The Patrol Ship Myth

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A Guest Post by Somewhat Involved

Over the past months, there has been much talk, discussion and debate on ways to generate additional capability for the Royal Navy.  The cold, hard fact of limited (and likely still dwindling) resources and steady state, if not increasing commitments placed upon the UK Armed Forces, is well accepted and there has been a lot of creative debate about generating additional hulls to extend our reach, presence and influence in any number of theatres around the world.

Unfortunately these debates often side-track into one of two avenues – either fantasy fleet time, where we dream up any number of combinations of exciting ships, aircraft and concepts together with truly inspired cost estimates, or simple debate on what the Royal Navy actually does for us in exchange for the many millions spent (wasted?) on it.  The problem is that in the first case, we lose track of why we were discussing ships in the first place, and in the second, begin to assign capabilities and requirements to hulls on a more aggressively cost-based basis.  There is a wider misunderstanding, I think, of just what it is that Royal Navy ships do for you when deployed, and until this is fully understood, I think the debates will be skewed.

It has, interestingly enough, been quite challenging to try and relate the doctrine, lessons and concepts we believe in so dearly into clear English, and therefore justify our need for high end combatants, and why patrol boats just won’t do.

We have an almost blind faith in our own reasons for existence and assume that others see and understand our effects and capabilities as we do.  It’s easy to entertain the wider public with Navy Days or the occasional piracy, drug bust or homecoming story.  But we often fail to communicate the wider task of the RN to the more widely read, and daresay more influential elements outside our own environment, so this is an attempt to do just that.  No insults intended, and this is entirely The World According To Me.

So, two parts to this post.  The first, an attempt to explain what we do, why we do it, and why we should keep on doing it.  The second, in response to an excellent post by IXION, is to explore the requirements for the General Purpose Frigate, why this will serve us far better than a Patrol Ship, and why it is necessary for the Royal Navy over the decades to come.

Bang for your Buck

I am not going to trot out the ‘island nation’ storyline, but the UK does have vested interests overseas.  These may be either purely selfish, or selfishly political.  In the first case, we are dependent on foreign energy reserves and our primary gas supply is likely to be (if not already) shipped from Qatar.  Our economy is also hugely dependent upon cheap manufactured goods from Far Eastern nations and food from many others, and those goods, shipped by sea, pass through contested waters, piracy-infested waters and narrow waters along the shortest and most economical route.  I freely admit that the LIKLIHOOD of closing those supply routes is low, but the CONSEQUENCES for our economy are potentially severe, especially given our tendency to only maintain a week or so reserve of gas, food and other essentials.  The ensuing RISK is reason enough then to maintain some form of deployable maritime military capability.

In the second case, we have a strongly vested interest in maintaining our standing amongst the international community, in a dozen different ways.  If you think we should all just get along and not worry what other countries think, then ask yourself why Russia and China are so stubbornly blocking any course of united international action to bring the Syrian situation under control.  International ‘standing’ is not just an essential part of the international diplomatic game, but a position that can influence or even dictate market responses, encourage or discourage international investment, have immediate and long term economic effects, and ultimately win or lose votes at the ballot box.  Syria is the current problem, but UK influence and standing has helped shape three significant conflicts and several minor ones in the past 15 years alone.  We cannot afford to sit back and let others model the world to their advantage.

Naval presence has always had a disproportionate diplomatic effect, and it is one we harness often.  A naval blockade is a powerful statement of intent as Israel has proven, and as Iran threatens.  A warship simply entering a new region of water has a similar effect, as Iran again proved with the deployment of a frigate and tanker to the Mediterranean, however briefly.  Naval presence can also provide reassurance, as the Armilla Patrol did in the 1980’s and as an international force of ships has done in the Internationally Recognised Transit Corridor off Somalia.  Small though the physical presence might be, it has nonetheless a disproportionate effect.  For this reason (almost alone), we have maintained a presence that began over a hundred years ago, became the Armilla Patrol and continues today as OPERATION KIPION.  As an aside, one of the reasons for the disproportionate effect of a single ship is the inherent mobility of that asset and the relative difficulty of locating it if it does not want to be found.

There are two more points to make here – US cooperation, and ‘lesser’ nation engagement.  The US has significant political and diplomatic capital invested in the Middle East and Mediterranean.  As much as the US focus may be shifting towards China and the Far East, Iran remains a threat and a factor that they cannot leave to ‘others’ to ‘sort out’.  But their resources are reducing just as ours are, and they lack capabilities in some areas in which we have an expertise.  MCM and ASW are two such capabilities, and as recently proven we can stand alongside US escorts in air defence capability.  And do not underestimate the fact that we are one of the only nations to be able to constantly maintain at least one warship in the region, at a high state of readiness and capability, without any international assistance.  We are dependable in that respect.  By being able to interoperate with the US we gain a lot – access to US intelligence, access to US technologies, a recognition of our ability as partners rather than ‘also-rans’.  It also puts us in the same diplomatic court as the US which, as I’m sure you all appreciate, has both its advantages and disadvantages.  Everything is connected, and we are not yet in a position where ditching the US as a political, military and strategic partner is even a remotely sensible possibility.

I should probably keep the word count down but ought to mention NATO.  NATO is still fundamentally a US supported organisation, but one in which we retain significant influence at the highest levels.  Again, staying out of NATO isn’t an option, especially as NATO continues to evolve, and given the way it is evolving it is possible, even likely that the role of the US will dwindle further.  Therefore I would argue that we need to keep our status within NATO, which only comes from an ability to contribute to NATO’s military effectiveness.

And so to the ‘lesser’ nations.  I mean this not in a derogatory way, but to group those nations where we still have a vested interest, but they are not a part of the wider US-UK-Rest-of-the-world game largely confined to the Middle East.  Here you can group the UK Dependent Territories, the Caribbean Nations, the Falklands, and the West African nations that either have significant oil supplies or are waypoints on the international drug trade flowing from South America.  In many cases these nations have their own military forces, particularly the Gulf of Guinea nations tackling piracy, or Cape Verde tackling the drug trade.  The effect of a visiting warship is diplomatically high profile, and is a political gesture by HMG that the nation in question is important enough to merit such a visit.  Refusal of a ship visit is diplomatically serious, as Brazil and Argentina have proven recently.  More often, visits are combined with goodwill gestures such as exchanges of personnel, and have a heavy diplomatic flavour with the UK Ambassador inevitably not only invited to the Official Reception, but often hosting it using the ship as a convenient marquee.  Furthermore, the Royal Navy is still seen by many to be the international gold standard of maritime capability, and training exercises in stop and search procedures, counter piracy and even the basics of shiphandling and damage repair yield significant benefits in international relations.

Thus the RN has always believed, spurred on by feedback through diplomatic and military channels, that a single warship can have an effect that is disproportionate to its immediate military capability.  However, that capability does need to be matched to the potential events, outcomes and consequences of a particular deployment, and thus a patrol ship may not be the best option.

Survivability

I want to quickly look at the concept of survivability.  I suspect few would be happy with the idea that a ship can simply ‘survive’ an initial engagement – no, it should not only survive, but emerge supreme the other side!  Huzzah!!  I think this is less significant than we like to pretend.

In open ocean warfare, any warship will expect to operate as part of a task force, and thus enjoy a level of additional protection.  There is a huge array of complex, challenging and lethal weapons available, and anything less than an air warfare destroyer would be hard pressed to last long alone in the face of determined attack.  But open ocean warfare is currently a relatively a distant possibility, so we rely on the task force concept and do not need to arm every ship with SeaViper.

In the Gulf scenario, ‘survivability’ has another meaning.  If a certain Gulf state were to, as some so eloquently put it, ‘kick off’, then we can expect a sudden and possibly overwhelming attack.  Many observers have speculated on mixed raids of short ranged land based and ship based missiles, suicide craft, WIG craft, suicide WIG craft, mines, torpedoes and small arms.  Scary stuff.  But if such an event was to take place, then the ship must be able to defend itself long enough for help to arrive – and with the degree of supporting strike power available in the region (currently USS ENTERPRISE, USS EISENHOWER and imminently USS STENNIS) help will be close by.  Such attacks will have political, diplomatic and military advanced warning, and are unlikely to suddenly erupt out of the blue.

The fact that a unit is therefore not easily knocked out means that an opponent must divert significant resources to eliminate that threat.  Against a mobile target, this is made significantly more challenging.  Coordinating attacks with asymmetric platforms adds another layer of complexity.  All of these must then be balanced against available resources and the area to be controlled/dominated, leading to a measure of DETERRENCE by both sides, equal and balanced.

In looking at self defence capability later on, this then is what I mean by ‘survivability’.

Patrol Ship vs. General Purpose Frigate

In defining a ‘Patrol Ship’, it is important to focus on what we mean by this and make a clear distinction between this and the General Purpose Frigate.  Although there are many different interpretations of both concepts, there is a fundamental difference relating to task and requirement for survivability (that word again).  The Patrol Ship does not expect to operate in a hostile environment, whereas the General Purpose Frigate must be able to do so.

IXION made the excellent point that a Patrol Ship need not be small, indeed we were looking at proposals for ships the size of a Bay class.  By far the biggest driver behind ship size is propulsion, followed by stability.  A small ship will be forced to make compromises in engine design, endurance, speed and stability, either by adopting a smaller propulsion plant, a smaller fuel reserve, or by the simple ship design laws that mean a smaller ship moves more than a larger one for a given sea state.  Stability is not only desirable for operating boats and aircraft, but for the effective operation of weapons systems and sensors.  And where radars are concerned, the higher the radar, the greater its range.  Our areas of operation necessarily include regions where the distance between ports is significant, and the weather is often poor, occasionally dangerous, and this tends to favour the larger hulls over the smaller.  Advances in technology and the efficiency of power plants will doubtless make ships and crews smaller, but there is little to be saved by trying to cram your capability into a smaller hull.  Steel is cheap, air is free – the cost of any ship is not the hull, but the systems.

Any ship operating on ‘patrol’ duties, inclusive of CP, CN and other such tasks, needs a minimum outfit:

  • Surface surveillance radar.
  • Electro-optic systems, also for surveillance.
  • Small calibre gun/guns, for interdiction and enforcement.
  • A minimum of two quick-reaction seaboats for boarding duties.
  • Sufficient accommodation for embarked forces.
  • Effective voice and data communication systems, equivalent to broadband data rates.

However, in order for a ship to be considered ‘survivable’ within the constraints of that proposed above, and thus become the General Purpose Frigate, there is a necessary minimum equipment fit.  This would be:

  • A medium ranged surveillance radar capable of tracking air and surface contacts, to provide warning of attack.
  • Electronic intercept equipment, to provide warning of attack.
  • An air self-defence system, which should be able to cope with at least 3-4 aircraft or missiles arriving simultaneously.  Such a system should be able to protect another vessel positioned down-threat of the firing unit.  This system should also incorporate decoy systems, where hard-kill of missiles is not possible or is less effective than soft-kill.
  • A combat computer system that can process all data including that received from off ship.
  • Flight deck and hangar, large enough to operate any combination of manned or unmanned types envisioned.
  • Redundancy in systems to permit damage control, and appropriate damage control systems.

In order to counter an underwater threat, the most practical option currently available is to simply blast noise into the water column and flood an area with radar, making life as difficult for the submariner as possible.  In noisy, cluttered and congested littoral waters, submariners will be focused far more on keeping their boat safe than trying to close for an attack solution.  Ship launched torpedoes have limited usefulness, but anti-torpedo systems, now emerging, have far more value.  Offensive littoral ASW is best conducted with air assets, but a ship in the General Purpose role with an active sonar system and torpedo launch capability is still a valuable asset.

There are more General Purpose payloads that should be considered; these are very much ‘nice to have’, but are comparatively cheap and easy to provide for.  Sufficient storage space, cranes and/or cargo management systems can handle SF boats and stores, autonomous underwater/surface/air vehicles and any number of wacky, containerised ideas.  The idea of a payload bay and launch/recovery system has been discussed before, but such abilities belong firmly in the General Purpose role and not that of high-end combatant.

Of course, the RN’s current combatants, Type 23 and Type 45, have all these capabilities bar the last.  Type 45 is an extreme case, but the Type 23 is a very capable General Purpose design.  The GP Concept in its basic form lacks land attack capability, anti-ship firepower, blue-water ASW capability or anything more than self-defence abilities, but as a naval unit it can still achieve a significant degree of ‘presence’, disproportionate to its actual capability and yet able to deliver the effects that HMG requires in all current theatres, from the Gulf to the South Atlantic.

The Patrol Ship Myth

One of the reasons why I started this post was to try and put down the idea that a small warship of corvette size or smaller, as so often postulated here, could have a reasonable effect in the theatres described above.  I would hope by now that it is obvious that such a ship could not function effectively east of Suez in anything other than an utterly benign environment OR ELSE become a vulnerable unit requiring protection.  With the sole exception of counter-piracy off Somalia, any ship in this theatre needs to bring, at a minimum, those capabilities which would allow it to survive if hostilities were to commence.  On top of that, to make any contribution to the wider security issues as discussed, we then need those niche capabilities that allow us to maintain the position we have established.

In the rest of the world a Patrol Ship might suffice for all conceivable tasks, including reassurance, presence, training, diplomacy, counter-piracy, counter-drugs and so on.  This is on the assumption that you no longer require any form of deterrence in those areas; try as you might, a Patrol Ship has no deterrent value against combat forces because it lacks survivability.  The challenge then becomes how you split your fleet, how you balance your numbers of high end combatants, General Purpose Frigates, and Patrol Ships.

All RN ships can deliver the Patrol Task.  It may not be efficient or the best use of resources at a particular time, and it is an expensive option.  However, given the high tempo of operations today in the face of reduced platform availability, we are able to ensure that, even if one ship suffers a major defect or delay, another effective naval combatant is available to replace it and maintain the commitment.  If high end combatants are exchanged for Patrol Ships, although you increase the numbers of hulls available you nonetheless reduce the total number of combatants and that increases the likelihood of being unable to maintain a commitment.

Where the risk of conflict is high, the need for ships goes beyond simply maintaining just one on station.  In addition to the ship outbound to relieve the first, and the previous incumbent returning home, there is a need to have additional ships ready to form the Response Force Task Group.  This formation is not kept permanently formed, but consists of ships at readiness undertaking other tasks, from which they can be pulled if required.  By diluting the pool with smaller ships, none of which can have an effect in a Task Group, the ability to form the RFTG also reduces significantly.

Finally, force planning and hull numbers goes well beyond short-term thinking of five, ten or fifteen years.  The planners must be able to ensure that the RN remains a balanced force capable of delivering the anticipated level of commitment 30, 40, even 50 years into the future.  Whilst many have discarded the DCDC ‘Future Character of Conflict’ document as so much piffle, even they cannot disagree with the assessment that with booming world populations, dwindling resources and an overwhelming dependence on the sea, the world is not likely to be more stable in future.  Consider the worldwide impact of everyone in India and China demanding an iPad – the resources to manufacture high tech devices, such as rare earth elements, are already dwindling.  By pursuing short term cost savings over long term strategic thinking, a nation is guaranteed to be at a disadvantage in future and must accept a dwindling, less significant role that is unlikely to bring economic benefit.  The alternative, as Germany has done, is to establish oneself as an industrial and/or economic powerhouse able to weather all problems, but I do not believe this to be a viable strategy alone.

My point then is that although smaller ships might be available in greater numbers, they are not necessarily suitable for the task they are required to undertake, now or in the future.

The Jack of All Trades – The Future Surface Combatant

My opinion is that the ship type we need for our day-to-day global tasking is a vessel in the frigate class, for reasons of range, endurance, speed and stability.  Even if this vessel carried only the most basic sensors and weapons, a minimum size is nonetheless required.  However, it does need to be an effective combatant if it is to fulfil 90% of the roles expected of it, and allow for a balanced, manageable Fleet.

The Joint Concept Note on the Black Swan design makes the point that ships need to be able to accept a variety of systems in their lifetime which should, where practical, be modular in design and able to ‘plug and play’ with the parent’s ship’s existing hardware.  I agree – but this is hardly ground-breaking stuff.  We do this already in many different systems, land, sea and air, and is hardly a design constraint.  The key requirement, however, is space – a small ship will have this in short supply and may even face limitations in power generation to support any bolt-on system.

The Type 23 frigate is, in my opinion, one of the better designs of such a vessel yet evolved.  It has been by total fluke – a ship conceived in the Cold War, it has been adapted and updated through its lifetime to become an asset that today can be deployed to any of the key theatres discussed above and still be effective for any of the varied roles it is called upon to do.  It is far from perfect – sensors, guns and many of the internal systems are not effective in today’s environment, but it provides a basic platform exemplifying the General Purpose Frigate idea upon which I intend to build. It has good range, fuel efficient engines, a high top speed, good manoeuvrability and a useful sensor/weapons fit.  It also has limited capacity for further growth, no room for additional boats or embarked forces, the gun is inadequate for current standards of precision attack ashore, its counter-FIAC defences are questionable and it is getting old.  Critically  it may not reign supreme alone, but it would SURVIVE and thus remains an effective combatant.

A vessel fulfilling my General Purpose requirements discussed above is what I believe we need as our future combatant to replace the Type 23.  This can then be upgraded to a more specialist role according to requirement.  The options for this are many and varied, but in simple terms a quietened variant, fitted with a towed array sonar system and with the appropriate aircraft embarked, makes a potent dedicated ASW platform.  The alternative is to optimise for above-water warfare, including but not confined to anti-ship missiles, land attack missiles, appropriate calibre main gun for NGS and anti-surface duties, advanced electronic intelligence equipment, etc.  There is even potential to specialise in anti-air warfare, although we already have the Type 45 in service for this purpose.  These are dedicated weapons systems, and require unique hull mounting and integration space such as VLS silos or turret/gunbay structures.  However, they need not be permanently embarked or even fitted, thus presenting opportunities for modular systems to be introduced along the lines of the Black Swan concept.  The ship can then fulfil the Patrol task, whilst retaining the minimum fighting capability necessary to allow for rapid redeployment.

Summary

I hope to have presented a different view of today’s tasking and requirements, and the associated need to maintain a minimum number of combatants with certain minimum capabilities.  I have tried to avoid the ‘fantasy fleet’ trap, and hope instead to have offered some different points for debate.  I strongly believe that to maintain our current international standing, in the interests of assuring the UK’s future influence and stability, there are commitments that must be met.  That requires a minimum level of investment in combat capability, for which maritime forces remain the most effective.

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IXION

Soemwhat

You have made a case for ‘more of the same’, I will come back with some questions and some points in due course….

The Other Chris
The Other Chris

@SI

What are your feelings on the Type 26 plans as they are currently?

Repulse

SI – good read, but are you suggesting that the RN should have kept the C1 / C2 concept?

Jed

Excellent !

Well written and logically laid out matey.

Ixion – perhaps “more of the same” is what is actually required to fulfill the military tasking ?

I was about to, and indeed still might do a post on the actual roles and requirements of a “Patrol Ship”. As I said in the comments on your last posting – there is nothing wrong per se with thinking big and having 4 x ST Eng Endurance 160 instead of 5 x GP T26, but there would of course be disadvantages in small numbers of separate ship classes.

However, what I really think we have to get away from is this use of the term “GENERAL PURPOSE” – A USN Ticonderoga class CCG is a “general purpose” unit, having anti-air, ASW, anti-ship and land attack capabilities.

A T26 with a medium calibre gun and a helicopter, with SeaCeptor for self defence against air-threats is to me, pushing the boundaries of the term “general purpose”. If its only carrying a Lynx Wildcat instead of a Merlin it’s not got a lot of ASW capability has it ? No Harpoon or replacement fitted ? Then not a lot of anti-ship capability either !

Thus it is, in fact a “Patrol Ship” or “Patrol Frigate” rather than a general purpose one – but I am just being a naughty and pedantic ex-sailor….. :-)

Kazuaki Shimazaki

Not badly executed, but still the stereotypical “pro-Frigate” attack.

Here’s a question to the author. How did you substantiate 4?

Remember, if we arm that patrol ship with say a CIWS and a gun, it’ll already have a credible ability against 1-2 missiles (fired from ONE aircraft). So, why is this hopelessly inadequate while 3-4 (fired from TWO aircraft) is suddenly OK?

With such an argument, you can substantiate nothing less than 10+ is adequate (which is the position the USN seems to take judging from the fact they’ve been building almost nothing but Burkes these last 20 years), so why settle for 4?
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And here’s another question. Sure, there’s no way we’ll be able to arm the patrol ship until its a frigate, but the backwards question is … is the patrol ship as likely to be attacked?

Sure, the patrol ship is be easier to attack. But because of this it is also very much less “cool” to attack it. Sneaking your planes and subs past a US carrier group and getting even a simulated blow in is “cool”, even if the US gets you later. Attacking this Coast Guard-level armament patrol ship is is not “cool”. It doesn’t show resolve, even to your own citizens, but a bullying act. When political factors are included, it is arguably the patrol ship that is less vulnerable to attack and I’ll argue this is at least as good protection as being able to fend off missiles coming from one or two more aircraft.
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And here’s a final comment: the patrol ship is not necessarily weaker than the frigate in all respects. Because it has more heloes, it actually has a higher surface search and anti-small craft potential. If you can arm the heloes with a ASM, its overall surface warfare potential may be greater than the frigate with its ONE helo.

Mark
Mark

Gd post having read a number of these thread and comments on this topic and the us experience with LCS I’ve been of the opinion that our current plans do actually appear sensible(shock horror them paid professionals have some idea what there doing!!). Would some rounding out at the edges be nice yes and I do think the navy needs to explain better what it’s ships are doing on task and I know Op sec can preclude that. For example the article in the news paper about what daring got up to east of suez sounds better than having a cocktail party or rugby match with the locals in a run ashore no matter how useful those activities maybe.

In a number of posts both on ships planes ect the simple cheap ship, plane has been proposed a number of times and as we go along capabilty creeps until its a destroyer or arsenal ship and I think this post does well in explaining that capabilty and what’s the right balance.

Having said that i would be interested to hear what SI thinks of hms Clyde and if as some press coverage suggests another sister vessel maybe built could this relieve pressure on the current fleet by fulfilling the carribean role with an rfa in support.

mickp
mickp

Some good points made here. I think the chances of a new dedicated patrol ship class are very low and MHPC will get pushed back until the Hunts and Sandowns need replacing. If there are to be two new enhanced Clyde patrol craft to be built then fine – as long has they have a decent gun (76mm), hanger for wildcat and space to bolt on a CIWS / seaceptor if ever needed. If they modestly upgrade / upgun Clyde and River as far as possible, then a six ship patrol fleet, in addition to the rest to the fleet will give enhanced coverage options around FI, WI, Gib and UK waters. Commit to build at least 12, but hopefully 13 Type 26 but in batches with a commitment to at least 8 ‘full fat’ ASW and fighty and leave options open on later ones depending on developing needs (eg may need more AAW ships – who can tell now). I’d then look at some sort of “flexible support ship” in the Bay type size with a decent hanger (say 4 merlin type), flightdeck, well deck, range and a decent gun fit (and space to bolt on stuff if needed). The are all sorts of options out there but the first of class could be ‘sold’ to the Treasury etc as an Argus / Ocean replacement and ultimately the class would replace the Bays also as they are scrapped or sold – may be 4 or 5 in total. These would provide a better option for what Bays and some RFAs end up doing often anyway now, low intensity presence, piracy, WI, disaster relief, but in a war situation would cover the amphib lift. Next up a couple of Juan Carlos style, smaller though (being realistic we can’t have two CVFs and two JCs), as replacements for Albion and Bulwark and then the Hunt and Sandown replacement with something that is primarily MCM but has a better secondary capability for patrol or littoral ASW perhaps. Following the continuous improvment theme, the Archers would be replaced by a modestly enhanced class with some fixed armament for coastal patrol. I think that’s a decent, and low on fantasy, roadmap. The only fantasy bit I would suggest would be to build either one more Astute or one more (ie 5) SSBN replacements with flexibility to cover both CASD and allow a conventional TLAM armed boat in times of need. Last but not least, an MPA option – Sea Hercules, commonality, palletised loads etc

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

Arkhangelsk

If you believe that a patrol ship with a 76mm gun and a CIWS offers anything other than a prayer against 2 missiles inbound then you are the most optimistic person I know. RAM is in my opinion a PDMS system rather than a CIWS. Remember that Sea Ceptor will give type 23 the ability to engage multiple contacts out to 16Nm.
Arleigh Burkes are expensive and multi role combatants with crews over 300. Only the USN can afford to build all its escorts as such expensive all rounder’s. Even it may not for much longer.
Cool is not really a word that one associates with military or terrorist planning in the area of the world that the inferred attack may take place/ yes they do like a spectacular but that did not stop them kidnapping some sailors in a rhib.
They want to embarrass something flying the White Ensign and the easier it is the better.
Your final paragraph takes us back to the “patrol LPD” large vessel again which in order to make it credible internally and survivable would be more expensive than the Frigate in the first place.

WiseApe

@Somewhat Involved – like your article alot, sensible and well argued. I liked Ixion’s article too and thought “these would be nice ships to have – but not at the expense of our frigates,” which pretty much sums up my attitude towards any of the proposed “patrol ships” – yes when we can afford them, but no chance in the near future. The US can afford to build Burkes and LCSes at the same time, but we can’t, so we should stick to the full 13 Type 26s – don’t give the Treasury any excuse to cut their numbers

Interesting point about an “AA” version of T26. Anyone think there’s a chance that, say, the last two T26s built might have Aster sams to supplement the reduced buy of T45s? I’m thinking Aster 15 probably, hopefully 30 and with a fair wind and a blue moon Sampson Lite?

Dunservin
Dunservin

“You have made a case for ‘more of the same’, I will come back with some questions and some points in due course…”

“Not badly executed, but still the stereotypical “pro-Frigate” attack…”

– A bit like the Army continually advocating ‘boots on the ground’ then? Think of DD/FF as ‘waders in the sea’ that can also walk on water, ‘kick ass’ and even run when required. Given their aviation assets, they can ‘fly’ as well. ;-)

Repulse

@WiseApe, I thought Artisan was Sampson Lite?

If the RN went back to (and could afford) 18 C1/C2 ships – 10 C1 and 8 C2, then you would not hear any complaints from me! 10 T26s – 8 ASW + 2 AAW, and 8 lower spec T27s (based on the T26 hull) – fantastic.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

Wise Ape, Do not see much advantage in aster 15 over Sea Ceptor really. If you went to aster 30 without Sampson you would need dedicated FC Radars installed which would obviously limit the engagement profile both in terms of missiles that you can control and weapon arcs.

steve taylor
steve taylor

States build OPVs to patrol their own waters (territorial and EEZ) and not impose their will on others. I sometimes think some here think these ships would be patrolling out at 2 miles like some pedalo; territorial waters extend out to 12nm and that is a long way out for a small ship with a tiny gun and no helicopter.

I am hoping this article stops all this GP/ASW rhubarb. As Chally says has suggested we should scrap one T26 if it means the rest get 2087. All I want is 12 T26 with 2087, Sea Ceptor, and Oto Melara gun. Still adamant T26 needs two hangars, but I can’t help being a bit progressive.

WiseApe

@APATS – thanks for clarifying. Is it possible to fit Sampson on the T26 hull then? I wonder if we have any spare sets, given that we were supposed to be getting 12 then 8 T45s. I’ve never seen a price for Sampson – a large part of the £1 billion pricetag of T45?

Jed

Mickp said:

“If there are to be two new enhanced Clyde patrol craft to be built then fine – as long has they have a decent gun (76mm), hanger for wildcat and space to bolt on a CIWS / seaceptor if ever needed. If they modestly upgrade / upgun Clyde and River as far as possible, then a six ship patrol fleet, in addition to the rest to the fleet will give enhanced coverage options around FI, WI, Gib and UK waters.”

WHY ?

The RN’s OPV’s are in the “Fisheries Protection Squadron” or whatever it’s called these days, hit the search box to find TD’s recent article and nice photo of 3 Rivers in company. Clyde has a flight deck because the Falklands has helicopters based there, and it gives her a bit more flexibility.

Variants of the River class design have been built for many nations with a 76mm gun – so if the RN wanted it (Treasury bastards permitting) they could have it – but then don’t because what we use the Rivers for is stopping fishing vessels to inspect their gear and catch – NOT for anti-drug ops in the Caribbean, nor anti-people trafficking in the Med, and not for anti-piracy work off Somalia, because they don’t have the speed to chase down a hi-jacked container ship, dont have the range / endurance, cant RAS, and probably dont have the comms / C2 kit required.

So we are back to the cost benefit analysis and the potential upfront savings (?) of 6 up-gunned Rivers versus the utility, flexibility and future proofing (through size, space and weight margins) of 5 x non-specialist T26, that as per the article will have considerably better survivability.

As TD today posted a link to Chucks USCG blog – take a look at this excellent post showing some potential candidates for their Ocean Patrol Cutter requirement – many of which are marketed as Corvettes or even Frigates !

http://chuckhillscgblog.net/2012/07/12/opv-to-opc/

If you really want more “patrol” boats for some reason – then lets drop the political bollocks of building more ships in Portsmiff in order to shore up a dodgy parliamentary seat, or keep some jobs, just buy some civvy hulls (Ulstien SX119 ?)built in cheap foreign yards, man them with the RFA under the blue Ensign and call them “HM Coast Guard”.

(And if your really, really serious about keeping skilled jobs, build an 8th Astute, or god forbid, want LOTS of jobs, build a 3rd CVF as a replacement for HMS Ocean – that could keep the yards going for a while)

Tubby
Tubby

Could the new build OPV’s be to replace the existing Rivers? The reason I ask is that recently it was mentioned that we were buying the two River’s instead of continuing to lease them, maybe the purchase price was so high it cost the same to build two new stretched Rivers to the same spec as HMS Clyde?

EDIT just realised that there are three Rivers plus HMS Clyde not two – so my point is likely mute!

Chuck Hill

What about a patrol ship that is based on the T26 but with some of the weapons left uninstalled? (Is that a type 27?)

Some of the Coast Guards most successful warships were based on a USN gunboat design. They had large weight moment margins, because they were fitted with fewer and smaller weapons and when WWII came they were able to mount very large numbers of ASW weapons that their Navy counterparts could not carry because they were already overburdened with ASuW weapons.

In peacetime these ships operate more cheaply because they have smaller crews and spend less time in training, calibration, system checks, and maintenance.

Jed

Chuck – I think what you suggest is “essentially” what the so called “General Purpose” variant of the T26 is – no T2087 towed array, maybe carrying a Wildcat instead of a Merlin and perhaps fitted for but not with the Harpoon replacement.

Over the stern launch for big RHIB’s in place of the towed array and et’voila your “Patrol Frigate” is ready sir……

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

So we’re talking about a no-frills Type 26 – what counts as frills? Towed array? Anything else?

Mark
Mark

If the mcmv is to be modularised and the patrol vessels a la river ect are not that useful then should we just build type 26 vessels and scrap mhpc vessel altogether.

JohnHartley
JohnHartley

Well if the UK could afford 12 T45 + 18 T26 , we could avoid the need for cheap patrol ships. If you only have 6 T45 + 13 T26, then they are too thinly spread. So a stretched Clyde looks good. Would it be cheaper to fit a recycled 114mm gun than a new 76mm?
As for T26, I have been rambling on about the old Canadian Iroquois 4700 ton destroyers with 2 SeaKings. Air is free, steel is cheap. If the hangar is big enough for 2 helos, they do not need to carry 2 helos, but at least you have the option should you need it.

IXION

OK had time to read this properly now so here come some points.

I do believe you seem have started from the postion of :-

‘ We need all the frigates we can get’ so I will draw up the spec or the ‘patrol ship’ to equal:- surprise surpise, a frigate.

By and large as you do I reject the corvette for some of the reasons you have outlined. The River class are fine for running around the Irish/ north sea/ western approaches, playing fishery protection, and coastguard cutter roles. But ships that size no matter how specced, as you say, lack range carrying capacity and even self defence capability in any threat environment.

I also reject the old ‘We are an island and a trading nation argument’. If the shit hits the fan over the east west trade, then frankly how the f*ck we are supppose to be able to deploy a meaningful, task group and sustain it in the indian ocean. If it’s that bad the spams will sort it out. It’s the usual WASAWPYK fantasy.

Germany/Sweden/Denmark are as dependant on forign trade as we are in Germany’s case more so. The only other nation who sees it’s world role in those terms is France- who have built several classes of patrol ships. Admittedly they called them frigates, but defo patrol standard, not fleet class.

You seem to be arguing that when not patroling, when the war kicks off, the patrol ship must be able to perform as a t26, rather than as some other unit. I do however take issue with that. Your spec for the self defence capability for the ‘patrol ship’. You have in effect stated it’s ‘all or nothing’ you either have River class defence or it’s got to be balls out. However I disagree.

Many ships in a RN task force- all the RFA for a start, even the elephants, will emphaticaly not have that level of self defence capability.

Any patrol ship will need all the coms fit to fit into a RN task force. However as far as sensor/ weapons fit I think you are wrong.

The primary danger to a patroling ship is not an all out assult by ships and aircraft, from Antiship misiles etc. That is the an outright declarion of war, and given the probability of coalition status that risks destruction. The real danger is the well known ‘whoops sorry technic’. Where a single or pair of land based or air launcehed ASM is launched at a naval target followed by an announcement from (say) the Iranian govt, ‘Whoops sorry you violated our soveringty one of our units responded without authority about that we will investigate what happened etc etc’. One of the main requirements as I expect is the ability to deal with 1 or 2 ASM not necessarily the high tech end, therefore a decent PDMS and CIWs would suffice.

Obviously if we had the budget for everything then we would not be having this discussion.

In effect you and the other ‘professionals’ are frigate minded. You may be right. More (or rather in reality less in terms of ship numbers), of the same is the official response.

Repulse

@ST: I would also say no Harpoon (or SSM replacement).

Repulse

@JH: Yes I’d agree – probably with a 6/10/8 (T45/T26/T27) mix, handing over fisheries protection to a coast guard and keeping the MCM/Survey fleet/small patrol fleet there would be little need of debate until these unmanned vessels come of age in the mid 2030’s.

Jed

JH said: “Well if the UK could afford 12 T45 + 18 T26 , we could avoid the need for cheap patrol ships. If you only have 6 T45 + 13 T26, then they are too thinly spread.”

Why ? Why are they too thinly spread ?

I know why I think there are not enough of them, but I base my thinking on worse case scenario war time needs, not on peace time MSO tasking – but then again we apparently don’t need to do major war fighting ops on our own anymore, so our ships will be part of NATO or ad hoc coalition “Fleets” or task groups, so if we accept 3 possibly 4, out of 6 T45 will be available, and 5 or 6 out of 8 ASW T26, and these would provide the core of a task group protecting a CV and maybe and ARG, augmented by NATO units such as US Arleigh Burkes, French and Italian Horizon’s and FREMMS, Spanish and Norwegian AEGIS frigates, Dutch Seven Provinces destroyers etc etc then why are we too thinly spread ?

Mickp
Mickp

@ Jed

If we are to build 2 enhanced Clydes I was starting on the basic assumption they would be more capable than the Clydes, sort of corvette territory so I don’t think it unreasonable to assume they could cover WI perhaps, extra cover in FI, UK FRE perhaps. That said I am not in favour of them coming at the expense of T26s nor of them being built just for the sake of it. They should only be considered if they can cover some existing lower risk tasking and therefore leave 19 warfighters for higher risk threats. I think like others have suggested if it came to sacrifices i would rather have 12 high end T26s than say 8 and 5 low

Jeremy M H

@JH

I would suggest that only being able to afford 6 & 13 means that you need to cut your defense commitments, not that you need to build small and effectively useless ships.

A very good original article by the way. I too agree the professionals are getting things right with the frigate program, assuming they all get built.

steve taylor
steve taylor

Is “frigate minded” the new “carrier minded”?

WiseApe

@Repulse – sorry, missed your comment re Artisan. Honest answer is I don’t know. If yes, then could T26 handle both flavours of Aster?

It’s terribly easy to get sucked in to this “fantasy fleet” malarkey isn’t it – hopefully there’ll be a little extra cash in the kitty when we come to build the final T26s. Cross your fingers we might even get CEC. See, gone all fantasy again.

steve taylor
steve taylor

@ Jed

Tell me how many frigates and destroyers were there when you were in the Andrew?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

We were only going to get 10 C1 and 8 C2 prior to SDSR. Once the 4 t22 Batch 3 were cut that deal was off as we are now replacing 13 Frigates not 17. So getting 13 like for like is a good deal.
Ixion, neither the Carrier nor the RFA units come out of the escort strength, any OPV/Patrol Frigate will.
France bases many of its Patrol Frigates as support units in its over seas dependencies. It also has a completely different outlook to world Geo politics than we do. The only similarities in terms of Rn and French Navies are the sizes.
SI did not ask for anything other than a good PDMS system but once you have a helo, PDMS, CIWS, Gun< Helo you have a frigate not a Patrol Ship and cost savings are negligible.
many posters on here simply add capabilities to their favoured "patrol ship" option and then still claim it will be cheaper than a Frigate.
SI and fellow professionals are actually "capability" minded!
How do we retain the ability to fulfill peace time roles and the capability to conduct war time operations given the budget?
That is the question and the answer is to maximise escort numbers and intelligently employ the hulls we have including using RFA assets and Escorts for less intensive missions.
I get heartily sick of people wanting the RN to shed hulls to do jobs that are not even core Naval roles. We can only afford to run the 3 Rivers because the DEFRA contract helps pay for them. Disaster relief in the Caribbean, welcome to the real world DFID.
I would lose the 3 rivers in a minute and tell DEFRA to get another service provider if it bought an extra FF.

Challenger
Challenger

A good post, and yet more good follow up discussion and ideas on patrol ships and the surface fleet in general.

As X flagged up earlier, I have been thinking for a while that if the only difference in Type 26 variants is the 2087 sonar then id much rather sacrifice 1 ship in order to get the remaining 12 up-to a common and more useful standard.

Id add to this the need to retain a bolt-on ASM, incorporate a large enough VLS to future proof for Tomahawk or a similar capability, and as John Hartley said a hangar with the room to carry 2 helos in an emergency.

As for other options, well some large Bay style aviation/control ships would be nice, and I think perfect for Indian Ocean counter piracy and the Caribbean anti drugs and disaster relief roles. They could probably be snapped up at a fairly cheap price as well (it’s very true that steel and air is cheap), but id be dubious as to whether the political will exists, or if even this modest amount of investment could be found.

With the OPV’S, I don’t think it’s particularly logical to procure 2 new ships, but if they do then they HAVE to have a better armament.

As I have said before, keep the 3 Rivers as they are, but take Clyde and the 2 new ships and give them a 76mm (or a recycled 114mm), a couple of 30mm and space for some AAM or a CIWS, maybe even a hangar for a Lynx if it’s feasible. Then perhaps having 2 of these ships in the South Atlantic would negate the need for a constant Frigate of Destroyer on station, with the 3rd being placed wherever else it’s thought useful (as a fisheries squadron leader, or a Mediterranean patrol ship?).

Lastly as everyone probably knows by now, forget MHPC for the time being. It won’t get through it’s conceptual stage for quite while, won’t be coming in-to service until the mid 2020’s, and even then will be primarily geared for replacing the Hunt’s and Sandown’s. It’s foolish to consider MHPC as a means of relieving pressure on the surface fleet, both because it won’t be around for ages, and also because who knows what the strategic picture will be in 10, 15, 20 years time.

So in general I think maximising the potential of the Type 26 and squeezing some more service out of the OPV’S is the most immediate means of dealing with the problems of ‘patrol’ and a lack of hulls in the water.

Chuck Hill

I’d like to see a towed array on at least some of our Coast Guard Cutters as a way to deal with the drug runners use of simi-submersibles and even true submarines.

I agree with the comment that the Patrol Ships (and frigates) need hangar space for more than a single helicopter. They will likely need either two helicopters or one manned helicopter and one or more UAS. But any ship with a beam of 13.7 meters (beam of the Perry class FFGs) or more should be able to handle this requirement.

Looks like two RAM or SEARAM mounts could provide good survivability even against a number of ASCMs arriving simultaneously. The Germans are putting two of these even on very small ships. There is a discussion of Phalanx vs RAM here:

http://chuckhillscgblog.net/2012/05/04/alternate-weapons-for-new-large-cutters/

There might be some interest in two other posts. The first looked at possible OPVs that might be modified to serve as the Coast Guard’s new cutter:

http://chuckhillscgblog.net/2012/07/12/opv-to-opc/

The second looked at how the new cutter might be designed to morph into a warship should the need arise.

http://chuckhillscgblog.net/2012/06/27/opc-design-for-wartime-build-for-peacetime/

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

Ran out of time to edit my previous rant, so continued.

Once I have got rid of the FPS I would look at the Falklands. Share the peace time burden tri service. withdraw APT(S) and make the RAF maintain 8 aircraft down South including an anti Ship capability. Utilise modern sensors for detection, we know the direction the threat is coming from. Lay command controlled mine fields in approaches to possible landing areas. Deploy some of these USVs we here so much about. Stich a Batle Groups worth of kit down South and tell the army to ensure it is manned. We cover at least 7 365/24/7 peace time tasks. I am sure the army could manage 1 6 month BG strength rotation.

Opinion3
Opinion3

@Somewhat and @Ixion

I am sort of considering your articles together, I think you will agree one talks fighty the other talks multi-utility.

Frigates need to be fighty
Rest need to be flexible, and large means flexible. Plus maybe some smaller patrol boats to boost numbers.

I have one question for both of you. Why can we not extend the life of the T23s and keep it simple so that both of your wishes can be granted?

x13 T26 with sonar sets from the T23s etc
Plus Ixion’s bay/my Absalon type for MHPC/GP duties

WiseApe

“I get heartily sick of people wanting the RN to shed hulls to do jobs that are not even core Naval roles.” – we have the UN and a substantial foreign aid budget for such roles, as I said on Matt S’s original post.

“French and Italian Horizon’s and FREMMS, Spanish and Norwegian AEGIS frigates, Dutch Seven Provinces destroyers etc etc then why are we too thinly spread” – yes well these nations and others really carried their weight in Iraq/Afghanistan didn’t they? I think there’s a reason we have a closer relationship with the US than those above – they have greater trust in us.

Jeremy M H

Frankly I think that SI’s views fit much better with a classic view of sea power. I would rather have capable units I can concentrate into a fleet and move to where it is needed, even if its presence is only a virtual one until needed, than have a bunch of minimalist ships scattered all over the world providing a token presence.

That is pretty much what Mahan was writing about all those years ago really. From that point of view being able to deploy a capable task group in a real crisis is far more important than having a continual presence.

Jed

X said – @ Jed

Tell me how many frigates and destroyers were there when you were in the Andrew?

Lots (relatively speaking) over 30 (T42, Leanders, T22, T23 were in before I left) – but what’s your point ?

I would like there to be lots now, but there aren’t, so sacrificing more for sodding “patrol boats” to play world police does not seem a good idea.

Challenger
Challenger

@APATS

You’re points on what the force mix should be in the South Atlantic are quite similar to what I was thinking. They shouldn’t be so reliant on having a frigate or destroyer on constant patrol, the fleet is spread too thin for this sort of mentality.

I agree that 8 jets with a dual anti air/anti ship capability would do most of the work in a far more effective and flexible way.

Plus I actually think a battalion rotated down there every 6 months would be a good thing. As people have suggested before it’s the perfect way of provided a decent land presence whilst also doing some very decent mountain and cold weather training.

JohnHartley
JohnHartley

Jed & Jeremy
You assume that the enemy/bad guys will play ball. What if they do not? With no Nimrods, keeping tabs on drug/weapon smugglers, pirates, terrorists, then a patrol boat lurking on the horizon is the next best thing.
The UK may cut its capability, but the nasties we come up against may not. They are under no obligation to play by our rules.

steve taylor
steve taylor

I am also detecting some big ship bigotry. It should be remembered that FPS is the oldest naval standing formation. In my limited exposure to the RN I always found small ship sailors to be proper sailors they know the proper words for the pointy end for example. While many big ship sailors have a nautical knowledge on parr with WAFU. Does it make a difference? Probably not. But I just find it interesting how offering up the FPS is seen as “reasonable” by a couple of big ship professionals. “Reasonableness” being defined on those well trod grounds here that professional have spoken, how dare you ignorant tax payer question us? Objective? No not really. All on a level with the Army being armour barmy and the RAF being fighter freaks.

Challenger
Challenger

@Jeremy M H

I think a lot of people on here (myself included) are coming round to the point of view you put across in you’re last post.

I want to find the money for a few extra large Bay type ships to take on aviation/command duties hunting pirates or providing humanitarian aid.

Equally if they decide to build a couple more Clyde type OPV’S then I think it’s worth up-gunning them a bit to make them vaguely useful patrol ships.

Id also (really getting in-to the realms of fantasy now!) love to see more low-end hulls for patrol work.

However it’s important to realise that all of these ideas are either at best difficult or at worst just totally impossible. The core fleet of surface ships (for my money 12 fully kitted Type 26 + the 6 Type 45) have to be ring-fenced as being more important than anything else.

The real balance lies somewhere between having a certain number of standing commitments (without going down the ludicrous global policeman route) whilst retaining the core ability to concentrate ships in-to a fleet that can pack a punch. This has to take precedence over the idea of scattering resources to achieve a mere token presence.

In an ideal world Id have everything, but in the real world you protect and preserve what’s really important and then work you’re way back.

Jeremy M H

@ JH

Then you need to spend more money. You are not buying any more meaningful capability. Cutting the frigate force down from what it is expected to fund some hair-brained mutant patrol ship won’t solve much of anything. All it will do is drastically reduce the ability of the RN to respond to something really important if it is called upon to do so.

What it sounds like the UK needs is a Coast Guard more than anything.

The UK needs to decide what it wants to be in the world. It can’t take on a globe spanning role with a military budget of 2.6% of GDP. You either need to redefine the mission to do fewer things or you need to spend more money. No amount of scheming about what bits and bobs to hang on some 20,000 ton elephant is really going to change that. It does nothing but shift the deck chairs around really.

The RN has the makings of being a force able to act globally if it concentrates on fitting out two carrier strike forces and its amphibs with proper escorts to go into harms way. Why not just focus on doing that? You can’t afford everything but if I were to list naval capabilities I would want to have that would be near the very top.

Building more ships that in a real war will need escorts is just moving things in the wrong direction in my view. You can defend UK interest with a fleet capable of transoceanic operations on that scale. If you piecemeal the fleet all over the world to babysit every rock that still has a Union Jack somewhere in its flag you have a pretty hollow force.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

X ” Big Ship Professionals”? I have actually been a BFSO at sea. Fantastic 3 week course, 1 week in London, 1 in Lowestoft and 1 in Grimsby. Ful subbies and hotels all the way, though a fish market visit at 0600 can be emotional when you have not poured yourself into bed until midnight. I have served on everything from a Hunt to an LPD size wise. So I am not speaking down to any ignorant tax payer merely offering an alternative position given the current financial crisis.

Rocket Banana

SI,

Interesting post.

Last time we got onto the T26 I settled on the idea of 8 T26-ASW plus 8 T26-BASIC (half the price of the T26-GP). Yes, I know, I’ve also wandered off onto the Bay / SCS idea too.

Just wondering if the 8+8 is actually a good option. Can you use the T26-BASIC for all patrol and training tasks?

T26-BASIC:

– Main gun
– CIWS
– Wildcat (with dipping sonar if you left it to me ;-))
– Half-decent hull sonar

The main thing I’m missing is the air self-defence system. Is there a way that Wildcat can “paint” the threat and the ship can carry CAMM but no targetting radar?

By keeping the costs of the systems down we can afford more hulls, which can be upgraded when funds allow.

Chuck Hill

SEARAM can provide decent self defense against ASCMs without a separate targeting radar.

Rocket Banana

Perhaps a couple of Rapier batteries would suffice?

Or, the new CAMM version, surely that doesn’t need an expensive medium range tracking radar?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

Simon, Sea Ceptor will take its initial feed from 997(Artisan).
Chuck with RAM/SEARAM you have to ensure that you have correct weapon arcs for its own radar to detect the threat so threat has to be initially detect in order to allow correct ships response. that will require a 997 type radar. Once that is fitted I would rather pay the extra for Sea Ceptor and engage at 16 miles or inital detection if at radar horizon with a possibility of a re engagement than 6.

Rocket Banana

Last comment…

Logic (well, mine anyway) dictates that our fleet should be built/sized to provide everything we need to field the active carrier and amphibs.

What we do with the fleet in peacetime is then the question, rather than what fleet do we need to do peacetime tasks and how then do we use it in war.

This might mean ditching many of our standing tasks (as APATS is hinting) and concentrating only on the ones that truly matter (trade route protection). Build up the installed defensive forces in the South Atlantic, build up the UK border force to police the drug and human traffic, and install land-based air defences in the mid Atlantic islands.

It’s basically why I suggested that building up DG makes the most sense. We could even sell our “International Ocean Police” services to China and India as proper mercenaries ;-)

JohnHartley
JohnHartley

Jeremy
If I was dictator of Britain ( a favourite subject of mine) then DfID & EU contribution money would be halved with the savings going to infrastucture & defence.
I am not against big,fighty ships. I can play fantasy cruiser with the best of them, but I do not see what is wrong with a handful of stretched Clydes when we are not fighting a modern Trafalgar/Jutland.

Chuck Hill

@all Politicians are the Same

SeaRAM is a stand alone system, Putting one forward and one aft would cover 360 and not require a targeting or illuminating radar. That was my point.

RAM would require cuing from an air search but not an illuminator.

Mark
Mark

There appears to be a wish to remove things like fisheries protection to coast guard type functions SAR ect and the other services the same with similar tasks.

Two issues I see coming with this. 1st these types of tasking can be useful for introducing future larger ship commanders to the command position.

Second is public visibility. Some may not see this as important but I fear post afghan all the forces being small and tasked overseas they will drift from general publics view and as such the services will struggle for future funding. If the public only see ships with coastguard or helicopters ect then the question will be why do we need a navy/airforce/army and none of the services are particularly good at explaining that now to the general public.

IXION

JMH

‘The UK needs to decide what it wants to be in the world. It can’t take on a globe spanning role with a military budget of 2.6% of GDP.’

AMEN to that.

‘You either need to redefine the mission to do fewer things or you need to spend more money.’

AMEN to that!

No amount of scheming about what bits and bobs to hang on some 20,000 ton elephant is really going to change that. It does nothing but shift the deck chairs around really.

You miss the point; the point is to preserve a core ‘fighty fleet’ and expand the capability to do what we actually spend out time doing.

The RN has the makings of being a force able to act globally if it concentrates on fitting out two carrier strike forces and its amphibs with proper escorts to go into harms way.

Thats just carier junky wet dreams. The funding and projected ship numbers are utterly unable to support two carrier battle groups and an amphib force, we would need at least 9 t45 and 18- 24 t26 to do that with a serious upgrade to our RFA (which would itself require further protectio by escorts).

Why not just focus on doing that? You can’t afford everything but if I were to list naval capabilities I would want to have that would be near the very top.

Because that really is ‘fantasy fleet’ time. having dismissed the patrol ship idea as unafordable you have wriiten the spec for a surface navy twice the size of the one we will have!

I have said before and as TD has suggested ity reduces the RN to a total 1 trick pony.

All

It remains interresting that even those who oppose the Patrol, ship (of whatever dimension), principle, often then go on to talk about a British, US style coast guard for the ‘floating rozzer’ role. Then they talk about the wartime role for such ships, without ever asking where the money will come from when the only answer can be from the RN budget.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.

So, why does a patrol ship covering APT(N), smuggling in the med, and Counter Piracy of Somalia need an AA system again? Or a main gun (heavy calibre)?

Surely it just needs a radar that is sufficient to locate and track surface vessels and unarmed drug running aircraft. Then a helicopter. A small boat launching facility. And a few GPMG/Miniguns/.50 cal/snipers (delete as appropriate) to defend itself/threaten others.

You must be able to build those on a 2:1 ratio with a £250 million Type 26 (assuming T26 incurs no cost growth). Build two, lose one T26, and have one T26 that now no longer needs to cover these tasks.

The whole point that sparked this discussion is the continual insistence from the Admirals that they don’t have enough ships to cover all of their tasks, that they’re stretched to breaking point. So they either need more ships in the fleet, with a budget that is not going to increase as a share of overall defence anytime soon, or the Navy needs to can some of its tasks.

You can carry on as normal with Frigates and Destroyers and no patrol vessels at all, and do all the tasks previously requested, but if that’s the solution then the Admirals need to stop talking about being stretched.

You can’t have it both ways.

Think Defence

With guest posters I tend to have a rule that I stay out of the conversation but given my well known anti RN position I couldn’t resist:)

Do we think there is a degree of tasking snobbery at play here just a tiny bit? Talk of tasks that are not for a proper Navy, things that should be done by a coastguard or police force, trading patrol ships for frigates etc?

Is there a danger of this talk leaving the RN vulnerable to more cutting as those outside see it as increasingly irrelevant as defence inflation bites leading to the inevitable reductions in real budgets?

How would one outside the service see this as akin to the RAF wanting to fight the Battle of Britain and the Army pining for BAOR?

If I am honest I only see the Army as having had a lightbulb moment (even it was forced on them by budget reductions) in defining a two tier force with channels between the two. If we look at Army 2020 it is clear to me that there is a realisation that high intensity war which is very rare and the plethora of security or peacetime taskings, upstream engagement and conflict prevention that are very common cannot be fulfilled with the same equipment and structures.

Hence the reactive and adaptable force, the more I think of it the more it actually makes a huge amount of sense.

Neither the RAF or RN seem to be doing anything anywhere near that radical.

I could be dead wrong but the impression I get from both shades of blue are services that are dominated (perhaps understandably) by high end equipment, configuring for the high intensity tasks and treating the most likely, regular but unglamorous roles as diversions, giving them crumbs from the Kings table.

That’s probably unfair but still.

When the shit does hot the fan that approach may well be vindicated but I always come back to defence planning assumptions and strategic realities and ask what credible scenario exists that requires the UK to either stand alone.

So maybe, the high end full on crash bang stuff should be the secondary role, with the ‘other stuff’ actually getting a higher priority.

Just a thought!

PS
Would also add that before we talk about kit we should really talk about strategic drivers that underpin the standing and contingent tasks and ask ourselves if, for example, we can deliver against the counter narcotics or disaster relief requirement with other means. Instead of sending an RN vessel would the UK be better served by a police training mission, paying for a civilian manned maritime patrol aircraft or a shed load of fast interceptor craft.

Just one example

PPS
Does anyone else think the RN grown ups cling on to the standing tasks with a vice like grip so they can constantly demonstrate how stretched they are, have they become a bit of a crutch?

steve taylor
steve taylor

TD said “If I am honest I only see the Army as having had a lightbulb moment (even it was forced on them by budget reductions) in defining a two tier force with channels between the two. ”

Rhubarb!!! Do you think the Army would opt for two tier force if they could afford to put all the infantry into Warrior and have RAC all mounted in export Chally in T58 regiments? Really? “Light role” is Army double speak for “we can’t afford”. Stop trying to dress the Army up as innovators. They are blokes with rifles, just as in a previous age they were blokes with spears. In tertiary history we are told to stay away from using the word “bias”. But here at times, oh dear………

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

Chuck hill, exactly what i was getting at, given the location of the RAM/Sea RAM radar the only difference between the two is the integration of Phalanx into SEARAM they could quite possibly never even detect the missile that hit the ship. A 997 radar on top of mat offer true 360 degree coverage out to 12NM.
Chris B, Admirals will always whinge but the fact is that we do not cover our NATO standing groups but manage the rest and can still almost scrape together a war fighting capability. Yes we are stretched but it is just about manageable.
@TD list me the peace time commitments that requite an army Battalion 365/24/7 versus what the RN has to supply a hull to? Also look at those roles that we are asked to fulfill and see how many of them actually require an FF/DD.
I am not an establishment supporter in general but for once I come down firmly on the side of the people who control the budget, the intelligence, the threat assessments, the capability briefings, the refit programme and a whole host of stuff that actually allow us to determine policy. remember that full on high end bag stuff can never ne a secondary role for the vessels that people on here expect us to sacrifice high end hull for. it is the equivalent of asking the army to sacrifice 4 infantry battalions to buy 8 high end police units but say they will be ok in combat!
Also when the army sends a company or 2 of infantry to be peace keeping policemen in anon threat environment do we hear cries for the culling of a few infantry Battalions and the creation of a gendarmerie?
With you just a thought moment, you explain to the HMG why we now have a CG and not a navy and cannot actually influence events anywhere there is a threat?
I have yet to read a single post where anyone can explain how we meet our FF/DD level commitments and have the ability to put together a war capable TG with any other force mixture than what we are going to get. Not without claiming we can have a 12k tonne Helicopter carier and Aster 30 shooter with full C2 capabilities for less than a 45.
Or a 110M OPV with 2 helos 76mm gun sonar, and Sea Ram for 80 million.
Or claiming that a 76mm gun and CWIS is a credible AAW defence in a threat environment.
Grumpy Out!

Mark
Mark

Except TD has the army not just re name it’s home regional divisions as adaptable. Will be interesting to we if it improves the pretty poor for e generation in the army I however predict the adaptable army well be seen as the second rate army were those not destined for the top end up.

As for the high tech equipment has that not be driven by the need to significantly reduce head count allowing the tech to take up the slack?

steve taylor
steve taylor

TD said “Does anyone else think the RN grown ups cling on to the standing tasks with a vice like grip so they can constantly demonstrate how stretched they are, have they become a bit of a crutch?”

Didn’t somebody here once try to pass off a list of Army standing tasks as something substantial when about 99% of them were a QM WO2 and a clerk advising some Third World army on how to stack blankets? At least RN standing tasks involve a ship that carries ordnance out on that international arena, that global common, called the sea.

steve taylor
steve taylor

@ APATS

It was a leg pull. I was fishing to see who would bite……

My mother’s family used to run trawlers out of Lowestoft.

Opinion3
Opinion3

Can someone explain to me what is wrong with the RN doing ‘coastguard’, ‘fisheries protection’ and ‘SAR’ duties?

They need to learn the skills, have the kit, and have the free time.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

More grouchiness I will play fantasy fleet for a minute on a realistic note.
I would have taken the Pre SDSR deal of 10 C1 T26 2087 Sea Ceptor, Merlin, Oto Melara 5 inch, NSM and CIWS plus 8 C2 same hull 76mm, RAM, 25mm bushmaster typhoon turrets, hull sonar and helo any day.(representative possible fits)
That however disappeared in the SDSR and now if we dropped to 16 escorts we would be lucky to get 3 C2.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.

Surely a better comparison between ships and the army is the army being told to cut back on Tanks and reducing the number of IFV’s in favour of more protected mobility stuff for lower threat operations?

Yet whenever someone mentions Tanks being needed for high end warfare it’s always “blah, blah, the Fulda Gap is dead etc”, but the alternative suggestion that maybe the RN could replace some high end warships with something a little less shooty for the less complex tasks it’s all “but how will we fight a full scale naval war without them?!”

Or hyprocrisy, as it’s otherwise known.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.

Surely a better comparison between ships and the army is the army being told to cut back on Tanks and reducing the number of IFV’s in favour of more protected mobility stuff for lower threat operations?

Yet whenever someone mentions Tanks being needed for high end warfare it’s always “blah, blah, the Fulda Gap is dead etc”, but the alternative suggestion that maybe the RN could replace some high end warships with something a little less shooty for the less complex tasks it’s all “but how will we fight a full scale naval war without them?!”

Or hypocrisy, as it’s otherwise known.

Jonesy
Jonesy

Excellent article and one that really does make a key and salient point. There is a minimum size which, if we dip below, we lose too much capability to make worthwhile.

There is a flip side to that coin though. That is that our current numbers 6/13 DD/FF are, simply, not enough to meet the taskings. As we’ve been told on here we’ve pressed any number of disparate grey-painted hulls in patrol duty in the name of administratively ‘ticking a box’. The dits of Dili’s radio calls on such tasking are cringeworthy. Maintaining those numbers, in escort terms, while reducing the LSD fleet by one hull and putting the second LHD at extended readiness is merely perpetuating the existing inadequacy.

Its unforgivably stating the obvious that we need more hulls and we need hulls that can give us multimission capability per deployment. It being noted that combat operations or at least ‘coercive force potential’ does fall into that mission spread…the average third world pirate/drugrunner may be poorly educated as to the relative merits of the 57mm Bofors against the 76mm OTO….but a very visible and sizeable gun turret on the pointy end creating a number of large shell splashes close aboard is one of those comms mediums that translates well into many languages.

Its also facile statement to say that additional resources will be insanely hard to prise out of the treasury. We cannot therefore look forward, with any optimism, to any more than 13 FFs replacing 13 FF’s. The comment has been made this is ‘good’…my view is, the best you can say about that is ‘it could be worse’.

The job then distills down to a simple question: “How do we get more fighty hulls, than the 13 frigates currently plotted that we know to be insufficient, without breaking the budget or stealing funds from other vital budgets”.

If we define the critical-to-deliver capability for T26 is 2087, in the same fashion as PAAMS/Sea Viper is for T45, T26 has to be 8 hulls – no more. The next question then is “is there a way, in the budget, to get a 7000nm, 18knt cruise, main gun, FLAADS, 997, MLTS, MF hull sonar, softkill, CDS, ESM/CESM vessel that can be built in bigger numbers than the tail-less 26’s without the costs of adding a unique 3rd shooty class to the logistics train?”.

……or, shorter, if we have PAAMS and 2087 deployed is it more important for the non-specialist hulls to be T26’s or to be as numerous as possible…if there is another way of deploying that force potential.

As to the point that we are trying to do more than we are funded for I think its important to note that we are already gapping tasking requirements…last time we deigned to contribute a frigate to SNMG???. Hard to see which of our remaining taskings could be considered irrelevant?

steve taylor
steve taylor

@ Opinion3

There is nothing wrong with the RN doing that stuff. Our “borders” start 12nm out. If I were in charge the FPS would be beefier. Of course if I were in charge we would be outside the EU so the FPS would be busy chasing Iberians out of waters. :)

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

Opinion 3, absolutely nothing until such roles effect our core war fighting hull numbers to an extent where we can no longer carry them out if required.
X maybe you can explain why Lowestoft has that weird Beatles tribute pub then? Never saw the connection.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.

Surely a better comparison between the army and Navy is the fact that the army has been told to cut back on things like Challenger and AS90 in favour of lighter forces.

But dare anyone mention the utility of tanks and AS90 in a full on war then immediately a storm of criticism about the Fulda Gap not being a credible threat is thrown up.

Yet do the same about escorts and all of sudden it seems to be a different tune. “How will we fight a high end Naval war with just 10 T23 instead of 13!!!” etc.

Or as it’s otherwise known, Hypocrisy.

Peter Elliott

@Somewhat Involved makes an excellent case against replacing Frigates with small patrol craft. Small patrol craft are not survivable and have a very limited wartime role.

The case against large patrol craft is not made so well. They are still not as survivable as a frigate but do have a wartime role tucked into an ARG. Even a few limited systems make them more survivable than a standard LSD.

I am happy to let @SI keep his frigates. Keep 13+6 fighting ships. Send one or two _large_ patrol ships into the unfighty areas like West Indies and East and West Africa. In those roles a big patrol ship is *better* than a frigate. That will increase the ability of the 19 fighty ships to cover the Gulf, the Falklands or wherever else it might’kick off’.

Funding wise I think this can be acheived (over 20 or 30 years) from raiding MHPC and RFA bugdets rather than the T26 budget, which I would cheefully let go as it is.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

Chris B
Does the Army have standing tasks requiring a CH2 or AS90 lime we do in Gulf, APT(S), FRE, DUTY TAPS, PWO Training, aviation training, Nav training and stll have to be able to generate a standby readiness group?
I wait with baited breath the 365/24/7 operational commitments that the CH2 and AS90 draw down will affect.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

ADM Zummalt tried to get a hi-lo mix in the USN:

” An all-High Navy would be so expensive that it would not have enough ships to control the seas. An all-Low Navy would not have the capability to meet certain kinds of threats or perform certain kinds of missions. In order to have both enough ships and good enough ships there had to be a mix of High and Low”

The debate continues:

http://innercolumnist.blogspot.co.uk/2009/02/high-low-mix.html?m=1

http://blog.usni.org/2012/03/09/four-questions-to-shape-our-navy/

Chris.B.
Chris.B.

At a minute ago you were planning on disposing of the APT(S). And how come suddenly the Navies training counts as a standing task while the Armies does not?

The Army provides ready to deploy reaction forces, just like the Navies FRE and task group. It takes part in a number of UN and NATO peace keeping tasks. Oh and, that whole Afghanistan thing.

What I find the most derisable is how people can keep crying about Typhoon and Tornado, and saying that both need cutting etc, along with Challenger and AS 90, despite the fact all of these assets have been used in their primary roles within the last 10 years. Suggest that they might be needed in the future and it’s swept aside with “we won’t be engaging in any of those sorts of wars that require them,”

Conversely T23 hasn’t sunk many subs lately and nor has Astute, Albion/Bulwark haven’t conducted many Amphibious Assaults lately, T42/45 haven’t shot down many aircraft lately, but suggest that any of these assets might be cut and it’s like someone had walked in at Christmas and pissed all over your kids as they unwrap their presents.

Your position is essentially;

Assets that have been used thoroughly to fight in their main role recently = ripe for cutting, future be damned.

Assets not used thoroughly for their main roles = untouchable, because we might need them one day.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

Chris B,

We have not use the nuclear detterent recently either.
You cannot differentiate between operational tasking and exercises I never even mentioned the Neptune Warrior exercises we also have to host and run.
My position is the RN uses far more of its available high end assets in peace time activities dictated by HMG than the other services. The Army has worked bloody hard over the last 20 years and done a sterling job, I habe spent 3 separate 6 month deployments working with them. However in peacetime they have very few HMG operational tasks that require CG2 or AS90, you named precisely none.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

While researching hi-lo concept came across this interesting post from Jedi and the RUSI work it is based around. The c2 was only priced as being 10% cheaper than c1. If that is still true of ASW T-26 and tailess T-26 is it worth it? The RUSI work sugests any c2 “General Purpose” ship has to be one third the cost of a c1 or even less.

http://jedibeeftrix.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/britain%E2%80%99s-future-strategic-direction-12-%E2%80%93-naval-deterrence-presence/

Chris.B.
Chris.B.

APATS,

They’ve been used on operations. Surely that is the prime requirement and more important than peace time? And the army runs regular exercises with their equipment, preparing for their main wartime role, so how are these any less valid than the Navy needing ships for exercises?

As for the deterrent, essentially it is in “use” every time it puts to see. It’s a deterrent, thus it works by deterring. If it actually fires it’s not doing it’s job, in a bizarre manner of speaking.

I just don’t understand why so many people hold the position that we can’t replace some warships with patrol ships, because we might need them at a later date, but think it’s ok to cut back on prime fighting assets from the other two services, despite them being more heavily used in the recent past and just as likely to be used in the future.

The only possible answer to that curious dynamic is to say “because their navy”.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim

Before getting started on whether we need corvettes or GP Forgates I think we need to look at what commitments the RN has now and in the possible future. Off the top of my head we have:
Gulf
Falklands
Home waters
Caribbean

There are also NATO standing TFs but we have not participated in these for a while stating other committments, and we have the current anti-piracy patrols of the Horn of Africa.

Of the above how many need a full spec high end platform? I can see only one and that is the Gulf with a prescident having been set to allow other NATO nations with a stay at home mentality to contributr to its ctanding TFs.. Others would only need said spec level in times of tension and in these cases such a vessel would need to be moved form other tasks.

So duties around the Falklands, in the Caribbean, home waters and anti piracy could be carried out by lower speced platforms, and should with the exception of the last duty be supported by port facilities in these areas, either dedicated or shared. With crew rotation we would need as few as 8 platforms with roughly the following spec.

Air and surface surveillance radar
Medium Calibre gun (BAe 57mm)
2x HMG mounts
2x Fast response launches
SAT comms and Data links to Mil Specs.
Accomodation sufficient for crew and additional space for attached boarding teams etc

To this I would add the ability ot operate a single helo or at least have space for a landing pad.

This platform is not to engage in major hostilities but to carry out patrol and maritime policing duties. Its existence will allow high end platforms to operate and train for the roles they are actually intended but not prevent them from carrying out additional duties if assets are available to do so. They would be the natural decendants of the smaller frigates etc designed for and stationed through out the empire in days gone by.

I do believe there is a place for a “Patrol” vessel in the future RN but this will go against those who belive that all RN vessels should be able to operate in all threat environments but where and what are these threats. This is something often avoided on the Forum. There are some who seem to still believe there are monsters under the bed and see high level threats everywhere. Iran and China are often named but in both cases the threat level is actually very low and will according to most reasonable estimates remain so. Are we going to fight another Falklands war, well not really likely as the Argies assets are poor at present and getting more so. Ideas that Mr Chavez would send his airforce sould are bordering on lunacy. Will hoards of civilains try to invade, well Patrol boats could handle that.

IF we only have high end assets and have to repond to every possible threat howeveer likely we will need a fleet the size of the USN. As it is we will have both a pretty capable CV Group and ARG. By supplimenting these with a number of patrol assets whose role would include mine hunting in addition to the duties above we could probably do with as few as 12. Other tasks such as Ocean Survey should be passed to the RFA or a civilian agency.

As an interim I would like to see 6-8 T-23s retained but stripped of their ASW and AAW systems leading a significant reduction in crew numbers. They will be old platforms by then but able to carry out the patrol none the less whilst the new T-26 are assigned to the CVG anf ARG along with the T-45s. With these platforms we can examine new operating and basing ideas prior to the introduction of newer hulls and get a firm understanding of what capabilites these should have and just as important what are NOT needed. Nations like France, Italy and Spain, all historical maritime powers have lon had to two tier approach to naval vessels and maybe it is time we took a leaf from their book rather than hanging on to our old ways

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

Chris BG,
Please name the peace time roles that require a CH2 or AS 90? That is why they can mothball including the extended notice for land assets to deploy as the RN and RAF have to be ready to deploy them. ON a separate note we can deploy every single escort not in refit at least twice in 2 years as required by HMG on peace time op tasking.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

Lord Jim,
1 Question only. Do you believe that the Geo Political requirements of HMG that require RN support mirror those of France, Italy and Spain?

Chris.B.
Chris.B.

Well by that line of thinking APATS then APT(N) does not require a T23. So we can automatically mothball one of them. Just hold it at readiness. The Somalia operations don’t need a T23, so that’s another put into readiness. Operations in the med don’t need a T23. So that’s three down. FRE could be covered by a T45. That’s four down. See where I’m going with this?

What’s good for the Goose is good for the gander, no? We could deploy Challengers on peace keeping operations if we wanted to. Nobodies going to mess with 60 tons of the latest armour and a 120mm gun. But we don’t? Why? Because it’s a waste of a high end asset and there are better options.

Likewise with the Navy.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

Chris B, APAT(S) still requires a presence as does APT(N) as does Somalia all permanent so where do you get the extra 9 hulls form?
The Army may have different options the RN does not!
Now you see what I am getting at?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Sorry for getting into the discussion quite late;

@ SI: The kind of article I like because you included political aims, cost constraints and capability alternatives in equal measure
– E of Suez is the current focus, but with the planning horizon you mentioned I would say that our own Ocean (the extreme South and North of it included)will gain in relative importance

@ WiseApe, RE
“The US can afford to build Burkes and LCSes at the same time, but we can’t, so we should stick to the full 13 Type 26s”
– I think they have hit the same kind of fleet balancing problem that (fundamentally) we are discussing, even though “on the surface of it” it looks different
– namely, the LCS and Zumwalt classes are both specialist ships, optimised for effects on or near coast line (OPVs are also specialist ships, in the sense of not being GP – Jed, I think it was, gave a good definition for GP)
– without modifying the current plans the surface fleet will end up 50/50 coastal and blue water, meaning that the latter capability will be much diminished; How does that fit in with the Pivot to Pacific which has plenty of blue water?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

RE ” I’ve never seen a price for Sampson – a large part of the £1 billion pricetag of T45?”
– some one else might be in the know, but I have seen Sampson/ Aster quoted as half of the 600m build cost (there was no link to an authorative source, though)
– I bet that the 400m difference (1 bn a piece with prgrm costs included)includes a lot of Sampson – went our own way – and some Aster – as we stuck with the shared prgrm all the way – so the half of total estimate would not move that much?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Hi Simon, Seawolf only became a capable system when they borrowed the low-level tracking radar from Rapier, RE
“Perhaps a couple of Rapier batteries would suffice?”

Also, SeaRAM has an anti-surface capability quite far out, meaning that the installed gun can be much smaller and something else (hangar?) becomes feasible

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Hi ST, RE what you picked as a quote
“The c2 was only priced as being 10% cheaper than c1. If that is still true of ASW T-26 and tailess T-26 is it worth it? The RUSI work sugests any c2 “General Purpose” ship has to be one third the cost of a c1 or even less.”
– someone on TD quoted 2087 as £ 20m a piece. If you strip that off but keep the stern launch (+RHIB)for later addition of a towed array, you are only halfway to getting your 10% (assuming 350-400m for a T26)
– it must be a reflection on how hard the RN has tried to match the target price, that not only the 7 sets at sea, but also the the 8th which is currently held for training, will go to sea on new hulls (eventually)
– building on that, we will be well into the 30’s before the last T23 bows out… I presume the T27s will slot into the intermediate building slots so that A. the utility from T23 upgrades will be maximised, and B. the T26/7 build programme can be executed with the slowest economic drum beat possible

On RUSI target price, the Black Swan was under-priced in that MoD “research” paper (which came first of the two papers, btw?), but that would be about what you get for a third of the currently targeted T26 price tag

Observer
Observer

Chris, you can put a 60 ton tank in storage, in fact, it’s common.

But it is an entirely different matter to house a 3,000 ton frigate in a warehouse. It’ll take a drydock.

Massive difference in scale and support structures. A tank won’t require scarfolding for one. Civilian boats warehouse often, but they are much smaller and lighter.

Observer
Observer

One thing I have noticed is that while people say “Patrol Vessel” here, they sure dispatch them to some really non “Patrol Vessel” places like the Gulf of A or off the waters of Iran.

With a weight limit of around 600 tons, if you want a decent fit of weapons on your ship, something has to give, and that something is usually range. However, if you’re going to deploy halfway around the world, then you can’t sacrifice range, which backlashes into the weapons and capabilities fit itself. Either/or.

That is also the reason why most “Long Range PV” recommendations here push for a bigger ship, to try and squeeze both range and fit into a box that can fit both.

Repulse

Just a thought – we are always seem to talk about reducing the RN’s duties (me included) such as giving fisheries protection to another agency.

Would it actually be more efficient to give other agency duties to the Royal Navy – the point being made a single ship on station can do multiple roles. This would be a way of increasing the Navy’s budget and ability to scale if needed (i.e. training junior officers etc). Also, common vessel designs and support arrangements would bring cost benefits.

I’m thinking about the RN taking over:
– The HM Revenue and Customs Cutters (5 ships)
– British Antarctic Survey (2 ships)
– Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency (3 ships)

Also, has anyone looked at the cost of the provision of SAR from a OPV Helicopter, which is also on other fishery / custom duties? Not sure how ridiculous this would be? No base costs etc.

Rocket Banana

APATS,

“…Not without claiming we can have a 12k tonne Helicopter carier and Aster 30 shooter with full C2 capabilities for less than a 45…”

Ahem, I didn’t put the C2 in there, you did ;-)

Lord Jim,

Keeping the newest 6-8 T23 (stripped) is actually a pretty good idea.

How much would it cost to SLEP these?

ACC,

I believe Sampson is about £100m, each tube is £1m and each missile is £1m = ~£200m for Sea Viper. Obviously that excludes the R&D already written off within the T45 total costs.

Thanks about the SeaRAM/Rapier – I think this would be my cheap anti-air/anti-ship system on my T26-BASIC.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.

Observer,

I’m aware of that, I was using the term mothball somewhat tongue in cheek, in the sense of “find somewhere to park it and let it rot,”. Obviously we’re not going to take four ships and just dump them. The point is that APATS’s argument is that because a Challenger is not needed on a peace keeping task we can afford to essentially bin it for anything other than a major, major war, but apparently that principle does not apply in reverse to a T23 for “insert any number of tenuous arguments that could just as easily apply to the Challenger here”.

APATS,
The tasks “need” to be covered, but how you go about doing that is up for debate. You don’t need a T23 to cover APT(N), so you find something else that can it do cheaper. Bob’s your uncle, task covered.

The trouble with this whole patrol ship thing is people constantly pushing the spec somewhere that it doesn’t need to go. You don’t need a CIWS to chase drug runners, Somalia fishing trawlers or to do stop and search missions in the med. Something along the lines of the Wave tankers or the new MARS, but minus a lot of the complicated gubbins that goes with them.

Or screw it, expand the RFA by increasing the order number of MARS, with the foreknowledge that they’ll pick up a lot of the less dangerous (relatively speaking) patrols, while still having a wartime use. You can get two for the expected price of one T26, lovely job.

Everybody else is having to economise. The army, through choice or coercion (or a little bit of both) is cutting back on the heavy stuff to move towards this new engagement model. The RAF is putting radars on business jets, and gradually spending more money on things like transport and ELINT in support of the ground forces.

You can’t have the last service just sit in the middle of the room and protest about all its biggest and shiniest toys not being traded in for something a little more cash flow friendly when everyone else is.

Jonesy
Jonesy

Chris,

“The trouble with this whole patrol ship thing is people constantly pushing the spec somewhere that it doesn’t need to go. You don’t need a CIWS to chase drug runners”

The trouble is that its not being recognised that the ship that is sending off sea boats to upset Somali skiffs one day can be sat off Latakia a few days later rendering assistance/evac to friendly nationals. Sitting in a threat littoral you very definitely DO want a minimum level of self defence….otherwise you have a ship sat offshore waiting until it can be escorted in…which, if just for the cost of a Phalanx and a decent softkill fit, is absurd.

Rocket Banana

Chris B,

But Somalian pirate chasing is not the only thing the ships in the region do is it? They are there for some serious “heavy” presence aren’t they?

Is the Caribbean patrol not something a little similar. Yes, there’s the drug chasing and the hurricane relief but our presence there is also to do with the fact that we own islands there and are making out presence felt regardless of the local nation’s lawlessness.

I sort of understand both your and SI’s arguments and think that if the only requirement for us being near Somalia and in the Caribbean is for “patrol” tasks then yes, by all means, use a patrol craft (not sure how you’d get a short, low-range ship out there without it essentially being frigate sized, but hey), but if we need to be there for other reasons to provide an emergency defensive force for example then I think we need to up the capability of the ship we have on station.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Hi Simon, I am not in favour of the stripping down idea.

Wiki says about SLEPs “The class are currently going through mid-life refits which last 12–18 months and cost £15-20m”
– Artisan is done in the same go, so one can only assume that it is in the figure
– conversely, CAMM will be fitted later, so probably extra on top

So even if you only did the eight (with 2087) and skipped the oldest five and ran them to ground without deep refit, that will be
– going on to the end of this decade, but only cost “half a T26”
– new build programme (assuming planned numbers) will run for another decade

Money well spent?

IXION

Can’t help thinking Chris B (and TD) are right about the RN’s seeming attitude, of unless its a top notch warfighing asset it has no place in the RN.

What (it has to be said burns me up about this attitude), is completly ignores its own history.

Blackwall frigates blockaded France in the napoleonic wars. Napoleon himslf blaimed them more than Trafalger for his defeat. 3rd rate ships were frequently sent on missions that they would not risk a 1st rate on.
Flower and castle class corvettes in ww2, were vastly more use use than any of the battlewagons, which pretty much sat out ww2 apart from being sunk by aircraft or shore bombardment.

Stuff like Corvettes and the escort carrier, got precious little thanks, and were dumped ASAP after the war.

Sometimes the RN still talks like it’s tooling up to re fight Jutland this time with, and verses Aircraft and subs. In effect the all battle ship fleet.

In the modern case ‘If it can’t herd elephants it no use to us’. seems to be the official view.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

Chris B
The point is that APATS’s argument is that because a Challenger is not needed on a peace keeping task we can afford to essentially bin it for anything other than a major, major war
That is not my argument at all. My point is that why do people argue that the RN should lose escorts and buy OPVs ad thus lose capability despite Escorts having peace time Ops roles; yet nobody ever suggests mothballing heavy armour which has no peace time operational role at all.
My opinion is we should maintain both.

IXION

Some question occur to me:-

what is the ‘faulda gap’ scenario the RN want all this stuff for?

What does a high naval war look like?

what is the scenario that needs all this kit?

Who are our potential enemies whose fleet we could not destroy with a couple of SSN?

Why not reduce the surface fleet to a big ‘heavy’ long range coastguard.

After all RN haven’t sunk a sub since ww2.

McZ
McZ

Thoroughly minded and brilliantly stated. Well done, SI!

The minimum requirements on equipment for this GP-frigate in fact equal a former definition I made myself as “irreducables”, parts of equipment without which we should not discuss surface vessels. And I’m well in your boat pointing at long-term planning cycles, something which is constantly messed up IMO.

The question is, will a sensible approach alone help us out of the current dilemma, which is basically cut & delay. Over a 30 years planning cycle, the results of current disastrous planning are getting into effect 10 years later. According to current tendencies, in 2020, we will fall down to around 12-16 frigates and destroyers. Zero chance, the wellfare-state-obsessed politician of any colour will add new vessels to the fleet.

We can solve this problem by simply making a commitment to at least add one surface combatant per year to the fleet, following the japanese model. Sounds easy so far. The problem arises, when we hit tight budgetary years, then the brilliant £300m+ frigate gets cancelled.

We need a straight way ahead. If T26 produces a GP-hull form, costing £200-240m in it’s basic form – which is the bottom-barrier from which cancellation produces short-term savings – then we should be fine with that. The top-class equipment can be taken over from older vessels or funded in separate budgets, just like the “Typhoon capabiltiy upgrade”.

Still, the question remains, if the RN could and should handle the low-spec maritime security tasks? IMO, we should have a coast guard as the prepositioned and dispersed policing element, and the RN as the highly-mobile strategic reserve.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

Ok – any idea yet what the cost per hull of the Type 26? What will be the difference between tail and no tail?

steve taylor
steve taylor

I am no wondering about AAW T26 variants; even if it means going sans hangar. I wonder if T26 will have parallel hull sides…

McZ
McZ

@Lord Jim
“Nations like France, Italy and Spain, all historical maritime powers have lon had to two tier approach to naval vessels and maybe it is time we took a leaf from their book rather than hanging on to our old ways”

Spain has only the Canary Islands, Italy only Pantelleria and Lampedusa as “overseas territories”. So, the comparision is apples to oranges.

The fact that France has a second tier is much due to their possessions in the southern Indian and Pacific Oceans, where it makes sense to have a local policing force. The french vessels are also a long shot away from any direct threat.

At the same time, the british possessions are concentrated in the Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean Territory and Pitcairn are clearly not a top-priority when HMG talks about policing the oceans. The last crown colony requiring extensive policing and giving an equal benefit was Hong Kong. When we donated HK to China, the second tier vessels used there (Peacock-class) where sold.

Apart from this, we currently have a second tier of vessels. So, “our old ways” are actually not that much different to the French.

Worth another look is the question, if protecting sea lanes is not a spot, where private venture using governmental approval could take over more efficiently. Something, which is very much “old ways” to the RN, wiki “Bombay Marine”. Currently, there are some signs into this direction.

Rocket Banana

Swimming Trunks,

If you mean 2087 by “tail” then about £60m each in 2001. Could be quite expensive in today’s money!

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix

@ SI – excellent read, agreed with the need to focus on warships, even if not all of them are role-specific area-defence units designed to protect larger taskgroups.

@ Jed – “However, what I really think we have to get away from is this use of the term “GENERAL PURPOSE” – A USN Ticonderoga class CCG is a “general purpose” unit”

In the article Swimming Trucks linked above I tried to put it thus:
We need to distinguish between a specialised warship versus a non-specialised variant, as well as those suitable to a high threat environment versus those suitable only to the low, and then link those to the tasks above as appropriate.
Don’t know if that is adequate to the purpose.

@ X – “I am hoping this article stops all this GP/ASW rhubarb. As Chally says has suggested we should scrap one T26 if it means the rest get 2087. All I want is 12 T26 with 2087, Sea Ceptor, and Oto Melara gun.”

I am persuaded that 19 is an irreducible minimum, but i have to agree i sacrifice the thirteenth T26 if it meant that the first twelve arrived in full ASW regalia.

@ Jed – “If you really want more “patrol” boats for some reason, then just buy some civvy hulls (Ulstien SX119 ?)”

Still think these would be wonderful for the MCPC…………… :D
It does have a budget line of £1.4b, that has got to buy a fair number with specialist containerised loads ‘to follow’.

@ Ixion – “Germany/Sweden/Denmark are as dependant on forign trade as we are in Germany’s case more so.”

I accept that the WEAIYK argument doesn’t really entail holding shipping lanes open against the wolf-packs any more, but all of the above do the majority of their trade intra-continentally:
http://www.openeurope.org.uk/Content/Documents/Pdfs/2012EUTrade.pdf
Yes , even the mighty export machine that is Germany is more dependent on intra-continental trade than the UK!

@ Jed – “I know why I think there are not enough of them, but I base my thinking on worse case scenario war time needs, not on peace time MSO tasking – but then again we apparently don’t need to do major war fighting ops on our own anymore”

Very much agreed, as per the SDSR the root assumption must be general war, but where i disagree is that that same SDSR also stated that ‘we’ must be able to prosecute a general war situation, even if the majority of the time we work multilaterally.

@ APATS – “Once I have got rid of the FPS I would look at the Falklands. Share the peace time burden tri service.”

Why an army battlegroup – isn’t this the raison d’etre of the RAF regiment. Isn’t the FI the ultimate peacetime playground for honing their ‘aggressive force protection’ skills? Sure, have an army battlegroup as the +24 hour reinforcements, but why isn’t the day-to-day an RAF regiment affair?

Opinion3 – “Why can we not extend the life of the T23s and keep it simple so that both of your wishes can be granted?”

In short: the Defence Industrial Strategy naming complex warships as a strategic industry to which we must retain the skills to design [and] build.

@ Jeremy – “The UK needs to decide what it wants to be in the world. It can’t take on a globe spanning role with a military budget of 2.6% of GDP”

Once you remove operational funding, and consider core defence budgets as NATO does, then we are desperately close to 2.0% of GDP. This is why NATO is strained to breaking point, because the only credible NATO in eastern-NATO is ceasing to be credible. Thus, why should the US commit to it?

@ Admin – “Do we think there is a degree of tasking snobbery at play here just a tiny bit? Talk of tasks that are not for a proper Navy, things that should be done by a coastguard or police force, trading patrol ships for frigates etc?”

Simply, a light infantry regiment has a wartime role, a fisheries patrol vessel really doesn’t.

@ Admin – “Does anyone else think the RN grown ups cling on to the standing tasks with a vice like grip so they can constantly demonstrate how stretched they are, have they become a bit of a crutch?”

Yes, but to me that is looking at it backwards anyway; what matters is whether you can support real power projection via carriers and amphibs, what other tasks they can perform additionally is a secondary matter.

@ ChrisB – “Surely a better comparison between the army and Navy is the fact that the army has been told to cut back on things like Challenger and AS90 in favour of lighter forces.”

The armour is very much the equivalent of the ATFG, i.e. the principle element of high-end power projection, and both have supporting units. Our all-in involves an armoured brigade and various lighter brigades, both those lighter formations do function in their high-threat environment. The argument against less ‘fighty’ ships is that they don’t add anything, and in fact just become another unit that needs protection. MCHP gets around this by dint of its providing a specialist MCM function, but without that particular payload the hull is nothing more than a liability. The same cannot be said of a infantry battlegroup as part of a wider land campaign.

It boils down to ambition – on the land our maxiumum effort is a division level affair including a brigade of heavy metal, on the sea it is a carrier/amphib taskforce with sufficient escorts to protect it.

@ All – can anyone explain what is the essential difference between C1/C2/C3 & T26(ASW)/T26/MCHP?

@ All – speaking personally i would like to see: 6x T45 / 12x T26(ASW) / 12x MCHP, tho i await an explanation from SI/APATS explaining why one less escort is not compensated for by four extra role-specific area-defence units.

Challenger
Challenger

@jedibeeftrix

The difference between the C1/C2 arrangement and the new revised ASW/GP Type 26 programme is I think fairly simple.

Originally the idea was for 18 ships and so the RN was happy to get 10 very high specification and 8 pretty lightly armed low-end ships (albeit utilising the same hull).

Post SDSR all that changed. With the removal of the last of the Type 22 they only needed to go ahead with a like for like replacement of the Type 23. In this difficult position they quite rightly decided that it was better to basically go for 13 high specification Type 26 as a sort of evolution/combination of the previous C1/C2 set-up.

The only difference between the ASW and GP Type 26 should be the Type 2087 sonar, apart from that they are the same and if expectations are met they will be pretty well armed and capable vessels.

C3, well it’s still a bit murky, but I believe that essentially MHPC is C3 that’s had a name change and nothing more.

Waddi
Waddi

The point about Black Swan was actually not the hull it was about future weapons i.e. containerised missile launchers, UUVs etc. The consequences of these new weapons was that you didn’t need to be so close to the action therefore smaller, slower, fatter hull was all you need, but you could also do it with a Frigate.

If the future is of removable masts, MK41’s in containers then the RN could have its cake and eat it. A navy made of of a range of hull sizes and shapes, engines, with hugely expensive weapons systems only fitted when actually needed. So for 13 T26 hulls only acquire 8 or even 6 masts, MK41s, 2087s? Not far off what we have with the T45s now, could fire Harpoon but not fitted, as with CIWS. They could be built with only diesels again lowering the cost. GTs with CODLAG could then be also containerised and “plugged in” according to mission bringing the ship up to full Frigate spec. With electric power GTs don’t need to be in the engine room.

RR will happily lease GTs and charge by the hour. The technology is already there and various navies are doing bits, eg. Thales with integrated masts for the Dutch. As far as I am aware no-one is putting it all together in one package. The LCS was supposed to be along these lines, might well be one day but not now.

Simon257
Simon257

If I remember correctly, in both NATO Interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo. Challenger 2 and AS90’s were actively used on Patrols, to remind the Locals, what the consequences would be, if they started any funny business! As one Tank Commander was quoted “If you want to Intimidate a Bully, Park a Chally on his front lawn”

Why haven’t we sent any to Afghanistan, as the Danes and the Canadians have sent Leopard 2’s to the region, with some success? Is it a political or a military reason not to deploy them?

In the last twenty years, we have on average, had to deploy the Challenger 1 & 2 Regiments every 5 years or so. And as Syria is on the verge of Self-Destruction, I wouldn’t get the dust sheets out yet!!

Tubby
Tubby

I have been reading the thread with interest, I think it is a classic re-hash of if it looks like a high-end frigate it will be treated like one, (which is similar argument to why a direct fire version of SV could effect Challenger 2 numbers and future upgrades) – I know the argument is spelt out as you need a minimum of 6+13 escorts to only just covers the standing duties, but I must have blinked and missed the argument that you need 6+13 escorts to provide a credible minimum of escorts for combat operations . Having read through, I do have a couple of questions?

1) What is the minimum number of escorts needed to cover one carrier group plus one amphibious assault group, where all the forces are provided by the UK. If you need a point of reference for the opponents they have 4 semi-modern Germany built frigates some older French SSK’s, and over 100 fast jets many of which carry Exocet’s but they lack PGM’s, and their fast jets are are at least a generation if not more behind with regards to radar’s and ESM :-)

2) What is the rough cost differential between what we expect to pay for T26 and a patrol frigate (since most people seem to be describing patrol frigates rather than OPV’s as the general consensus is that you need either 76mm or 57mm front gun, 2 30mm RWS and/or 2 manned .50 cals, plus a CIWS a mid-spec air/sea search radar, a hull mounted sonar, ability to carry RHIB’s, hangar for at least a Wildcat, and space left on the superstructure to be able to mount Seaceptor and decoy launchers if things go South). Is the 10% cost differential mentioned above valid or would it be a more significant difference?

3) Could we build patrol frigates in South Korea and would it save any significant amount of money?

4) Could we reduce the number of 2087 equipped T26’s, reduce the total build of T26 by one and use the savings to build ASW corvette style ships designed solely to patrol in and around the North Sea? What I am suggesting is that you make your C3 type ship also a 2087 equipped ASW platform for operating in near UK waters mostly to cover Vanguard transits and support the fisheries squadron. If done correctly you reduce at least one standing duty, at a cost of single full on escort, which presuming you can live with 6+12 escorts for combat situation might be a fair trade.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

Found this article on naval technology site; not sure if its out of date…

http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/global-combat-ship-gcs-programme/

Each frigate is expected to cost between £250-£350m

Approval of the frigate deployment will be decided in 2013. It is expected to be operational until the 2060s.

The Type 26 programme is planned to develop three variants – anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) and general purpose (GP) vessels.

The ASW will be equipped with a standard hull mounted sonar and other low frequency active and passive sonars. They will protect the ship against submarine threats.It will also have a medium range target indication and fire control radar. The mission bay can be configured to meet mission requirements.

The ASW (AAW? – ST) will be equipped with a long and medium range anti-air missile system and one long range air surveillance radar for protection against air threats. Its modular design will enable accommodation of defence systems and radars of various countries.

The GP will have a versatile mission bay and accommodate various types of unmanned surface vehicles, sea boats and unmanned underwater vehicles. It can perform counter piracy, maritime security and counter terrorist operations.Its flexible space can be reconfigured to support disaster relief and humanitarian operations, or house 84 additional berths.

The ship will be powered by combined diesel electric or gas turbine engines based on the requirement of the customer. The maximum speed of the frigate is expected to be 26kt.It will have an endurance of 60 days. The range is planned to be 11,000km at 15kt.

Challenger
Challenger

Priority… 18 proper high-end escorts, so 6 Type 45 and 12 ASW fitted Type 26 to slot in-to a carrier and an amphibious task group, plus do fleet ready escort and a couple of the more important standing commitments.

Consideration… up-gunning 2 new OPV’S and Clyde to utilise them as patrol vessels around the Falklands and Mediterranean, plus looking in-to 2 or 3 large Bay style platforms to take on roles in the Caribbean and off Somalia for which they could be perfect. All for the purpose of relieving pressure on the real pointy and gun toting ships.

I think this sort of plan, short of any tangible increase in the defence budget is the only workable option for consideration if A: people accept
that roughly 18 high-end escorts have to be ring-fenced as a priority of spending and utilisation, and B: people also see a need to spread the workload between slightly more platforms than are currently envisioned.

Sound good?

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix

@ Challenger – cheers.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

” The GP will have a versatile mission bay and accommodate various types of unmanned surface vehicles, sea boats and unmanned underwater vehicles. It can perform counter piracy, maritime security and counter terrorist operations.Its flexible space can be reconfigured to support disaster relief and humanitarian operations, or house 84 additional berths.”

Are we talking a Absalon-lite? Or a Force Protection/MCM escort?
Suddenly I’m liking these “GP” frigates more…

mmoomin
mmoomin

I dunno I still think taking the 23/24 odd survey ship/Mine sweeper/patrol ship/fisheries vessels/Guard ships and replacing them with 12 or 14 2500 to 3000 ton ships is the way forward. Then using UUV’s for mine sweeping and survey operations. I understand that these wouldn’t qualify as front line fighting vessels but do they really need to? I know I sound like a cracked record but I still think something based on this type of design would work with a reduction in maybe hanger size repurposing of the disaster relief capabilities and reusing the space for UUV’s. In their Dutch form they cost in and around 125 million euros a throw.

http://www.dutchembassyuk.org/images/document/354.pdf

Also to me the modular mast sounds like it can be treated as if it were a platform and then the intended sensors are integrated onto the mast giving a wide variation of choice and capability. In particular the systems mounted onto the Dutch vessels is a level of capability far above that mounted on most OPV’s.

As for the money then I would think that those five odd vessel types I mentioned and associated maintenance and support costs would go some way to paying for them, I mean right now we taking out the circa 1945 design Napier deltic engines out of the Hunts and replacing them with new engines!! God only knows how much it’s costing to do that and how long its going to take and how much value what is basically (to me) a SLEP of vessels that started to go into commission in 1979 is actually going to deliver.

I also really really wish the snoopers charter and its 1.8 billion low ball estimate of cost would go away. It’s going to cost far far far more than that and will make the NHS IT project seem like a success story (not to mention the other civil liberties that it totally ignores) if it even works which I’m hghly dubious of given the sheer amount of data involved (and the ‘real time’ processing of it which will be a job for life for several defense and security contractors) and I’d redirect the funds.

That said I don’t think the planned T26 mix of 8 ASW and 5 sans sonar should be messed with as to me it means that if neccessary the 5 gp frigate could be brought up to ASW ‘standard’ if required, and I still lamment the loss of hulls 7 and 8 of the T45’s (the original 12 was never going to happen).

To me trying to get more some more utility out of the already none ‘front line’ frigate vessels and just reducing a) the number of them and b) the capability and availability would solve the over stretch on the ‘big fast and pointy’ vessels.

WiseApe

@X – ha ha, I’m not any kind of sailor but even I know the “pointy end” is properly called “the front.” Is a hovercraft a boat? Serious question.

IXION

Mmoomin

I can see a Holland style vessel doing the tasks you outline, but not sure about more risky longer ranged patrolfunctions.

mmoomin
mmoomin

As an aside I’m not clear on is why Ixion thinks the CVF are elephants without delving through loads of CVF threads? I honestly think they are going to be the most important ships the UK has procured in decades given the way the US is reprioritising it’s naval strategy. They’ll certainly mean from a diplomatic and security council level that we’ll be listened to and on the world stage we’ll still count. Given that right now India, China, Brazil, even Russia (who have always paid lip service to them) all are either building or designing traditional aircraft carriers. Not to mention the sudden proliferation of large LPH vessels in the pacific region notably Australia, Japan and South Korea.

I understand that they will need a task force attached to them but I fail to see how this buggers up our fleet deployment? I thought one of many of the major design aims of the T45/T26 is to greatly increase availability of the vessels and have far greater crew accomodation? I mean given that we had three carriers before and (correct me if I’m wrong) only one out to sea at a time with one in extended readiness and one in refit/training how did the navy not fall apart before? I understood the plan with CVF is to only have one out to sea and rotate them (which is why we must have at least two).

I know we can’t afford lots of DDG and FF so surely freeing up DDG and FF from ‘task B’ would be a good thing? A compared cost of £1billion ish each for a DD (simplistic I know) and £350mill for a T26 (I think this price assumes partner nations though so I expect this to end up costing more like the original £500mill estimate).

steve taylor
steve taylor

@ WiseApe

No a hovercraft isn’t a boat.

IXION

Mmoomin

Without re-fighting the old carrier flame wars on this site.

MMoomin, I am with the: –

Total waste of money and effort funded, (or rather not properly funded), by wannabe Nimitz fetishist, carrier junkies who are off on some sort of WASAWPYK, post colonial fantasy,

camp. And although I am vitiolic about it I am far from alone.

A fantasy which sacraffices real world capabilities for, half arsed 65,000 ton floating white elephant carrying 12 fighters. and for whom there is a totaly inadiquate fleet suport structure for any meaningful deployment.

They will look brilliant and fast and pointy in the harbours of the world, until the shooting starts. Then they will look pathetic. In effect it, (and there will only ever be one in service at any one time), is HMS Hood with a flat deck.

Unfortunatly as the whole of what is left of the RN is now being designed with the apparant sole intention of protecting these glass jawed heavyweights, (BTW isn’t HMS Frank Bruno a better name?) it will take the whole combat RN with it.

That about sums up the HMS Nellie and Dumbo fiasco.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

@ mmoomin – They are nice ships and designed for the Carribean I believe? Perhaps we can pick up two for cheap and have a joint support/maintence deal with the Dutch?

“In their Dutch form they cost in and around 125 million euros a throw.” – roughly £98m?

BAM quoted as $116m per unit which is roughly £74m?

Endurance class LPD for Thailand cost about $135m which is roughly £85m?

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

@ Ixion – Complete fantasy fleets but what about:

12 x Giuseppe Garibaldi like CVS
36 x BAM like modular Sloops
12 x Endurance like MRV for support of Sloops, DR/HA, Forward presence
?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Hi Mmoomin,

Don’t worry about IXION, he has actually declared that he is supporting carriers (it just does not come through clearly in his writing).

As for ” Not to mention the sudden proliferation of large LPH vessels in the pacific region notably Australia, Japan and South Korea.” yeah, it seems that only some Asian nations (not all) and Russia are still focussing on large surface combatants, and most others on amphibs (and support vessels to make their navies blue water, rather than coastal)
http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/Nugent_25.pdf

Jonesy
Jonesy

@Wiseape

If you ever try to drive one you’ll find a hovercraft isnt a boat….its a dare!

@ST

The cost differential between a tailed and Manx T26 shouldn’t be that great. As most of the government-supplied systems will be ported from the Dukes the main cost elements are going to be in the ships machinery.

Just as illustration the 4 MT30’s that are being provided for CVF came with an £83mn price tag. The 8 Wartsila 38 diesels provided for the carriers cost £18mn. So, rough rule of thumb, a GT prime mover is costing ten times what a marine diesel does. Admittedly you get 4 times more power output at half the weight for the RR genset over the Wartsila one, but, do you really need your non-specialised hulls to keep up with the carrier group…is it enough to have the FLAADS/Hull sonar ships hanging back covering the amphibs?.

I’ll do the broken record thing as well and say that the 2087 and PAAMS capability needs to be with the carrier. For the rest I dont see the need for a 6000ton, 30knt, ‘frigate’ hull to put a FLAADS system and a short-range hull mount sonar in the task group.

If you look at even legacy hulls, like the F2000’s and Aussie Meko’s, you have conventional monohulls at 110-120m length and 3000-odd tons that are more than capable of sporting a big gun for’d, air defence missile and appropriate supporting sensors plus a hull sonar, chopper and an STWS. Plus cover 5000-6000nm with combatant machinery fitouts. Putting together something on that kind of hull, with frigate-style weapons and sensors meets our needs for a non-specialist GP warfighter. Having a second, austere, ‘gun and radar only’ version with UUV/USV deployment options and reconfigurable mission spaces just is not going to be hard to accomplish and fits the MHPC/C3 role perfectly. The smaller hull gives us everything we need but also allows us to use lower powered, cheaper, diesel propulsion options without unacceptably low performance.

That is if we stay with the conventional as well. If the stories of two unexpected OPV’s being ordered are true then an opportunity exists, just as was done with Triton, to be adventurous with new hullforms and learn more about whole-life operations with deep-V cats or semi-SWATH and really gain something of long-term value off what is a sponsored work programme for the south coast shipbuilding trade. Input that could well advise future classes like MHPC.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Hi ST,

BAMS (no inflation adjustment) should be quoted in euros, a mln a mtr, RE
“£98m for Holland class, each

BAM quoted as $116m per unit which is roughly £74m?

Endurance class LPD for Thailand cost about $135m which is roughly £85m?”
– they were all under a hundred, and that was all in (weaponry and sensors, however modest)

mmoomin
mmoomin

@Swimming Trunks thats were they will be deployed to I don’t think thats all they are designed for though. They have quite a focus on littoral work as well hence that funky sensor package. The BAM also is interesting I just think conceptually that the Netherlands are a better ship building nation and their designs are very innovative and forward thinking. The Hollands are almost a super corvette and I think that integrated mast is key to that.

http://www.seaforces.org/marint/Netherlands-Navy/Offshore-Patrol-Vessel/P-841-HNLMS-Zeeland.htm

That and the ship has space for two containers under the flight deck and a slip way. I like the idea a lot. I’m not suggesting that they replace FF’s (they’d get flattened in a proper war) however only the guard ships, patrol vessels, mine sweepers and they have a littoral capability built in.

To me the Hollands are C3 class vessels and free up the Type 26’s to do the important Nato tasking and serve the carrier groups and amphib/LPH task forces.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

I did not realise that there was a MEKO lurking in them ” Aussie Meko’s, you have a conventional monohulls at 110-120m length and 3000-odd tons that are more than capable of sporting a big gun for’d, air defence missile and appropriate supporting sensors plus a hull sonar, chopper and an STWS”
– they have just turned them (within space and mast height constraints) into very capable AA platforms with Giraffe-derived 3D air-defence radar (like Artisan)and ESSM (like in Zumwalts and Norwegian SPY-1 frigates)
… for very little money

IXION

ACC

yes sorry should make it clear, I am in favour of propper carriers with propper support structure and minimum of 3. Totaly outside our budget realistcly or even fantasywise.

Curent policy akin to deciding we need 3 jumbo jets but then only buying 1 with 2 engines and one wing, coz it’s ‘nearly the same’.

Swimming trunks

I am drawn to the small Vstol carrier design but the problem is that some planes have to fly off it. There is only one serious contender the f35b and the size and weight is such that you need a big ship top fly even a few. To get the 12 we are flying of Nellie or Dumbo, you need a ship aprox 35,000 ton plus. So more JC than GG. I prefer Holland class to Bams, they cost is not that different and the arger hull brings range and seakeeping benefits.

Such a fleet could IMHO, (With some tweeking for balance and capability), be a better idea than where we are now.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Hi Mmoomin, yes “The Hollands are almost a super corvette and I think that integrated mast is key to that”
– there have been complaints within the country that the ship was over-specced in that respect
– they were actually meant to be the export showcase for that (v good) product
– a Dutch Defence Minister later complained that they do support the defence industry (Thales, in this case?) by putting that extra money in, but every time they rely on them for the next thing, there is a let down

mmoomin
mmoomin

@ArmChairCivy I think the Dutch defense ministry/political parties are just looking to cut cut right now theres been a lot of grumblings about cutting aircraft and other bits of defense kit.

It’s almost as if they’ve all been reading Lewis Page 24/7. Personally I believe in a strong national defense industry as a) The armed forces have half a chance of getting what they want when they specify the requirements (before the government and the treasury get involved with constant back and forwards and delays that just end up costing more) b) you cycle money back through the country in the form of tax, national insurance and employees in a high technology industry (rather than giving it to another nation) c) you maintain national capability in terms of skills in often cutting edge disciplines. It doesn’t necessarily mean every thing has to be built in the UK if you take a requirements/design, systems integrator, sensor provider and final fit out approach, with the metal bashing being performed off shore.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

@ ACC – I’ve seen the BAM’s quoted as €85m but I think that was the orginal cost projection not the actual cost.

@ all – does anyone have the cost of the BAM’s ( in Euros and/or Pounds)?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

mmoomin, yes “I think the Dutch defense ministry/political parties are just looking to cut cut right”
– that is now
– at the time when the Hollands were ordered, there was a very focussed policy as to which defence industry sectors (try ) to retain… probably the same policy still, but perhaps less funding available to support pulling it through?

Anyway, all the best kit they’ve sold has been heading for a good home
– we should have bought their Pumas, much better than those we are now refurbing for an extra ten years of life

steve taylor
steve taylor

@ Swimming Trunks re cost of BAM’s

When you find the cost set it against UK contributions to the EU and EU grants to Spain for infrastructure projects like motorways…..

Brian Black
Brian Black

To suggest something different… build six ASW T26, spend the leftover budget on a wolfpack of DCNS’s Scorpene SSK, the smaller but related (70% commonality) Andrasta littoral sub, and two submarine depot ships to extend reach.

The Scorpene: Six tubes for 18 heavyweight torpedoes or pop-up exocet. Over three week submerged endurance. Crew of only 31.
The Andrasta: Six tubes as with the Scorpene, but no reloads. Five days submerged. Crew of only 21. Carries six ninja divers. Can operate in water of less than 100m depth.

Brian Black
Brian Black
mick 346
mick 346

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article Somewhat Involved.

Though i have to disagree, while the general purpose frigate can do the job of the patrol ship and the patrol ship cant do the job of the frigate. The Frigate is great as a single asset in open ocean or part of a task task force.

But the Patrol ship is smaller, about one third to a fifth cheaper than a general purpose frigate. Even in war time basic patrolling around ports and own coasts is a necessity that consumes hulls so by using a cheaper vessel to perform these tasks it frees up your main escorts to take the fight to the enemy. Also you can have more hulls of the main escorts that can be used as your using a cheaper vessel to perform the patrolling. Of course in high threat environments you would deploy a frigate or destroyer. But you can always use the OPV in enemy littorals as a fast small ship, and if a conflict is escalated they can be loaded with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles to pack a much bigger punch for their size. Though this is only my humble opinion.

mmoomin
mmoomin

I promise I’ll only briefly go off topic carrier wise.

@Ixion I think you have to remember that the CVF’s are the size they are to support a very very high sortie rate and to be stable and operate in very filthy weather and they were initially designed to carry 26 aircraft in the hanger plus choppers. Right now they have to be able to operate 36 jet aircraft as a surge. They actually initially started out with if memory serves carrying 36 and going to 48 on a surge. They still have lots of fuel and ammo bunkerage far in advance of what the old ships carried.

The old CVS just couldn’t generate the sortie rate the navy wanted and the 35 ton VSTOL carrier option was looked at very seriously and it was decided that the manning requirements were essentially the same as the larger vessels with far less sortie generation capabilities and storage/ room for ‘growth’ than the 65K tonne option (which was actually 68K tonne orginally).

Put it another way the design started out with Samspon and Aster on board and carrying 50 aircraft then the government tried to delete that lot and save money and get it down to a 45Kish vessel. But the naval requirements for the vessels were such that it went back up to 65K tonnes. These figures are from memory but if you have a few spare hours then these are very illuminating

‘THE HYDRODYNAMIC DESIGN OF THE QUEEN ELIZABETH CLASS AIRCRAFT CARRIERS’

http://www.worldnavalships.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12594&page=2

This indicates the thinking behind where we ended up

R.N. AIRCRAFT
CARRIER STUDIES

and THE DESIGN OF HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH AND HMS PRINCE OF WALES
http://www.worldnavalships.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12594

Theres no way an OPV/HPHC/C3 is a) going to keep up with them b) have the range c) be able to protect them so the minimum number of 19 high end escorts seems correct to me though I’d still rather it was 21.

But to make that hi mix work and meet our NATO obligations then I believe a class of vessel that costs 80mil to 110mil a pop and replaces 20+ vessels with something with say 60% to 80% of an FF’s utility and the ability to fulfil specialist survey/mine sweeping roles while freeing up full fat FFs seems to be something we should look at.

WiseApe

@Mick 346 – no one is disputing that an OPV (pick your own design) would be better suited for the tasks you mention than a “vanilla frigate” – but where are you going to get the money from to build and operate them? We have a large (£38 billion is a heap of money) defence budget but it won’t get you everything you want, you have to prioritise.

@Brian Black – I like submarines, I really do. Infact, if you want to sink something you can’t do much better. But they’re not ideal as multi-role platforms, in my opinion.

Opinion3
Opinion3

Jedi answered my question “Why can we not extend the life of the T23s and keep it simple so that both of your wishes can be granted?”

In short: the Defence Industrial Strategy naming complex warships as a strategic industry to which we must retain the skills to design [and] build.

Given if you couldn’t afford a new car you would keep your old one surely SLEPs and careful design, upgrades and with some new builds is the best way to ensure

1. We don’t suffer fleet reductions
2. The T26s all get sonars and are fighty: Read Artisan, 2089, CAMM
3. We can design the T26 and also actually do the suggested C1, C2, C3

I honestly think we are able to keep our industry busy without suffering a fleet reduction. Since the T45 is an air defence destroyer we NEED to have anti-submarine, anti-ship, and escort capabilities for the deep blue ocean and very possibly the littorial

mmoomin
mmoomin

@WiseApe but the C3 requirement still exists in the form of MPHC and it’s in the plan if it ever gets to main gate and by wrapping up 8 Hunts, 8 sandowns, 2 survey ships, 5 fisheries + 1 Guard ship, + 2 scorpene patrol boats I reckon you could get a reasonable amount of hulls and a decent level of capability and still save/simply in terms of support costs and training.

While not buggering up your DD/FF fleet. Plus it maintains your ship building industry.

WiseApe

@mmoomin – well if that’s the case, if we really don’t have to touch the budget for T26, then I can join in with everyone, designing my own fantasy corvette. Now how do these CAD programs work!

WiseApe

@mmoomin – so unlike most you’re not suggesting eating into the T26 budget? But can all the vessels you mention be replaced by a single ship-type and (it may be too early to speculate) will there be enough money for a sufficient number? I believe others have mentioned a budget of around £1.5 billion, so I wonder how many of what spec this would translate to. Also, what time frame do you envisage?

Opinion3
Opinion3

@Wiseape

If you use a large empty ship like Absalon or like Ixion suggests a larger still Bay type then these can act as Motherships.

Why not see whether it works, gets over the ‘minesweepers will be here a month after the battle has ended’, ‘poor sea keeping’ type issues. How small could these boats be? The idea might not be practical, cost effective etc but thats where the discussion comes in.

I’d leave the T23s for a SLEP and focus on the other bits and bobs first

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

OP3
I’d leave the T23s for a SLEP and focus on the other bits and bobs first

The Hunts have just had an upgrade and the beauty of Hunts and SRMH is that they do not rust. The OPVs are reasonably new as are the Survey Vessels. The reason we keep 4 in the Gulf and have 1 attached to the MCM group in the Med is precisley to avoid them arriving late. Both MCM vessels are however capable of maintaining and SOA of 10kts.
The correct order both for operational and industry reasons is for T26 to slot in next.

steve taylor
steve taylor

SRMH have a specific hull form that “moves” as little water as possible to counter mines that are triggered by pressure.

OPV have deep v hulls to help sea keeping.

The former is a screw driver, the latter is hammer.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.

@ Jonesy,
“Sitting in a threat littoral you very definitely DO want a minimum level of self defence…”

Why in the hell would you send a ship without CIWS into a coastal region that posed a high threat of air attack in the first place? That’s not a fault of the patrol boat, that’s a fault of sending the wrong ship for the wrong task.

@ Simon,
“But Somalian pirate chasing is not the only thing the ships in the region do is it? They are there for some serious “heavy” presence aren’t they?”
— As far as I’m aware there are two counter piracy tasks, and then the high threat stuff around the corner in the gulf is done by another vessel.

“Is the Caribbean patrol not something a little similar. Yes, there’s the drug chasing and the hurricane relief but our presence there is also to do with the fact that we own islands there and are making out presence felt regardless of the local nation’s lawlessness”
— Expecting a Cuban invasion of Bermuda anytime soon?

@ APATS,
“My point is that why do people argue that the RN should lose escorts and buy OPVs ad thus lose capability despite Escorts having peace time Ops roles; yet nobody ever suggests mothballing heavy armour which has no peace time operational role at all.”
— You’ve got to be kidding? Barely a week goes past when people aren’t scything the army in half because “oh, the Fulda Gap is over” “we won’t be fighting any land wars soon,” and planning out how the United Kingdom Marine Corps is going to make tanks irrelevant by conducting some swoop on the enemy capital from the seas.

As I’ve said, our armour does have peace time roles. They’re now one of the prime reaction assets in our forces. They still need to conduct major exercises to retain their competency for a full fight. And if we really, really wanted to, we could deploy them on our various peace keeping committments.

We don’t though. Because they’re a bit overkill. Sound familiar?

The main issue I’m having with this debate is two fold;

1) The argument of, “we’ve got them, we may as well use them”, an argument that if you tried to use for the army or air force would be met with laughs. Apparently warships get a free pass in that regard.

2) People keep dragging the patrol ships into scenarios that are distinctly not patrol orientated; “but how would it cope with being hunted by a Russian Akula!!”. Well stop trying to put it into a spot where it’s going head to head with an Akula. It’s a patrol ship, send it on a quiet f**king patrol.

APT(N), a bit of anti-piracy work, some roving up and down the Med interdicting terrorists if that’s your bag.

Or, I’ll happily accept any of the following alternative solutions;

– Next time the FSL complains to the press about being at “breaking point” it’s acknowledged that he’s being a tad over dramatic, likely for political effect.
– Finding an alternative method to cope with some tasks, such as the drugs issue in Jamaica,
– Telling ye olde PM that we don’t really need to man each of these tasks, 24/7/365, we could probably get away with just contributing to some of them on a 6 month on, 6 month off basis (like the Piracy job).

Brian Black
Brian Black

Hi, WiseApe. “I like submarines… But they’re not ideal multi-role platforms”

I like multi-role platforms, but not every vessel has to be one. For running around after pirates and the like, you’d still have a bunch of surface escorts, plus auxiliaries, plus possibly a versatile MHPC. And with the Scorpene’s range, if the sub depot ship could carry sea boats, RHIBs and choppers too, then the tender could join counter piracy ops in the NW corner of the Indian Ocean while also supporting sub patrols towards Iran – then you still have the subs war role as well, unlike lightly armed surface patrol boats.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

Chris B
@ APATS,
“My point is that why do people argue that the RN should lose escorts and buy OPVs ad thus lose capability despite Escorts having peace time Ops roles; yet nobody ever suggests mothballing heavy armour which has no peace time operational role at all.”
– You’ve got to be kidding? Barely a week goes past when people aren’t scything the army in half because “oh, the Fulda Gap is over” “we won’t be fighting any land wars soon,” and planning out how the United Kingdom Marine Corps is going to make tanks irrelevant by conducting some swoop on the enemy capital from the seas.

As I’ve said, our armour does have peace time roles. They’re now one of the prime reaction assets in our forces. They still need to conduct major exercises to retain their competency for a full fight. And if we really, really wanted to, we could deploy them on our various peace keeping committments

Precisly and the escort fleet have commitments as well. Neither should be scaled back. As for telling the PM to cut back on HMG tasked commitments in order to make cuts? Really?

mmoomin
mmoomin

@WiseApe I’m flexible!

Given that the first T23 is intended to go out of service around 2020/2021 work on the T26 formal design and maingate has to be within the next couple of years then T26 should come first.

However the reality imho is that the T26 probably won’t arrive for a long time, as the design has already changed this year and the size of the vessel has changed, the weapons fit and modular fit has changed, which to me means the detailed requirements for what will be a complex ship class are still in flux and the normal MOD buggering around is occuring. So much like the carriers I can’t see main gate happening until well past 2015 and thus the likely hood of FOC getting to contractor trials and then working up with the RN for IOC and then for a deployment in 2021 seems remote in the extreme to me and it’s far likely imho that it won’t be until the mid 2020s when the first one arrives properly in the fleet and the T23’s will be extended again.

Imho OPV’s are an order of complexity simpler and there are many designs in existance now. The most promising of which to me are the Holland class, French Gowind family and the Spanish BAM.

As for mine sweeping is it not fair to say that the old tactic of actually using the parent vessel to ‘sweep’ is out of favour and in fact none of our vessels can do it it right now as the kit is not fitted anymore. We use divers and UUV correct? Is it not also fair to say new developments like the Swordfish USV are exactly where mine clearance is going and thus a larger more capable vessel is needed to host said USV/USVs. Which leads to better sea keeping, range utility and the potential to have a multi role vessel of the C3 ilk?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

mmmoomin, We do not “sweep” anymore as there are better ways of dealing with mines than driving through a minefield and hoping to cut cables. Also large mid level moored mines are less fashionable than smaller more sophisticated ground mines.
Swordfish and other similar UUV still investigate contacts detected by the actual MCMV mother ship. They do not pop off 6 or 7 miles and conduct a search. That tech may become available and mature which is another reason to push back the MCMV replacement and stick with the world class combination of Hunt/Sandown/Sea Fox and RN divers we have.
As for the size issue, Swordfish is in the foreground here whilst an old Yellow pap is in the background. it is actually a lot smaller. The same with Sea Fox, you can get a couple of rowing machines in a Sandwon PAP hanger now and still carry Sea Fox.
http://www.naval-technology.com/features/featureshaping-a-new-breed-of-mine-countermeasure-vessels/featureshaping-a-new-breed-of-mine-countermeasure-vessels-4.html

mmoomin
mmoomin

I know we don’t sweep any more so why does a requirement for smaller fibre glass vessels with limited crusing, range and speed need to exist? I also mention the Holland class vessel because size and capability wise it’s roughly in keeping with our survey vessels and the theoretical requirements for Black Swan and we have form for ‘repurposing’ Dutch naval designs. The sensor package is designed for the littoral and the design house/system integrator just so happens to be Thales who also make the sonars that RN ships carry and are part of the Swordfish development team. Crucially we have a 50 year defense pact with France and are sharing technology. So the potential for government to government sales or ‘trading’ of UAV capability for USV capability may exist.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

mmoomin You did notice that the French USV was on the back of an MCMV? Also the tech is not yet mature to allow hunting far from the mother vessel. Also there is a requirement to conduct lead throughs and also to hunt into a box or clear a channel for an amphib op that require operating inside the minefield.
I ask you why we should spend money replacing a world beating product early when the tech is neither mature or proven and we have other priorities for our not overly large pot of cash.

Phil

“That’s not a fault of the patrol boat, that’s a fault of sending the wrong ship for the wrong task.”

Exacta-f*cking-actly.

steve taylor
steve taylor

Army-one-trick-pony-mindset.

Rocket Banana

IXION,

“…To get the 12 we are flying of Nellie or Dumbo, you need a ship aprox 35,000 ton plus…”

By my rekoning, 27,000 tonnes to deliver 1600t AVCAT and two small squadrons of 8+1 + 4 x AEW Merlin at a range of 7500-8000nm.

Chris B,

“…As far as I’m aware there are two counter piracy tasks, and then the high threat stuff around the corner in the gulf is done by another vessel…”

Two? Really? I didn’t think we had enough ships for that. Fair enough if that’s correct. Just still think that to project any kind of force EofS requires an on-station tanker and blue-ocean ship rather than dinky patrol ships… not going to suggest this is the case everywhere though.

“…Expecting a Cuban invasion of Bermuda anytime soon?”

Bermuda, British Virgin Is, Anguilla, Montserrat, Cayman Is, Turks & Caicos… By Cuba, Columbia, Venezuela, Guyana, Guatamala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, or Mexico.

I suspect everyone… and I suspect no one… ;-)

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