Correspondence: Defence Secretary response to a letter on Type 26 Global Combat Ship project press coverage

Secretary of State for Defence response to a letter from Emily Thornberry MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, regarding press coverage on the Type 26 Global Combat Ship project.

from Ministry of Defence – Activity on GOV.UK

Type 26 GCS 03

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
April 27, 2016 6:45 pm

Interesting that the Minister emphasises a commitment to “eight” Type26 with no mention of the original thirteen. No mention of Type 31 either. The cynic in me hears alarm bells. At this rate Australia will have a larger effective navy than the UK.

April 27, 2016 7:46 pm

CJH, did you read the letter? It clearly mentions the GPFF (aka Type 31).

The Other Chris
April 27, 2016 7:55 pm

Which SDSR 2015 suggested was “at least” 5 vessels and that both BAES and BMT have told IHS Jane’s they’ve submitted designs for.

BAES is running with a stretched version of the Khareef Corvette consisting a 10m additional section mid-hull and a 2m extended flight deck.

BMT are proposing a customised variant of the export Venator 110.

stephen duckworth
April 27, 2016 8:21 pm

So 6 T-45 AAW wip
8 T-26 ASW new
5 T-31 GPFF new
5 River OPV new + the Clyde
2 CVF new
7 Astute SSN new
4 Successor SSBN new
So by about 2035 when St Albans is decommisioned , if not sooner , our oldest ship will be the Clyde and Astute at 28 and Daring at a spritely age of 26, not a bad line up and plenty of work for the Clyde and Barrow. I make no mention of Ocean or Argus type replacements as I think their roles are still being discussed.

April 27, 2016 9:03 pm

Caribbean – 1 ship
Falklands – Clyde + 1 ship
Antarctica – ice patrol ship
Gulf – minesweepers + 1 ship
Home waters – 1 ship
Baltic – 1 ship
Med – 1 ship
Libya -1 ship
QE carrier escort -5 ships
Amphioxus group escort – 5 ships
Chasing Foreign subs in home ports – 1 ship
Strategic reserve for battle loses – 5 ships
In refit or shore leave 25%~30%
NATO commitments -? Ships
Chasing pirates of Africa -1 ship
Hunting subs GIUK gap -? Ships
? South China Sea/ Pacfic

A credible number of capable fighting ships are required to deal with all threats and a reserve to allow for loses.

April 27, 2016 9:52 pm

@Don, like the ambition but you’d need to go back 50 years for the RN to cover that.

The days of separate CBG and ARG fleets has gone forever. I’d like for the RN to sell/scrap the Albions and either go for LPD / cross over hybrids or more GPFFs / RFAs.

April 28, 2016 8:35 am

Don, counter-piracy isn’t a military task, but we got involved as Somalia has no effective government that could stem the problem. In any event, there hasn’t been a ship pirated since 2013 and that’s due to improved onboard security measures, not naval intervention.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
April 28, 2016 10:02 am

Two interesting points from the letter.

1. The high-end ships focusing on CASD and CCC, with the GPFF (T31 is not an official designation btw) on a large range of other naval tasks.

2. Looking forward to recommendations on the best approach to GPFF build.

There’s an awful lot going on behind those two statements.

Keith Campbell
Keith Campbell
April 28, 2016 10:14 am

Interesting information in the letter. Fallon’s use of the term GPFF clearly shows that “Type 31” is not an agreed or formal designation, yet. His comments about it also suggest that its intended role is that of the traditional cruiser in the days of empire (about 1885-1965 – particularly the light cruiser type 1910-1965) or, before that, the sail-and-steam and, even earlier, sailing frigate. The Type 45s and 26s would be, with the carriers, the “battle fleet” for decisive actions (either fleet actions or land strike actions or amphibious ones). As with light cruisers in the two World Wars, the GPFFs could reinforce and complement them as and when required.

TAS, you are in error about naval patrols & Somali piracy. Somali piracy has been suppressed by an increasingly integrated system of naval and air patrols, improved intelligence & increased onboard security. Off Nigeria, improving shipboard security alone only resulted in the pirates increasing the firepower and violence they employed. Again, improved naval and (inshore) army security operations are an important factor in beating the scourge there.

April 28, 2016 10:56 am


I disagree. Enhanced measures onboard ships, including security teams, barbed wire and the deployment of fire hoses, to name but a few, have been far more effective. Naval activity, whilst ongoing, has had little effect as there are too few units, too widely separated, to make much difference. The piracy area of operations is vast – even counting the Chinese and others who play at CP in the region there are too few ships and aircraft. Better security for merchant vessels has been the key factor.

April 28, 2016 11:33 am

I believe that the Carriers will need circa 6 escorts at any time, given we are not the US and that there are countries and other players that would like nothing better than to sink our nice new carrier knowing full well we will not respond with devastating force as the US would. Add 1 or 2 standing replenishment vessels (perhaps dual role as per the Karel Doorman type vessel) and a couple of Tides going back and forward, plus a submarine and you are looking at a carrier battle group of between 9 and 12 ships.

This may well be overkill – but can we really afford not to protect these assets properly. with 2 CBG’s that is 24 ships from the fleet to have 1 CBG available at any point in time. This is actually quite efficient creating a 1 on 1 off scenario and represents around 30% of the fleet.

Clearly some of the escorts can come from Nato allies, but we need to agree how we are going to use these assets fast and stick to it – they also need to be fully loaded to have the same clout as a USN carrier – so 32 F35B’s make sense.

All in all we need more escorts that can multi task and should rationalise around the T26/T31 concept eventually retiring all other classes (inc T45, Hunt,Sundown and Rivers)

Peter Elliott
April 28, 2016 11:44 am

Pacman no-one’s sunk the CdeG yet and she often sails with only one consort.

April 28, 2016 1:06 pm


So who did the UK piss off that they would want to kick off WWIII just to knee you in the nuts?


It’s all about the pretty numbers. :)

As for piracy containment, the violence in Somalia is sorting itself out, the hotspot has shifted back to the Malaccan Straits. As for how to solve *that* problem, it’s a bit trickier. Unlike Gulf of Aden piracy where you get people running around with RPGs and AKs, Asian piracy is more of the “pickpocket” type rather than the “mugging” type. Most cases are people sneaking aboard ship and making off with some unattended engine parts or wallet or valuables. Basically pickpocketing as opposed to the mugging off the African coast. This means firepower is of limited use as the theft is not discovered until after the event. You can have 16 inch guns, 127mm guns, VLS, helos or even a whole aircraft carrier doing anti-piracy, but it would still be of limited use as you need to *detect* the guy sneaking in to make off with engine parts first before you can even consider shooting at him.

In a sense, Somalian pirates make it easy for Coalition patrols when they so brazenly attack. It’s the guy that makes off with your wallet without you noticing that makes a successful and repeat offender.

April 28, 2016 1:38 pm

Dear All

I think I can do no better than repeat a post I recently put on another blog, it is not hard to work out whats needed it’s finding the money to pay for it.

Here’s my view

1. Retiring Batch 1 Rivers is a mistake. That is 3 OPV’s that have shown even without a flight deck they are very useful and are quite new. They need the ability to launch and recover a Small Surveillance Drones to provide some air coverage. It should also be investigated with the large open rear deck area to place MLRS launchers and containerized Mk41 launches in 2 x 20ft Containers on them with a datalink to a bigger ship standing 200/300 miles away. An MLRS launcher paired with a Laser designating Drone could provide up to 70mile inland guided rocket support for Royal Marine Landings close to shore without risking large fleet escorts to supply shore gunfire support. A close in Goal keeper Air Defence weapon being mounted on the Bow should also be looked at. This could be spread across the whole River Class OPV fleet with a flight deck (including Clyde) to provide them with a high end fighting role if needed.

2. Batch 3 Rivers should be built with Movable Aircraft Hangers and a light Helicopter flight based in a Wasp Sized Aircraft Created with Cameras/Spotlight/light armament. By 2025 we should have 3 Batch 1’s, Clyde, 3 Batch 2’s and 2 Batch 3’s Giving a total 9 Rivers. These should be worked on to provide cover for strategic items 4 through 7 and at a push item 3. With OPV’s based in Falklands, Gibraltar, Caribbean, Oman/Bahrain with flown in revolving crews. The remaining 2 Batch 2 or 3 Rivers should revolve to supply back up as and when the 4 forward deployed units need deep maintenance and the 3 Batch 1’s should be retained for UK EEZ operations and the escort working with P8’s of Foreign Military Shipping. Again having a £1bn Frigate/Destroyer permanently on station in Portsmouth is not cost efficient. The Rivers are already operating 300 days a year around the UK, upgrade the Radar and provide short range missile capacity and they can provide the UK Coverage.

Basically the Rivers are 2,000 ton Corvetts and need to be armed. In essence the RN needs to accept that these ships can be useful and need to equipment them properly by thinking outside the box. Everybody else puts a lot more on Ships of this size. The cost per River in operational terms is £10m per anum and the extra 3 should be financed, it will not break the bank. The quid pro quo is that the RN need to be guaranteed that River upgrades do not cancel T31/T26 numbers.

3. T45’s as is to cover items 1 & 2.

4. T26 ASW’s as designed to cover 1 & 2 & 3.

5. T31’s. These have to be able to operate and help meaningfully in high end operations under 1, 2 or 3. There main job is going to be 2 & 3 but should be able to provide layers in 1. Thus as outlined above by contributors they need, Mk41 Strike Cells. We can piggy back then on US developments such as Asroc and Harpoon Replacement. They need a hanger to operate Wildcat or Merlin and Drones, they need to provide limited Area Air Defence to protect themselves, act as Escort ships for Lesser amphibs such a Point Ro-Ro and commercial Shipping or protect 2 or 3 Mine Hunters in an area, they will be Diesel Driven with the ability to keep up with the Aircraft Carriers etc. We should use equipment of the T23 GP Frigates on the first 5. The Crew must be 75 + 25 so that 10 T31’s at 750 Crew is the equivalent of 5 T23 GP’s in Crew costs.
Overall they need to come in price wise at £250m each. Then for the programmed T26GP’s at £500m each giving you £2.5bn to play with you can get 10 T31’s. But an off the Shelf design, they are out there. Guarantee the Clyde Yards with the T26/T45 Replacement and any other Large RN Vessel Replacement, put the T31 build out to competitive tender. We must drive down the cost otherwise we just will not have them. With modern equipment it should be able to provide a 50% availability rate, thus providing 5 Escort ships and well equipped Frigate we just don’t have at the moment.

6. Finally this takes us out to the 2030 era and replacement of the 13 Hunt/Sandowns. These are small ships in the 500 to 800 ton range and we can look at River Replacements. As long as the of ship remote equipment has been developed they should be purchased at £75m at todays money. It should be on a like for like replacement basis with the aim to have 13 more OPV size vessels which can defend themselves whilst launching Mine Hunting Equipment. The Bow Sonars etc can be taken from the MSN fleet with as much other equipment as possible, These vessels need to be able to operate independently and operate remote armed airborne drones for self protection. Thus providing another 13 Armed Corvetts. Crew size of 30 max. Ability to deploy swiftly at 20 to 25knts to overcome the problems in the Falklands War.

Thus by the late 2030’s the RN could stand at

6 T45.
8 T26
10 T31
9 River OPV
13 River OPV Mine Hunting Variant.

Not a bad mix at that point. But the RN and MOD need to embrace the Rivers, drive down the cost of the T31 without getting all fancy on us and use the T26/T45 for what they are Capital Ship Escorts and politicians need to enshrine in law that the UK will field X number of Destroyers, X Number of High end ASW Frigates, X Number of Missile Armed Frigates, X Number of Oceanic Patrol Vessels, X Number of Mine Hunters so that the RN does not get screwed over by Admirals planning on Jam tomorrow planning from the MOD & the Treasury.

April 28, 2016 3:14 pm

The Ginge “But the RN and MOD need to embrace the Rivers, drive down the cost of the T31 without getting all fancy on us and use the T26/T45 for what they are Capital Ship Escorts”

Agreed. GPFFs will not and cannot be ‘fancy’.

Keith Campbell
Keith Campbell
April 28, 2016 3:40 pm

TAS, with respect, you are isolating only one of the factors that have stopped Somalli piracy. The key point is that onboard security delays pirate attacks, & that gives time for maritime aircraft and helicopters to respond & drive off the pirates. You seem to be unaware of the constant air patrols along the Somali coast, observing beach and boat activities & giving early warning of possible pirate sorties (I have attended briefings by crews involved in thes missions, with imagery displayed). Aircraft cover huge areas fast, constantly monitoring all nautical traffic. Warships also check out local shipping. Their embarked helicopters play a key role. And their patrol areas are not random, but informed by intelligence. It’s gotten very sophisticated. It’s all these factors together, including shipboard security, not one in particular, that have given success

April 28, 2016 9:22 pm

I was wondering if we could tow Dauntless around to the Humber to act as an accommodation hulk for coastal forces?

Peter Elliott
April 28, 2016 9:40 pm

Surely X you would favour the more traditional use of hulks like Dauntless: as a prison for detaining captured Fenchmen ;)

April 28, 2016 11:24 pm

Are 8 asw frigates (type26) enough for two carriers and an amphib group?

What is the operationsal availability of the type 26 ? 4 to 6 ships ??

They are called global combat ships ! Sounds like they will be deployed as stand alone units on firefighting duties -? disater relief pirates , migrants , special forces ops , and to show the flag in hotspots where you don’t need to send a carrier, so how many will be available as escorts for a carrier group ?

OPV are being talked up , but they need the same top speed of the carriers and some useful weapons and capabilities put on them.

Would in be better for type 31 to be the carrier escort frigate with asw and aaw role and let type 26 be a deploy alone frigate .

April 29, 2016 6:53 am

Fallon is lucky he faces a Shadow SoS who shouts more that she knows more about defence.

shark bait
April 29, 2016 7:18 am

@Don, I agree.

The T26 is an incredible ship, a fully featured multi-purpose global combatant, and a highly credible submarine hunter at the same time. Unfortunately there will not be enough of those, and the ones we have will be in high demand from the carrier group. The T26’s we have will be locked to the carrier group, in a position where they are not able to exploit its capable multi purpose, global, capabilities.

If we had an ASW T31, it should be in addition to the T26’s ASW capabilities, not a replacement. The T26 has to go on as planned, it is too late to start making major alterations, if it is delivered as promised it will be an excellent, multipurpose, global light cruiser.

An ASW T31 would unlock the T26 from its carrier escort duties, and allow it to fully exercise its long ranged, multipurpose capabilities. A platform like that would actually make the T26 better, giving the RN better capabilities all round.

April 29, 2016 11:38 am

I think we have to think realistic scenarios.

Worst case the UK would need to go it alone against a single country, at which point we would put both carriers together and we can cover them with whatever escort ships we have available. As was the case in the Falklands.

More realistic scenario is we go into war with a coalition, at which point the partner nations can support with the carrier defence roles. Additionally as we lack man power (sailors, pilots, ground foces), it is highly unlikely that we would deploy the 2 carriers at the same time in a ‘hot zone’ and even less likely that they would be both seperately deployed in hot spots.

So 1 carrier deployed in a ‘hot zone’ covered with UK and ally ships. The other carrier in flag flying duty, in relative safety, requiring minimal escort.

As such i don’t think the carriers will require too much in the way of escort ships, but obviously more than is the case today.

April 29, 2016 12:44 pm


I am in agreement with your stance but would go even further and standardise even further over a 25 year planning horizon, but use what we have in the interim as per your guidelines.

6 T45 (replace with T26)
8 T26 (Build 15 over 25 years with Sampson/CEC/latest ASW Sonar – Merlin capable)
10 T31 (Build 25 over 25 years with Artisan/CEC – wildcat capable)
9 River OPV (Replace with T31)
13 River OPV Mine Hunting Variant (Replace with T31)

I would therefore have 25 T31 built at a rate of 1 every year for 25 years and then replaced at this rate thereafter and 15 T26 built at a rate of 0.6 per year.

This would mean 40 units in total instead of 46 and gives a massive uptick in capability. MHVC would be conducted by a T26 or T31 deploying the Mine countermeasures suite.

This allows for 2 sqdns x 6 escorts for Carriers (6 on / 6 off) 3 Sqdns x 8 ships with 1 (8/8/8) with an additional 4 assets in deep maintenance at any given point in time.

The cost of a FREMM is circa £500m so this is the benchmark, £300m for the T31 should be the maximum. Annual build cost is therefore £600m p.a for the major surface combat escort fleet. A T31 can run with a minimum of circa 65 and a T26 is designed to run with just 118 personnel, so this can be achieved out of current force numbers.

April 29, 2016 1:37 pm

Pac, Gringe, pretty numbers are nice and all, but forgetting that those numbers also represent thousands of people needed to man and support the ships and billions (yes, billions with a B) of pounds of expenditure and maintenance is the quick route to *no fleet* left at all. Remember what happened to the hundreds of planes and ships in the USSR after they ran out of money? If you can recall that far back? It took them less than a year to end up as rusting scrap.

To you it is [1 ship], to the Navy and government, it is 300 men +/- in support and manning and half a million pounds per (for a frigate), almost twice that much for a destroyer.

Who’s going to pay for it or spawn the crew and staff needed to support your monstrosity? And yes, it is a huge monster that eats up its budget allocation then dies of starvation when no more money is forthcoming.

Playing numbers is fun. Using those numbers as reality is suicidal. Something like Communism. An ideal that would be wonderful if it worked, but when used in reality is more likely to break everything rather than deliver something of beauty.

April 30, 2016 9:47 am


The argument should be about sustainability – It will indeed cost Billions to replace our fleet – if you have circa 90 ships it will clearly cost a large amount to replace them.

My plan has no more numbers of personnel or main ships overall, what it does do is it moves everything around and standardises so that we operate our surface combat fleet with the same engines and weapons systems and our RFA fleet is based wherever possible on a single design and all of this is done over 25 years.

To keep building small volumes of expensive ships is clearly not working and there are designs that some of our Nato allies have that are just great and come in around the right kind of money.

It is not the route to no navy – quite the opposite it is the route to a far more stable navy that can offer people careers and a balanced lifestyle. We spend £17b per annum on equipment. £3bn of this on the RN (£5bn inc maintenance) is not exactly extreme.

Scale must be achieved or we will not be able to sustain a shipbuilding industry and I believe this is important to our nation.

April 30, 2016 10:42 am

Pacman, I believe you spend most of that 17 billion on facilities and maintenance, at least that was the case from the pie chart I saw regarding the breakdown of the budget last year.

Brian Black
Brian Black
April 30, 2016 11:44 am

Pacman, I’ve not bothered checking whether your personnel numbers add up, but I’m pretty sure you’ve decided the Type 31 would have 65 crew because that number produces the end result you wanted to see.

The main reason that British forces personnel numbers have been substantially reduced over the last few decades is the unaffordably inflating cost of that manpower. Constant personnel numbers over a period of decades cannot realistically be seen as cost-neutral.

If the forces do not take advantages of technical and manning efficiencies, then costs will rise. Additionally, the reduction of Navy posts, enabled by the leaner crew of the T26&31 compared to the T23, will be somewhat offset by the introduction of two aircraft carriers; so you’re double-counting if you’re not allowing for the carrier personnel, and your net Navy numbers will rise and need paying for.

You also seem to be lumping just about anything that floats in the Navy into a single category of “main ship”, and presumably assuming equal through-life costs for all these vessels.

Depending on tasking, for routine operations, the annual running cost of a Type 23 frigate can be four to six times the cost of an MCM or patrol vessel; nevertheless, you magic-up frigates to replace these simpler minor vessels, and declare it cost-neutral because there’s still the same overall number of ships.

The cost of frigates will go up further during complex and high-intensity conflict as you burn through the munitions – unless of course they are just show boats for the next royal review, and aren’t intended to fight anywhere.

Your frigates replacing the MCM vessels would need an additional mission team to perform the task, adding to an already suspect Type 31 crew figure.

You also haven’t addressed how much larger the RFA would need to be to support this substantially enlarged frigate fleet – how many extra tankers and stores ships, and how many crew. And how does the RFA get the extra personnel when it struggles to find enough engineers as it is from the ever-shrinking merchant fleet? More training and incentives – more money.

April 30, 2016 4:48 pm

He said 65 men? Impossible. We have the lowest crewing numbers for a frigate in the world IIRC at 71 men + 19 air crew and to get that, they even ended up doubling the price tag. The US LCS may have a “core” crew of 40 but that is the totally stripped version, with modules, the stated crew numbers is 98, around the same ballpark.

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective
April 30, 2016 9:34 pm

Weren’t there mutterings a few weeks ago that the GPFF would probably have a core crew around the 79-80 mark?

I agree with Pacman (and I’m sure, many others) on the need for continuity of build, rationalisation of platforms and commonality of systems across the platforms. I’m not sure about your numbers, though. My personal thoughts were more modest, aiming for three designs (AAW, ASW and GP) built in rotation, giving 8 of each for a 24-25 year life span, for a total of 24.

A similar process could be applied to the “less complex” designs (RFA, Ice Patrol, MCHP, etc.), giving a continuous design and build cycle there as well, though with a higher average annual build rate.

shark bait
April 30, 2016 10:37 pm

@ACP 8+8+8 seems reasonable, all built on the clyde.

I would then suggest building everything else with the cheapest bidder from around the world.

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective
April 30, 2016 11:00 pm

“I would then suggest building everything else with the cheapest bidder from around the world.”

@SB – yes – makes sense – certainly at the more “civilian” end of the scale, with military fitting-out in the UK, as with the Tides. If one of the primary purposes is to nurture design skills, that would not be compromised by overseas builds.

May 1, 2016 9:36 am

OPV batch 2

What is the feasibility of adding Sea ceptor and a main gun like the new main gun for the type 23 on these vessels during a refit programme ?

May 1, 2016 10:01 am

If we said to bmt we like your venator design could you build us one how much would it cost? By this I mean straight what there proposing now no changes no tweaking of requirements just build what your offering and you have free reign in its construction.

Worse case we get a single vessel and it could replace Clyde in the Falklands if it went no where.

Peter Elliott
May 1, 2016 10:35 am

BMT are a design bureau not a shipyard. So either they or the MoD would presumably still have to get quotes from the Clyde, Tyne and Mersey yards.

Peter Elliott
May 1, 2016 10:43 am

Don, it’s not that simple. Serious weapons are no use without serious radars and a combat management system. All three things require numbers of people to operate them, who then have to be fed and bunked. And those people have to be kept safe if going in harms way which means increased survivability and resilience in the basic architecture of the ship. By which time you have pissed a huge amount of money up the wall convetung an OPV design into a Frigate. Better and cheaper to do what BMT appear to have done and design a Frigate from a clean sheet.

May 1, 2016 10:51 am


I would just want them to deliver a ship how or where (including outside uk) it’s built is up to them, there would be no political/mod interferance beyond insuring security is maintained. And therefore no opportunity for increased charges for contracting modifying. They must have an idea how much it costs.

Peter Elliott
May 1, 2016 10:56 am

Mark – you’re right that’s probably the cheapest way. Whether our “smart” procurement professionals can keep their sticky fingers out in the way you suggest is a moot point :/

May 1, 2016 10:57 am

RE Personnel Numbers – The T26 is scheduled for a complement of 118 and the senator is 85-108 (not 65 typo) .

A Type 23/45 has a crew of circa 180 so the maths is clear. 3 T26 from the current manpower of 2 T23/45.

As for the cost of maintenance and facilities – it is my understanding that the MOD spends circa £2bn per year on facilities and that maintenance accounts for circa 60% of the equipment budget. Interestingly I read a NAO report that stated the first year maintenance on a T45 was nearly £50m which I find incredible (Daring I think).

Lets assume we build 40 T26 (unlikely I know) this would require 4800 personnel as opposed to the 3500 we need for 19 escorts, hence why we need to retire the hunt, sundown and rivers to make up the shortfall and increase numbers over time.

As has been pointed out and the main reason why I want to move away from the massive spend on maintenance and sustainability programmes within the MOD in preference for new assets that will constantly improve year on year.

Its a decision on how to spend money – maintain what you have as it becomes outdated or invest in new. I am saying that our fleet should be refreshed over a 25 year period (except carriers) and this can be designed into the products and costed.

May 1, 2016 11:05 am


I accept your critique about all vessels not being equal – but actually I believe the treasury view them this way and therefore I am “playing the game” and trying to get better hulls for the same number of hulls. Totally accept that, however given that we seem to be limited on hulls and the fact that remote systems will replace some of these assets I feel this is a valid approach. A T31 with a mine countermeasures suite (or even an LPD deploying these en masse) could be more cost effective.

We have to change our structure if we are to get the most out of our Navy – I am not saying I am right, but what I am trying to do is get new thinking going – will we need our MHVC fleet in 10 years time or will the Mine countermeasures solution be better. Can we then use the cost savings to buy better radars or more VLS or Torpedoes.

Yes I am suggesting some massive changes – but I am also giving what the navy needs most of – more subs and more escorts.

Peter Elliott
May 1, 2016 11:09 am

Also even if we do go totally MOTS with Ventnor 110 and leave BMT to sub the build contract the MoD still needs to specify what weapons, radars and CMS it wants. Those are customer specified items according to the BMT website. Even if it’s the proverbial “two sides of A4 paper” it still needs to be written to meet Requirements. Which is presumably what @NAB ‘s colleagues are burning the midnight oil on right now.

May 1, 2016 4:05 pm


I’ll give them a hand 1 venator 110 light frigate as designed, with 1 x 127mm gun, 2 x 30mm sigma guns, 2 centurion decoy launchers, 16 cell caam missile system, 1 x sea giraffe radar, CMS the one the RN currently use. My check for my 2.5m pound consultancy fee is in the post.

May 1, 2016 9:39 pm

@Mark. It makes sense to try and get the 127mm on, if it works structurally, cost (fit and life costs of manning etc) and weight wise. We will have too few T26s escorting the carriers for them to be able to double for NGFS and commonality is sensible. With the 127mm, any ASuW missiles can in my view be left off, with space for bolt on harpoons or similar if required later. If 127mm is too much to squeeze on cost or weight wise I’d go for 76mm – plenty of commonality with allies, more so than 57mm – or refurbished, slightly used 4.5s from the T23s, which will be common with T45s. Might also have a spot on the hanger to fit a Phalanx if future needs require but otherwise the weapons fit seems fine. No strike cells and wildcat / UAV size hanger only. On sensors I feel they should have an ASW fit commensurate with size / cost – hull sonar and option for TAS. The are other foreign corvettes and light frigates that manage it. Not high end T26 kit but adding to wartime ability as secondary escorts or at least UK water TAPs if all the T26s are away. I would prioritise a decent all round sensor fit rather than high end weaponry

shark bait
May 1, 2016 10:09 pm

“Yes – makes sense – certainly at the more “civilian” end of the scale, with military fitting-out in the UK, as with the Tides. If one of the primary purposes is to nurture design skills, that would not be compromised by overseas builds.”

That would be my exact suggestion.

It’s the only way to procure a fleet that can deliver good value, the savings are then used to ensure we maintain a robust complex warship facility in the UK, that can deliver credible surface combatants