCM using UUV’s and patrol tasks but when I spend £3 – £4 billion building an aircraft carrier and stick £ 3 – £ 4 billion worth of planes on it not to mention 1500 of my men and someone shoots an exocet at it I want a ship that’s fully integrated and designed from the hull up to protect it rather than a cargo ship with a few containers on it or whatever other fanciful idea you come up with next.
Obviously I am deluded by the contractors and the industrial military complex has gotten to me but out of the world’s 100 or so navy’s can you give me one example of such hair brain schemes for AAW defence. Or can you find me another vessel with the capability of Daring for much less than the $ 1 billion dollar mark .

martin
Editor
April 25, 2012 11:04 am

@ X – My worry is the T26 looks very much like the FREMM design almost identical. FREMM is suppose to be built in much larger numbers 22 vs 13 and FREMM comes in a well north of £250 million. Most importantly FREMM is not built by BWoS so where does that put the navy.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
April 25, 2012 11:04 am

All PATs @ 10.42

Your point is logically mental.
Either that or you just do not understand the subject.

If you can lead a tanker then you can lead a Colonial Sloop acting as a support hull for a mine hunting capability.
The embarked MH capability would be a small hull containing the capabilities of our current ships.
Search sonar / electronics are getting smaller and cheaper so they will fit.
TD had links to a small catamaran that came out in bits from a container.
A well deck would mean that you did not have to assemble it on site.

Consequently the Colonial sloop would have its own flotilla of cheap and cheerful MH hulls to do the donkey work.

wf
wf
April 25, 2012 11:08 am

FOr God’s sake, why the hell is anyone considering the use of Slyver VLS tubes? Why do we need to be locked into launchers incompatible with most of the rest of NATO, let alone the world?

Step 1 in *any* ship design: make it compatible with Mk41, preferably strike length for at least some of them. Everything else comes later.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
April 25, 2012 11:10 am

Martin @ 11.01

Read my comments, understand the context.
It was a specific point relating to a comment by another poster.

As for T45 costs – regular issue on here.

Spain / Norway / Holland / Denmark – all cheaper and more capable in that they are not one trick ponies with space on deck where stuff should be fitted.

x
x
April 25, 2012 11:13 am

DJ said “There is a lot of thought going into it and T23 just does not have the room to keep going in the future, especially with the RN getting leaner.”

Yes probably a bit too much thought. There is probably a steering a committee on what colour to paint it. What is the betting they come up with a nice shade of grey?

We keep on talking about room, room, room, and room. Room for what? Heck SeaCeptor takes a quarter of the space of SeaWolf. Are we going to pack T26 with 128 missiles or just replace SeaWolf missiles one for one? Probably the latter. Are sonars going to grow radically in size? We will T26’s RADARs be much higher than T23? I haven’t seen a T26 concept picture which shows it having enough space to maximise flight deck operations by having enough space to operate two Merlins or a Merlin and multiple UAV. If some radical new system comes along there will probably be no space for it anyway as something really radical will need a change in structural steel.

At the moment all we can realistically talk about is getting a sonar, helicopter, a PDMS missile, a gun, a helicopter, a crew (and their supplies), to sea for what say 4 weeks. The helicopter will be Merlin for what the next twenty years. The missile will be SeaCeptor. The gun will be roughly the same weight and size these things have been since 1965. Same with everything else, all are knowns. Will T26 really steal a march on FREMM by being what 5 or so years younger? No. Does T26 steal a march on T23? No.

The only driver for size and room I can see is accommodation. And if we reduce the size of the crew by 50% (yes I know I have actually been to Phoenix before somebody trots out the damage control argument) that doesn’t become an issue in a rebuilt T23.

£126million pounds down the drain with more cost over runs to come. I bet in the end BAE will have cost of us the cost of one hull.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 25, 2012 11:14 am

FBOT, I do not understand the subject, noone has yeth worked out how a UUV can conduct a lead through!
You do not understand the difference in what is required between a lead through and mine hunting.

Peter Elliott
April 25, 2012 11:24 am

Well looking at it logically the plastic UUVs go first, the floating steel hotel goes second, and the civi tanker or container ship goes third. The contollers on the floating hotel both control the UUVs and send the route instruction back to the following ship.

Knowing they are leading _themselves_ through the minefield will really concentrate the UUV operators’ attention!

Seriously if a lead-through is supposed to guide a great big steel containership through dodgy waters safely then adding a mid size steel ‘hotel ship’ to the convoy should be easy.

Maybe I’ve missed something.

x
x
April 25, 2012 11:24 am

@ Martin

The French and Italians have their industrial problems too so their costs are probably a bit on the high side too. The RN needs a first rate ASW like FREMM or it wants an oversized OPV or as I prefer to think of it a second rate ship. If FREMM costs what it costs you can bet T26 to do the same job will cost similar per unit. The advantage we would have by going for FREMM is that we wouldn’t be paying BAE to redesign the wheel yet again. What the RN needs is probably about 8 first rate ASW like FREMM backed-up by 12 second rate ships. BAE design department could be kept in work fitting British systems into FREMM and re-jigging an already extant second rate design. For the second rate we could buy the Danish CODAD or even use BMT’s design.

@ WF re Slyver

Only because FREMM comes with a hole the right shape and the plumbing in place to take it. And I am banging on about not duplicate working or fiddling with established designs. The French FREMM has the longer tubes for cruise. I think sadly the Mk41 boat has sailed.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 25, 2012 11:32 am

PE, The UUV would need to be able to feed back very precise positional info info and the steel hotel would have to proceed pretty much directly behind it in order to provide a proper lead for a third vessel, if 1 degree at 1 Nm is 35 yards you can see how expanding the length of the convoy increases the error. The UUV would also need a means of loking for floating magnetic mines often the biggest danger in a lead through type scenario as unlike a plastic MCMV the first thing our cheap steel hotel would know about it is when it blows up.
the other issue is relaibility if the UUV fails and at teh moment they are pretty famous for it the steel mothership may be able to stop but the tanker will simply run it down.
problems are not totally insurmountable but I just think that just like UAVs people love the new toy withou actualy defining the capabilities it has to have.

Observer
Observer
April 25, 2012 11:34 am

@APATS

Can you enlighten us on the requirements of a leadthrough? Saves a lot of us from barking up the wrong tree.

I would also think a USV with sonar might be better at trailblazing due to it’s high speed instead of a UUV which is slowed by underwater travel. A USV can sprint, scan, sprint, similar to the old USN doctrine for SSNs guarding SSBNs in transit.

Simon
April 25, 2012 11:34 am

X,

FREMM has a range of 6000nm rather than the 8000nm we want/need.

Can FREMM outrun a Soviet attack sub?

Other than that I think they’re great.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
April 25, 2012 11:35 am

All PATS @ 11.14

Now it all makes sense.
Who said the MH contraption was a UUV?

TD linked to catamaran which contrlled a UUV below.
That is why I am not sure about the cat being manned or unmanned.
The only issue is that it is supported – at a safe distance hopefully – by the Colonial Sloop acting as a hotel.

RichardW
RichardW
April 25, 2012 11:39 am

If there is not enough work for the existing yards then so be it. However, industrial facilities are as much a part of the nations’ infrastructure as the railways, and industries can ebb and flow. If a yard closes I would hope it isn’t sold to property developers, who will be the only bidder, to build apartments, but taken over by the government and mothballed for the day when someone finds a viable business for it.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 25, 2012 11:42 am

During a leadthrough the MCMV or other vehicle will tst the centre line of the hopefully swept channel in the mine field or follow a known Q route which is surveyed at regualr intervals. These exist in and out of lots of major Ports and allow quick identification of new objects.
Proceeding at slow speed they will use mine avoidance sonar and visual lookouts to watch for mines whilst fixing their position extremely accurately and passing that back to the vessel being led.
At the same time as this often happens in restricted waters, force proyection teams will be closed up.
Not an impossible thing to replicate but certainly one that has had the least thought given to it.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
April 25, 2012 11:44 am

All PATS @ 11.32

Your scenario planning falls apart at every level of analysis.

How does HMS Tupperware deal with a threat?
Does she have to slow down / stop?
How does the tanker then not run her down?

The thing about the cheap cat hull was that you could carry 2 / 3 / 4 of them and cover a larger area / “sweep” a broader path so adding flexibility to the layout / positioning of the ships behind.

The basic point is we need new MH / MS capabilities.
The Tupperware navy will not last forever plus it is very limited in what it can do outside a very limited operational area.

All the talk seems to be small / cheap / survivable systems get up close and personal while the main crew stands off on a larger platform.

Simon
April 25, 2012 11:45 am

RichardW,

Agreed.

Surely though our escort (destroyers and frigates) procurement can maintain jobs for one shipyard? 6 destroyers + 12 frigates = 1 every 30 months?

Surely our sub (SSN and SSBN) can keep Barrow open (1 boat every 3 years).

And if we attempted to build a common hull for amphibious warfare (I’m thinking Bay and Albion here) and/or LPH/LHD/LHA (I’m now thinking Wasp) we can keep another open.

Trouble is there’s too many short lived projects. This never gives economies of scale because the design and yard fit costs too much in relation to the production run.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 25, 2012 11:48 am

FBOT, The MCMV steers around the mine and guides the vessel following around it as well. The corridor has only been hunted to a certain width so you would not actually achieve a broader sweep.
I agree with new capabilities but belive more though required as what we have at the moment is a world leading capability in a very niche area. mines are cheap and can be indiscriminate. The reason we have 4 MCMVs permanently parked in bahrain is taht they are miles better than anything 5th fleet have.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
April 25, 2012 11:50 am

X vs Martin

One reason for the cost disparity is that 80% of a T26 warload will be second hand / T23 hand me downs.

Consequently FREMM costs will be higher if all their stuff is brand new.

Regarding FREMM itself.
Good idea well presented but too small.
Old school, we can do better with a proper Colonial Sloop.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
April 25, 2012 11:55 am

All PATS @ 11.48

Fair point but how do we move on?

We can’t afford another generation of what we have now as the cost base is far too high.
If you are close to the current guys do they never think about what comes next / what can be improved?

If the need is real and we don’t move on then someone else will do it and we will be left with memories and bitter old men saying things were different in their day.

Observer
Observer
April 25, 2012 11:59 am

Fat, kindly stop insulting everyone online. It’s only good manners.

Simon, most surface ships can outrun subs, being underwater slows down a ship a lot. Not to mention hitting the gas on a sub is like lighting off fireworks with a big neon sign “HERE I AM!!”, which makes a sub ambush impossible. That is why subs are called floating minefields very often.

APATS, I was thinking USVs would really be ideal in the situation you mentioned as they can be launched en mass. A group of them can take up “line ahead” position and instead of just marking the location, can actually physically sit there on watch. Once the escorted ship reaches the last USV, it can sprint to the head of the line and repeat the process (some quoted USV speeds ~50 knots). In short, you get a rolling line of USVs clearing the lane ahead for you. Even better if the USVs come with torps. See mine? Shoot it. Saves a lot of trouble.

Brian Black
Brian Black
April 25, 2012 12:00 pm

On the political side, this is why it p- me off when I hear Salmond and chums accusing English politicians of meddling in Scottish affairs whenever anyone urges the SNP to get a move on.

The issue of possible partition affects everyone in the UK, yet everyone outside of Scotland is expected to wait quietly while the clowns north of the border procrastinate, leaving uncertainty and confusion and an inability to make informed long-term plans.

x
x
April 25, 2012 12:24 pm

@ Simon

I am sure there will be a tanker at the 4000nm point to give us that extra bit of range. :)

@ FBOT re colonial sloop

No you are mixing missions. I think of it this way in terms of first and second rate capabilities.

6 x T45 AAW first rate AAW assets which as APATS points out will (if they follow T23’s life story) get their sonar, ASM etc. Getting a hull sonar doesn’t make T45 a first class ASW escort; think of it more as point defence system enough to hear a suspected target at a decent range and send the helicopter (or even do as the Italians do and send a missile.) This give us 2 on a 3 for 1 rotation. But as APATS points our probably more like 2 for 1 give or take a bit of wiggle room.

Replace T23 with a first rate ASW. 2087 and hull sonar etc. etc. Plus SeaCeptor, plus gun, missiles, and what have you. Again just because this ship has SeaCeptor it doesn’t mean it is a first rate AAW asset but as I keep on saying the maritime defence space is 3D. We need one to follow CVF about, we need one to sit on top of the deterrent. 6 will allow us to cover those two tasks with ease. 8 or 12 would even better as it would allow us to provide some capability across those vast expanses of blue that can be seen on a world map well out of range of land based aircraft.

To provide presence, to do donkey work (FI, WIGS as was), provide additional flight deck space, missiles etc. the RN needs a class of second rate ships. Colonial sloops if you like; I don’t like. Similar sonar fit to the T45 (second rate), similar AAW capability to the ASW first rate escort (SeaCeptor), diesels instead of GT. We need about 12 of these.

So that is,

6 x t45
8 x ASW (probably 6 better if it was 12)
12 x second raters

They are low numbers. If I was playing fantasy navy for real we would be talking 12 full cream T45, 12 full cream ASW, 24 2nd raters (all with dual hangers.)

Simon
April 25, 2012 12:38 pm

Observer,

“most surface ships can outrun subs”.

Really? I’m working on the wonderfully accurate Wiki underwater speeds of some of the nice Russian subs, which QE and FREMM cannot outrun.

Besides, if you’re the hunter and you have position it doesn’t matter if you light up like a Christmas tree. I guess this idea goes up the creek if there’s more than one ship – hey, this is the wingman concept!

Observer
Observer
April 25, 2012 12:40 pm

“or even do as the Italians do and send a missile.”

I like their style. ;P

Observer
Observer
April 25, 2012 12:43 pm

Simon, try under Sierra, Alfa and Papa class.

x
x
April 25, 2012 1:02 pm

@ Simon

The helicopter is the wingman. Not for nothing is Merlin known as the “Flying Frigate” That is why it so important that T26 has hanger space for two Merlin. If we loose a hull for whatever we can still get multiple Merlin to sea.

@ Observer

http://www.finmeccanica.com/Corporate/EN/Corporate/Settori/Sistemi_di_Difesa/Prodotti/Milas_MBDA/index.sdo

Mick
Mick
April 25, 2012 1:12 pm

@X 12.24

Fair analysis. Are the ‘second raters’ the MHPC or are you hoping for MHPC on top of that? I feel that whilst 2 more T45s would have been ideal, that won’t happen so my ‘fantasy but realistic High end force’ will be 6+10, but fear we will end up with 6+8, and very hopefully not 6+6. I’m all for a big buy of 2nd raters to cover patrol and MHPC if we get the right vessel

Observer
Observer
April 25, 2012 1:12 pm

Woo. Nice variant of the OTOMAT. Reminds me of the old attempts on the Sealance torpedo. Mk52 I think the experiment was called. I always loved the idea of a missile that could release a torpedo. If the AI is flexible enough, I wonder if the missile could have 2 modes, all the way to target and torpedo delivery. If the target fires SAMs, the missile drops the torpedo, if not it simply rams the target and detonates.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
April 25, 2012 1:15 pm

Where to start?

The Brunei ships were (“allegedly”) 20% overweight, vibrated like hell, had issues with HVAC, didn’t meet the speed and (at least when surveyed) had issues with their ammunition stowage and arrangements. Quite a bit of this stemmed from the design being a scale-up from the Malaysian Leiku, but against a different requirement, with different kit. It all went to court, BAE didn’t have to hand any money back, but Brunei refused to accept them and didn’t pay out the rest of the contract (allegedly). Some say the RBN refused them because they couldn’t man them, others that the design didn’t meet the requirement. One thing is certain – they’ve sat in Barrow for four years.

Not sure why T&T rejected – might be politics, might be technical – however, Brazil wants them, so good. Omani boats apparently have ME systems not designed to the correct environment. This “may” require strip out and redesign / rebuild of many marine systems (allegedly).

Manning. It costs money, both in terms of training and personnel cost and inclduing accommodation in the design. In some warfighting situations, the less people you have aboard, the better. However, for what the ships do every day, every year (boarding & search, disaster relief) you tend to want more bodies aboard. Sub-100 is probably too low.

SeaCeptor does not quad pack into a T23 silo. If you know what a T23 “silo” actually is below the cover plate, then you’ll know the truth of this. I believe it will quadpack into an Aster X-section though.

Type 23 rebuild not a runner. First, why would you want to? As others have pointed out the design is already significantly heavier than on service entry – kit added etc. This does not make for easy stability and structural strength certification. Second – practicality – how do you think the design information for T23 is held and maintained? It’s not just a collection of lines that magically get turned into a ship. Are the CNC tapes for the plasma burners still held? Are they compatible with the new IT systems at Scotstoun? When they were built, the T23 drawings were all in microfiche. What about the component lists for each drawing? Are the component parts of systems in compliance with IMO and Class regs now? Naval standards? Can you still buy the components? If not, what’s the best substitute? Same principles apply to those suggesting you just make the ships a bit bigger. Once you change the size, you change the structural loads, the stability, the steel drawings, the compartmentation drawings, the system drawings. All need redoing and in a modern supportable format and that costs money.

What makes anyone think that BMT would be any better at designing a frigate? The name BMT is sometimes referred to as “British Ministry Trained” – none of which is meant to denigrate what they’ve done with the MARS Fleet Tanker, which I think is a good design. My point is that that whoever designs the ship is beset from the off by a system that doesn’t know how to cost, but believes that size is the main driver. BAES can cost the ship – it’s the programme and risk costs coupled with the overheads for a yard with only one customer that tend to make the price unpalatable. One of the reasons for yard rationalistion.

As an example of overhead, in each yard you tend to have a design staff, an estimating staff, a commercial staff, a purchasing staff, a project mgmt staff, a finance staff, a work preparation staff, an operation control staff, a production staff and and a test & commission staff. They may be called something different in each yard, but their functions are the same.

Some are required throughout a design and build (ops control, purchasing, project mgmt, finance), others (design, estimating, commercial, test & commission) have distinct periods of loading. Many are different skillsets and most are very skilled jobs – when you’ve executed the design and build of first of class, many of these staffs have finished their contribution to the project.

Trouble is, you can’t just turn them on and off – if you pay them off, you won’t get them back and you’ll be left with any juniors that survive running the next project in senior roles without any real experience (see T45, QEC and Astute for examples).

You can centralise some functions (eg finance, commercial, purchasing) but others either require detailed knowledge of the facilities in a particular yard or rely on a good working relationship with the production teams, so need to be site specific. Sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t (Scotstoun commercial is known as “the Black Hole”, because whatever you send it, nothing escapes).

No easy answers here I’m afraid, other than to have a regular programme of different design and build contracts which spreads the overhead effect. Much easier said than done and anyone that thinks the MoD will provide enough work to maintain a minimum critical mass needs a severe attitude adjustment. What it can do is provide a core workload around which export or non-military contracts can be won. The UK has one of the biggest potential offshore markets in renewables installation and servicing and Oil & gas servicing and decommissioning. We are not making use of it – IMHO because the MoD/BAE monolith doesn’t understand how to do it.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 25, 2012 1:33 pm

NAB, Not into the existing silo without Mods but very possible to fit 4 times the number of missiles into the same space and we get to lose teh trackers, making soft kill a much easier proposition and the ludicrous arrangement of fusing missiles per tracker.

Observer
Observer
April 25, 2012 1:36 pm

Interesting. Thanks NAB, that does give a lot of background info. The Omani corvettes from what I heard also had some engine problems.

Unpalatable as it may be, how about building yachts for rich Chinese businessmen to tide over the current rough spot? At least you still get some design practice.

Observer
Observer
April 25, 2012 1:37 pm

“we get to lose teh trackers, making soft kill a much easier proposition”

Huh? Intercept missiles with no active homing?

x
x
April 25, 2012 1:49 pm

@ NotABoffin

Actually I was hoping that T23 would be still on paper somewhere and not caught in a format/media black hole that the output from many technical or information project that was “computerizsed” from the late 70s to the 00s seems to be trapped in.

And when you parts do you mean things like pumps etc. ? Are modern smaller or bigger than those found in T23? Do all T23’s have exactly the same equipment (hull wise) throughout the ship? Are you telling me if a particular float valve isn’t available a similar component can’t be found as a substitute? Are you telling me that having a one to one development model that you can walk around in is of no value? Are you telling me that we don’t have the expertise, that we haven’t got somebody who can look at system or an assembly and assess it and say this is what is needed? You are the expert.

Seriously advocating a fresh batch of T23 is more about advocating not throwing money at BAE. Similarly advocating BMT as an alternate designer is more about not throwing money at BAE more than BMT being better. Perhaps we should throw money at DCN or General Dynamics or Daewoo instead…

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 25, 2012 1:51 pm

Observer, It can be guided mid course and has it own active seeker head.

martin
Editor
April 25, 2012 2:04 pm

@ FBOT – Danish and Norwegian ships with more capability than daring? Sorry mate but you ain’t got a clue what you are talking about. There is a very very big difference between taking a T45 through the straits of Hormuz facing a hostile missile threat and taking the Absalon. It may be a one trick pony but it’s a pretty neat trick.
ISO containers can’t do everything (Sorry TD) and coming up with fanciful schemes or comparing apples and oranges won’t change things.
We need high end highly capable Warship’s we also need some low tech cheap vessels built in numbers. We can’t have one and not the other. We can’t solve the problem by sticking missile loaded containers on commercial ships.
The US navy is rapidly proving with LCS that when you have a high end dedicated capability you can’t replace it with a flexi module on a Swiss army Ship and expect to have the same capability you had before from a dedicated platform. The Danes have done a good job with their Flexi system and while arm chair admirals across the world seem bowled over by the concept it’s yet to be tested in a combat situation. It ain’t exactly cheap when you factor in the module costs either.

On the point about larger production runs of vessels. I am starting to draw to the conclusion that building in large numbers and reaping economies of scale is not the answer. Just look at FREMM, LCS,F35, Eurofighter and FRES.
The USN has been building Burkes for over 30 years and has built them in numbers that we could not dream of. They have multiple contractors that they can play off of each other and get fixed price contracts. They still cost nearly twice what a T45 cost and arguably the T45 is a more capable platform (if we had the upgrades). I think we have to accept that building vessels of this capability is just expensive. That’s it there is no way around it. No one else in the world is knocking out better for cheaper so this is likely as close as we can get.
We can scrap high end platforms and just build colonial sloops but then it’s not a navy it’s a coast guard. It might be a global coast guard but that’s all it is and it is really not worth spending the money on.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
April 25, 2012 2:09 pm

@APATS – yes. But my understanding is that they’re not doing it that way (the silos).

@Obs. Devonport have tried that. Didn’t go too well – there are specialist pink-curtain-choosing yards that do it really well and are established. We aren’t going to get into that market easily. re – SeaCeptor – I think APATS is referring to a particular aspect of the 911 tracker.

@X T23 is available on paper. But that’s not how shipbuilding facilities work these days. My point was that restarting T23 is feasible, but will cost a fair bit of start up money, which will encompass the activities you refer to. None of which get you away from the limitations of the design as it is today.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
April 25, 2012 2:19 pm

@ Martin, re production runs. Nail, head, hit, particularly if the run stretches out over many years. The last T23s were obsolescent in some ways when they commissioned. Sonar running off a 2MB hard-drive anyone?

Small classes of distinct ships built every six years or so. Probably different elements of combat system, but designed against role. Exercises design skills, avoids block obsolescence. Economies of scale in major ME equipment. Eg use similar propulsive fit across different classes as per T21, T22, T42 and no, they don’t have to be GTs – same applies to diesels if appropriate.

Recommended that a few years ago now. Didn’t seem to fit the FSC template in MoD.

martin
Editor
April 25, 2012 2:20 pm

@ Not a Boffin,
How were the first Arleigh Burkes built compared to the vessels being built today. IS every part from the 1980’s still in production? Did they even uuse plasma cutters to cut this first steel. All these problems can be overcome. There are plenty of exaples of restarted production in both the military and civilian life. There has been things added to T45 and it may make sense as with most follow on batches to increase the size of the hull. Did T42 Batch 3 or Arleigh Burke flight II require an extensive re design no. It would certainly be a much safer and probably equally capable concept to simply build an updated T23. Not to mention avoiding all the associated costs and problems of a first of class (thinking Daring and Astute).

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
April 25, 2012 2:44 pm

Is there a bit of me saying “it can be done, it’ll just cost money, it’s not free” that people don’t understand?

Be careful with your assumptions on extensive redesigns. T42B3 didn’t do an extensive redesign. Nor did T22B3. However, if you know anything about structures then you might wnat to ask whether they should have.

As for restarting production have a look at what the budget prices for AB flight III are…….

x
x
April 25, 2012 2:55 pm

@ NaB

I know I was yanking your chain. As I said it was more about not giving more money to BAE. I am well aware of T23’s origins in that it is already of itself a “stretched” version of what was a stripped to the bone concept TAS tug.

As for 2Mb hard discs well as somebody who used to work in IT you can bet I wasn’t too impressed when I saw what the consoles in T45’s ops rooms were running. I had heard rumours about Windows but was shocked when I saw it in front of me.

@ Martin

No I am not a fan of modules either. To mind my mind for the UK it would be like systemising “fitted for, but not with” As I have said above an escort needs an AAW capability, an ASW capability, and an ASuW capability. There is no need to go the expenses of modularising those basic equipments. Similar I have never understood those who maintain that MCMV equipment can be thrown into a container and just dropped on to a quarter deck. People there is reason why those ships have hulls made of plastic to a particular shape with non-ferrous fittings!!! (They are even designed so radar penetrating the hull has little to reflect off.)

Observer
Observer
April 25, 2012 2:57 pm

“isnt the TOBA predicated on 1 ship a year and a new design every 6”

And a stock market crash every 10 :) Honest, it seems like they crash in ~10 year cycles.

RE: SeaCeptor My bad, when I heard “lose the trackers” I thought he meant the seeker head. If this kills missiles half as much as it kills the English language, it’s going to be an incredible air defence. :p

@NAB

“Whaz iz momey?”

Observer
Observer
April 25, 2012 3:07 pm

@x

Actually, if you have launch cells, they are already flexible for a lot of different payload. Maybe an increase in number of cells for greater range of loadouts? Modular mounting seems to be dying out as a fad. Must be from the shock of the LCS bill.

BTW, the GD LCS was found with structural flaws, hull cracks after trials. What I found interesting was GD didn’t deny it, but said that the leaked report was a year old. Hope they used that year to reinforce the hull…

I would really like newer warships to have a greater anti-ship missile throw weight, 8 harpoons vs 32-48 cell AAMs gives me the impression that the Harpoons are not going to get through. Add in softkill ECM and a low missile loadout is just wasting space. Maybe a AShM version of the SeaCeptor? 16 shorter ranged missiles might have a better chance of swamping any ship’s air defences.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
April 25, 2012 3:07 pm

@TD, re the TOBA. Drumbeat is right, just not sure whether the design bit is true. Doesn’t sit well with a 12 ship T26, standfast MHPC (may be a MOTS hull)and FSS (in design now).

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
April 25, 2012 3:11 pm

@Obs – Que?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
April 25, 2012 3:15 pm

@Obs re ASuW. Don’t suppose that because there are 30+ cells they can all be used against a concentrated ASM attack. Tricksy little things they can be…..

Simon257
Simon257
April 25, 2012 3:22 pm

When the 2 CVF’s are finally commissioned, are we not going to be short of Tankers, Dry Stores Ships and won’t we need a dedicated Aviation Support Ship, like the old RFA Lyness was fitted out as?
I dont believe that 6 Fleet Tankers and 3 Forts are enough to keep them both deployed around the globe at the same time.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
April 25, 2012 3:30 pm

@ Simon – “I dont believe that 6 Fleet Tankers and 3 Forts are enough to keep them both deployed around the globe at the same time.”

there is no intention to deploy both on operations at the same time, they may not even operating at the same time.

i firmly believe we will get both, but most likely outcome is that they will be cycled in and out of reserve to maintain one on station 365.

x
x
April 25, 2012 3:31 pm

@ Observer

On the interwebs there is a picture of an Absalon or Iver Huitfeldt with 16 Harpoon. I suppose some would argue that lack of opportunity would mitigate the need for a huge number. But considering that an ASM is an “air” threat and that AAW missiles are carried in big numbers (as you say) you would think it would be an idea to launch ASM in a salvo with the hope one would get through. Let say the cost £500k a copy and you launch 4 2million to sink or stop a £500million warship isn’t a bad return.

Simon
April 25, 2012 3:37 pm

X,

Put me out of my misery. What’s wrong with the T45 hull for the new frigates?

martin
Editor
April 25, 2012 3:48 pm

If we are being realistic I think the chance’s of a surface combatant ever firing a antiship missile in anger are basically zero. Its to expensive to fire at a pirate and if we are talking peer on peer then firing ranges and ability to actually target a vessel over the horizon are lacking. It would be nice to have on T45 but i would much rather have a strike length VLS for TLAM or a hanger capable of taking a Merlin.

martin