Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
October 6, 2014 1:15 pm

Aaaah the classic – the nasty MOD hurt the Royal Navy line – a lovely one to deploy to explain why the RN doesnt have what it wants, while ignoring that the RN decides on its escorts and not this mythical MOD.

Christ I get depressed when you see people so intentionally misleading – its letting the country down by making out that the RN knows what is right but the MOD isnt listening, when nothing could be further from the truth.

October 6, 2014 2:07 pm

We can still solve this with the new River-class patrol vessels. The MoD should order something like 7 or 8 vessels instead of ordering 3 and keeping HMS Clyde. 1 in the Falklands (replacing HMS Clyde), 1 in Gibraltar (more necessary to have a vessel based in Gibraltar than the Falklands at the moment), 3 or 4 patrolling UK waters (remember that it used to be 9 vessels patrolling UK waters) and 2 or 3 performing anti-piracy, anti-narcotic and humanitarian missions.


– Bofors 57 mm naval gun or OTO Melara 76 mm naval gun (POSSIBLY)
– Phalanx CIWS
– Anti-fast attack craft gun(s)
– Miniguns
– General purpose machine guns

What would be great on the 2 patrolling the Falklands and Gibraltar are Harpoons, but we can’t even fit them on 2 of our destroyers let alone 2 patrol vessels.

– Aviation facilities for 2 Wildcats or 1 Merlin

October 6, 2014 2:13 pm

Wrong end of the stick. ‘High-end’ units performing these secondary tasks are normally in the region anyway to fulfil directed tasks and other commitments. They also keep much of their currency by operating with deployed allies, gaining in-area training value and exploiting local facilities and other forces around them.

To make way for cheaper alternatives, how small does Professor Lambert think the RN’s DD/FF force can shrink before it and, more critically, its people are no longer able to maintain or sustain their superior knowledge base, skills and expertise in global maritime warfare? His proposals would involve making compensating reductions and only make things worse. Critical mass was lost some time ago which is why so many sea-going billets are gapped, diluted or filled by short-term personnel doing almost back-to-back deployments. It’s no good having a ‘tip of the spear’ if it’s tiny and blunt.

As for the notion of being able to upgrade corvette-style T26s and their personnel quickly to be used effectively in ‘high-end’ warfare, the mind boggles.

Last but not least, any comparison of the Royal Navy with the French Navy is invidious. You only have to examine the differing operational requirements for the Type 45 and the Horizon to see the differences in our geographical apirations and warfare capability. ;-)

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 6, 2014 2:17 pm

To be to the overall article, it does make the point that pretty much everyone apart from Andrew Lambert thinks it’s a stupid idea. It doesn’t say that 1SL has explicitly said it’s a non-runner, which would completely negate the thrust of the argument.

Deliberately provocative strapline though – wonder why…..

October 6, 2014 2:39 pm

High end surface combatants take a long time to build and an equally long time to train the crew on the many varied and complex systems , in a shooting war you do not have the time . Smaller single purpose ships with limited equipment would be much quicker to build and equip as well as train /retrain a crew. The present plan for CVF/T45/T26/Astute is the correct one IMHO.

October 6, 2014 3:23 pm

The trouble is the defence budget is shrinking, until that can be reversed or simply just hold its own in real terms then this is a pointless discussion. After all while the treasury is hostile to the armed forces, no one is going to say yes low end equipment is useful, because the treasury will say ‘good, and that’s all you are getting’.

In an ideal world, a further 5 type 26s, and 6 additional Rivers would be more than useful, along with shipbuilding not just on the Clyde but on the Mersey as well.

October 6, 2014 3:34 pm

I’m guessing we all know that the RN has signed an Agreement in Principle to build 3 new OPVs -based on the river class design- at a fixed price of £348m (inc. spares and support) to carry out constabulary duties, its not clear whether or not the OPVs will replace the current River-class vessels or if they will be in addition to them. Just read the updated wiki page, hear this fellas ‘The new ships will incorporate a Merlin-capable flight deck, have a range of 6,300 miles, a top speed of 24 knots, be 90 meters in length and displace around 2,000 tonnes. According to BAE Systems, the vessels are designed to deploy globally, conducting anti-piracy, counter-terrorism and anti-smuggling tasks currently conducted by frigates and destroyers.’

THE QUESTION: Has Professor Lambert’s problem of frigates and destroyers carrying out constabulary duties been solved? Will we have more frigates and destroyers out there carrying out more macho duties?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 6, 2014 3:53 pm

Given that that is a BAES description and that the ships are based on a design originally for the Trinidad & Tobago coastguard, I’d say Prof Lamberts problem is far from solved.

Word on da street is that the RN are far from happy with the actual specification. Before anyone starts wibbling about guns and radars and unmanned wotsits, the contentious bits are the more important elements of the design – things like damaged stability performance, machinery redundancy, fire protection etc, etc. Quite how the thing is going to deploy 6000 nm with no helo hangar is also something of a challenge. Wouldn’t fancy leaving one of my relatively scarce Merlin or Wildcat lashed down on the deck for that sort of time.

October 6, 2014 4:15 pm

@NAB – oh dear, and that does not sound like gold plating requests either. I am sure the design will be fine for River / Clyde type work but it always was a steep ask to be used for anything more. No doubt we will have them as they are and they will quietly replace the Rivers. If we wanted a longer legged one, then presumably just raid BAEs design suite for a 100m version based on a stripped down Khareef with a Lynx hanger (but no flash armament suite)

The Other Chris
October 6, 2014 4:16 pm

Any scope removing the stack and replacing with a waterline exhaust/vented-loop to make room for a hangar?

October 6, 2014 4:29 pm

@TOC – I think the NZ protector vessels squeeze a hanger in despite being 85m. Depends what we really want to use these for

October 6, 2014 4:31 pm

2000 tonnes? Must have a big fridge!

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 4:32 pm

Engineering wise I’m sure all sorts of things are possible. But you can be sure they are not costed for in whatever contract has been signed. And any fundemental changes we do make to what is a finished design will come with a major ’embuggarence factor’ of messing up other things in the design that are currently stable. So if we start messing about with it cost will start to go through the roof. And we have to ask ourselves if that is really what we want to spend our money on? Given that even when we have finiished the ships will still be small and under-armed and not much use for warlike operations.

Wouldn’t we be better off accepting them for what they are: a political stop-gap to keep the clyde shipyards busy. Use them to replace the Rivers, ta very much for that, and devote scarce funds to critical programmes like: Crowsnest, getting Type 26 right, sorting out Type 45 propulsion, and getting MARS SSS funded with a decent scope and decent hull numbers.

After all if we are talking about HADR in the Carribean or hosting helicopters, marines and small craft for Counter Piracy a decent spec MARS SSS beats a patrol boat hands down. And they do also have a critical role in a shooting war.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 6, 2014 4:39 pm

And even more “good” news on the way on T26. You heard it here first……

Clive F
Clive F
October 6, 2014 4:48 pm

do tell NaB

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 4:53 pm

We didn’t hear it here until someone tells it. :p

October 6, 2014 4:58 pm


‘The new ships, which will be built by BAE Systems at their shipyards on the Clyde, will play a key role in counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and anti smuggling operations.’

Royal Navy, http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2013/november/06/131106-new-ships-for-royal-navy


Needs to accommodate 1 Wildcat and its LMMs and FASGWs


HMS Clyde’s 2000 tonnes


Some good points there, we also have the MHPC programme but we have always squeezed the best out of what we build, these OPVs shouldn’t be an exception.

Rocket Banana
October 6, 2014 5:09 pm

The word “good” in quotes is always pretty alarming ;-)

So that’d be just eight (please say ten) then… but full fat.

Excellent. Now to get on and design the C2, which will be the real export winner.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 6, 2014 5:30 pm

There is no such thing as a “full-fat” version of any of this – that’s a term dreamed up by the fantasy fleet brigade. C2 when it existed as an idea several years ago was essentially a T26 without the towed array and potentially some of the NR measures. Nothing more, nothing less.

There will be no export market I’m sorry to say, as those nice far eastern gentlemen from Japan and Korea are hoving into view and will hoover up anything that wants more than China or Russia can supply.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
October 6, 2014 5:47 pm

Currently the only real export market is for OPV style vessels navys that are looking for 60-120m vessels don’t tend to have the capability to build them.

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 5:48 pm


If the government were to abandon complex warship construction and tender the out the existing design for construction in Korea or elsewhere do you think there would be significant savings? Or would it cost just as much wherever we build it?

Mind you if the ‘exisitng design’ itself (that we just paid 5 years worth of money for) is where the problem lies then I guess it would still cost just as much to correct it regardless of who gets to do the build.

October 6, 2014 5:58 pm

Why can’t we just ram a whole bunch of TLAM and long range anti ship weapons into a mass of VLS on a couple of converted tankers ? Give them some decent ECM and let the Daring Class be the control ship for the missiles ? Is it that difficult ? Why does every ship have to be a billion dollar escapade ?

Rocket Banana
October 6, 2014 5:58 pm

I’ll try that again…

The word “good” in quotes is always pretty alarming ;-)

So that’d be just eight (please say ten) then… but fully configured ASW destroyers (TAS, Mk41, etc).

Excellent. Now to get on and design the 4000 tonne C2, which will not be the real export winner but can still be a good general purpose, well-rounded, frigate.

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 6:12 pm

Not sure we need a “good general purpose well-rounded frigate” design when we will have the Type 26 production line hot producing a ship that we can still hope at this point ticks all the boxes in terms of general fightyness. If at any point we really do decide we want a less fighty version just plate over VLS space and replacce Artisan with a cheap and cheerful radar. No need to spend a wad of cash shrinking the steel box and ceating a whole new class of ship to support and maintain. Just don’t get surprised when you’re patrolling the litterol to interdict nasties and some lowlife jumps out from behind a rock and pings you with an AShM. That’s why I think we don’t need a “C2”.

What we will want as soon as T26 design is put to bed is: MARS SSS, followed by some sort of mothership for MCM, possibly a COTS OSV design painted grey, followed eventually by replacement Amphib ships hopefully with nice big hangers to fit whatever bird we eventually replace Merlin with, followed then by another Combat Ship optimised for AAW, possibly a “Flight 2” of the same T26 design we already built.

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 6:31 pm

Anyway what are you leaving out to get down to 4,000 tonnes? Fuel? Food? Aviation? Armaments? People? Your ship is either going to be very short legged and need following around by a Tanker and a Stores Ship (that we don’t have) or significantly under armed and liable to get plinked by annyone with a few old Migs, or unable to offer meaningful HADR assistance, or have space for any RM. Most likely a combination of all of the above.

Rocket Banana
October 6, 2014 6:35 pm


I wouldn’t ditch Artisan or CAMM on the C2. I’d ditch the Mk41 VLS, Mk45 gun, Merlin hangarability, and MT30 propulsion.

It would be rather similar to the Formidable class frigates operated by our Singaporean friends.

Good for snooping around the littorals or sending to recce or picket ahead of a task force.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
October 6, 2014 6:36 pm

Fantasy fleet is a fun game, and I could enjoy playing it (or fantasy Army or Air Force as much as anyone). However, in tines of limited resources, I think it would be useful for the MOD to state exactly what effect each service is to deliver.

Try as I might, I see limited threat to our SLOCs, but there are maritime tasks to be performed in the Gulf while we are dependent on Qatari gas. The rest of the current and foreseeable threats require different force balances, chiefly air and logistical reach over strategic distance. Escort ships are indeed useful for some tasks, but are they more important than the ability to rapidly surge a politically significant force to a potential hotspot? What is the relative importance of a well-specified casualty receiving ship in comparison to an escort?

Threats are emerging and changing all of the time: Ebola for example is not now a strategic threat to the UK but could become so next week: why not have a disaster containment capability based on several field hospitals, some Points and a floating reserve hospital?

Rocket Banana
October 6, 2014 6:50 pm


If you want to play that game then why bother with anything. We haven’t been invaded for over 70 years!

A national guard, a couple of Typhoon squadrons, half-a-dozen OPVs and some MPA/AEW should do it.

So putting the elephants to one side what are we going to do if someone decides to close the Suez canal? Rely on everyone else? ‘Cos they’ll have done the same thing and cashed in on the peace dividend too.

What are we going to do if China thinks it would be fun to give the Somalian pirates some AShM to sink the container ships they sometimes board. Insurance costs would sky-rocket, as would the cost of rice.

What’s going to stop Russia or Norway simply taking all the North Sea oil rigs? The Police? My YAM Sport 300 simply can’t be in all places at once :-)

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
October 6, 2014 6:57 pm


The FRES concept was good, although as your excellent series showed it was derailed by wagon fetishism and a fear of casualties.

At its’ most pure, it was about a single metric: capability delivered where it was needed was a logarithmic function of time. A Company in 24 hours was worth a Battle Group in 5 days was worth a Brigade in 10 days was worth a Division in 15 days. And not just bayonets: it works for HA or hospitals or fresh clean water.

FRES should never have been seen as an Army programme: it should have been Joint as it was as much about strategic lift as it was about the Army. Even more than Purple, it cried out for DFID and the NHS just as much as it did for the MOD.

The answer to FRES was air transportability and a readiness cycle that works. And a political decision cycle that spanned at the most 3 links. Not about wagons.

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 7:04 pm


How’s it going to keep out in front of a TF if its top speed is significantly less? And would you want to be snooping round the litterols without either a main gun or any other way of dropping a ‘bang’ on someone’s head? I suppose a wildcat with LMM would be something to contend with, but it can only fly a few hours in the day and is itself vulnerable to MANPADS. And I still have concerns about crew numbers and deployed endurance from such a small hull. People don’t want to sleep in hammocks slung on the gundeck these days you know ;)

We are also getting to an era where the RN has neither a global network of bases nor enough tankers and stores ships to support anything other than a single task group: so Combat Ships really need to be able to carry their own stores. Which means bigger hulls than we had a generation ago.

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 7:09 pm


So if you could wave your FRES wand now and deliver the Joint Capability that we really need what would you go for? [point taken about replacing all the politicians of all parties with ones who are any good]

More A400M? More C17? 8×8 Wagons that can drive across Europe? Or big grey Amphib Ships that can deliver and sustain LIMS and LIMS and LIMS of Tracks, Wheels and Dishy Nurses to wherever we want in the world??

Rocket Banana
October 6, 2014 7:16 pm


A decent diesel gen set should still allow it to go ahead of a 15-18 knot task force.
OTO Melara 76 mm?
Wildcat with FASGW(H) and LMM was certainly my main offensive weapon though ;-)

I was really picturing it as the recce-wagon or skirmisher of the navy not a full-fat combatant against a peer adversary. Something that could do a bit of search and destroy against a pirate, terrorist or smuggler stronghold. If it came under too much opposition it would fall back and call in the big guys.

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 7:18 pm

Is there anytning commercially useful we could do with a fleet of 50 A400M or 20 C17?

How do their operating costs stack up commercially against a Cargo 747? Maybe Dave Haine would know.

Or to flip it around could a Cargo 747 carry a militarily useful load?

Maybe the whole area of heavy airlift would be more suitable for a PFI than Airtanker was??

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 7:22 pm

Simon I think the main problem with that concept is the Falklands.

We lost too many ships that were designed to do a bit of skirmishing and fall back but when push came to shove had to be thrown into the fire in becuase they were all we had. It was a hard lesson and (in my view rightly) still colours our thinking today.

October 6, 2014 7:29 pm

I thought the whole point of the type 26 was that it was going to be a mid budge ” value” frigate and not ” gold plated”.

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 7:31 pm


Over on another site is a jolly retired USN Captain known to us as Uncle Mike who waxes lyrical about the importance of damage control and having enough men to save the ship when the inevitable shit happens. Not just getting blown up by nasties but when old Mother Neptune gives you a good shoeing as she will do from time to time especially in a small ship. He already thinks the RN is ridiculously lean manned for Damage Control compared to the USN.

TD loves to take the piss out of him but for serious stuff fighty stuff really he’s right. The American ships with all their sailors will stay afloat a lot longer than ours for the same damage. Its just that we have so few sailors and budget we can’t afford to do like them. And an even smaller leaner manned comabtant does begin to look like a bit of a floating coffin in that regard.

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 7:37 pm


It hopefully will be that compared to a Type 45 or a Flight 3 Arliegh Burke.

(Although unllike T45 hopefully its main propulsion will work flawlessly)

And part of its cost advantage is supposed to be that we get lots of them built to a standard design. Also unlike Type 45. Depending on how th fleet is looking in 2030 and how the T45 are coping with middle age there will be an argument to simply keep the production line running until we have 20 near identical ships running round – with the last few sporting whatever the latest upgraded AAW weapons to replace SeaViper.

Where people go wrong is comparing costs against navies who don’t seriously expect to fight and who see their navies principally as an exerise in willy waving and propping up their shipyards.

Rocket Banana
October 6, 2014 7:50 pm


Didn’t we lose all our ships from air attack in the Falklands? Generally down to poor AEW and air-defences?

Nowadays, I’d expect to lose my dinky little frigate to a sub (I’ll keep the Artisan and CAMM installation thanks) – something you don’t generally expect pirates, terrorists or smugglers to have. In addition, I’d hope our SSN (or MPA) would have sanitised the area when I do my skirmishing against a proper baddie.

Anyway. I’m playing devils advocate a bit here as I actually ended up thinking much the same as your original retort (T26 hulls “fitted for but not with” almost everything). I’m just seeing what use something a little greater than an OPV could be.

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 8:01 pm


Buy a nice roomy OSV with a hanger. COTS for under £100m. Gives our MCM people the mothership they need and spacious enough to host your wildcat detachment and UAS of choice. Doesn’t look fighty so won’t be sent anywhere scary by the pollies or used to cut Combat Ship numbers.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
October 6, 2014 8:15 pm


I’d be going for the forward based logistics dump in a place about 2000 miles away from where we want to be relatively quickly, with both a port and an airport.

So, Ascension, somewhere in Oman, possibly Diego Garcia. Certainly Cyprus, maybe the Seychelles. Southern Florida. Bahrain for bombs. Sierra Leone as a forward training location (we already use Kenya). At a real stretch, although the Sultan would probably pay for it, Brunei.

FRES is about logistic planning. Much of the day to day work can be contracted out.

October 6, 2014 8:21 pm

I’d go as low as 10 fully equipped T26 if it meant getting an additional 6 ‘fitted for not with’ which so long as they got some CAMM, Artisan, a few guns and a Lynx would be perfectly capable of defending themselves and be big enough and independent enough to make useful lone patrol vessels.

Not saying i can ever see that happening though.

Would like to see these extra OPVs retained alongside the Rivers to get fleet numbers up but obviously not at the expense of any frigates which is clearly a very real problem.

I also question how useful three Amazonas variant vessels would actually be in overseas patrol work. I want a cheap and cheerful solution to chasing drug-runners or pirates around the globe, but a relatively small and slow design that lacks endurance and good sea-keeping, plus crucially doesn’t have a hangar presents a lot of issues and concerns.

I want both extra OPVs and enough T26 which clearly isn’t going to happen, choice between the two would have to be securing sufficient numbers of T26 and trying to shoehorn MARS SSS into the humanitarian low-end patrol stuff as much as possible. At least in a high-threat scenario they wouldn’t be one trick ponies and could bring their primary capabilities to the table.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
October 6, 2014 8:30 pm


What use are those lone patrol vessels? Seriously, which organisation gives a toss if the Royal Navy has a single frigate 100 miles over the horizon? As a nation, we demonstrate repeatedly that it takes us a month to fail to get a meaningful UN Security Council Resolution to actually do anything, and then all that we’ve got is a single boat optimised for killing submarines when the actual threat is mass murder and rape about 1,000 miles inland by people who wear civvies, and actually are civvies on whom we have no intelligence.

Would it be fair to challenge you to name a particular occasion since 1945 when the correct answer was to send a frigate on its’ lonesome?

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 8:34 pm

Only military point of a single ship deployment is if it comes with the ability to launch enough TLAM to spoil someone’s day, and then deal with any shit that comes flying back the other way. Which means either an SSN or a properly equipped Combat Ship. Not a floatly little boat.

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 8:38 pm

@RT – like the thinking. Good logisitics wins wars as much as scary moustaches or things that go bang.

October 6, 2014 8:51 pm

Well i didn’t mean literally on it’s own, but semi independent and able range with the ability to defend itself.

If you want to keep a frigate in the South Atlantic or the Gulf then it doesn’t always have to be the 100% solution, most the time an 80% solution will suffice.

T23’s don’t have silo’s full of Tomahawk now and barely any AShM capability but aren’t regarded as useless or overexposed.

What i was trying to get across was that given the choice between retaining OPVs that have a very narrow set of capabilities and no room for growth or focusing on getting a ‘hot T26 production line going and striking a balance between some full-fat vessels and some ‘fitted for not with’ then i’d go for the latter every time.

But of course you need a baseline of fully equipped, high-end T26 (i think 10) and the ability to squeeze a meaningful amount of cheaper, simpler ones out of the overall program which is probably asking for too much and thus never likely happen.

October 6, 2014 9:00 pm

10 ASW T26s, 8 (in total) OPVs and 6 multirole Absalon style T26 based multi-role RM platforms, for the current 13 T23s and 2 LPDs…

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
October 6, 2014 9:08 pm


I have often felt that the Andrew are short of critical thinking capacity.

A frigate (currently T23) is cod all use against a surface or air threat. A T45 is cod all use against a subsurface or surface threat. And yet they are routinely deployed alone. Neither is remotely useful for warlike operations as a singleton, being commanded by a junior officer without the authority to deploy firepower on a decisive scale, nor with the firepower to affect the result given ROE constraints. Neither T23 nor T45 (nor T26,in time) have the logistic heft to make a difference. They are in effect training boats.

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 9:15 pm

Actually FWIW I think T23 is at risk of becoming increasingly irrelevant as a solo deployment, whether in the Gulf or elsewhere.

The updated ship with CAMM, Artisan and 2087 TAS will still keep doing the job as a Task Group escort as long as it can meet seaworthiness standards. But lack of a VLS will make it increasingly obsolescent in other roles as the years go by.

Harpoon replacement (whether Spear3 or something bigger) will almost certainly be VLS launched.

And in the West we have a ‘Fast Jet problem’ in terms of development and acquisition costs that means even with a the modest expansion of the RAF’s teeth squadrons that we’d all like to see we just won’t be able to launch the multiple waves of strike aircraft we have become used to having available to us far from home.

So both TLAM and ship lauched Spear3 will have a big part to play in topping up the Land Attack fires mix.

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 9:25 pm


IF and its a big if, T26 and T45 both get a decent sized strike length VLS then by the mid 2020s our Task Group could start to look like a seriously scary offensive weapon, with 24 F35B, 100 TLAM, 20+ Merlin HM2 plus assorted Wildcat, Apache, Chinook and men with mousaches to suit the situation. All kept safe underwater by a couple of world leading SSN and a wodge of clever MCM widgets.

A single ship able to lob a dozen TLAM not so much. Although in a hostage rescue situation (for instance) that could make a serious contribution to a well planned SF operation. And Arisan+CAMM should be able to knock down most things other than a saturation attack by a seriously annoyed Tier 1 power.

But overall I agree with the general thrust that:

Future RN = The Task Group

October 6, 2014 9:35 pm

Does anyone seriously think we’re in for any significant increase in defence spending even a 2% spending committements means most of wish list will be pipe dreams as personnel costs start rising again. At what point do we decide that given our likely budget and are likely enemy the old way or the way we’ve always done it is no longer valid and it’s time for a complete rethink on how we achieve outcomes.

What is a ships ability to target tlam independantly? How long long does it take to reload a dozen 1000lb bombs on a ship which is what tlam is? I actually think tlam and its equivalent maybe less and less used it takes to long to get to targets and its warhead is to big.

October 6, 2014 9:37 pm

Anyone building a future combat ship without Mk41 is probably certifiable. Not necessarily all strike length, but every possible Western missile is either already compatible it or is being made so. Using something else is nuts.

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 10:11 pm


Absolutely take your point about targeting. All future operations will be Joint Operations. Using Special Forces, Satallites, spyplanes as well as the organic UAS that I expect all Combat Ships to come with in the future (Scan Eagle, Integrator or similar).

Take the point about TLAM being too big for many operations. But its available now, current in UK service, and if we haven’t got enough Fast Jets to Paveway all the known fixed targets then for me it still has a role especially on Night One when the flack is still flying.

VLS launched Spear 3 may be more suitable for enduring ops in a complex ROE environment. Something Brimstone sized that quad packs into a standard sized VLS may need looking at in future too. The point is: VLS is now and in the future the main offensive weapons system of a Combat Ship. Which is why we need to ensure all out future Combat Ships have a decent sized one.

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 10:13 pm

About the budget that depends on the threat.

History doesn’t stop.

And history tells us that sooner or later all defence budgets have to go up as well as down. Just hope and pray it happens in time.

October 6, 2014 10:22 pm

I don’t disagree with the comments here but the spectre looming in the shadows is the same old quantity vs quality problem again.

Whilst i completely agree that their is a baseline of capability a design needs to employ to justify it’s existence where do you draw the line? I’m all for focusing on a task-group but you still need some degree of critical mass.

The clincher will be the eventual price-tag of the T26, let’s just hope it doesn’t start to snowball out of control.

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 10:27 pm

The spectres looming in the shadows are Russia and Islamism.

We were broke in 1935 even worse than we are now. But we still re-armed. Thank goodness.

October 6, 2014 10:29 pm


‘And history tells us that sooner or later all defence budgets have to go up as well as down. Just hope and pray it happens in time’

So do i, my fear is that their is a nasty shock looming, one that could cost life’s if we continue down this path of still trying to do everything properly with fewer and fewer resources to go around.

Just taking the RN as the current example, the question to the RN should be ‘how many combat ships do you need?’ but instead we get the RN asking the higher powers ‘how many combat ships can we get away with buying?’

It’s all wrong!

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 10:40 pm

1939-41 was one horrible shock after another. Even though the Treasury were horrified by the cost of the 1935 re-armament programme it still wasn’t enought to put modern forces in the Far East, save Singapore or Burma or prevent the fall of France. But think how much worse things would have been if we’d stuck to ‘normal jogging’ with cost driven budgets.

Comfort yourself that the politicians in power in the mid 1930s were little better than the set we have today. And after the horror of WW1 the population at large was deeply, deeply opposed to war. But even then eventually reality intruded.

Grade 1 nutters gleefully chopping peoples’ heads off do tend to catch public attention.

Peter Elliott
October 6, 2014 10:56 pm

One advantage of having had a crash diet over the last 20 years is we are very little constrained by legacy capabilities. In 1921/2 we effectively scrapped the Grand Fleet to save money. The RN never ruled the waves again. But if those ships, rusty and decrepit, had still been sitting alongside in 1935 do you think we would ever have got permission to build brand 5 new ones? Plus new Aircraft Carriers? Maybe not. We would have been made to refurbish what we already had instead.

No-one is now going to say we can’t buy 8×8 becuase actually our medium armour capability isn’t so bad.
No-one is going to say we can’t buy Typhoon or F35 becuase we have all these Harriers and Jaguars that can actually do a job against beardies with an AK47.
And imagine if we had 9 MRA4 skulking around various hangers not really being allowed to do much flying becuase the airframes were too dodgy: would we ever be allowed to buy P8??
Same applies to so many missile and bomb types that we cleared out of the inevntory since the Cold War.
Seaviper and Seaceptor will be top notch becuase it really really wasn’t worth hanging onto Seadart and Seawolf any longer.

(Aegis is a great system and keeps getting upgraded. But there are so many in service that the USN will have a massive bill when it eventually comes to replacement. So they will put that evil day off for as long as they can.)

So atually boys and girls: its not all bad…

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
October 6, 2014 11:00 pm

Elliott – “Politicians…little better than we have now” – a bit unfair I think – both parties had numbers who could see the writing on the wall, and there was a very obvious focus for that view of the world laying bricks and writing down at Chartwell…and a slow and modest re-armament did start.

No obvious focus for a different view of the world in our existing political class, and every reason to believe that they will simply stick their fingers deeper into their ears to shut out the cries of the dying and look for yet more cuts…mostly to stuff the mouth of the NHS with gold…


October 7, 2014 7:07 am

You have one huge difference between the 1930s and today though and that’s trident.

You won’t have a war of attrition requiring national mobilisation because it won’t last that long before nuclear. You may have proxy conflicts or counter insurgency though.

October 7, 2014 10:14 am

Why do these guys always seem to think anti piracy is a sole navy issue. Four soldiers on a container ship with riffles and a GPMG can easily defend from a pirate attack. WE have 82,000 soldiers plus 7000 marines that we are no longer using so why not just stick them on container ships in pirate areas and job done.

It’s also worth noting that the T26 is now far from gold plated. What would Lanbert give up. The Radar is being transferred over from the T23 and it only has point air defence missiles. The towed sonar will also be transfered over so what could we cut? The 127 mm gun is about the only thing I can think of but that’s just seems like a daft idea to get rid of.

Peter Elliott
October 7, 2014 10:43 am

Seaceptor is reckoned to be much more than a point defence system. With its ability to engage crossing targets it is much more of a local area defence.

October 7, 2014 10:58 am

Yeah Sea Ceptor has something like a range of 25km so whilst it isn’t all singing and dancing i wouldn’t call it a mere point defence weapon.

Having thought about it i do question, as Martin elaborated on, how cheap you could make the T26. Probably a bit cheaper than the currently planned ASW variant, but aside from Type 2087 i’m not really sure what else you could lose before it negates the usefulness of such a ship in the first place.

At the same time though i really don’t think it’s OK to accept that a choice between ‘full-fat’ or nothing will restrict numbers to perhaps as low as 8. The RN should and does focus on quality over quantity, but their is a baseline of critical mass that shouldn’t be crossed, a point where quality by itself just isn’t enough or at the very least requires a serious rethink of overall ambition and strategy.

October 7, 2014 11:03 am


Just realised the Type 26 in service date has slipped again to 2022.

So 12 years after the designs started to emerge and over 20 years since a new frigate/frigates was first mooted!

A Different Gareth
A Different Gareth
October 7, 2014 11:45 am

Would retaining Type 23 once Type 26 is in service be a cheap way of achieving this second tier fleet?

The Other Chris
October 7, 2014 11:47 am

If we could keep T23 going I don’t think we’d be building T26.

October 7, 2014 12:13 pm

@TOC I think it costs us whether we have T26 built or not because of the agreement that was signed by Government to provide BAe Systems with work

October 7, 2014 12:22 pm

I agree that sea ceptor is more than just point defence but its ability is largely due to the missile rather than the radar system. Opting for a less capable system won’t save any money. The original T26 design was for a full fat destroyer sized vessel but it has already been scaled down considerably so it difficult to see how much less capable we could make it until we were left with something more like an OPV.

The Other Chris
October 7, 2014 12:24 pm

Just not as much.

October 7, 2014 12:44 pm

@ WF – I agree about Mk41. The Silos only cost around $500,000 each so pulling then off the boat will only result in a saving of $8 million or so. It hardly seems worth it given the massive reduction in the ships capability. If we want to greatly reduce T26 cost then the only option is to reduce the spec on the engines and the combat information system. Neither of these could be easily upgraded in future and would critically effect the combat potential of the vessel. If we were going for savings like these then we might as well use armed cargo ships.

In terms of the three new rivers, I think they could be useful to supplement the Frigates but they need a hanger sized for a Lynx. Otherwise they are of no use for anything other than to replace the existing rivers.

Peter Elliott
October 7, 2014 1:18 pm

T23 is getting to the end of its design allowences in terms of weight gain. @NAB can give chapter and verse but as they continue to age the time will come when we have to tie them up alongside becuase no-one will be prepared to certify them safe to go to sea. We are already life extending them now – to face facts by the mid 2020s they will be knackered.

Peter Elliott
October 7, 2014 1:24 pm

From what I hear the T26 concept is already hitting a real sweet spot in terms of getting an excellent all round capability into as small, simple and cheap a package as is realistically possible.

The concern I have (from @NAB’s mournful but unspecific laments) is that the price tag for delivering that will turn out to be higher than what the MoD spreadsheet says it should be.

John Hartley
John Hartley
October 7, 2014 4:15 pm

One quick way to boost RN surface fleet capability would be to fit T23 & T45 with Block II Harpoon, to gain a limited land attack capability.
Is there not a proposal for a dedicated air defence T26 variant with Sea Viper?

Peter Elliott
October 7, 2014 4:31 pm

I believe BAEs are marketing an AAW varient of the Global Combat Ship. Powerpoint only I suspect. Also not sure if Seaviper would be made available for export to just anyone.

In terms of an RN proposal for an AAW T26 with Seaviper that’s strictly Fantasy Fleets only.

October 7, 2014 5:36 pm

“VLS launched Spear 3 may be more suitable for enduring ops in a complex ROE environment. Something Brimstone sized that quad packs into a standard sized VLS may need looking at in future too. The point is: VLS is now and in the future the main offensive weapons system of a Combat Ship. Which is why we need to ensure all out future Combat Ships have a decent sized one.”

Finally making that Ramjet-powered CAMM-derivate shown by MBDA would be a better bet, with it’s own small cold-launch VLS silo and different variants for different tasks. Quadpacking Brimstone seems hell of a waste of a VLS-silo.

Not so sure about VLS-systems. Even if T45 would have an additional 24 cells, that is hardly a volume of firepower that decides a war, even against a below-peer adversary. A carrier with a JASSM-equipped squadron of F-35s would equal that firepower on a single trip, or one single B-1 Lancer (guess what a squadron fully loaded with LRASM could do, even if 80% of the missiles get intercepted! Still 58 hits.). A missile like JASSM can be containerized, with only 14ft in length. So, VLS is not the single option to get a land-attack capabiltity.

On pure, affordable surface vessel design, I still think, DAMEN pretty much nailed it with the SIGMA-family.

October 7, 2014 5:49 pm

“One quick way to boost RN surface fleet capability would be to fit T23 & T45 with Block II Harpoon”

If press reports are to be believed then the quick way to boost RN surface fleet capability would be to properly man the fleet we’ve currently got.

Peter Elliott
October 7, 2014 5:59 pm



Ditto air squadrons, ditto army brigades no doubt.

The Other Chris
October 7, 2014 6:21 pm

Hear, hear.

October 7, 2014 9:52 pm

I think SDSR15 needs to have complete rethink or priorities and size accordingly. I want to see a transparent assessment of what we can do in totality, across services. I want to see home defence (TAPs, EEZ patrol, MPA, QRA, standing battalions, SF etc) ring fenced at a clear minimum level. I want to see the deterrent and related support packaged and ring fenced also. The rest is then what we can deploy and that is where strategic thinking etc is needed and the bit that needs the sell to the electorate – where do we want to stand in the world and what do we need to do that. Do we want to be able to for example deploy an army Corps, a fighter wing and a fully supported carrier battle group to a major maximum effort conflict or do we make it clear and accept that it would be one division, a fighter squadron and a carrier. The answer may be somewhere in between. When we’ve decided the maximum deployable commitment and committed to fully resource achievement of that, we then know what standing tasks we can do in peacetime, other than home defence etc which is ring fenced. I feel the resulting rebalancing would possibly change the RN mix (extra SSNs and OPVs vs a few high end ships / amphibs), reduce the army a little more and increase the RAF

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 7, 2014 10:41 pm

“From what I hear the T26 concept is already hitting a real sweet spot in terms of getting an excellent all round capability into as small, simple and cheap a package as is realistically possible.”

Under no circumstances should you confuse Gucci computer renders and powerpoint with a design that works in terms of naval architectural performance……………

And that’s before we talk about cost.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 7, 2014 10:48 pm

” Do we want to be able to for example deploy an army Corps, a fighter wing and a fully supported carrier battle group to a major maximum effort conflict or do we make it clear and accept that it would be one division, a fighter squadron and a carrier.”

Your pongo units are about 3x the equivalent RAF/RN units. We barely have Wings, let alone Corps! Why having a CVBG without an amphib group is also questionable.

SDSR15 will contain all the elements you mention, although whether they’ll be open source is a different question.

October 7, 2014 11:12 pm

@NAB – purely illustrative of the ranges that could be considered. I suppose the ability to repeat Granby could broadly define the top end of the range of deployable force across all services. I’m not suggesting doing away with amphibs all together – possibly smaller future RN flagged vessels with the heavier, rarely used (at least for full on assault) docks / LCUs in RFA

October 7, 2014 11:30 pm


How much are we talking?

I mean if the original £260-350 million target cost per T26 jumps up-to say £400 million then it’s manageable, if it’s a lot more then obviously it’s going to start to cause problems.

Rocket Banana
October 8, 2014 11:44 am

I’d guess more like £500m, but then I’m not “in the loop”.

October 8, 2014 12:36 pm

One of the key issues with T26 price is the year they will be built in which we still don’t know so no doubt we will end up with a healthy dose of defence inflation on the hinted at target of GBP 350 million.

However given the relatively low risk level of the project compared to T45 or CVF and a decent build number of 13 vessels I think we can look to get them in for close to the GBP 350 million estimate in 2010 prices.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 8, 2014 3:15 pm

“However given the relatively low risk level of the project compared to T45 or CVF and a decent build number of 13 vessels I think we can look to get them in for close to the GBP 350 million estimate in 2010 prices”

You might think that. It is not a particularly widely held view elsewhere.

I’d say the key issue is having a design that works in terms of naval architecture…….

October 8, 2014 4:18 pm


You have been issuing vague, muttered misgivings about the T26 for at least a couple of years now, are you ever going to produce some hard data to back up your claims?

October 8, 2014 5:44 pm

“I’d say the key issue is having a design that works in terms of naval architecture…….”
BAE Systems has been working on the Naval FutuRE Surface combatant Ship or Naval FRESS of which they have had £150million pounds to spend on finishing proposals to submit this summer over the last four years alone (the initial Global Combat Ship has been in development since 1998 I believe).
I take it from your sideways hints that the BAE Design team and the RN are differing over some point(s) of the design being probably a mix of safety , habitability , survivability and the ability to do its job i.e. find submarines and either force them to surface or otherwise identify themselves as friendly/non-combative or sink them if they don’t (is their a sub IFF?).
BAE wont budge and neither will the boys in Dark Blue. It seems we really are moving towards a Purple Force but not in a good way as this is following the Armies shenanigans with FRES (that’s one S) and the Air Force with MRA4 :-)

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 8, 2014 6:57 pm

Challenger – you don’t honestly expect to get that sort of detail on an internet forum? Give your head a wobble.

I’ve tried to indicate where the issues are (Monkey you’re way off) – principally to put a damper on the Fantasy Fleet Fanboys drooling over CGI and powerpoint. Let’s just say it isn’t a simple matter of disagreement and it isn’t combat system.

As for evidence, I’d suggest you go back and look when Main Gate for the ship was supposed to be and then look at today’s date, where you’ll find major slippage despite some very powerful reasons not to do so.

Do you honestly think the RN wanted to order three OPV that don’t meet it’s minimum Class notation standards? Do you really think HMG wanted to bring shipbuilding into Wee Ecks debate (hint – check out how Glasgow voted)? Do you think they wanted to shut shipbuilding in Portsmouth with a potential by-election looming? Lots of equipment ordered (or promised) but somehow no order to cut steel – what could possibly be awry?

To put some of Monkeys post in context, the so-called Global Combat Ship is a marketing term primarily employed since approx. 2010, but of little relevance beyond that. The requirement for the ship has been in gestation since approx. 1996 when it was known as T22/23(R), then Future Escort and then Future Surface Combatant, before the Pathfinder and Surface Combatant Capability Coherence work started calling things C1, C2 and C3. None of which has changed the price of fish much and so we’ve got to the T26 which has been in design in something like its current form by first then Naval Design Partnership between 2008-ish to 2010 and then primarily by BAES since then, for which they have been paid £150M, which ran out nearly two years ago. Since when BAES have largely been self-funding and playing a giant game of chicken with MoD.

As I seem to remember posting long ago, fixing it is going to require some fairly brutal conversations and a willingness to realise that a tweak here and there will not fix the problem. Still waiting on that……

Rocket Banana
October 8, 2014 8:54 pm


I think you may have had this conversation before but what is Barrow doing at the moment?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 8, 2014 10:19 pm

Sitting on the SW tip of Cumbria, wishing it was still Lancastrian. What’s your point?

October 8, 2014 10:50 pm


Thank you for that detailed history lesson!

Joking aside i’m sure you can appreciate that it’s hard to form an opinion on something when unlike yourself most of us are only in possession of the information in the public domain.

Even without any inside involvement or information it’s not hard to see that things haven’t exactly gone to plan. After decades of head scratching and doodling i’m not quite sure what they have to show for it. Systems like Artisan and CAMM aside the basic design seems to be quite conventional, the sort of commonplace frigate that wouldn’t have been that radical 20 years ago let alone now, just a bit bigger than it’s predecessors with a bit of guff about a mission bay that was quickly watered down.

But having said all that, from an outside perspective it doesn’t look or sound like a bad design which is why it’s so disappointing to hear that after so much buggering about even the safe option is turning out to be far from straightforward.

However i completely see your point that no one would be ordering stop-gap OPV’s, scaling back shipbuilding and generally stalling to the cows come home by choice.

All rather depressing stuff. So i’m guessing talk of main gate at the end of this year and an initial order next year should be taken with a pinch of salt? Did notice the other day that the prospective ISD has slipped yet again to 2022.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 8, 2014 11:12 pm

I do not know who NAB is but I do know lots of people I trust and who are at very serious levels in the RN and a few in BAE involved in the project and the word is that there is quite a bit of mischief making going on which does not help the project but certain people have an interest in exaggerating the issues of which there are a few.
As i say i do not know who NAB is and he is prepared to drop hints on a forum which is widely read but not prepared to go any further. He obviously knows what he is talking about reference ship design but as I say lots of people have a “dog in this fight”.

October 8, 2014 11:58 pm

I think that we should build a variant of the Khareef class corvette. The Royal Navy of Oman paid £400m ($650m) for the design and construction of the three corvettes. The contract also included the training of RNO crew and initial logistics support for the vessels!

Design and features of Khareef corvettes

The modular design supported by a comprehensive weapons management system allows the customers to integrate equipment and systems for specific mission requirements.

The hull is incorporated with stealthy features for reduced radar signature.

The vessel was designed to operate in high seas for a longer time period.

The corvette has a length of 99m, a beam of 14.6m and a draft of 4.1m. Displacement of the ship is 2,660t. The vessel can complement a crew of 100 people.

The command and control of the corvette is based on the TACTICOS combat management system (CMS).

Thales Nederland was contracted to supply radar, the electronic support measure (ESM) system, combat management and communication equipment for three vessels in September 2007.

Command and control systems on the Khareef Class corvettes

The TACTICOS CMS, using the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and operating systems, provides surveillance and picture compilation based on the information obtained from the on-board sensors and tactical data links.

The system supports the anti-air, anti-surface, anti-submarine and electronic warfare by providing threat evaluation, sensor and weapon assignment, and kill assessment. The Sting electro-optic director from Thales Nederland provides weapons control.

Khareef missiles

The Khareef Class is armed with MM40 Exocet Block 3 surface-to-surface missiles and vertically launched Mica surface-to-air missile system supplied by MBDA. The MM40 Block 3 can engage targets within a range of 180km.

The main gun fitted forward is an Oto Melara 76/62mm super rapid gun. The gun has a rate of fire of 120 rounds a minute. The corvettes are also armed with two MSI DS30M 30mm guns.

Radars aboard the RNO craft

The SMART-S Mk2 3D multibeam radar operating in S-band provides medium-to-long-range surveillance and target designation. It acts as a main air and surface search radar in the single radar concept implemented for a range of naval ships including light frigates, corvettes and landing platform docks (LPD).

Countermeasure technology

Khareef Class is equipped with Thales Vigile 400 ESM (electronic support measures) system.

The system can be fully integrated into the onboard combat management system.

The soft-kill defence is provided by Rheinmetall multi-ammunition soft-kill system (MASS).

The system can lure incoming modern sensor-guided missiles by firing decoy rounds.

Aircraft landing space

The corvette has a flight deck to support the operations of a medium sized aircraft. The helideck can accommodate a helicopter with a maximum weight of 12t. The ship is equipped with hangar and maintenance facilities for the embarked helicopter.

Propulsion and power

Khareef Class is powered by two MTU diesel engines. Designed to deliver fuel efficiency and low through life costs, the propulsion system provides a maximum speed of 25kts, a range of 4,500m and an endurance of 21 days.

Rolls-Royce was contracted to supply controllable pitch propellers, gensets, electric equipment and steering gear for three ships.

Accommodation on the Khareef Class corvettes

The Khareef Class corvettes are equipped with high quality accommodation and recreational facilities for crew members.

The ship has dedicated areas for each officer and rating. Joint force command staff are provided with additional living areas.

With limited resources available and the fact that this design is available and can be tailored to our requirements its a no brainer! We could have eight or nine for the price of two type 45 destroyers and they would free up the type 23s to concentrate on asw

October 9, 2014 1:18 am

I echo the comments of others that it is very disappointing to hear of issue’s on the T26. Especially given the relative simplicity of the overall project compared to T45.

@ Ian

This issue with builing Khareef Class corvettes is much the same as building more OPV’s. The ship has a limited combat capability compared to soemthing like a T23 or T26 and we will have to give up a great number of T26’s to get them. when the fleet is cut to such a small number already its hard to give up numbers to build vessels that are only really useful for a coast guard type role.

Almost all of our navy deploys very far from home and the ship has a limited endurance. The only area I see potential for a heavily armed corvette is as a repalcement for APT(s) as a forward deployed guard ship for the FI to operate along side HMS Clyde. if there is a big oil strike in the FI then we may see this happen.

Rocket Banana
October 9, 2014 6:04 am


Just wondering where the T26 might get built. Last I read, Govern was going to undergo some sort of revamp. What does that leave?

I assume Barrow is finishing off the Astute class?

Is boat 7 (Ajax) a go-er or not?

Is it then tied up doing “successor” or is there spare bandwidth at the site?

October 9, 2014 6:21 am

, I see your concerns on a khareef type vessel but isn’t this really what the thread is all about, how many ‘high end ships’ do we need? If you could put CAMM instead of mica, a common AShmM and a hull sonar / TAS on a Khareef (is that feasible?), then it may not be an escort for CVF but it could do APT (S or N), FRE, TAPs, ‘Piracy work’ probably. Up thread I suggested SDSR 15 started from a zero base about what we needed to defend the UK, EEZ etc. A modern day Leander is all that is needed for that. If we then decided high end was just a CVF based task group it could be argued we only need 6-9 T26s to go with the T45s. In peacetime attach say 3 escorts to the task group and that will leave 1 or 2 for high end overseas trips. In war time we just call in the other overseas taskings and still have the ‘Leanders’ on hand to maintain UK defence. I’d rather add to the run of Astutes as the long range deployable force than produce more escorts than we really need. Equally though I would not want to rush into a lets build 6 khareefs in the same way we have done with the other OPVs. It needs some thought so we get something that works but the basic 100m hull of the khareef is surely a decent starting point. I’d be happy having missiles FFBNW, as long as we could get some ASW package on it. I’d even go 3x30mm rather than introducing the 76mm. Having a lynx hanger is a key factor the other new OPVs are missing to make them anything other than River replacements. I feel we may be getting close to the point we should be making a decision of this nature, deferring T26 if it has real issues and getting a reliable lower end vessel as much OTS as possible to replace the older T23s. There may be better overseas options but I guess a deal would have to be done with BAE.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 9, 2014 6:46 am

Barrow is having enough trouble designing Successor and building the A-boats. Even if they had capacity, letting them loose on a surface ship would be a risky proposition, given recent history in that area.

BAES preferred way forward is to bulldoze the Eastern end of Scotstoun and install a massive (two ships long) covered building dock – the mystical “frigate factory” at which point Govan closes.

All rather moot if they don’t get the issues sorted.

I think I can guess where NCHQ thinks mischief-making and exaggeration is coming from. All I will say is that when a ship has been in the assessment phase for three years, it is highly unusual for a significant change in a principal dimension to be implemented – as occurred about 12 months ago. The unfortunate thing is that the change has had predicable consequences in another area of performance – something that will not be easily resolved. The people responsible for endorsing those areas of performance generally do not have an axe to grind – they are concerned with ensuring that the design is safe to operate for the assumed life of the class. They have no empire to defend or real interest in who builds what, where.

Ian – you do realise that the T26 is to replace the T23 doing ASW as they’re knackered. You are at least in the same company as General Richards and Call Me Dave in reaching for Khareef as a solution to a question no-one asked. Martin has explained why they’re wrong for the RN quite succinctly.

October 9, 2014 7:05 am

My last comment may or may not have got lost but in summary my thoughts are:

– cancel T26 for now
– restrict T23 upgrade (artisan, CAMM, Harpoon replacement) to the 8/9 best vessels
– fixed price deal with BAE for 6 ‘khareef type vessels’ as much OTS as possible other than adding sonar and tail provision – FFBNW CAMM and AshM and possibly 57mm or 40mm in place of 76mm. Key is a Lynx platform (with ASMs / dipping sonar)
– retire other T23s as the above are introduced – leaving 6-9 T23s dependent on where budget and risks are
– order 2 more Astute even if it means a slight push back of successor and a short term drop to 3 v boats
– run the new OPVs alongside the Rivers
– sort out T26 design, as a CVF escort, ASW prime 6-9 boats and then batch 2 down the line having area AAW to replace the by then worn out T45s.
– thus I could see, 12 CVF escorts, 12 low end (6 Lynx platforms, 6 OPVs), 9 Astute. Any spare cash I’d have 3 OTS SSKs for submariner training, ASW training and UK EEZ work

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 9, 2014 9:47 am

What in the name of Beelzebubs balls makes you think that Khareef is a suitable starting point? Is it just the pretty pictures of things that go bang? You may be unaware that while the Omani’s paid £400M for the two of them, they actually cost BVT/BAES north of £600M, two years ago.

Still adding “sonar and tail” can’t possibly cost much can it? Or putting the endurance out to something the RN can actually deploy with? Or ensuring that the ship meets RN accommodation, damage control, stability and other interface standards? Or running a completely different combat system, command system, AAW system etc etc. Or do you want BAES to “change the design” to include RN equivalents? That’s going to be a very short conversation involving lots of zeros on the end of a number, that ends with “we’re getting out of shipbuilding – over to you”. In one sense that would be no bad thing, but does have extremely serious implications.

October 9, 2014 10:10 am

From NaB’s post “that while the Omani’s paid £400M for the two of them, they actually cost BVT/BAES north of £600M”
Who negotiated the Omani contract on their behalf? , find him , hire him for the UK gov and offer him his weight in Gold each year as payment as he would save us 10x that for the amount we get screwed over every year by the likes of BAE/GD etc for cost over runs and “that’ll be £350m to keep the facility open whether we build owt or not”.
Whoever negotiates our contracts for the UK gov probably has only recently learnt joined up writing and key stages 2 math still an issue .

October 9, 2014 10:25 am

It look likes, from all these posts, that despite the earlier post saying ‘good news on the type 26’, that doesn’t appear to be the case, all the more reason to have a second shipbuilder besides BAE, say one at Birkenhead????.

To keep defence at 2% of GDP is not in any parties manifesto, so the reality is an ever decreasing defence budget in real terms, we can fantasy fleet all we like, but unless the mood of the country or politicians change, then this thread needs to be renamed from ‘Gold plated, to having a navy at all.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 9, 2014 10:55 am

It wasn’t a stellar contract negotiator screwing BAES, it was their own failures in engineering design leading to a large chunk of the marine systems needing to be redesigned and stripped out of the first one, then replaced.

A problem that would soon arise if anyone was daft enough to try and reconstitute Cammell laird as a complex warship design house. It ain’t the build at this stage, it’s the design and unfortunately reflects shortfalls in concept, basic and detail design stages.

October 9, 2014 11:13 am

@ not a boffin. Design could be done in house and then they could be built at CL’s. It will take a long time to regenerate but it would be good to have more than one ship builder. It is a shame that vespers were bought by BAE.

October 9, 2014 11:48 am

@ REC – The issue is that we don’t have enough future surface fleet work to keep one Yard open on the Clyde let alon a second yard on the Mersey. In the navy’s best wet dream we are going to get 13 T26 and that’s all the surface combat ships we will be ordering until the mid 2030’s to replace T45.


My concern with ships like OPV’s and the Khareef is that they may be fine for peace time roles but they are of little use for war time roles. The Royal Navy is a military force designed to fight wars. Sure we can use those war fighting assets for civilian roles when doing nothing else but as soon as we start designing ships that can only perform civilian peace time roles that then cut into the budget for war fighting assets we are wasting money. Our military is very expensive tool to deal with minor criminal issues like piracy and drug smuggling. The RN only has three OPV’s for use in home waters. It has them because DEFRA pays for them to do fisheries work. This could just as easily be done by the coast guard or a civilian agency as happens in Scotland but the current system works so no probelm in changing it. The RN is tasked with defending the FI and looking after its fisheries so there is an argument for a 4th. we also have to provide some level of protection in the Caribbean so we could say its worth having another one or two lightly armed OPV’s forward deployed there to save us a Frigate or RFA asset. These are all suitable uses for lightly armed OPV’s to cover required navy tasks. Having a supped up OPV like Khareef would offer us zero benefit and would come at a much increased costs.( Almost the same as a full frigate) and it would offer us no additional fighting capability.

Basically frigates have limited AAW capability but provide ASW, Destroyers have limited ASW capability but provide AAW. Both have limted Ability to take out other surface combatants. Khareef could provide neither ASW or AAW capability so is limted to civilian roles that could be provided far cheaper by a River Class. Even in a time of war there would be little benefit. All our standing patrols could easily be canceled and all frigates and destroyers moved to the battle fleet. Its not like we have an empire to defend and even the few places we do still have to defend like the FI could easily be covered by either more troops or aircraft in the absence of a Frigate.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 9, 2014 11:53 am


What house would that be then? Haunted house? Hector’s house? Higgledy House? You surely can’t mean the MoD who are part of the design team, but not really competent enough to solve problems. Instead they identify “issues” (real or imagined) and expect the other parts of the design team to solve them.

It would only be good to have another shipbuilder if there was sufficient business to support it. One reason VT (I assume “vespers” was some sort of typo) got out of BVT, the joint venture which was forced on VT and BAES by that nice Lord Drayson and his tame consultant from RAND Europe.

The Other Chris
October 9, 2014 12:38 pm

The topic of alternative shipbuilding locations for naval vessels comes up a lot.

An Journal article discussing the options and summarising the principle issues would be a valuable resource that we can refer commenters back to, with it’s own thread.

October 9, 2014 12:55 pm

On the Omani contract the writing seems to have been tight enough and sufficient oversight from the Omani end to stop BVT/BAE screwing them over.
Based on what you said re the Omani contract being engineering errors inside BAE costing them a 60%+ cost overrun is REC’s idea of in the long term developing an alternative strategy to using BAE for future warship design such a bad idea? The T45 will not need replacing for a very long time and as you commented on the AB replacement there will be know one left who has actually designed a new hull form from scratch still employed (unless the UK gov increases the mandatory working age to 70+ :-) Should we not look in the future to going back to the a joint European design team for AAW destroyers like the Horizon class and AEW frigates like the Fridtjof Nansen class (obviously now is the time to start aligning our Naval Warship Building Standards across Europe – that alone will take a decade if not more) with each member Nation building its own vessels in their entirety or blocks as their capacity allows or as Norway has contracting the Spanish to build the Fridtjof Nansen class .In twenty years time many European Nations as their economies grow will probably have aspirations of fielding their own Tier 1 vessels such as the newer members of NATO Poland ,Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia, Albania and Croatia(In all likelihood the Ukraine will join by then). The existing nations fielding Tier 1 ships would also be needing to replace vessels too in the meantime so the potential for numbers is very large. Obviously differing nations prefer different aspects of the performance of their vessels be it complement, max draft, speed, endurance, weapons fit but over the next twenty years some form of consensus could be reached after all the present T26 programme started in 1998 and the first steel will probably not be cut until 2016 almost 20 years.

Jeremy M H
October 9, 2014 3:16 pm

I am guessing the Type 26 probably has as many demands on it as any similarly “small” ship ever has when it comes to set design factors and that has made it an absolute pain to get right in many other respects. When you really think about it you are getting a ship that has 22% more displacement than a type 23 but is supposed to carry substantial more things on that displacement.

The crew size gets smaller but the accommodation quality would likely rise. If this ended up being a wash I would say that would be well done.

Just adding the 16 strike length VLS likely adds at least 100 tons to the design ( MK41 plus 16 TLAM’s is going to check in at around 60 tons plus you need to support that weight) and a lot of that weight is not down low either.

The air to air missile fit and the is likely a wash. I think the guns (presuming you go with a 5 inch gun) are about a wash in weight but I would think the 5 inch gun probably needs more bracing as it should develop more recoil. It also probably has more weight concentrated top side, particularly if you use the longer barreled variant. I would imagine you gain weight there.

You have a bigger flight deck capable of supporting heavier helicopters so that is more weight.

The range is similar so you fuel fraction is likely similar as other factors wash out (more efficient power plant drives use down, but bigger hull that is less fine and higher electrical system demands will drive it back up again) so you can figure that roughly 20% of your increased displacement is likely taken up by fuel alone.

It is somewhat interesting to compare other designs that have been built to what the Type 26 is supposed to be.

The Anzac types serving with Australia is about 33% smaller but it has a much less ambitious weapons outfit with only 8 VLS cells that are considerably smaller (though they still have 32 missiles on hand) being of self-defense rather than strike length. This is opposed to the Type 26 fit that is 64 total cells (granted that the CAMM cells are significantly lighter individually). Their aviation facilities are also considerably smaller.

The FREMM ships are even more interesting. The French ships are basically the exact same dimensions but have 1,000 miles less range. They have a 16 cell VLS that isn’t strike length to go along with the 16 cell VLS for strike length weapons. They carry a much smaller gun and have smaller aviation facilities. The weight of the air to air missiles is honestly about a wash. I haven’t found a published weight on the CAAM launchers but seeing as the operating principal isn’t that different I can’t imagine that 48 of them don’t have roughly the same weight as the 16 Sylver-43 cells on the French ship. It might be a bit better, it might not. With similar missile fits to one another as far as displacement I don’t see how you get larger aviation facilities, more fuel and a bigger gun wedged onto the thing unless the French really over built their ships in terms of growth margin. The numbers just don’t add up to me.

There have been things that haven’t added up both design wise and particularly cost wise with the Type 26 from the moment they started pitching them.

October 9, 2014 3:36 pm

@ rec As has been stated above there is no need for a second ff/dd building facility now that the Scots have decided against independence, the only reason Lairds in Birkenhead has been mooted as a site was if they had voted no and such a facility was needed in the rUK.

@all This is how i see future yards work spread out:

Barrow- Submarine building
Devonport- Submarine refitting and DD/FF refitting
Portsmouth- DD/FF and OPV/ Minehunter refitting
Clyde (Scotstoun)- DD/FF Building (iirc BAE lease of Govan yard expires in 2019)
Rosyth- Large ship (MARS SS & Albion replacements) assembly and block build and QEC and large Amphib ship refitting
Lairds- Large ship block assembly (MARS SS & Albion replacement) and RFA vessel refitting (inc MARS SS as is currently the case)
A&P Tyne- Large ship block assembly (MARS SS & Albion replacement)

Question is can the Aircraft Carrier Alliance come together and build the MARS SS replacements cheaper than what Daewoo can in the far east?
I see a 5 ship requirement to replace the FORTS and ARGUS and OCEAN, perhaps go back to the original idea of having 2 JSS ships 2 JSBL vessels and 1 Aviation/ PCRS Ship based on a modular design that i think BMT Defence services came up with based on their AEGIR Tanker design?
The ships would have scaleable aviation facilities from say 4(for the JSS requirement) upto 12 aircraft (for the PCRS/Aviation training role) with the JSBL ship somewhere inbetween, and scaleable accommodation for embarked troops to replace the Bay that was sold and Oceans EMF, depending on their primary role.
This would keep the ability if built in the UK to maintain large complex warship build skills until Albion/Bulwark replacement comes through in mid 2030’s or just expand the JSBL concept and have 7 of them being built to replace both Albion and Bay classes on top of the Fort classes and Ocean and Argus?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 9, 2014 3:59 pm


The scars of NFR90/FFG90/Horizon and others run very deep. Even if you could get the nations to set “common” requirements, there is no guarantee that you could divvy up the work between structural, hydrodynamics, materials, signatures, arrangement combat system, marine engineering etc. You’re also assuming that all is well in the Euro garden, when one suspects it is not – just less prominent or accessible to us here.

What is actually required is a recognition that the UK enterprise is a bit broken and a sustained determined attempt to fix it. That in itself is going to cost money – I’d suspect a (very) low number of millions pa that needs to be ring-fenced and used specifically to fund design studies across a limited number of UK defence companies and the MoD to definitively regain knowledge (no IP games) and ensure it is recorded and retained. That needs to include the why and wherefore of where things have gone wrong on everything from T23, LPD, LSD, the Brunei boats, QE, Khareef etc. We seem to have a collective memory failure when it comes to some of this.

Build is a slightly different issue. We’re just completeing a very extensive programme. What the companies must ensure is that the mid-range guys in their late 20s/early 30s are retained, rather than the usual practice of keep the oldies cos they’re too expensive to fire and keep the kids (cos they’re cheap and the future innit?).

Jeremy – I’m not sure where you got the idea that T26 is only 22% higher displacement than a T23 from. Your T23 lightship as built was around 3300 tonnes. Which if you add 22% gets to just over 4000. T26 lightship is substantially more than that – she will never, ever be described as a “small” ship, except when next to QE/PoW. T23 full load displacement was of the order of 4200 te as built. the T26 full load displacement is substantially more than the 6000te value you see bandied about and when I say substantially, I mean a lot.

October 9, 2014 3:59 pm

Fully understand the rationale for just one yard, but it reflects our parlour state, and the fact that the RN doesn’t design it’s own warships anymore, and we are almost hostage to BAE. IF CL’s could build then maybe they could build under license. We are where we are and with defence spending continuing to decline we may be lucky to get any Type 26. MY wish list in addition to what is planned is simple, but there will be no budget for it, namely:

5 additional Type 26
6 SSK (Swedish built under license)
3 additional Rivers
15 extra merlin
14 CN275 for MPA (cheap but better than nothing, RN operated)
3 Squadrons F35B

2 additional Typhoon squadrons and reopen Leeming
2 F35 A Squadrons and 1 F35B Squadron

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 9, 2014 4:19 pm


Your list needs a little modification.

Barrow – as per yours
Scotstoun – Assuming investment goes ahead – all surface ship build, including RFA. The covered dock is sized to take something up to AOR size, so will likely do all of what is required.
Govan – shut by 2019, unless Scotstoun investment significantly descoped.
Portsmouth – DD/FF and QE Fleet time support, maybe DD/FF non-Fleet time support
Devonport – possibly submarine refit – will be reduced from now as no core replacements, plus LPD/LPH support and refit and DD/FF Fleet and no Fleet time support. Possibly submarine dismantling.
Rosyth – unlikely to get anything substantial, maybe QE non-fleet time every six years. Possibly submarine dismantling.
CL and A&P Falmouth – existing clusters continue.
A&P Tyne back to offshore.
Appledore – tenuous future at best unfortunately

Unless BAE up their game, FSS will be going overseas – if we can afford it. That is going to require significant effort to reduce overheads from their management (and the MoD). Best hope the DSME productivity experts know what they’re doing……

The only way any of this is going to get better is if we adopt something akin to the Norwegian model and selectively encourage our ship owners to place appropriate contracts for appropriate ships with the UK enterprise . To be absolutely clear, we are not going to be re-entering the large cargo ship market, but there are things we can do to preserve design and build skills in the UK while ensurng the overall overhead burden does not fall on MoD.

October 9, 2014 4:36 pm

@ wirralpete

Its an interesting idea using Rosyth to build the MARS SSS ships through the aircraft alliance. The crane in Rosyth is quite an asset and it would be a shame to see it go to waste. It also solves the problem of closing the yard at Govan as I think its the only one left capable of building vessels in the 20,000 tonn range.

@ Jeremy MH

I still find it hard to believe the the British ship building industry is having difficulty with the T26. Given what was achieved with the Queen Elizabeth Class where we had not designed or built such a vessel in 50 years you would think knocking out a frigate all be it a very large frigate would be pretty simple. Given that US warships that are not considerably larger carry 96 VLS putting 16 on T26 does not sound like much of a feat. As for the Weight of CAMM the missiles themselves way around 100 KG and I doubt the launchers will way much more than the same.

Until recently I though the issue with T26 was finding the budget to build them not that the design was a problem. It seems that since BAE took over shipbuilding ever single build is an issue. No doubt why the MOD chose the Thales design for CVF.

October 9, 2014 4:47 pm


I agree about ship building strategy. I read an interesting article recently talking about ship building in Scotland and the Scottish Governments need via CALMAC to procure 100 new ferries to meet new environmental standards.

The issue in the UK is that industrial policy is still a dirty word in Westminster and our government is truly a shower of s**te. Other nations with Labour costs above ours are still managing to build significant numbers of large commercial vessels. Norway has some of the highest labour costs on the planet yet they still manage to build oil rigs for the UK as well as OSV’s.

Interestingly despite having the highest levels of productivity in the world the USA is in a similar position to us. I suppose when shipyards have the option to look at profitable military contracts instead of commercial work its what they go for.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 9, 2014 4:56 pm

There are very limiited facilities at Rosyth to fabricate anything. That’s why most of the steel for their blocks was fabricated in Appledore and shipped up for assembly in the limited shed they have there. The crane is of use primarily for the above hangar deck blocks and the islands, nothing more. That’s why it has a limited future once QE/PoW are finished.

Carriers, especially big ones are not especially difficult to design. DD/FF on the other hand are much more challenging, because you are trying to fit a lot of competing and conflicting stuff into a comparatively small hull, all with the expectation that it will be even smaller than it actually needs to be. That’s why you get people comparing T26 to a T23 and wondering why it’s bigger despite having wildly different accommodation, stability, fire protection, escape and evacuation standards etc. It’s why senior naval officers who pronounce that they know what a frigate should look like and that it should be 4 or 5000 tonnes are often talking out of their chuff – particularly when reminded that they asked for these standards to be developed in the first place!

By the way, it’s not the combat system or the VLS that is the issue, although that will not stop people pointing at them in particular, because “its different to a T23”.

Peter Elliott
October 9, 2014 4:59 pm

Martin the smaller a warship the harder it is to design. The more space, weight and displacement you have to play with the easier it is to shunt things around to make everything fit. So a Frigate design is in some ways much harder to get right from a technical point of view than an Aircraft Carrier.

Also remember a Carrier is built around one primary weapons system (the aircraft). Our new ones in fact have no significant missiles or guns or any other primary role to think about. The Frigate has to balance Gun against VLS against Avaiation against Mission Bay against Sub-hunting against Air Threat against EMF against Budget. All packed into the smallest possible space. A Carrier is automatically big becuase it needs a big deck. So things like the radars and the combat system are not so much of a ball ache to locate and provide for. In a Frigate every last kg of weight affects the design: so its a constant multi dimensional trade-off.

The challenge is actually one of management: especially change management. Everyone needs to be working to the same target assumptions. Settting the initial dimensional assumptions from the initial Requirements must necessarily be more of an Art than a Science. If those initial assumptions prove to be unachievable and have to be revised you need a very, very robust change management process to cope with that. From what NAB has said it sounds like that is where we have fallen short.

Peter Elliott
October 9, 2014 5:05 pm

By the way as some will have noticed I have precisely cock-all experience of either ship building, defence or manufacturing in general.

But I do know a bit about managing people and process – which are the two things that usually conspire fuck up any major project ;)

Peter Elliott
October 9, 2014 5:12 pm

Following on from the Art vs Science call I have to say that whoever made (and enforced) the call early in the Carrier programme to base the dimenesions on approx 65,000 tonnes and not on approx 40,000 tonnes probably deserves whole rack of medals.

Imgaine how badly fucked up the design would have been if we had tried to cram everything needed to operate 2 squardons of F35B into a 40,000 tonne hull and then found (like the America Class) that it really, really doesn’t fit. The cost over-runs and political fallout don’t bear thinking about.

October 9, 2014 5:29 pm

Peter Elliot

Imagine how stupid we would all feel if we had specked and over paid for a carrier for 2 squadrons building it at 65 thousand tons, and then found all we could afford was 1 squadron at a time.