Assessment Phase

what is including in the 'assessment phase' of a major MoD project?

We have been discussing the Type 26 recently, specifically, the cost of the assessment phase.

In the latest NAO Major Projects Report the Type 26 Assessment Phase cost is described as £173 million to 31st march 2014 against a maximum approved cost of £158m.

We have therefore been trying to gain an appreciation of what is including in the ‘assessment phase’, this description from the same report might shed some light…

The Sustained Surface Combatant Capability pathfinder project in 2006 recommended a three-class solution; C1, a task-group enabled anti-submarine warfare frigate; C2, a general purpose frigate; C3, providing Mine Countermeasure, Hydrographic and Patrol capabilities. The Sustained Surface Combatant Capability project highlighted a need for up to ten C1s and eight C2s. Type 26 C1 was to be built first at a rate of one per year, followed by C2. This approach also met the needs of industrial sustainability whilst fulfilling the Royal Navy requirement.

It was on this basis that the Concept Phase progressed to the Initial Gate approval for Future Surface Combatant (C1) on 18 March 2010. It was anticipated that Main Gate approval would be sought by the middle of the decade and estimated that for a ten ship class the procurement cost would be *** (inclusive of VAT and inflation), with a whole life cost of *** (inclusive of VAT and inflation), assuming a ship life of 25 years. It was also recognised that there would be a Strategic Defence and Security Review following the General Election. Subsequently as part of the approval, it was planned that there would be a midphase review point to assess the impact of any changes in policy driven by that review.

The approval from the Investment Approvals Board capped the “not to exceed” value of the Assessment Phase at the 50% level. All non-UK new design and build options were discounted at the Initial Gate, as recorded in the Investment Appraisal, noting the over-arching agreement with BAE Systems Maritime – Naval Ships in the Terms of Business Agreement (TOBA) (dated 21 July 2009).

In October 2010 the Strategic Defence and Security Review reduced the total surface fleet to 19 frigates and destroyers which will include six Type 45 destroyers and the current Type 23 frigates which will be replaced by the newly renamed Type 26 Global Combat Ship (previously Future Surface Combatants) after 2020. The Strategic Defence and Security Review also merged the C1 and C2 variants into a single class of 13 ships based on a common acoustically quiet hull, eight of which would be Anti-Submarine Warfare and five General Purpose platforms.

Subject to approvals and value for money assessments, Type 26 Global Combat Ships are expected to be procured on a single source basis from BAE Systems Maritime – Naval Ships. ***

The alignment of renamed Type 26 Global Combat Ship against the goals of the Strategic Defence and Security Review was confirmed in an Information Note submitted to the Investment Approvals Board in January 2011. This Information Note stated that:

a. Approval will be split into two parts. Approval (Main Gate 1) will seek endorsement of the requirements to be delivered by Type 26 Global Combat Ship with Main Gate 2, the main investment decision, following at the end of the Assessment Phase. This will allow detailed costing and design work to proceed against a defined requirement so that the project can present an affordable design proposal for approval at Main Gate 2 and subsequent contract signing;

b. The remaining programme key milestones remain unchanged, with planned service entry as soon a possible after 2020;

c. Type 26 Global Combat Ship design is considered to have export potential with considerable effort being expended to encourage overseas partner interest.

The design and study work for the Analysis of Options stage concluded in the Capability Decision Point, held in November 2011. This identified a baseline design from which more detailed design work continues during the remainder of the Assessment Phase. The Capability Decision Point informed the Main Gate 1 submission which has been endorsed by the MOD Investment Approvals Committee. Main Gate 1 provided approval for the Project Team to continue the Assessment Phase with the detailed design work on the Type 26 Global Combat Ship capability architecture, down selected on the basis of the Capability Decision Point output; and for the Support Solution to enter its Assessment Phase. ***

The detailed design phase and industry engagement process will underpin the programme’s Main Gate 2 at the end of the Assessment Phase, which is planned to conclude at the end of 2014, allowing the production phase to begin immediately thereafter . *** Maritime Indirect Fires System has been brought under the programme umbrella, and its Main Gate approval will be integrated into the Type 26 Main Gate 2 submission. Maritime Indirect Fires System is an open competition led by the MOD for a medium calibre gun system and which passed its own Initial Gate in September 2012. The Invitation to Negotiate was issued in March 2013 to companies who successfully completed the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire.*** In order to maximise Type 26 Global Combat Ship export potential to realise wider benefits to the MOD, industry and the UK the design is being developed in close partnership with industry to improve these opportunities.

The assessment phase is also defined as;

The Assessment Phase is defined as ‘the second phase in the acquisition cycle after the Concept Phase and beginning with Initial Gate. The aim of the Assessment Phase is to develop an understanding of options for meeting the requirement that is sufficiently mature to enable selection of a preferred solution and identification, quantification and mitigation of the risk associated with that solution. At the end of the Assessment Phase a Business Case is submitted to the Investment Approvals Board for Main Gate Approval’.

The MoD’s MODAF framework describes the enterprise architecture of which the acquisition cycle is part of and the CADMID acquisition process and Acquisition Operating Framework

FireShot Capture -  - http___www.modaf.com_files_MODAF Acquisition Deskbook v0.9.pdf

 

The design work would come in the Demonstration Phase using the SRD and URD that would be the product of the Assessment Phase as its starting point. The Assessment Phase considers all the defence lines of development and MODAF’s various views to get to a point where we can hand over to the manufacturer for design and development. Obviously it is not as simple as that because the output from the Assessment Phase has to be technically feasible and for that, some preliminary ‘design work’ would need to be completed but fundamentally, the design work is not part of the Assessment Phase.

Looking at the same NAO report allows us to compare Assessment Phase costs for other major projects, the table below shows the project project name and cost in millions of Pounds for its assessment phase.

Marshall 9
Chinook (Julius) 10
MARS 17
Meteor 20
Merlin Sustainment 27
Astute 29
Warrior Sustainment 29
Falcon 31
Crowsnest 34
Airseeker 38
FSTA 38
Common Cannon 48
Wildcat 57
Typhoon 78
Core Production Facility 107
Specialist Vehicles 129
JCA 144
Type 26 173
Type 45 232
QE Class** 288

Is there any explanation for why Astute only cost £29m but Typhoon £78m, or why the A400M* cost the princely sum of £1m but Type 45, £232m?

Or even why warships are the Top 3?

Am none the wiser to be honest, are you?

 

 

*Not shown on the table but the NAO declares A400M Assessment Phase as £1m

** Excludes the £56 million spent in Assessment Phase for the now reversed conversion project

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Chris Werb
Chris Werb
February 25, 2015 9:29 am

What is “Common cannon”?

Jonathan
Jonathan
February 25, 2015 9:29 am

Looks like there is a lot profit for old rope going on.

Slightly of subject but a great paper on cost estimating for war ships….

http://www.sparusa.com/PublishedDocuments/Integrating%20Cost%20Estimating%20with%20the%20Ship%20Design%20Process.pdf

Smurphboy
Smurphboy
February 25, 2015 9:37 am

Surely we need to look at the ratio of the assessment phase to the whole life cost of the project, rather than just the cash figure (even adjusted for inflation) to make a true comparison. I’d submit that assessment phases should reflect the riskiness of the project, i.e. riskier projects should be spending a greater proportion in assessment to get to a better baseline for initial gate.

Hohum
Hohum
February 25, 2015 10:18 am

TD,

As you have discovered multiple times, the problem with NAO and MoD cost figures is that they are never consistent, things get left out, put in, massaged etc to both fit agendas and to provide faux consistency. I suspect that is what you are seeing here. I also imagine that a lot of the assessment phase costs for some of the earlier projects were wrapped up in now dead projects and thus not counted by the NAO. Then there is the stuff that gets left out because its development/procurement cycle is no longer tied to the platform.

Warships being in the top three is hardly surprising, they are very big, very complex, very expensive, there are not many of them and they have to last 40 years. One might suggest that had Astute had a more expensive assessment phase it may have been a more successful programme, at least in the earlier units.

Chris
Chris
February 25, 2015 10:35 am

There is a saying: there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. And accounts, obviously. It all depends on what is ruled within an accrued figure and what is ruled out. I look at Specialist Vehicle (well I would) and do not see UV spend included, nor do I see it separately recorded. So I wonder to myself if any FRES spend is included, or whether Specialist Vehicle is yet another slab of Gov’t funding to modify the design as bid for FRES-SV into Scout. So is that part of the £500k +£100k for Scout-SV D&M or is that an entirely new pot of cash? And where is all the FRES study money? Written off as irrelevant (thus no need to account for it) already? Obviously TRACER, TRACER-FSCS and the FFLAV studies have passed into oblivion, even though they were all part of The CVR(T) Replacement Programme. How sweet that a change of name can wipe out so much embarrassing history.

And of course we must remember the gun is a separately funded item to add to Warrior CSP and Scout spend. Unless there are other vehicles/helicopters/ships to be fitted with it?

In three lines I have more questions than answers. I suspect that’s true of much of the report.

Our American cousins have a term “Color of Money” by which they mean separately accountable budgets funded from different sources with different rules on their use. MOD accounts must be more colourful than the most vivid rainbow.

Hohum – we say much the same.

Hohum
Hohum
February 25, 2015 11:01 am

TD,

The assessment phase costs really don’t surprise me, these are highly complex projects that are being undertaken by an organisation that has been burned several times by not taking such things seriously. I would argue that an assessment phase that identifies that a programme is a stupid idea is still money well spent.

There is a conceptual issue; there does seem to be a habit of having programmes for the sake of it (some of the early pre-FRES stuff definitely seems to fall into this category) by which I mean, something is in service so there must be a replacement programme. There is a positive argument for this, it builds up knowledge, ensures user feedback keeps getting recorded and keeps MoD up-to date on what industry can do. There is also a negative one- money gets spent on assessment phases for projects that in reality have no hope of coming to fruition.

Chris
Chris
February 25, 2015 11:27 am

TD – didn’t I say that? [insert smiley here]

Hohum – I tend to disagree about the study-for-study’s-sake idea, particularly with CVR(T) Replacement. I am quite sure as each of the grand studies started the requirement setters at MOD thought they’d written the right requirement for the next generation system, with the intent of buying some at the end of the studies. But the studies were long and detailed, the personnel moved on, the world moved on, and what was seen as right 5 years before becomes quite wrong by the time the study reports come in, so start again.

To be a bit clearer about the pre-FRES bits, FFLAV was a simple platform study, focused on the armour, mobility, adaptability, etc of new vehicles. Very much a new generation of CVR(T) sized vehicles. TRACER turned the world upside down by defining a reconnaissance system of which the platform was a small part, with sensors, IT systems, comms, active protection, weapon fit etc given as much if not more emphasis than the base vehicle. This became a technofest of electronic spaghetti with more computers than a Dell warehouse crammed into each vehicle – wildly expensive, wildly complex. It died. FRES started out as a reset back to the FFLAV idea of small modern highly mobile vehicles, but the experience of Snatch and Vector in the sandpit meant ever greater levels of protection were slid into the requirement. Protection is now the highest priority, above mobility, transportability, stealth, access, firepower, affordability. So we have Scout-SV, nothing like the simple vehicle of FFLAV or early FRES, nothing like the technomarvel of TRACER, but big and well protected and noisy and expensive. You can identify the path taken to get from start to finish, but you do have to question the logic of the decisions made.

Peter Elliott
February 25, 2015 11:59 am

So to repeat my question from earlier do we have anything in Assessment or Concept phases now that is in serious danger of burning a stack of money for no result?

We’re all agreed it’s happened in the past. But is it still happening now or about to happen again in the immediate future? Has the lesson been learned?

Hohum
Hohum
February 25, 2015 12:09 pm

Chris,

I think perhaps I wasn’t very clear. I dont doubt that thing like FFLAV may have been well written, or that they came to roughly the right conclusions, or that the guys responsible for it were good people. My point was, in reality there was unlikely to ever be space in the budget in that time frame to execute the project. And to be frank, the low level of capability uplift would have also made it a difficult sell up the chain. I suppose what I am suggesting is that it sometimes feels as if MoD needs better direction setting in programme prioritization.

Now to be fair, most of what the Gray report did was kill all those programmes that were never going to happen anytime soon which made things a bit easier. However, I can not help but think that bits of FCAS might not be somewhat premature. UCAV technology demonstration we should definitely be doing but FCAS just feels a bit like its being done just because.

WillS66
WillS66
February 25, 2015 12:47 pm

“Is there any explanation for why Astute only cost £29m but Typhoon £78m, or why the A400M* cost the princely sum of £1m but Type 45, £232m?”

Given the mess the Astute build phase got into, perhaps the increased assessment stage costs for subsequent naval projects is money well spent?

As for £1m on the A400M, well that would explain a few things wouldn’t it?

Proper preparation prevents p*** poor performance and all that.

Will.

Peter Elliott
February 25, 2015 12:48 pm

One other comment is that FFLAV seems coherent is because it was the product of confident cold war Army who had seen their thinking validated by the success of Granby. They ran into the ‘Peace dividend’ and their good work went to waste.

By the time the weird and wonderful projects came along in the 2000s no – one knew who the enemy was or what we were trying to achieve. Hence the outbreak of ‘fantasy tanks’.

We are now back to a place where we have 2 clear ( if different) threats right on our NATO doorstep. That should do a huge amount to drive clarity of thinking and effective prioritisation.

Rocket Banana
February 25, 2015 1:06 pm

Or even why warships are the Top 3?

The aim of the Assessment Phase is to develop an understanding of options for meeting the requirement that is sufficiently mature to enable selection of a preferred solution and identification, quantification and mitigation of the risk associated with that solution.

This basically implies that the more complex the final unit, the more time/money is likely to be needed to analyse the options.

A warship is a little floating city with lots of automation and weapons… one that you then commit to duplicate a few times if the demonstrator works.

Simples ;-)

Martin
Editor
February 25, 2015 1:23 pm

Looks like the same old dodgy MOD accounting to me. God only knows what is and is not included in an assessment phase.

To read the T26 assesment phae you would think they were still looking at power points. However we can be sure there is a detailed design done because they are arguing over it.

Typhoon is the cluster f**k to end all cluster f**ks. They probably did spend 79 million arguing over power points.

Its reason like these that the NAO still refuses to sign off on the MOD accounts.

Things seem to get worse becauase they got rid of the civilians who do know how to do accounts yet kept all the uniformed brass ;-)

Hohum
Hohum
February 25, 2015 1:30 pm

I would argue that FFLAV was anything but coherent. It offered no substantial capability uplift and relied on very mature technology; hardly a good use of resources. TRACER then took things too far in the other direction before FRES-SV found a good balance between maturity and capability improvement.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 25, 2015 1:52 pm

re: “As for £1m on the A400M, well that would explain a few things wouldn’t it?”

UK input into any specific teatures/ modifications? ohh, we can only afford self defence suites for 9 out of the total number.

…that will be a mln £s for the thinking!

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 25, 2015 2:23 pm

‘why the A400M* cost the princely sum of £1m but Type 45, £232m?”

Proper preparation prevents p*** poor performance and all that.

I agree imagine how bad the T45 project would have been if we had not spent the £232m. When you consider that:

It entered service over two years late and £1.5 billion over its original budget.
It did so without a PAAMS missile having been fired from the ship.
Entered service without full operational capability.

Hang on maybe the A400 was a wise move and we should have saved ourselves £231m? ;-)

El Sid
El Sid
February 25, 2015 5:19 pm

A lot of the difference is just timing – whilst Gordon Brown was Chancellor, assessment phases went from an average of 64 months to 19 months. I leave the reader to judge the quality of procurement programmes during the Noughties…

The Gray Report of 2009 talks about this stuff in quite some detail :
http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120913104443/http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/78821960-14A0-429E-A90A-FA2A8C292C84/0/ReviewAcquisitionGrayreport.pdf#page=123

A current example of “what happens in Assessment Phase” is MHC, which plans three technology demonstrators during its AP which began last summer.

Challenger
Challenger
February 25, 2015 6:05 pm

Been looking at the Absalon class this afternoon, i know they’ve been praised in the past but i was wondering what people’s current thoughts are on them?

Strikes me that if the RN had the money to do thing properly and have the amount/force mix of vessels it needs then it could do a lot worse than 6 T45’s, 12 full-fat T26 (if the only difference between the variants is Type 2087 then i’d rather have every available T26 fully capable in times of need) and say 6 Absalon licence built in the UK to fulfill the lower-end ‘constabulary’ stuff to make a total of 24 surface warships which in my view is the number is should never have been allowed to drop under in the first place.

One of the biggest criticisms of operating cheaper low-end vessels is that they are good for non-fighty ops but no use whatsoever when the real shooting starts, but is this quite true with something like the Absalon? A 127mm main gun and large mission bay and flight-deck/hangar could be very useful commodities when putting together any sizable any RN task-group. Add a few CAMM and it would start to look like a perfectly acceptable shore-bombardment, convoy escort platform and general utility vessel to back-up the high-end ASW/AAW frigates and destroyers in any wartime situation.

They certainly wouldn’t be any worse than the T21’s in the Falklands which despite poor survival rates were very useful in fleshing out the wider task-force by filling a variety of useful roles. One would hope any serious operation would see proper air-cover and half decent defensive weaponry working together to minimize the risk.

All fantasy of course without the money and manpower but it’s the sort of thing i’d like to see the RN looking at none the less.

as
as
February 25, 2015 6:46 pm

With the common cannon 40mm CTA has anyone heard if the are going to try to upgrade the royal navies 30mm MSI-Defence Systems (MSI-DS) cannon systems to take these as well?

monkey
monkey
February 25, 2015 6:53 pm

T26
Accommodation units – known requirements and costs
Water treatment etc -known requirements and costs
MT30 GT -known requirements and costs
Aux diesels -known requirements and costs
David Brown gearboxes -known requirements and costs
997 Artisan 3D radar-known requirements and costs
2087 towed Sonar-known requirements and costs
2050 bow sonar-known requirements and costs
SCOT-5 satcom-known requirements and costs
IRVIN-GQ DLF decoys-known requirements and costs
8 × 6-cell CAMM VLS canisters-known requirements and costs
3 × 8-cell strike-length Mk 41 VLS known requirements and costs
1 × BAE 5 inch Mk 45 naval gun – known requirements and costs
2 × 30mm DS30M Mk2 guns-known requirements and costs
2 × Phalanx CIWS-known requirements and costs
2 × Miniguns-known requirements and costs
4 × General purpose machine guns -known requirements and costs
And on and on and on
Hull shape and configuration to comply with layout , big gun ,VSL at the front , little guns along the sides , radar tower above bridge towards the front , flight deck at the back , bow sonar at the bow , towed sonar at the rear etc nothing new here. All to be compliant with international and RN s
Standards.
Big difference flight deck hangars AND huge mission space all on same level whilst accomplishing all the other known quantities.
Given the scope of the project I can see why they spent what they did but now we have a hull size as big as we can cope with given our facilities( which still need spending on them) and that it is uber quiet ( please tell me it is ! ) what do we need to do from here. To keep the skill sets up from first concept to writing the hull number on what do we need next in the scope of a ff/dd ? T45 will be having a major refit , new power plant certainly , new gun and VSL to bring them in line? Don’t see why but they might but lessons can be learnt for the next class . Much work is to be done on getting the T26 in the water yet but with the evolving kit developing both on the defensive and offensive sides , be they unmanned hunters to the latest SSN/ AIP SSK opponents how do we keep dominance. These vessels will be using last generation detection equipment by the time they are in service in 2020 and a known quantity to OPFOR designers no doubt due to some laptop left in a taxi or 16 year old Moscow/Shanghai born genius ripping through our cyber- security. What next and how do we keep a lid on costs? Go back to international cooperation projects , develop what we have and screw the costs down ?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 25, 2015 7:01 pm

From a very small sample it has been estimated that for every month late, the realised cost will be 1-3 % higher than the initial guess. As we have a midpoint for that guess (£300m) and the first delivery (2022), we can refine the guess?

The so-called unproductive work is included in that cost inflation.

The Other Chris
February 25, 2015 7:03 pm

A 2087 and fully updated processing system is last generation?

Hannay
Hannay
February 25, 2015 7:27 pm

@TD

Maybe worth noting that the whole Taranis TDP has cost about £180m but for that we designed, built and flew from scratch a cutting edge aircraft.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 25, 2015 7:29 pm

When the first t23 will be in service, the sonar will be into its 3rd decade assuming that a demonstration preceded contract award:

“In April 2001, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded Thales a contract for the development and supply of six S2087 sonar sets with an estimated acquisition cost of £340 million ($652 million). The initial operational capability aboard HMS Westminster (T23-class frigate) was expected by January 2007. As of July 2005, the MoD was negotiating with Thales the acquisition of further two S2087 sets.”
Source: deagel

monkey
monkey
February 25, 2015 7:31 pm

The 2087 project was begun in April 1994 and Thales won the order and commenced manufacture in April 2001 by the time the first boat is in the water in 2020 and fleet service 2 years later , that will be either 28 or 22 years . The submarine designers, as the people behind the Astute class , will confirm they have not been sitting on their hands. A recent MoD press release accompanying the additional spending stated that the T26 will be ‘the worlds best’ , I admire their confidence in some thing that is at least 6 YEARS from getting wet. It does not pay to believe your own propaganda/sales pitch , you choose what at of those options. What will replace it? It took about the same gestation period as normal from request to main gate to fitted and tested on a T23( a constricting design factor it had to comply with to fit in the existing bay) . Again , what next ? What it can do is no doubt in the wrong hands of those tasked with countering it.

The Other Chris
February 25, 2015 7:51 pm

Assumption there that Thales and the RN sit on their hands without updating a learning system as they go…

monkey
monkey
February 25, 2015 8:15 pm

@ToC
I am sure they are not sitting on their hands which is why I raised the point . We have 8 sets of 2087 on board ships to be transferred to T26. We have a spare set , a training set for maintainance service personnel and Thales have a manufactures reg set. If we are going to fit like for like wd have an opportunity to upgrade ship beyond hull eight for the latest generation . Are we going to construct the bidders as we did on 2087 to the T23 stowage/handling space? ( T26 could be much bigger ) . The discussion on what next needs to draw in all parties but costs need to be contained . On the T29 thread NaB points to the $6bn Zummwalt development cost for many radical changes. What can we afford and what do we need and how do we get there cost effectively in 20 years time.

MSR
MSR
February 25, 2015 8:27 pm

@ Challenger

Regarding Absalon: it’s not really a frigate. It’s a baby amphib with frigate-like pretensions, hence the ‘Command and Support Ship’ monica.

Also, one must remember that the Danes do their accounting differently. The basic hull and systems are one cost, and all the other component costs from the guns to the radar to the RHIBs and cranes are all listed separately, which makes it interesting trying to compare like for like.

The cost problem becomes pertinent when trying to estimate the build-quality they have achieved. It ain’t up to par. Think Ocean and recall all the interesting problems they’ve had keeping Ocean running down the years, not because of poor build quality (if Ocean was a merchant ship it would be fine) but because navy ships are built rugged because they get used hard. Absalon will probably age quickly even at the lower tempo of Dutch service.

The Other Chris
February 25, 2015 8:47 pm

There doesn’t need to be a “Zumwalt scale” upgrade for RN ASW.

HMS Portland only received the final 2087 set in 2013 – the 2087’s being the reference/flagship set of a family of arrays including CAPTAS and the 4229’s.

There’s already an evolution roadmap for the following 20 years (according the Thales) for both this and the 2050’s which includes feedback from developments of the derivative sets involving replacement hardware into the arrays on top of the processing system upgrades.

It’s an evolutionary path which is why the migrating of the sets from T23’s isn’t really a “cost saving” move that I think a lot of people have assumed it is.

It represents shifting the latest in towed active/passive arrays combining with active/passive hull sensors (including low-frequency active) and multi-coherent processing in the back-end which is widely considered the leading development family in subsurface detection.

The Other Chris
February 25, 2015 9:17 pm

Early RUSI paper on the topic from 2008:

https://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/12gosling.pdf

Note multi-statics/coherent, low frequency active, roadmap, acoustic communications and that the primary area of improvement is in processing, as areas of interest.

monkey
monkey
February 25, 2015 9:20 pm

@ToC
God help us if we gave BAES Marine as clean a sheet of paper as the USN did for the DDG1000’s !
I am quite sure ,well almost , all parties talk to each other at least in the UK to help develop the best kout come for the capital available and ongoing affordability that can be costed for. Taking that on board where should the T29 ;-) take us ? What could be added , what shouldn’t be there? Can this design see us through into the next batch with little or no modification. At this stage they aren’t even drawings yet but coming up with future projections based on current events and what ifs can’t harm. The present design has a lot of flexibility built in full length VSL of the most common type in the world, the medium calibre gun same , HUGE mission space , good mix of small calibre weapons and CIWS ( both gun and missile) , space to bunk a company of Marines/SF , big Chinook /V-22 capable flight deck , cranes to deploy large embarked RIB’s etc. What’s missing , what should we amend/include on the evolved batch II or completely rethought T29?
My self ,assuming it doesn’t be inclined to do a Mary Rose due to stability problems , think it has pretty much nailed it . In terms of selling on the design many here speak of a designed for but not fitted on OPV’s , is there a stripped down version we could offer? I sure the Otomerla76 will fit in the 5″ gun well and the magazines a cinch , the wells for the MK41 SL could fit less or smaller VSL , do you have to offer two CIWS guns ? , the sonar fit out can be a much simpler option and the air defence radar is more than adequate for many navies. The accommodation and facilities could be left the same and help other navies retention problems to.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
February 25, 2015 9:35 pm

As someone has noted upthread, that table of AP cost vs prog cost is not apples and apples. Take Astute – huge amounts of work were being done across Marconi/VSEL/MoD and then BAES before we got to the first boat. Ditto Typhoon. MODAF theory is only theory. You have to put it into practice.

There is also a misconception on design. Some of you clearly think that design doesn’t happen during AP. You have to remember that much of MODAF is written by systems engineers and for system engineers, design is a block functional diagram, with the end artefact being a bunch of processors and software integrated together. That’s probably fine for that, but it doesn’t work like that for a ship, where there are real long-lead items and lots of things come off short production runs or are bespoke.

The ship also has the rather complicated issue that it has to comply with Mr Archimedes and he has a mates called Mr Hydrostatics and Mr Hydrodynamics that change, particularly wrt to the position of weight and volume and their centroids.

They’re big engineered artefacts that are crammed full of engineered systems, all of which need good definition before you can get a price that MoD / Treasury auditors will sign off on. That in itself is another issue in that all involved want more and more definition earlier in the programme, which means they throw more bodies at it (incurring more cost) to generate this, when it may not be entirely appropriate at this stage. Successor is going the same way. Doesn’t mean its wrong, just adds risk in one way when perhaps people think they’re reducing risk in another……

Chris
Chris
February 25, 2015 10:46 pm

A heretic I may be, but I have grave misgivings over the likes of MODAF/DODAF or any of the other grand one-size-fits-all process-junkie methods. I have much more faith in engineers that have immersed themselves in their chosen domain and have grafted, learned, experimented, reasoned, understood and perfected their art than in those that resort to step-by-tick-box-step processes that promise if all the loose ends are tied neatly the end result will be brilliant. It is possible to create product that is entirely compliant while being entirely unfit for purpose. And yes I agree with NaB that such formal system engineering models were designed for data/interface/software/electronics type work, not for tyre scrub or buffeting effects or pitch and yaw moment control or fuel system flow airlock prevention.

cky7
cky7
February 25, 2015 10:53 pm

So with Typhoon for example, would things like EAP be included in that figure?

Also, IDEAS to possibly replace MODAF – well the acronym is better at least!

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
February 25, 2015 10:58 pm

Indeed, Mr Bernoulli (as I believe he’s called) and Mr Gravity do come into play. In the aircraft world, you have what you call prototypes (think EAP, X32, X35 etc) to help generate control laws and validate computational models for those gents. You can do that with aircraft (and vehicles for that matter) because the unit cost and build time tends to be less than ships. But it costs big money too.

Again, you and others are suggesting there are no drawings or calculations for T26. That’s not true. There are drawings and models, all of which are necessary to move to production drawings. It’s just that not all of them are right and the ones that aren’t need fixing before you can move on. Part of this I suspect is that some on here have never worked in an engineering environment where you actually build stuff, as opposed to analyse it.

And let’s be consistent with your “billion”. Earlier, it was £180M. Now you’ve added the £859M. But hold on – doesn’t that latter figure contain three shipsets of propulsion equipment? And the shore based test facility at Whetstone? And some Civ Eng on the Clyde?

As for low risk – only the CGI fanboys bought that didn’t they? There’s all sorts of risk in this world – technical risk, programme risk, financial risk. What you’re seeing here is a form of programme risk, because its primarily organisational and experiential, rather than actually technical.

MikeKiloPapa
MikeKiloPapa
February 25, 2015 11:09 pm

@MSR

The very fact you cant even tell the difference between Dutch and Danish service, implies that you dont have the faintest clue as to what you are on about, and makes me want to ignore your post all together….However…just to set the record straight on the Absalons …..No they are not “baby amphibs with frigate pretensions”….lacking both a well deck and proper landing crafts they have, in fact, no amphibian capability whatsoever.period. …They are exactly what they say on the tin…. a Frigate sized vessel with a decent self defence armament, excellent command facilities and a modest transport capability.

” The basic hull and systems are one cost, and all the other component costs from the guns to the radar to the RHIBs and cranes are all listed separately”

No they are not…..only the weapons and equipment already in the navy inventory (reused from older vessels) is not listed directly alongside the acquisition costs …and the estimated value of those items is readily and publicly available .
It must be said though that the navy does most of the final fitting out of new vessels itself ( installing weapons , comms, etc ) and that is paid for by the regular navy budget…so is not a part of the “official” price.

“The cost problem becomes pertinent when trying to estimate the build-quality they have achieved. It ain’t up to par”

Absolute rubbish….contrary to what some people think, the Absalons are in fact built to full mil-spec standard, NOT commercial rules. Dont let the DNV classification fool you , they are in fact a set of NAVAL rules/standards developed jointly by Det Norske Veritas and the Royal Danish Navy. In all areas important to a warship ie shockproofing, signature reduction, redundancy , damage control etc etc….they are fully up to same standard as other comparable european vessels.
http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/absalon/

“Absalon will probably age quickly even at the lower tempo of Dutch service”

Bollocks !!…what lower tempo ….Both Absalon and her sister ship Esbern Snare have been almost continually on deployment, ops, or exercises ever since they were commissioned…with a more or less permanent presence in counter-piracy ops off east africa( CTF 150,CTF 151 and Operation Ocean Shield)since 2008.
In fact when Snare returned home this winter after 2 stints in the gulf of Aden, followed by a deployment in operation RECSYR ( removal of chemical weapons from syria), she had been at sea, away from home , for almost 18 month’s without major maintenance. And our north atlantic vessels operates in some of the roughest conditions off Greenland and the Faroe Islands for 365 days a year, only coming home once every ~2 years for scheduled maintenance……Lower tempo my ass!!

MSR
MSR
February 25, 2015 11:18 pm

@ TD

[Quote] MSR, isn’t that one of the great myths of shipbuilding, that somehow naval vessels are built from Iron Bru and commercials vessels are made from recycled paper bags?

Nope. Witness the Batch 2 Rivers. Look up the list of alterations made by the RN to the basic design and you’ll see a hell of a lot of changes in materials and standards, rather than impressive features like guns and hangars. This is because, as built, the Amazonas class is not on a par with typical Western European standards. The Brazilians accepted the lower price per unit.

In fact, because I have a steel trap memory for key words and my Google Fu is strong, I’ve just ferreted out the discussion we had on this very subject in the HMS Severn thread, and can thus quote Not A Boffin, who put it better than I’m going to at this time of night:

[Quote] “…in order to get the ship to comply with what the RN wants (Naval Ship Code, Lloyds Naval Ship Rules NS3 notation, RN hab stds etc) they’re having to put quite a bit of engineering effort in, because the Amazonas is designed to a mix of standards, including LR Special Service Craft rules, that were acceptable to the Trinidad and Tobago CG and possibly the Brazilian Navy.

Someone is probably going to start wibbling about Khareefs, or Krabis or even HMS Clyde at this point, to which the response will be (in no particular order, you’ll have to figure it out) :

1. RN standards as above.
2. Range and complement
3. Stability issues”
[End Quote]

Link to comment: https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2015/02/hms-severn-caribbean/#comment-322072

In summary, no, it is not a myth. Warships really are made from Iron Bru and commercial ships really are made from the recycled paper bag left over after the bored-with-life Russian freighter captain has finished the Vodka that was in it and tossed the empty over the side.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
February 25, 2015 11:32 pm

Sorry MSR, but equating Lloyds SSC with recycled paper isn’t correct either.

The RN has minimum standards it will accept (in this case LRNS NS3 notation, plus other stuff). That doesn’t mean LR SSC rules are poor, or produce crap ships, it just means they don’t meet RN requirements.

You can have ships designed and built to a number of commercial rule sets that will be highly complex and very robust. Just not necessarily if someone is shooting at you. It’s all about the application – horses definitely have courses.

Kent
Kent
February 25, 2015 11:33 pm

@MSR – What information do you have that indicates the build quality of the Royal Danish Navy ships is not “up to par?” Also note that the Absalon-class has no pretentions of being a frigate. If not needed as a command vessel, I could see them along the lines of a more capable version of the World War II APDs primarily supporting the Marines (RMs) and specops(Commandos/SBS). The Thetis-class is an ASW frigate in the traditional size and equipage (although I’d like to see more hp/kW and speed. The Iver Huitfeldt-class is a true AAW frigate. The commonality of the Absalon/IverHuitefeldt hull design is also a big cost saver.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
February 26, 2015 12:11 am

TD – who posted this :

“and for that, some preliminary ‘design work’ would need to be completed but fundamentally, the design work is not part of the Assessment Phase”

and

“From the links and reading done so far the output of Assessment is a Business Case and completed URD/SRD against all DLOD. at the risk of repeating myself, not a design”

Yet the fact that we don’t have a design after £180M appears to be your main issue. Skated straight past the recommendation to spend 15% of programme cost prior to MG as well.

You (and others) don’t seem to be able to understand what is required to actually procure a warship in engineering terms – and you seem to have missed the point about costing the actual build contract. Which you have to do before main gate. You don’t get prototypes in the naval world, because it’s not a production line environment. Nor do you get standard costing rates as you do in the Civ Eng world, where you can get a quantity surveyor to cost the majority of most building projects – groundworks are ground works the world over. Buildings don’t tend to move structurally in feet under normal loading on a daily basis either, or contain multiple highly pressurised fluid systems ( some flammable) in close proximity to people either. Tends to be against the building codes. Even simple things like LP air systems are required to be put outside buildings. Can’t do that on a ship.

I have indeed railed at some of what has been going on with T26 – primarily because people have been doing too much detail before getting the basics of the design feasible – and to temper the ardour of the CGI fanboys who think the weapons systems define the ship. I think you’ll find I’ve always said it’s fixable and relatively straightforward to do, but what would be required is for the MoD and BAE to recognise this rather than plough onwards in a game of chicken. Again – this isn’t technical risk, but programme risk. Nothing is low-risk if the people do the wrong thing organisationally – particularly the people executing the project and they are often the last to see the problem.

You can call it special pleading if you like and you can indeed ask your questions. However, there’s a limit to how many times people are willing to explain the details and logic behind these things on t’internet.

MikeKiloPapa
MikeKiloPapa
February 26, 2015 12:16 am

@Kent

“The Thetis-class is an ASW frigate in the traditional size and equipage”

While we have and still do use them for light ASW (screen) work , calling them proper ASW frigates is im afraid overestimating their capabilities .
Their Thales VDS has been removed(ancient tech thats no longer supported) and their hull sonar is basically the “Helen Keller” of the sonar world (a modified civilian fish finding sonar). Plus their single CP propeller is not exactly optimal for ASW.( though they have a diesel- electric propulsion mode through the use of their retractable azimuth.

The Thetis class is more correctly classed as a largish ice reinforced OPV …..they are extremely robust, has excellent seakeeping in the roughest weather the north atlantic can trow at them, and with their thick double hull and heavy bow they are superbly suited to operations in arctic waters.
Their icebreaking capabilities (>1.2m) is also the reason for their large singe propeller and modest propulsion power.

MSR
MSR
February 26, 2015 12:16 am

@ MikeKiloPapa

My apologies. Confusion between Dutch and Danish was an unfortunate slip of the keyboard which I should have noticed and which, I would hope, would be taken in good humour. God knows I’m expected to smile every time someone does the same to me. If I got pissed every time someone confused British, English, Scottish and Scouse, and then talked about how they would like to visit France, Germany and London, I would be having a heart attack every other week.

[Quote]
No they are not…..only the weapons and equipment already in the navy inventory (reused from older vessels) is not listed directly alongside the acquisition costs …and the estimated value of those items is readily and publicly available .
It must be said though that the navy does most of the final fitting out of new vessels itself ( installing weapons , comms, etc ) and that is paid for by the regular navy budget…so is not a part of the “official” price.
[End Quote]

That is what I was referring to. And whether you agree or not, it has led to misleading claims and false comparisons which have been picked up and used by both media and industry, alike. Having said that, the RDN deserves kudos for already routinely achieving what the RN is claiming as its big idea for the T26: the relatively cost neutral transfer of existing equipment onto new platforms.

Regarding standards, yes, there’s a list, including the one that’s most often quoted is STANAG 4569 vital area armour protection. Here’s the rest from Janes IDR, 2004: “full NATO-standard shock protection (meeting STANAG 4142, 4137 and 4549), nuclear, biological and chemical protection (STANAG 4447) and vital area armor protection (STANAG 4569).” HMS Ocean has a very similar list. Both were projects with a very specific budget and they met them. In their own right they can be judged a success because they delivered very useful platforms for a reasonable price… but there have been trade-offs, sometimes serious ones. That fact cannot be ignored.

Mea culpa on the deployment tempo. I had the impression they were rotating the hulls, not operating them both simultaneously, but will double check such facts in future.

MSR
MSR
February 26, 2015 12:18 am

@ NAB

[Quote]
Sorry MSR, but equating Lloyds SSC with recycled paper isn’t correct either.

Poor attempt at humour. Will desist!

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
February 26, 2015 12:19 am

On standards – google the naval ship code. That tells you what most NATO navies are trying to standardise to cover the IMO/SOLAS equivalent aspects – which navies can ignore, or specify more stringent requirements because warship survivability is very different from commercial ship (even passenger ship) survivability. Class rules are also reasonably similar across class societies – but that’s not the same as notations, which are what you actually design the ship to meet. Then you’re into Defstans / STANAGs. All of these help, but you still have to do the design – which if not exercised sufficiently frequently can lead to “issues”

Donald of Tokyo
Donald of Tokyo
February 26, 2015 1:06 am

@TOC

Thanks for pointing out. My comment is in two aspects.

> Hence the requirement for larger stores, accommodation and flexibility (via large flight deck, spacious hangar, a VLS, “mission deck”, etc) which result in the larger physical size.

Larger store and accommodation is OK. But T26’s crew is SMALLER by 30% compared to T23. Even if you add 50 Marines, it is the same. Better living standard will make it a bit larger but I do not think it is the driver of making the ship 60% LARGER.

Then, do you really need Chinook capable flight deck? TLAM? What is the mission deck for? If you think they are not driving the cost, you may not care (but the “space” and “steel” is fully designed and built to naval standard, with many-many details which could be costy to a certain amount; Is it significant or not, I admit I don’t know *). But, at least it will drive the hull size and thus the operation cost significantly. I am afraid RN is losing LPH (almost surely), (CVF looks safer), and possibly one Bay-class or the RoRo ships in place of these costs.

> As mentioned previously from those more in the know, these items of themselves are not the source of the higher cost solely: Look more towards the higher end combat systems, sensors (radar, ELINT, ESM, sonar, TAS, etc) and the man-hours to combine everything together.

This is the point of my question.

T26 fighting system is modest (or comparable) to FREMM. TLAM is cheaper than SCALP-N. CAMMS must be cheaper than ASTAR15. S2087, CAMMS, ARTISAN are cross decked (at least they say so) from T23s. And, every “complexity” shall be the same, or even less, compared to FREMM.

Then, it is the hull (scilent) and/or standards (longer deployment) making the T26 cost high. The latter everybody says, “not driving the cost” (although I doublt it). Then, is it the scilent hull driving the T26 cost?

Note that (not 250-350M GBP planned) but 400M GBP per ship for a ship like T26 is “reasonable” for me. (It is trying to be cheap in several fields, e.g. only 1 GT, unified (single) MFR, no ASROC, only 1 Merlin etc…). The point is, cross-decking the major equipments from T23 is contributing to what extent? May be it is quite minor contribution?

* On the size vs cost issue: My background is sensor-system development. I know it is QUITE different from navy ships, rather similar to S2087 or ARTISAN sized sub-system. May be it is my personal experience, but making thing larger is, at the end, “costy”. The simplest reason is that we do not give up any single requirement (INCLUDING significant margins) to the end since we think we have enough space/power/weight budgets. I see similar things elsewhere. But note again, I have never been involved in ship buiding so I may be wrong.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
February 26, 2015 3:25 am

“You (and others) don’t seem to be able to understand what is required to actually procure a warship in engineering terms… You don’t get prototypes in the naval world, because it’s not a production line environment”
— I remember that famous prototype that they built of Wembley just to make sure they’d got it all right

“Nor do you get standard costing rates as you do in the Civ Eng world, where you can get a quantity surveyor to cost the majority of most building projects – groundworks are ground works the world over.”
— Unless of course you’re building over the top of a subway system. Or on ground that is subject to Earthquakes. Or flooding. Or both. Or soft soil. Or on a gradient. Or in the middle of a river. Or any of the many, many other types of ground works that might be required.

“Buildings don’t tend to move structurally in feet under normal loading on a daily basis either,”
— True. Rather they have to be built to rigidly withstand whatever it is the world has to throw at them, such as skyscrapers that have to be designed to cope with uneven wind loadings along the length of the structure, potentially from any direction, up to and exceeding hurricane forces. Or stadiums that are built to be loaded and unloaded repeatedly with say 7,290 tonnes of human morass, jumping and bouncing and the like, with a 50 year lifespan. Or a bridge that has to be able to hold several thousand tons of machinery rattling along its span all day long, while also taking the shear forces of the wind. I’m sure it’s all a piece of piss though by comparison.

“or contain multiple highly pressurised fluid systems ( some flammable) in close proximity to people either.”
— And this is an example of what I called on anther thread “Engineers bluff”. So for example I’m properly qualified to operate quite a dangerous piece of machinery. Said machine contains enough acid (and with sufficient corrosiveness) to dissolve a good chunk of the human body (and you get to sit on it!). It has a very high pressure oil system which is positioned about 2 feet away from the operators face, a system which can get very hot through continued operation and in the past is on record as having piereced through human skin with just a small jet escaping through a tiny hole. The machine is sufficiently powerful that if your hand got caught in the mechanism it would be sliced off easier than taking the petal off a flower. Each year around 400 people are killed or seriously injured by these machines.

Now that all sounds very impressive and quite dramatic, until you realise I’m just talking about a forklift.

IXION
February 26, 2015 7:44 am

Please leave NAB alone!

I think that people are talking at cross purposes.

NAB is explaining the complexities of Warship design. They have become in equipment terms at least every bit as complex as fighters for example. I get that.

What others are saying is that this ship was ‘sold’ on using COTS and MOTS and 2nd hand equipment. In otherwords what is going into this ship is fully understood.

It is ‘just’ a job of designing a floating container and wiring and plumbing it all together in a way that Is safe and acceptable and floats in the way required.

That to me seems to be the issue. As the hull is external the equipment internal, and if you change one you change the other. You cannot magically make an internal compartment 4 feet wider without doing something with the hull.

What others are saying is that people calling themselves ship designers should be able to do that stuff for breakfast, given the large experience of the equipment involved.

Rocket Banana
February 26, 2015 8:21 am

What others are saying is that people calling themselves ship designers should be able to do that stuff for breakfast, given the large experience of the equipment involved.

Same thing applies for flyovers, bridges, arenas, stadiums, etc… they all come in over budget and late. You would have thought everyone should be able to “do their stuff”.

And yet…

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
February 26, 2015 11:35 am

There are (literally) thousands of complex civil engineering projects designed and built every year. The building standards change at a relatively regular pace, but many of the materials remain relatively straightforward (eg aggregate, reinforced concrete etc). The point being, that those projects are done in sufficient number to generate an empirical, useable, statistically valid cost base.

Similarly, the various design standards (EN, BS etc) and RIBA publications deal with the loadings, ground conditions etc. So while they are all different, there is extensive empirical design and build information represented in those. It’s also usually unclassified, not particularly commercially sensitive and therefore available for general use. They also tend to use standard component parts (steel sections etc) and configurations.

That empirical base does not tend to exist for naval warships, although use of Class Rules is an attempt to do some of that – specifically derivation of method for undertaking structural calculations in detail and for system resilience and safety standards. What it doesn’t deal with is the early stage definition of the design, where you really do need to get it right, otherwise you can do a lot of calculation for less return developing detail that subsequently needs to be rechecked. That is difficult, because new classes of similar ship (for which a design organisation can get information) come along on a generational basis and elements of it become outdated or irrelevant between these. Steam systems for example. LP air control systems. Accommodation. All either no longer included or changed such that the previous empirical info becomes of much less relevance. Which means you have to derive it from scratch.

Ships I’m afraid, are different, whether you (or your mates) like it or not. Aircraft are different and land vehicles are different. But ships attract more attention primarily because they are big capital assets where you can’t hide lack of progress, or deflect it with an ongoing prototype programme.

However, in this case – the primary issue is programme risk. As I keep repeating (and you keep ignoring) – it isn’t technical risk in this case that has caused the issue and delay. It is organisational and people-based.

You’ve had a benchmarking value (Zumwalt) – other nations are more reticent about their costs – which is actually indicative of the basic issue. You have a bunch of systems engineers, writing process based around “complex system design” (what they mean is primarily electronics and software) which is inappropriate for this application. Large organisations are following this type of systems engineering process without necessarily having the knowledge to apply it proportionately and when it is needed. Result, you get a lot of people doing stuff earlier than required and potentially at risk of rework.

If you’ve ever had to do this, you implicitly understand it. If you’ve never had to do it and rely on what you can find on t’internet and in books, you may be missing vital context.

WillS66
WillS66
February 26, 2015 12:26 pm

@MSR

“Regarding standards, yes, there’s a list, including the one that’s most often quoted is STANAG 4569 vital area armour protection. Here’s the rest from Janes IDR, 2004: “full NATO-standard shock protection (meeting STANAG 4142, 4137 and 4549), nuclear, biological and chemical protection (STANAG 4447) and vital area armor protection (STANAG 4569).”

NATO has STANAGs to cover pretty much anything from bridges to boats. Working, as I do, in the comms s/w industry (the military stuff) I can tell you that different national interpretations of and additions to STANAGs in that area quite often results in horrific problems when trying to connect comms systems which are theoretically operating to the same standard.

You can write really bad software that adheres to really good standards, it depends on how you choose to interpret the standard (& how good you are at writing software). I’m not sure of the same is true of the standards relating to NBC and Armour and other ship-relevant items but it wouldn’t surprise me if a nation choose to interpret a standard in a non-standard way that was nevertheless entirely justifiable from their perspective. Which further muddies the like-to-like comparisons that bathtub admirals like myself like to engage in.

Will.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
February 26, 2015 12:53 pm

“why does that not apply to designing ships, which has a body of work, which has published standards and research, which has professional bodies and which has accredited qualifications?”

It’s this bit – “What it doesn’t deal with is the early stage definition of the design, where you really do need to get it right, otherwise you can do a lot of calculation for less return developing detail that subsequently needs to be rechecked. That is difficult, because new classes of similar ship (for which a design organisation can get information) come along on a generational basis and elements of it become outdated or irrelevant between these.”

which is not freely available to anyone either from a security or commercial sensitivity PoV. Nor is it in one organisation, so that “body of work” doesn’t exist. I expect the same applies to early-stage airframe design – which is one reason they use development prototypes – for the same reason, which is the design is fundamentally more sensitive to support (hydrostatic or aerodynamic) and propulsion than something which is supported by the ground and doesn’t have to move (as in relocate). Getting it right (or rather wrong) early has vastly more consequence for naval and air projects as result.

You’re missing the point vs technical and programme risk. The point of technical risk is where you have to develop something a bit different – a trimaran hullform, say or a hull using very HT steel, or composites. That means you have to do your own development of empirical data or more likley extrapolation from whatever can be found as appropriate. That is in addition to and usually before (or overlapping iteratively with) the usual early-stage design processes.

What T26 is experiencing is primarily programme risk in that some of the people executing the project appear to be without much experience in early stage designs and without any ready-access to such experience. What that means is that they’re seeing numbers and values that they’re not sure about, but don’t know how to confirm them or what to do if they’re not what they need. You could characterise it as “that can’t be right, let me just check it against X, Y, Z relevant ship and see what has changed?”.

So your assumption is incorrect – the early stage T45 designers (who nicked a lot from CNGF/Horizon before them) are probably not there (I don’t recognise many names). QE is not appropriate because a carrier (particularly a big carrier) is vastly different in design principle and relationship dependencies than a surface combatant. Most of the guys who did the original T22/23, FE, FSC (even T26) design iterations have left the MoD (and don’t work for BAE) or are in non-design or non-surface ship posts. The few that have the right experience don’t appear to be able to control the design.

So – in essence ship design is difficult – particularly early stage and especially for surface combatants, but if you have the right people and the right tools you can do it. But that has to stay constant within the project and have the authority to control the design – particularly if it evolves, which doesn’t appear to be the case with T26. Hence I’d call it programme risk, not technical. It’s about the experience base of the people and their level of control. It’s also why maintenance of strategic capability is about the whole thing from requirementeering to commissioning and why euro-conglomerateering (a la Eurofighter) actually depletes the gene pool until you have insufficient critical mass there too. Then you buy LM and in a couple more cycles there’s nobody left at all, even in LM! THis is why “batching” designs is a poor idea – you don’t do the early stage stuff enough and you get a class of engineers who know how to do detail, but not how to do different.

All the western democracies have followed this path to some degree and most (if not all) of their military ship design & building industries are (or will be) exhibiting these symptoms. See Zumwalt, NSC, AB Flt III, Ford, AWD for details. I suspect you’ll see some similar effects in Fr and It soon too.

On your 1 and 2.

1. I’d suggest closer to £600M. You underestimate what the equipment costs may be.
2. VFM depends on your perspective. Looks poor to accountants and pollies, right up until they have to deal with the consequences of choosing not to spend that amount. Could it have been done better wrt T26 – indisputably, but probably not the way you were thinking.

The Other Chris
February 26, 2015 1:02 pm

We can bust the myth that COTS/MOTS is “cost saving” or “cheaper”.

It isn’t. It’s de-risking, which isn’t necessarily the same thing.

We should also probably talk about T23 systems being transferred to T26 in terms of the development and sustainment programs rather than the actual physical equipment, as it’s still entirely possible that T26 could receive new-buy instances of equipment being discussed with contracts continuing on the new home rather than having “second-hand” items literally craned off one ship and onto another, although that will also happen.

The Other Chris
February 26, 2015 1:07 pm

@NaB

AWD – is that the Australian Air Warfare Destroyer programme you’re referencing there?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 26, 2015 1:14 pm

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Reforming defence acquisition
26-02-2015 12:01 AM GMT

Well, will have to catch up with discussion first…

The Other Chris
February 26, 2015 1:20 pm

“Would a type 26 of 6 ships followed by a Type 27 of 6 ships better and cheaper in the round than a type 26 of 13 ships and nothing in between for decades?”

Presuming as opposed to Batches of the same class (accepting it as an example figure c.f. 8 x ASW 2087 sets).

How would that class drumbeat on top of hull drumbeat be pitched politically? i.e. avoiding the temptation of getting into the same trouble the US has with modifying the Burke designs for each Flight?

Martin
Editor
February 26, 2015 1:29 pm

@ TOC – in terms of cross decking kit. I did see somewhere that the plan was to have the first T26 finished before the first T23 left service which may suggest new purchases rather than cross decking of radar etc.

@ NAB – you make a valid point about ships unlike aircraft not having a prototype. However given the vast sums involved in getting the design right could it be worth actually building a first of class prototype. Maybe not with full electronics, radars etc just the hull, superstructure and engines etc?

Peter Elliott
February 26, 2015 1:40 pm

NAB

I buy the argument that the issue is about people and organisation. Would it help to have a nominated boss of the NDP who is an experienced Naval Architect at the top of his profession and who gets a secure employment contract from MoD (not from the current programme) and spends at least 10 years in post?

Whether you call that person Director of Naval Construction or not is irrelevant but by doing that you keep the techies and process engineers in line, and give the pollies and procurement wallahs a one stop shop. And taking into account succession planning you get the required decades long repository for expertise in framing the crucial early stages of new designs.

Peter Elliott
February 26, 2015 1:43 pm

TD

There is much to be said for ‘scrap and build’ in a complex and fast moving world. Josiah Stamp of the LMS Railway was brilliant at it.

mickp
mickp
February 26, 2015 1:44 pm

Aside from the ‘job X is more difficult that job Y’ stuff, in this thread, the sort of comparison that you can never do objectively – the issues NAB has set out very clearly and helpfully in his last post can be applied across a whole range on industries and sectors – engineering or other.

The batching point applies equally to many other products and sectors – construction, automotive design, software where you end up with loads of highly capable tweakers but no one who remembers how to do anything from scratch

That said, assuming T26 gets ordered in ‘batches’ in a production lot sense, then I don’t expect the design to stand still ie there will be evolutionary tweaks or modifications to weapon fit of other aspects. That keeps the capability fit for purpose but as NAB says does not resolve the attrition of core design skills.

If we decide that we are going to have, as a ‘national asset’ (even if strictly in the hands of a public company) say the capability to manufacture SSNs / SSBNs and Major surface warships then that will come at a cost and that will include the costs of maintaining the core design skills and core trades. The latter can more easily be maintained by extra OPV orders etc but the former, if we just design from bottom up one class of DDs/FFs every 30 years say, would always need regenerating at considerable cost. The only way round that is more, smaller size classes (eg runs of 6-8 vessels on different hull forms – rather than 13 T26s on the same hull) or multiple programmes in play at once (say the moment steel is cut for the first T26, lets commence design of the Albion replacement LHDs). Either way it costs but for me it comes under that category of important national capability

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 26, 2015 1:51 pm

One take-away (snippet) that I can fully agree with:

” and why euro-conglomerateering (a la Eurofighter) actually depletes the gene pool until you have insufficient critical mass there too. Then you buy LM and in a couple more cycles there’s nobody left at all, even in LM! /…/ – you don’t do the early stage stuff enough and you get a class of engineers who know how to do detail, but not how to do different.”

There are companies that buy market share knowing full well that once they’ve got enough there is no way the other players can survive. And even though every incarnation of defence industrial policy (or defence acquisition strategy, for that matter) has recognised the in-built tendency towards monopolistic behaviours, the “counters” developed so far have been very poor.

A Different Gareth
A Different Gareth
February 26, 2015 2:11 pm

TD said: “Is there any explanation for why Astute only cost £29m but Typhoon £78m, or why the A400M* cost the princely sum of £1m but Type 45, £232m?”

The reason for the disparity is clear: Tubes. Astute is a tube. A400m is a flying tube. Typhoon and Type 45 are much less tube shaped. Tubes are simple and efficient. Ideal for carrying everything from Smarties to carrying men to the moon…

I’m guessing that the cost of development is largely a function of how many capabilities you want, regardless of if they are off the shelf or not. If military/political or industrial whims can add and remove options because you are making something multi-role then it’ll take time to investigate the effects of each combination of capabilities. The longer this takes the more chance of new capabilities being just on the horizon and people wanting to look at them too.

Consider what gets discussed here with regards to A400m. Had it been envisaged to be cargo, MPA, AWACS etc from the start it would have taken even longer and even more money to settle on an acceptable balance of qualities for a general purpose airframe. Or imagine if Astute had been intended to launch UAVs and some kind of anti-air capability on top of what it already does. As it is A400m just moves things from A to B (or above B) and airborne refuels, and Astute deals with everything with either a torpedo or a Tomahawk.

By comparison Typhoon has to be capable of several different roles and be competent at carrying an ever widening array of weapons. The threats it might face are evolving rapidly too. Type 45 is likewise but turned up to 11.

Martin said: “@ NAB – you make a valid point about ships unlike aircraft not having a prototype. However given the vast sums involved in getting the design right could it be worth actually building a first of class prototype. Maybe not with full electronics, radars etc just the hull, superstructure and engines etc?”

Taking a cue from Iran, once it is no longer needed you take the hull down to the Falklands and let the forces there use it for target practice.

mickp
mickp
February 26, 2015 2:21 pm

“However given the vast sums involved in getting the design right could it be worth actually building a first of class prototype.”

I think Astute was pretty close to that, but that’s a large function of skills attrition rather than intentional

On a type by type basis there must be an optimum class size / production cycle (for a given fleet size) that allows retention of core skills to be balanced with cost.

Whatever that is, its probably not what we have now

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
February 26, 2015 2:29 pm

TOC – yes.

TD – It’s not that T45 and QE have no bearing on T26 per se. As an example, the material costs and production / installation rates of the components of various systems will be perfectly applicable to detailed production costings, because they represent contemporary standards and working practices. Now there are “issues”, I would also be looking very hard at the T45 as built data and comparing it to T26 projections to ensure that the T26 projections (and their supporting assumptions) were logical. As an example, I’d expect to see a lot less electrical weight in T26, because it’s not an IFEP ship. If that wasn’t the case, I’d be wanting a very good explanation why. Essentially diagnosis of issues – targetting if you like.

Where those ships don’t necessarily help me is identifying the logic behind particular features of T26 – ie why is it like that in the first place, what else could it be like?

On product lifecycles, see numerous previous posts on (not) batching, refreshing design skills, use of standard system components, etc. It’s not that the same team needs to be designing DD/FF and only DD/FF, what is required is a critical mass of people who have done it in the early stages and also understand what is required to build them. This is what you lose if you only design such ships every 15 years or so. The detail design bits (because they’re more “standard”-based are less perishable and more widely applicable – a class F fatigue rated weld connection will be similar on most ships.

However, that does not necessarily lead to “shorter product lifecycle” ships. T23 was supposed to be that – 18 years, no mid-life refit – and look how well that turned out! We built 30 T22 and T23 in total and its arguable that we’d still have closer to twenty of those had it not been “easier” to remove them from the orbat, rather than commit to capital contracts for new ships.

That’s the reason why FSC did not pass IG in 99 and in 2003 or 2005. It’s one reason why QE was continually delayed and its one reason why FSS and MARS continually moved right. It is always easier to put off spending money (on design, or contractual build) than it is to commit to it.

My personal view would be that classes of around six ships with lives of (say) 30-35 years would do the trick. Part of it is picking which major equipment items would match several calsses (to get your logistics savings) and which would require relatively frequent refresh (primarily electronics and software-driven systems, I’d suggest).

Whatever you do, you have to get past the political and Treasury inertia and resistance to committing to shipbuild – they think of it as a production line, where you maximise the investment in design, whereas this does not actually accrue in practice. You’d probably end up cost neutral as you’d be more efficiently using the non-production “overhead” staff.

Trouble with prototype ships is that it has to be serving a purpose. For aircraft, you’re finding out about things like manufacturing process, actual flight performance, actual weight, the investment from which you can recover in large production runs. You don’t get that in a ship – where the capital cost is so large and the time to manufacture is so long, you don’t get the benefit transferred back into the programme early enough – especially not with a small class. Which I suspect is also one reason why large aircraft in relatively short production runs (like Nimrod, E3, MRTT) are almost invariably airliner conversions.

El Sid
El Sid
February 26, 2015 2:39 pm

@TD
My question would be, is a billion quid a reasonable amount to design a modern frigate?

I don’t know, have we done any benchmarking against other navies?

As I posted elsewhere, their share of the FREMM programme is costing the Frogs €9,500m (£6.9bn) for 11, with a unit cost of €670m (£490m) in FY14 including two air-defence variants.
http://www.senat.fr/rap/a14-110-8/a14-110-819.html#toc308

So that’s £1.55bn for a half share of FREMM fixed costs, plus the AAW design work. Look at another way, it’s 22% of the programme cost. Smart Acquisition suggests 15% be spent in the assessment phase – there’s obviously some flexibility how you allocate costs, but if the T26 project is going to end up at a similar cost to French FREMM, then 15% = £1-1.2bn is probably about right.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 26, 2015 2:56 pm

“FRES, Type 23 replacement, F35 etc etc, these multi decade development programmes are causing a snowball effect
We have to get back to shorter design-build-support-dispose cycles”

Yep, but
– for one, all those had such good predecessors, honed in true competition (supported by some live-fire field tests)
– and, also, the fact that not knowing what the next conflictnwill look like, accepting that not everything can be all-rounders, but in some cases we would need to have two models (say, for a recce wagon) and on average, they will spend half of their lives in an a/c garage.

Tedgo
Tedgo
February 26, 2015 3:34 pm

I recently acquired a book “Practical Ship Hydrodynamics”. It wasn’t really as practical as I had hoped for, yes it went though much theory on power requirements, friction and resistance, propellers, sea keeping, vibration, ship manoeuvring and seaworthy ness. All these aspects are now fully covered by mathematical techniques both theoretical and empirical, with boundary finite element technics fully developed.

The worrying aspect acquired from reading the book, is that these days the necessary calculations are now handled by propriety software packages on computers. This leads to several concerns, fewer people will have an intimate knowledge of the subject matter, while many will know how to operate and use the software but will have no engineering instinct as to whether the results are good or bad. And what if the software is flawed, we still see ships which are too heavy (two recent ferries) and some still launch the wrong way up (motor yacht).

However this software approach is now on going in all fields of engineering and science, ship design is no different. Hundreds of ships are successfully designed each year, some offshore oil industry ships are very complicated. Noise and vibration requirements feature in most new designs. I don’t think warships are anything special, other than if you are trying to hoodwink the simple government shopper.

I am quite sure commercial ships do not go through long winded expensive assessment phases, once the ship is designed then the customer will want the ship built ASAP.

And what have BAE been doing these last few years, using hundreds of millions of pounds and several hundred personnel, designing the type 26. Surely the design has already been assessed on an ongoing basis.

These phases are simply a way of pumping money in to BAE while government makes up its mind to order the ships.

The other cherry which keeps popping up in MOD announcements is long lead times for special steels.

In my apprenticeship in the 60’s I spent a few weeks at FH Lloyds in Wednesbury, probably the largest steel foundry in the world at the time. Every casting had its own steel specification, I remember being involved with tank turrets, excavator chassis and steam turbine casings. Having charged the arc furnace with scrap iron, the other ingredients are chucked in (as in with a shovel), carbon, nickel, manganese etc as required. Test sample in the lab, pour then recharge the furnace for a different mix.

The Other Chris
February 26, 2015 4:00 pm

It’s a far cry from the single-crystal controlled injection foundry in Rotherham.

Chris
Chris
February 26, 2015 4:26 pm

Tedgo – as I noted a day or so back, I trust those engineers with experience and ‘a feel’ for their work more than I trust those that carefully follow complex system engineering processes and blindly implement whatever the software says. I can recall the early days of pocket calculators when they were cool and had to be used whenever possible. I stopped using mine the day I suddenly found I needed corroboration from the electronic brain to be absolutely certain 2×3 was 6 instead of 5. I had quickly become reliant on the device and felt nervous doing even the most simple sums without it. Hideous. Since then I have made a point of doing parallel mental approximations when using electronic/software number-crunchers as a sort of reasonable test to make sure the sums were keyed in right. Modern users however, who have no knowledge of a world without spreadsheets, spill chuckers, predictive test, and all the other labour saving software I suspect trust the computer’s judgement without question. Its not good.

Peter Elliott
February 26, 2015 4:48 pm

At least with spreadsheets you can go back and check that the inputs you typed are what you thought you typed. But I have a natural distrust of other people’s spreads, ever since I worked out how easy it was to spoof the company’s capex.model by massaging the revenue forecast profile.

Basically if I can’t fathom out how the calculation is working, and no – one else can explain it lucidly then I place no reliance on the result. People have got quite upset with me in tender negotiations as a result. But for me it’s a big symptom of a bidder who is not in proper control of their costs.

monkey
monkey
February 26, 2015 5:18 pm

In terms of attrition to the skill base of keeping enough experience of conceptualizing a warship from the keel up from a broad spectrum brief ” we would like a multi-purpose frigate, a guided missile arsenal ship, a mine hunter support vessel with some self protection ……” relying on a single countries naval requirements ,even the UK which is floaty boaty orientated, is not going to happen . BAES Marine UK are not going to get enough domestic work for that particular skill base to be maintained. The ANZACs are looking at new vessels with BAES in the frame , the Saudis are looking for new warships , the US is wanting to , lets be polite, evolve the LCS concept perhaps its time BAES or other UK design houses started arketing their skills , perhaps after designing a world class SSN ,a world class AAW , a world class ASW , a very high end carrier . If their sales team cant sell off the back of that then they want firing and someone who can hired. Yes I understand the examples I have mentioned are out of most budgets but you can more easily sell down than up. The bulk of sales for car manufactures are not their brand leaders but those sell confidence in the other brands . Pull ur finger out BAES Marine and take your he’s out of the UK nosebag as it is now officially empty for the next decade plus. You want a cheap amphib , France will knock two out for the price of a T45 , want a RFA ship South Korea will do you three for the same price.

The Other Chris
February 26, 2015 5:30 pm

BAE are modifying MSV Cragside for the US in Alabama (?), I’m sure we could find uses for a class of something similar… ;)

Rocket Banana
February 26, 2015 5:33 pm

TD,

Simon, err, no they don’t, and neither do defence projects consistently come in late and over budget.

They do if they’re large and complex.

The point I was making is that without the experience of something extremely similar beforehand our best guesses for costing and timing often fall short of reality.

Examples that spring to mind are the Millennium Dome, the Channel Tunnel, Wembley Stadium, the Dartford Tunnel, and the QE Bridge.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 26, 2015 5:47 pm

I don’t know how Technology Readiness Level 7 is defined, but the variability of the final outcome against the initial cost estimate is -50 to +250% at level 6, and in the UK sample compresses down to +/- 20% after that.

So, IG and MG should get a companion in the decision making vocabulary?

Sounds like ISD could be guaranteed at that Level 7? Then again, you could get these projects where the subcontractor runs after more lucrative business having secured “you”… Not talking about Watchkeeper at all!

MikeKiloPapa
MikeKiloPapa
February 26, 2015 5:59 pm

@TD

“Mike, are you able to identify the design and development costs for the Absalon class”

I’m afraid not ….a lot of the preliminary design work was carried out by the navy’s own design team and as such not accounted for in the actual building budget.

The actual hull form/shape is all Odense’s (OSS) work though but their design work is not listed seperately but is a part of the total cost of ~$400m (in 2003 pounds) for both ships.

Which sound impossibly cheap at first glance….and the yard actually did loose quite alot of money on them. But one must also remember that the ships delivered to the navy was barely half finished and subsequently spent the next 3 years being outfitted …..mostly on the navy regular budget.

The “real” cost of the Absalon , for anybody but the RDN, im guessing would have been in the 350-400 million dollar region.

MikeKiloPapa
MikeKiloPapa
February 26, 2015 6:24 pm

@MSR

“Regarding standards, yes, there’s a list..etc etc… but there have been trade-offs, sometimes serious ones. That fact cannot be ignored”

Yes yes but you know.. ..if we had actually wanted “REAL” warships, we would of course have had you design and build them for us ;-)

Seriously speaking though …i just used the naval-technology link as a quick and dirty public source to show that the Abs class isnt built to ferry standard . While i am in possesion of their actual blueprints and specifications, i can not prove that they are built to a higher standard , than HMS Ocean and without the serious trade offs, without disclosing confidential documentation, which i am of course unwilling to do.

Anyhow, it is of little importance and relevance to the subject of this thread.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
February 26, 2015 6:32 pm

MKP

I saw a figure of 700 000 manhours per ship and immediately knew there was something awry.

What it shows is that you can’t directly compare what t’internet says, with the actualite – unless you know all the ins and outs, which very few do.

MikeKiloPapa
MikeKiloPapa
February 26, 2015 6:42 pm

@WillS66

I see your point and i dont disagree…..though those particular STANAG’s (4569,4142, 4137, 4549 etc) happens to be pretty darn specific , so i dont really see how you could “fudge” those without risking non-compliance. STANAG 4569 level 4 kinetic energi for instance , specifies protection against minimum : 14.5×114 mm AP / B32 at 200 meters with 911 m/s …so either your armor is able to stop that ammo (or equivalent) or it is simply not level 4 .

Chris
Chris
February 26, 2015 6:53 pm

MKP – its all down to detail… Ref your absolute protection standard – in my test & qual plan I could possibly declare an arc of 200m in both azimuth & elevation and take a stats approach to compliance? Or just blindly state its compliant at 60 degrees from normal to the armour plane. Bear in mind that sort of thing happens all the time, hence sloped armour being thinner because the assumed line of fire is from ground level. A rooftop sniper? Never happens. But you can’t take an absolute theoretical stance (must be 200m and arriving exactly at right angles in every plane to the armour), because the real world doesn’t work in such neat and absolute ways. So the T-34 was far better protected than its armour thickness suggested exactly because it was sloped and the attacks did for the most part come from ground level.

El Sid
El Sid
February 26, 2015 7:09 pm

the total cost of ~$400m (in 2003 pounds) for both ships.

It’s worth remembering that inflation plays a part – our nearest equivalent would be St Albans, commissioned 2 years before Absalon and costing £125m in 2002 money :

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/vo021107/text/21107w05.htm#21107w05.html_sbhd4

This presentation on the Huitfeldts may be of interest :
http://www.ndia.org/Divisions/Divisions/International/Documents/U.S.-Denmark%20Defense%20Industry%20Seminar/Danish%20frigate%20program%20visit%20USN%20May%202014.pdf

Note that although they cite a cash cost of $313m/ship, that does not include $70m of recycled equipment. Even then they were not fully fitted out – they are fitted for but not with a 5″ gun because they ran out of money, and in echoes of the Tornado’s Blue Circle they had to fit a wooden model of the Millenium gun to keep their air worthiness certifications. Also she was declared operational without the Mk41 in use, again on budget grounds :
http://archive.defensenews.com/article/20141120/DEFREG01/311200043/Aboard-Danish-Frigate-Clean-Lines-Room-Grow

MikeKiloPapa
MikeKiloPapa
February 26, 2015 7:13 pm

@ TD

“maybe we already do”

Well British shipbuilding have always had a huge influence on the Danish ditto , going back to the age of sail.

More recent , i know that British ship designers have been involved in a lot of cold war danish surface vessel designs , and i seem to remember Rolls Royce being a part of the team that laid out the Thetis class OPV’s as well.

But today, i think differing requirements and tasks , plus a lot of NIH factor, limits the level and potential of cooperation beyond perhaps sharing a few ideas.

MikeKiloPapa
MikeKiloPapa
February 26, 2015 7:21 pm

“in my test & qual plan I could possibly declare an arc of 200m in both azimuth & elevation and take a stats approach to compliance”

Nope…..the relevant STANAG also specifies angle of impact.
https://www.unops.org/ApplyBO/File.aspx/4569eed02.pdf?AttachmentID=52d5a7b6-37ad-49bc-b18c-c468ea81787a

As i said , they are fairly specific.

When it comes to standards there is of course always some wiggle room and gray areas….but only to a limited degree …otherwise they would be completely useless and then what would be the point of them in the first place.

MikeKiloPapa
MikeKiloPapa
February 26, 2015 7:55 pm

@El Sid

“they are fitted for but not with a 5″ gun because they ran out of money”

Though partially true…the mk45 is a pricey bit of kit, for what it does, with a pricetag upwards of $50 M ……another reason was also our experience with the weapon system on the Absalons where they found out its practical rate of fire was closer to 10 rounds a minute rather than the 16-20 rpm it has on paper. So im not sure its such a bad thing keeping the dual 3″ OTO or changing one out for a 35mm . After all these guns are better suited for AAW anyway.

“they had to fit a wooden model of the Millenium gun to keep their air worthiness certifications”

Yes , because Oerlikon/Rheinmetall had failed to properly marinize the millenium gun mounts from the start, resulting in all the systems being returned to the factory for modification. While it is annoying and slightly embarassing having to do without the real CIWS’s atleast Oerlikon will be covering all associated costs.

“Also she was declared operational without the Mk41 in use, again on budget grounds”

Hardly a huge scandal , as the last of the units have only just recently reached IOC, furthermore the acquisition of SM-2’s for the MK41 were never a part of neither the previous nor the present defence agreement but is planned for in next come 2017.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
February 26, 2015 7:55 pm

“but many of the materials remain relatively straightforward (eg aggregate, reinforced concrete etc)”
— Except that they don’t. There are a huge number of grades of aggregate. It’s very similar to the differences in grades of various steels and alloys. Adding different levels of various materials to a mix produces very different properties, often only suitable for specific applications.

” So while they are all different, there is extensive empirical design and build information represented in those”
— The maths of construction is well understood. The chemistry of construction is well understood. The physics is well understood. But typically large firms are no more in the habit of sharing their specific technical information than any other firm in any other industry.

“Ships I’m afraid, are different, whether you (or your mates) like it or not”
— Different maybe in the specific challenges. But it’s still an engineering problem like many others, and trying to claim special pleading rights doesn’t really hold up.

“for the same reason, which is the design is fundamentally more sensitive to support (hydrostatic or aerodynamic) and propulsion than something which is supported by the ground and doesn’t have to move (as in relocate). Getting it right (or rather wrong) early has vastly more consequence for naval and air projects as result.”
— Err, really? Can you imagine what would happen if you built a 30 storey skyscraper only to find out a few years later that you hadn’t built the foundation properly? Considering an aircraft or ship design can be changed for later production runs, I would suggest that it’s rather more important to get a major civilian engineering project right first time.

Which they do far more consistently than the government or defence contractors. If you’re arguing that BAE lacks the skills to be able to design the ship then maybe it should be handed to someone else abroad, who actually knows what they’re doing, to produce a design that can then be built on the Clyde.

The Other Chris
February 26, 2015 8:06 pm

@TD

“…no we couldn’t because…”

But… but… Motherships!

The Other Chris
February 26, 2015 8:37 pm

Keeps the steel trades entertained, Axe gets to sell more books and maybe even cites you a bit more openly!

Makes for a perfect Point-class Batch 2 base between the Rivers and the T26… ;)

monkey
monkey
February 26, 2015 10:23 pm

On the basically where next and how much is going to cost us? thread the Danish yard that built the Absolon and the Iver’s had a design team that spun off to form a design only house called inspirationally Odense Martime Technology.
http://www.google.co.uk/url?q=http://www.odensemaritime.com/&sa=U&ei=l5nvVJaMDord7QbSmoCoAw&ved=0CAwQFjAA&sig2=phOcwwntUKxra7E9RD28Gg&usg=AFQjCNF1570AtK2o8A4_MY0YdAkHHbgPgw
They regularly design all classes of ships from 18,000+TEU container ships ( the Emma Merske class was theirs ) to Bulk carriers to specialist offshore support and still design full fledged warships. They have a formal agreement with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Shipbuilding to finalize their requirements amongst others. Could such a design house be spun off from BAES , a management buyout if you will , maybe bringing people from other companies to provide an equivalent competitor. This would provide constant exposure to worldwide industry practice and maintain those instinctive conceptual skills.

Chris
Chris
February 27, 2015 8:17 am

monkey – there is a lot of faith/hope in management buyouts, wherever they happen. Born I guess from the view that if the senior management believe that much in the company they will make it a success. Looking back through the window of history doesn’t present such a rosy picture. There have been well intentioned manager/owners taken to the cleaners by their investment capitalists. There have been management owners quick to strip assets in return for very full wallets. And there have been successful buyouts that have created sound exciting go-ahead companies that generally have been bought out (quite often by businesses we* would prefer hadn’t).

I put a quote from Adam Smith in one of the comment streams a week or so back, where he said something on the lines that businesses do not naturally have a sound moral compass and, without regulation from external authorities, will sell everything including their own grandmother to gain greater profit, and in chasing ever greater profit will engage in cartels or monopolistic domination wherever they can. So in the domain of UK PLC Defence, management buyouts are only likely to be helpful in the medium to long term if either UK Gov’t nails in formal controls that the new board can’t duck, or the UK Gov’t is in a position to feed enough work through to make working in support of UK Defence the business’s most profitable option. The ToBA lark is an example of how to keep a business entity from looking to sell itself to the highest bidder or to move elsewhere where pickings might be better.

Or as an alternative, HMG could decide to own the design houses outright as a standing army. Whether manufacturing needs to be Gov’t owned or not depends on the volume of work and on the security/sensitivity aspects if work is done offshore.

* “We” in this context means the UK, its gov’t and Treasury, and those parts of Gov’t who use the companies’ products.

monkey
monkey
February 27, 2015 10:26 am


I was trying to be positive for the future of the BAES Marine design team as in I can’t see one after the T26 starts production. The frigate factory at Scotshoun construction order should be placed soon as the quotes came in at the end of last year to do the work and now the money is there it should start soonish. After that things will start to move and then what will they do ? Does the UK need any brand new warships designed? Is BAES Marine bidding for any overseas work which they have a hope of winning? They should based on what I said yesterday on world class SSN/ASW/AAW/CVF etc but I doubt it.

Chris
Chris
February 27, 2015 10:34 am

monkey – I was suggesting reliance on privatisation, specifically management buy-outs, is sound for UK defence only if the UK is prepared to make it worth the business’s while to stay focused on UK defence work. Otherwise they will be Hyundai International within a decade, closing down the Clyde to move to the Philippines or Vietnam or wherever the next up & coming cheap labour environment might be. If you want to keep it, you have to pay for it, whether by grants or by orders or by physically buying the organisation.

monkey
monkey
February 27, 2015 11:03 am


As you said yesterday a UK design team will inevitably look for outside investors and the likes of the Danish OMT I mentioned yesterday , Damen of Holland , Austal of Australia or Boeing or Lockheed will move in strip them of all the IP and offer them jobs in whichever host country if they are lucky as the British offices are ‘not cost- efficient’ or some such BS and have close.

clinched
clinched
February 27, 2015 11:04 am

Does anyone else think, like me, that the Scottish independence issue was not resolved by the referendum. Nats now seem to be saying that if they win the May General Election in Scotland they will have a mandate for another referendum. If that is the case, then it would not seem to make any sense for the Westminster Government to commit shed loads of money to building a frigate factory in what will one day soon be a foreign country.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
February 27, 2015 12:33 pm

Unless I’m mistaken, that OMT design team you refer to would have only done the contract and detail design part of the Huitfeldt (see MKPs comment up thread). The preliminary (ie Early Stage work) was done by the RDN. What they will be good at is design from scratch of a wide range of commercial ships, primarily because they’ve a track record in it. Not something that is resident in Scotstoun.

It’s also unlikely they’re a spin-off. They’re most probably the design team buying the name out from receivers. Happened at Swan Hunter in the 90s (became Armstrong Technology and are now part of Babcocks). Happened at Appledore too when Babcocks took over.

monkey
monkey
February 27, 2015 1:50 pm

@NaB
Regarding OMT their own literature is not clear , they say they were responsible for the design but from what stage it does not say just in co-operation with the RDN .
http://www.google.co.uk/url?q=http://www.navalteam.dk/fileadmin/user_upload/files/omt.pdf&sa=U&ei=Q3TwVJTVH4uf7ga1rYHYBQ&ved=0CCQQFjAJ&sig2=MyD_KRuH07-pmqSH2ccQ8A&usg=AFQjCNFlYW0IiLmb4sZhnq7MfFTS9s-2dA

monkey
monkey
February 27, 2015 2:03 pm

@clinched
The SNP are determined to achieve independence, its part of their mandate. The first T26 will barely have got wet before they start demanding a new referendum . They will continue until a yes vote is achieved.
http://www.google.co.uk/url?q=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scotland/11230833/Nicola-Sturgeon-puts-second-referendum-at-top-of-agenda.html&sa=U&ei=cnfwVIqTDu3W7QaE1YDIBw&ved=0CA0QFjAB&sig2=TWrD5yHkpM3gDjqCtVa_dQ&usg=AFQjCNHuRmJfYFNQzg7eGy6pIBAjZ7lszw

clinched
clinched
February 27, 2015 2:13 pm

@monkey

That’s why I question the sense of building a frigate factory in Glasgow. What’s plan B? I can’t see the English being too happy about RN ships being built in a foreign factory. Even if you overcome that, my understanding of the EU rules is that you can designate something like naval shipbuilding a strategically important industry to ensure that the work is done at home, but once the work is put out to a foreign Scotland then tendering has to be opened up to everyone else in the EU. There is no way that Scottish yards would win the work in open competition.

Chris
Chris
February 27, 2015 2:37 pm

Ref the SNP not accepting the will of the people – that was (from the outside) never in doubt. Imagine the SNP’s horror if they had won the vote but the Westminster Gov’t had said ‘Clearly this is not the best solution for Scotland so we will have more referenda until the Scots vote to return to the UK’? But politicians have agendas and their agendas are always right proper and defensible (in their humble opinions) and their opposition’s position even if it is a precise mirror of their own will be draconian overbearing unjustifiable and an affront to the democratic will of the people. Politicians, eh? Who’d have them?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 27, 2015 2:45 pm

ref the will of the people. If the SNP in the 2016 Holyrood Elections stand on a platform of having another referendum and win a majority (using a voting system that requires a far larger percentage of the vote to gain such a minority than Fist past the post) then the will of the people would be to have another such referendum. That is Democracy.

MikeKiloPapa
MikeKiloPapa
February 27, 2015 2:49 pm

The original plans for what was then called “patrol ships” showed a much smaller and less capable design, of 4-5000 tons full load, looking sort of like an overgrown khareef .
In danish, but there is a design sketch at the bottom of the page:
http://www.navalhistory.dk/Danish/SoevaernsNyt/2003/FlexStoetteskibe.htm
And this was the navy’s own design.

But when the Absalons hull design (which is all OMT’s) turned out to be so succesfull it was then decided to use the same design as a basis for the future frigates.

http://www.navalhistory.dk/English/NavyNews/2005/0224_NewPatrolships.htm

http://www.navalhistory.dk/English/NavyNews/2005/1001_Patrolships.htm

Chris
Chris
February 27, 2015 2:55 pm

APATS – I think what you are saying is that unless there is a popular Scottish-only Unionist Party then eventually the SNP will get their independence (even if it takes a dozen separate attempts). Clearly those north of the border dislike Westminster based parties so would vote for the Scottish party that promises a Scottish focus; many who want the localism may not want the referendum but as there’s no alternative…

So. On the assumption the SNP are the only horse in town, and the UK can’t have a UK National shipbuilding yard in someone else’s country (nor the Deterrent base), do we move them south if so where to, or do we shut them down and go without?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 27, 2015 3:01 pm

I am saying anything but the fact that the SNP will eventually get their Independence. what has happened post referendum is that the disaffected Yes voters have remained strongly involved in Politics and they have been aided by a labour party in disarray.
Do not confuse support for the SNP with support for Independence, may people in Scotland see the SNP [pushing Scottish policies within the UK as the best option for Scotland. As I said earlier they would not only have to win a majority again at Holyroood under an Additional Member System with a referendum in their manifesto and then win the referendum. I do not think they will even put it in their manifesto next year.

clinched
clinched
February 27, 2015 3:27 pm

“On the assumption the SNP are the only horse in town, and the UK can’t have a UK National shipbuilding yard in someone else’s country (nor the Deterrent base), do we move them south if so where to, or do we shut them down and go without?”

That would seem the most sensible course of action to me.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 27, 2015 3:33 pm

@ Clinched

Why? The assumption is wrong. The SNP are riding high in the polls but they lost the referendum and will do well to get another one, let alone win it. In the mean time your preferred policy is to punish those that voted No and make liars of all those ministers who told people that a No vote was the way to guarantee the work?
What do you think the result of that would be?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
February 27, 2015 3:36 pm

I could believe Odense generated the hullform, but I struggle to believe they did the early stage design for the vessel without help from the RDN.

Some sources suggest it was a joint project, which would make more sense. You get the RDN to produce the concept design, identifying capabilities, arrangement propulsion options, weapons options etc. then you get Odense to design a hullform that meets those requirements, probably with a bit of help from Force Technology. Once you’ve got a feasibility level design that you can cost accurately (and note where this went a bit Pete Tong with the Huitfeldt), you’ve got a design that you can contract against.

From then on the engineering would be primarily Odense, with detailed / production design from contract signature in 2001 to start of build in 2003.

Chris
Chris
February 27, 2015 3:47 pm

APATS – good point well made, but if the tables were turned and it was (say) a UKIP Gov’t threatening independence for England from the other UK countries as well as from the EU, and Scotland’s perceived future defence facilities were all south of the border, what would the Scots do? Even if there had been one vote where UKIP lost its bid for independence but were rattling on about ‘a setback’ or ‘the people were mislead; we’re sure the vote will go the right way next time’, would Scotland be concerned about the English who voted to keep the Union or would they demand assured control over their own destiny?

For that matter, surely the continuance of SNP’s independence drive is as much a kick in the soft-parts for the majority of Scots that voted No? What happened to the ‘we will abide by the decision’ rhetoric? The ‘If you say No now there won’t be any going back’ statements? Or are the rules just different north of the border?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 27, 2015 4:05 pm


“but if the tables were turned and it was (say) a UKIP Gov’t threatening independence for England from the other UK countries as well as from the EU, and Scotland’s perceived future defence facilities were all south of the border, what would the Scots do? Even if there had been one vote where UKIP lost its bid for independence but were rattling on about ‘a setback’ or ‘the people were mislead; we’re sure the vote will go the right way next time’, would Scotland be concerned about the English who voted to keep the Union or would they demand assured control over their own destiny?”

If the Scots had used those facilities and the jobs involved as a huge carrot for people to vote No then they would and should honour their pledge as the Government is doing. otherwise you have really just created the conditions for another vote and one that you will lose.

“or that matter, surely the continuance of SNP’s independence drive is as much a kick in the soft-parts for the majority of Scots that voted No? What happened to the ‘we will abide by the decision’ rhetoric? The ‘If you say No now there won’t be any going back’ statements? Or are the rules just different north of the border?”

The SNP have abided by the decision. I think you are very confused about the if you vote No there will be no going back. the actual argument was if you vote yes there could be no going back to rejoin the UK.
The rules are the same, they are called democracy and the right of self determination which is enshrined in the UN charter. I cannot see how you have difficulty with a principle that we “export” to other countries often forcibly operating within our own country.

Mark
Mark
February 27, 2015 4:43 pm

Qinetiq would do a lot of aerodynamic work and get involved in the early concept work on UK defence and civil aerospace projects in support of various companies own teams. Would they perhaps be a place where you would have hydrodynamic and concept designers for ships?

monkey
monkey
February 27, 2015 5:54 pm

@NaB
On the OMT house and the RDN , the end user, the Royal Dutch Navy ( under whatever budget restrictions laid down by the Danish Parliament) dictated the end use and must haves and their ‘wish list’ and went forward with OMT in a similar fashion to how we would no doubt. The RDN may of laid the law down in various restrictions max crew , etc but seem to have been willing to accept some aspects of commercial design as being fit for purpose at least according to OMT’s own link.

Hannay
Hannay
February 27, 2015 5:59 pm

@Mark

Qinetiq don’t have a credible aerodynamics capability left because QQ management sacked them all seeing no profit in the area. The Aircraft Research Association ARA at Bedford is much more what you’re on about as an independent expert team. But still only aerodynamics.

However, aerodynamics or hydrodynamics is significantly different than concept design, requiring much more grip on other disciplines and knowledge of how things interact. The only such UK capability that still exists (besides BAE) is in the rump of Dstl and the long term future doesn’t look promising.

monkey
monkey
February 27, 2015 6:10 pm

@APATS
Mr John Swinney , Deputy First Minister in Scotland in a speech launching the 2015 SNP Manifesto
“Mr Swinney said the manifesto was setting out three key aims including a drive towards independence for Scotland to complete the powers of the Scottish Parliament.”
Independence for Scotland is the SNP founding principal and their core goal.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 27, 2015 6:16 pm

@Monkey

Yes and your point is what? We practice democracy and self determination is enshrined in the UN charter. did you expect them to disband.
The pledge and farcial Smith commission left the door ajar but I doubt they will have a referendum pledge in 2016 manifesto.

Mark
Mark
February 27, 2015 6:27 pm

Yes ara is gd I know a couple of people who work there infact they used to work at qinetiq. Qinetiq didn’t quite sack them all a number left because they didn’t like the new pay and t&c and that they wanted to move people to farnborough and shut down the wind tunnels at Bedford.

Concept design if more involved but will lean heavily on aerodynamics to get a planform that flies imo its better to co locate the two as the aerodynamics group usually are the first to throw the toys out of the pram and need hand holding. Yes BAE future projects group have some who look at concepts but if your looking at preserving a national capability I wouldn’t want to rely on them.

monkey
monkey
February 27, 2015 6:37 pm

@APATS
clinched was earlier trying to bring to the thread that the iScotland issue is not going to go away and that further very long term UK investment in strategic manufacturing facilities or bases for that matter is questionable. If Scotland goes the way of Independence ( and if it turns out to be the land of milk and honey they say I will claim my Scottish ancestry by my grandmother at the drop of a hat) we will have gifted them some very nice facilities ( the UK Gov is paying for the £200m Scotstoun yard and the sole Submarine base we will have , how many billions is that again?) . I am all for peoples with an regional identity having the option for self determination just like Crimea. I really think that was right for them to do so. Westminster needs to think a little further than the next parliament when nations are looking quite likely at some stage to leave the union.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 27, 2015 6:46 pm

@Monkey

Firstly, Scotland is not a region and secondly the No campaign used the very things you talk about to encourage a No voters as only being “guaranteed” by a no vote.
Comparisons with Crime are farcial.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 27, 2015 7:55 pm

@apats – Why so confident that the SNP Manifesto in 2016 will not include a call for a further Referendum? All the current rhetoric would seem to suggest otherwise…

GNB

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 27, 2015 8:00 pm

@GNB

For the simple reason of real politicspolitics, there are very good reasons behind their current popularity but another referendum is not one of them.
They cannot afford to turn the Holywood election into another referendum and lose. Internal polling tells them they would struggle.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 27, 2015 8:29 pm

@apats – So I assume it’s mostly about keeping the new recruits enthused, and the anti-Labour pot boiling? Interesting…a bit risky I should have thought…if they do well in May 2015, might the faithful not be a bit disillusioned if their 2016 programme is not based on “one more heave” ? Or is Salmond completely confident in his ability to manage that possibility?

GNB

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 27, 2015 8:37 pm

@GNB

Salmond no longer in charge but a lot will depend on the 2015 GE result, a Labour Snap coalition would be used to drive for further concessions.
Devolution is a process, full fiscal autonomy is by far the preferred end state for most Scots.

MSR
MSR
February 27, 2015 10:44 pm

@ MikeKiloPapa

While I may have come across as taking a dim view of the design, I’m actually fascinated by it. I envy you your copy of the blueprints! I could waste a lot of time looking over them. I’ve recently been discussing how the fore-and-aft alignment of the Sylver modules in the Type 45 VLS (compared to the Horizons) allows for centreline longitudinal beams to strengthen the fore-ends, and so am interested to see how the Absalon designers have accommodated that great big empty hole that runs right though the ship.

Tedgo
Tedgo
February 27, 2015 11:46 pm

@MSR

Have you seen the interesting set of pictures starting at,

http://s296.photobucket.com/user/fsorensen/media/Ships/Absalon/P5290008.jpg.html