Naval v Commercial Shipbuilding Rules

This is a repost of something I posted ages ago, thought it might be worthwhile to dust it off again

In a number of posts the comments have stimulated a vigorous debate about the relative merits of naval and commercial shipbuilding techniques.

HMS Ocean is the poster child of those that say commercial shipbuilding rules are wholly unsuitable for naval vessels but I think the problems with Ocean were more to do with poor design and construction, rather than any inherent fault with commercial ship building standards.

We tend to think that commercial standards create weak ships, lacking in durability but this is simply not the case. Offshore platform supply vessels operate in some of the worst weather anywhere in the world, commercial ships are driven by commercial reality, generally spend a much greater proportion of their lives actually at sea and safety standards for large crude carriers or cruise ships are such that a knock or two is not going to sink them, flimsy they are not.

But there is much more to naval shipbuilding than sturdiness and the paper below should provide some background reading.

79 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
aussie johnno
aussie johnno
October 14, 2012 7:10 am

It is a bit like horses for courses, a ship built to naval standards will contain a good deal more redundacy than a ship built to merchant standards.
The down side is that military standards of construction are significantly more expensive.
The simplest example of this is hull framing. A merchant ship derives much of it lontudinal strength from the decks and the hull skin, hence gererally thicker steel. A military standard vessel is by comparison longitudinally framed. That is there is a whole lot more T section running lengthwise. Which adds a lot to fabrication costs as every penetration of a WT bulkhead has to be sealed with welded spacers.
Of course just how resistant to damage modern military vessels really are is open to question. The dependance on power supply in a modern warship is unprecidented and noone knows how the tonnes of missle propellent present within the hulls of most modern warships (the VLS system) would stand up to serious warfare.

martin
Editor
October 14, 2012 11:02 am

Is HMS Ocean really that bad? Seems there were a lot of design issue’s but more than anything that seemed to be down to the fact that we had not built anything similar before. All the old Commando carriers were converted aircraft carrier’s. However Ocean always seems to have been able to do the job. For £ 200 million she seems to have been a bargain.

x
x
October 14, 2012 11:30 am

The military bits of Ocean work. That is extra wide assault passage ways, the hanger etc.

It is the hull, the civilian bit, that is a bag of spanners. Built down to a price.

Poor thing has been worked to death. All she has proved is that the UK could have done with 2 LPH built to proper standards.

Mark
Mark
October 14, 2012 11:31 am

Martin

The measurement isn’t in initial cost. It’s how many refits have been required and at what cost. How much fuel has she burned during deployments and how that would compare to an equivalent naval designed ships. Also is there anything that couldn’t be done on deployments due to here build. Then you must decide what the balance is and move fwd. In most designs it’s in the initial stages that’s costs thru life are set. Generally speaking if you spend more up front it reduces cost thru life. While commercial ships are reliable and robust they do delay sailing and seek shelter in rough weather naval ships do not have that luxury.

Mark
Mark
October 14, 2012 11:33 am

Martin

The measurement isn’t in initial cost. It’s how many refits have been required and at what cost. How much fuel has she burned during deployments and how that would compare to an equivalent naval designed ships. Also is there anything that couldn’t be done on deployments due to here build. Then you must decide what the balance is and move fwd. In most designs it’s in the initial stages that’s costs thru life are set. Generally speaking if you spend more up front it reduces cost thru life. While commercial ships are reliable and robust they do delay sailing and seek shelter in rough weather naval ships do not have that luxury.

SomewhatInvolved
October 14, 2012 12:14 pm

Classic case in point for OCEAN is her powertrain. Commercial diesels on a commercial shaftline, should be good news. However, there is no reversing gearbox and to operate astern, she needs to shut down the engine and restart it in reverse. The engines are only mounted to commercial standards and are designed to damp over long hours of continuous ahead power, not repeated ahead/astern power. And her thruster is a commercial berthing thruster, not a proper positioning thruster.

Because of all this, where OCEAN is required to be able to manoeuvre at low speeds in a restricted area to offload her boats and troops, the engines are not up to the job and are degrading rapidly. With only a bow thruster, stationkeeping is only achieved by operating the main engines asymmetrically. ALBION and BULWARK can do this because their engines are electric and are designed for rapid changes in ahead/astern power. OCEAN does the best she can, but at the cost of ragging the engines. I’m sure some bright spark will suggest anchoring but no, not an option to be attached to the sea bed at half an hour’s notice to weigh if the balloon goes up.

Commercial standards can build strong ships but most merchant vessels are designed to go from A to B in a straight line, and be manoeuvred alongside by tugs on arrival. They also have a short life expectancy, something in the region of 20-25 years, by which point the hull is structurally at it’s limit and beyond a mere refit to strengthen. Having a commercial yard design and build our ships is fine by me, but make sure the requisite standards of manoeuvrability, damage resistance and overall lifespan are included in the contract. Know what it is you are asking for!!

IXION
October 14, 2012 12:24 pm

That is what I don’t get about Ocean.

A lot of commercial ships, including some very complicated and supposedly safety critical; spend far more time at sea actualy working; and in conditions the Navy tries to avoid. The owners of the container ships that literally spend their lives at sea circling the globe, would laugh their socks off at the deployment to maintanance ratio of some of the navy’s vessels. As Td points our the Oil industry works its support vessels arround the world harder than almost anything in grey paint.

And yet Ocean apparantly was not up to much. I suppose just because it was commercialy built does not mean it was properly commercialy specked for the job.

As someone noted about the wartime light carriers, they were some of the most cost effective, longest lived warships in modern history. Some of them were 50 odd years in service and were disposed of for a variety of reasons by their end users- not necessarily because they were knackered….

IXION
October 14, 2012 1:13 pm

Somewhatinvolved.

I think your last point is the crux of the matter.

For example: -Modern rigg support vessels are at the forefront of working under all conditions, turn in their own length, manouvering etc.
As are some larger types (Cruise ships etc) now – Azipods etc. Remember tugs cost money, and the more ship can do without them the better.

As you say get your spec rigth then ask people to design it.

BTW someone tried to tell me that the costa concordia showed commercial ships were no good.

Tear a hole that 160ft plus in the bottom of any ship and it’s probably going over (and subsiquently under). leaving aside Italian damage control practices- (tripping and falling into lifeboats etc).

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
October 14, 2012 1:52 pm

Hmmmm – so if Ocean had been built with a commercial dynamic positioning system (like those on many off shore work boats) she wouldn’t have had nearly as many problems?

If so, how much extra would she have cost?

Anixtu
Anixtu
October 14, 2012 2:54 pm

SI,

“Because of all this, where OCEAN is required to be able to manoeuvre at low speeds in a restricted area to offload her boats and troops, the engines are not up to the job and are degrading rapidly.”

So she was poorly specced, or the requirements did not make clear that she would be required to manoeuvre in that way, not a failure of either the commercial design or manufacture but a failure of whoever developed the requirements and specification.

The Bays can of course do this task fantastically well, using technology that has existed in naval use since at least the 80s.

x
x
October 14, 2012 5:06 pm

Albion and Bulwark are built to Llyods’ Fast Cargo rules.

John Hartley
John Hartley
October 14, 2012 6:38 pm

I know I go on about the Queen Mary 2 liner, but why stop now? This is a commercial boat, but built with a hull 50% thicker than usual to cope with large Atlantic waves. Shame Ocean was not built with a hull that thick or we would have got an extra decade out of it. QM2 runs on diesels most of the time, but does have an RR turbine when it needs more oomph. Again a shame Ocean did not have that.

x
x
October 14, 2012 7:01 pm

QM2 is gorgeous. You may speak of her as often as you like. Especially in boring threads about tanks and FJs. But her hull isn’t 50% thicker than usual. She is a liner designed to keep a schedule despite the weather. Because she is used as a cruise ship doesn’t mean she is a “cruise ship”. If Ocean had been built to the same standards she would have been as expensive as a typical American amphib. Ocean’s low cost came about because she is filled with low cost equipment.

Challenger
Challenger
October 14, 2012 8:05 pm

You’re absolutely right TD.

It’s perfectly possible to get a commercial ship that is built to good quality standards and lasts much longer than 20 years.

I guess the only logical conclusion to make is that HMS Ocean was built on the cheap, I mean a 20,000 ton ship for the price of a contemporary Frigate, you get what you pay for!

I think, as many other folks have advocated previously, that the best thing to do in the future is to replace Ocean, Albion and Bulwark with 2 larger LHD’S. Perhaps go down the commercial route, but with a slightly bigger budget and some more care taken to make sure we get ships that will last longer and work well alongside military standard vessels.

Mark
Mark
October 14, 2012 8:15 pm

Is there much difference between the two anymore outside damage control? I suspect the two standards have converged with most off difference taken up in speed.

The Other Chris
The Other Chris
October 14, 2012 9:11 pm

Quick one before bed, haven’t looked up the details to confirm, but my understanding with the Concordia style Civilian vs Military construction was a lack of watertight compartments adjoining the outer hull as per the Seydlitz lessons?

x
x
October 14, 2012 9:33 pm

@ TOC

You need to look up SOLAS.

John Hartley
John Hartley
October 14, 2012 9:55 pm

QM2 hull is 10mm thick & designed for a 40 year fatigue life. Do we know how thick HMS Oceans hull is?

The Other Chris
The Other Chris
October 15, 2012 8:13 am

@x

Appreciate the pointer, thanks.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 15, 2012 10:58 am

There seems to be an awful lot of confusion here on what constitutes “Naval” and “Commercial” standards. This is also being mixed up with poor requirementeering, for which as SI rightly points out, the most important thing is to ” Know what it is you are asking for!!”.

When Ocean was contracted for (1993 – remember it well), there was basically a choice between Naval Standards (SSCP23 for constructive design, NES 154/155 for build and inspection, various other NES for machinery, outfit, magazines etc etc) and “commercial” Rules (eg Lloyds Register Rules & Regulations for Commercial Ships). For a variety of reasons, VSEL/Kvaerner went with LR for the design of the hull structure and probably the main machinery. Other items of equipment were specified against what was believed to be the “appropriate” standard. The problem being that there was very little input from MoD/the user to confirm this was the case, the classic case in point being the LCVP davits. The davits were perfectly normal davits such as you would find with lifeboats dangling off them on commercial ships. Perfectly fit for that purpose, which basically involves a proof test for MCA once a year where you demonstrate that the davit can lower the boat. Not so good for the sort of intensive use you get with Royal, where the davits are operated several times a day – in other words the duty cycle assumed for the requirement was totally inappropriate. Hence off Sierra Leone, three of the four LCVP points were unusable within hours of the op commencing.

Other elements of the ship are just poorly designed – the well-known 7 Golf heads issue is largely caused by there being no “fall” in the pipes coming off the heads where dozens of marines relieve themselves of three square meals a day. A problem exacerbated by the inability to fully isolate the sh1t treatment plants which are consequently often broken. This means that the Buffer has a “sh1t list” which really does mean that you’re in the sh1t if you get on it! The rest of the ship systems are similarly afflicted by lack of attention to detail or poor logistic support – be it training, manuals or spares. Many of the pumps are chinese with all sorts of different starter motors etc, largely because she was built with minimum build cost in mind (to win the contract), rather than through-life support.

Some of these lessons were learned in the LPD contract, although again, the systems design element exposed the difference in philosophy between the Navy and the regulatory regime required by SOLAS – particularly in how the Navy fights fires and what is expected of systems after a machinery space fire on a warship, compared to a commercial vessel.

The LPH and LPD experience led to MoD commissioning LR to create a set of Rules & Regulations for Naval Ships, commonly known as the Naval Ship rules. DNV and ABS have also produced their own versions. What these tend to do is allow the derivation of design criteria for a particular naval function which means if you chose the right Class notation, then the Rules will make you apply the correct loads and system requirements. There are a whole raft of “military” loads (blast, shock, whipping etc) that have been derived from Naval Eng standards and included in the Rules, which (like the commercial rules) are updated annually.

All future RN vessels from T45 onwards are being contracted against LR Naval Ship Rules – even the MARS tankers have a “tailored” set of Rules applied to reflect what they will be required to do, without totally constraining the ability to have them built outside the UK and access the cost savings arising from use of standard ranges of ME equipment etc. They call up DefStans only where required (eg RAS systems for which tehre are no direct comercial equivalents).

Most of the horror stories you hear regarding “commercial” standards arise from not understanding how the ship will be used in service and thus either selecting an inappopriate (or no) notation, or by taking a piece of commercial equipment that is type-rated to operate in a particular way and then operating it in a completely different regime. Some of them have nothing to do with “commercial standards” at all. The T23 are often said to be falling apart structurally, which is true to some degree, but it has nothing to do with their “part-commercial” framing system and everything to do with A) poor detail design in way of openings and deckhouse positions and B) the use of plate without any rolling margin applied in the build of the later batches. None of these problems are insurmountable, they just cost more money than one would like to spend.

Hope that brings a bit of clarity to the debate. “Commercial” standards (eg DNV Offshore Steel Ships, LR Special Service Craft Rules), are perfectly acceptable if they are appropriate for the operating and support regime that the ship will be subject to, with the correct notation requested / selected. The same applies to Naval Ship rules – if you choose theh right notation for what you’re doing, you’ll be fine. If you operate outside that notation, expect trouble……not least from your Platform Dutyholder.

x
x
October 15, 2012 11:08 am

Thanks NAB.

EDIT: As I said it is a shame because she has been so busy and some parts of the design work well.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 15, 2012 11:23 am

Agreed, had meant to add your bit on assault route dimensioning and vertical access routes did reflect a lot of the lessons learned from Albion, Rusty B and Hermes, plus the old LPDs. Shame it went to a bunch of monkeys rather than a proper shipyard…….

The Other Chris
The Other Chris
October 15, 2012 11:27 am

When’s Ocean due to go out of service now?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 15, 2012 11:56 am

Gary Google is your friend….

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm081106/text/81106w0011.htm

If it’s changed since then it’ll be classified.

Topman
Topman
October 15, 2012 12:10 pm

@ NaB

What was wrong the builders of Ocean, where did they fall short?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 15, 2012 12:20 pm

It’s a shipbuilding thing. One yard tendered what was in effect a military ship with some commercial features, the other tendered a design with some military features (eg assault routes) but primarily commercial equipment. The difference in price was around £60M.

The commercial equipment was inappropriate to the intended use of the ship and as noted above, some of the detail design and logistic support was woeful. Still, pay peanuts, get Monkeys.

That said, the MoD should have paid much more attention to what it thought it was buying…..

Topman
Topman
October 15, 2012 12:27 pm

Which were the other yard that tended for the contract?

The Other Chris
The Other Chris
October 15, 2012 12:31 pm
Topman
Topman
October 15, 2012 1:11 pm

It’s service life in that article is 20 years but will go beyond that. Has it been extended because of a need or through it’s refits found to be good to extend it’s life? Or is the article wrong?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 15, 2012 1:35 pm

I think the article is wrong, but then it is Wiki! Contracts tend to specify a minimum rather than absolute service life – if specified at all!

From memory, when first brought into service, she was programmed for 9 yrs operating followed by a single mid-life refit, then another 9 yrs before disposal.

Of course as soon as she was properly in-service (and yes she has been worked very hard) it became clear that this approach wasn’t going to work and her docking periods since have turned into proper refits.

Unlike aircraft (or boats) there is no hard and fast life-limiter for a ship. Fatigue should not be an issue for a ship with the amount of longitudinal structure she has and global strength should not be a problem either, provided that in-service surveys identify and replace any plate below the required minium thickness. I haven’t seen her stability assesment recently, which is the one certification piece that it isn’t easy to fix, but wouldn’t anticipate too many problems. In essence, certification issues (the equivalent to airworthiness) is unlikely to require withdrawal of the ship in the medium term.

What is likely to force withdrawal is escalating cost of maintaining her on-board systems. Switchboards, some hydraulically powered ME equipment, main generators and on-board piping systems have all caused trouble in the past and will still be doing so. There will come a point where appetite to spend vs availability collapses. Trouble is, unless you use the second QEC deck you’re then into looking at how to replace in the context of the wider amphibious fleet again and the LPDs have a much longer potential life, leaving LPH out on her little lonesome. Not easy this one…..

x
x
October 15, 2012 1:45 pm

Its docks and cargo capacity we need not substantial aviation facilities. Um. I think too many concentrate on the aviation aspect of amphibious warfare and neglect the more mundane seaborne systems. An LPD25-esque ship would probably service us better as a companion to CVF.

EDIT: with a Harpers Ferry-esque variant of the LPD25-eque ship to help with lift. 3 of each should do. More ships! I said, MORE SHIPS! :)

Peter Elliott
October 15, 2012 1:54 pm

Its not just about the ship hulls either. Replacing LCU 10 with PASCAT will be a big step forward and one that we might even be able to afford before 2020.

The point is that by using faster landing craft it will allow the ARG to sit further off shore, making it safer to include a big ship like a QEC amongst them.

FWIW I think it is already a done deal that Ocean’s replacement is sitting in No 1 Dry Dock at Rosyth, and as suggested by others the RN’s next specialist amphibious warship will have to wait until after Albion and Bulwak wear out after 2030.

x
x
October 15, 2012 2:06 pm

We need another Bay then we could base a reinforced company and helicopters in CVF. And a have follow on reinforcement group of 1 x Albion and 2 x Bays.

Peter Elliott
October 15, 2012 2:16 pm

The Australians may have one going cheap. Just needs a little work on the drive train…

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 15, 2012 2:17 pm

X

Dock slots, LIMS and berths are all very well – agree we need those, but without the ability to do the aviation bit (ie load the chalks and deliver them in an integrated fashion) and just as importantly, service the birds, we will not have a credible amphibious capability. QEC will not be able to do that and deliver Fleet AD and strike, which is why CEPP is such a half-baked idea. EDPI (which would really open up the offload capability) appears to have died a death as well.

PE

As far as I’m aware, there is NO endorsed requirement for a Fast Landing Craft, be it PACSCAT or anything else.

Royal is finding out that there’s more to high-speed operations than just jamming the throttle open and going “Raaaah!”. It costs money, in design, in build, in training and qualification, in fuel – money that might not be there at the minute.

Peter Elliott
October 15, 2012 3:07 pm

@NAB

I agree that against a credible enemy one QEC won’t be able to do it all.

In a serious duffy I would expect us to have to send both QEC: one to sit over the horizon and provide Air Security with JSF and the other closer in with the Amphibs to host all the rotary needed to deliver, supply, transport and support the landing force.

Against third rate powers who simply need a bit ginger up them a single QEC packing 12 Fast Jets and a tailored mix of Apache, Lynx, Merlin, Chinook etc will probably work just fine.

That was the context of my remark about QEC being Ocean’s replacement.

x
x
October 15, 2012 3:12 pm

@ NAB said “deliver Fleet AD and strike”

True, true. But I try not to think as MoD(N). The only way I can see us deriving value from CVF is stop pretending it is a mini-Nimitz and look at more as a few acres of auxiliary flight deck for “coalition” efforts. Somewhere where say the USMC can offload their STOVL squadrons freeing their amphib decks for helicopters. Or purely as a “fleet” helicopter carrier servicing Chinook/MV22 down. I have said here lots of times there is a possibility CVF will carry its full compliment of F35b, just they won’t be all ours. If CVF for domestic deployments sails with 12 F35b, 12 Merlin, ASaC, and a clutch of Wildcat it still more than most nations can carry. Seeing CVF purely in terms of US fleet carrier type operations is to miss alot of the value of the platform. Unfortunately the latter is all the detractors see. So yes you are right. I was just having a gentle game of fantasy fleets. :)

Challenger
Challenger
October 15, 2012 4:37 pm

Back on the subject of carriers once again, never takes long!

I do have a question relevant to them though. The talk is always of 40 aircraft, but could more be carried in an emergency situation?

I seem to remember talk of more being stuffed on-to the deck and in-to the hangar for in a crises? I doubt we will ever have enough aircraft to reach the maximum load, but theoretically, any thoughts?

tsz52
tsz52
October 15, 2012 7:06 pm

Quality info – great stuff!

So if we had a time machine and a bit more money, and wanted to fix Ocean’s throughlife problems up front, how much extra should she have cost? Would the extra £60M of the competing contract have been enough, with hindsight?

As a rule of thumb, does taking the sticker price of absolutely pared down cost and x 1.33 sound about right (assuming that you also pay attention to detail/specific requirements etc)?

Simon
October 15, 2012 7:26 pm

If we push Ocean another 10 years (to 2030+) we’ll have QE, POW and Ocean, two available, one as CVF and another as LPH – that way we’re still okay.

I’d suggest QE can operate 24 jets and 24 Merlin. You can swap any two Merlin for one Chinook and one Lynx. So play with the numbers.

Simon
October 15, 2012 7:54 pm

x,

CVF needs to be much more than just an “auxiliary flight deck” simply because they’ve cost so much.

At £2b they’d still have been a rip-off when compared to Wasp if not used for more intensive jet ops.

At £3b they absolutely need to be more than two Cavour in one. That’s two squadrons of jets and a couple of dozen Merlin… plus. Otherwise the rationale for them was completely wrong!

Anyway back to the topic.

NaB said something about Ocean being able to go the distance as long as the systems don’t deteriorate too much. Does that mean that Ocean was built to the same spec as Vince/Lusty/Ark in terms of the hull?

I was under the impression even the hull was built on the cheap?

WiseApe
October 15, 2012 8:00 pm

@Challenger – “Back on the subject of carriers once again, never takes long!” – That reminds me, all those armoured vehicles coming back from ‘stan which we don’t need anymore, that amounts to a lot of steel. Shame to let it go to waste! And then there’s all those Tornadoes to break up.

Early requirement was for 50 aircraft – including helos – quickly cut to 46, then settled at 40, with 36 F35s and 4 helos. That’s the “The sh*ts hit the fan” surge figure. I wouldn’t want to park my £130+ million aircraft on the deck in the Atlantic on a regular basis. I’ve just realised I don’t actually know how many aircraft CVF can hold in the hangar. Can anyone help with that?

WiseApe
October 15, 2012 8:24 pm

“CVF needs to be much more than just an “auxiliary flight deck” simply because they’ve cost so much.” – Spilt milk, Simon. They’ve cost what they have because they were intended to be strike carriers, plus politically induced delays and redesigns.

@Challenger – 40 (36 F35s and 4 helos) is the surge figure. The day we actually see 36 fast jets on CVF, which aren’t covered in stars and stripes, is the day I eat fish.

Can I just clarify, when people talk about CVF covering Ocean’s LPH role, do you mean troop carrying, or just as a helo platform?

x
x
October 15, 2012 8:49 pm

@ Simon

Um. I think it depends on how you see the RN’s place viz-a-vis our other security partners, or potential partners; roughly the US, France (Europe?), and Australia and New Zealand (bi-lateral and Five Power). And the UK’s ability to field carrier air groups, both ships and FJ; we can’t afford to do this at a USN level. And whether the future really is strike alone or whether sea control or naval tasks will come to be just as, or more, important.

When I said auxiliary I am using it in its dictionary sense and not naval or maritime security sense. The Invincibles were designed to support and help USN CBG by carrying a large number of ASW helicopters. By being larger and fast CVF will be able to support allied operations to an even greater extent.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 15, 2012 9:22 pm

Again, don’t confuse commercial standards with being “built on the cheap”. Lloyds Rules (for commercial or naval ships) basically apply what could be thought of as an “average” load (although it isn’t) throughout the ship, rather than design each detail to the actual load. What that tends to result in is a slightly heavier structure, largely because the plate is thicker and carries more load than the grillage structure that you get in “classical” naval standards, where everything is optimised to reduce weight. For a “large” ship, the structural weight fraction is less important. So, no, LPH was not designed (or built) to the same spec as CVS – the point is that the hull isn’t really near any edge of the envelope, so compared to the comedy systems, it’s the least of your problems…….

Simon
October 15, 2012 9:22 pm

x,

We can afford 1/10th of the US levels… I make that 1 x Nimitz or two half-sized ones ;-)

The trouble is we dither around just like the Americans but have fewer hulls to write off the MoD’s ineptitudes over. So, we end up spending £6b (similar to a Nimitz) on two ships, half the size, but with only STOVL jets and not nuclear powered.

We should have two slightly larger Charles-de-Gaulle, or four Cavour (silly) or four Wasp for the same money.

Simon
October 15, 2012 9:25 pm

NaB,

So does this mean that if I stump up the cash Lusty is worth buying and will float around for a while longer (without engines, systems or heads/toilets) ;-)

I’m going to put forward the idea of a 9 hole pitch and putt on the flight deck, a restaraunt and shopping arcade in the hangar and a hotel below that!

x
x
October 15, 2012 9:32 pm

@ Simon

I was going to ramble on and on. But I don’t feel like it. If the thread is going tomorrow or the day after I will have a ramble. Um. Basically flight decks are important. Having a big fast flight deck is quite a capability. I will ramble on perhaps tomorrow. :)

WiseApe
October 15, 2012 9:35 pm

@Simon – What no casino? I believe off shore gambling is very lucrative these days. You’re never short of a toilet on a flat-top. Privacy, yes.

x
x
October 15, 2012 9:54 pm

Heads not toilets…….

Simon
October 15, 2012 10:17 pm

Wiseape,

Casino, yes, a casino – much better idea… Stupid, shopping arcade would just get in the way :-)

The Other Chris
The Other Chris
October 16, 2012 8:47 am

Having a larger vessel in CVF compared to a Wasp/America/Cavour isn’t a bad thing.

Remember that one of the Falkland lessons learned by the Americans[1] was that larger maintenance areas and more stores was viewed as beneficial for sustained operations. The reduced stores and restricted hangar space on Hermes and Invincible posed significant risks.

X speaks sense when he discusses logistics so often.

Also remember that the Americans were impressed at the high sea state operations performed by the carriers enabled by STOVL, it was one of the few areas over the Falklands fleet that they didn’t claim an advantage in. (The other area was quietly noting how difficult it was, to paraphrase, “even for the UK”, to spot a sub despite our perceived expertise).

[1] Think Defence: Falkland Islands Lesson Learned Through US Navy Eyes, September 2012

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 16, 2012 9:17 am

It’s always easier to get more aircraft to fill up a big deck than it is to get a big deck built to carry more aircraft………

What is less understandable (from a UK defence PoV) is the apparent desire of the RAF to acquire the A-model F35 (as opposed to an all-B buy) which would limit the numbers of aircraft able to go to sea (entirely understandable from an RAF PoV).

Topman
Topman
October 16, 2012 10:59 am

Strangely enough I predicted that just after SDSR. Funny how these things turn out. NaB have you a link for the rumour, I wouldn’t mind comparing.

x
x
October 16, 2012 11:38 am

@ TOC said “X speaks sense when he discusses logistics so often.”

Bless your little cotton socks. :)

TOC also said “CVF compared to a Wasp/America/Cavour”

Exactly. What many here do also is group all flat tops together because they look the same when they are different beasts. Even though we won’t be able to operate full time CVF as a fleet carrier that is what it is. A big fast ship ideally suited to engaging other big fast ships. Manoeuvre (and speed and endurance) are as much weapons missiles, guns, and aircraft. Ships like Wasp, Ocean, and Mistral transit seas cleared and secured by the CBG to mount amphibious operations. They are beamy trucks that don’t need speed as much or as many weapons. Saying that USN amphibs can cruise at 20kts an hour so that can cover 500miles a day. If you are there quick you may not even have to fight. European vessels are slower and though a few knots per hour don’t sound much over a week they mount. As for Cavour the costs of that ship and CVF (if you take out political delay that cost so much) aren’t that different. It is the military systems that cost most not the hull. But you gain so much by going bigger. Cavour’s amphibious features are just intelligent design. But since I discovered that CVF has been designed with passageways designed for assaults it seems “we” (the MoD(N) and Thales perhaps) are capable of joined up thinking too.

There is always talk here of never going to war by ourselves always with somebody else. And there was a lot of back and forth of cats and traps verses STOVL; all this rhubarb about not being able to land French or USN/USMC jets. Even even we can’t afford cats and traps it doesn’t make CVF a lesser asset. Flight deck real estate is a premium and the UK is going to be able to bring a lot of flight deck real estate to ventures. And there will be a tall hanger capable of dealing with the largest helicopters. I think of CVF being used thus….

a) Helping to screen USN fleet operations just as Invincible was intended to do. ASW helicopters, ASaC/AEW, and F35b providing CAP.

b) Supporting USMC operations. A base for allied F35b. Helicopter assault. Support of Chinook (ours) and MV22.

c) Operations with the French. It doesn’t matter that their jets can’t land. If CVF wasn’t “there” they couldn’t land on either! CVF and CdeG working together would bring the best part of 80 aircraft to the fight. Of course it would be better if the ships and aircraft were “compatible” but against most of the world’s air forces it wouldn’t matter because of the numbers.

d) Operations to support Australia and New Zealand. Lots of helicopters. Imagine CVF carrying 12 Chinook, a bushel of commando Merlin, and some Apache and Wildcats. That is enough lift for one whole commando in one go. Woosh!!!!!

e) Domestic operations.

Now I would like 3 CVF carrier groups (and fleet train) but it isn’t going happen. Another £5billion and we could do it. CVF would make more sense perhaps if the European half of NATO lived up to its part of the bargain. If the UK, France, and Germany all fielded 3 carrier groups a piece we would be a lot further to living up to our security responsibilities. But for all sorts of reasons that isn’t going to happen either. We mustn’t forget that both Spain and Italy field two carriers a piece. OK JC is an LHD, lets imagine they bought Cavour instead. In my European fantasy fleet scenario above Europe would be fielding 9 fleet carriers and 4 CVS. Coupled with the American fleet it would be more than Chinese could manage.

Sorry that is a bit rushed. And I get can’t my words out today.

x
x
October 16, 2012 11:42 am

NaB said “It’s always easier to get more aircraft to fill up a big deck than it is to get a big deck built to carry more aircraft”

Considering the obsession here with modules and UAVs more here would be happy with a large empty ship that can carry lots of ASW modules (helicopters) and ASaC/AEW/ISTAR modules (helicopters and UAV).

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 16, 2012 12:20 pm

Topman

It’s based on a Jane’s article following Hammonds visit to the States to accept BK1 in July. Although Hammond is not directly quoted, the article alludes to a buy of 48 F35B to equip the carriers, with a later buy of F35A to replace tranche 1 Typhoon and Tornado.

If true, it will lead to a repeat of the “small fleet, easy to cut” debacle of the SHAR / GR7/9 for the F35B, which will co-incidentally be “competing” for survival against a larger fleet of aircraft that cannot go to sea (the A).

Given that we know the aircraft is not as “common” across the variants as one would like. I’d love to see the ILS arguments for a two-fleet solution.

I’m sure any case for the “A” will be perfectly staffed with plenty of good words about larger weapons bays delivering more effect, slightly longer range and hence reduction in tanker demand (only in the paper scenarios!) and presumably standardising with other European operators. It is unlikley to mention additional logistic support, training and airworthiness costs, or the ability to ensure adequate attrition frames for peacetime ops, never mind wartime.

Just because one is paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you!

wf
wf
October 16, 2012 12:30 pm

@Not a Boffin: actually, I think a 48 aircraft F35B buy would be very good, *provided* the aircraft were manned and commanded by the FAA. JFH was easy to bin because the RAF always had administrative command, even at the beginning when opcon was with the RN. We have plenty of time to train up naval F35 pilots.

Topman
Topman
October 16, 2012 12:36 pm

NaB

‘It’s based on a Jane’s article…’
Thanks nice to put a source to it.

‘I’d love to see the ILS arguments for a two-fleet solution.’
My thoughts at the time were simply lack of need for B or C in a carrier role. The current gov (as stated publically) would have chopped both if they could have. Now they would love to get rid of the other one, meaning less demand for carrier varients.

That’s just my thoughts I really don’t have any preferences to it either way, more what I think will happen.

‘Just because one is paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you!’

Depends who ‘they’ are, and the paranoid aren’t the best to ask. ;)

All Politicians are The same
All Politicians are The same
October 16, 2012 4:00 pm

NAB

“Given that we know the aircraft is not as “common” across the variants as one would like. I’d love to see the ILS arguments for a two-fleet solution”
I thought that there was 80% plus commonality between variants and indeed remember that being posted several times on these threads.

I have always said that the most likely decision will be a 1.5 aircraft type fleet of F35B and F35A. Though I would like to see up to 60 B variants purchased.
I take your point about being paranoid but the day we have to buy an aircraft that is not the optimal variant for the service that wants it in order to protect something from future Political interference is the day we should give up.

Alos the Political backlash of scrapping fast Carrier air having built 2 relatively bew 65k Carriers would be subtly different from that of scrapping GR9 from small flat tops.

Topman

“The current gov (as stated publically) would have chopped both if they could have.”

Bless the last Govt, the contract for the Carriers must have been the best thing they ever signed:)

WiseApe
October 16, 2012 4:43 pm

Potential stupid question ahoy: if the RAF gets its hands on some F35As, how are they going to AAR them. Aren’t the F35As specced for probe refueling, but the new Voyager tankers are drogue refuelers? Is it an easy/cheap conversion?

tsz52
tsz52
October 16, 2012 4:45 pm

x: I don’t tend to trouble everyone by constantly posting ‘Yeah, I agree with x!’ but FWIW I do tend to sit here quietly waving my pom poms as I read your posts.

I had a whacky idea a while ago about all of the perfectly good ships being scrapped or cut, due to the current austerity, going into an EU (maybe NATO, maybe both) common pool (semi-temporarily held in common trust, as a buffer between their potless parent Navy and the razor blade factory) – it’d be a tidy little core of a very balanced Navy. Nobody went for it though… details, details.

Buuut ‘kts per hour’ – gasp! I think I might need to go and lie down for a bit…. :P

Mark
Mark
October 16, 2012 4:57 pm

F35 is common across main systems, training sims ect. The a/c structure isn’t as common as we would like but it’s still pretty high between a and b. http://www.jsf.mil/f35/f35_technology.htm

The a version has a probe attachment as an option so no problem there I’m very much of the opinion that the a version should only be purchased as a typhoon replacement.

Peter Elliott
October 16, 2012 5:36 pm

@tsz52

The killer cost isn’t owning the ships. Its not even maintaining them. Its paying the crews. The main reason why ships get withdrawn for service early is to save the crews’ wages.

We could afford to keep plenty of ships alongside in reserve. I expect both Ocean and Lusty to spend a couple of years in reserve before they go for scrap [or museum use], just in case one of the new carriers hits a mine before the other is fully proven and ready to cover for it.

That works becuase we assume we could rustle up a crew if we had to, either borrowed from the crippled ship or by cancelling leave and raiding shore establishments.

What wouldn’t work would be an EU or NATO ship reserve, becuase there are no EU or NATO naval personnel to draft on board in an emergency. In a true emergency any slack in the national navies would be taken up in re-manning their own reserve ships.

Simon
October 16, 2012 7:55 pm

x,

Wasn’t Cavour about 1.5b Euro with political delays?

Isn’t CVF about 3.0b Quid with political delays?

CVF is about twice the price adjusted for inflation.

I seem to remember also that Cavour has 32 x Aster15 whereas CVF has no SAMs. I also remember a picture of Cavour with two gaping big drive on, drive off holes in the rear and side. These would be pretty useful too.

Also, doesn’t Cavour do 29 knots, whereas CVF won’t even manage 25?

Two Cavour (ahem, cough, plus a little more AVCAT ;-)) would put air defence at 200nm with 30 copters sitting next to the amphibs. How will we do that with one 65,000 tonne ship? Inefficient long-range copter ops from 200nm (it takes 12 Apache to deliver CAS from 200nm each with three tanks of fuel and only 4 hellfire)? 4 acres of real-estate just over the horizon in harms way of nearly all anti-ship missiles? I’d really love an answer from anyone because I really can’t see how it’s a workable solution without Ocean or LHDs.

All Politicians are The same
All Politicians are The same
October 16, 2012 8:14 pm

Simon, So you would put your Cavour in range of ASHM but not a CVF. Whats the difference?
Also there are no metaled contractual costs for any Cavour delays, if 1.5 billion euro is a base cost then with our known contractual delays they would have cost us close to 1.8 billion pounds a pop.
Ocean was 40Nm from the Libyan coast for her Apache ops. That was without the ability to supply her own CAP.
Cavour has spent less than 45 days at sea in the last 18 months due to difficulties, was unavailable for Libya and at the moment needs modifications before it can accept F35 onboard.
As for CVF not managing 25kts, I will place a serious bet we will see 28kts plus out of her.
As for SAM, yes I would like to see a SAM system onboard CVF but ASTER is not the answer as the powerful FC radar will interfere with flight ops.

Peter Elliott
October 16, 2012 8:57 pm

@Simon

The answer to your question is that the QEC on LPH duty will indeed come in ‘close’ to shore, and the escorting T45 will need to be on its game to knock down any missiles that come its way. Happily T45 looks good enough to do just that.

If the mission requires the landing of vehicles an Albion or a Bay will need to be in the party. If its a straight forward shoot-em up job they won’t.

I agree that a fully flexible LHD would be nice to have next time we’re buying amphibs. But until that time comes (after 2030) there appear to be enough tools in the box to tackle the jobs we are likely to face.

I do agree however that an HVU like the QEC should be fitted with either SeaCeptor or SeaRAM to give it an organic air defence layer in case the T45 is missing when trouble comes along.

Simon
October 16, 2012 9:11 pm

APATS,

I would put the second Cavour in range of ASHM (without £2b worth of jets).

Cavour was built in Italy – the greatest nation of bureaucracy and corruption. It was slow to build and costly. I take your point though that the Mighty Blighty would manage to make it more expensive.

“Ocean was 40Nm from the Libyan coast for her Apache ops. That was without the ability to supply her own CAP.”

She was under the air cover of over 140 jets from various nations though.

CVF can only put 80MW of power into the water. I can’t see her passing 25 knots. Cavour puts out 88MW with about 60% of the wetted area. Don’t understand the physics that will get CVF up to 28 knots.

Any idea what the “difficulties” were/are? I thought she was in the process of being made F35B-able?

The Other Chris
The Other Chris
October 16, 2012 9:36 pm

@Simon

Fluid resistance is more about lengths, ratios and the drag effect of waves than hull area.

Have a look for Speed Length Ratio and Froude’s Law.

Simon
October 16, 2012 9:37 pm

Peter Elliott,

“…there appear to be enough tools in the box to tackle the jobs we are likely to face…”

I really don’t agree.

What you have is one mole-grip (CVF) and a nut-n-bolt that requires a spanner (close in copters) and a pair of pliers (jets at range) to stop the other end rotating.

It’s like the Americans putting Nimitz 40nm offshore to support an assault from their San-Antonios. They simply wouldn’t do it.

Peter Elliott
October 16, 2012 9:50 pm

@Simon

In 90% of the scenarios we will face we will be allied with either the Americans or the French, either of whom can send either a FJ carrier or an LPH. In this siutation it is most unlikely that we would ask our high readfiness QEC to undertake both roles. It would do one or the other depending on what assets our allies were bringing.

In the remainder of the scenarios it is quite possible that we would be dealing with a third rate power and would be prepared to take the risk of combining the roles and sending the ship in close, with AD from an escorting destroyer.

In the unlikely event of a sovereign emergency requiring us to offer both FJ strike and Rotary Assets in large numbers against a peer adversary we would have to send both QECs. One to do strike and the other LPH. This would be a once-in-50-years event. We have previous history of ‘send everything that floats’ when the sh1t really hits the fan.

Thats why I say we appear to have the bases covered.

Simon
October 16, 2012 10:01 pm

Peter Elliott,

Perhaps if 1982 didn’t happen I wouldn’t be so concerned.

We certainly have a full “box of tricks” when partnered with our alies.

I admire your confidence that we’ll get both CVF in the water when there’s a real emergency. We only just managed to field two of three carriers in 1982.

It’s all very half-cocked for the sake of a £600m LPH (Ocean II).

Peter Elliott
October 16, 2012 10:11 pm

@Simon

Its not the cost of building the ships. Its the cost of training and sustaining a crew for them over a long period. Thats why a swing role asset like QEC becomes so valuable.

As long as the kit we are buying works like it is supposed to then our QECs promise to be more flexible cost effective ships than Nimitz, CdeG, Cavour, Wasp or America.

Able to act as a commando carrier, sustaining large groups of big rotary assets such as Chinook or Osprey. Plenty of space for a large EMF and designed for them to offload fast.

Also able to operate F35B with a decent weapons loadout due to the ski jump and SRVL. Deep magazines to sustain a long campaign. Good sortie generation rates.

On that basis the ability to swing between the two roles, or combine them against lower tier opposition, looks really quite unique and an excellent value asset for the RN to have.

Brian Black
Brian Black
October 16, 2012 10:38 pm

We could have new amphibs before 2030, Peter. If there were economic or political reasons to knock out a couple of big ships, then it wouldn’t be too hard to sell off the remaining Bays – they’d be a manageable type for many navies. Then nudge Albion and Bulwark over to the RFA to make room for two new LPH. That would be one way of doing it.

Simon, the carriers should manage 28knt, but only on the downhill stretch.

tsz52
tsz52
October 17, 2012 4:01 am

Peter Elliot: Re my hairbrained scheme: Totally agree with your crewing doubts, but what it does is also adds a political buffer – a symbolic step removed – where the use of force is required.

It allows all of the nations who would actually like to get involved, and pull their effin weight for once, but are hamstrung by their right on! chattering classes, to do so via the EU/NATO/whatever core force. They’d never be able to send ships, politically, but they could send crews to man the NATO (say) ships, and still show their clean hands to their voting f*ckwit-drones.

If we were to restructure things around more pragmatic lines, then rather than now where we have the countries who are adamant that ‘Yeah, we’ll get involved honest!’ who never do, we can just let them throw surplus kit and (preferably) money into the pot and never ask or expect anything further of them – this is their membership fee, come rain or shine. That money and kit can then be used by the folks who don’t mind getting their hands dirty (like us, and France when they feel like it), but are potless.

I guess that some of the more eastern European (EU) countries would be happy to contribute but have no money or kit – but they do have spare good men, with few domestic opportunities, who could be trained up in the force I’m on about (some would say ‘rather than coming over here’, though that’s not a major beef of mine).

It allows a redistribution of surplus (money, kit, men, political will and ability to act), as well as being something like a pawn brokers or something, so that national militaries/industries don’t have to keep booming then gutting themselves according to the capricious economic strength/weakness of the day. Evens things out a bit more, and provides handy buffers.

I’m thinking more NATO, since if it increased the chances that we could adequately take care of our own back yard for once, then an increasingly reluctant US (whose attention is now very much elsewhere) would be happy to support the force (what would be a ‘small, cheap at twice the price’ contribution to them, would be an enormous help to us lot over here).

It’s mostly a daft fantasy idea that might be of interest to someone – I haven’t researched or developed it particularly. It’s just when reading the constant bad news of good ships, including carriers FFS, being very prematurely scrapped rather than deep-maintained/refit (particularly Italian and Spanish ones – and what’s happening to their crews? Laid off?), it upsets me [I’m very sentimental about ships, though not much else].

I know that Western Civilisation’s seen better days, but surely we still have enough ingenuity that we can avoid turning useful and needed, expensive to build warships into razors, and lay off good men just because the economy’s gone a bit crap for the moment? It’s just so wasteful, if nothing else.

x
x
October 18, 2012 8:55 pm

@ tsz52

Thank you. May your cotton socks be equally blessed. :)

Challenger
Challenger
October 19, 2012 12:45 pm

’40 (36 F35s and 4 helos) is the surge figure. The day we actually see 36 fast jets on CVF, which aren’t covered in stars and stripes, is the day I eat fish.’

Apologies it took me a few days to reply!

Oh of course I totally agree that seeing 36 purely British Lightning’s crammed onto CVF is about as likely as me taking a holiday on Mars!

I was just musing on the vague possibilities really. I know the official figure is 40 aircraft total, but is that not similar to the 12-14 aircraft (5 SHAR + 7-9 Helo’s) that an Invincible was designed to carry when in reality they ended up carrying about 20?

I was wondering how many aircraft a CVF could theoretically carry in an extreme/ridiculous scenario?

Simon
October 19, 2012 3:01 pm

Challenger,

I’d guess that CVF could physically operate more than 40 jets, certainly the F35B. However, the more aircraft you embark (and operate) the more fuel you burn and the more regularly you have to resupply. Generally conventional carriers work on a 5-day resupply cycle.

If you then do the maths: fuel = aircraft (40) x fuel_per_sortie (6t) x sorties_per_day (3) x 5 = 3600t AVCAT for CVF, which is how much she embarks.

If you assume CVF can squeeze 50 x F35B you’ll drop your supply cycle to four days (3.33 days for 60 jets), each of which would have to fit into the operations of those you are possibily protecting (land forces), which would be a problem.

You could then ask how many Merlin can it operate. Well, Merlin eats about 40t of AVCAT every 5-days, but although this means CVF could feed 90 of them it simply doesn’t have enough deck space to operate them. In fact I think she’ll just about operate 12, which usually means 36 copters (three per flight) or possibly 48 of ’em if you have flights of 4 (high maintenance copters like Apache or projected on-station ops like ASW).

So you end up with CVF being able to operate in the region of 40-50 aircraft efficiently. This is before you consider the path optimisations that need to happen to service, fuel and arm the aircraft and the space allocations needed to store and service them.