Speech: First Sea Lord’s defence and security lecture to the City of London

From the MoD…

Speech by First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones.

My Lord Mayor,

It is a tremendous privilege to be the first service chief invited to deliver your annual Defence and Security Lecture, and to be joined by so many distinguished representatives from the City of London and beyond, including many of the Royal Navy’s long standing friends amongst the Livery Companies.

It’s also personal honour to be here tonight.

Thirty three years ago a previous Lord Mayor, Christopher Leaver, joined the PM Mrs Thatcher and the Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Lewin on the balcony of Mansion House to salute the men of the South Atlantic Task Force in a memorable commemorative parade.

Having been part of that Task Force, as a 22 year old acting Sub Lt, I was disappointed to be told I couldn’t be spared for the Parade, I was required to continue my training and instead spent the day in the altogether less jubilant environment of a lecture theatre in the Royal Navy’s School of Maritime Ops near Portsmouth.

So it is with some personal satisfaction that I have completed the loop as it were, and finally stand before you in Mansion House as First Sea Lord.

A huge amount has changed in the intervening period, for the navy and for the City. The year before the Falklands conflict, my own vessel, the amphibious flagship HMS Fearless, had been earmarked for scrapping as a result of the Nott Review. An unmistakable air of stagnation and decline hung over the fleet and, to an extent, the nation also, during that deep recession.

Yet the audacity of our victory 7,000 miles from home changed how the world viewed our nation and our armed forces. More importantly, it changed how we viewed ourselves.

As Mrs Thatcher told the guests at the lunch in the Guildhall given in honour of the Task Force:

“In those anxious months the spectacle of bold young Britons, fighting for great principles and a just cause, lifted the nation…doubts and hesitation were replaced by confidence and pride.”

Nowhere was that new found confidence more apparent than here in London, which has since then risen to become the world’s pre-eminent centre of global finance.

Here in the Square Mile, the spires of Wren and Hawksmoor have been joined by the glass cathedrals of Rogers and Foster.

On the skyline in Portsmouth, meanwhile, the iconic silhouette of HMS Victory will next year be joined by that of a 65,000 tonne aircraft carrier.

The City and the Navy are both defined by tradition and modernity in equal measure. Our shared strength reflects the UK’s international standing as determined by history and geography – but our success has the power to shape the UK’s continuing place in the world.

Last year, this lecture was delivered by the Director General of MI5, and the Home Secretary the year before, both of whom focused on the most immediate domestic security challenges we face today.

The Royal Navy shares that agenda.

We support the National Crime Agency to police our territorial waters, we have a range of forces at very high readiness for maritime counter terrorism and the Royal Marines make a significant contribution to our Special Forces.

It’s also worth noting that seven Royal Naval Reservists from HMS President here in London have been serving on UK Border Force cutters in recent times. They have civilian careers, perhaps in the City even, but, with the support of their employers, they’ve taken the decision to serve their country and gain new skills in the process.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the City of London Reserve Forces and Cadets Association for their work to promote reserve service among employers. Together, you’ve helped the Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Marines Reserve grow in recent years, alongside those of our sister services, in accordance with government policy, and we are hugely grateful.

All these tasks are important, but the Royal Navy’s remit is as much global as it is domestic, and this is my focus tonight.

Last month, the people of the United Kingdom made a big decision in the EU Referendum. Charting a way forward is a matter for government and you will understand that I do not intend to speculate on any of that this evening.

But I do intend to describe what the Royal Navy is doing in the world today, together with the building blocks that are shaping our own future.

These were set in train before the Referendum and have not changed. They highlight Britain’s continuing, and indeed growing, position of global maritime leadership.

They also support the commitment expressed in last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review for the work of the armed forces to more closely support the UK’s own prosperity.

Continued commitment

The full implications of last month’s vote will take time to become apparent, but for the Royal Navy the fundamentals remain the same.

Britain will always be an island nation, totally dependent on the sea for our security and prosperity; an understanding I know I share with this audience.

We remain in a position of global leadership, which includes the Royal Navy’s permanent command of NATO’s maritime forces.

Among the nations of Europe we continue to lead by example through our investment in credible hard power.

The Royal Navy has delivered the nation’s Strategic Nuclear Deterrent for almost 50 years. Now, through the regeneration of Carrier Strike, we will also deliver the nation’s principal conventional deterrent.

Both these projects continue irrespective of last month’s Referendum. On Monday, Parliament voted to build a new generation of Trident submarines. The 2 carriers are both structurally complete, and the first begins sea trials next year. In both cases, the government has made clear its intent. The nation expects, the world is watching and the Royal Navy will deliver.

Despite the inevitable internal focus over the last month, our international security challenges have not diminished. The security of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean is no less concerning today than it was before the Referendum. Russia and Daesh have not changed their character. The seas and oceans of the world will continue to be cluttered and contested.

So it’s business as usual for our sailors and marines, and for the UK armed forces as a whole.

Even before the Referendum, the Royal Navy was making our largest contribution to NATO in over a decade.

Across Europe’s southern flank, we continue to contribute to the EU and NATO led response to the migrant crisis.

The survey ship HMS Enterprise has now been on station in that role for a year, in which time she has rescued over 5,600 people.

Even since the Referendum, the government has announced the additional deployment of RFA Mounts Bay to the EU force in the Central Mediterranean and HMS Mersey to the NATO force in the Aegean.

So our commitment to working with our continental partners has not waivered, nor will it.

Supporting global maritime trade

Our shared interests and values, not to mention our geography, will always bind our defence to that of the continent.

Yet as an island nation and a trading power, the UK’s security and prosperity is indivisible from that of the wider world.

Our historic relationship with the City of London is testament to this.

Three hundred and fifty years ago, the City’s wealthiest citizens raised £16,000, not an insignificant sum back then, to fund the construction of a new warship. The King, so taken with this display of patriotism, named her Loyal London.

But those 17th Century Londoners weren’t motivated by loyalty or patriotism alone. They were merchants and traders, they knew that prosperity and security were intertwined; and that a strong, credible Royal Navy was necessary to protect and advance their own commercial interests.

From the earliest days of exploration to the height of Empire and beyond, the Royal Navy has always been the guardian of maritime trade. Long before Trafalgar, the teenage Horatio Nelson was protecting the ships of the British East India Company. It was naval power that opened China and Japan to Western markets. It was strength and security at sea that enabled Britain to become both the workshop of the world and the mother of Parliaments. Twice in the last century, the Royal Navy protected the convoys that formed Britain’s wartime lifeline.

Now, as the government looks to extend the UK’s economic partnerships, as signified by the creation of a new Department for International Trade in the last 2 weeks, the Royal Navy’s role in supporting prosperity rises to the fore once more.

Nowhere is this more apparent today than in the Gulf, where we are working with our partners to promote stability and prevent the arteries of world from hardening.

We’ve been there not just for the wars but for the peace too: a 40 year strategic commitment to the UK’s long term interests and one that shows no sign of lessening.

The Royal Navy holds a significant position of leadership in the region through the deputy commander role in Combined Maritime Forces, a US Navy led coalition of 31 nations, from Australia and Canada to Thailand and South Korea, drawn together by a shared commitment to maritime security throughout the Middle East.

The opening of our new naval base in Bahrain in the next few years will, quite literally, cement the Royal Navy’s commitment to the Gulf.

It will also enable us to reach further East. Every major financial centre in Asia-Pacific is on or near the coast. Every rising power in the region is investing in maritime power. And as the economic pull of Asia-Pacific continues to grow, so too does our commitment to security in that region.

Earlier this year the Royal Navy was for the first time granted observer status at the Western Pacific Naval Symposium. Piracy in the Straits of Malacca and cooperation in the South China Sea matter to us because the UK’s own economic wellbeing, like that of the international system, is reliant on the rule of law at sea.

But the Royal Navy’s contribution to prosperity is more than just the physical protection of maritime trade, important though that is.

At the weekend, the new Foreign Secretary wrote of his desire for “a truly global Britain using our unique voice, humane, compassionate, principled, to do good around the world and to exploit growth in markets to the full”.

Three years ago, the Royal Navy provided disaster relief to the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, as did the RAF. The fact that we responded with greater speed and effect than even some neighbouring countries did not go unnoticed, particularly among the leading regional powers.

Wherever we are and whatever we’re doing, be it countering narcotics in the Caribbean or searching for missing aircraft in the Indian Ocean, the world is watching.

So the hard punch of military power is often delivered inside the kid glove of humanitarian relief or the mailed fist of maritime security. But the Royal Navy also delivers the soft touch of engagement: that reassuring and persistent UK presence in the world that underpins the friendship and commitment upon which so many economic partnerships rest.

This influence runs deeper than mere physical presence.

Our young sailors and marines are some of the best ambassadors for Britain you could wish for.

Many of our closest diplomatic and military ties today were forged on the parade ground 30 or 40 years ago. Britannia Royal Naval College has trained the current heads of 2 dozen navies.

Over the past 10 years, the Royal Navy’s Flag Officer Sea Training and his staff have trained 105 of the world’s navies and coastguards, 58 of them in 2015.

Across the board, the message from our friends in NATO, the Commonwealth, the Gulf and beyond is clear: they want more of the Royal Navy.

Carrier Strike

The introduction of the first of 2 new aircraft carriers into the Royal Navy next year is a huge opportunity for the UK to signal its continuing ambition in the world.

At the moment, the United States is the first and only country in the world with both a Continuous At Sea Nuclear Deterrent and a continuously available Carrier Strike capability.

Within the next few years, the UK will join them in wielding both these totemic capabilities: ahead of China, ahead of India, ahead of Russia.

The F35B Joint Strike Fighter made its first appearance in the UK earlier this month. It’s an extraordinarily capable aircraft. The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force will operate it together in partnership, from the sea and the land. By 2023 up to 24 will be available to fly from the carriers.

The combination of 2 operational carriers and a credible numbers of jets is crucial to shaping Britain’s military power in the world

It will offer the largest dedicated air group of fifth generation fighters at sea, and the most potent Carrier Strike capability outside the United States.

It will endow the UK with the means to take our place alongside our closest allies, chiefly the United States and France, but others too, in providing maritime air power in defence of shared interests around the world.

And it will form the centrepiece not only of the Royal Navy, but to many of our international alliances too, reinforcing our position of leadership within NATO, reaffirming our commitment to continental Europe, and projecting our influence far beyond.

Because while they are first and foremost fighting ships, these carriers will embody the Government’s full spectrum approach. They will support exports for UKTI and the Department for International Trade, diplomacy for the Foreign Office, security for the National Security Secretariat in the Cabinet Office and they will deliver aid for DFID.

So like the Royal Navy itself, these ships, and their aircraft, offer something unique and invaluabl, hard and soft power bound together.

National shipbuilding Strategy

Far from detracting from the needs of the wider Fleet, as some commentators have suggested, these ships are a catalyst for investment across each of the Royal Navy’s fighting arms.

The third new Astute-class attack submarine has now entered service, and 4 further boats are in various stages of build. New tankers are under construction for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and new stores ships will follow. Every type of helicopter in the Fleet Air Arm is being upgraded and replaced and our Royal Marines remain the UK’s go-to contingency force.

Meanwhile our current Type 23 frigates, the backbone of the Fleet, will be replaced with 8 Type 26 anti-submarine warfare frigates and “at least” 5 lighter Type 31 General Purpose frigates.

The build programme for the Type 31, and subsequent classes of ship, will be determined by the National Shipbuilding Strategy which is being developed by Sir John Parker and is expected to report later in the year.

Within this Strategy is the opportunity to both strengthen our security overseas and also invest in Britain’s prosperity at home.

Type 26 is a case in point. The hull may be built on the Clyde, but the benefits are shared across the country. It includes gearboxes from Huddersfield, stabilisers from Dunfermline and countermeasures from Bridgend: high-tech systems that demand high-skilled jobs and create new apprenticeships.

The Type 31 offers the same prospect; but with an additional potential for export orders for the UK from the international market.

The National Shipbuilding Strategy therefore represents a historic opportunity to reverse the decades old decline in surface ship numbers, and to re-establish a sustainable and prosperous long term shipbuilding capability that sits above short term economic and political tides.

There will be challenging trade-offs to achieve in order to keep the price down, and the timescale is tight. But if we get this right, and I am determined that we will, then there is a real chance to grow the size of the Royal Navy’s fleet for the first time in decades.

This could enable a more frequent, or even a permanent, presence in parts of the world where we have admittedly been spread thin in recent decades.

Together with the aforementioned naval base in Bahrain, the Royal Navy has also been working with the government of Oman to explore berthing options in the new commercial port of Duqm. Situated outside the Strait of Hormuz it provides immediate access to the Indian Ocean and capacity for aircraft carriers and nuclear powered submarines. Under the Five Powers Defence Agreement, the Royal Navy also retains berthing space in Singapore.

All of these facilities provide the government and defence with the option, should we wish, to project power and influence beyond the Atlantic.

Given our long standing defence relationships in the Middle East, it is certain that a Royal Navy task group, centred on a Queen Elizabeth-class carrier, will regularly deploy East of Suez.

And it will be perfectly possible, should we wish, for Type 31 frigates to permanently operate from the Gulf region or from Asia-Pacific in the decades ahead.

These are examples of what we could do and not yet policy, and I am never complacent about the challenges we continue to face in recruiting and retaining the very best men and women in a competitive employment market.

But navies are strategic in nature and the genesis of these opportunities is found in the present.

The success of both Carrier Strike and the National Shipbuilding Strategy in the near time has the potential to help match the UK’s defence capabilities to our national economic ambitions in the longer term: however, and wherever, they may develop.

A new era of maritime ambition

I’m looking forward to taking your questions, so I shall draw to a close.

For 500 years the Royal Navy has been the most consistent and visible expression of the mercantile character of our island nation.

Today we are ready once again to be melded and aligned for best effect with the UK’s political, economic, diplomatic and trade ambitions.

The opportunities are coming thick and fast.

2017 will truly be the ‘Year of the Carrier’, as HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves her builders, commences sea trials and arrives in Portsmouth for the first time. Before the end of the year she will hoist the White Ensign for the first time, and her sister ship will be officially named in Rosyth.

Throughout this time, the spotlight will be on the United Kingdom.

These ships, and our continued national investment in maritime power, send an unmistakable message about our place in the world:

Far from being a diminished nation, withdrawing from the world, the United Kingdom has both the intent and the means to protect our interests, shoulder our responsibilities and support our prosperity across the globe.

And as the most senior serving veteran of the Falklands conflict, I know better than most that whatever our current preoccupations may be, ‘events’ will always have the power to surprise.

So rest assured, the Royal Navy is here whatever the future holds for our maritime trading nation and its great global City.

from Ministry of Defence – Activity on GOV.UK http://ift.tt/29ZNmtG

Image of Jones.
Image of Jones.
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Geraldine Menzies
Geraldine Menzies
July 25, 2016 6:34 pm

An incredibly informative speech. Encouraging amongst the doom and gloom to hear such an orator and the hope and indeed intention to turn the decline of shipbuilding in our country and to strengthen our global bases .

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
July 25, 2016 7:54 pm

Intention of the RN and MoD and reality in what waffle HMG comes out with and what they are prepared to pay are two different things. He talks about challenging trade offs to keep price down on the Type 31. Is 8 high end ASW Frigates and the 6 T45’s enough for a CBG and a ATG?

July 25, 2016 9:04 pm

“Is 8 high end ASW Frigates and the 6 T45’s enough for a CBG and a ATG?” Not operating as independent units in a high threat environment no, though that may not be as big an issue as it sounds if the UK thinks through what it needs from an ARG. Additional OTH capability with a few hybrid Assault ships / Frigates to replace the Albions would be my preference.

July 25, 2016 9:14 pm

“And it will be perfectly possible, should we wish, for Type 31 frigates to permanently operate from the Gulf region or from Asia-Pacific in the decades ahead.” – This is the first time I think the RN has given a sniff of a requirement for the T31. If this is the case, then the T31 has to meet three criteria:
– Ability to operate independently and be forward based
– Capability to work in higher threat environments than the relatively benign Atlantic/Caribbean
– Make it credible enough to make it worthwhile

Forget the Avenger, Cutlass and Venator designs, they should be used to look at a reinstated future MHPC project, this needs something much more serious. I am doing a 180deg u-turn, but I like the idea now to turn the T31 as the carrier ASW escort and using the T26 as the independent globe trotter.

July 25, 2016 9:59 pm

Admiral Sir Philip Jones, in very recent Parliamentary session, sees the Type 31 as operating on the world’s oceans as a reliable, dependable and independent frigate with good export potential, but without the Type 26’s high end anti-submarine aspects nor its high cost.

Peter Elliott
July 25, 2016 10:26 pm

Sounds like having the cake and eating it to be honest. When he talks about “challenging tradeoffs” I read that as “we can’t afford what we want for the price we are prepared to pay”

Maybe we will all be astounded by a T31 design that combines endurance, survivability and firepower at an affordable price. But for me it seems likely that something still gas to give… :/

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
July 25, 2016 10:39 pm

“Is this the first time anyone has officially used the term ‘Type 31’ to describe GPFF”

Yup. And I wouldn’t bet on it being conscious…..

July 26, 2016 4:51 am

I have had it mentioned in unofficial discussions over the past 12 months that the RN is looking at foreign porting some ships possibly a T23 or a T31. These would be in addition to the current MCMV force in BHR. Nice to see it is gaining legs. However it needs carefull managment if it happens, rotating crews lack the sense of ownership that being a permanently drafted crewmember gives you on a ship.

The Omani port at Duqm can be used and makes for an ideal Z berth. The USN recently had a major maintenance period for a ship there but it was none too sucessful. Still it does mean that you dont need to go through the SOH to find a dockyard. Matelots should be aware though,it is in the middle of nowhere…its a 5 hour drive to a major population center so not a great run ashore.

Peter Elliott
July 26, 2016 9:18 am

The implication of forward basing T31 is that range (and perhaps top speed?) might be one of the things sacrificed to drive down cost.

Warfare equipment will still be pretty top notch for the Gulf. T26 sensor amd combat system with maybe a 76mm gun and 8 Mk41 along with SeaCeptor. SeaCeptor Surface to Surface mode is something we haven’t talked about much. Would it allow you to do without a main gun altogether? That would save a lot of crew, displscement and cost. At the least it would mitigate choosing the 76mm vs 127mm gun.

How quiet? That’s the hard one. Lots of SSK around East of Suez. If I was 1SL I’d be trading a lot of things to get a quiet ship with a Merlin capable deck and hangar. Means you could still ship a Wildcat + UAS at other times. No mission bay obviously.

By forward basing could we perhaps break out of the 3:1 ratio? Maybe 2:1 for a ship stationed forward in Bahrain or Duqum? One deployed and one at home working up the next crew. Or even one “training ship” generating replacement crews for two based forward..?

How long can a complex warship go with only minor upkeep? Are we talking months or years? Will there have to be a big shoreside presence from Babcock out there to look after them? And will that cost jobs in Portsmouth and Plymouth? Tough politically. And costly if we have to fly lots of mateys out and accomodate them 5* on a regular basis.

The number of incremental tasks undertaken during transit to and from the Gulf would be done less often. Fewer defence engagement visits in the Med for example. Having said that the Capital Ships will still be transiting with perhaps only 1 Consort (instead of 2 or 3) so the opportunity isn’t completely lost. Fewer gin parties perhaps but bigger and more significant ones ;)

The Other Chris
July 26, 2016 11:06 am

Still think it should be a Type 83 General Purpose Frigate instead of a Type 31 Anti Submarine Frigate, to use the Royal Navy’s own naming convention.


The Other Chris
July 26, 2016 11:20 am

Where has the idea that T26 is our low risk, low cost, exportable, 1:1 transfer of majority equipment from a T23 to a new-life flexible hull gone?

Press seems to have it’s knickers in a bunch over old T45 engine news, but not that we can’t deliver a non-gucci workhorse vessel.

Peter Elliott
July 26, 2016 11:30 am

TOC – I agree that that is the more interesting question. But there is much less in the public domain yet about that. The public spin is still that everything is going along fine…

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
July 26, 2016 12:58 pm

“Still think it should be a Type 83 General Purpose Frigate instead of a Type 31 Anti Submarine Frigate, to use the Royal Navy’s own naming convention.”

It should. But that would get in the way of the link to a “T21 for the 21st Century” – which is what the SO who conceived this are thinking.

“Where has the idea that T26 is our low risk, low cost, exportable, 1:1 transfer of majority equipment from a T23 to a new-life flexible hull gone?”

Not convinced that was anything other than an inferral by the weberati. That said – aside from the odd technical issue – it’s the cost that is causing problems – or more precisely, the inability of either MOD or BAE to justify their negotiating positions. Many instinctively reaches for “the survivability” excuse (which primarily affects equipment cost, with a secondary element of work content in duplicating systems). They might both be better served thinking very hard about a build schedule which will have each ship in build for approx. twice the time taken with a T23. Understandable (perhaps) for ship 1, but from there the average time ought to dramatically decrease. As should the manhours………..

Peter Elliott
July 26, 2016 1:05 pm

Aha – a rare gem from NAB of insight into where he beleives the cost issues may actually lie.

So a really bold ship building strategy would be to revert to a 1 per year build tempo, with the implication that by the end of the build we will have either (a) the larger surface fleet that tasking appears to demand (b) export orders or (c) ships alongside with no crews. Risk and reward writ large indeed!

The Other Chris
July 26, 2016 1:11 pm

Interesting insights, hadn’t come across the T21 pitch. Presumably T12l is mentioned at times?

July 26, 2016 2:57 pm

Isn’t the 18month drum beat is so slow, to keep “Clyde” on going till the T45 replacements?

Building slow does increase cost. But the “gap” also increases it a LOT, as you see in Astute and T26, as well.

Also, I speculate that it will mean T31 will be built elsewhere (Appledore or Portsmouth?).

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
July 26, 2016 3:14 pm

It’s not the delivery tempo. It’s the time in build for each ship. Different things.

The thing that is really difficult to square is that your T23 (contrary to the opinion of 1SL at the HCDC) is as complex a ship for its time as T26 is now. It has different survivability, environmental, evacuation and habitability standards, but what these tend to do is increase the volume required of the ship. In manpower terms, that does means more build labour – but it isn’t directly proportional.

Those ships were being delivered for circa £150M to £200M inc equipment, which even if inflated over 18 years and then uplifted by a direct volume ratio doesn’t get close – particularly as much outfit is now simplified compared to the T23 practice.

There is highly likely to be an element of skills sustainment in the BAES manpower estimate – in which case the answer is probably that the MoD can’t afford to do this on its own, exports won’t do it – as build is highly likely to be overseas, which means something like specialist non-mil shipping. Which is where the BAES construct is going to founder. Shipbuilding best done by shipbuilders, not necessarily defence conglomerates.

The Other Chris
July 26, 2016 3:27 pm

What sort of vessels do you see the UK being able to deliver to cover that difference? Is there a gap in a market or a niche that we could do well in?

Can You Hear Ticking?
Can You Hear Ticking?
July 26, 2016 7:24 pm

Why not just scrap the T26 and T31 projects? Instead, build submersible frigates like a larger SMX-25 in Scotstoun for the ASW role?


Gas turbine for 38 knots on surface, basic diesel for snorkelling, and a straightforward battery pack for 10 knots submerged. Weapons fit of 16 CAMM in low-cost, 4-cell VLS; plus a mix of heavyweight torpedoes and torpedo-launched Tomahawks. We’ve spent billions on SSN R&D; why not use it in a submersible as well? It’d also reduce the strain on the SSN fleet. Max unit cost of £300-400m?

Then, force BAE to sell off the Govan site to a commercial shipbuilder and have them churn out Black Swan corvettes with 32 CAMM (8-cell VLS) and a 127mm/5” gun. With commercial build and Babcock fit-out; max unit cost of £100-150m?

This way, RN gets affordable hulls, shipyards get work, and we can all sit back and celebrate knowing BAE has been relegated to only producing SSNs and submersibles.

Pte. James Frazer
Pte. James Frazer
July 26, 2016 9:35 pm

Chapeau NaB!

“………………Shipbuilding best done by shipbuilders, not necessarily defence conglomerates.”

Unless HMG was/are prepared to fund design and production drumbeats to make unit acquisition costs sensible then T26 programme stretch (and TOBA), with all good intentions, are a gimme to BAES, I’d say that as a defence contractor BAES have simply no interest in / are not set up for (re sales) left field specialist civilian work.

July 27, 2016 4:09 am


The UK MCMV force in BHR is maintained by the Forward Support Unit. They also assist on any UK DD/FF who visits Mina. For anything requiring a docking of an MCMV it comes to the local shiprepair yard. Voith Changes, Rudders, Hull Paints, generator upgrades, engine work…its all been done ..
A number of DD/FF have done the 1 month mid deployment maintenance in BHR. One DD under took a massive work package that BAe supported with a team from the UK for a month. Although no UK DD/FF has drydocked, Bay Class have.
The capability is there and ready should it be needed. Long term base porting abroad has been discussed and looked at.OEM’s for complex systems can be flown out, the cost of doing the general clanky maintenance is a lot less than in the UK and there are cost savings of fuel UK-Gulf and back. That alone has made it attractive to a cash strapped RN. Accom at present is local hotels, but when the new base opens, with dedicated accomodation the cost will be minimal.
BAe and Babcocks get paid anyway. They have a budget to spend getting work done. If they can get that work done to a high standard and cheaper than in Guz or Pompie guess what they will go for?

Peter Elliott
July 27, 2016 9:49 am

So in summary: (1) Technically possible and an extension of current practice (2) Clear cost savings (3) Increased availability on task.

I guess what’s changed since, say, the 1960s and 70s is how much easier it is now to fly parts and skilled specialist labour out to wherever they are needed. And the general level of engineering and technical capability for hire in places like Bahrain and Singapore.

The flip side is fewer jobs at home and potentialy less latent capability in home waters. ie In the event of an unexpected emergency in the Atlantic you might end up having to pull ships from those eastern bases westwards in a hurry. But those sorts of tradeoffs must be the bread and butter of operational planning anyway.

Brian Black
Brian Black
July 27, 2016 10:25 am

Type 31 should of course be titled Type 27, as standard primary school numerical convention dictates. If Type 27 was to be an export variant of Type 26, that should really have been titled Type 26 plus an appropriate letter suffix, which seems to be more in line with what the Navy has previously done.

28, 29, 30? All a mystery to me.

If the T31 is to be an exportable product, doesn’t the market demand the potential for weapons & equipment packages to be available on a sliding scale from primarily surface warfare at one end to primarily anti-submarine at the other? Doesn’t that increase the cost for the UK, whether or not the UK wants an ASW specialist variant of the Type 31? If there is no ASW variant, and the ship is pared back to a minimum acceptable capability*, what is there to set T31 apart from any number of other corvettes and large OPVs available to export customers?

The unadventurous T31 seems to be heading back to the C2 concept of ten or more years ago; but weren’t C1 and C2 eventually rolled up into the single Global Combat Ship in order to get economies of scale? The GCS economies were also seen as worthwhile despite there being more C1/C2 frigates planned then, than T26/T31 planned now. If we’re going back to essentially the C1/C2 set-up on cost grounds, is it likely to be cheaper this time around if the numbers didn’t add up favourably a decade ago with more ships envisaged?

*Can the principal systems of T31 be less than a medium gun at the pointy end, a Wildcat at the blunt end, and Artisan & a few CAMM in the middle?

Peter Elliott
July 27, 2016 11:41 am

Valid questions BB. To me it looks like the cost rationale came first: the RN were told to “go away and come back with something cheaper” without any real understanding of either the history of C1/C2 or the cost drivers of ship building. Only afterwards has any detailed thought gone into what “something cheaper” might be. How much cost and how much fightyness is clearly not yet in the public domain.

From NAB’s point on build times and man hours you would have to ask whether the cautious 10 year cost projections of the Equipment Plan have actually worked against us this time? Prudent, risk averse, MoD project managers would be very reluctant to book unidentified cost savings against later ships. Equally the BAES negotiators might be refusing to offer up such savings for the same reason. Between the two of them they ended up killing the economics of a planned 13 ship build.

Depending on how much of a compromise T31 turns out to be (either not capable enough or not much cheaper than T26) its entirely possible that more T26 could still end up getting ordered if the cost does start to fall later on in the build.

July 27, 2016 2:11 pm

Time to really ask who in Navy Command said 8 high-end frigates is enough (see Jones evidence to the Defence Select Committee)

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
July 27, 2016 2:45 pm

If I were a betting man, I’d suggest the NCHQ discussion went something along the lines of :

“How much????!!!!! That’s beyond our budget line”.
“Sorry – that’s the price”
“Those ships are way too f8cking big, they’re twice the size of T23 that’s why they’re so expensive”
“If only we could have something like the T21……”
“I know, let’s try and get a cheaper ship by making it smaller”
“Survivability costs money don’t you know. I read it in a report. And BAE often say that’s what drives the price”.
“Right. We’ll get rid of that as well. A bit. Not all. Obviously”
“Which bits?”
“Don’t know. Will have to run a study to find out”
“Best run one to determine the overall requirements as well”
“Good idea. Clearly SDSR has invalidated the decade-plus of OA previously done”
“Fantastic. Great idea, glad I thought of it. Now what shall we call it?”
“What about T31? It’s a bit like T21, but more up to date. This goes up to 31…….”

Cue long rambling debate about Iver Huitfeldt going up to 11, patron saints of quality footwear, evil BAES, evil DE&S and if only warfare officers were in charge, everything would be squared away………

All the above is of course pure speculation and names and events have been changed to protect the guilty.

The Other Chris
July 28, 2016 8:05 am

Would help to have the floaty bit underneath it ordered too…

July 28, 2016 8:31 am

“BAE Systems has received a $245 million contract … Under the contract, the Company will manufacture three MIFS Integrated Gunnery Systems (IGS) and one trainer system for the UK Royal Navy. The MIFS IGS includes the 5-inch, 62-caliber Mk 45 Mod 4 Naval Gun System, along with an automated ammunition handling system, gun fire control system, and qualified ammunition. The contract includes an option for five additional systems for the remainder of the UK Royal Navy’s Type 26 fleet.”

Yikes! $245 million for 4 guns = ~ $61 million per gun. I assume the option for 5 more isn’t included in the initial price but is rather an option to purchase 5 more at the same price as the first 3 ship-borne systems or at defined inflationary increases. I do note that it includes ammunition so it’s not actually $61 million for each gun plus associated ship-board systems. Can anyone make an educated guess as to how much a single gun system excluding ammo costs? Also, how much ammunition is typically purchased with a new weapon? Enough to fill the on-board magazine I assume plus some number of shore-stored reloads. Maybe there’s an unusual amount of ammo in this first contract since this will be the first RN use of the 5-inch won’t it (4.5″ previously)?

How much does an OTO Melara 76mm cost? I’m thinking that, despite the logistical advantages of sticking with a single gun type, a 76mm might be sensible for T31 (possibly essential in order to keep costs down). Anything less than 76mm is going to make it under-gunned isn’t it?

Peter Elliott
July 28, 2016 8:53 am

NAB – I am intrigued by “patron saints of quality footwear”

TD – the current comment system is really getting on my tits. When you navigate from the comments summary to a long and active thread thread it takes: 1 click to get to the newest comment at the top of the thread, 1 click on the green button to spool down to the foot of the page, 1 click to load the remaining comments, 1 click on the green button to spool down again (by which time the comment you just read has appeared again at the bottom), once you have read the last 2 or 3 comments you then have to scroll all the way back up to the input box (for which there is no shortcut and you can easily scroll past it). Thats at least 4 clicks too many and way too much scrolling. Its just a nightmare. Added to which if you are on a mobile with a slow data connection and the original post is image heavy then the screen won’t hold the foot of the comments becuase every time a new image finishes downloading the view jumps upward and you have to scroll down again.

I shall continue to rant about this at intervals of a few weeks until you relent and replace it with something that then turns out to be worse ;) #Gloomy

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
July 28, 2016 10:04 am

As a landlubber whose knowledge of naval matters is confined to The Navy Lark, can a subject matter expert explain why we don’t use metric (Say 127 mm for 5″) for the calibre of Naval Guns.

@NAB As David Ivor St. Hubbins is a fictional character, are you suggesting Type 31 are never going to materialise. If so may I propose HMS Troutbridge for first in class.

Peter Elliott
July 28, 2016 10:56 am

The biggest naval powers in the world have used the imperial system of measurement for over 100 years, first pre decimal Britain and then America. Commonality and inertia has ensured worldwide continuity of artillary calibres. But science and industry are largely metric. So we end up with imperial calibres commonly described in metric measures: 3″, 5″, 6″; 76mm, 127mm, 155mm. Evidently there’s some rounding at work and presumably the actual technical specifications are more detailed still and also allow for variation dependent on wear, temperature etc etc.

I do find these historical quirks rather interesting.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
July 28, 2016 12:34 pm

Funny that, so at 127mm a 5″ gun comes bigger than the gun on an Abbot but smaller than AS90 for what its worth.

Good speech by Admiral Jones, sad when not only policemen but admirals look young. Is it appropriate to use a survey ship in the Mediterranean to rescue migrants? If not essential for maritime survey for a year, won’t the bean counters reduce the number of survey ships,

Peter Elliott
July 28, 2016 12:40 pm

We also recently sent one to the Baltic for the Admiral to hoist his flag in a recent NATO exercise. Presumably there weren’t enough facilities aboard either Ocean or a T23 for a Task Group naval staff. TBH I don’t argue with the flexible use of resources provided its only a short term expedient. Shows flexibility and pragmatism.

Just so long as we are also buying in what we need for the future. One of the reasons QEC are being built so large is to ensure we can get all the necessary headcount on board. Then the survey ships can go back to surveying.

The Other Chris
July 28, 2016 1:33 pm

Migrants and Naval staff, eh?

No detailed mapping of an environment that a resurgent SSK/N builder is operating in then?

The Other Chris
July 28, 2016 1:33 pm


Peter Elliott
July 28, 2016 1:36 pm

Well we’ve 3 survey ships and they spend 300 days a year at sea so I guess plenty of the core role still does go on, whether concurrently with other activities or not. After all if you’ve got all those sensors you may as well keep the lads in practice ;)

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
July 28, 2016 5:42 pm

One suspects much of the cost of the “gun” will actually be found below decks in the (I believe) unique to UK ammunition handling system (happy to be corrected otherwise), the mundungous for which will not be cheap. This may be driven by a combination of naval fires requirements and reduced manning – a requirement set that may not map onto GPFF. Which would allow retention of the Mk45Mod4 mount, but probably which much less ship impact and cost………

July 28, 2016 6:38 pm

@NaB – Come to think of it, given that the T23 4.5″ gun is one of the things not being cross-decked onto the T26, there might be a few of those going spare soon. Are these guns and below decks systems likely to have life left in them? Might cross-decking the 4.5″s to T-31 be an option?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
July 28, 2016 10:22 pm

There is a reason we’ve been trying to bin the 4.5″ for the last 20 years or so.

They will only get onto GPFF in the event ILS considerations are binned completely.

July 29, 2016 6:05 am

I wonder what the plan is to upgrade the T45 to have a 5″ also? I would have thought the cost case would have been to upgrade all ships to have common supply requirements, but strange this wasn’t part of the order (or future options).

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
July 29, 2016 6:55 am

It wasn’t part of the order because the order (and options) are for T26, using T26 money. At some stage, it’s likely that Marcap & DE&S will get round to T45. But only when there is any money. Right now there isn’t any money.

Peter Elliott
July 29, 2016 10:39 am

Do I remember rightly that it’s also either/or in T45 for the 5″ gun or the strike length VLS? The same space is needed for both..?

Depending what AShM we end up buying after Harpoon and what happens to sub launched TLAM could directly affect whether T45 eventually gets the 5″ gun.

July 29, 2016 11:07 am

@NaB: Understand the money bit for the T45, but would adding 6 more future options added any cost at this stage? Surely by opening the potential to have more could have given more opportunity to argue the price down? Being naive probably…

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
July 29, 2016 12:40 pm

The IPMD for T45 was for the putative 6″/155mm gun (that never happened) – or Mk41 VLS.

That does not preclude a simple Mk45 Mod 4 fit – just means you’d have a limited mag capacity and no automated mundungous (a la T26) below decks. the Mk 45 mount is not massively space demanding (it’s on the ANZACs), it’s the palletised autoloader that causes cost and issue.

No-one is going to confuse T26 budget lines with T45 budget lines – even if they wanted to – particularly after the savaging CDP got at the HCDC hearing on that perception.

July 29, 2016 2:12 pm


4.5 inch guns likely to stay on into the next decade. and with yesterday’s 3 plus training 5 Mk45 investment, very unlikely to see many Mk45 5′ guns.

Peter Elliott
July 29, 2016 2:48 pm

On a lighter note Australia is on the move:


Maybe the RAF were right all along..? ???

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
July 29, 2016 3:35 pm

“4.5 inch guns likely to stay on into the next decade. and with yesterday’s 3 plus training 5 Mk45 investment, very unlikely to see many Mk45 5′ guns.”

Given that no-one is going to swap the 4.5″ on the T23, there will be 4.5″ systems and ammo out to the mid 30s. However, assuming NCHQ gets its way and the GPFF (if it flies) appears with a 5″, the end of the 20s, early 30s ought to see a move to backfit T45 with 5″ to reduce logs costs.

Assuming (as ever) there is some money…….

stephen duckworth
stephen duckworth
July 29, 2016 5:24 pm

Anyone know what happened to the T-42 4.5″ guns?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
July 29, 2016 8:36 pm

A goodly number of them are tied up alongside in Pompey today. One may be in Guzz. Many (that didn’t get the Mod 1 conversion) are in bits in depots and scrapyards across the land.

Peter Elliott
July 29, 2016 11:33 pm

Pompey is safe from air attack tonight ???

July 29, 2016 11:51 pm

I know I’m uninformed, but surely most navies have most ( or all ) of their ships parked up at home ports most of the time. Is it so unusual that the RN park their ships at home ?

Nobody says it’s unusual the all the RAF Voyagers and Herculeses are parked at Brize Norton tonight.

July 30, 2016 12:21 am

Well the Type 31s aren’t going to be ASuW specialists, as we don’t have an ASuW weapon. They aren’t going to be high end ASW as they won’t have towed arrays, which basically means a bow sonar and a big helipad. They aren’t going to be AAW specialists as that is the Type 45, which means Camm and nowt else.

The only possibility left is land attack, though indications are that the 26s will have strike length cells for our barely existent Tomahawk stocks ( about 60?).

How about a 6″ AGS amidships with a lift directly to the magazine from the flight deck? 30mm and Camm upfront as per River / Khareef. Could offer to swap two of them for one of the USN’s Zumwalts, just to make a point. :)

July 30, 2016 6:12 am

How about buying the Saudi-configured LCS which has VLS for ESSM (which would be UK’s Sea Ceptor) and Harpoon missile tubes (transfer over the remaining Harpoon launchers from the Type 23s)? Cheap, make good relations with Mr. Oil (and Mr. don’t let women dirve), and issue settled?

July 30, 2016 8:21 am

“How about buying the Saudi-configured LCS”

….You’re an optimist ain’t you HMA. :)

July 30, 2016 8:29 am

What the admiral told parliament the type 31 is to be

Admiral Sir Philip Jones: No, it is absolutely not a stopgap. From my perspective, it is a long-term solution. I understand the SDSR deliberation that what the Navy needed in its Type 26 was enough ships to have resilience in our force generation cycle to have enough available to protect the deterrent and the carrier strike group. Eight is the right number to do that, using our force generation factor.

Then the deliberation was on what else the Navy needs, where else we want the Navy to operate and the other tasks we want the Navy to do. The deliberation quite rightly was that that looked more like tasking for a general purpose frigate of a slightly lower specification, built slightly faster and cheaper. Crucially from my perspective, it meant having a smaller ship’s company and producing something with really good export potential. That is what that will be.


Don’t think the Hercules or voyager have ever been all home based at the same time. They certainly aren’t at present, They probably wouldn’t all fit into brize if they did. So yes it would be extremely unusual.

The nation can rest easy in the knowledge the RAF has the deployed air warfare capability covered as always. ?

Peter Elliott
July 30, 2016 8:50 am

UCL the history of the RN is to always be deployed somewhere. We have never sat in port and waited for the enemy to come to us, we have always gone out and met him as far from our home waters as we could. So its very rare for the fleet to all be at home. For instance in 1946, when the wartime sailors had largely been demobilised and the Home Fleet was desparately short manned, and it made the admirals desparately worried in case the Russians saw the opportunity and somehow took advantage.

There will be an element of chance in all six T45 being in harbour together, the active ships just popping in for supplies or a few days leave, but it does illustrate that the problems with certain ships in the class must be very real. It is notable that the number arrived at to suport robust force generation for T26 Destroyers was 8 and not 6: silightly more contingency for the unexpected.

July 30, 2016 10:58 am

-“Well the Type 31s aren’t going to be ASuW specialists, as we don’t have an ASuW weapon.”

Is it too soon to write that off? There are options that might come along in the not too distant future. NSM maybe given impetus by JSM for F-35 (but shame JSM doesn’t fit in 35B internal bay). Also Harpoon Next Generation. For both those, so long as T31 has space for box launchers, it could pack some ASuW punch once suitable weapons & launchers are purchased and it’s hardly a novel concept now for the RN to launch ships where full capability comes later (CVF and F-35B availability being a topical example).

“The only possibility left is land attack, though indications are that the 26s will have strike length cells for our barely existent Tomahawk stocks ( about 60?).”

If Tomahawk stocks were sufficient then might another option be to buy or copy the US Mk 143 armoured box launcher that they used to add Tomahawk capability to the battleships? It is reasonably compact at 7.06m(L) x 2.13m(W) x 2.03(H) which overhangs a standard 20′ container footprint by about 1m but fits in the width so could probably be adapted with a suitable mounting plate to fit ISO anchoring points provided there was a spare 1m of length around the mounting area to accommodate the excess length. Venator 110 seems to have what I think is an explicitly designed-in configurable mission space between the funnel and mast which probably takes 3 or even 4 containers and has topside space port and starboard to accommodate the length issue (if it’s even an issue, I would hope that designed-in container space would include an open area in front of a container to open the doors when loaded).

“How about a 6″ AGS amidships with a lift directly to the magazine from the flight deck? 30mm and Camm upfront as per River / Khareef.”

Is a 6″ a huge added benefit vs a standard 5″ mounted up front given the added cost and disruption to the ship’s structure of putting in a special mounting amidships?

I know that many people who seem to know what they are talking about are extremely dismissive of the survivability of something like the Venator 110, and presumably by size/tonnage association also BAE’s Avenger & Cutlass, but in terms of potential weapons fit something like a Venator with 5″ gun, 2 x 30mm cannon, 8 x box launchers for Harpoon/JSM/something-else, something in the range of 24 to 48 x soft-launch VLS for CAMM and possibly also VL Spear 3 (which I believe is at least being looked at) and maybe also 2 x Phalanx plus the possibility of adding Martlet/LMM via Sigma mounts for the 30mm plus the possibility of more box-launched stuff in that topside mission space on a configurable mission-specific basis seems to add up to a vessel that would be quite well defended (except against subs) and have a very useful range of offensive capabilities.

That does of course leave the general survivability concerns. At least with Venator they do talk about 2 separated engine spaces, 4 prime movers and enhanced bulkheads for crew protection. I suppose it’s hard to know whether that stuff is more than exaggerated marketing speak without seeing more design details (if they exist yet) or is it a basic fact that in today’s world anything as small as 4,000t simply can’t be given the sort of survivability that the RN should be demanding?

July 30, 2016 5:59 pm

The more I hear about GPFF/Type 31 the more troubling it sounds. Some of noises that have loitered rounds bits of industry (as an example; there is rumour that manned aircraft are unwanted in the design by some) are downright terrifying.

Conceptually the whole thing seems to be on its head. Type 26 was originally intended to be a global cruiser and is now to be used as an oversized fleet ASW asset; that in turn suggests that GPFF will not have Type 26 ASW capability. That sounds great to the corvette/OPV morons but anybody with the vaguest understanding of the developing threat profile in the places where 1SL wants to forward deploy his little ships knows full well that its a really, really, really stupid idea that becomes even more stupid if they don’t get a comparable air defence capability either.

Peter Elliott
July 30, 2016 6:21 pm

So far there seem to be 3 proposals out there:

BAES stretched Khareef
BAES upgraded River
BMT Venator 110

Presumably if we want these ships *quickly* then it will need to be a version of one of these existing designs. But there do seem to be big issues with any of them if used as a fighting ship in harm’s way. For me there is a certain minimum requirement which is not to be easy meat for either a lurking sub or 4th Gen Airstrike. That means T23 warfare capablility as a minimum: a quiet ship with Merlin facilities and CAMM. I’d sacrifice the 5″ Gun, the Strike VLS, the Mission Bay and the Global Range, but not the quietness, the CAMM, or the aviation facilities for a Merlin.

Would it actually be quicker to order a new design to be drawn to the spec we need or to upgrade one of the powerpoint proposals as best we can? Answers on a postcard. In the end it will turn out we should have ordered 13 T26 anyway but by then it will be too late and the money will have been spent :/ #Gloomy

July 30, 2016 6:36 pm


Why would you be deploying them into such a situation on there own? That’s what the RN carrier strike group is for.

It’s like saying let’s not buy 20 odd reapers because they have to fight in a s400 and su35 area or were not deploying a para or commando battalion because the opposition have tanks.

I would be quite interested to see what these type 31 ships would look like if the design driver was to optimise them to support SF and unmanned aircraft, submersibles and surface units as a primary consideration in a maritime security context.

July 30, 2016 6:47 pm


Because there will only ever be one RN carrier strike group available. It can’t be everywhere. Equally, the fleet train will require ASW protection as well- our delightful Russian friends are building and modernising very large numbers of submarines and putting very large numbers of missiles to sea.


Exactly, as I have articulated in previous threads, a 21st century Type 23 would be an interesting idea: a quiet Merlin capable ship that lost the mission bay, the passenger space and perhaps the 5″ gun replaced with a 76mm. It can still take ARTISAN,two 8 cell Mk.41 would also be sufficient. It would be a bit cheaper than a Type 26 but not spectacularly so. It would however be useful unlike the current options.

Peter Elliott
July 30, 2016 7:03 pm


Your logic would hold if T31 were going to be the ASW Escort for the Task Group and T26 were going to be sent off singly to far flung stations. The T42 was after all built small and cheap on the assumption that the Carrier would always be there to support it. But it sounds like this is not the plan.

From what we can gather T31 will be sent off to fill in the Maritime security standing tasks and may not be a quiet or well armed ship. That is all fine and dandy until the balloon goes up and we need them to warlike tasks like bringing MARS ships up to the fleet, escorting Qatari LNG Tankers, or indeed food convoys to the UK, or rconnaisance in force (ie locating the enemy forces by going to possible places in the hope of bumping into them). Or just not getting sunk wherever they happen to be when out local friends and allies turn their coats.

July 30, 2016 7:27 pm


That is correct but the is what the 3 uk services are. The army will only ever be able to deploy to one high end operation at a time like wise the RAF. Individual vessels, fast jet Sqn or armoured battle groups may make token contributions at times. The Russians are not building larger numbers of submarines there barely building enough to replace the much reduced force they current have let alone returning to anything like Cold War level numbers besides it is a NATO issue no purely a RN one.


No because if the ballon goes up you send your high end forces. We currently send almost unarmed RFAs, survey ships and river patrol vessels to maritime security tasks across the global because we have nothing else. There is no high end threat in the Caribbean the South Atlantic, the Mediterranean area, or African coasts but there is plenty of security threats to the uk in those areas that need a eye kept on them. Type 31 to me would be used as a trip wire type vessel an intelligence gathering presence that alerts uk to issues enabling a scaling up of forces should we deem it of national interest.

Peter Elliott
July 30, 2016 7:36 pm


What the ships do in ordinary peacetime isn’t the point. Its the fact that come wartime we would be down from 19 Combat Ships to 14. Thats the bit that depresses me unduly.

If we are desgning the ships around the peacetime task then we might as well buy roomy flexible OSV type vessels and give up the pretence that they are warships: Its the merest political face saving if we end up replacing T23 with Rivers and pretending the fleet hasn’t been cut.

Rocket Banana
July 30, 2016 7:56 pm

Two carriers and two amphibs with their tankers and supply shipping hardly warrants many more than 4 T45 and 8-10 T26.

What we then need is “presence” and “intel gathering” ships.

We need a naval ISTAR fleet equivalent. E3, RC135, Reaper, Sentinel, etc.

Perhaps they need a little more staying power than an aircraft but other than a bit of self defence they should not need to fight… use them as decoys or pickets in wartime.

This is afterall the information age, not the age of iron-clads, gunboat diplomacy and full broadsides.

July 30, 2016 8:00 pm


The government and RN leadership have already stated what the requirement for the RN is to support CASD and have a Carrier group available at all times thats it and high end units are scaled accordingly.

I would say define peacetime, the non “state” actors that are conducting the various attacks across Europe,Africa and Mid East are making it hard to know when it’s peacetime or wartime. I have for some time thought that idea that we buy equipment like tanks, fastjet, high end naval vessels because they can operate down to lower end threats no longer really holds true.

The lower level threats are becoming more sophisticated and demand very different types of vessel, vehicle, aircraft characteristics and tactics to deal with them. They are every bit as important to our security as sinking subs shooting dwn planes or destroying tanks.

Peter Elliott
July 30, 2016 8:17 pm

Question mostly for NAB and Hohum:

If the Treasury put the gun to your head and said: “Choose either Khareef, River or Venator, its one of these three or nothing at all” which would you choose and why?

And if you were allowed just one major modification to your chosen powerpoint ship what would it be?

July 30, 2016 8:33 pm

“This is afterall the information age, not the age of iron-clads, gunboat diplomacy and full broadsides.”

Very true and I think the perceived requirement for everything afloat to be a Swiss army knife of AAW, ASW and ASuW is overstated.

Quantity has a quality all of it’s own, especially in a world where the local sensors are arguably inadequate for the job and off board sensors become the norm.With this as a given it matters less which type of vessel is dropping strange things over the side or throwing them up into the air.

Calls for the Type 31 to have 26 like capabilities don’t make sense. The latter is open ocean ASW, towed arrays aren’t as useful in the littoral.

Take a scenario where there was an SSP threat in shallow water, your best chance of detecting them would probably be MAD. Hence a Black Swan or 31 operating lots of small UAVs all fitted with MAD sensors would probably be a better option. If nothing else you’d be putting a small crew at risk rather than a large one. You could also potentially have several of them, datalinked and sharing the data from their off board sensors, you might even need some serious computing power to process the threat environment. Hence small, configurable vessels that could swap an ISO worth of UAVs for one merely housing a server farm.

It is easy to forget that technologies such as stealth are often unidirectional, future cruise missiles for instance might be difficult to detect over their frontal aspect but less so from abeam. Hence single isolated platforms with high power output would probably be less effective than several smaller sensors wider spread, especially if cooperatively linked.

All ships and subs make for powerful sigint platforms and a threat nations EORB is arguably far faster changing and more important than their kinetic capabilities.

People also forget that this is the Royal Navy not an isolated vessel. Dark forebodings of a vessels likely vulnerability ignore the reality, namely that an attack on even an OPV would quickly see an Astute and CVF led response. Trying to design something which could withstand an unprovoked alpha strike in isolation rather misses the point.

July 30, 2016 9:41 pm

Nobody is suggesting the RN should be building DDG51s so you can put that one right away.

What they should be doing is looking at the rapidly developing global naval situation and realising that a fat OPV is pointless to the point of being dangerous. An ASW fleet consisting of 8 Type 26s plus whatever Merlin’s fly fly from those and the carrier suggests that Navy HQ is is refusing to recognise what is happening in the North Atlantic let alone the rest of the world.

July 30, 2016 9:56 pm

“An ASW fleet consisting of 8 Type 26s plus whatever Merlin’s fly fly from those and the carrier suggests that Navy HQ is is refusing to recognise what is happening in the North Atlantic let alone the rest of the world.”

I think you mean the treasury….

Given the manpower constraints the RN would even struggle to crew fat OPVs.

July 30, 2016 10:24 pm

Nope, I mean Navy HQ, I am fed up of people blaming the treasury for the RN’s multiple errors. The RN can man an ASW orientated fleet, in fact they are doing it right now; thats what the Type 23 fleet in service right now is.

July 30, 2016 10:34 pm

Yes and with CVF coming online soon..

Don’t forget that Sir Humphrey has been working on this along with the Navy, since 1998.

Where do you think a cock up is more likely, in Northwood or Abbey Wood?

July 30, 2016 10:47 pm

Too easy; Northwood.

July 31, 2016 3:09 am

If they keep the current Force Generation, these will be the ships that deploy solely/by themselves:

1) Type 45s (always one to the Gulf, maybe to the South Atlantic/Falklands)

2) Type 26s (always one to the Gulf, maybe to the South Atlantic/Falklands, or maybe not–let the Type 31s do the work)

3) Type 31s (anywhere???)

4) MARS tankers (anywhere, can even do APT(N) as RFA Wave Ruler is doing so right now)

5) Wave-class tankers (as in 4)

6) MAR SSS (same as 4 and 5)

Carrier Strike Group/Task Force/RFTG (so many names!) will deploy every Autumn with at least 1 x QEC, 1 x Type 45 1 x Type 26 for 5-9 months (with breaks in between). Maybe there won’t be a Type 26 escorting it as the sole Type 36 in the Gulf or Med will meet it along the way. Same for the MARS tankers and SSS.


All guesses of course.

July 31, 2016 7:17 am

@ Hohum
July 30, 2016 10:24 pm
“The RN can man an ASW orientated fleet, in fact they are doing it right now”

No they cannot man an ASW fleet. A number of T23 have sailed around (dependent upon the location they are sent to) with equipment in extended readyness and the maintainers and operators not onboard. I know from personal experience of a T23 that sailed with its 2050 Sonar, MTLS , its maintainers and operators not on board for a 3 month stint because ASW was not on the agenda.

July 31, 2016 7:23 am

If a show-stopper in terms of a frigate/destroyer being able to deploy on its own in a heightened threat area is protection against submarine attack then how does that square with HMArmedForcesReview’s list of ships likely to deploy (or already deploying) on their own? He lists T45 which I assume is an existing case. It’s the best there is at defending itself against air/missile threats but how about subs? As far as I know it has no TAS (in fact neither do 5 of the 13 T-23 do they?) so presumably relies on hull-mounted sonar and maybe Merlin to detect subs. In terms of threat of attack from sub is it really a quietened hull/machinery that is the critical thing that would make a T31 a realistic globally deployable stand-alone asset if required or is TAS and anti-sub weaponry also essential?

Does T45 has sufficient silencing measures in place? If not, and if indeed it doesn’t have TAS, then doesn’t that put it in pretty much the same category re stand-alone deployment as T45 is today, i.e. is it madness to be deploying T45 without adequate ASW protection? (Maybe we don’t deploy T45 this way, I’m asking questions and trying to learn rather than intending to make any particular points.)

I can certainly imagine how high-level silencing of hull/machinery immediately puts the cost of a new vessel, e.g. T31, into a whole different league and in danger of bumping up close to stripped-down T26 price.

July 31, 2016 7:51 am

Not a Boffin- 5″ Guns

i doubt the handling system will be unique for the gun in UK service. A 20 round ammunition ring (similar in concept to the current MK8 4.5 system) gives you 20 rounds on immediate call until the loaders turn up. Then its down to the good old, tried and tested method of manually humping rounds into the feed system for the gun.
The 5″differs from the 4.5″ currently in service in that rounds can be loaded into the gun feed system directly from the deep magazine without having to go through the gunbay as is currently the case with the Mk8 4.5 system. This cuts down on the manpower required to service the ammunition system during a shoot.

July 31, 2016 8:21 am


T23 and T45 have Medium Frequency bow mounted sonar. It has a capacity for passive identification of threats but it is nowhere near the capability of having a tail fitted.

That said they are capable sonars with very good range and capabilities, most of which is now computer controlled with regards to actual identification and clasification of submarine targets.The days of listening to echo returns has long gone. The algorithms used get better with the more targets you see and track. So with the library of ASW target profiles already gained from T2050 sonar it “knows” what to look for and has a better chance of identifying a sub..

T23s are quiet. Very quiet. In ASW exercises in a patrol or ultra quiet state with allied subs around the “lepers bell” is required (a pinging noise maker) for safety. Without it you could find yourself in collision with a sub that didnt know you were there …and yes it has very nearly happened on at least 2 occasions.

The cost of being quiet is expensive. Double rafting machinery is not cheap. (That is why Sandowns and Hunt MCMVs are so expensive per foot of length) Avoiding noise shorts is not cheap. Making ships and subs quiet is expensive. If you want to save money on a build this is where it will be made.

That said T45, T23 and any other surface combattant usually gets the torpedo defence suite fitted so if it all goes wrong….

SIDE NOTE:- Whilst I was on an LPD we where tracked by a UK SSN in an exercise in open ocean at night. I later found out that the sub did not bother with us because we where so noisy and had deceptive lighting on that they thought we must have been a merchant man and not a warship. So sometimes silence isnt everything and a few well placed lights on ropes is all you need.

Peter Elliott
July 31, 2016 8:27 am

NAB generally seems to know that of which he speaks

As a layman the logical development would seem to be to keep the deep ammunition supply in pre – loaded rings of 20 which can then be automatically hoisted up to the gun on demand. That probably makes it sound much easier than it actually is! But I can see how a new and expensive robotic system could be specified to do that and how it would appeal much more to the RN appetite for lean manning compared to USN practice.

July 31, 2016 8:52 am

The MoS says all 6 T45 are sitting in Portsmouth.

July 31, 2016 9:42 am

Equipment at extended readiness can be brought back into operation when required, not something that is viable if the hull can not take the equipment in first place.

The Other Nick
The Other Nick
July 31, 2016 10:53 am

Navy Recognition has a video on the Mk 45 5″ guns new automated ammunition handling system, the RN will be the first customer for use on the Type 26, in commentary states able to be fitted to ships from 3,000 tons.

July 31, 2016 11:29 am

I’m not an electrical engineer, so I do not know if this is viable, but rather than cut a hole in the T45 hull for an extra diesel generator, could we use the space set aside for Mk41, for those energy storage batteries that are becoming more common with large solar installations? If the battery provides the extra power at moments of high demand, then the whole system should not trip out. Battery can then be topped up at times of low demand.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
July 31, 2016 11:43 am

The Mk45 that Gunbuster describes is exactly what we should put on GPFF. On T26, the automated system in the video has a significant impact in terms of deck area and volume, not leats because of the size of the mag. You could put the system on a smaller ship, but at the cost of reduced mag capacity.

If you know how Mk8 rounds are stored currently, it’s quite densely packed. The automated system reduces that density, hence more mag area and volume demanded.

As for the Treasury putting guns to my head, the first things I’d tell them is to Foxtrot Oscar on telling me what my solution is. Particularly as their expertise is likely to be equivalent to the weberati – ie far from competent…..

July 31, 2016 12:12 pm

The Treasury isn’t putting a gun to anybody’s head; Navy HQ has a funding line for new frigates and they can spend that how they choose; this what is so damn terrifying about this whole affair.

The gun conversation here is illuminating of exactly why I am so worried about this GPFF stuff. A chunk of Type 26’s size is driven by the mission bay, additional accommodation for crew surges and the desire for a “flexible strike silo” in addition to the 48 CAMM cells, though no onboard torpedo tubes apparently. However the bigger chunk was driven by space and weight required for basic combat capability such as the 5″ gun and automated ammunition handling system. Building a vessel that provides credible combat capability but which is also smaller and cheaper than the Type 26 is going to be a tall order and the designs currently circulating (Venator, Cutlass and Avenger) do not inspire confidence.

As for exportability; Type 26 has the best export prospects of any RN ship design since the Leander class, there seems nothing especially exportable about the Type 31 options now being considered. It all reinforces the fact that the whole Type 31/GPFF concept came from the back of an envelope.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
July 31, 2016 12:49 pm

Quick scan of both the article and some of the comments.

However it has answered one question — why the bunfight over the T26 budget?

Looked pretty simple to me — new hull and Powertrain with carryover / second hand feature list.

Consequently looking like a budget programme tapping into all the T23 upgrade effort and the missile and Artisan radar investment.

However that left the main gun.
Toss up between various 5″ models …
So far so good.

Then I saw the contract to BWoS and it all became clear.
That number is shameful — it is zombie rentier capitalism at its worst.

They should be hunted, chased, told to vamoosh.
We as a nation, society, civilisation cannot support this level of price gouging, it has to stop.

Zombie stat.
Kitchen sink number with little detail.
And I thought the Dutch were bad with GK.
At least the Koreans stood up to that shower of chancers.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
July 31, 2016 1:14 pm

New automated magazine system — OMG.

You have to hand it to BWoS they are getting more inventive as they strive to find new and better ways of chiselling our hard earned cash out of the MOD.

Where is Mollins when you really need them?

July 31, 2016 1:23 pm

SDSR15 announced a substantial increase in the cost of successor; there is also the added cost of fixing the Type 45 fleet. I wonder where that money came from?

My biggest concern is that RN strategic thinking behind the long-term surface fleet and what is actually happening in the world has never seemed so far apart. 1SL is talking aabout forward deploying colonial patrol sloops to Singapore as if its pre-WW1. Yet it is no such thing, in 15 years China has built almost 20 destroyers, 30 frigates, 30 corvettes, 20 plus submarines, recommissioned one carrier and has another under construction that will likely be in the water before Chinese New Year. The rest of the region is now building to at least look like they are keeping up. In that context 1SL’s little ships will be little more than navigation obstacles.

And at the same time as 1SL is dreaming of sending out the legions again Russia is modernising its surface and sub-surface ships and acquiring new ones. A world in which a hostile Russia’s next surface combattant is a nuclear powered destroyer and the RN’s is an over-sized corvette is one in which the latter is getting things very wrong.

July 31, 2016 2:27 pm

F*ck. I just saw NaB’s “T21 for the 21st Century” comment. I have not heard that one myself but its truly terrifying if there are people in positions of authority actually thinking like that. T21 was a disaster, with the exception of its excellent NGS capability (derived from its Ferranti combat systems) they were very dubious ships. They lacked a credible radar outfit and with a single Seacat system could barely defend themselves even if they had have been able to find an incoming aircraft/missile. They had no margin (in fact they suffered from top-weight issues throughout their lives) so any major modernisation was impossible. They failed to reach their design speed because of the ballast that had to be put in the hull to correct the top-weight issues and in an even worse omen they went massively over budget in the build-phase. There were a host of other minor issues with them too. Hence they were sold at the first opportunity.

Peter Elliott
July 31, 2016 10:18 pm

Tend to agree. Was T21 the most sunk warship since WW2? It’s biggest claim your fame seems to have been being sent into a channel to find out if there were mines or not. Sort of like a big steel expendable sheep. Let’s not do that again.

August 1, 2016 5:01 am

Hokum & PE

T 21 had the best seacat system in the RN….which isnt saying a lot I know but it was better than any other system at sea at the time.
The 992 radar was the fleet standard set for air and surface search at the time. T42 had it, T21 had it and T22 had the set in a back to back configurationin the radome to accomodate the 967 dopler radar for sea wolf .

The biggest issue was that T21 had lots and lots of aluminium bulkheads. Big metal signs highlighted that in the ship inside the ship. Losing ships in 1982 had one positive outcome for the RN, We learnt a massive amount about damage control and what works and doesnt work in building ships. That was continued in the Naiad HULVUL trials in the late 80s. What doesnt work is aluminium bulkheads in a major fire.

Whilst Ally is fine for masts to keep top weight down, Its fightening to see now that major navies are returning to aluminium as a ship building material for hulls and below deck bulkheads. Naval Archs seem to have forgoten the hard won lessons from 82.

August 1, 2016 5:40 am

“Its fightening to see now that major navies are returning to aluminium as a ship building material for hulls and below deck bulkheads. Naval Archs seem to have forgoten the hard won lessons from 82.”

Which major classes are using aluminium?

August 1, 2016 5:57 am


I was always lead to believe that the Type 967/968 (and later the Type 967M) was a very considerable improvement over the Type 992…?

Absolutely agree re aluminium; also, don’t forget the effect of margin in the Type 21 class, they were effectively impossible to modernise for the RN.

Harry Nelson
Harry Nelson
August 1, 2016 8:01 am

Pakistan seems to have modified them quite well and they are still afloat.

August 1, 2016 8:38 am

Both USN LCS classes use a lot of Al, the Freedom version uses it on most of the superstructure whilst the Independence is almost all Al.
In the RN a chunk of the upperdeck structure on a T45 is Al to cut down on top weight.

Hopefully the T31 designers will not repeat the mistakes of the past made on the T21

August 1, 2016 8:47 am


Below decks 968 was the same as a 992 in performance and produced the well known scanned radar picture we are all familiar with, The radome was different from the 992’s well recognised long cigar shape so that it could house two aerials even three if you count the IFF .. 967 was a doppler radar only for air targets and did not give a radar picture as is comonly seen. You just used to see track numbers and an icon in the combat system when it picked up a target.

And yes it was good at its job. It would easily pick up and follow a 4.5 inch brick leaving a gun barrel allowing the trackers to lock on and you shoot a missile at it during a seawolf proving shoot .

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
August 1, 2016 9:27 am

The T21s in PN service are highly unlikely to meet anything resembling western survivability/safety standards. Their design pre-dates 02-109 (now 02-900 pt4) so there’s no way they’d be able now – 40 yrs after their commissioning – to have any sort of damaged stability performance.

Just because some navies put a ship to sea, does not necessarily mean that it is safe to do so…..

Rocket Banana
August 1, 2016 10:09 am
Rocket Banana
August 1, 2016 10:11 am

From the linked PDF…

“During and following the Falklands conflict between Great Britain and Argentina, several misleading statements appeared in the press, suggesting that aluminium alloys, used in the superstructure of some of the ships that were sunk, had burned and contributed to the loss of these ships. Of the nine ships sunk in this conflict, only three had aluminium superstructures. All three vessels had steel hulls and in each case the damage inflicted suggested that these vessels would have sunk regardless of the materials of the superstructure. In no case did aluminium burn. HMS Sheffield, the first British destroyer to be sunk, was widely reported to have an aluminium superstructure. This was, in fact, an all-steel ship with a steel hull and a steel superstructure. The Defence White Paper published on 14 December 1982 concluded, ‘there is no evidence that aluminium has contributed to the loss of any vessel’.”

Peter Elliott
August 1, 2016 10:24 am

Aluminium Federation says Aluminium OK

No shit Sherlock!

Rocket Banana
August 1, 2016 10:28 am


If you can get aluminium to burn in anything other than powder form I think you might get a Nobel prize for defying the laws of physics.

Peter Elliott
August 1, 2016 10:42 am


“I cannae change the laws of physics captain”

It doesn’t have to burn though does it? For instance if it melts at a lower temperature than you want then it won’t contain a fire as well. Obviously differnt grades and alloys are different but a quick and dirty internet trawl suggests that Aluminium melts at 660 degrees C whereas Steel is around 1300 degrees C. Quite a difference.

August 1, 2016 10:46 am

Because I was for my sins an NBCDQ I have a copy of this damning statement.
from the RN Damage Control and Fire fighting Bible , BR 2170

“Aluminium Structure and Fire
Unless aluminium structure is suitably protected by insulation (lagging) or by the
cooling effect of water when involved in fire it will, in simple language, melt. Aluminium is noncombustible and will neither contribute fuel to, nor assist in, the spread of fire. However, at
temperatures above about 250°C the load carrying capacity of aluminium is seriously reduced.
It melts at about 650°C. Therefore, in that respect, if an aluminium structure is involved in a
ship fire, it can materially assist in the spread of fire by no longer acting as a fire boundary.
Fallen cables and other services that had been secured to the deckhead/bulkhead by
aluminium hangers, which are destroyed in fire, may seriously hamper firefighting measures”.

And the USN built a whole ship from it!

August 1, 2016 10:54 am

The problem with aluminium is its melting point is too low. If one has seen a burnt out all steel canal boat its hull and cabin top remain intact, with just some localised distortions. If you see a burnt out motor yacht the steel hull will be intact but the aluminium superstructure usually collapses in to the hull.

What burns is the stuff inside the ship like furniture, fuel and other flammable equipment.

August 1, 2016 11:12 am

That technically may not be a bad thing if you think of it sideways a bit. The energy needed to melt an object is energy no longer available to maintain the fire.

It’s like a crumple zone in a car. Sure it looks terrible and in reality can be called a “structural failure” but it is a designed structural failure intended to absorb the energy in an accident.

The flame triangle (fuel, oxidizer, energy) is needed to sustain burning, so by reducing the energy, it might actually cause the fire to die faster.

Provided it doesn’t burn a hole through the bottom of the boat first. :)

This is also why sprinklers spray water in a mist form instead of a jet of water, they suck out energy from the surroundings by forcing a change of state (liquid->gas).

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
August 1, 2016 11:13 am

One of the more notorious incidents of aluminium melting…

From this


to this
comment image

Completely non-combat induced, although being drenched in AVCAT from CV67 as a result of a close manoeuvring collision incident probably didn’t help.

Rocket Banana
August 1, 2016 11:47 am

Steel melts [edit: performance degrades, not turn to liquid] at about the same temperature that AVCAT burns – rocket engines burn even hotter.

So I would guess that DLG26 would have been a write-off even if it had been built from steel… the same conclusion we came to regarding the ships we lost in 1982. 9/11 unfortunately helps demonstrate this point.

I understand the idea of limiting the spread of fire, but this does not mean a whole ship must be built from steel… admittedly, the whole ship being built from aluminium is a little surprising.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
August 1, 2016 12:12 pm

RN deployments — are single vessel deployments really single vessel or is there a SSN close by?

Fair enough we are struggling for numbers but we are also struggling for deployments — 6 X T45 in the one picture was a huge debacle for the MOD / RN / UKMIC.

If we have single vessel deployments at what size and at what threat level does this situation breakdown?

5K tons?
7K tons?
9K tons?

My thoughts are that the Noah principle should be invoked.
The RN should travel 2 by 2.

Just a case of designing vessels that have a cost structure that will allow this.

The 5″ gun contract is not where we need to be.
I wonder what the net margin is on numbers like that?
The Italians must be crying into their Asti at numbers like that.
Home town boys win again.

That number has nothing to do with some sort of industrial strategy it is just organised theft from the working class.

As for the more immediate point — Alu in ships?
Put me down as a no on that one — simple is cheap.
Small might look cheap but simple is cheaper.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
August 1, 2016 12:14 pm

You don’t mix and match steel and ally unless you have no alternative. Joining them in an elastic, watertight, oiltight, gastight manner is far from cheap and/or easy. Lots of lovely dissimilar materials issues too, never mind the fire safety issues. When used on RN ships in small superstructure blocks, it’s usually because weight growth or some other compromise has eaten up design or through-life margin and you don’t have anywhere else 9cheap) to go.

Not a big fan of ally unless you’re talking high-speed craft – at which point it starts to make some sense.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
August 1, 2016 12:37 pm

NAB @ 12.14

Don’t mix Alu and steel?
Tell that to the D7a programme team.
Aluminium intensive architecture being their selling point because they reverted to steel for the rear floor pan as weight distribution was an issue and it was cheaper.
However that is world class automotive — fully competitive and exportable — and the debate here is around rentier capitalism and the local production of nativist gunboats.
One understands parametric design, variational geometry and platform engineering — part of the day job.
The other just puts out job specs pleading for someone to come along and explain it to them in crayon.
Ah the T26 gravy train just keeps rolling along.

August 1, 2016 12:58 pm

I shudder to think of the problems in a mixed aluminum/steel ship with regards to galvanitic corrosion in a marine environment full of salt.

My father does construction regarding water tanks and one of the dirty tricks he told me about in the industry is to substitute brass/alminum bolts for steel ones on steel tanks. The price quotation is lower so it looks more attractive but if you don’t keep an eye out for “steel nuts and bolts” and accept the lower quotation, in a few years time, you’re going to have to replace the whole tank. And it’s totally legal, after all, it was in the quotation in black and white. Caveat emptor.

That being said, if the problem is electron transfer, I wonder if insulator “breaks” in the construction could solve this problem.

Or just make the damn hull out of reinforced plastic.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
August 1, 2016 12:59 pm

Ah yes, that well known maritime vessel the Jaguar D7a. Hooching with gastight boundaries and bending moment values in the GNm range, continuously exposed to salt water environments and must provide life support to a hundred plus people.

Not that this invalidates some of your points re BAES, mind, but not the most relevant example frankly.

August 1, 2016 1:01 pm

Type-21 lessons leaned is well known:
(1) need lower center of gravity: This can be easily obtained if using ALL diesel propulsion in T31.
(2) need future growth margin: Yes, this is an issue.

Also, T31 key feature is to “build it cheap”. Note that this cost includes ship designing cost, which typically amounts to 2-3 hull cost.

I think Venator 110 frigate is “good” for T31. With 5in gun, 24 CAMM, a Wildcat hangar with Merlin capable flight deck and a hull sonar, it will be nice “light frigate”, as ANZAC (long-range) light frigate. The mission spaces at the stern as well as around the hangar can be regarded as “future growth margin”.

But, it is a “power-point” design and RN needs to pay the design cost. I hope RN has it, but maybe not.

If Cutlass, the only merit it has is that “Khareef is really there”. With limited modification to make it RN standard, the ship design cost will be not as much as 2 hull cost. To utilize this “merit”, on the other hand, I think RN shall keep the design as “Khareef-re-used” as possible. So, no 5in gun, no Merlin capable hangar, no Mk.41. Only take a 3in gun, 12 (I think must be 24) CAMM, a Wildcat hangar with Merlin capable flight deck and hull-sonar. The small mission space in mid-hull and the extended space on stern (to make the flight deck Merlin capable) shall be reserved for the “future growth margin”, as well.

And, I cannot imagine any case Avenger being a “frigate”.

Alternatively, RN shall abandon 13 frigates, and be happy with only 10-11 T26. This will surely require one standing task to be abandoned. Maybe making the Kipion on a single escort, not two.

These are the choices I can imagine now.

August 1, 2016 1:05 pm

Venator 110, Cutlass, Avneger, none of them are designed with Aluminum. Good, (because aluminum is expensive).

I have an experience designing a “box” with Aluminum, Steel and CFRP combined. Special care is needed to handle the big difference on thermal expansion rate. Actually, it (almost) dictated the design.

So, it is surely “doable” but “not easy”.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
August 1, 2016 1:20 pm

Potential zombie stat.

Tech per Kg — Jag D7a vs T26 / T45
My thoughts are a Jag win.

Look at the design staff numbers over a 4 year development programme. Look at material, computing power, complexity and build infrastructure.

Jag wins,wins,wins and then wins some more.

Cost per Kg — Jag D7a vs T26 / T31 / T36 ….

Jag = Starts at £20 per Kg including VAT.
T26 = Starts at £50 per kg and BWoS is holding out for £70.
Plus 80% of the systems will be second hand.

Something wrong somewhere.

August 1, 2016 1:22 pm

There is another factor in Type 31 cost considerations. The cost of recent RN ship procurement (Type 23,Astute and yes even Type 45) have all fallen significantly through the build run; the RN will be losing some of this by curtailing the Type 26 build; especially if they start spacing them. We also know that the design phase will turn out to be 9 digits. Type 31 is going to need to come in very cheap.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
August 1, 2016 1:23 pm

NAB @ 12.59

The issues you talk about sound very familiar.
Are you talking about an Alexander’s bus per chance?
Compact sports saloons are ten a penny at the moment.
Three axle double decks are in a world of their own.

Rocket Banana
August 1, 2016 2:38 pm


Does that not mean that the sensible starting point for the T31 is actually the T26 hull (perhaps without the MT30)?

Could we then fit a couple of 9MW diesels in the hull to get 22 knots or so on diesel alone?

stephen duckworth
stephen duckworth
August 1, 2016 2:58 pm

On aluminium
“And the USN built a whole ship from it!”
The USS Zumwalt has balsa wood cored superstructure ! Billions and billions on research and build and Mother Nature wins!

August 1, 2016 4:28 pm

Given the fact thast the government wants an off the shelf UK design that needs to operate independently east of Suez, then the only design can be the T26. An order of 10-11, could allow for 2 to be deployed East of Suez, with 1-2 in the CBG and occasional TAPS and FRE duties with the T45. I would stop at 3 Batch II Rivers for UK EEZ, and order 3-4 Avengers for WIGS, FIGS, APT(S) and Med.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
August 1, 2016 4:44 pm

“The USS Zumwalt has balsa wood cored superstructure ! Billions and billions on research and build and Mother Nature wins!”

Except that the last of these white elephants will have a steel superstructure to take cost out of the programme.

Taking the GT out of the T26 will do very little other than force a redesign of the entire propulsion system. Which will not be cheap………

The other little problem is that it will not reduce the displacement of the ship, which is the perceived (by halfwits) cause of the cost problem. So it won’t get approved either.

August 1, 2016 5:37 pm

That would be me, halfwit. :)

Though to be fair, I often use the displacement argument against people who ask why a Vanguard costs so much more than an Astute, with the key point not being displacement = cost but that the displacement, size and role of the Vanguard is in a drastically different category than an Astute.

August 1, 2016 5:38 pm

It doesn’t matter how I try and frame it; Type 31/GPFF seems like an incredibly stupid idea to the point of being reckless endangerment of the future of the RN surface fleet. Nobody has yet been able to explain how the RN is going to be able to concoct a credible combat capability on any notably cheaper ship than the Type 26. Frankly the noises I have heard suggest some people are living in fantasy land, whoever came up with the “21st century Type 21” notion needs to pick up a history book. In fact that would be a very good place to start; the RN has tried this three times (Type 14, Type 81, Type 21) in the post war period and the end result has always been poorly performing ships of little utility that have short lives with the RN and yet often end-up costing almost as much as building proper frigates. It’s like groundhog day but with the added madness of a Navy leadership that seems to have lost sight of what its priorities should be.

That 1SL is seriously talking in an open forum about forward deploying ships to Singapore is deeply troubling, what on earth does he think they could contribute? Perhaps Type 31 could carry COMPACFLT’s luggage? In the meantime the suggestion seems to be that we only need to provide adequate ASW capability to cover deterrent departures and returns and some protection to the deployed carrier group- as if we are pretending that the entire reawakening of the Russian submarine fleet isn’t happening (spoiler; it is).

Surely at some point in the next few years the required study work is going to find all of this out; the Type 31/GPFF vision will impact with reality and we will be back to square one; either that or the RN is suddenly going to execute the most remarkable procurement programme in its history, or considerably more likely we will end up with a dozen largely useless stretched OPVs.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour
August 1, 2016 6:05 pm

Pebble in the pond time.

The RN is currently trying to hack their way round the Old Course with 4 or 5 clubs in their bag.

Consequently things are not going well and it does not look pretty.

The RN / MOD need to get back to basics.
The current process is producing lame camel after lame camel.

The T45 debacle will be repeated when the carriers start to be used in earnest as their design issues — is that bulbous bow really off a submarine? — come to the fore and new ways of failure are invented.

The bottom line is that if we can’t flog the stuff to others then it is not good enough for the RN in the first place.

T26 has to go, enough is enough.

Start with the T30 — 2 pairs of platform technology demonstrators / mild Steel prototypes to get our hand in and then fire up the design team to 11 and get started on the new GP force extenders.

Platform architecture is the future.
Parametric design is the place to start.
Work out an CSA / Powertrain layout and get started.

Everything else is a make work scheme for the middle classes / profit generator for BWoS.

We desperately need data points.
What do you get for £100mill in the water?
What can be gained from carryover / second hand?

Cruising around the Med in a survey ship is a national disgrace.
We are being laughed at on a regular basis.