US Coast Guard and Royal Navy Partnership

From the official blog of the US Coast Guard

Beginning in October, several enlisted Coast Guard men and women will join their seagoing counterparts from the U.K. to support the manpower needs of its Type 23 frigates. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul F. Zukunft and First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff of the U.K. Royal Navy Sir Adm. George Zambellas signed a memorandum of understanding Wednesday, which aims to strengthen the maritime partnership between the United States and the United Kingdom.

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H/T Chuck Hill

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August 2, 2014 12:07 pm

What this really means is ‘the RN doesnt have enough engineers to keep its ships at sea and is looking to the US for help’.

Peter Elliott
August 2, 2014 1:01 pm

Concerning at face value but actually makes a lot of sense.

If Zambelllas is serious about building up the readiness and numbers of the fleet in the next 5-10 years then the skills pipleine is critical. Once the Type 26 line is open it won’t be difficult to order another 4 ships if the funding is there and the strategic picture demands it. But finding the skilled crew for 4 extra ships would actually be a much bigger ask.

And given the small numbers of ships and tight crew budgets in the RN today it makes a huge amount of sense to get into partnerships. Think of this as growing the skills pool for crews in case we suddenly decide we need to grow the RN in 5 years time.

August 2, 2014 1:40 pm


A long way off obviously, but it’s interesting to imagine a situation with the T26 by 2030 that’s similar to the T23 in the early 00’s, a program that has the potential after a long production run to stamp out extra vessels relatively quickly and cheaply, that’s of course if either the RN or another customer wants them.

We should have kept building T23’s beyond 2002 to keep the surface fleet filled out and healthy. Similarly i’d be keen to see a AAW variant of the T26 eventually replacing the T45’s. ‘Combat Ships’ are the way forwards!

August 2, 2014 1:58 pm

It does rather beg a few questions about RN recruitment and even more importantly retention.

This article from 2012 about a crewing shortage for nuclear submarines mentions a 20% shortage of engineers by 2015 and a dearth of experienced mid career personnel.

I would say the birds are coming home to roost now from the various cuts to the navy from the 90’s on up to 2010 SSDR when 5000+ personnel were cut from the navy and marines. This is the knock on price, whilst you can increase recruitment of new personnel the service needs those mid-career guys as a backbone. Borrowing engineers from the USCG rather flags up the problem.

I should point out the RAF and Army must be facing similar issues. A colleague of mine who is a Major in the TA but beforehand in the Tank Regiment has just been asked to return to service in a training role.

August 2, 2014 2:21 pm

We don’t want more Type 23s. We wanted to keep the one’s we had! But we don’t want more. The design was maxxed out when they were new – don’t forget that they were originally only going to be a Merlin pit stop with a flight deck, no hangar, 76mm gun and some basic point defence missile (and some iterations even deleted that!). The Falklands saw the design rapidly redrawn into what we have today, but in the process it eliminated all the hull’s growth margin from day one of service.

No, we want the Type 26 and in numbers, which is another reason why we wanted the Type 23s that have already been cut because as everyone must have surely noticed, you only ever get promises of one for one replacements for your units, and even then you can expect that promise to be cut by anything from 10 to 50% before the first unit is operational.

Example: 14 Type 42s built, 2 lost, 12 made it to retirement. Thus, only 12 Type 45s were originally promised because “You did okay with 12 destroyers for all this time, so you don’t need more.” Never a thought was given to actually enhancing the capability, only to replacing exactly what was there. Then, of course, that number ended up halved, anyway!

Disclaimer: this is an example. This is not a debate about whether we need 14 Type 45s. But it serves to illustrate why cutting the T23s down to 13 means that only 13 T26s will be ordered and built (I think follow-on orders beyond that are a pipe dream) and I also strongly suspect that more frigates will get the chop in the next defence review, meaning that even fewer T26s will be ordered as a direct result! This is how the political beancounters do it, you see.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
August 2, 2014 3:18 pm

Very little publicity about this (so far) in the UK. Not really surprising as it’s a bit embarrassing.

It would be interesting to know the terms of service the Coast Guard are on. Given a repeat (unlikely I know) of the Falklands, when most of the flotilla returning from a Mediterranean exercise turned left at Gibraltar and went south to war, would the embarked Coast Guards go with them for a fight that the USA was not in, and their own terms of service not envisioning war?

Would give the ship’s CO a bit of a headache if some key roles in his crew were emptied as he’s sailing off for a fight.

August 2, 2014 3:27 pm

I think your right in that we will not get a like for like replacement vis a vis T26 for T23 on a 1:1 basis. We will be looking to sustain 2 Carrier Battle Groups come 2025 (1 in Ready and 1 Working up/down) comprising:-
1 LHD/LPD ( our next purchase? )
2 T45
2 T26
1 Astute
The remaining 2 T45 and 2 T26 and 5 Astute’s on other duties.
The 7 Sandown MH and the 3 River replacement on normal duties.
This would take us down to 16 of the commissioned vessels being major surface combatants down from 22 at present (if you ignore Lusty)
The 13 T23’s will be sold off regardless IMHO, what would be sensible would be to moth ball them all but 2 on a rotating basis and use those the 2 in operation to keep the RN Reserve fully trained on a Type they are familiar with. That way we could instantly boost the main fleet by 2 and this way some life would be left in them to pretty much double the fleet in time of war
( something our potential foe would have to plan for ) .
But no we will sell them or thrash them to death and then scrap them.

August 2, 2014 3:48 pm


No of course we don’t want more T23’s now, but i think you’re selling the class short. Sure they evolved from very basic anti-submarine ships into something far more general purpose, and yes the design didn’t allow for much in the way of additions or improvements (something which the RN seems to have finally grasped with it’s 21st century platforms) but i’d say that they were/are fairly decently equipped vessels which shape up well against most of their contemporaries and i struggle to think of what the RN either could have or would have liked to put onto them over the last couple of decades barring Tomahawk (which is a pretty expensive capability and since the mid 00’s better suited to the T45’s) or some extra Sea Wolf silo’s (with which i think you would struggle to justify the need).

I still think it’s a shame though that the RN failed to grasp the merits of a lengthy, rolling production back in the late 90’s and early 00’s when it could have replaced some of it’s Type 22’s and then maybe even some of the earlier T23’s themselves with cheap and quickly produced vessels before the perfect storm of project costs spiraling out of control and Telic/Herrick started to drain the defence budget dry. But i’m merely lamenting what could of happened and i understand how wonderful hindsight is and that the RN had very different concerns and a whole other outlook back then.

Fully agree that a more savvy RN would have clung onto all 16 T23’s as a way of stabilizing surface fleet numbers both in the short-term and with one eye on the future trying to make sure it got as many replacements as it could in the long-term. Although what they would have had to sacrifice in return is anyone’s guess and i believe this is the point where hindsight rears it’s ugly head again!

I think you’re right that the RN will be lucky to see all 13 T26 delivered, i’m advocating what should happen as apposed to what i think probably will. Who really know’s though, 2030 is a long way off and who can say what geopolitical situation the UK and thus RN will exist in by then.

Whatever actually happens in terms of fleet numbers i remain convinced that the way forwards has to be ‘combat ships’ instead of frigates and destroyers with specifically different roles. Rolling production with incremental updates and batch on batch refinement is the best way of having a stable drumbeat of production and keeping costs down. Same goes for SSN’s as well, who wants to keep seeing the loss of skills, cost inflation and delays that are a result of the revolutionary (as apposed to evolutionary) approach to design that the RN has until recently doggedly stuck to and not without significant damage to itself in the process.

August 2, 2014 5:51 pm

Things must be bad to start going to other countries to get enough manpower to operate. It puts strongly into perspective manpower issues and any ideas of buying more and more ships. How many people are being brought across? I suppose it’s too late to worry about how the navy got into the spot it’s in. But I wonder what’s been done to solve it and the issues that caused it?

Peter Elliott
August 2, 2014 6:00 pm

One would hope its just a pipeline phasing issue and that as well as borrowing some senior rates from the USCG to tide us over the immediate crunch we are also sending them some of our junior rates to learn the same skills so that in a few years time we will have a big enough pool of our own to fish in.

And to be honest I hope the RAF and Army are thinking in a similarly creative way about their own skills pinch points and how to get beyond them.

August 2, 2014 6:10 pm


As I said this is the price you pay when people are let go mid-way through their career as well as those close to the end. We now have a skill shortage that can’t be immediately plugged with new recruits.

In the end the Treasury told the MOD to cut its wage and pension bill, cutting people mid-career will in the short term save you more money as their wages and pension requirements are larger vs recruits. Flip side is when those who stayed start to retire you end up with a skills gap.

There is also an added irony that the MOD increasingly uses civilians to plug those gaps, why is it an irony you ask? Well those civilians are usually ex-service personnel.

August 2, 2014 6:39 pm

Dragging my original point back to the topic, the shortage of hulls in the future can only alleviate the technical manpower shortage that we are assuming this hook-up with the USCG is intended to alleviate.

They cut 5k people for a reason = they knew they were going to cut the fleet down to a basic carrier escort force, anyway!

The other issue, identified by Red Trousers, is the terms of service. Obviously, at any given moment there are crew from other nations on board various ships as part of exchange and/or training programs, but probably not in anything like the numbers being proposed here, and those exchange crew won’t be integral to the ship’s basic function in the same way that seems to be the case with this arrangement.

There is only one conclusion = we won’t fight wars that the US doesn’t like.

On the face of it this thinking is about as deluded as the justifications that go into capability gaps/holidays, i.e. we won’t have a war for the next ten years while we build carriers/jets/tanks but in the meantime we will realise a peace dividend by cutting all the carriers/jets/tanks early.

However, a pessimistic part of me wonders if this is merely Realpolitik on behalf of the UK. The Falklands was the last war we fought that the US didn’t agree with, and will probably be the last. In every major operation we have contributed niche capabilities, but have relied on the vast, monstrous logistics of the US to help us get there in any significant numbers (and, arguably, the US only wants those niche capabilities and doesn’t care if the UK deploys in force – such deployments only help them politically, not necessarily materially. Recall that Bush offered Blair the option to step back and remain just a political supporter of GW2, and not to deploy any troops).

If this was a game show…

“United Kingdom, you ‘are’ a client state. Goodbye.”

Chuck Hill
August 2, 2014 6:44 pm

Right now the US Coast Guard is going through some down sizing, so it may be seen as a good way to protect people you really want to keep, but don’t have billets for. Plus it will give them some great experience with other highly professional mariners.

Chuck Hill
August 2, 2014 6:53 pm

Don’t really think the terms of enlistment question is significant. These are military members and if they are on for x years, they will (at least in most cases) stay for x years.

@MSR, re, “The Falklands was the last war we fought that the US didn’t agree with, and will probably be the last.” Certainly the US did not welcome the war between two of its “friends” but the US did back the UK including shipments of the latest versions of AIM-9 and went so far as to offer a replacement if one of the UK carriers was lost.

The Other Chris
August 2, 2014 6:54 pm

Good to hear it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Chuck Hill
August 2, 2014 6:58 pm

There really is no information on how many crewmen we are talking about. I really doubt there will be more than a couple of Coast Guardsmen on any individual ship.

August 2, 2014 6:58 pm

@ Fedaykin

I don’t know it’s been written exactly why they were caused. It may well be the redundancy programme, it may well be people leaving through PVR for all sorts of reasons. Well aware of the manning ‘black hole’ and looking at the press report it looks the navy have got one here. The fact it’s for several years points to that. Very difficult to get rid of it. We had one in the 90’s , very bad for any trade particularly for technical trades.
Have the numbers involved been released?


I very much doubt it’s a training shortage issue. Yes we have our own similar issues.

August 2, 2014 8:47 pm

Highly skilled jobs as needed in many roles of today’s war-fighting vessels need to be paid and recruited as such. Much more aggressive campaigning, better shore side living standards and general package. That, and people really should start to think more about five years in the Navy, Army, and Air Force. From my experiences in the US they have a culture much more comfortable with military service.

Are the ships with embarked US Coast Guard personnel allowed to participate in UK unilateral actions? Would the loaners wish to do so?

August 2, 2014 9:35 pm

Well, if it’s a UK civilian, they can sign on. See PO John Leake :-)

Plenty of other exchange personnel in other services and countries

Brian Black
Brian Black
August 3, 2014 3:05 pm

Folks are assuming that the Navy has screwed up its manning plan regarding redundancies, recruitment and retention.

However, there have been several media reports concerning the new destroyers, and the loss of power and/or propulsion. There was a ship pulled from an exercise earlier this year after developing engine problems.

Could it be that the T45 has turned out to be a bit of a dog, and that the Navy has had to revisit its manning assumptions for the destroyers?

There’s very little slack in skilled personnel across any of the services anymore. It might be that an unexpected need to add just two or three extra bodies to the engineering teams on the destroyers could leave the Navy struggling for few years, until new people work their way through the system, or until the destroyers get through their teething problems.

August 3, 2014 7:07 pm


as has been suggested, this is to do with manpower black holes, which have been sign posted quite clearly for a couple of years. It’s very much a sticking plaster effort, and but these sorts of problems take a while to fix. The RN does have wheels in motion to do that, with retention incentives, and such things as the New Employment Model, and Programme Faraday (if you can find the Spring 14 edition of The Naval Engineer online it discusses some of this), but they will all take a while.

Much of the issues come down to the programme being bar taut, and the impact that has on people’s personal lives. We regularly discuss the impact that our long list of commitments has on our reducing number of platforms, and hence their material state, availability and service life, but it’s always worth remembering that it impacts on the people even more.

I know a lot of commentators will say ‘life a blue one Shippers’ and ‘if you didn’t want to go to sea, you shouldn’t have joined’, but that is somewhat unhelpful.

August 3, 2014 7:35 pm


Thanks, as I suspected a black hole. Interesting you should mention NEM, what input have the RN had into NEM to keep this branch/trade in service ?

‘but it’s always worth remembering that it impacts on the people even more.’
Absolutely it gets very equipment orientated here, it’s nice to see a thread that is a nod to the people that support and operate that equipment.

August 3, 2014 8:09 pm

There’s been black holes in branches/trades within all 3 services for decades, at least since the mid 90’s. The problem is recruitment and retention which are both a circular problem. Personally I don’t think the middle class of the country see the armed forces as either a technical job or a career, and the armed forces have not helped themselves in respect with what they can offer in response to civvy street.

Will Sheward
Will Sheward
August 4, 2014 9:11 am

Well, this is rather embarrassing yes? I wonder if they have any Admirals they can lend us, not that we have a shortage (far from it!) but the ones we have do seem to lack some vital skills in the “persuading politicians and the public we need a fully manned navy” area.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
August 4, 2014 9:11 am

“Much of the issues come down to the programme being bar taut, and the impact that has on people’s personal lives. We regularly discuss the impact that our long list of commitments has on our reducing number of platforms, and hence their material state, availability and service life, but it’s always worth remembering that it impacts on the people even more”

That’s it in a nutshell. Fewer platforms doing the same deployments, less bunce to support (still recovering from some of the upkeep reductions of the late noughties), more load on teh engineering departments, but fewer incentives/perks all with industry gagging for people. Only going to have one outcome.

Which is why there’s a plan to change deployment patterns for two of the more demanding tasks in particular, with longer time away, but with “guaranteed” leave periods before and mid-deployment and longer time between those deployments. All supposedly tracked by drafty to make sure people are not getting tagged for back to back deployments and that the system does what it’s supposed to. Lots of cynicism out there as to whether it’ll work in practice, but at least it’s a start.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
August 4, 2014 9:16 am

One of the main Causus Belli in the War of 1812 was our habit of press-ganging US Seafarers…at least this time they are volunteers, and no destruction of important public buildings in Washington is involved… :-)


August 4, 2014 9:25 am

@GNB: you mean our cousins *didn’t* enjoy rum, sodomy and the lash? It’s practically an advert if posted in some areas of San Francisco today :-)

August 4, 2014 10:11 am

‘Lots of cynicism out there as to whether it’ll work in practice’.

Indeed. The news was greeted here with a lot of wry smiles, and an assumption by the SRs that the negative aspects will definitely happen, but that actually getting released for a week’s leave mid deployment will be a rare event. I hope they are wrong.

The Other Chris
August 4, 2014 10:31 am

Any sign of the carrier launch sparking interest at grass roots level?

Sometimes I think we’re in desperate need of a UK “Saturn Project” to whip up inspiration.

Some obvious candidates such as backing Skylon to the hilt. Any other projects/programs anyone can suggest?

Not a boffin
Not a boffin
August 4, 2014 11:20 am

” I hope they are wrong”

Me too, else (in ebonics) ” we be f8cked”.

TOC – it’s not the grass roots that’s the problem. You can hoover in as much new meat as you like, but they still need supervising and training, because competence is a mixture of both qualification and experience. A bright shiny qualification is plenty to get you into trouble without the experiential nouse to get yourself out of it.

The trouble is that the people being called upon to deliver said supervision and nouse are (and have been) worked harder and harder for diminishing rewards. The inevitable outflow means that burden falls on fewer and fewer people at a rate that outstrips the training pipeline and Fleet’s capacity to deliver. Vicious circle, perfect storm, call it what you will and potentially one of the unintended consequences of squeezing sea/shore ratios.

The Other Chris
August 4, 2014 11:30 am

My misunderstanding, I misread it as the influx being the issue with retention having stabilised. Apologies and thanks for the clarification.

Rocket Banana
August 4, 2014 12:18 pm

Are navy crews still tied to specific ships… even in the long-term (say between refits)?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
August 4, 2014 1:03 pm

One assumes you’re not talking about rum, s0d0my & the lash?

August 4, 2014 1:34 pm


It’s not quite like that. Individual matelots are drafted to an individual ship for a set period of time (3ish years usually). It tends to be the ship’s company will reduce down to pretty much just the engineers during refit, and then start to recieve the other branches back onboard as part of the regeneration cycle. You then stay with the ship until your draft is up, or you can escape for other reasons such as promotion. There are other models such as the way the bombers work, 3 and 5 watch rotations, but we don’t do whole ship’s company swaps on FF/DDs (though Edinburgh and Exeter did try it a few years ago, and I’m assuming it wasn’t a success as we haven’t repeated it since). The MCM community do it though.

Rocket Banana
August 4, 2014 1:51 pm


Thanks. I figured as much. I can’t see how we can’t have two deployments being back-to-back (albeit with a couple of months between).

The only way out of the back-to-back deployments seems to be changing the maintenance model from the 12-14 monthers to more frequent but shorter periods.

Does anyone know if this model has been adopted for the T45s? I seem to remember reading about it somewhere.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 4, 2014 2:03 pm


I once posted a long and detailed explanation of the deployment cycle in response to Chris B but god knows how I would find it. Basically with careful planning and consideration you should be able to cover “planned tasking” with a hull deployment cycle of no worse than 6 months deployed 6 months home (this is not all alongside time by any means with UK tasking, training, FRE duties etc as well as maintenance) the difficulties occur when you have contingent tasking and or engineering defects that require units to be replaced.
Personnel can be a totally different story and with a finite number of personnel qualified in key roles, replacing people who “fall over” can see certain individuals worked very hard and that as we know leads to a vicious downward cycle in terms of retention.

Rocket Banana
August 4, 2014 2:20 pm


If you can remember some of the numbers then I can google it?

What I’m really trying to get to the bottom of is the difficulty in NOT bunching deployments up in order to get enough maintenance time for a ship. Working with three ships and three crews we can deploy for six-months, be on-task for four (say) and “cover the task” with six-months back home (as you say, doing the training, workup, etc).

The problem I see is that the ship is never available for maintenance for more than six-months at a time. You have to “bunch” up a couple of deployments to move four-months to the next six-month break, giving you a ten-month maintenance period. You then bunch up another two and get to 14 months which seems to be about the right time for a refit.

This is certainly hard on a crew even though it all averages out over a 3-4 year cycle.

This leads me to believe that we need to either change the maintenance method (to 5-6 months) or not “pin” the crew to a particular ship – taking into account what AW1 said above. Alternatively it will just have to be par for the course having to do two deployments in fairly rapid succession.

Are we not trialing this with T45?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 4, 2014 2:26 pm

@ Simon.

Remembered Chris reproduced it on his site.

It really depends upon the location of the task and how you man the Ships. 3 Ships to cover 1 Task 24/7/365 is about right. That is to have a Ship in the AOR at all times. You would struggle to do that indefinitely with only 3 Ships though as all 3 of those ships would have to be running and not in refit. Also ships that are in that 1 in 3 cycle but back in Uk could still be FRE or TAPs or cover the training tasks.

So if Ship A has just taken over on op Kipion and Ship B is heading back to the UK Ship C which will be 5 months away from deploying to relieve Ship A will begin to tailor her programme to achieve that.

Let’s leave Ship A safely in the Gulf and B on its way back.

Ops on ship C now has a pretty exhaustive list of boxes to tick before deployment day. This will vary depending upon whether the Ship has come out of deep maintenance/refit or not.

Obviously for a ship coming out of maintenance or refit the trial process etc extends for longer. So if we say that Ship C has come out of an AMP but not refit so has kept her ships company pretty much intact but has had a few systems altered and upgrades fitted.

Planning meetings over the previous couple of months will have been interesting as every department imagines they are the most important.
First of all as series of Harbour trials will have to be completed. once this has been done a series of sea trials will be done to prove that materially the Ship has been put back together properly. this can take a few weeks.

Meanwhile Ship A happily enters its second month on station and Ship B has returned and gone on leave.

Once ship C is happy it is in a decent material state the countdown to Operational Sea training begins in earnest.
Department heads will begin to look at their training serial priorities, assets will be booked etc and the Ship along with some external help will prepare itself for approximately 6 weeks of Operational sea training at Devonport.

Ship C in the mean time will have returned from leave and will be doing post deployment maintenance assuming their Ship is not going into refit. They will not however unless extremely unlucky be the Ship slotted to eventually relieve Ship C in 9 months time.

With just less than 3 months to go Ship C has completed shake down and taken a couple of weeks leave.
Ship A is probably in her mid deployment AMP somewhere for a couple of weeks.
Ship B if not in refit has slotted into the UK tasking cycle of training, FRE or TAPS as required.

Assuming Ship C passes OST she will take pre deployment leave then deploy.
Ship A will get ready to return when relieved.
Ship B has been told that she is becoming Ship C in another cycle and will deploy to the Falklands in 6 months.
ship D takes the place of Ship C in the Gulf cycle.

you then have about 3 weeks including a weeks training in the Med for ship C to transit out and 2 weeks for Ship a to transit back.

Upon return Ship A does what Ship B previously did or enters refit.
Ship C is the deployed asset.
Ship D goes through the process Ship C did.

Refit periods are also planned in reducing the available numbers in the different cycles.

At the moment we have cycles like that going for the 2 Kipion escorts and the APT(S).”

Oscar Zulu
Oscar Zulu
August 4, 2014 2:34 pm
All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 4, 2014 2:45 pm

@Simon I found it and reposted it but it got spammed, however I wanted to rework it anyway so if @TD could not bother posting my repost and i will have another go here.

Ok let us imagine a deployment or standing task. One of the East of Suez Kipion tasks and our standard 3 ships to keep one on station we talk about. Going to use big handfuls of 1 month at a time so time scales not exact.

Month 1
Ship A- Just Arrived on station
Ship B-Just left station transiting back
Ship C-Just came out of AMP

Month 2
Ship A- On station
Ship B- Post deployment leave
Ship C-Harbour/Sea/Machinery trials

Month 3
Ship A-On station
Ship B-Post deployment Maintenance
Ship C-Shakedown/UK Running

Month 4
Ship A-On station
Ship B-UK running/Training/FRE/TAPS/Exercises
Ship C-OST

Month 5
Ship A-OnStation
Ship B-UK running/Training/FRE/TAPS/Exercises
Ship C-OST/Tranist

Month 6
Ship A-On station/handover/Begin Transit Back
Ship B-UK running/Training/FRE/TAPS/Exercises
Ship C-Transit/Handover/on Station

That is one cycle and there are several variables, if a unit can get OST and then a more complex exercise in i.e Joint warrior prior to deployment then this is good.
The planners are juggling 3 cycles like this, 2 E of Suez, 1 APT(S) whilst having an FF/DD presence part of the year in the Caribbean and looking at RFTG annual deployments as well as the refit cycle. All with 19 escorts :)

August 4, 2014 3:11 pm

We must have run some basic numbers at the time during the discussion because I have a file note that reads;

“4 ships = 1 task,
7 ships = 2 tasks,
11 ships = 3 tasks,
14 ships = 4 tasks,
18 ships = 5 tasks,”

Does that ring any bells?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 4, 2014 3:16 pm

@ Chris B

I must take some file notes but that sounds like it includes the refit cycle but probably not the RFTG tasking which these days seems to be 2 escorts for 6 months annually.

Rocket Banana
August 4, 2014 4:12 pm


Thanks, so the returning escort’s crew get a couple months leave and then cover 1/2 a local task? A assume it takes two groups of three to cover FRE (or TAPS) then.

Lastly, how long was the deployment above and how long was it on-station? I can’t make out if Ship A covered 4, 5 or 6 months on-station.

I appreciate it’s all approximate ;-)

Rocket Banana
August 4, 2014 4:31 pm

It’s okay APATS, I’ve now read it in conjunction with the previously “spammed” text… six months on-station… wow!

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 4, 2014 4:46 pm

@ simon

Of course there are always exceptions both good and bad, in 2006 I deployed on January the 6th and got back in August :(

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
August 4, 2014 5:39 pm


As a young singlie, I’d have LOVED that sort of deployment that you had in 2006 (the longer, the better, after all it’s what we joined for). But once married, it’s less attractive.

August 4, 2014 7:00 pm

I think it might be something related to a calculation of 3.5 ships per task, for tasks away from the UK. That would add up at least. Can’t remember what we were talking about at the time.

Rocket Banana
August 4, 2014 7:16 pm

Chris B,

From what Somewhat Involved said some time ago about 1 in 4 ships are in refit at any one time.

Add to this the 85% availability figure of T23 and you need 4.7 ships per task in total. 19 ships should therefore deliver 4 tasks (at range) plus the local UK FRE, TAPS, and training requirements.

Obviously some of the tasks do not require so much transit time so I guess there’s a way to squeeze a little more out of them ;-)

I’d love to see the actual rota for the last few years.

August 4, 2014 7:53 pm

@ Simon,

From what I vaguely remember, the 3.5 figure was derived from needing 7 ships to cover 2 distant tasks, accounting for the fact that one would be in refit at any one time.

The availability of the Type 23, how is that calculated? For example, a ship on task might have to duck in for a couple of days maintenance somewhere, or the bulk of the unavailability might be accrued when ships return from a six month deployment abroad somwhere. Need to be careful with those figures I think.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 4, 2014 8:01 pm

@ Simon

The actual number of ships in refit really depends upon the age of the vessels and also the upgrade program occurring. Also the 85% availability rate is not a factor as if one of your T23 Frigates breaks down and spends 5 days alongside in Bahrain being fixed you do not send another one from the UK. Also whilst it specifically does not include planned maintenance there are other factors not mentioned as being included or not.

To give you an idea of what i am talking about ref planned updates. Let us look at the T23 RP2 project. Now this centered around the upgrade to the 4.5 Mod 1 standard, DNA2 command system and the Sea Wolf Mid Life Upgrade as well as the fitting of ASCG and (boring engineering stuff :)

Now the completion dates for this program were

Agyll 2010
Lancaster 2012
Iron Duke 2013 (also received 997)
Monmouth In refit as of Feb 14 (will receive 997)
Montrose 2010
Westminster 2010
Northumberland 2011
Richmond 2011
Somerset 2013
Sutherland In refit as of end 2013 (will receive 997)
Kent 2012
Portland 2012
St Albans 2014 (received 997)

So even though we should be in good shape with every T23 having gone through RP2 within 5 years and a modern T45 we can already see that only 4 of 13 will have 997, so how will they decide to fit that and after 997 what will the programme be for Sea Ceptor fits?

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
August 4, 2014 9:01 pm

It is all well and good saying lets have more frequent shorter maintenance periods, but already everyday a ship is in it’s home port there are civilian engineers on-board doing maintenance or installing new kit/removing old kit.
An interesting anomaly are the River class OPV’s they average around 300 days available a year, but that is more to do with the complexity of the vessel.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
August 4, 2014 10:41 pm

“Rum, sodomy and the lash”…I was in that bar in SF back in 1980…in fact the problem was warm, bitter beer and an insufficient emphasis on cosmetic dentistry…I’m sure you’ll have heard of the Gnaw Mutiny? :-)


Rocket Banana
August 5, 2014 8:29 am


“Also the 85% availability rate is not a factor as if one of your T23 Frigates breaks down and spends 5 days alongside in Bahrain being fixed you do not send another one from the UK.”

Of course ;-)

I now have a spreadsheet (NaB will be proud) with 19 ships, 5 on task, 4 in UK waters, 4 in refit with an additional one going into or coming out of refit and undergoing trails, and 5 in transit or on leave. Unfortunately it creates a five-year “tour”. If I juggle it around a bit I get a need for 13 frigates and a three-year “tour”, which seems to fit a little better with AW1’s drafting duration.

Obviously I wouldn’t expect a T45 to do the TAPS task but generally does each ship/crew “see” everything and undertake each task at least once?

August 5, 2014 9:13 am


I think you misunderstood my description of draft lengths, which is probably my fault for lack of clarity. The length of draft onboard does not correlate with the length of time between RPs. The non-engineering branches tend to join towards the end of an RP to regenerate for the return to Fleet Time, and will leave not long after the ship leaves Fleet Time, but (for example), the POAWW billet will not be filled by the same person at the beginning and the end. For good or bad, the drafting cycle is (partially) de-coupled from the refit cycle. The manning profile is coupled with it, but not the drafting cycle within that. Hope that expresses things a bit more clearly.

As for does each ship ‘see’ every task, no. There can be a variety of reasons for this, which I’m sure that APATS is better placed to explain, but for example, my last ship effectively ‘missed’ a deployment, and spent 11 months as TAPS instead (with a short jolly to Libya thrown in for good measure).