News story: Major investment boost for next generation Royal Navy ships

From the MoD;

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has announced a further £472 million for the Royal Navy’s Type 26 Global Combat Ship programme.

It will allow the MOD to continue progressing the project’s demonstration phase, with additional investment for detailed design work, the purchase of essential equipment and setting up shore-based testing facilities. This demonstrates an enduring commitment to the programme, centred on the Clyde, which will benefit suppliers across the UK including companies in Fife, Midlothian, Derbyshire, Warwickshire, West Yorkshire, Hampshire, Dorset, Bristol and Leicestershire.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

These highly advanced ships will help keep Britain safe and support our ship-building industry. Investing in them is part of our plan to increase defence spending so our Armed Forces have the most modern equipment they need.

Key equipment purchases will include diesel generators; sonar domes, which form the bow-mounted sonar used for Anti-Submarine detection; helicopter handling equipment to control the movement of aircraft to/from the hanger; mission bay side doors, for the loading/unloading of equipment; and the stabiliser and steering gear system, key elements of the T26 navigation system. These will all provide further work for the Type 26 Global Combat Ship supply chain.

Meanwhile, shore-based testing facilities will assess key parts of the ship’s power and propulsion system and the Combat System.

The Type 26 Global Combat Ship will replace in time the Type 23 Frigates, and will undertake the Royal Navy’s three core roles – warfighting, maritime security and international engagement – worldwide.

Together with two additional Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), making five OPVs in total, and the planned light General Purpose Frigate, the warships will be a key element of the UK’s defence, specialising in Anti-Submarine Warfare.

Chief Executive of Defence Equipment and Support, the MOD’s procurement organisation, Tony Douglas added:

We have a long history of delivering complex warships in the UK and as a result of today’s announcement we will continue to develop a clear way forward for the Type 26 Global Combat Ship Programme that reflects the recent Strategic Defence and Security Review, in which the design is further matured while extending the engagement of the wider UK supply chain.

The Type 26 Global Combat Ship will be in service with the Royal Navy into the 2050s. The ship is being designed so it can be upgraded as new technology develops, so that it remains relevant and capable far into the future.

from Ministry of Defence – Activity on GOV.UK

and more from BAE 

Type 26 GCS 01


[box type=”info” bg=”#” color=”#” border=”#” radius=”0″ fontsize=”18″]Assessment; £173m, Demonstration; £859m and £472m. I see a cunning plan, buy all the parts in the demonstration phase so it makes the manufacture contracts look cheap, remember those comments on £350m Type 26 Frigates :)[/box]



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March 22, 2016 1:13 pm

If it works we get a cheap fleet of 8?

March 22, 2016 3:17 pm

Where is the hold up I wonder, is it commercial negotiations or open points on the design, or both.

I’m hoping the latter as maybe they’ve realised they can stick Sampson on top…

March 22, 2016 3:23 pm

Hopefully, they will learn from the error of the T45 programme. Especially in provisioning sufficient PLUS extra power generation, and making sure repair and replacement for core systems can be achieved in efficiently without major cut and hack!

stephen duckworth
March 22, 2016 3:30 pm

i am with TD on this by spreading out the purchases it will muddy the waters on the real cost or it could be how the Treasury want to fund the job ,piecemeal as funds become available to keep down government borrowing. Tax revenues will surge when the new tax year starts next month so a firm order for the first three mid summer perhaps or will they keep a stash to influence the coming EU Brexit vote . Myself I am voting for a iUK and all 5 OPV put in Border Force livery and lots chaps trained up on miniguns on board ,exRM will do . Does anyone make a Unmanned Landing Craft that can return migrants back to the beaches of Normandy and Dunkirk?

Brian Black
Brian Black
March 22, 2016 3:51 pm

Will they be presenting similar costs in the assessment and design for the five cheap Type 31?

The Other Nick
The Other Nick
March 22, 2016 5:23 pm

Type 26.The mantra quoted of steel is cheap and air is free, may be that is unless you fill it with three rows of eight strike length Mk41 VLS modules, a flight deck sized and stressed to take the 23mt, one hundred ft long Chinook and a mission bay able to take eleven 20′ containers. As a result we have a 7000/8000mt plus Type 26 compared to the Type 23 at 4900mt.

The similar sized German F125 frigate is 7200mt and according to Wikipedia was priced in 2007 at 650 million euros plus max. of 3% inflation per annum. So some quick and dirty calcs the UK cumulative cost inflation since 2007 is 29.7% and the £ buys 1.27 euros, that equates to approx. £660 million.

Therefore one should be surprised at the current Type 26 price compared to the original figure £350 million quoted, which in hindsight looks optimistic.

stephen duckworth
March 22, 2016 5:30 pm


Of course the will its a completely new ship , a big bit to keep the water out , noisy things to make it move , sticky out thing at the front , somewhere to take s**t , all brand new , never thought of before stuff , you get the picture?

On a more serious note if the UK wants to keep indigenous warship design alive T31 is essential funding , BAE are not a charity but a global corporation with no ties to anywhere but their major shareholders. Who pays the piper calls the tune . If only UK gov would offer the design team an equivalent or better package this cycle could be broken.

March 22, 2016 6:37 pm

Why re-invent the wheel? If the USN is happy to churn out new Arleigh Burkes, then why not dodge at least a billion in R&D, & just make the T31 a modernised, cleaned up, new build T23? Swap the 4.5″ for a 5″, ditch the Seawolf VLS, for a Mk 41 VLS with Seaceptor, Tomahawk & LRASM. At least then it would be a proper tooled up frigate, not some glorified OPV with just a 30mm gun, which is one proposal for T31, that I saw.

March 22, 2016 6:43 pm

“Hopefully, they will learn from the error of the T45 programme.” – No pun intended but I’m afraid that ship has sailed. The £1billion frigate.

All we need now are some hulls to put all this stuff in.

Peter Elliott
March 22, 2016 6:53 pm

Maybe the ships will be FFBNW actual hulls? You know: join togther all the componants we’ve managed to afford so far and hope they will somehome float…

Peter Elliott
March 22, 2016 6:58 pm

Becuase JH there are likely no “production ready” drawings available for the T23 hull form, it probably wouldn’t pass current design standards, and then the list of changes you just made would change the weight distribution and thus invalidate the design even if it was still acceptable in the first place.

Also you will recall a long and rather ranty thread recently where NAB explored in some detail the problems the USN are having “just” chruning out more Burkes when so much of the design has altered compared to what was orginally draughted.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
March 22, 2016 7:06 pm

Anyone would think that they’re buying the long (and now medium) lead items to try and keep the schedule broadly on track while they try to sort out either budget profiles, or technical issues with the hull design. Or both. Not in any way like a game of chicken, or in a similar vein to all the contract announcements over the last three years…..

Can’t imagine why you’d want to put Sampson on it. Lot of complexity for something that doesn’t have the same demanding ASMD requirement as T45.

As for “modernised, cleaned up, new build T23” with strike length Mk41 not incurring lots of development cost, are you interested in buying a large road bridge, one careful owner, currently located nr Edinburgh?

March 22, 2016 7:44 pm

‘Together with two additional Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), making five OPVs in total’

Sounds like Clyde will go the way of the River batch 1’s then.

March 22, 2016 8:26 pm

PE. Look at the changes between batch 1 T42 & batch 3. Or T22, the changes from batch one to batch 3. Even with the Arleigh Burke, the changes from the first to the future flight 3.

March 22, 2016 9:14 pm

TD, no reason why it can’t be both.

Nick, the F-125 Baden-something… frigates (which should be destroyers at that tonnage if you class by displacement instead of role) are not “warfighting” platforms, or to be more precise, they are not escorts. They are basically floating gun platforms with basic self defence capability, the modern version of pocket battleships in a sense. If you try to compare them with escorts meant for area defence, there is definitely going to be differences. IIRC, no VLS, no torpedoes, no medium/long range anti-air missiles, no sonar etc. What it has are 2 SeaRAM, 8 Harpoons and lots and lots of point defence guns. Obviously it is going to be cheaper. At about half a million per.

March 22, 2016 9:23 pm

@Challenger: “Sounds like Clyde will go the way of the River batch 1’s then.” – Don’t worry there’s time yet to delay the T26 further and buy a few more… Though I read it as the 5 refer to the current build schedule.

March 22, 2016 9:56 pm

‘Don’t worry there’s time yet to delay the T26 further and buy a few more’

I really hope not!

If the first steel is cut on the T26 sometime next year then they’ll have a maximum of 6 years to get it built, launched, fitted out, tested and accepted into service (tight for the first ship of the class) before HMS Argyll is scheduled for decommissioning in 2023, at which point she’ll be 32 years old.

They’ve been able to avoid the issue for so long by scrapping youngish vessels, revising down the size of the surface fleet and making the T23’s soldier on for a lot longer than they were supposed to. You can’t play this game for ever, eventually you just have to bloody well get on with it!

That’s assuming of course the 19 destroyers and frigates number holds firm. They could always cross deck CAMM, Type 2087 and Artisan to the younger ships in the class and scrap the oldest. Wouldn’t put it past those pulling the strings…..

Not A Boffin
Not A Boffin
March 22, 2016 11:24 pm

TD – Not sure what your point is. Maturing the design is one way of saying completing the detailed design. It may also be another way of saying fixing ongoing issues…….

Far from sure what JH blethering on about T42 batch 1 and 3 or T22 batches is meant to signify. In both cases, the original design was less than 10 years old when modified and largely predates use of extensive IT in ship systems, design definition and production. Compare and contrast with pretending one can c0ck about with a design some 30 – yes really – years old, sixteen years after the youngest one was built..

Our friends over the pond are in a marginally better position, but to the best of my knowledge have yet to order an AB Flt III. One thing they don’t have to deal with is such a large delta in accommodation standards. So it’s a little easier to deal with. However, budget challenge is still budget challenge – $1.75Bn for a single ship does not sound too clever.

Not A Boffin
Not A Boffin
March 22, 2016 11:32 pm

I wasn’t “asking” – rhetorical question more like…..

March 23, 2016 7:26 am

@NaB: the reason I suggest Sampson is that we’ve gone from the position of “cheap” frigates to be the backbone of the navy to “world beating” and “highly advanced”. If we are putting our eggs into a ever decreasing number of platforms each platform must do more in my view. Also, I think the Italian approach to the FREMM by adding EMPAR is a good one. I know we have 6 world beating AAW destroyers already, just a shame they are virtually all tied up in Portsmouth.

Not A Boffin
Not A Boffin
March 23, 2016 8:02 am

And is the “world-beating AAW” down to the radar? Or a combination of the radar(s), CMS and missile system? Putting “shiny, shiny, precious” on a ship does not necessarily improve it.

March 23, 2016 8:33 am

Ongoing blether. If you want to see what a T23 sized frigate could have evolved into, look at the Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen class. Just one metre longer than a T23. Built at a time when the World was safer, so with a light weapon fit, but with room left to up arm. So a 76mm gun for now, but with space left to swap to a 5″. One or two 8 cell Mk41 VLS, but room left for another. We would probably not need the SPY-1F if we are just using Seaceptor. The Norwegians got 5 for $3.3 billion. So $660 million each, roughly £440-450 million. Not the £350 million the UK Treasury wants, but not the £600 million+ too expensive beast either.

Peter Elliott
March 23, 2016 9:14 am

JH what you describe now is beginning to sound more like what T31 could be. But it definitely isn’t the “cleaned up T23” you started by calling for. It’s a new ship to a new design, as is both inevitable and beneficial.

The Other Chris
March 23, 2016 9:50 am

The Norwegians don’t have a silver bullet in their frigates which are intended to stay closer to home than our fleet. Not quite brown water, but not quite blue water either.

A reduced size (and performance) sensor array from the Burke’s.

Space to up-gun or fit additional launch cells, but just like the T45’s, not necessarily both. Remember how much we grumble at the phrase “Fitted for but not with”?

Controllable pitch propellers hinting at the general purpose nature of the design and suggesting that noise reduction is important for it’s ASW role but not a core necessity.

The propellers also hint at eking out every MW of power from the plants for propulsion, and looking at the generators they’re sufficient but don’t hit the T23/T26 top speeds. They also don’t leave a huge amount of hotel or load for new systems.

Bunkerage leaves a little over 2/3 the range of a T23.

What’s the classes accommodation standards like? Safety standards? Search through NaB’s comments over the years for a hint at the volume of factors.

Could they attract personnel to want to work aboard and then keep their crew rested sufficiently for a global cruise? ESM? Command facilities? Only one helicopter?

Not to denigrate the class mind, they appear a good fit for their requirements in the same way that StanFlex and the utility decks is a fit for the Danes. We can be sure the RN consulted these Navies, referred to all of the exchanges we have with them and considered what all of these designs bring.

March 23, 2016 11:07 am

Firm orders are on hold because the national shipbuilding strategy is required as precursor, which will smooth out the work streams among other things. Expect the 2 additional River batch 2 orders to sustain the holding pattern in the meantime. Underpinning all of this shilly-shallying is an identified requirement for reform of the industry to put shipbuilding on a sustainable footing, and, at a more tactical level, price T26 and T31 needs in that context.

Its also probably prudent to finalise the strategy after the EU referendum. The NSS has been on the cards since early 2015 (more than likely spurred on by treasury impatience at the inability of MoD to get shipbuilding value for money and manage large projects – i.e. the Astute and T45 clusterbucks), and is probably also linked to all this ‘northern powerhouse’ baloney as its genesis is as an Osborne rather than MoD initiative (it also wants to learn from successful European shipbuilders, and UK regenerative successes such as the rapid growth of the high tech automotive/defence/aerospace/renewable energy engineering industry in Wales).

I’m sure at its heart is a major bun fight between Treasury, MoD and BAe, but bringing in all the parties, Babcock, RR, Thales etc. will make it more strategic -and if it helps to make the industry more sustainable and not 100% reliant on government orders at OTT prices then it will be worth it and we can look to an expanded Navy over the medium term. It will presumably look at how we can compete with more successful French, German, Italian, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian and Spanish industries – on the basis that we must retain a strategic industrial base, get value for money for the tax payer and make it pay to create wealth and employment. Tall order.

March 23, 2016 12:47 pm

Further blether. Well its always going to be a compromise. If you want a mega armed World cruiser then go for Arleigh Burke flight III, & watch the Treasury have a fit of the vapours.
Fridtjof Nansen (must find a frigate that is easier to spell) may not have the range of T45, but does it need to? Earlier Leander/Rothesay RN frigates did not. The FN class (cheating now) are my idea of what T31 ought to be. Slightly downsized, but near to T23 & still capable. Not some oversize OPV that the Treasury would want.
However, if a billion of R&D is needed & you only build 5, it still might make sense to build the extra 5 & forget T31, as £200 m R&D per ship is likely to wipe out any savings.
At the other end, should the RN have some motor gun boats, to patrol the Coast, looking for jihadists, gun/drug/people smugglers. Gossip from East Anglia reports small boats landing on quiet beaches, now that their Customs cutter has been sent to the Med by Cameron.

March 23, 2016 12:49 pm

Should of course read “build the extra five T26 & forget T31”. Did not spot until I posted it.

The Other Nick
The Other Nick
March 23, 2016 1:35 pm

Type 26 “Maturing the design”
The RINA article last year reported that the Stage 3, the detail design to support manufacturing was only programed to commence this March on the twelve ship design zones, so think unlikely to see steel cut before the end of the “Demonstration Phase” contract end date of June 2017 unless politics intervene with SNP/no vote on EU.

As an aside the MTU announced in Sep. 2015 the new generation series 4000 variable speed gensets which in contrast with constant-speed gensets, variable-speed gensets use significantly less fuel in the mid-power band. Independently of any electrical frequency, users can call on a maximum power of 3,440 kWmec at 2,100 rpm. Other benefits include low noise emission, longer hours of duty between major overhauls and low maintenance costs offering considerable savings in operating expenditure.

My understanding is the Type 26 will be using four of the older generation constant speed gensets the Type 20V 4000 M53B 3,015 Eng. kW @ 1,800 rpm, time and technology moves on.

Re the Type 31 thoughts on any lessons to be learned from the seventies USN Oliver Hazard Perry class 4,100 t frigates, 51 for the USN, 71 in total. They were designed with limiting the cost very much a priority and one choice found interesting was they choose to go with a single propeller which with a modern hybrid diesel electric could be substantially cheaper than the Type 26 CODLOG propulsion system.

March 23, 2016 2:13 pm

FN – see what I did – is a modified Navantia design, I believe. We really need to build a ship that can compete with them for export contracts. MEKO and Lafayette (at the upper and lower ends of the scale) have dominated the frigate export scene for the past two decades, FREMM and Navantia designs threaten to do so in the future. T26 and T31 must be competitive in those markets.

March 23, 2016 2:16 pm

“Maturing the design” probably means “bringing the cost down”.

El Sid
El Sid
March 23, 2016 4:46 pm

“ditch the Seawolf VLS, for a Mk 41 VLS with…Tomahawk”

So you want to replace tubes for a 6′ missile with tubes for a 20′ missile. That’ll be straightforward then.

” If the USN is happy to churn out new Arleigh Burkes”

The Treasury is relatively happy, but it’s causing all sorts of long-term problems. I’m sorry I missed the NaB rant (link?) but most obviously it completely stuffs your ship design capabilities. OK, they’ve had a technology demonstrator in the Zumwalt (commissions next month by the way), but you only have to look at the (Bay x10) problems they’ve had with the San Antonio to see echoes of the Vanguard-Astute transition on a bigger scale.

You also have the problem of a Cold War design that has Cold-War levels of manning (a crew of over 300 is going to cost you >$1bn in lifetime costs, a T45 is nearly half the crew) and is desperately short of margins particularly for all the sexy new toys like lasers and railguns that need a lot of energy.

The first Flight III is scheduled to be DDG-124, the second ship of FY2016 so it gets treated as a spec change to the existing order for a 10-ship block buy.

“The Norwegians got 5 for $3.3 billion. So $660 million each”
When ordered in 2000. You’ve got 16 years of military shipbuilding inflation to put on that. Even at 3%/year that turns into $1060m each, plus you’re assuming Spanish practices on pay, conditions and build quality. Certainly the thinking across the pond is that building Nansens there would cost more than that, obviously it’s a hot topic there with the enhanced LCS under discussion.

The other thing is that as has been hinted, the Nansens are closer in mission to Gucci corvettes – good sensors and reasonable warload, but they’re not expected to go far from home. The only reason the Norwegian navy exists is to stop Ivan knocking on the front door. The F125 is the opposite, it’s a Gucci colonial presence ship, the main driver is the requirement to spend two years away from home with 60% availability on Somalia-type missions. That means all sorts of expensive redundancy on the “boring” side of things, but it will lose any game of weapon Top Trumps.

The RN is caught in the middle – it needs to do things at a distance, but it is more likely to get in a proper scrap as well. Think of something like doing another “Sierra Leone” in the Gulf of Guinea – somewhere where there’s a lot of British interests with eg new oilfields off Ghana as well as Nigeria etc, and Islamist militants popping up all over the shop, most recently the gunmen in Ivory Coast the other day, and an attack on Shell’s Forcados facility a few weeks ago. But it’s over 3000 miles from either Gib or Simon’s Town, and in between there’s negligible military dockyards. That is not an environment that the Nansens are designed for.

If you’re looking for a model for T31, then one of the La Fayette variants are probably closest to the mark, with the option for a tail based on a cut-down 2087 and the aspiration for decent export orders.

Peter Elliott
March 23, 2016 5:18 pm

Sid it was a prolonged discussion, I think on an open thread, and became quite ill tempered because the other party didn’t want to be told. The basic gist was that the compromises being adopted to keep the Flight 2A and 3 Burkes compliant to standard were far from ideal and that the USN had not designed a successful new Combat Ship from the keel up for far too long.

The ill tempered tone may well have influenced TD’s decision to discontinue the open threads. It’s therefore possible that he has taken those comments off his public wall, which is a pity because they included some illuminating stuff.

The Other Nick
The Other Nick
March 23, 2016 5:25 pm

Norway initially had numerous problems with the Navantia Fridtjot Nansen class frigates, disputes over costs, rust and quality control, one reason it is surmised Navantia lost the contract for the Norwegian logistics support contract in July 2013 to BMT with the Aegir.
In June 2007 Navantia’s 6250mt Álvaro de Bazán Aegis based design was selected to be built in Australia as the AWD, it is over budget at AUS $9 billion plus for the three ships and the lead ship Hobart is running 30 months late. At approx. £1.6 billion ea., makes the Type 26 and Type 45 look cheap.
The Spanish state owned Navantia was subsidised and talk in 2013 that Brussels would force a payback of the state loans.
It was a surprise to me after the problems with the AWD that just twelve days ago the Australian Navy selected Navantia as preferred tenderer to construct two auxiliary oiler and replenishment (AOR) vessels in preference to the Daewoo bid.

Peter Elliott
March 23, 2016 5:31 pm

From a technical point of view apparently each successive iteration of the Burke design gets deeper in the water to cope with weight growth. The openings in the hull get moved higher to keep the water out. But the limit comes when the flight deck gets too close to the water. This is apparently a sensitive subject due to lawsuits from the families of crewmen lost overboard.

While the newest designs may start out compliant there is apparantly precious little margin left to cover either ordinary lifetime weight growth or tightening of the standard due to the aforementioned litigations. Interesting stuff.

March 23, 2016 6:02 pm

@The Other Nick

I was surprised as well at Navantia getting the oiler contract as well considering the prior issues.

March 23, 2016 6:04 pm

On the other hand some positive news just out:

I bet they liked the idea of a small ASW helicopter still capable of carrying a dip.

I do wonder if the batch 1 Rivers might end up with the Phillipines, maybe even a T23 as they retire.

March 23, 2016 6:34 pm

El Sid. I do quite like the Saudi bells & whistles, La Fayette, but whether the Treasury would pay for them is another matter.

If we are to get maximum bang for buck, then looking at many options is a good idea. Some ideas float, others sink.

I fear we are repeating the T45 saga. Should have been 12. Treasury panics at cost. Cut to 6. Those 6 then look expensive as all the R&D is on 6 rather than spread over 12.

Are we doing the same on T26? Should have been 13, but now only 8. So R&D on only 8 instead of 13.

Switch to T31, but R&D on only 5. Even if it is an economic design, the R&D on only 5, will make it look expensive.

When T26 numbers were cut & T31 mooted, some said it may still work out as better value for money to build 13 T26. I think they may be right.

stephen duckworth
March 23, 2016 6:41 pm

“deeper in the water”
It surprises me sometimes when you hear of these things. My mobile is a 100th of the weight and 100x more powerful than the PC I first used 20 years ago , car engines such as the new Toyota engine to be used at Le Mans produces 400hp but weighs in at 40kg and would pass thro EasyJets carry on luggage checks.
Granted defensive/offensive abilities have multiplied and require ever more complex kit to remain credible in terms of performance against a peer but the weight growth seems to be following the path of the Dreadnoughts getting ever larger to match their compatriots when developments such as the torpedo armed destroyer caused the Grand Fleet to veer off at Jutland when attempting to pursue the High Seas Fleet or the destruction of the Italian fleet by torpedo armed stringbags at the Battle of Taranto.
Perhaps a sideways step from ever more complex capital ships IS required . Billion pound warships are just taking the piss and thats without filling the VLS or magazines with weapons or its aircraft complement or the cost of training up 150+ crew or the dockyard facilities which as NAB pointed out are getting fewer and father between as the vessels grow in size and complexity.

Peter Elliott
March 23, 2016 6:57 pm


To me it’s two different roles pulling in 2 different directions. Destroyers to escort Aircraft Carriers or Amphibs have to be both long ranged and hard as nails in combat terms. As such big ships are entirely justified. Our T45 and T26 actually compare favourably to a Burke both being more modern lean manned designs.

A frigate is always more of a balance of compromises around cost and capability. That’s hopefully what T31 will be.

Any design will tend to grow in weight over time as will any ship through its life. Standards and Requirements both evolve but it’s always easier to add things than to take them away. That’s why a clean sheet design is needed from time to time.

March 23, 2016 7:29 pm

@NaB: understand your point on CMS and missiles etc, but from what I understand these would be common between the T45 and T26? I think maximising the T26 by giving it a better radar would be a good investment given the reduced hull numbers. Though, i am of course a fan that the RN should have a Burke style AAW / ASW single class.

March 23, 2016 8:02 pm

I think the Aussies were more hacked off with BAe’s management of the build in Australian yards than with Navantia – they had to call Navantia in to get the things finished in the end, which is probably why they went for an overseas build for the fleet replenishment vessels (while – like us – they come up with a national shipbuilding strategy). The Spaniards have done a canny bit of advertising by lending (for a small fee – i.e. operating costs) Cantabria to the RAN and RCN in the interim, and saving their own cash strapped navy a few quid along the way. Still think the BMT design will prove a better ship, twin screws, 28kts, but may have suffered from its origins as a single role tanker in addition to not being backed up by a strong ongoing relationship with the designers.

March 23, 2016 8:04 pm


I’m increasingly with you on that.

If we knew BAE & the MoD were capable of producing a medium sized frigate with the right balance of capabilities for a ballpark figure of £300-400 million then i think the idea of a whole new class for the T31 would gain some serious traction.

As it is when one looks at what’s happened with the T26 it makes the fears over spiraling costs very valid. I struggle to see how they’ll be able to produce a combat vessel worthy of the name with all of the associated capabilities AND keep the costs significantly low. Plus as you say a run of potentially only 5 ships could mean a rerun of the situation with the T45 where the R&D costs get spread over fewer ships, thus massively inflating the unit price-tag.

The alternative is to go the other way and get uber economical, but what’s the point in ending up with a glorified OPV packing nothing more than small caliber guns and very basic self-defence kit when they are supposed to be replacing T23’s and bolster surface fleet numbers in a credible fashion. Without even the size/flexibility to be useful in other roles or the room for improvement you may as well just keep building River’s.

Of course the picture is still very murky on the final costs of the T26 program as a whole and the individual ships, but it’s interesting to look back and see just how economically and quickly they were producing the T23 by the late 90s and early 00’s, once the formula was perfected and the fleet grew the unit price started to drop.

A balance needs to be struck with keep designs fresh and those crucial skills alive, but i do agree that stopping at 8 T26 could well be a missed opportunity when the R&D has been done and the production line is hot.

It’s at least interesting to speculate how much a subclass using the same basic design but with a fit of say 24-32 CAMM, the main-gun, a couple of Seahawk Sigma mounts and a lot of the other specialized equipment stripped out would cost within that context.

It may not quite be £300 million, but it may not be £600+ million either…..

stuck record
stuck record
March 23, 2016 8:39 pm, already has gun space, can swap ESSM for SEa Ceptor. has large flex space that can support amphb force as extra close in defence, plus SPEC ops mission, can carry disaster relief supplies or large anti piracy force with SB90’s also could easily support the current ops in the Med. they cost about $225 when built so £250-300 now? five of these would make up the 13 ‘Frigates’ and give us a really flexible force

March 24, 2016 9:30 am

Slept-on blether. I think we need a new big notice on the wall of the MoD & Treasury. “Do not start a new frigate or destroyer design, unless you are willing to build at least 10 of them”.
So build 10, not 8 T26, then hold off on T31, until they are willing to build 10 of them.
Its the only way to stop the R&D getting too expensive per unit/ship.
A future escort force of 6 T45, 10 T26, 10 T31, would get the RN back to bare bones credibility again.

Brian Black
Brian Black
March 24, 2016 9:58 am

Wishful Thinker, Absalon is not a BAe design, so wishful thinking is all that it is. The same goes for any other non-BAe ship anyone can think of.

Either BAe receive a billion quid to design a T31 that looks remarkably like an existing BAe corvette; or they get half a billion quid to adapt the design of an existing BAe corvette.

Either way the outcome is the same. The Navy gets a BAe corvette designated as a “light frigate”; NAB cries into his rum ration; the politicians claim that there’s still thirteen frigates. The only uncertainty is how much the MoD will pay BAe to pretend to design a new frigate.

March 24, 2016 11:06 am


Sad, but absolutely spot on.

Peter Elliott
March 24, 2016 11:16 am

I do hope it’s true about the rum…