Type 31 Frigate Capabilities

From the history of the Type 31 Frigate page, it’s capabilities can be guessed at, but until designs and finalised and vessels commissioned we can only guess.

Positioning Type 31 GPFF

There is one reason and one reason only the Royal Navy and Ministry of Defence have changed from five Non TAS General Purpose Type 26 to five Type 31.


Before cost negotiations have finalised on Type 26 the MoD has decided that the cost of;

FIVE GP TYPE 26 is greater than FIVE TYPE 31

It is as simple as that.

Now this might be somewhat of a simplistic view and accepting running costs may be a significant part of the equation the logical conclusion is that the five Type 31 has to fit inside the cost envelope of five production GP Type 26 or what is the point?

There is also the potential for one drivers being a potential reduction in total frigate numbers due to a slow build rate on the T26 programme.

It is worth a reminder of the MoD’s approach to defining the acquisition of major projects, CADMID

  • Concept
  • Assessment
  • Manufacture
  • In Service
  • Disposal

Following this means that the CADM elements of Type 31 has to be less than the M element for 5 GP Type 26, as the diagram below shows.

Type 31 cost envelope1

Because the type 26 Manufacture phase costs are subject to much arguing discussion between BAE and the MOD, they are not known publicly, despite speculation in the media. There have been some clues in MoD Annual Accounts and the odd unguarded comment from officials that lead to an assumption that it lies somewhere between £500m and £1,000m per vessel but these have so much spread they are meaningless.

In extrapolating the cost envelope for Type 31 GPFF we can make an assumption that it is between £2.5 Billion and £5 billion, and if it is cheaper then it will satisfy the party line that Type 31 GPFF is lower than the cost of a Type 26 but having a better specification than a £130 odd million Batch II River Class OPV.

Although some pre-concept work has been carried out by the Maritime Capability (MARCAP) inside Naval Command Headquarters (NCHQ) what makes this doubly difficult is the ongoing uncertainty on the Manufacture contract for Type 26 AND the National Shipbuilding Strategy, scheduled for publication in 2017.

Jane’s have reported that the expected cost per vessel is £275 million to £375 million, funnily enough, about the same as some of the initial Type 26 figures bandied around in the media.

As covered in the first part of this series, the Royal Navy had implacably set its face against a two tier frigate fleet, indeed, it was widely reported that Admiral Sir Gorge Zambellas would have an ‘allergic reaction’ to anyone mentioning the C word, corvette!

In an interview for Jane’s, he said;

One of the siren calls I completely resist is to try and produce something that is not a credible platform, something that is smaller, cheaper, and less effective. The reason for that is that in the first world that I live in, credible capability could one day be doing counter-piracy operations, the next week it could be in a hot war in the Gulf, and the week after in a hot war somewhere else.

Credibility is a nebulous concept, all we can say for certain is that the Type 31 GPFF will exist on a point between the Batch II River Class OPV and the Type 26 Frigate

Type 31 Spectrum

In the middle, will be trade-offs between capability, cost and quantity.

Despite the undoubted export success of the River Class, the Type 31 is the ‘Great White Hope’ of naval vessel exporting. Despite serious interest in Type 26 from Canada, Australia and Germany, it is assumed Type 26 is not a viable export prospect, but Type 31 will be.

Personally, I think this is fantasy, but time will tell and I may well have to eat/delete my words.

Weight versus Cost

Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, it seems that many in the MoD, Treasury and even the Royal Navy assume a relationship between weight and cost.

This has manifested in a number of comments about Type 31 GPFF being referred to as smaller, lighter and more flexible than Type 26, and therefore cheaper.

This inability to understand, wilful ignorance of, the cost drivers for complex warships is worrying.

After many decades of acquisition transformation the MoD is apparently no closer to being an ‘intelligent customer’ that can challenge our monopoly manufacturer, BAE Systems.

A more flexible and cheaper design may well actually be larger than a Type 26 but evidently, it won’t be.

Mind the Gap

The oldest Type 23 is due out of service in 2023 (HMS Argyle) with the rest following as Type 26 comes into service although the MoD has not published how this may be integrated with Type 31.

The youngest Type 23 has an out of service date of 2035 so changes to those dates accepted, the Type 26 will be a long programme and for many years, the Royal Navy will operate with a mixed type 23 and Type 26/31 fleet.

Ship Out of Service Date
HMS Argyll 2023
HMS Lancaster 2024
HMS Iron Duke 2025
HMS Monmouth 2026
HMS Montrose 2027
HMS Westminster 2028
HMS Northumberland 2029
HMS Richmond 2030
HMS Somerset 2031
HMS Sutherland 2032
HMS Kent 2033
HMS Portland 2034
HMS St Albans 2035

It is now assumed that the First Type 26 will not enter service until 2025, three years after the first planned Type 23 OSD.

Unless Type 31 can make up the pace, or those two Type 23’s can be life extended, a fleet reduction seems difficult to avoid.

Again, this seems to be one of the drivers for T31e.

The National Shipbuilding Strategy will also have to address what comes after Type 31 and Type 26, especially if Type 31 involves construction and investment in English yards.

Given the announcement that the SNP is to seek a second independence referendum, this added complication is unwanted by the Royal Navy.

Early Design Concepts

Early indications are that the Type 31 GPFF will focus on above water capability in a low to medium threat environment meaning only a basic ASW  and self defence capability.

i.e. a Two Tier Fleet

One thing is certain, it will not have the combat capabilities and survivability of Type 26.

This would suggest;

  • A flight deck for Merlin and hangar for Wildcat
  • Medium calibre gun
  • Self defence anti air missiles
  • Small calibre automatic weapons
  • Basic sensors
  • Small craft and UUV/USV handling capability
  • Embarked personnel accommodation
  • Communications interoperability

For reference…

The River Class Batch II OPV



Type 26 Frigate

Type 26 GCS 01

Whilst the MoD is still engaged with pre-concept work, a few manufacturers have been conducting general positioning activity.

BAE Cutlass

Derived from the Project Khareef Corvette, the Cutlass design is 117m long.

BAE Type 31 Cutlass

The image shows an ARTISAN radar and 5″ main gun, with covered spaces for small craft. Additional improvements include much improved survivability, greater endurance and an ability to be replenished at sea.

BAE Avenger

At a lower price/capability point than Cutlass, the Avenger is more or less and stretched and improved Batch II River Class

BAE Type 31 Avenger

The 111m Avenger is longer and wider than a Batch II River Class OPV that allows for a small hangar and space/launch and recovery systems for a number of small and unmanned craft. The image would also seem to indicate ARTISAN radar and a Mk 45 Mod 4 5″ main gun for naval gunfire support.

BMT Venator 110

The MT Venator concept has been evolving for some time, the latest iteration is the Venator 110.


BMT Venator 110 Image 1

Whilst the BAE offerings are clearly derived from existing designs, the Venator 110 seems to be a clean sheet design, or a C3 PLUS, to coin a phrase.

Vital stats include

  • Length (overall) 117m
  • Draught 4.3m
  • Displacement 4,000 tonnes
  • Maximum beam 18m
  • Top speed >25 knots
  • Range >7,000 Nautical Miles at 15 knots
  • Crew size 85 personnel
  • Total accommodation provision 106+18 personnel
  • Side launched RHIBs, with a third large RHIB within a stern ramp facility
  • Flexible mission bay
  • Flight deck and hangar

Additional images

Steller Systems Project Spartan

A small design house, Steller Systems, have also proposed a design call Project Spartan.

The Nodal Modular Physical Architecture approach to the design allows for configurable options. Each node has the ability to accept different systems; for example a customer may wish to have a simple 30 mm Small Calibre Gun system in place of the forward Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS), or place a SeaRAM or Phalanx in this position.

Images below;

Table of Contents

BAE Type 31 Cutlass - Copy Introduction
HMS Tyne Type 31 History 
 BMT Venator 110 Image 2 Type 31 Capabilities


  1. TAS says

    Word on the street is that T26 cost overrun is a result of failures in the design process and shortfalls in the contract specification, leading to costly redesign even at this early stage. What hope for a cost-effective T31?

  2. CED says

    Every time I read about UK military programs, especially Royal Navy programs. There is two words that always seems to come to mind: “Yes, Minister.”

  3. MSR says

    The only logical reason I can think of for ditching a big capable upgradeable platform like Type 26 and going for, as TD puts it, a half-way house between the River B2 and Type 26 is if we could have something like ten or more of the Type 31s. Quantity, in this instance, would trump individual quality because the RN is certainly struggling to maintain presence and meet commitments, and has no reserve.

    But that is not what is being offered.

    TD notes that the MoD’s cost equation and, therefore, justification for this spurious project looks like this: cost of 5 x T26 > cost of 5 x T31

    I’d much rather have four, or even just three, or… hell… just two more Type 26 than any number of Type 31! Type 31 is just too close to the OPV mission, and not serious enough to pick up the slack of a depleted frigate force.

    Type 31 will herald the RN’s entry into the ‘corvette’ club.

    If the remaining non-TAS Type 26 are going to be so expensive, then why not just build three of them and strip as much as possible off, the idea being to create UK versions of the Absalon design. That big multimission space at the back that has caused so many headaches and, apparently, resulted in so much design and demonstration cost, would be ideal.

    Absalon is basically a globe trotting colonial gunboat with upgrade slots. I would take three of those over 5 ‘corvettes’ that are neither small and cheap enough to use as OPVs, nor big and well enough protected to use as frigates against any halfway serious adversary. The sophistication of off-the-shelf weapons has gone way up in recent decades, and commercial technology is increasingly capable of stepping into that arena, widening the possible threat spectrum, enormously. The sophistication of anything we send in their way has got to equal that threat, and some piddling little corvette with delusions of anti-surface warfare is going to generate some horrible headlines, one day.

    Sure, other countries use ‘corvettes’, notably the French. Their doctrine, their commitments are different. And no one really knows how seriously the MN rates the survivability of their various corvettes. That would be a state secret, of course. So you’ve got to wonder: are they are serious warfighting concern? Or are they a bluff/deterrent?

    Would Type 31 be anything more than an expensive waste of treasure, blood and reputation to achieve a small grey hull that can’t do much more than defend itself against the odd MANPAD or MG-armed bog hammer, nor “deliver effects ashore” more effectively than an Austal passenger ferry embarking a troop of Royal Marines?

  4. HMArmedForcesReview says

    If the full order of the Type 26 wasnt placed down, they wouldn’t budge from the 13 frigate number. They promised more frigates in the 2030s (very unwise but what to do) but as pledges go, they can easily be changed before you count to 1.

    So in both scenarios, the Royal Navy loses and the the other services especially the RAF are better off.

  5. 40 deg south says

    Jesus wept!
    Reading TD’s excellent ‘History’ pieces makes me realise that while the British private sector might have moved beyond the Morris Marina era, the government clearly hasn’t.
    NZ will be looking for two (or, touch wood, three) frigates towards the end of the 2020s, but I’s rate our new and highly capable Korean friends as far more likely to pick up the contract than either the T26 or T31, whatever they eventually emerge looking like.
    (Shakes head, sips beer, reviews latest footage of All Blacks thumping Australia with grim satisfaction)

  6. Bruce S. Conklin says

    Well said, MSR. Corvettes are death traps….. even in calm waters. In heavy seas, they are nearly useless.

  7. johnno says

    Australia has shortlisted 3 designs for its ANZAC Frigate replacement project of potentially 9 vessels.
    The shortlist is:
    The Type 26
    The Italian version of he FREMM; and
    The new Spanish frigate design.
    The timescale requires a start around 2020 so a design selection will be made in the next 2 years.
    The way the UK is going on the Type 26 isn’t exactly enhancing its prospects.


  8. S O says

    “FIVE TYPE 26 “, not “<".
    26 < 31 means lower (smaller) costs for Type 26 than for Type 31.

    Besides, cost estimates, expectations, promised, hopes et cetera this early in a military procurement program are clearly not worth paying attention to.

  9. Hohum says

    Its a stupid, ill-considered knee-jerk programme concocted on the back of an envelope. It is all the alarming characteristics of the 2010 carrier conversion plan.

  10. Fluffy thoughts@gmail.com says

    Compare with the classic Leander-class: Why cannot Type-31 work?

  11. Repulse says

    The problem is that the decision on design and capability cannot be made in the absence of the fact that the BAE yard needs work to keep it going until the T26 is ready for build and has already been promised the T31 by the old PM. I suspect it’ll need additional work during the build of the first also. In parallel we have the significant manpower issues the RN is experiencing and the expense of keeping the aging T23 going.

    I cannot see a single solution based on where we are that will solve the short term needs and give the RN what it needs longer term.

    I see a potential “solution” in three parts:
    – Short term, scrap 3 GP T23s and stop the Batch 2 River build at the current 3. Instead, build 3 Avenger Class (reusing kit from the T23s including the 114mm guns) and keep the 3 Batch 1 Rivers. The Avengers can be forward based for FIGS, WIGS and APT(S). This would provide BAE with work, relieve manpower issues and should cost @£600mn.
    – Increase the T26 order to 10 ASW versions. This is needed to face the increased ASW threat, but also stop the need to over design the ultimate T31 design. Cost @£1.5bn
    – Take time (and cash saved) to design a combined Patrol Frigate and global mother ship for the future MCM / Survey capability. This is not necessarily the only platform for these technologies, as cheaper commercial designs / OPVs could also be used I low threat / UK environments, but would be capable of independent global operations and working with the Carrier / Amphibious group. Let’s call it MHPC and base it on an extended Venator 90 design to be built in the late 2020’s by English yards :)

  12. JohnHartley says

    Well I have said it before, but there should be a big notice on the wall at MoD/Treasury, saying “Do not start a new frigate/destroyer/SSN class, unless you are willing to buy at least ten of them”. Otherwise the R&D costs make even an economical design look expensive.
    10 T31 + 10 T26 + 6 upgraded T45, would return the RN surface fleet to a minimum credible capability.
    The cry will be “no money”, but if we did this, we might get some T26/T31 exports, as foreign buyers would see the economies of scale and our confidence in these designs.

  13. Chris Mitchell says

    Hi my opinion is simple remove BA e and department of defense from the equation we cannot afford either, Babcock’s can offer a commercial off the shelf solution as they did for the Irish Navy all it needs is stealth, a hanger for a wildcat and 95 Meter length the Venetor 110 could be a good start

  14. Repulse says

    @MSR: “Type 31 will herald the RN’s entry into the ‘corvette’ club.” Technically, its re-entry to the Corvette club, as the RN had plenty into the 1950’s. However they were called “sloop-of-war”s, the Black Swan class being a WW2 example.

    I actually think a modern “sloop-of-war” has an important place in the RN as a globally deployable (independtly or as part if the CSG) Patrol / Surveillance / MHC mother ship; in fact the old MHPC concept. This is what the T31 should really be.

    To act independently it still needs Artisan / Camm, Medium Gun, Lynx hangar plus optional ASuW capability. It could also act as part of an escort group or in Littoral region with an ARG.

    What it isn’t and shouldn’t be is a world class ASW ship nor fitted with ground attack strike tubes, that’s the T26 – which is why the RN should aim for 10 T26s first.

  15. Stu W says

    MoD need to apply lessons learnt from previous projects and number one on that list has to be stop dicking about. Sure you may make one bad decision in 10 but that’s better than no decisions at all. The procrastination doesn’t stop the bad decision, case in point is type 45 propulsion. We could have been building a version of type 26 without the bells and whistles instead of OPV’s. Just make sure they have space/power for future upgrades.

  16. Rocket Banana says

    Not intending to insult, but what exactly do our current FF/DD actually do?

    Is it not sensible to build a surveillance platform rather than an escort/warship? In other words build the MQ9 of the oceans rather than another Typhoon?

  17. DavidNiven says

    Have we not muddied the waters by labeling the Type 31 a ‘Frigate’. We already have a very capable multi mission vessel that has proven itself and has been sent on missions short of war on it’s own, it’s a Bay class.

    Would a second batch of Bay’s with a permanent hangar cover the Type 31 mission and allow a slightly larger buy of Type 26?

  18. MSR says


    Its a stupid, ill-considered knee-jerk programme concocted on the back of an envelope. It is all the alarming characteristics of the 2010 carrier conversion plan.

    Hopefully it’ll go the same way.


    @MSR: “Type 31 will herald the RN’s entry into the ‘corvette’ club.” Technically, its re-entry to the Corvette club, as the RN had plenty into the 1950’s. However they were called “sloop-of-war”s, the Black Swan class being a WW2 example.

    To act independently it still needs Artisan / Camm, Medium Gun, Lynx hangar plus optional ASuW capability. It could also act as part of an escort group or in Littoral region with an ARG.

    Problem is, I define a 1950’s Sloop of War as being the thing that evolved into modern OPVs. That’s what happened to sloops. They were overtaken by the march of technology, and you’ve illustrated that point for me in the second paragraph of the quote: small ships need so much equipment to survive in the modern theatre that you simply can’t do cost-effective and operationally effective globally deployable major warships that can sustain themselves, or that can keep pace with bigger, high value assets as part of a task force in anything other than the most benign weather in anything less than about 5k tons (remember pictures of T22s taking it green in South Atlantic seas as they steamed alongside the carriers? Could a T31 keep up in that weather?).

    Anything else is a patrol vessel/coastguard cutter/OPV. The typical characteristics of these are that they are usually gun armed, with a basic surface search and fire control radar. Police boats. Some have hangars; most just have a landing pad; some just a winching zone. None have SAM armaments like CAMM. They closest any get is a platform for a bloke to stand on while he operates a MANPAD (the French Floreals, for example, have such a platform).

    There is only one other category, and that’s the Light Frigate of the sort people like Morocco have been buying off the Danes who make those marvellous, scaleable SIGMA designs. The small ones are between 1.5k to 3k and have minimal gun and missile armaments (76mm and one of those horizontal racks of Mistrals that remind me of early machine gun designs), they have a flight deck and maybe a small hangar and perhaps a brace of Exocet. They are corvettes. They never stray far from home and they exist primarily to,fly the flag in peace, and to trip the enemy up in war, giving the homeland time to notice there’s a problem and deploy their serious military assets to counter it.

    The RN does not need corvettes because it does not need sacrificial warships whose only virtue is to soak up the enemy’s ammunition. OPVs are fine – we know what to do with those. MCM vessels combined with survey and patrol capabilities are fine – those are clearly defined roles and with no expensive mission creep. Corvettes are neither one thing or the other and they suffer from huge mission creep because things like ASuW missiles, air search radars and the software to run it all costs way more than the platform is inherently worth.

    Corvettes are frigates for paupers who can’t afford real ones.

    Sloops of War evolved into OPVs just like dinosaurs evolved into birds. They became small and efficient and very good at what they do. You’ll never see a blackbird trying to take down a wildebeast just like you’ll never see an OPV trying to hunt a submarine, or provide NGFS.

  19. Think Defence says

    One of the intriguing things for me in this is where on the spectrum it falls, too close to River OPV and it becomes a basic OPV with a few bells and whistles, or a corvette. To close to T26 and you are filling it with expensive gear like ECM, ARTISAN, CAMM and Mk45 Mod 4 to make it in any way credible. This makes the ratio of ‘ship’ to ‘payload’ to skewed, all that expensive gear and not enough platform to exploit it.

    In short, piss poor value for money.

    Also, how can we confidently predict that the M for 5x Type 26 GP in CADMID terms is less than CADM for 5x Type 31 when we don’t actually know what the M for Type 26 is.

    We seem to be absolutely confident that we can deliver exactly the kind of adjectives used in the early days of T26 for T31, repeating the same actions and expecting a different outcome is the height on insanity!

    Concept and Assessment has cost us about £1.5 billion so far for T26 (although to be fair, that does include lots of gear for the manufacture of the first three and some test facilities etc)

    This to me points to an extremely low risk, near off the shelf solution, and if I were a betting ma, River Batch III. I predicted this after SDSR 2015, hope the MoD proves me massively wrong

    And, given we don’t seem to have actually ordered the additional two Batch 2 Rivers, could those be converted into orders for the first two Type 31’s?

  20. Rocket Banana says

    If River B3 is Avenger then you could be right.

  21. Repulse says

    @MSR: ”Sloops of War evolved into OPVs just like dinosaurs evolved into birds.”

    Up to about 5 years ago I’d have agreed with you, outside of Destroyers and Frigates the RN had OPVs, MCMs and Survey Ships.

    The world is changing though and the dawn of multirole ship is here, where the base capability of an OPV is fine for low threat environments such as the UK EEZ, but to have a ship operating globally and most likely independently, it needs more. It definately needs more than a River Batch 2 or a Bay Class. Sure, call this a frigate if you want, but unless the government significantly increases the budget expect a globally deployable Navy of less than 25 ships. For me its a modern day “sloop-of-war”, this is what the T31 should be.

  22. Think Defence says

    Also, if there is no specific ASW role for T31 which needs a lot of platform optimisation, as DN quite rightly says, how about a Bay class with a big gun.

    Or maybe something similar.

    If we want flexible and cheap, maybe the route to that flexibility and low cost is having lots of space and a low fit out density

    Think we need NaB, TAS and APATS to guide us!!!

    I honestly don’t know what to think of all this, although I think it is pretty depressing in the round

  23. Mark says

    Think everyone needs to relise not matter what pleading and hoping we are not buying anymore than 8 type 26.
    The Spanish BAMS vessel was always an interesting vessel for overseas presence.

    I do find a number of similarities between the discussions of why this ship needs to be type 26 esq and the arguments by a number of airforce people 10 years ago about why reaper uavs were not relevant to modern combat because they were not survivable.

  24. Think Defence says

    Interesting point Mark, same as MRAP’s and conventional conflict

    The simple fact is, you need both, but what happens if you can’t afford both?

  25. Mark says

    I think you can afford both provided you accept there will be a limit on the scale and sustainability of your high end force. I think sdsr tried that scaling the navy at a single carrier group.

    I also think the lower end of conflict scale is significantly more important than anytime in a generation and that’s likely to increase from here.

    Does the responsibility for dealing with it lie with the military or should the budget and responsibility transferred to another organisation, debatable but to me it should be military.

  26. Julian says

    Naive beginners question…. I’ve seen a few comments along the lines of “let’s not build the final 2 (hulls 4 & 5) River batch 2s but instead put the money towards the T31 program”. If that were to happen then does that mandate a BAE T31 design (e.g. Cutlass or Avenger) because those Batch 2 Rivers are to fulfill contractual obligations to BAE or could some other design (e.g. BMT Venator 110) be built but on the Clyde with BAE as prime contractor?

  27. Don says

    Essential elements should be good speed, range, endurance and be big enough with free spaces to allow for upgrading of weapons and sensors through its lifetime. Also space for extra crew to operate any upgrades.
    Once they get this right it should be easier to add “Bells and Whistles” as budgets allow and operational demands change.

  28. crj says

    Many thanks for your work TD, it makes fascinating, though rather depressing, reading. I think perhaps the RN approached this whole program from the wrong angle: they should have asked for a fleet of 20 nuclear powered LO battleships, bristling with rail guns, lasers, and hypersonic missiles. Then they might have been offered 13 T26 as a consolation prize….

  29. shark bait says

    I think the only way we will see some value out of the T31 folly is if we can deliver a platform that can actually escort. Any platform can perform presence and maritime security operations, the value is found in a platform that can be a credible escort.

    There is a clear shortage of escorts within the Royal Navy, highlighted most plainly here; the T26 will give the Royal Navy only 2.5 sub hunters available to to protect a continuous nuclear deterrent and carrier strike. Looking at the demands we place on the navy 2.5 ASW escorts is clearly not enough, and this is before we have begun to consider our other commitments.

    So what does it mean to be a credible escort? I think it needs to have stopping power against all three domains, air, surface, and submarine.

    The first two should be easily achievable, we already have some low invasive solutions that could be fitted to any platform enabling the minimum credible AAW and ASuW needed to escort. That would come in the form of CAMM and Artisan, as well as modern deck launched anti ship missiles, such as the NSM.

    The next one, ASW is the more difficult one to achieve, but there is huge value to be found by doing so. Consider that 40 nations poses subs, some of them not so stable, some not so west friendly, and the technology is proliferating like never before. Understanding the Argentine and Lybian subs gave the best ASW crews a run for their money really demonstrates the threat.

    Subs pose the biggest risk to the freedom of movement to the Royal Navy, and therefore the freedom to best protect the UK’s interests. There is little wonder the other 3 big navies in NATO are building their light frigates with ASW capabilities, so should we.

    If we are a nation building a navy to respond to the threats and challenges faced by operating a carrier and nuclear deterrent, they would be built with at least a CAPTAS 2 type sonar, instead of only building one that responds to the fiscal challenges.

    This last one could be achievable if it was made a priority, but only one platform above would be capable. The Venator 110 has a stern ramp, and mission bay under the flight deck, a towed sonar could be launched. A simple diesel electric propulsion and Merlin hangar on top and we have the basics of a light ASW frigate.

    If we take a snap shot of the four biggest navys within NATO, all of them are building light frigates, and out of them we are the only one building them without ASW capabilities. Are we the ones making a big mistake?

    The Venator 110 is the only design on the ‘short list’ that could become a credible escort with;
    *A 76mm gun on the front,
    *Soft VLS in the missle for CAMM and even Spear,
    *A Merlin hangar with deck launched NSM on the roof,
    *Finally CAPTAS 2 at the rear.
    With that we have a frigate that will be fully capable of the patrol and maritime security tasks around the globe, but equally able to embark some specialist ASW crew and protect the carriers or deterrent.

    Its what the Royal Navy needs. Without the ability to escort there is no point in wasting money on complex warship construction. The money would be better spent on a “Bay class with a big gun”, or SSK’s or P8’s or Patria AMV’s

  30. Nathan says

    The solution to cheap SSKs cannot be expensive frigates. The US (DARPA) has realised this and are developing the ACTUV unmanned sub hunter. Their aim is to make this deterent for one-tenth the cost of an enemy’s SSK.

    Speed: 27 knots
    Endurance: 60-90 days

    If we funded our own ACTUV program instead of the T-31 it would benefit ASW, MCM, hyrographic survey and have lots of commercial spin-off potential. If export potential is a real priority, this would generate a much greater return on investment than T-31 ever will.

    Build the T-26 for its do-everything potential but quietly kill the T-31 by kicking it into the long grass saying it will be built “sometime after T-26”. Then keep all River batch 1+2s in service for low-level duties (counter piracy/narcotics) but give them each a camcopter or scan eagle.


  31. Repulse says

    @Don: “… and be big enough with free spaces to allow for upgrading of weapons and sensors through its lifetime. Also space for extra crew to operate any upgrades.”

    Whilst I agree that this should be a condition for first raters (T45/T23) I think that “space for growth” should not be a key driver in the T31 design. I’d actually go for a cheaper design with a more limited lifespan (say 20 yrs) to not only ensure a future pipeline (build and design), improve speed but also to get the ship ready for build as soon as possible. Also, if this is going to be the UK Export saviour it needs to be able to operate in shallower waters and smaller ports also IMO.

  32. ArmChairCivvy says

    I already voted the whole of this comment up, but the gist is worth repeating separately:

    “If the remaining non-TAS Type 26 are going to be so expensive, then why not just build three of them and strip as much as possible off, the idea being to create UK versions of the Absalon design. That big multimission space at the back that has caused so many headaches and, apparently, resulted in so much design and demonstration cost, would be ideal.

    Absalon is basically a globe trotting colonial gunboat with upgrade slots. I would take three of those over 5 ‘corvettes’ that are neither small and cheap enough to use as OPVs, nor big and well enough protected to use as frigates against any halfway serious adversary. The sophistication of off-the-shelf weapons has gone way up in recent decades, and commercial technology is increasingly capable of stepping into that arena, widening the possible threat spectrum, enormously. The sophistication of anything we send in their way has got to equal that threat”

    This avenue would also solve the problem of company-sized amphibious raids/ evacuations (would take two of the class to be concentrated into the same area) which with the current amphibs would be tricky to organise anywhere else than in the Med/ the vicinity of the Gulf. All three Bays are gainfully employed and that only leaves the on-duty Albion (overkill, and would probably have to sail from home port, so talking about an impromptu raid/ evacuation becomes very much less so, in reality).

    Some thoughts on the leading-in piece:
    – I think I have already seen a version of that pasted-in OSD table with the last entry having 2036 against it?

    – the comment on understanding cost drivers is certainly valid, but I have an inkling that with a bigger hull size both installed power and through-life fuel costs will go up. No idea how that would play into the overall cost (say, proc being a third of the 100%)?

  33. Don says

    @repulse you make a very valid point on “space for growth”.

  34. Rocket Banana says

    With 4 x T45 and 8 x T26 we should be able to field an AAW destroyer and two ASW frigates with the carrier. In addition we should also be able to deliver TAPS, FRE and another ship in UK waters for ASW training.

    Adding a couple more T45 allows either a AAW training ship or a second AAW destroyer with the carrier group.

    When the balloon goes up we should be able to field 4 x T26 and 2-3 x T45 relatively quickly.

    To me, this is a highly credible peace-time and war-time task group.

    What we need in addition to this is globally deployable presence ships. In my mind they really only need to bob about in the water with a hull sonar and EM/radio receivers. They do however need to field a Wildcat. Above this they should be kitted out to supplement the task force in wartime which means NGFS, ASuW and possibly land strike missiles. They will sit under the cover of a T45 (and carrier) for air defence and sit over the cover of four T26, a couple of SSN, and a squadron of Merlin for sub defence.

    What it doesn’t really give us is the ability to defend an ARG in addition to the CBG.

  35. Donald_of_Tokyo says

    1: I have a question. I could not see “the overwhelming evidence to the contrary” to “assume a relationship between weight and cost”. Are there any good example not following this scale?

    “Steal is cheap and air is free” argument is true only if you keep the space vacant. But, I’m afraid MOD/RN is “designing the ship to its size”, refusing to mitigate the requirement lists to fit within the cost. Thus, I do not think Absalon, althouth a good ship as itself, if built in RN standard will be as expensive as their weight scaled.

    2: On T31, I still have 2 options in mind.
    option-1: build 8 T26ASW and 5 T31, as Venator 110, as shark bait-san saids. I still think this is possible, but waiting for the “requirements list” to show up later to see if it is “feasible” or not.

    option-2: build 10 T26ASW and 3 heavy OPV as “Patrol Frigates”, to replace 13 T23s.

    The “Patrol Frigate” here is a River B2 extended for 10m (~2400t FL), added with a Wildcat hangar, 20mm CIWS, 7000nm range @15kt, 4-8 SSMs (the same as T23mod) FFBNW, a 3in gun (re-used) and 2x 30mm SeaHawk sigma mounts with LMM (to be added with StarStreak).

    # Also pretend “CAMM FFBNW” for export. (by ditching the 7000nm range, it will be doable within the 100m hull, for export).

    It is more like a Floreal, with heavily armed Wildcat (LMM/SeaVenom) as the main weapon. No CAMM, no “22m long extension”. Much more River OPV than the Avenger –> less new design-work and as cheap as 140M GBP/hull or less. Less design means “can start NOW = late 2016”, so we can order them “in place of the 2 additional Rivers”. It MUST also be accompanied by stopping 3 T23 LIFEX work. Thus, the money allocated for the 2 Rivers (~200M GBP) and 3 T23 modifications (150-300M GBP, do anyone know?), will provide most of the 3 Patrol Frigates’ cost. It will also solve (in somewhat unhappy style) the manpower crysis of escort crew.

    What will these ships do? Accept to use it for Fleet ready escort. Accept to use it for APT-S. Send it to Anti-Pirates operations to show the flag. In real war, use it for plane guard (1 hull) and FRE (1 hull, on home water).

  36. DavidNiven says

    Admiral Sir Philip Jones,

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

    This is a tacit acknowledgement that the Type 26 will not be very exportable for whatever reason, so one of the main drivers for the Type 31 will be it’s exportability. As most major NATO countries build their own surface combatants who are our potential buyers? Whatever they are buying or looking for will pretty much decide what the Type 31 will become. If the final product looks like a very fighty corvette will we really be saving any money?

  37. mickp says

    @Simon “With 4 x T45 and 8 x T26 we should be able to field an AAW destroyer and two ASW frigates with the carrier. In addition we should also be able to deliver TAPS, FRE and another ship in UK waters for ASW training.

    Adding a couple more T45 allows either a AAW training ship or a second AAW destroyer with the carrier group.”

    That to me is the crux of this and should be the driver of any so called T31. At a strategic level it has been determined that the key war fighting structure of the RN should be determined by the ability filed a carrier group and secure the CASD – nothing more. That by default needs high end capabilities. I assume that has led to an assessment that those requirements can be met by 6 T45s and 8 TAS T26s. One could challenge that but let’s park it. In peacetime the 6+8 high end provides sufficient numbers to meet our obligations in the Gulf (the only ‘hot’ deployment). After that we only need further hulls to meet peace time / low intensity patrol / standing task commitments. It has been assessed previously that a further 5 FFs was sufficient to meet those requirements although recent times have seen the low end demands stretched with RFAs, Hydro ships, border force cutters all filling the gaps and frankly making us look a bit desperate. So I conclude we need more than 19 hulls and we are not going to get that by trying to turn the T31 into a ‘T26 light’. I personally would go down the lowest cost fastest route to 6 ‘light frigates’ (more appropriately ocean capable patrol vessels). I’d start with B2 River and add a small hanger for embarked (weaponised) wildcat / UAV, medium gun (57 or 76 most likely), couple of 30mm sea hawk sigma mounts, .50 cals and miniguns. I would not go artisan and camm unless we could get a really good deal, I’d just mount a CIWS / SeaRAM on the hanger with decoys. That’s an armament commensurate with a USCG NSC, keep it lean manned. That will do, its utility is endurance, patrol, presence and standing task cover in the event of war. If we need more fighty ships, then that should change the assessments on T26 numbers – at least the T26 line will be open for many years. I would add one extra T26 TAS to the build sort hat leaves me with

    6 T45
    6 ‘T31 Avenger type’
    5 B3 Rivers

    Giving an increase in hulls of 3 from what we have now

  38. jedibeeftrix says

    @ MSR – “If the remaining non-TAS Type 26 are going to be so expensive, then why not just build three of them and strip as much as possible off, the idea being to create UK versions of the Absalon design. That big multimission space at the back that has caused so many headaches and, apparently, resulted in so much design and demonstration cost, would be ideal.”

    T31 only males sense if it delivers a significant uplift in numbers, and even then I would still rather have the above then anything less than: 6x T45 / 9x T26 (ASW) / 6x T31. Anything less sinply isn’t worth it.

  39. mickp says

    @Donald Of Tokyo – we are very similar on specifications. Armament wise to get the numbers and keep in manning targets, its LCS / NSC territory. Emphasis on simple design, low cost, very decent range / habitations standard and decent sensor fit. That’s more like a ‘Batch 2a’ River possibly than a B3 Avenger. No corvette pretensions and no middle ground fudge – if the RN needs more fighty ships, its more T26.

  40. Steve Coltman says

    It makes one despair! I think the RN (or rather the UK) needs a decent fleet of Ocean-going patrol vessels like the Dutch Holland class, £100m each or so (probably more if made by BAES) because constabulary duties are (a) important and (b) require numbers. No way can constabulary duties be done by £500m+ warships, there will never be enough. At the same time if we are to protect the carriers and the deterrent etc. from the worst that the Russians can threaten us with we will need warships as good as we can design them. They will inevitably be expensive (FREMM is €600m+) and we will need a certain number of them, more than 2-3 operational at any one time. What we do NOT need is anything in between – too expensive for constabulary duties and not good enough to be anything more than target practice for the Russians. This seems exactly what the T31 is shaping up to be. The government simply will not spend the money needed and because of that they are wasting some of the money they are planning to spend.

  41. S O says

    “The solution to cheap SSKs cannot be expensive frigates.”
    SSKs are not really the problem, SSIs are. The air-independent conventional attack subs.
    And those are not cheap (nor were capable SSKs).

    Tiny motor yachts with or without crew are no useful answer to SSIs. Any equipment that makes them somewhat capable in ASW will cost EUR 50+ million, since this would be the equipment of an ASW helicopter (dipping sonar, sonobuoys, lightweight torpedoes, radar, ESM etc.).

  42. TAS says

    Type 26 has been a design farce on the same scale as Astute and Type 45. There is absolutely no excuse for this. Nothing in the T26 design is complicated. The sensors and systems are already in service and proven. The propulsion is mostly COTS/MOTS. The cost explosion has been for what? A ‘mission bay’ that is nothing more than a large compartment with a crane? A complex warship – that will in fact be no more complicated than a Type 23? None of these costs are related to integrating complex systems – because they have already been integrated into the combat system that will operate them. And yet as a result we have already seen massive compromises in design – like no torpedo launch system, either for torpedoes or the new generation of anti-torpedo munitions. I’m sure some ‘maritime design experts’ will appear and tell me it’s all terribly difficult – well experience as an operator tells me it isn’t. Type 26 should have been no more complicated than a refreshed Type 23. It’s a joke.

    And on that basis, there is nothing whatsoever to prevent the same cockup with Type 31. None of the design proposals above have any maturity – they exist on Powerpoint and little else. The BAE designs are all modified RIvers/Khareefs, those minor warships with such illustrious design histories. Venator doesn’t even have that advantage. Bringing any of them up to standard – i.e. they don’t overheat in hot climates, they have the right security precautions for the processing of classified data, they have RAS rigs that work, etc – will cost the same amount of money as it did to turn a Type 26 Powerpoint into reality. As incomprehensible as it seems, this is where the costs come from – not the steel, not the engines, not even the weapons but the holistic ability to design a warship, as opposed to a yacht.

    The only way I see Type 31 being both a) cheaper and b) an effective warship is to order Type 26 Batch 2. With all the design costs already expended and incorporated into the cost of the first eight hulls, the remaining hulls will be cheaper (especially if we’ve sold a few). Don’t change a single rivet. The entirety of the defence community knows this, and by doing it this way BAE have no excuses. We proved it with Type 45 – six hulls for the price of twelve. I’d bet a lot on a T26 Batch 2 being cheaper than a newly designed T31.

    Trying to design again from scratch is an invitation for the defence industry to once again take full advantage of a completely inept naval design office, MOD and Naval procurement.

  43. Donald_of_Tokyo says

    “The only way I see Type 31 being both a) cheaper and b) an effective warship is to order Type 26 Batch 2. ”
    I understand your point (although not only the designing, but fitting out the vessels itself is also costy, I think). But, I think it was already taken into account and the answer is No, RN cannot build 5 of them. I think this means
    -T31 cost will be very tight, and you need to design it very cheap.
    -Or, just accept the decreasing number of escorts, and accept only 10 T26ASW (+3 heavy OPVs) or 8 T26ASW and 3 T26 GP-light(no Mk.41. no S2087, only 24 CAMM, empty mission bay, and so on) with normal OPVs.

  44. Think Defence says

    Mk 41 on Type 26, unless we figure out what we are going to fill them with, not sure they will actually be fitted

  45. ArmChairCivvy says

    Yep “unless we figure out what we are going to fill them with, not sure they will actually be fitted”
    – BMD = something else
    – ASuW = they are going to be escorts and the T31s will be the singletons (the latter will need that capability on its own)
    – T26 is the ASW specialist so should it need a knee-jerk, last minute ASROC for self-defence, at a close range?

    Only land attack would give the justification… and the carriers are for? Strike; and supporting other types of ops when that is not the primary, or has already been done

  46. Stu W says

    With hind sight we should have tagged on a few Khareef class to Oman’s order and at 133m each they look like good value and final T31 may not be much of a step up from the Khareef class and without knowing all the design specifics the Khareef looks better than the B2 River Class.

  47. Mark says

    Should of perhaps just bought fremm asw frigates and saved a few quid. Other than designing and building subs time to let naval ship building slip into history.

  48. ArmChairCivvy says


    Could’t possibly have done that as out 8 sonar sets are better than anybody else’s and we hang onto them for our dear lives (won’t even buy more, but rather determine ship class numbers by the available kit):

    French Navy (CAPTAS-4 on FREMM)
    Italian Navy (CAPTAS-4 on FREMM)
    Royal Malaysian Navy (CAPTAS-2 on SGPV LCS)
    Royal Moroccan Navy (CAPTAS-4 on FREMM)
    Royal Norwegian Navy (CAPTAS-2 on NNF)
    Royal Saudi Navy (CAPTAS-2 on F4000)
    UAE Navy (CAPTAS-2 on Abu Dhabi)
    UK Royal Navy (CAPTAS-4 on T23)

    CAPTAS-4 selected by the US Navy for ADM contract on LCS programme.

  49. Pacman27 says

    There are several problems identified by this article and at the risk of banging on – the cost of these assets is overly inflated as it is a total cost of life cost rather than an asset cost. It should therefore be no surprise that the costs explode. put simply a highly capable peer platform (choose from FREMM, Iver Huitfeldt, Absolon, Meko etc…) come in around the £450- 650m mark fully loaded. so we have benchmark costs for the type 26 asset cost. FOr the Type 31 I would benchmark against the South African Mendi class or the new Israeli SAAR class or even the USN freedom class, which are costed around the £200-300m mark – fully loaded. All are capable assets and are useful.

    the Meko builds for the SAN seem particularly well specified and with improved Radar, Sonar and CEC could be extremely effective as a pack, they are also not that small at 121m and 4000tonnes.

    I would personally like to see a 30 year plan to purchase 1 T26 per annum (based on the Iver Huitfeldt cost/design platform) and lock in the industry in batches of ten over 3 tranches. this will take political will and an organisational capable of budgeting effectively, which does not seem possible where the MOD is concerned.

    If we concentrate on the single hull form (T26 or T31) then I would propose we then direct our resources into more flexible assets that can provide an assymetric capability. For this purpose I would purchase a large fleet (600+) of safe boats Mark VI and CB90’s.

    The article has once again identified major weaknesses in our procurement and decision making capabilities (just as it did with FRES but we really need to start getting a grip of this.

    If the UK cannot fund a £1bn annual surface build programme for our navy out of its budget then we should really just give up.

  50. 40 deg south says

    David Niven and others have pointed put that a key driver for the Type 31 appears to be ‘exportability’. This ignores the fact that T26 has been shortlisted (along with the Italian FREMM and an upgraded Navantia design) for Australia’s ANZAC replacement programme. That will be for 9 locally-built hulls, outfitted to a high standard.


    If BAE/MoD were serious about exports, perhaps they could stop faffing about with powerpoint and actually complete the T26 design and release a construction timetable. UK Plc appears to be ignoring an ‘actual’ export opportunity (of IT and expensive fittings) in favour of some vague hope of future customers. Or has Australia already indicated T26 doesn’t have a chance? You could hardly blame them.

  51. Gunbuster's says

    So the T26 is literally back on the drawing board (CAD display for you none-dinosaurs) and the T31 only exists as a Powerpoint.
    Looking at the T31 graphics I do despair.
    The RN has spent many years developing hull forms that have a reduced radar cross section. Sloping upperdecks, covered boat bays, enclosed quaterdecks and focsle’s and on a the Venerator BAe do all these things but somehow leave a RAS point cutout right in the middle of the ship , inline with the machinery uptakes, to act as the biggest radar reflector ever !
    If they cannot get that right on a concept drawing what hope is there for the rest of the design?

  52. The Other Chris says


    Re Mk-41 contents: Almost certainly to be fitted and I’d wager to carry a handful of RUM-139C’s.

    “Our billion pound anti-submarine ships have no torpedoes” is the kind of headline guaranteed to be run by our tabloids and is easily avoided via straight-forward FMS.

  53. Julian says

    @4DegS – “This ignores the fact that T26 has been shortlisted (along with the Italian FREMM and an upgraded Navantia design) for Australia’s ANZAC replacement programme. That will be for 9 locally-built hulls, outfitted to a high standard.”

    @Gunbuster’s – “So the T26 is literally back on the drawing board (CAD display for you none-dinosaurs)…”

    Might the two be related? Perhaps now the RAN bid has turned real it has been discovered that some of the changes required for the RAN bid (e.g. all-Mk41 forward silo instead of 24 CAMM soft-launch + 24 MK41 which I’m guessing might be a RAN requirement plus perhaps some MK41 where the rear CAMM silo is on the RN version) aren’t simply drop-ins but require more significant structural changes to accommodate. In that case I can see why BAE might not want to fork-off a structurally different hull for the RAN units but instead adapt the foundation T26 RN design to accommodate the RAN mods more cleanly.

    I’m not saying it’s a good situation to be in but it did just occur to me as a possible explanation as to why, after all this time, T26 design is still not declared anything like complete.

  54. Shades says

    IIRC, the “T26 design is 60% complete” comment came from the MOD contract negotiator at the select committee session in July, didn’t it? If so, he went on to expand on that comment by saying that the remaining design work related to wiring and pipes etc (sorry can’t remember the technical terms), rather than superstructure/weapons fit etc. He also indicated he hoped to wrap up contract negotiations and make an announcement around the time of the NSS in October. Well-founded skepticism aside, do we have any other basis for thinking the design is back to the drawing board?

    Also, we’ve got 7 years until the first T23 OSD. Surely, even if we allow 2 years to build it and 3 years of sea trial/commissioning, that still gives us plenty of time?

  55. Not a Boffin says

    As one of the maritime design “experts” that TAS refers to – as expected I’ll say it is all terribly difficult, particularly for proper surface combatants in the DD/FF class. That said, “difficult” is a relative not absolute concept and where T26 has got to is way beyond any realistic “difficulty” technically, but actually reflects the organisational construct and expertise that has been applied to it. There are two factors at work here – the design of the ship and its eventual output and the reaction to the cost of it.

    The issues with the design of the ship primarily stem from the major reconfiguration of the design about four years ago, maybe a little longer. That “major” reconfiguration was done to solve a couple of problems – one to do with modularity and one to do with primary role, the latter driven very much by the operator community. However, because of the design process applied – and the consequent sunk costs – the design team were constrained in how much of the design they could rearrange. Part of that was because the operator community had signed off on particular aspects of the arrangement and would not allow those elements to change to give a better overall design. This was compounded by an organisational structure where no-one appeared to be effectively in charge and able to direct the solution and by a cost model that precluded certain technical options which might have given a better balance. The result is that there may be some certification issues with the ship and when coupled with the cost (which is largely driven by the build programme adopted, rather than any specific equipment fits or size) has led to the big game of chicken.

    What should have happened at that time was a more fundamental redesign of the ship, with more freedom to get an optimal arrangement. Trouble was that too much detail had been worked up and too many people were working on more detail to just turn them off for a year or so. This is the problem in applying a cast of thousands too early in the process. You have to get the fundamentals right, which is where – unfortunately – the NDP (and subsequently BAE teams) have been lacking. Teams it should be said that included a significant RN operator and engineering contribution. It is far from a bunch of serpents and industry bods. This early stage bit is crucial. If you get it wrong here (wrong being not understanding and allowing for the issues likely to arise as detail matures), then it costs – big time. Early stage design is not something done anywhere else in the life of a ship, although major conversions (eg 1950 Victorious) come close and if you don’t have people who know how to do it, you struggle.

    TAS is absolutely correct that there should be minimal CS integration activity required – although there will always be some. There will be more marine systems integration – particularly for the PMS and similar, driven partly by the reduced manning element, but these should not be beyond the wit of man, particularly given the levels of PMS integration on QEC.

    However, all that aside, the basic issue with T26 is now less to do with design and the technical elements of the ship than cost/budgeting and political will. The cost is being seen as being driven by size, when in fact it’s the industrial construct and its underlying assumptions that is the main factor. That cost and the potential certification issues (the design process failures that TAS refers to) have led to the uncertainty as to VFM, which is why the GPFF has been invented. There remains this rather strange assumption that there’s a huge export market for UK build ships which will magically fix the Clyde workload problem. It won’t – even with GPFF – and we should stop kidding ourselves that it will. Might get one or two hulls extra, but that’s it.

    I also happen to agree with TAS that GPFF should be a T26 derivative, with no artificial size constraints (cos you won’t get a significant change anyway!). But – and it’s a big but – subsequent surface combatants should never again be designed for long build periods – the assumption that you get these economies of scale through some sort of production run is nonsense. Smaller classes – NOT batches – with common equipment components wherever possible is how you square the trade-off between keeping logistics costs down while maintaining early stage design expertise. That also means that new GPFF designs should be progressed, but in a sensible timeframe, with the objective (as per SDSR) of augmenting T26 and also hitting the target market of FFG7/M-class/MEKOs that will need replacing over the next twenty years, which is where your couple of export hulls might materialise from.

  56. The Other Nick says

    The Type 26 grew like topsy due to mission creep to include a 385 sq. metre mission bay, a flight deck sized for the 100 ft long Chinook, 24 Mk41 VLS cells using another 26 sq. metres, the automated ammunition handling system for the Mk45 5″/62 gun which must use a large volume of space as does the accommodation for 208 personnel with the resultant displacement of 8,000 mt FL ship.
    My thoughts if Type 31 does go forward it should be a single purpose dedicated ASW frigate to replace the Type 23 with no mission bay, no Mk41 VLS cells, no automated ammunition handling system for the Mk45 gun and a flight deck sized for the 75 ft Merlin and say accommodation for a crew of 100? You would fit the type 2087 sonar from the Type 23, Sea Ceptor, the Mk45 5″/62 gun which is less than half the price currently paying for the automated version fitted in the Type 26 to keep commonality. Wish list would include tethered UAV’s as France and US developing and the ability to launch 324mm and 533mm torpedoes as on the new Italian PPA frigates for when helicopter offline and room for deck launched Harpoon/NSM/LRASM. You could keep the same propulsion system and combat system developed and paid for by the Type 26 though see no major savings on systems, presume looking at a displacement of 5,500 mt FL. The Type 31 would be cheaper than the Type 26, though not by a order of magnitude, but it would be a first rate ASW frigate to protect the carriers. The Type 26 would be re-classified as destroyers with hopefully a load out of LRSAM’s to fulfil the C2/C3 role.
    I see no point in wasting money on the second rates Cutlass, Avenger and Venator which would be of very limited use against the Chinese or Russians.

  57. Julian says

    How depressing.

    Out of interest, are we (the UK) especially prone to these T45/Astute/T26 type of design and/or build/budget debacles or are they reasonably common in other countries and it’s just that we (at least civilians like me) tend to focus on and hear more about our own issues?

  58. shark bait says

    I agree with that thinking @TON.

    It is clear the T26 has grown beyond an ASW specialist and into a multi mission beast, which should develop into an excellent capability for the Royal Navy. However the program has grown into something that is almost undeliverable, as witnessed by all the recent sticking points.

    A different approach is clearly needed for the T31, perhaps one could be found by building a light frigate with laser focus on ASW. With a more refined and focused scope could a program be created that is actually deliverable within a decade? and bring a much needed capability boost to the Royal Navy?

    An ASW focused Venator 110 seems the best outcome for the T31 project. The Venator design specifies a stern ramp for a RHIB, so there must be a ‘mission bay’ below the flight deck. The Italian PPA, also has a ramp and ‘mission bay’ under the flight deck, and they also include the capability for a towed array in there, should we be following this approach?


    So the Italians have a light frigate, 16.5m wide and manage to fit a stern ramp, towed array, and torpedo tubes under the flight deck.

    There is no reason the Venator design couldn’t do the same and become a pocket multi-role frigate. A Sonar, USV and torpedos could and should be packed in under the flight deck, and give the platform a shred of credibility. The Independence class also takes a similar approach.

    The base Venator concept looks well suited as a patrol frigate, adding a sonar under the flight deck would give the Royal Navy a multipurpose patrol frigate, that can also can embark some specialist crew and re-role into an anti-submarine escort.

    That would be highly valuable to the Royal Navy, and should hopefully be more deliverable than the T26 project.

  59. A friend of Mr Gladstone says

    A lurker wonders how these developments in Thailand where BAE seems to be supporting a further River Class build will impact on the design process for Type 31.

  60. David Stephen says

    The first Type 26 is not really needed until 2028 when Argyll goes out of service. So we should use this opportunity to replace the 5 GP Type 23s. Surely this is sensible and the discussion is only what those GP ships should actually be. Money is obviously a huge factor. None of the ships listed above are perfect but the Cutlass is not to far from what I would hope for. The high end ASW & AAW numbers are stuck at 14 for a while, we can hope to eventually reach 18 by adding a 9th Type 26 at the end of the build and then replacing the 6 Type 45s with 9 Type ?. So these ships should not attempt to fill high end escort slots 15-18. The roles these ships should be used in are APTS, Nato Task Forces 150 &151, escort of RFA assets in a combat scenario, NGFS as part of an amphibious operation. They would be good for singleton deployments and showing the flag but their most important role would still be as an escort in a combat situation, protecting another ship from attack. With this in mind they would require an Artisan 3D radar and 24 CAAM for AAW, a 4.5 inch gun for NGFS, and 2 x deck mounted quad box launchers for 8 SSMs (Harpoon block 3 or NSM). Lots has been said about lack of ASW capability offered and I agree but there is a lot of room between zero ASW and Type 26 level ASW. The GP ships don’t need the super quite hull form and engines or the TAS. Even without those we can give them a robust ASW capability without breaking the bank. The ships will have a hanger and flight deck for a Wildcat ASW helicopter, add a type 2050 bow mounted sonar, 5 of which are already available from the first 5 Type 23s we replace. Also fit a MK 41 VLS (tactical length only) for ASROC. If the ships can search for subs with sonar or drive them off (active) or engage with ASROC or Wildcat then that would be a perfectly acceptable level of ASW for a GP ship. Add 2 DS30mm and 2 11m RHIB and you have a dam good little ship. Keep costs low as possible with crew of 75-100 and all diesel engines. Range is a requirement speed is not. A RAS station is also critical. The only additional weapons beyond what Cutlass already offers are not that expensive. £20 million per ship covers the MK41 and the ASROC to fill them and the sonars are already there, well 5 out of 6 needed. Oh yeah we should build 6. from 2018-2023, then Type 26. We would need to start building the first Type 26 alongside the last Type 31 and have the delivery of those 9 by 2024-2032/34, then cycle on to replacement of Type 45. As Daring can go to early 2040s it gives us a window to slip in extra 3 hulls then replace the 6 existing destroyers at the already planned time. This gets us to 18 high end escorts (eventually) with the 6 GP ships as additional. Building the Type 31 first and releasing more crew will help to fully man both POW & maybe both LPDs.

  61. The Other Chris says

    @Shark Bait

    “That “major” reconfiguration was done to solve a couple of problems…
    – NAB”

    You’re hitting on the design element change that NAB refers to above: The moving of the “mission deck” with stern ramp and other assemblies higher up to (IIRC – please correct if wrong) accommodate the TAS.

  62. Not a Boffin says

    No, the T26 was always going to carry a S2087 under the flightdeck. The mission bay moved for another reason, one I suspect the Italian design SB posted won’t have considered.

  63. shark bait says

    This perhaps highlights the point I was trying to make. With the T26 growing beyond an ASW specialist into a multi-mission combatant, it has many different, and often conflicting performance requirements, which is making the project undeliverable.

    My point is this; by applying ‘laser focus’ on a single task, ASW for example, can we reduce the performance conflicts and create a more refined scope and deliverable program?

    In this instance are the are the performance compromises, such as the Italian design, more acceptable, in return for actually delivering some hulls in the water?

  64. shark bait says

    Also the Italian design is clearly not for CAPTAS-4, more likley the smaller CAPTAS-2.


    Are the Americans not developing a more compact CAPTAS-4 for the LCS? Perhaps something we should watch and consider for a future with the T31.

    Could a Venator 110 with a CAPTAS-2 (or even 4), under the flight deck where the stern ramp is now, become a credible escort for the Royal Navy?

  65. Not a Boffin says

    The T26 has always had a multi-mission focus as well – even back to the first FSC iterations in 1999. There isn’t really a problem in accommodating a mission bay and the ASW capability elements in the same ship – provided that you’re not artificially constrained by other factors. Remember that the cost is the issue here, not the size, even if there are those who can’t understand that.

  66. shark bait says

    is the cost an issue because of trying to do too much from one platform creating conflicting performance requirements?

    Whenever I read back over the history of the T26/FSC project I do so with despair, we are completely unable to design a project that is deliverable. It makes me wander if we are too exacting, too focused on a 100% solution first time around. I compare specifically to the LCS which is not perfect, but it is in production, in service, and now with operating experience they are fixing the shortcomings. The danish take a similar approach too.

    Is that a better approach to the RN trying to optimize everything at day one? It is acceptable to recognize the platform will need continuous development after the in service date? can the RN afford that approach?

  67. Not a Boffin says

    The cost is an issue because it’s high – very little to do with the ship or its performance. A huge chunk of the cost is build labour which is a product of the build duration and the number of people charging against each ship while in build. That number is driven not by the size of the ship, but by the industrial requirement placed on BAE by a combination of the ToBA (somewhat counter-intuitively) and the assumption on number of ships and build rate – the famous “drumbeat”.

    The build labour has little if anything to do with the size of the ship – not that this stops people believing that it is……..

  68. The Other Nick says

    shark bait, the new Italian PPA light frigate specs seen quoted as loa 143m, wl 133m, beam 16.5m, draught 5.2m, full load displacement 5,950 mt, would assume for a ship of those dimensions it would have no trouble accommodating CAPTAS-4.
    Re. the USN LCS has a maximum permissible mission payload limited to 105 mt so the chosen ASW system, the LM multi-function towed array and the CAPTAS-4 were over the limit, contracts were issued in 2015 to three companies to bring the weight down, if memory correct they were aiming for 20% reduction, one target presumably the CAPTAS-4 on-board handling winch system.

  69. dmereifield says


    Would a ASW focussed T31 be of any value without having the expensive acoustically quiet hull and engines? In terms of escorting CVF and supporting/protecting the CAS?

  70. El Sid says

    @sharkbait. Stern ramps are great for GP type functions – but putting a great big hole near the waterline is not great for survivability, which is quite important for bluewater fighty functions.

    USN aren’t using a straight CAPTAS 4, they’re mating the CAPTAS pinger to their existing towed array from the Burkes. Which involves a big government software project (no worries…) and has been mentioned, they’re struggling to get the weight down for the modular version. One reason why the focus is more on a permanent installation on the later ones. Also an LCS is never going to be as quiet as a T26 is intended to be.

    First LCS was launched a decade ago next month, didn’t go on patrol until 2013 and even now there’s only been a handful of deployments and in most cases they’ve broken down. The modules are hopelessly behind schedule – admittedly they were unlucky in the way they came up against sequestration at just the wrong time, but the first attempt at ASW was junked, MCM has been one long flustercuck, surface warfare still isn’t up to speed.

  71. ArmChairCivvy says

    ” the first attempt at ASW was junked, MCM has been one long flustercuck, surface warfare still isn’t up to speed” and
    how’s the NLOS, or the next thing, coming, as for influencing a company’s sphere of influence (on shore; littoral being both sides of the waterline)?

  72. shark bait says


    Yes, I think there would still be value in it.

    We would have to make do without the “acoustically quiet hull”, but that doesn’t seem to be bothering the Americans, French or Italians too much. It would be very reasonable equip the T31 with exactly the same diesel electric drive as the T26 for some silent cruising. Also T31 equipped VDS would be working in tandem with a T26, so considering all that do you see added value? it would form part of a highly capable system IMO.

    The Royal Navy does need more ASW vessels, highlighted most plainly here; the T26 will give the Royal Navy only 2.5 sub hunters available to to protect a continuous nuclear deterrent and carrier strike. Looking at the demands we place on the navy 2.5 ASW escorts is clearly not enough, and this is before we have begun to consider our other commitments.

    Also consider that 40 nations poses subs, some of them not so stable, some not so west friendly, and the technology is proliferating like never before. Understanding the Argentine and Lybian subs gave the best ASW crews a run for their money really demonstrates the threat. Subs pose the biggest risk to the freedom of movement to the Royal Navy, and therefore the freedom to best protect the UK’s interests. There is little wonder the other 3 big navies in NATO are building their light frigates with ASW capabilities, so should we.

    An ASW T31 certainly couldn’t replace the T31, but could it complement it? and could it boost the RN’s ability to deter subs?

    Finally with the T26 we have a large multi-mission, global combat ship, but if it is continually tied to the carriers, or the UK continental shelf, it cannot exercise those long ranged multi-mission capabilities very often. An ASW capable T31 could release a T26 from its escort duties, allowing it to act as an independent global combat ship. In that respect, could the T31 actually make the T26 better?

  73. shark bait says

    @El Sid,

    The LCS clearly has its issues, but they do have a plan to work through them now. But despite its issues it it is much better than any of the Royal Navy’s future surface combatants because it actually exists. They have actually delivered something, and for the first item in along time the USN’s fleet is growing.

    The LCS is sound in concept, but flawed in execution, if they can work through the flaws they may still end up with valuable platforms, and lots of them.

    From an outsider perspective we seem way too focused on tweaking the design, they seemed way too focused on getting hulls in the water quickly. There must be a Goldilocks zone in the middle, one that acknowledges some challenges remain going into the build, and develops a plan to address them through life. Some one needs to study what works well from each approach and produce a development model that can hit the “Goldilocks zone”.

  74. Ron5 says

    “The LCS is sound in concept”

    You’ll struggle to find many that share that point of view including the USN who are busily trying to change the original concept to something useful.

  75. Pacman27 says


    Given that drumbeat and size of order is important, should we not consider a single hull type (say T31 size) that can be built to replace our current fleets of T45’s, T23’s, MCM and Offshore Patrol fleets to build a fleet of 50 vessels over 25 years (with a 25 year lifespan that is then replaced on a like for like basis). All should have CEC capability and be configured for standing task instead of being multi mission. If we went for 50 common hulls that are then configured for their primary role as follows 13 AAW, 13 ASW, 13 MCM. And 13 GP. All vessels should have at least an Artisan radar, 32 Mk41 tubes and a type CAPTAS2 sonar capability as a mininum standard and be heavily armed. The hanger should be able to accommodate a merlin but will probably use a wildcat as std. AAW class should have Sampson, ASW class – CAPTAS 4/sonar 2087 and MCM class Atlas or similar.

    Given that we have sunk £1.5bn into T26 it seems ridiculous to start on a new class – but rather to build a volume of vessels that ensure this cost is absorbed across a volume of vehicles (£30m per vessel if 50 are ordered – £200m if only 8 are ordered ). Perhaps we should stop looking for a massive vessel that supposedly does everything brilliantly to a larger fleet of smaller (but still large) vessels that can communicate with each other and do most things well and specialise as necessary.

    The above will require a significant crew reduction over current manning, but the number of hulls are relatively static overall and it is a rebalancing acros the fleet to a more consistent platform that is required.

  76. Mark says

    Type 31 should not be specialised in asw or aaw that’s what type 26 and type 45 are for and it should not be escorting aircraft carriers that’s what type 26 and type 45 are for. First sea Lord has already stated numbers are sufficient to support a carrier group and casd.

    40 countries may have submarines but the statement fails to say half are in NATO or five powers defence agreement with the U.K. Of the remain 20 most have significant defence economic and political ties to the uk. Leaving about 8-10 foes of which only Russia and China have any scale beyond about 3 and with many of questionable operational capability.

  77. ArmChairCivvy says

    “40 countries may have submarines but the statement fails to say half are in NATO or five powers defence agreement with the U.K. Of the remain 20 most have significant defence economic and political ties to the uk. Leaving about 8-10 foes of which only Russia and China have any scale beyond about 3 and with many of questionable operational capability.”
    is a hard hitting one.

    So, the operational scenarios for the use of T26 vs T31 are…

  78. dmereifield says


    It seems sound to me. But I am a lay person from civvy street…
    I had been thinking for a while that it seems that the T31 cannot likely be a multi mission platform since it needs to be cheap, and as AAW is covered by the T45, perhaps the T31 could focus on ASW (if indeed a non quiet vessel can still be a useful ASW platform). Therefore, could it not be feasible to produce a cheap platform such as Avenger (or preferably Cutlass) and modify the design for captas 2/4 – incorporating as much as possible from the T23s (4.5″ gun, hull sonar, radar etc) plus CAMM? Assuming that this platform would cost ca. £250-300million (?, pure guestimate) we would be able to purchase maybe 8 (assuming that there is £2.5 billion available; subtracting current T26 budget of £8 billion from the prior budget of £11.5 billion and leaving a billion off to be conservative). Or we could buy 5 and use the remaining funds to increase the T26 order to 9.

    This is of course all very speculative so I’d be happy to hear why this might or might not be a) feasible, and b) a reasonable idea.

    Genuine questions:
    If the T31 should not be ASW (or indeed AAW) and not be escorting CVF, what should it be (sidestepping the fact that we shouldn’t be having it in the first place, but given the reality that we are going to have it)?
    Can we design and build something capable of operating as a singleton in the low budget available?
    If so, what specifications and capabilities should it have, and are the current designs proposed (BAE x 2 and the V110) an adequate basis for such a ship?


  79. Repulse says

    @NaB: “Smaller classes – NOT batches – with common equipment components wherever possible is how you square the trade-off between keeping logistics costs down while maintaining early stage design expertise.”

    What is the optimal class size in your view? Looking at recent / planned builds we have 16 (T23), 8 (T26), 6 (T45) and 5 (T31).

    Could it be that part of the problem is that the RN is keeping their ships too long, and should be planning on a 20yr basis rather than 30yrs, which could also remove “future proofing” costs?

  80. Mark says


    Type 26 is a high end combat vessel to deal with high end Submarine warfare were we deploy a carrier group to conduct offensive military operations.. Type 31 is not such a vessel.


    The many countless tasks the RN engages in around the global that add to our national security but are short of warfighting. For example protection of an eez, intelligence gathering, prevention of intentional damage through sabotage, subversion, or terrorism, illegal movement of people’s,counter narcotics, humanitarian aid to name but a few.

  81. dmereifield says


    I thought these types of tasks are what we plan to use the new 5 rivers for (except perhaps the humanitarian aid where a larger vessel may be required)? If we only need 14 high end fighting vessels (plus the CVFs, astutes, amphibious assault ships etc) they shouldn’t bother building what looks to be a fake frigate and should just build a few more rivers (possibly with hangars). In so doing there would surely be sufficient funds to increase the T26 order by 2 or 3

  82. MSR says

    This bears repeating.

    … subsequent surface combatants should never again be designed for long build periods – the assumption that you get these economies of scale through some sort of production run is nonsense. Smaller classes – NOT batches – with common equipment components wherever possible is how you square the trade-off between keeping logistics costs down while maintaining early stage design expertise. Not a Boffin, today at 11:30am

    The gist is that if you want to retain complex warship design capability… or any warship design capability at all, for that matter… then you should not build a single design for a generation or more on the basis that this will be good for industry because of some mythical thing the MoD calls a ‘drumbeat’ but which, in the real world, has never existed and never will.

    If you build T26 for the next 25 years, you will be right back to square one and make yet another complete cock-up of the next design because you won’t have the people, the processes or an institutional understanding across all departments, politicians included, of how these things are done.

    To be good at something you need to practice, practice, practice. And you don’t get enough practice if you only do it once in a lifetime.

    A single hull type RN is an RN who will have to go shopping at Hyundai Heavy Industries when their last single hull type ships finally wear out.

    And that’s before you even consider the danger of block obsolescence!

    On the subject of 20:20 hindsight, which seems to be developing in this conversation, yes indeed, an ASW-focused 4-5k ton Type 31 with CAMM, Merlin, CAPTAS-4 and the acoustic profile of a T23 would have been an excellent idea for a follow-on from a big, multi-mission but non-ASW specialised T26. That would, in fact, be exactly what T26 was supposed to be all along! A replacement T23 with technology pull-through to reduce costs, and some modest enhancements over the original design (like software and things like CAMM). In fact, it really should have been planned that way from the start. And if it had, we’d be building a dozen T31 today, and T26 would still be another decade away, and that would probably have been a good thing because it would mean the RN was supplied with all the fundamentals before it started getting into the 8k ton global cruiser game.

    But no. Instead we’re looking at the vital ASW mission being diluted by the presence of a big multi-mission space that will either never get used because the ship is always screening the deterrent, or escorting something, or will be used instead of practising that vital and perishable skill that is sub-hunting. I suspect the latter is the case, because every time you get that big array wet, it costs money (more money than launching a RHIB or a USV out of a multi-missoin bay, which looks way more sexy to journalists than pale-faced operators hunkered over their ASW consoles).

    So, by combining multi-function with a key specialism, the RN has guaranteed the death of that specialism. Who is going to sign up to hunt submarines from a sub-chaser that never chases subs? What kind of a lame career option will that start looking like in a few years time?

    And thus, we won’t just run out of the number of ASW platforms we need to do the job, we’ll also run out of the people to do it!

  83. 40 deg south says


    BAE’s man in Australia gamely argues that having the design not finished is actually a good thing for Australia. At least I think that’s what he is saying. Julian made a similar comment somewhere upstream in this thread.

    In any case, BAE seem to think they are still a contender for SEA5000.

  84. pacman27 says


    I do not agree that smaller classes are the way to go, as I think there is a middle way which is to standardise on a single type of hull (ie: Small frigate of a meko A200 style) and then refine or alter every 10 years. The problem about industry is that they need some sort of commitment and volume after that they really want minimum changes, or they want the customer to pay for changing their minds. As we have seen with the carriers change has added significant cost at a time where cost seems to be the primary driver.

    So batching is the way to go – however as part of the strategic shipbuilding plan we should know what we are going to build across our surface combat, submarine, support and small vessel fleet and seek common platforms and higher volume.

    We can’t have it all and a balance must be found that gets us the amount of hulls required (and I do not believe that 19 escorts are enough – especially as under armed as ours are) with an equipment layout that meets requirements.

    I assume we would all be happy if our escort fleet comprised solely of A. Burkes and as for Meko’s they have 20 years + of export success and innovation. We don’t have to redesign constantly but we should if something is worth it.

  85. Challenger says

    The Japanese seem to do the whole multiple but small classes of surface vessels with common equipment thing well, albeit on a much larger scale.

  86. Don says

    The Type 31 should be ASW specialist with CAMM that’s what RN need . ASuW missiles are not needed. These can be delivered by Wildcat or F35 without putting ship or crew in danger. Why get into an ASuw missile fight if you have aircraft .
    However as this is for export, the export market seems to be for a cheap as chips gunboat . So the RN could end up with a gunboat they don’t need or want and cannot afford to waste crew on .

  87. Shades says

    it seems that we have a fundamental need for at least 3 ASW ships on operations at any time – one for trident and two to protect a carrier task group. I agree with some other posters (most recently MSR and Don) that T26 seems way over-qualified for this role.

    Is it too late to change? Can’t we look at a fleet of maybe 9 small ASW specialists (equipped with quiet hulls, the most powerful towed array and for self defence) (e.g. T31); and maybe 6 Global Combat Ships (e.g. T26), with all that T26 currently has but no quiet hull and potential smaller TAS.

    This would give us – operationally at any one time – 3 ASW ships for the core task outlined above and 2 GCS for independent cruising, missile strike, small amphibious assaults and all the other glamorous jobs it’s capable of East of Suez etc?

    There’s no doubt a thousand reasons why that’s all wrong, though, as I’m completely unqualified to comment. So apologies if this is wasting everyone’s time.

  88. Repulse says

    The problem was in my view to sell the T26 in light of the “peace dividend” and uncertainty around the CVFs, it had to be more than just a ASW ship and became the “Global Cruiser”. Whilst a smaller ASW class may now look attractive, I think most of the cost has already incurred and the cheapest way would to build more T26 with the any unnecessary parts left as “fitted but not with”.

  89. shark bait says

    @ Mark, of those submarine operators, 11 are with NATO, 10 are dependable allies and 18 could swing either way in a conflict.

    The threat is real and it is growing. It wont take much for some SSK’s to restrict the freedom of movment of the Royal Navy, stopping them from going where they want, and doing what they want to best suport the interests of the UK.

    The 1SL may well say we have enough ASW frigates, and if he can explain how 2.5 available platforms are enough to support a continuous deterrent and carrier strike, as well as FRE and TAPS, I’ll drop the case. However I strongly suggest he couldn’t do that, and it is in fact a case of looking grateful with what you’re given, or that promotion will be swiftly taken away!

    The Australians are awake to the threat, if they stick to the plan they will have 3 available ASW frigates, and they don’t have the huge task of protecting a nuclear deterrent.

    The french, who probably have similar needs to us, will soon have 13 ASW frigates. The Americans are awake to the threat and are now upping ASW capabilities fleet wide.

    The French, Americans and Italians are all adding ASW to their light frigate programmes. Why are we the odd ones out? are we going to sit here in arrogance pretending we know best? or are we going to realise that once we scratch below the surface we don’t have the equipment to support our shiney new carrier and nukes?

  90. shark bait says

    ASW should be part of the T31.

    If it cant deter subs, it cant escort.

    If it cant escort, what is the point of it existing?

  91. pacman27 says


    I agree with your analysis that we should build as many hulls as possible of T26 over the next 10 years and then switch to a smaller vessel or continue building more if they are deemed successful. As with the Absolon and Huitfeldt’s we can fill in the gaps as we go along as long as it is designed for full spectrum. I also see the T26 as the long term successor to the T45 with different radars etc.

    As per my earlier figures anything less than 30 T26 and the design costs are crippling. I do not disagree with many of the comments on this post but price is definitely linked to volume and we should look to standardise the whole surface fleet on a handful of hulls – if this means all are ships have quiet hulls then that is good in my opinion, also good for maintenance costs where we seem to have problems as well.

  92. shark bait says

    @dmereifield that does sound reasonable to me.

    A very basic patrol frigate a heart, with just CAMM and some deck launched missiles, but equipped with one specialist bit of kit at the back to enable it to escort.

    I don’t think we could ever expect the T31 to have AAW capabilities beyond self defence, the physical and performance requirement are far to high to pack into a patrol frigate. There is no such a pressing need for more AAW detroyers either. With the current set we are guaranteed to sustain 2 T45’s next to a carrier if required.

    We however cannot guarantee 2 T26’s next to the carrier, leading me to believe there is an ASW gap that could be filled by the T31. It clearly wont be as high performance as the T26, but it will be a close second, and working in tandem with the T26 is should be a capable system.

    There are some comprises, the biggest I think would be the lack of endurance, that would be ok within the carrier group and its dedicated logistics chain, but it would become difficult to support on solo tasks. I suppose it will have to do lots of port visits. Also a big deal is poor growth margins, which is difficult to get around, would we just have to accept a shorter life than what we have got out of the T23?

    At the end of the day it looks as though we will be building a little patrol frigate with no specialist capabilities what so ever and it costing around £300m

    Wouldn’t it be much more valuable to spend and additional £50m to equip it with a VDS on back and create something with a credible, high end escorting capability?

  93. Not a Boffin says

    T22/23(R), FE, FSC, C1 and now T26 always had to be “sold” as more than ASW ships. Not least because in the minds of many in MB, the submarine threat had “gone away”. No-one was ever in the business of selling global cruisers and no-one sensible applies the term to T26 – those who do are having the same issues in failing to understand the size drivers as the VSO and SCS who can’t understand why the ships are any bigger than a T23. Any “uncertainty” about CVF didn’t come into it either.

    Put simply – you would struggle to justify the very concept of a surface ship escort in MB back in the day. Ivan and his Red banner Northern fleet had packed up and gone home and the policy bods were supremely uninterested in SSK no matter how many times they were told horror stories. That meant you couldn’t just ask for another 23 (as it was originally) ASW ships. You had to explain how and why they also earned their keep worldwide – which btw was both valid and remains so today. The original RM came up with a useful graph which noted that the ships would spend 90% of their lives not warfighting and therefore relatively cheap enhancements to the ships to enable these ops would be very valuable.

    That remains the case. People witter on about Chinook capable decks, but when you compare the landing area (or more precisely, length) required to that for a Merlin, the difference is about 5m tops. One might argue that the modular space is on the large side, but that’s largely driven by the boat size people want to use. All of this still reflects the issue that people are hung up on the size.

    The problem is the price – which is driven substantially by the industrial construct rather than size, but its far easier for people to point at the size and say “of course”, rather than dig down to what the drivers actually are.

    In answer to your earlier questions, I’d certainly not want to see classes bigger than 6 (or 8 at the very extreme) – assuming a fleet size similar to the current one. More important is the design interval – much more than 8-10 years between doing the basic design for successive classes and you lose expertise fast. Of those naval archs who were on the original FSC team early stage team, only one is still with the MoD and hasn’t been near surface ships in a dozen years or more. Those who were on the subsequent iterations in the mid-noughties are either outside as contractors or off doing other things with their lives. The picture is even worse for MEs.

    As for shorter lives, great theory, right up until the point you go to the Treasury and ask for money for new ships. The answer to the question “can’t you just refit them?” needs to be “No” – or “Yes but it will cost much more than new build”. Unfortunately, the answer is usually “yes – but it will still cost a lot and we’ll suffer lots of unquantifiable things like reduced capability, availability and operational restrictions”, to which the answer from HMT is “jolly good – as long as it costs less we’re happy, crack on”. See T23 and 18 year planned lives vs 36 year actual lives for details……..

  94. shark bait says

    @Shades, I agree with that logic.

    I does seem that we need 3 ships to cover those tasks, but what about FRE and TAPS? and then how to we cover then with only 2.5 available T26? another capability gap?

    I think it is clearly too late to change. The T26 must continue to be our excellent sub hinter, and multipurpose global combat ship.

    Along side that we should also build our patrol frigate (T31) to also have sub hunting capabilities. Its unlikely we would reach the T26’s capabilities, but would it be possible to create a close second tier? would that lead to a nice balanced system?

    “A top tier ASW escort and global combat ship”
    working along side
    “A second tier ASW escort and local patrol frigate”

  95. Not a Boffin says

    Pacman. Your “design” figures are gash. Of the £1.5Bn, a very substantial amount is large equipment items for the first three ships. Then there’s some shore-based test facilities and a few other things that don’t constitute “design” activity. I’d be very surprised if the “hull” design activity cost more than £50M. With maybe double that on the marine systems.

    Nor are common hulls and planned programmes a panacea. See what happened to Draysons Maritime Industrial Strategy and the associated ToBA. What has gone wrong with that is that circumstances and budgets change (they always do) and a bunch of relatively inexperienced people are trying to understand what their options are – informed by another bunch of relatively inexperienced people.

    If you can explain where the costs lie in hullform design and what their magnitude might be – not just by repeating headline figures from TDs article, you might get some traction.

  96. Shades says

    @shark bait, yes on that basis 3 ASW ships starts to look inadequate, let alone the 2.5 T26 that are currently on the cards!

    If it’s too late to make the T26 slightly less amazing, I agree a respectable (if not top tier) ASW capability for T31 would surely be needed to meet those tasks and the growing submarine threat highlighted in other comments.

  97. The Other Nick says

    My understanding as why you need a quiet hull for effective ASW with a T31.
    With any sonar the R&D aimed at improving the array signal-to-noise ratio and noise reduction for signal enhancement. With a towed array the longer the array the more you can improve resolution and to reject the ships noise by being as far away from the ship as possible, if you have a noisy hull you need longer and longer towed arrays to keep the same sensitivity besides the major problems with handling the longer array. Longer arrays allow for narrower beams, which makes it more accurate to locate submarines and reject noise.
    The new generation submarines are more difficult to detect especially the diesel-electric with the new technology batteries and can stay submerged for as long as two weeks.
    To exemplify the threat created by the new generation quiet submarines the USN developed the Low-Frequency Active sonar (SURTASS LFA) to cover 80% of the world’s oceans to replace the passive SURTASS towed array sonars. The active LFA work at frequencies in the range of 100 to 1000 Hz and have been quoted as using a massive 235 decibels plus, no wonder last month the California federal court ruled the USN submarine hunts too disturbing for marine wildlife.The LFA sonar is to deploy aboard USN T-AGOS ocean-surveillance ships.


  98. Shades says

    @NAB, correct me if I’m wrong but I think you’ve said before that one of the main cost issues with the T26 build is for the man hours on the Clyde.

    If I’m understanding correctly, as the MoD is the Clyde’s only customer and the T26 is the only ship being built there, then basically, if we want to keep it open, the price of the T26 build is basically going to be the cost of keeping the shipyard open and manned for the period of the build (plus materials/components and X% profits for BAE).

    As we’re stretching out the build time to keep the shipbuilders busy for longer, doesn’t that mean the cost of building the ship increases in proportion? So the build cost for building a T26 every 2 years would be (very roughly) twice the cost of building a T26 every year, because one T26 would then have to support the yard’s costs for 2 years rather than one year?

  99. Not a Boffin says

    Doesn’t work quite like that, but close enough for the purposes of this debate. Which is why single customer yards – particularly when the customer is averse to making decisions and hamstrung by his treasurer – are rarely a good idea.

  100. Think Defence says

    The simple fact is the MoD has spent £1.7 billion to date on a replacement for Type 23/22 with not a single ship in the water or a mature design. Yes, we have some equipment for the first three T26 and a couple of test facilities but we also have a £384 million order for three unwanted OPV’s directly because the MoD/BAE/RN has been unable to bring the programme in, oh, and a commitment to another two OPV’s.

  101. pacman27 says

    @NAB – accepted.

    Common hulls may not be a panacea – but I am a big believer in commonality as it can be a real game changer if applied properly. The key question for me is where does all the money go then if not into the actual building of these assets. Other countries (Denmark, Holland and Norway to name but a few) seem able to build great ships within a cost envelope, but Britain does not seem able to do this.

    I would personally like to split the fleet into small surface and escorts with the Safeboats Mk6 being the small surface vessel of choice and the T26 or T31 our only escort going forward. Either way we already run a mixed fleet, but I suspect no one will complain if our whole RFA fleet is built on the Aegir Design or we had an escort fleet of Burkes, so common platforms can work but they need to be refined as necessary. The Meko A200 design seems light years ahead of the T31 designs and river batch 2 being built/proposed and I just don’t see why we would build something worse than South Africa and Algeria currently have in service.

    All very disappointing – no matter what the final design is – it has to be better than these nations and if we cannot build a better class then really we should not build and buy from abroad. I care more about the lives of our forces than I do about building in Britain, but why we can’t buy the design from B&V or another design agency and then refine.

    Seems to me that the RN has to change the way it operates and accept change.

  102. Paul Padley says

    Don’t suppose anyone knows what design Babcock has submitted, a lengthened Samuel Becket with a heli deck and a hanger perhaps?

  103. Not a Boffin says

    Hang on TD – you’ve just added another £200M to your own figures! You’re also failing to mention the fourth partner in this tale of woe – the denizens of No 11, who it has to be said are far from blameless in the “failure” to bring in the project. There is a self-sustaining cycle of indecision permeating all of this.

    Pacman – Denmark and Norway are unfortunate examples. One bankrupted it’s only shipyard (they won’t be building any follow-ons, ever) and had to spend naval ops money to get their ships working, the other got Navantia to do their design, largely based on the F100. Damen will struggle to do a real surface combatant again (Holland and Sigma are lower capability despite what the shiny shiny bits look like in the brochure).

    I’d also love to see how an AEGIR design can meet all the RFA requirements – please do elaborate how it can be anything other than a tanker…..

  104. Think Defence says

    NaB, I added in the recent Mk45 Mod 4 contract, and fair play on the Treasury having a hand

    We are about £1.7 odd billion plus the Batch II River, and who knows what will happen to the SDSR 2015 commitment for another pair of Rivers. Lets just assume they get ordered at £100m apiece, we are going well over the £2b mark

    Like FRES, you can see how bad decisions were made in good faith by sensible people doing what they thought right at the time. As with FRES, breaking out the pitch forks is not the best way forward, but it really is depressing

    Given TOBA was about BAE, why are we even discussing Babcock and BMT, Avenger and Cutlass it is, hurrah :)

  105. Not a Boffin says

    I don’t disagree and it gives me no pleasure at all to see some of my worst fears realised. One day when the dust has settled, it will be interesting to do a little estimate of how much money was actually nugatory work caused by indecision – or by doing too much detail too soon and how much of that was due to inappropriate interventions.

    I think, it’s fair to say that however bad the UK construct appears, some of that will be an unfair comparison because the c0ck-ups elsewhere will not have the same proximity or open-source slow-mo car-crash info that we have here. I dare say that it will never be as bad as what is happening over the pond – or down under. Even the Boxheads are struggling – witness their interest in T26.

    It’s a two front war. Industry is so risk-averse after previous government delays / indecision that they try to justify everything to the n-th detail (loudly encouraged by HMT) only to discover that in doing so they incur huge costs (which HMT/MoD then query) to the point that they forget how else to do things and can’t play competitively elsewhere in the industry. Government on the other hand having induced much of the overhead, then decide they don’t like the price and start comparing it (often erroneously) with other programmes. Huitfeld is a great example. Good looking ships on paper, attractive price, but dig a bit deeper and you discover a significant chunk of the costs were hidden, it bankrupted the shipyard and can’t be repeated. That’s the point I keep trying to make about consolidation. It works theoretically, but you will eventually end up with a monolith that is little more than a Europe-wide nationalised industry, where eventually the same skill fade will occur. As an example, can you actually imagine EADS/Airbus/whatever its called this week doing a Eurofighter programme again? Not knocking the cab, just worth reminding ourselves how much it cost, how long it took from gestation to fruition and all the calamities on the way. In hindsight, would doing a UK-only programme have been a better option?

    None of this is easy or cheap. Apart from buying an APC/IFV though. Any halfwit could do that….oh, wait.

  106. El Sid says

    @NAB I’ve talked to Danes on the business side and they’re adamant that Odense more than wiped their face on warship building – the trouble was that building warships was a pimple on Maersk’s backside, the closure of Odense was all to do with what was happening in the container world.

    @pacman27 You’re obsessing over ships all looking the same, but that’s not where the savings are to be found, and ships looking the same causes you real problems because you lose the experience in design. Preserving design teams is as important as minimising the costs, cos without active design teams you have no industry, or at least you have one that struggles like we did to build the first Astute. The logistics savings are in eg having MT30 powering everything from carriers to Zumwalts to frigates, or using the same HVAC system. The ships don’t need to look the same. Odense worked because Maersk were paying the wages of the design team for the 90% of the time that they weren’t needed to build warships.

    The warning signs are already there for the Burke successor – the USN have benefited from a long, stable production line for the Burkes, but it does mean they’ve not designed many conventional complex warships in a long time, and Burke Flight III has kicked the can further down the road. Still, they’ve started on the journey and at least they have a name for it now. The Future Surface Combatant – what could possibly go wrong?

  107. The Other Nick says

    TD, not defending the RN/MoD/BAE Systems and Treasury on cost of the Type 26 but the only similar frigate comparison can find is the future German MKS180, very ROM as no detailed breakdown available for either ship as to what’s included and excluded . Their budget for four ships is 4 billion euros, approx. £3.4 billion, £850 million ea., so for three ships ballpark of £2,550 million to compare to the £1.7 billion funded to date for three Type26s. Not sure if meaningful comparison but the only one could find.

  108. McZ says

    A couple of observations:

    (1) The requirement for T26 developed into a put-all-eggs-into-a-pricey-basket solution, showing all the current toys of different foreign designs. It has failed to come up with a clear solution to a very basic problem: replacing ASW- and GP-escorts instead of being a 13-ship class of ill-conceived and half-assed motherships. The whole process seems to be flawed; the first and foremost requirement should be to get hulls in the water, in time.

    (2) BAEs design department seems to have lost its Mojo; it has been secured by a billion or so of thin hot air funding (which is even cheaper than steel, ask the treasury!), instead of hardening in the cold export competition. We should forget – like BAE is silently doing – about exports for T26. Even if there are foreign countries requiring high-end-escorts lacking design knowledge, the state-owned Spanish and French yards will outbid any private sector alternative because of a pressing need to secure jobs, even if they earn not a single dime on it (in fact, we will see Rafale setting the precedent for selling for a loss).

    (3) The RN is facing a grim escort and manpower shortage right know, which was already relevant off Libya. It will grow worse in the 2020s (anybody here who believes in the official lifecycle of those hard-worked early T23s? Anybody here wanting to convince me on the operating cost of old vessels?).

    (4) With T26 far away from being orderable, the solution to the problem can only be a interim MOTS solution, which can be secured for comparatively low cost and effort. So my bet goes for BAE Avenger, which is major enhancement of River II and can take over an commitments made; it is capable to use CAMM, Harpoon/successor, small craft, helo, UAV/UUV/USV, maybe even CAPTAS-2 or the re-packaged LCS-CAPTAS-4, torpedo launchers, aso… We could have 4 in the water by 2020, for the cost of a single T-26 or half the cost of those precious powerpoints made in the last decade. I honestly cannot get, how grown-up people can even debate the need.

    (5) The idea to use a Bay-class with a gun is not effective, IMO. The vessels are too large and will eat into the operations budget. Also, I smell mission creep we cannot afford, and once again producing a single-point-of-failure solution.

    (6) Now I hear the “we don’t need corvettes/sloops” crowd crying. Of course we do, the only question is if we can afford a hi/lo mix, and if lo-vessels lessen/obliterating the need for or thwarting the affordability of hi-vessels. The discussion is moot, as we have debated it here to death in the past. IMO, no escort in the current RN is “hi” enough to survive a single Club-missile-hit; the larger the vessel, the better it stays afloat; but it will be a mission kill anyways.

    (7) Any idea of a conventional peer conflict with Russia and China without the strategic environment NATO and FPDA is offering to us is pure wishful thinking. The UK on its own is not capable for such a conflict.

  109. Repulse says

    @NaB: ”In answer to your earlier questions, I’d certainly not want to see classes bigger than 6 (or 8 at the very extreme) – assuming a fleet size similar to the current one. More important is the design interval – much more than 8-10 years between doing the basic design for successive classes and you lose expertise fast.”

    I can accept this approach. This means that if we accept the 8 hulls per class every ten years, then if BAE is going to be our sole complex warship builder (which in my opinion it has to be given the facts), then the Government needs tobaccept either a first rate fleet of 16 ships with a 20yr lifespan (probable post 2015 SDSR position IMO) or 24 ships with a 30yr lifespan (pre 2010 SDSR).

    The fact is that whilst the T26 design is attractive for design, anyone interested will want to build them locally, so it doesn’t impact the facts above.

    The real export opportunity in my view remains a specialist MHPC warship. But this is also separate from the BAE drumbeat IMO.

  110. Repulse says

    I’ve never really understood the aversion to a hi/lo mix for the RN. I’d prefer to call it a (hi/mid/lo) balanced fleet which I think until recently was always part of the RN DNA. Neither has the RN always had “the best ships in the world”, but has always done well on superior training, tactics and numbers.

  111. Mark says


    The French are buying 8 asw fremm frigates not sure where the 13 comes from. Australia are looking at China and configuring according. As for asw it’s not just 8 type 26 frigates its nuclear submarines, merlin helicopters and p8 aircraft asw for a country the size we are is covered. We operate in coalitions which further enhances numbers of asw assets. AsW is a threat but it is limited in quantity and quality. If you were wanting to limit the navy’s movement simply use mines at strategic points.

  112. MikeKiloPapa says

    @El SId

    Wrt Odense Steel Shipyard ……they actually lost money on both of the Absalons , broke even on Iver Huitfeldt and made a respectable profit on the last two frigates.
    But you are absolutely right about warship building being a mere footnote in Odense’s operations……..they had i fact been in the red more or less since the turn of the millennium. Despite being one of the most automated and efficient yards in Europe they just couldn’t compete with the low wages of Korean/Chinese shipbuilders.

    The decision to close down the yard had really already been made back then in the early 2000’s . It was kept alive for purely sentimental reasons by the owner , the very patriotic Mr Mærsk McKinney Møller. As soon as he stepped down as chairman of the board in 2009 the decision was promptly made final and the yard began closing down. The last ship delivered was HDMS Niels Juel in 2012.


    ” had to spend naval ops money to get their ships working”

    We didn,t “have” to…..it was a deliberate decision, planned right from the start. It was the only way to get 3 large 6500 tonnes frigates past the Danish government (and public) …..if they had known the real cost of these ships they would NEVER have been approved.
    (the last time the RDN asked for new surface combatants in the late seventies they wanted two 3-4000 tonnes frigates …….what they got was 3 useless 1000 tonnes corvettes. The navy learned their lesson)

  113. Pacman27 says


    I don’t think we are as far away from each other as perhaps you do.

    I am not against having a design team producing designs constantly, if the costs of running this dept are fairly stable. Likewise I have no real issue in building classes of 10 which I believe is the minimum cost effective run.

    I do however believe that we need to look at the management of the whole fleet and be very realistic about where we spend our money and how and understand how some of our stakeholders (inc HMT) think.

    I believe we should have a surface fleet build budget of £1b per annum and for this I would expect 2 escorts (£800m), 0.8 RFA (150m) and 12 small vessels (£50m) (which would be a combination of vessels similar to Safeboats Mk6 and CB90 as well as the PAC24’s).

    As for the Aegir – The design already incorporates a tanker as well as solid stores and if you look at the Damen Karel Doorman design it is remarkably similar in size and looks and I am sure BMT could facilitate this – therefore providing a single hull for the majority of the RFA capability (Although not all) In fairness even if they didn’t it isn’t as if the Bays were expensive but we should aim to standardise these platforms and spend the money on differentiation in our warfighting fleet.

    TBH I am not sure how survivable a T45 or T26/T23 is against anything approaching a peer – I am actually very concerned about the limitations of these vessels even against a SAAR, Khareef or Meko A200 never mind a couple of these and given the price differential I would rather have 3 or 4 MEko’s than 1 T26. I realise that this may be unpopular but that’s where I am.

  114. Pacman27 says

    @el Sid
    I believe the design team from Odense are available for hire and it seems to me a wasted opportunity to not even consult them.

    I know the RN have seen both the FREMM, Absolon and Huitfeldt and should have a view on these very capable ships, it seems to me that we should look at what is out in the market and build something better based upon our knowledge of what works and what doesn’t in each of these designs.

  115. DavidNiven says


    The idea to use a Bay-class with a gun is not effective, IMO. The vessels are too large and will eat into the operations budget.

    The average running cost per class of River Class is £20 million, Type 22 is £130.9 million, Type 23 is £313.8 million based on the expenditure incurred by the Ministry of Defence in 2009-10

    The average annual running cost of a Bay class ship, based on the expenditure incurred by the department in 2009-10, is approximately £17 million.


    So a Bay class is £3 million a year less than a River to run, even if you added some extra bits (as long as you don’t go stupid) of kit they would probably still be a lot less to run than a light frigate with pretty much the same capability for what it would be used for 90% of the time. Coupled with the space available both on the deck and below it’s uses are pretty much only limited by your ability to think outside of the box when used in support of the high end fleet.

    We do not neccesarily need to use a Bay class a smaller design could be used, but I think the basic premise of a vessel with a large clear flight deck with space below (especially if you could transfer aircraft from the flight deck to the lower deck) with whatever gun you want upfront provides a much more versatile vessel than a type 31 would.

  116. Mark says


    I would point out that parliamentary answers indicates the river class costs 20m per year is 4 ships where as it 17m per ship for a bay. So you actually get 4 rivers for the cost of a bay.

    3 rivers batch 2 variants operating in conjunction with a RFA mother ship maybe a interesting mix.

  117. DavidNiven says


    My bad, miss read the beginning of the sentence!

  118. Think Defence says

    I think the last time I saw running costs of the Bay’s was in light of Largs Bay being flogged and I seem to remember it was about the same as the Red Arrows, circa £10m per year.

    It is RFA crew though don’t forget, am assuming much cheaper to man than RN

  119. El Sid says

    @MKP Thanks, I hadn’t remembered that kind of detail on what had been said. But just to make it clear for anyone who wants to bring up the costs of the Absalons again – the shipyard making a loss on them means that their construction was subsidised by Maersk.

    @Pacman27 I know the RN have seen both the FREMM, Absolon and Huitfeldt and should have a view on these very capable ships, it seems to me that we should look at what is out in the market and build something better based upon our knowledge of what works and what doesn’t in each of these designs.

    Has it occurred to you that yes, the RN took a look at FREMM, Absolon and Huitfeldt – and came up with T26. We don’t want something that is “better” against a mythical Death Star standard, we want ships that are best-for-us given our constraints of budget and other factors.

    As for the grass being greener on the other side of the fence, this week we’ve had another review announced of all the problems on the Ford (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-29/pentagon-weapons-buyer-orders-review-of-new-carrier-s-troubles ), LCS-1 has a diesel engine damaged by seawater after a seal went, the various problems with LCS-2 mean it looks like it’s going to be used for little more than module testing, LCS-3 has just recovered from combining gear problems, LCS-4 has just broken down 3 days out of Pearl Harbor on her way to Singapore for the first trimaran deployment, LCS-5 had software problems last year that caused a complete propulsion shutdown so that she had to be towed home. And none of them have a full operating module yet.

    As for Australia, try SEA 1390, the Perry upgrade project.
    The unofficial view : http://web.archive.org/web/20080311102949/http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,22996048-952,00.html
    The official view : http://navalinstitute.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/headmark-130.pdf#page=5 (still not great…)

    @TD Specific question on Largs Bay was £9.5m for one specific year – trouble is that those kind of annual costs vary depending on deployment patterns and timing of refits etc.

  120. HMArmedForcesReview says
  121. shark bait says

    @Mark, The french will have 8 ASW FREMM, and they are just beginning a renovation program for the Lafayette class stealth frigates, which will include a VDS. They are introducing the capability now which will then be transferred to their FTI light frigate. That will leave them with 13 “front line” surface combatants capable of ASW.

    The French also have MPA and Helos, but they will never buy the kind of persistence a frigate with VDS affords. They seem to be taking a much more robust approach to ASW than we do.

    It makes me wonder, what is the difficulty attaching a VDS to out patrol frigate? The American LCS, the French FTI and Italian PPA will all have the ability. Why are we aiming for such a low capability platform? is it right to design a problem that only responds to fiscal challenges? or should we also be building one that responds to strategic challenges?

    Its clear what the difficulty is, its not the lack of threat, is the unwillingness to apply funds to properly address the threats. An ASW light frigate may cost 20% more, but if it is 100% more capable is that still a valuable choice?

  122. Not a Boffin says

    MKP – thanks. that was my understanding and what I was (poorly) trying to convey. RDN was always going to do the CS items.

    Pacman – the AEGIR is a tanker, pure and simple. The solid stores you refer to are a couple of hundred tonnes of provision for stores and vittles – not the thousands of tonnes (or more precisely tens of thousands of cubic metres) of myriad stores (including large amounts of munitions) that solid stores ships are required to provide for carriers and amphibs. Karel Doorman is a long way away from that and she’s also significantly different in arrangements. Suggesting something is a common hull because its about the same size is not helping your argument.

  123. shark bait says

    @HMArmedForcesReview, thats not an escort task. Thats a maritime security task.

    Any platform is capable of, maritime security, maritime counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations, they do not require high performance platforms, it would be a huge waste to invest in a complex warship just to perform these tasks.

    What advantage does a complex war ship have in the above situations?

    If that is the kind of task we want the T31 to do a “Bay class with a big gun” and a well dock full of CB90, would be more more capable, and much more cost effective.

    There is no reason to plough loads of resources into complex warship construction for maritime security tasks like this. Much better to use a simple platform and invest the savings into platforms with credible war time capability, such as more SSK’s, P8’s or MIV’s,

  124. All Politicians are the Same says

    Well what a lot of posts. Will need to read through them all but a couple of points. Firstly will everyone stop doing the whole 8 provides 2.5-3 argument. that is only applicable to standing tasking on a continuous rotational basis and not to the planning and generation of something like a carrier deployment where the maintenance and work up schedule of the assigned escorts can be tailored to provide the required availability.

    Also a whole host of figures being flung about for planned and proposed units. Italian light weight Frigates which are still proposals. Proposed La Fayette updates, proposed costs for SAAR 6, or using 2007 costs for Valour Class frigates to justify how many we could buy. despite the fact that as I and others have pointed out on numerous occasions they are not suitable for the sort of global tasking we conduct. The day our operational zones lie in the channel and the North sea we could look at missile Corvettes but until they do we would be wasting time and money.

    For that reason even Type 31 cannot be smaller than the current Type 23 hull in order to be useful.

  125. shark bait says

    @APATS The 2.5 available frigates is a reasonable argument.

    Speech by First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas;

    “We made what, in retrospect, was a quite extraordinary decision to define a highly ambitious future for the Royal Navy, based around 3 core capabilities of Continuous At Sea Deterrent and Carrier Strike, together with Amphibious Readiness.”

    The Royal Navy has set its self the challenge of delivering three core capabilities;
    *”Continuous At-Sea-Deterrent”
    *”Continuous Carrier Capability”
    *”Continuous Amphibious Readiness”

    These are continuous capabilities, standing tasking if you like, so we cannot consider surge conditions. The Royal Navy needs to build a force structure that can sustain these capabilities long term. The availability we can expect to sustain is 2.5 – 3 ASW frigates, which is simply not enough.

    Zambellas is correct, highly ambitious indeed! It looks like they will have plenty of shiny headline kit, but not the structure to support them operationally long term.

    An effective force is one we can place anywhere, and sustain that force to protect the interests of the UK.

    We would never consider a nuclear deterrent that we couldn’t sustain, why do we treat our conventional deterrent differently?


  126. All Politicians are the Same says

    @ Shark Bait

    The 2.5 ASW frigates is an argument based on a mistaken premise and misreading of the intent behind the speech you quote.

    “Speech by First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas;

    “We made what, in retrospect, was a quite extraordinary decision to define a highly ambitious future for the Royal Navy, based around 3 core capabilities of Continuous At Sea Deterrent and Carrier Strike, together with Amphibious Readiness.”

    The Royal Navy has set its self the challenge of delivering three core capabilities;
    *”Continuous At-Sea-Deterrent”
    *”Continuous Carrier Capability”
    *”Continuous Amphibious Readiness”

    These are continuous capabilities, standing tasking if you like, so we cannot consider surge conditions. The Royal Navy needs to build a force structure that can sustain these capabilities long term. The availability we can expect to sustain is 2.5 – 3 ASW frigates, which is simply not enough.

    Zambellas is correct, highly ambitious indeed! It looks like they will have plenty of shiny headline kit, but not the structure to support them operationally long term.

    An effective force is one we can place anywhere, and sustain that force to protect the interests of the UK.

    We would never consider a nuclear deterrent that we couldn’t sustain, why do we treat our conventional deterrent differently?”

    Sorry but you are confusing tt sea with continuous capability. what he is actually meaning is that we will always have a carrier in operation and will bring the second one online before the first goes into planned maintenance. Very different from a standing task requiring a ship on task worked up and on station.

  127. shark bait says

    I understand the difference. I maintain there is no point in continuous carrier strike availability without the continuous availability of escorts.

    We already cannot fulfill our standing commitments, the carriers will just place more demand on a stretched escort fleet. Finding the availability to protect a 100% at sea deterrent, and 66% at sea carrier will be extremely tight with just 2.5 available ASW frigates. That is going to place unnecessary operational constraints on the Royal Navy, harming its ability to go where it wants and do whats needed to protect the UK’s interests.

    This is all before we’ve considered NATO commitments, FRE, and TAPS.

    It is clearly not a sustainable force structure, elements are going to have to be dropped and gapped all over the place, which I hope we can agree is not what we should be aspiring to.

    5 Light frigates equipped with a VDS would bring some much needed relief to the over stretched ASW fleet, bringing us close to 4.5 available ASW frigates. That is a modest investment, to give the Royal Navy greater operational flexibility, and the escort availability so project power more freely. Surely that is a very valuable asset?

  128. All Politicians are the Same says

    @ Shark bait

    You clearly do not fully understand the difference. whilst we will have a Carrier “available” 365 24/7 it will follow a very firm program which allows the tailoring of escorts programs work ups and maintenance to maximise availability. In the case of a genuine emergency the things like leave and maintenance plans disappear, we put 2 DGs back into Westminster in 2003 as we had no time to wait for the replacements in order to deploy for Ops. I am also not sure which bit of thin air you grabbed 66% at sea carriers from?

    Protecting CASD involves TAPS, a duty now almost exclusively place onto a ship that has just returned from deployment these days. FRE and TAPs frequently double banked but again often covered by units that have just returned or just about to deploy.

    So once again we would have the ability to actually cover 3 permanent tasks with 8 type 26 but the other 5 are not unavailable as you seem to think and we are very unlikely to use T26 on 3 standing tasks so the 2.5 figure is plain wrong. 8 is far from ideal but a full understanding of how we work around it and the actual deployment and readiness profiles makes it less scary.

  129. shark bait says

    The 66% at sea figure comes from a 9 month deployment occurring every 2 and a bit years for each carrier.

    I understand the other 5 are still present, but are likley just back from a 9 month deployment, and cannot be sent off to sustain a force in the middle east again for example. If we want a sustainable force the well being of our service personnel is clearly very important. The only reasonable thing we can do here is assign the crews building up to a deployment to FRE.

    We have to work with a deployment availability of 1/3, some suggest 2/5 if things are working well.

    I do have and understanding of how we work, and all signs point to and escort fleet under a lot of pressure, pressure that clearly is not sustainable. Skipping, gapping and doubling up are unfortunately common place. I think it is reasonable to ask for a little more than a patrol frigate, to relieve the stress placed on the escort fleet.

  130. All Politicians are the Same says

    @ Sharkbait

    “I understand the other 5 are still present, but are likley just back from a 9 month deployment, and cannot be sent off to sustain a force in the middle east again for example. If we want a sustainable force the well being of our service personnel is clearly very important. We have to work with a deployment availability of 1/3, some suggest 2/5 if things are working well.

    The 66% at sea figure comes from a 9 month deployment occurring every 2 and a bit years for each carrier.

    I do have and understanding of how we work, and all signs point to and escort fleet under a lot of pressure, pressure that clearly is not sustainable. Skipping, gapping and doubling up are unfortunately common place. I think it is reasonable to ask for a little more than a patrol frigate, to relieve the stress placed on the escort fleet.”

    Perhaps 1 or 2 of them may just be back from a 9 month deployment but as we are going down to 1 FF/DD in the Gulf and the current NATO tasking is not certain to still be in force, The South Atlantic will be OPV covered and the Caribbean by OPV/RFA with any med tasking a mixy blob then 1 is the max that is likely to be returning from a 9 monther and even then they can be oncall for TAPS. Throw T45 into the mix for Gulf/NATO and we see that actually we are unlikely to have more than 1. As I have already pointed out in a true emergency then leave and non essential maintenance goes out the window.

    The carrier deployments will be carefully planned and we will see the operational carrier deploy for 6-8 months in an 18 month cycle giving us a figure closer to 50% time at sea. So we see we do have slightly more than 2.5 ASW escorts available for deployments. the 1/3 to 2/5 ratio is for permanent tasks and was first explained in detail on here by me. what skews your figures are the tasks that are not going to be Ff/Dd covered, the planning of carrier deployments and the reduction of 1 escort in the Gulf.

    Then we need to look at how many escorts are actually required for a routine deployment. CDG never had more than 4 during her time in the Gulf and only 2 of them were ever French. The UK T23 was ASWC, the US CVN generally had 1 Tico 2 Arleigh burke and the T45 during her time in the Gulf. A US CBG fragments after their STROG tst with the carrier retaining on the Tico in company until Suez. even then her escorts number normally only 3 until she meets up with 6th Fleet assets in the GOA before her SOH in.

    So in summary, given the number and nature of the tasks that are likely to be undertaken, the deployment profiles and utilisation of other assets, it will not be difficult to create a program that covers TAPS, standing commitments and makes available 3 ASW escorts for the deploying CBG (though only 2 may be required if NATO allies are involved). then factor in the presence of the FF/DD already in somewhere like the Gulf. the fact we would be filling a US Carrier gap if we were in the Gulf so as CTF 50 would have 5th fleet CRUDES assets available and it looks far less scary.

    In the vent of an emergency deployment to a high threat zone then not only would all our assets that can sail be made available but the chances are extremely high we would be going as part of NATO and the one thing that European NATO countries are not short of is escorts.

    For me T31 should be as capable as we can make it but this should be GP driven and not ASW as the noise reduction, propulsion requirements etc would drive up the cost to a horrible extent again. What does T31 need IMHO to cover things like Med migrant stuff, routine NATO flag flying etc. It needs a decent range, so efficient propulsion, decent hull size. It needs a gun but this could be something like 76MM STRALES, it needs at least self defence AAW capability this is easy, 36 Sea Ceptor (hopefully ER), it needs a CIWS, take your pick of what is available at the time, it needs something smaller than 76MM so a couple of 30 or 40Mm remote weapon stations. it needs an AsuW capability (pick 8 box launched ASuW missiles of choice and fit and integrate) it needs a proper ESM and EW fit. it needs a radar capable of allowing Sea Ceptor to operate and a command system. It needs aviation facilities (Merlin or wildcat only capable, cost and design may drive. It probably also needs a hull sonar. How big does this make the design when you add in habitability and survivability?

  131. MikeKiloPapa says

    @ El Sid

    “the shipyard making a loss on them means that their construction was subsidised by Maersk.”

    No not really…..The Absalons were built on a fixed cost contract. OSS lost money because they made several mistakes during construction and had to redo or rectify a lot of work(mostly on Absalon herself). But the cost to the RDN and the danish taxpayer remained the same.

    It is perhaps worth mentioning that , unlike what seems to be the case with the T26 in the UK, the Flexible Support Ship project was put out to competitive tender , with 3 (Danish) yards ultimately bidding. Now OSS might well have low-balled its bid (rumor has it that Maersk himself was adamant that “he” , as in OSS , would win the order…..Mr Møller was very fond of the navy) . So you might call it a small gift or a favor, but subsidizing it is not.

    Enough about danish ships!….i broadly agree with NAB that our ships and shipbuilding experience is not applicable or relevant to the UK.

    Wrt T26 i have a question though……When doing business with an industry giant enjoying a de facto monopoly, like BAE systems is, how do you ensure that you get a reasonable deal ? …..What kind of leverage or bargaining chip does the RN/MOD have in negotiations with BAE ?

  132. Repulse says

    Just a clarification point, I thought France is only buying 6 FREMM in ASW configuration?

  133. shark bait says


    8 FREMM in ASW, with the last 2 enhanced for AAW to replace the two Cassard class air defense frigates, but will retain the same ASW capabilities as the previous 6.

    French military planning is crystal clear compared to ours!

  134. shark bait says


    6 months in an 18 month cycle gives the same at sea time as I suggested previous ((6/18)*2 = 66%). To sustain that force we require 4 ASW frigates.

    To sustain CASD mixed with TAPS we require 3 ASW frigates.

    That is the ASW fleet used up before anything else is considered. Whats more we are consuming the availability of our big impressive multi mission frigates for a single specialist task.

    Yes the French sailed with 2 AAW escorts, 2 ASW escorts a Sub, and an auxiliary, which is a structure we should attempt to replicate. Two of those escorts where provided by NATO members, again something we should attempt to replicate, which can be used to give the fleet a little more deployment flexibility. However we absolutely must retain the ability to put together our own independent force of 2 AAW escorts and 2 ASW escorts at short notice. That is the only way we can truly protect the UK interests.

    I don’t think it is wise to be intrinsically depend on other nations, especially with tighter European military integration they will be too busy bickering about their own conflicting national interests to actually act upon anything. We must retain full independent capability.

    There is then ARG, Kippon, APTs and NATO commitments to fulfill. An ASW equipped patrol frigate could either perform there duties, or release a T26 from escort duties. The T26 is arguably much better suited to these tasks with its multi mission flexibility and endurance.

    What credible capability does your “CAMM and a Gun” light frigate contribute? what purpose does it have outside of piece time patrols? Equipping the Royal Navy like that is the equivalent of having 50% of the RAF jet fleet consisting of Hawks equipped with ASRAMM. People would be pissed if that happened, but to do a similar thing to the RN is ok?

  135. All Politicians are the Same says



    6 months in an 18 month cycle gives the same at sea time as I suggested previous ((6/18)*2 = 66%). To sustain that force we require 4 ASW frigates.

    To sustain CASD mixed with TAPS we require 3 ASW frigates.

    That is the ASW fleet used up before anything else is considered. Whats more we are consuming the availability of our big impressive multi mission frigates for a single specialist task.

    Yes the French sailed with 2 AAW escorts, 2 ASW escorts a Sub, and an auxiliary, which is a structure we should attempt to replicate. Two of those escorts where provided by NATO members, again something we should attempt to replicate, which can be used to give the fleet a little more deployment flexibility. However we absolutely must retain the ability to put together our own independent force of 2 AAW escorts and 2 ASW escorts at short notice. That is the only way we can truly protect the UK interests.

    I don’t think it is wise to be intrinsically depend on other nations, especially with tighter European military integration they will be too busy bickering about their own conflicting national interests to actually act upon anything. We must retain full independent capability.

    There is then ARG, Kippon, APTs and NATO commitments to fulfill. An ASW equipped patrol frigate could either perform there duties, or release a T26 from escort duties. The T26 is arguably much better suited to these tasks with its multi mission flexibility and endurance.”

    We are not going to have 2 deploying carriers in 18 months. only one is going to be fully manned and deployable. it will deploy once in an 18 month cycle perhaps twice in a 24 month cycle. we have neither the manpower nor the air assets to routinely run both.

    Wrong about CASD and TAPS we can easily sustain with the recently deployed, soon to be deployed friagte from another task, is what we do just now.

    We will have the capability to deploy with 2 ASW and 2 AAW escorts. The French never really had two proper air defenders with CDG. we provided 1 of the ASW assets, at one point there was 1 French escort, 2 Germans and 1 T23.

    Nothing to do with being intrinsically reliant, it is to do with being realistic.

    The ARG is going to be soaked up into the CBG deployments or into a separate cycle, we already send only 1 escort with the cougar, the French send the other and they rarely deploy into a hostile environment, though cougar will go to the gulf this year but funnily enough will be supported by 5th fleet (realistic again).

    Kipeon will be down to 1 Ff/DD easily contained within 45/23/26 planning. NATO may or may not be covered and the 31 as i laid out would fit in easily to a NATO group. APTs are gapped south and the FI will be OPV work and APT(N) will continue to alternate between OPV/RFA.


    The 2 French FREDA AAW frigates are basically FREMM with an improved version of Herakles. They swap out the 16 Sylver 70 cells and 16 Sylver 43 cells for 32 Sylver 50 cells so can have 32 Aster 30 instead of 16 aster 15 and 16 Scalp. Wonder if there was just no room to swap the Sylver 43 cells for 50 and retain the 70 which would have given much greater flexibility.

  136. shark bait says

    You are suggesting covering CASD, TAPS and FRE with crews and ships that are suppose to be resting, maintaining or training. Granted they can pick up a bit of slack, but too much is placing yet more pressure on an already busy escort fleet. Its simply not a sustainable option, either training, or maintenance or crew welfare will not be properly fulfilled and things will begin to fall apart. We are already seeing signals of this today.

    I though between us we have highlighted an escort fleet in very high demand, leaving crews and equipment under a lot of pressure to meet these demands. The T31 must have some credible escorting capabilities to begin to release some of that pressure, leading to a more agile, flexible and sustainable escort fleet.

  137. All Politicians are the Same says

    @Shark Bait

    “You are suggesting covering CASD, TAPS and FRE with crews and ships that are suppose to be resting, maintaining or training. Granted they can pick up a bit of slack, but too much is placing yet more pressure on an already busy escort fleet. Its simply not a sustainable option, either training, or maintenance or crew welfare will not be properly fulfilled and things will begin to fall apart. We are already seeing signals of this today.

    I though between us we have highlighted an escort fleet in very high demand, leaving crews and equipment under a lot of pressure to meet these demands. The T31 must have some credible escorting capabilities to begin to release some of that pressure, leading to a more agile, flexible and sustainable escort fleet.”

    Perhaps you you could explain what this mythical ASW CASD task actually involves? TAPS supports CASD and is at x notice to move, as is FRE. They have no requirement to be at sea nor fully manned at immediate notice alongside. They are units tasked to cover those duties at x notice to sail. The increased deployments of 9 months making the actual physical handover of assets, as well as the decrease in Ff/DD standing tasks makes these “at notice” duties far easier to manage.

    t31 as i laid out would provide a credible GK, ASuW shooter, and GP escort.

  138. shark bait says

    An ASW frigate is needed to support the CASD, ensuring there is a sterile environment along our continental shelf to guarantee safe passage between the Clyde and the open ocean. Without that there is a gaping hole in system which nullifies the whole CASD concept. Its a task an ASW patrol frigate would be very well suited to, furthermore it releases a T26 to perform the long ranged multi mission deployments it is well suited to.

  139. shark bait says

    What is a GP escort? No one has yet managed to explain this, it always boils down to an escort that is just plain terrible at escorting.

  140. All Politicians are the Same says

    @ Shark Bait

    “An ASW frigate is needed to support the CASD, ensuring there is a sterile environment along our continental shelf to guarantee safe passage between the Clyde and the open ocean. Without that there is a gaping hole in system which nullifies the whole CASD concept. Its a task an ASW patrol frigate would be very well suited to, furthermore it releases a T26 to perform the long ranged multi mission deployments it is well suited to.”

    Are you suggesting we currently attempt to search our whole continental shelf with an ASW frigate before we sail the deterrent ;)? or even worse we should set the sort of pattern that would incur as well as taking so long to search that sort of area? You know that one SSBN does not leave patrol until the other is on it hence the CASD piece. We do track locations of potentially hostile submarines but the best defence of the SSBN is that it is hard to find as soon as it is clear of the North Channel.

    As for what is a GP escort that is not specialised as an air defender or a specialist ASW asset. So it can provide AAW defence to itself and an asset that it sits close to but not engage aircraft at long range. It can also provide ASW escort in an active screen configuration but is not designed for passive towed array op. it can act as a surface shooter and has an organic rotary wing asset. So like our non tail T23, the German F125 and numerous nations MEKO 200 and A200 variants.

  141. shark bait says

    Are you suggesting we don’t need to protect our deterrent from hostile subs? Are you suggesting we don’t need a presence in the GIUK gap?

    So a GP escort provides AAW defence to itself? and act as a surface shooter by using a helicopter? That something that every platform can do, even the tide class tankers have a magazine for helicopter weaponry. Without a towed array it is almost useless a finding subs.

    What value is that GP frigate adding to a task group?

    A GP escort can’t find subs, can’t stop missiles, and cant provide a greater ASuW capability than even our Auxiliary tankers. Where is the value in a platform like that?

  142. All Politicians are the Same says

    @ Shark Bait

    “So a GP escort provides AAW defence to itself? and act as a surface shooter by using a helicopter? That something that every platform can do, even the tide class tankers have a magazine for helicopter weaponry. Without a towed array it is almost useless a finding subs.

    Negative, A GP escort that can provide AAW defence to an HVU as a goal keeper or with Sea Ceptor as a close in escort (further out if ER becomes a reality). Do you know how a screen works? The Frigates form the outer area where the missiles and any FBA have to overfly thus making better use of their generally shorter range SAM capability. The spacing of the screen is based on sonar conditions with an active policy in place. often with the required SOA it is totally unsuited to Towed array ops. Also you intersperse different sonar type to avoid interference, so non towed array ops ships are anything but useless. Next you put your air defenders inside the outer layer, they can utilise their longer ranged SAMS and be inside the ASW screen. finally you have the HVU which can have another FF close in to protect against pop ups and leakers. if you had read what i said about Gp escorts you would have seen I said nothing about having to use a helo for AsuW, both my T31 configuration and the examples have ASuW missiles onboard.

    That is how escorting actually works!

  143. All Politicians are the Same says

    @ Shark Bait

    “Are you suggesting we don’t need to protect our deterrent from hostile subs? Are you suggesting we don’t need a presence in the GIUK gap?”

    I am telling you that its ability to avoid detection is the SSBN best protection, we do not even know where it is, the CO has a choice of patrol areas. We definitely do not buzz around near it. I am also telling you we have no permanent presence in the GIUK gap. As NATO we monitor Russian submarines and track and respond as required.

  144. Think Defence says

    The problem is, we have to accept compromise, of course 13 Type 26 ASW variant would be better than 8 Type 26 ASW and 6 Type 26 GP, which is also better than 8 Type 26 ASW and 5 Type 31 GP

    No one is denying that

    But show the money

    Anyway, I quite like DN’s idea of turning Type 31 in a smaller Bay type large multi purpose vessel

  145. jedpc says

    The Boss said “so show the money” …..

    So the Navy dont want no steeeeinkin’ Corvettes, and the Government doesnt want to spend what is required for “proper” warships in the required (?) numbers. Is this not really a failture on the “corporate greed’ front with BAe and the politcal front with “jobs for UK ship yeards” being the real problems ? If you commit to a defence industrial strategy, and want to use defence of the realm to subsidize uneconomic industries such as ship building for ships over a certain size and complexity because you have decided that the ‘skilz’ involved are strategic, then suck it up and put your frakkin money where your policy mouth is HMG ! If you want maximum “bang for buck” then ditch BAe, let BMT or the Danes do the design, build the hulls in Romanian or Korean yards and fit them out with your sensitive electronics in Pompi or Guzz. How many of TD’s “ships that are not a frigate” of the smaller variety based on civvy hulls could have been had for the price of the River B2’s – 2 more, 3 more ? Would such simpler vessels not suffice for pulling drowning refugees out of the Med, or for launching RHIBS full of Underwater Knife Fighters (TM) to intercept maritime terrorists ?

  146. jedpc says

    Question for all – for a non-Towed Array, non-Merlin carrying ASW capability, that might often be deployed in shallower water, and as we dont have ASROC, how about:

    1. Full size SpearFish wire guided torpedos launched from your GP escort – they are pretty big so we might not fit many onboard

    2. Is a 120mm mortar round with a suitable fuze big enough to use as a depth charge ? Thinking NEMO or AMOS throwing them out at a reasonable rate of fire might be OK in shallower waters ??

  147. The Other Chris says

    Soupe du jour is more likely to lead to a Merlin-capable flight deck (if not hangar) and RUM-139C from a VLS solution.

  148. shark bait says

    Unless it can escort there is no point investing in a complex warship, instead much better value would be realized through a “Bay type large multi purpose vessel”

    How is a GP escort going to guide a SpearFish torpedo? wont it just be shooting in the dark?

  149. jedpc says

    The Other Chris – I dont see any of the designs suggested in this article with “strike length” MK41 required for VL-ASROC, just CAMM cells.

    By the way, just thinking of this “Corvettes” thing – the low end BAe Son-of-River might be a corvette, but the Venator 110 is longer, wider and heavier than my first ship, which was a “Broad Beamed” Leander Class Frigate (not Corvette). It also carries more kit, can sail further and has a smaller crew…. ooh the advances of modern technology !

  150. Donald_of_Tokyo says


    > Anyway, I quite like DN’s idea of turning Type 31 in a smaller Bay type large multi purpose vessel

    Built with what damage control standard? If you do it like a “frigate”, it will cost the same as T26 (maybe 30% cheaper, by omitting “super-quiet hull” for ASW), I’m afraid. Bay’s standard shall be much “worse” than Floreal-class, I guess… It is RFA vessel.

  151. El Sid says

    But the cost to the RDN and the danish taxpayer remained the same.

    Exactly – they’re not the ones paying for the extra cost. If you have a contract for €300m and the ship costs €250m, then €50m ends up in the OSS bank account as a result of the contract. However, if the contract is for €300m and the ship costs €350m then someone has to pay an extra €50m of salaries etc and that payment comes out of the OSS bank account. So Maersk have had to pay out €50m as a result of the contract to build the ship.

    If governments pay a wind farm €350m for electricity that electricity companies are only prepared to pay €300m for, then that’s a €50m subsidy from the government. Same thing here, it’s just far less common for a private company to be subsidising the government’s acquisition of a ship. BAE have lost quite a lot of money over the years on government contracts, but it’s usually been on projects that haven’t delivered any hardware, so there’s no end product that can be said to be subsidised.

    On getting value from a single-source supplier – it’s not easy, and it’s something that the RN has struggled with since the T23’s (where we did have effective competition). It’s also been worth watching Sean Stackley of the USN who has obsessed about getting two yards for each warship type – it’s notable that the best run programmes in the USN are the Virginias and Burkes, where they have healthy competition. It’s been downhill since the Bays, where customer thought that we still had two yards capable of functional competition, but we manifestly didn’t. One of the big criticisms of the carrier project was that the ACA didn’t take on enough risk, it got renegotiated so any overruns were split 50:50. People forget that the main driver for ToBA was to enable the privatisation of a whole load of pension liabilities that government had taken on in the past but now wanted to get rid of.

  152. ArmChairCivvy says

    @jed, RE “thinking of this “Corvettes” thing – the low end BAe Son-of-River might be a corvette, but the Venator 110 is longer, wider and heavier than my first ship, which was a “Broad Beamed” Leander Class Frigate (not Corvette). It also carries more kit, can sail further and has a smaller crew”

    BMT decided they had better move away from under the dark “corvette” cloud and did it with design90=> updated into design 110

  153. S O says

    120 mm mortar bomb weight approximates the warheads of the Russian RBU-6000 system,
    but why not follow the Russians and have a system with much higher burst rate of fire (also important for deploying dumb decoys en masse) and secondary utility in shore bombardment?

    I don’t advocate it, I think such tiny warheads sound like shallow water ASW munitions.

  154. dmereifield says

    Surely if it’s going to have to be cheap and MOTS, the whole point of the T31 in the first place, that means it’s going to have to be Cutlass or Avenger, which are mature(ish) designs. Unless I’m mistaken the 110 isn’t much more than a concept? They haven’t undertaken all of the detailed design work and haven’t proven that it all works when you put it together. Thus if we are going to have the T31 in sharp order (I.e. 5 years) its most likely going to be based on onw of the BAE designs tweaked to meet RN/HMG additional requests, I guess….

  155. Shades says

    IIRC, @NAB has told us that the first 3 T26s will have weapons and components (including the TAS) because all of the T23s will still be in service and kit will only be carried over from the T23s for the remaining 5 T26s. On that basis we’ll still have the kit from 8 T23s to play with (including 3 sets of TAS). If the T23’s kit is good enough for the T26s, why not use it for the T31s – with possible exception of harpoon if that goes out of service?

  156. Shades says

    *first 3 T26s will have *new weapons
    *spare TAS will of course be from last T23s osd not 1st T23s Osd and therefore not avail til 2030s but still

  157. jedpc says


    Thanks for response, I did actually find time today to look up the Russian RBUs ! But I did mean for shallow water, and I do think a 120mm mortar based system, lets say a AMOS with twin barrels, would be easier to have magazine and fit onboard ship than Russian style rocket launchers. It could of course also be used for chaff, flares, decoys etc as you noted. Maybe even a good anti-swarm weapon with normal air-bursting HE….

  158. Repulse says

    Based on the discussion to date, my view is still that a short term fix is required to move forward, which means a short term sacrifice of 3 T23 for 3 Avenger (plus keeping the 3 Batch 1 Rivers), which brings us to 2020.

    Next build the 8 T26 ASW variants to 2030, after which assuming the MOD want’s to keep a first line fleet of @16 ships, they accept a 20yr lifespan and the builds a T45 replacement, hopefully with AAW and ASW capabilities.

    In parallel, the T31 becomes the new MHPC, which is built outside of BAE and is the export winner.

  159. All Politicians are the Same says


    what exactly would we gain from your little sacrifice? Other than a decreased operational capability for a few years?

  160. JohnHartley says

    No heads up thread, so it goes here. The Times (Thursday) reports “Japan steps up arms race to counter China”. They have a new female defence minister, Tomomi Inada. She wants 5.17 trillion Yen (£38 billion) for the 2017 defence financial year. 2.3% more than this year. She has said Japan “should consider acquiring nuclear weapons”. New military kit includes PAC-3 Patriot SAM upgrades, 2,000 strong amphibious warfare force, new submarine,6x F-35, 5x V-22, 6x Chinook, assault craft, cargo jets & development money for a land to ship & air to ship missile.

    Look up the SAAB anti sub grenade mortar ASW-601 (from memory). Its on youtube.

  161. ArmChairCivvy says

    RE “did actually find time today to look up the Russian RBUs ! But I did mean for shallow water, and I do think a 120mm mortar based system, lets say a AMOS with twin barrels, would be easier to have magazine and fit onboard ship than Russian style rocket launchers. It could of course also be used for chaff, flares,”

    That would increase the sphere of influence from the .5 km to 10km , from the existing shallow water systems (if your sensors are up to it; a dipping sonar Widcat, anyone?):

    “Elma M/83 grenade weighed 4.2 kg, and typically fired with 4 LLS-920 grenade launcher with nine pieces barrels each, mounted in 30-degree angle to the ship’s deck. A full salvo of 36 Elma-grenades were thrown about 250-300 meters and covering an area of ​​about 80 x 100 meters .
    When a submarine has 2 hull, an outer hull shape that provides a drip form, and an inner pressure hull, the intention was that with Elmas targeted explosive device hit a hole the size of a Euro coin, through both hulls. The injury does not lower the submarine, but it is forced to take surfacing unless the leak quickly sealed. Weapons System was put into service on naval vessels in 1984, and in January 1985 modified the system to be used in so shallow as 10 feet. Later modification cocks grenade already at the water surface.
    For anti-submarine warfare in Hävringebukten outside Oxelosund 2-5 June 1988 a total of 84 Elma-grenades and 60 depth charges, 36 Elma-grenades and 32 depth charges at the same attack – the most massive known anti-submarine warfare attack carried out in peacetime in Sweden .
    In 1990 Finland became the first country other than Sweden to buy the weapon system, missile boats in Rauma-class.


    When the political will existed in the early 1990s to improve the Swedish anti-submarine warfare capability, upgraded Elma M/83 grenade into new 5.7 kg heavy and slightly longer m/90 where English company Pains Wessex contributed to the improvement of grenade penetration , and M/90-granaten could now result in even lower a submarine. Throw improved from 350 to about 450 meters. The new system came into operation in 1993 called Elma ASW 600, ASW, which stands for Anti-Submarine Warfare. Although a land-based version of the weapon was produced, to protect ports and narrow channels.


    In 1994 was introduced in the next step in weapon system development. Grenade Launcher is now mounted 2×9 on a moving platform and can be adjusted automatically depending on the target data from such sonar. Besides the usual Elma M/90-granaten, can counter with eg infrared lamps or metal strip is fired with the system.”

    Couple of points to note:
    – can be primed with either “sink” or with “force to surface” varieties (plus flares, chaff….)
    – can be put on vessels down to the size of our existing Border Force cutters
    – can even be shore based, for harbour entrance defences

  162. Deja Vu says

    As a land loving type my inference from @TD is that designing a new ship is expensive so that the simplest solution would be.

    The Type 31 should have the hull and structure of a Type 26 thereafter everything that is not welded to the hull should be an option. I presume that accommodation and welfare requirements would be the same, also the combat system infrastructure. Propulsion probably the same. Thereafter the boys with the sharp pencils can identify how to bring Type 31 within cost by omission or substitution until the balance of cost and capability is met. (Probably more a pissing contest between BAE and MoD rather than a rational process)

    Once in service, critical aspects can be upgraded as and when needs are identified.* This eliminates and reduces the concept and the the assessment phases. Allows for reuse of drawings and jigs. Reduces time and uses the lessons learned from the first build through the whole Type 26 & 31 builds.

    By building the Type 31 alternately with Type 26 the cost could be averaged over the build.

    * For example AV mounts could be omitted or lower spec ones installed but if Type 31 is required for ASW the same as Type 26 could be retrofitted.

  163. Julian says

    Civilian out of his depth here (no pun intended!) but …. on the discussions of an AMOS-120mm type of anti-sub capability are you guys assuming special anti-sub munitions being developed and are you assuming automatic or manned reloading to get a high enough rate of fire to put down a pattern or more of a single hit to kill/force-to-surface type of weapon?

    If yes to developing new munitions and no to laying down a pattern then Jedpc’s mention of “It could of course also be used for chaff, flares, decoys etc as you noted” made me wonder whether, in the context of T31 (and T26) Chemring Centurion might be a suitable launch weapon. I first saw Centurion mentioned in TD’s great article on the T26 where he was wishing/hoping it was included on T26. BMT’s renders of their Venator 110 T31 proposal do actually seem to show a couple at the back either at side of the hanger roof. That might give an anti-sub capability and very flexible decoy capability without any additional launchers needed above what might already be going in for good decoy capability.

  164. MikeKiloPapa says

    @El Sid

    Wrt Subsidies……i get your point……i just dont a agree. OSS agreed to a build contract on which they would have made money( like they did on the frigate ditto) IF they hadn’t screwed up. They are in essence paying for their own mistakes.

    I know some people like to use it as an argument that the Absalons are really more expensive than officially claimed(which they are but for completely different reasons)….But the cost of the metal bashing part of the construction that OSS was responsible for ,is genuine. People just wont believe it because they are used to the insane cost plus contracts usually awarded to inefficient military yards.
    Subsidies, in my view , is when a state (through its MOD)regularly overpays by 50-100% just to keep their yards in business…..like the Germans usually do for instance.

  165. Repulse says

    @APATS: ” ‘repulse

    what exactly would we gain from your little sacrifice? Other than a decreased operational capability for a few years?”

    The benefits I believe are:
    – Reduce the manpower pressures that resi

  166. Repulse says

    @APATS: “‘repulse

    what exactly would we gain from your little sacrifice? Other than a decreased operational capability for a few years?”

    The benefits I believe are:
    – Break the cycle we have currently with BAE around drumbeat once and for all
    – Adhere to NaBs view of smaller batches every 10 years to ensure efficiency and standards
    – Ease of manpower pressures, to avoid ships being tied up
    – Potential option to keep the 3 River 1s to help manage any local post Brexit / Migration impact or reactivation running both LPDs
    – Ability to use the decommissioned T23s as spares to keep the ageing fleet running
    – Fully equip all T45s with ASuW Harpoons

  167. Pacman27 says

    I think we are all missing the point really and it just goes to show how you can get sucked into a way of thinking or accepting costs and cost cutting if it is done long enough.

    Lets assume that we are looking at a 25 year planning horizon, would we want the same assets as we have now or would we choose to rebalance and replace them.

    (Note: for the purposed of the following the T26 will replace the T45 over time).

    I believe there is a place for both T26 and T31 classes of vessel if we are smart with deployments. It seems clear to me that a Valour class frigate is a capable asset in its own right and able to do the majority of what we need. It cannot however provide for the more advanced radar and AAW activities that a T45 does. However if we used CEC and had a fleet of T26 fully configured for Air Defence and the T31 were configured for ASW activities and more general purpose activities – does this not mean we get the best of both worlds.

    2 T26/T45 and 4 T31’s escorting a carrier group would be a fairly potent mix if they can all communicate with each other properly. I really don’t care whether a T31 is a T26 without the fancy bits. I do care that we should look to move away from some of the platforms we have and start using these as remote systems from a T class war fighting asset, so that we have those assets available if necessary.

    It is time to look at our long term fleet structure and my view is a major surface fleet (100m +) of 52 ships (inc RFA), a sub surface fleet of 14 ships and a small fleet of 6 to include a fwd repair ship and 5 survey vessels. Out of the 52 ships in the surface fleet 14 would be T26 and 22 would be T31 derivatives.

    We then have to replace a load of current assets with smaller assets or systems such as Atlas – this is where the industry is going and we should embrace the opportunities the unmanned systems offer.

    The RN is missing a asymmetric threat in my opinion and I would purchase 50 Safeboat Mk6 and 300 CB90’s or similar to provide this at what is an exceptional value point.

    None of the above needs to happen immediately – we should concentrate on building the first batches of T26 and then come up with a fleet overhaul plan. For me the Cutless, Avenger, Rivers are all useless and a waste of money. I would sell them all.

    Ultimately we need to be delivering 2 major surface ships every year indefinitely and 1 submarine every 2 years indefinitely if we are serious about our military shipbuilding capability – after we get this “drumbeat” sorted and stop the gold plating of every design by introducing some basic discipline into the MOD then the rest will fall into place.

    For the small fleet we need to be building circa 18 vessels of different sizes annually to create the required drumbeat.

    This will cost approx £3bn per annum for the build programme only (based on 2016 estimate), probably another £3bn in maintenance and running cost and another £3bn for people which means the RN needs a budget of £10bn p.a including contingency.

    Having read all of our comments (inc. mine) I think we are all starting to accept second class systems as we believe there is not enough money – I believe there is enough money – it is just being wasted on a scale we probably cannot comprehend.

  168. Simon257 says

    The Aussies have signed an access contract with BAe. If Austrailia were to go for the T26, where would that leave T31. If the baseline cost for the T26 were to drop?

  169. Donald_of_Tokyo says


    > Tomomi Inada. “nuclear weapons”.
    Just remember Japan is the most allergetic country to nuclear weapon. She said it when she was “free”, but if she say so as a minister, I think she will be quickly fired.

    > 2,000 strong amphibious warfare force
    This happens without manpower increase. So, just reorganization.

    On T31 related topic. Japan MSDF has a plan for “small frigate”, with similar size as of T31. But, it remained to be a concept for long. We are not sure what kind of vessels will show up. So, T31/FTI discussion is also important for us Japanese.

    Looking at navy recognitions’ new report in youtube, THALES is proposing the CAPTAS-4 VDS part to be added to Burks (not only LCSs). I understand the “hull quietness” is anyway relative, because USN is doing it. I think this is because we are now living in an active sonar world again. T31 with “so so quiet hull” added with CAPTAS-4 (or 2) (even FFBNW), ommitting the “super quiet hull (no other navy in the world is looking for)”, will provide “useful” ASW assets. As useful as FTI and Nansen. Combined with T26ASW, it will provide 2nd-rate (not 2nd tier) ASW, I guess.

  170. jedpc says

    @Pacman – nope, respectfully I think your missing the point: where is the cash for 14 x T26, including design of an AAW variant, and 22 x T31 and 300 x CB90 coming from ?

    @Deja Vu – that is far too much like common sense and is in effect the orginal plan to have ASW and GP variants of T26 BUT put on your tin foil hat with me. As TD has pointed out the River class and derivatives have actually been an export success for BAe. T26 probably won’t be so cue secret meetings between BAe board members and bent as f**k Tories to ensure that RN is the lead customer for a small, cheaper, less capable ship that BAe actually has a chance of selling elsewhere – et voila Cutlass and Avenger designs.

    @Julian – No I dont think the Chemring Centurion is big enough for what I was suggesting also not magazine fed.

    @ACC – thanks ! If ASW 600 / 602 M90 “grenade” (depth chargelet) is 5.7KG – Hirtenberger 120mm HE FRAG is just over 2KG, so maybe a less aerodynamic round, sacrificing range for payload could pack in enough HE for the shock wave to damage to subs in shallow water without a direct hit ? Or a shaped charge for that direct hit penetration of double hulls ?

  171. Pacman27 says


    If the Mod is to be believed the money is already there, we have a defence budget circa £40bn and we can’t afford £3bn a year to build ships – if that is the case then we should give up. It is less than 10% of the annual budget and my figures include all subs inc successor. The point is I think everyone is starting to believe we cannot afford to do the job properly and that the MOD has no money, both are factually incorrect. The money is there it is being apportioned incorrectly (unless someone can prove to me that it is not).

    The RN needs £10bn a year to run at a level that most believe is credible and a massive modernisation programme needs to occur to change the shape of our forces.

    Please remember its a 25 year plan and that is the point – schedule these purchases over a period of time and keep the tempo going then evolve or change designs in a controlled manner, it is not some quick fix I am proposing but a large scale planned change requiring insight and commitment.

    14 x T26 @ £750m each = £10.5bn divided by 25 years is £420m p.a. (similar cost profile to a FREMM)
    22 x T31 @£350m each = £7.7bn divided by 25 years is £308m p.a. (Estimated cost profile)
    300 x CB90’s@ £3m each = £900m divided by 25 years is £36m p.a. (based upon known contracts)
    50 x SafeboatsMk6 @£10m each = £500m divided by 25 year is £20m p.a. (based upon known contracts)

    So for the above we are looking at a build (not TCO) cost of £784m p.a. over a 25 year period. Are you really saying that we cannot afford this out of a £40bn defence budget, as I think we can and should.

  172. ArmChairCivvy says


    These are shaped charges, peculiarly the ancestry is the CG anti-tank
    “to reduce development time was a variant of the anti-tank weapon Carl-Gustaf munitions directed explosive effect (RSV).
    Elma M/83 grenade weighed 4.2 kg, […] A full salvo of 36 Elma-grenades were thrown about 250-300 meters and covering an area of ​​about 80 x 100 meters .”

    So the nature is also a saturation weapon (for a defined box). How they turn themselves in water, to fire towards the target, is a great mystery to me. Or is it down to probabilities, and the only steering is to keep them facing sideways as they sink.

    AMOS/ NEMO are not saturation weapons, but rather the GPS-based relativity of where you fire from and onto which target is updated in real time. Add the AMOS (double barrel) simultaneous impact option for 6-7 rounds (needs some flight time for the coordination though differently arched fligt paths to happen) and a sub (slow or trying to run away) would be in big trouble.

  173. Rocket Banana says

    I like the idea of smaller batches (say 8) every 10 years with a 30 year design life per hull.

    So given that we’ve built too few T45 should we not seriously consider building 10 T26 with two AAW optimised variants.

    I don’t like just how tight the T45+T26 tasking rota looks. There’s no space for mishaps. Another two hulls will fix that and provide a couple of each in UK waters to sail/exercise with the RFTG.

  174. El Sid says

    You might want to take a look at the Equipment Plan to get a feel for all the other pressures on the budget :

    Current equipment budget is £14.6bn – the rest gets frittered away on salaries, pensions etc. That equipment budget splits about 55:45 support:acquisition. Over the next 10 years we will average £6.85bn/year on new stuff for all the services, £1.83bn/year on supporting it, and £6.58bn supporting existing kit. The budget is to average £1.9bn on surface ships (support and procurement), and £4.3bn/year on submarines. That’s an average in then-year prices, so knock off 5 years of inflation to get back to current prices.

    Everything comes out of that, from Successor to bearskins for the London Tourist Board. Your sums also leave out a whole load of spending, like submarines, RFA, carriers etc, which is going to be particularly important over the next few years. I think people forget what a huge national effort will be required for Successor – it may not be as visible as the carriers, but each Successor will cost more than QNLZ (ditto for their “air groups”) – and we’re building four of the things. I’m not aware of any MoD equivalent in the public domain of this graph from the USN 30-year shipbuilding plan, but we have the same problem coming up, that SSBNs will suck up a huge proportion of the available budget.


    You can’t sensibly talk about the RN shipbuilding budget unless you have in mind what the RN version of that USN chart would look like. People might like to have a go at pencilling in what the RN version would be, bearing in known plans for Successor, MARS etc and eg replacements for the LPDs, within that overall envelope of circa £8.5bn procurement budget over 10 years on surface ships and circa £21bn on submarines.

  175. Pacman27 says

    @El Sid

    I have looked at the equipment plan and broadly agree with your analysis, but isn’t it just crazy that we spend more on extending the life of aged/obsolete assets than we do on providing new kit to our troops (my belief is that a new asset costs less to maintain than a life extended one).

    I have budgeted and scheduled a RN version of the USN’s 30 year plan (over 25 years to align with 0.5 carrier cycles and 1 submarine power plant cycle) and it comes out at circa £85bn over the 25 years for all assets (build only) The Subs take up circa 50% of all expenditure with successor and 10 astutes budgeted at £45bn over the 25 year planning cycle.

    I do believe that there should be some savings in maintenance if we are refreshing on a more regular basis, but ultimately the MOD need to get a grip on all areas of spending and prioritise what it needs to do to get better equipment into the hands of our troops, sailors and airmen.

    You are right that my costs do not include many assets as I was responding to specific query from @jedpc and my point is really that a 10 year timeline is too short and that there is an opportunity to rebalance the whole fleet over a 25yr planning horizon. We do need to budget for Successor over 25 years to ensure costs are kept in perspective (yes it’s a lot probably £2bn+ pa forever to build, run and maintain) but to be blunt I do not believe the MOD is capable of doing this unfortunately, so we will continue to accept equipment that is frankly substandard and in low volumes. The subs cost you have highlighted is a result of poor sequencing and lack of planning that is indicative of the famine / feast mentality that has got us into this mess.

    If we look at the cost of the asset + maintenance + operational costs + sunken costs of providing core support / weighted value based on asset cost or size and you can start to model the equipment budget and it is total tosh.

  176. Pacman27 says

    The current 10 year equipment budget breaks down as follows.

    Equipment spend = £68.5bn
    Support = £84.1bn (£18.3bn on new support arrangements).
    Risk weighting = £ 10.1bn (contingency held within projects themselves)
    3 lots of of central contingency = £13.8bn

    If I did a budget like this I would be fired as in reality the support budget should be relatively static as you should be retiring equipment as you bring other equipment on. Obviously bases need to be upgraded etc but again this is more business as usual than you would think, my view would be that if we spend £18.3bn on new support arrangement over 10 years then I would aim to see a repayment of that over the next 25 year period through a reduction in the continuing maintenance number.

    contingency is running at 15% and equipment support is running at 50%

  177. ArmChairCivvy says

    Agree with the point
    “my point is really that a 10 year timeline is too short and that there is an opportunity to rebalance the whole fleet over a 25yr planning horizon. We do need to budget for Successor over 25 years to ensure costs are kept in perspective (yes it’s a lot probably £2bn+ pa forever to build, run and maintain)”
    and the example chosen is a good one. We should have a zero-based budgeting mindset and think about steady state (because the Eq.Plan turns like a supertanker, so thinking about rebalancing much more often than [what the SDSRs are supposed to be for] every five years would be more or less counterproductive. The Gvmnt should restate its perception of threats and then, a year later, an MoD orchestrated SDSR would respond with force structure, funding level and ambition set for new kit.

    So, by way of a rough example:
    – deterrent 2 bn pa
    – army 7 bdes (equivalent), each 1 bn pa
    – SF 1 bn pa
    – CEPP, incl. ARG and the RM. x bn pa
    – sea denial (SSN budget) y bn pa
    – standing tasks and protecting sea lanes/ choke points in a crisis, z bn pa
    – enablers (more broadly than by above categories): CS & CSS, ISTAR, airlift… all those things not in the 4th new Command
    and so on

    You would end up with a residual, and could start asking: what is this for; under what circumstances; could the gap be filled by any other means if the circumstance is highly unlikely…

    But no. And quite rightly so as we emerging from a period of chaos. Now we are in the first year when the Commands are not only forecasting their items “independently” but also managing them in-year. It is that kind of accountability mindset that has to be set in first, and then you can start to do capabilty budgeting more broadly than just within DE&S (who have capability directors of quite high standing, even though it is not often stated what they do… lately, though, the appointment letters have been “seen” and even commented upon more widely),

  178. Don says

    Don’s ship building strategy – short version .

    Build 14 Type 26 all ASW capable . The planned 8 plus a further 6 to replace Type 45 when they are due out of service. At least 6 (preferably more) of these will need high end AAW capabilities also.
    This will meet the government commitment to build 13 ships on the Clyde .

    This would allow the build of a “lighter cheaper exportable “GP Type 31 frigate in England . Securing ship building here also .

    A high end AAW Type 26 ASW capable could attract interest and possible sales also . Especially in Australia and even Japan .

    Everyone happy !
    Let’s sign the contracts and start laying some keels!

    Of to forward my ship building strategy to Mr Hammond.

    I’ll put my invoice for consultancy fees in with it. Is £1.75 million too cheap?

  179. El Sid says

    isn’t it just crazy that we spend more on extending the life of aged/obsolete assets than we do on providing new kit to our troops (my belief is that a new asset costs less to maintain than a life extended one).

    It’s facile to say that younger assets need less maintenance – the problem comes in the tradeoff between the annualised capital cost of replacing it and the higher maintenance costs. There’s a point at which the two cross over – but there may be all sorts of other reasons why replacement may occur before or after that point. You also have to allow for the fact that at the moment, the going rate seems to be that every time we spend £6-7bn on a new ship class, about £2bn disappears in one-off costs that could be used for producing ships. So £14bn might buy you 2 classes of 6 escorts, or one class of 14 escorts. You can see where the US has gone with the Burkes, but they are storing up some problems as a result.

    I have budgeted and scheduled a RN version of the USN’s 30 year plan (over 25 years to align with 0.5 carrier cycles and 1 submarine power plant cycle) and it comes out at circa £85bn over the 25 years for all assets (build only)

    So you’re spending £3.4bn/year, some 10-15% more than the real-world budget. Does that allow for the fixed costs of starting up a new design, or are you putting units in at “serial production” cost?

    If I did a budget like this I would be fired as in reality the support budget should be relatively static as you should be retiring equipment as you bring other equipment on.

    It’s just an accounting fudge. You imply that the annual support budget is going up from £6.58bn/year to £6.58bn + £1.83bn/year over the period, implying an increase of 2.8%/year. In fact the total support budget is going up by 1.2%/year – less gets spent on supporting existing equipment as some of it gets retired in favour of new kit. So total support budget is “relatively static”. It’s just that the way MoD budgets work is that they distinguish between existing kit and new commitments, even if the total budget is roughly constant.

    contingency is running at 15% and equipment support is running at 50%

    Both of these seem reasonable in the context of high-tech projects 10 years in the future, especially given past history. It’s also worth noting that we’re one of the highest tech military in the world in terms of equipment as a % of total budget – both the US and France are around the same as us in the 23-25% region, but Germany is much lower, something like 12%. Our 55:45 support:procurement is pretty much in line with others too.

    You also miss the point I was trying to make with the USN chart. This kind of budgeting is way more complicated than just saying “well, we’ll spend a steady £2bn on the deterrent”. No matter how hard you try, the real world doesn’t lead to steady state spending. There’s a nice example at the bottom of the USN graph, you can see how annual spending on building just one carrier ebbs and flows through the build. We will have support costs of the Vanguards and Aldermaston from now until the 2030s, but the procurement of Successor will see billions of extra spending in the 2020s that won’t need to be repeated until the late 2050s. So there’s a question, as well as optimising a single programme, how you fit all the annual “chunks” together so that it all fits into a relatively steady state top line.

    To be fair to their Lordships there was sort of a plan, knowing when the Vanguards were due to leave service – get CVF out of the way, and then get the heavy spending on T26 out of the way before Successor started to drain the procurement budget dry. Of course, the One-eyed one pushed back CVF “to save money”, which has just put more pressure on the annual budgets for T26 and Successor.

  180. shark bait says

    @Don, The T45 will not be going out of service for over two decades, that means you need to stretch out building 8 T26 over 20 years, so its not going to work.

    What is the value of building a mixed ASW & AAW ship? The two roles are not complementary, they are needed in different places at the same time, that’s why the platforms are separate. It makes good sense to base them both off the same platform, but not fitted for ASW and AAW at the same time.

    Also what is the obsession with building in England? We are already struggling to sustain one complex warship factory because we cant order enough ships, how is supporting another yard going to improve the industrial situation?

    Quite simply it won’t. We will be paying for redundant capacity through TOBA for two yards instead of one.

    In the end no one is happy, because it costs the tax payer more, and looses jobs at our established facilities, back to the drawing board.

  181. Don says

    @Shark Bait
    Hms Daring
    First steel cut 2003
    Launched 2006
    Commissioned 2009

    Ship building strategy late 2016
    Government mulls strategy @ 1 year
    Orders steel cut @ early 2018
    Add 6 years 2024
    Add 1 per year – further 7

    2032 Daring is 23years old commisioned.

    Or may build one every 18 months then Daring @26 + years old .

  182. shark bait says

    Yep, by ignoring the gap, and ignoring the T31 that works fine.

    A more reasonable approach is to build both the T26 and T31 at the same yard, because there is only one yard, and that’s whats already been promised.

    Built concurrently, one each every 2 years (keeping the 2 year moving average expenditure low), entering into service in 2023, at a rate of 1 a year, brings us to 2039, Daring’s 30th birthday!

  183. Julian says

    @Don, @Sharkbait – Don’s plan looks good to me. One suggested modification that also partly ameliorates T45 timing concerns is to aim for 8 x AAW variants for T45 replacement. Leaner crewing would certainly make crewing 8 x T26-AAW possible from crew numbers currently deployed on T45 and possibly having much of the design already done (helped maybe by design work done for RAN which will probably want more strike length VLS and fewer/no CAMM launchers) plus mature manufacturing process might make build costs acceptable too. Building the first 2 T26-AAW before starting the 1-for-1 replacement cycle of T45 pushes out first T45 replacement by 4 years or so and also allows kinks in the T26-AAW to be addressed before T45s start disappearing.

    The big snag is where does the extra crew come from for the first 2 T26-AAW before any T45s are decommissioned and also whether, in about 25 years time, a T26-type hull will be the right one for AAW given that it might well be heavily focused around directed energy weapons by then.

  184. Don says

    What is the value of building a mixed ASW & AAW ship? The two roles are not complementary, they are needed in different places at the same time, that’s why the platforms are separate.

    I agree with this. However ASW ships are needed. The Americans are putting towed array sonars on Ticonderogas and Arleigh Burkes.
    Ideally Type 31 should be filling ASW role allowing for a dedicated AAW Type 26.
    But it is not looking likely that Type 31 will get A towed array sonar fit . Hopefully the powers that be see the folly in lack of ASW on the Type 31 and fit TAS.

  185. Don says

    Also what is the obsession with building in England? We are already struggling to sustain one complex warship factory because we cant order enough ships, how is supporting another yard going to improve the industrial situation?

    Is it a price you have to pay for a strategic capability for an island nation?

  186. Rocket Banana says

    I don’t quite understand this need for loads of tails.

    We’ll have 8 TAS ships: 2 deployed, 2 in UK waters, 2 training/transit/alongside, 2 in maintenance (one planned).

    The tail is for deep-water ASW, so escorting the RFTG. Two is enough to sail with another two joining from their deployment ASAP. As APTAS has mentioned T31 really only requires a hull sonar and as others have said (or implied) its likely we’ll end up with UUVs doing ASW work around the litorials so T31 needs to be able to “manage” these.

    I’m still not decided if T31 should actually be an OPV rather than a light frigate.

    If we choose not to deploy them at extreme range (other than foreign basing like the MCMVs) then surely they can be RASed as they sail with the RFTG when needed?

    PS: Wildcat could do with a dipper though :-)

  187. Pacman27 says

    @El Sid

    Again, I do not dispute your analysis and it is clear that the MOD is under funded if these figures are the case.

    The equipment build element requires circa 14bn p.a across the 3 services (RN = 3, RAF = 4, Army = 3, other = 3) to both modernise and introduce fleet management and get this into some sort of ongoing drumbeat.

    If we then double this figure for maintenance purposes (as Army is low cost maintenance relative to the others we get to needing £28bn just for equipment and its support.

    Assuming we also need an armed force in the region of 225k people, each at a blended £75k that needs another £20bn bringing us up to £48bn with some contingency that would bring it up to £52bn p.a. (3% of GDP) significantly more than is currently provided, but where it probably needs to be.

    Ultimately we have cut too far and I would rather the international aid budget be transferred into the core MOD budget for equipment and for us to then send old Land Rovers and ration packs to places that need them rather than brand new white toyotas.

    It really is coming down to the wire now – T26 is probably the end for the UK military as a leading power if we can’t get it right in terms of equipment level and volume. We will be seen in the same light as the germans – free riders and it will cost us more in the long term.

  188. shark bait says


    Yes ASW is clearly needed, it irritates me the Americans have guided missile destroyers that are more capable at deterring subs than our 5 ASW optimised T23’s whose sonar we removed!

    Those 5 T23 we are replacing with the T31 should be highly capable sub hunters, therefore the T31 should also have some sub hunting capabilities.

    “Is it a price you have to pay for a strategic capability for an island nation?”

    We already pay over the odds to sustain a single factory in the name of national strategic capability, we certainly done need to be paying double to support another yard in another part of the nation.

  189. shark bait says

    need for loads of tails;

    Submarines, particularly SSN’s, are the most relevant naval asset today.
    There ability to disrupt the power projection is unmatched.
    There are 40 submarine operators around the world.
    20 of which are unstable, hostile or undependable
    Advanced kit is proliferating like never before
    Even old Libyan subs gave the RN a hard time.
    In 82 the RN got lucky, they by no means had their subs under control.
    Today we have one prolific operator of subs in our back yard.
    Sub activity is increasing all over the world
    Our response is to cut our ASW assets
    The Americans are fitting everything with a MFTA
    The 3 other large NATO navies are building their light frigates with a VDS

    It appears others are acknowledged the trends, and doing something to respond to the increasing threat, but the Royal Navy, once considered the ASW experts, are burring their head in the sand and only respnign to the fiscal challenges.

    If it can’t deter subs it cant escort.
    If if can’t escort it is a patrol boat
    If it is a patrol boat why waste complex warship resources to achieve a low intensity task?

  190. Stephen Duckworth says

    I was under the impression that the GP T31 was to fill the roles of the GP T23 on a like for like basis AND to provide work for the warship design teams to sustain their skills now T26 has gone for detailing. By the time they have finished designing T31 a new class of MHPC will on the cards and then the T45 replacement will be on the horizon.
    One presumes that there will be a lot of carry over of components from T26 to T31 with the hull being adjusted to suit similar to what hopefully will happen with common components being carried over from the tracked Ajax family to the new wheeled armoured box requirement to aid logistics and training.

  191. shark bait says

    GP frigates are a waste, they are good enough at nothing, and cheap enough at nothing to warrant their own existence.

  192. ArmChairCivvy says

    RE “not dispute your analysis and it is clear that the MOD is under funded if these figures are the case” and then we proceeded to look at the different slices of funding needed… got to 3% of GDP (and there was still the -what, abt a third – that goes towards estate and operational expenditure missing??)

    RE “Sub activity is increasing all over the world
    Our response is to cut our ASW assets
    The Americans are fitting everything with a MFTA
    The 3 other large NATO navies are building their light frigates with a VDS

    It appears others are acknowledged the trends, and doing something to respond to the increasing threat, but the Royal Navy, once considered the ASW experts, are burring their head in the sand and only respnign to the fiscal challenges.

    If it can’t deter subs it cant escort.
    If if can’t escort it is a patrol boat
    If it is a patrol boat why waste complex warship resources to achieve a low intensity task?”

    SB for MP!
    – and just in case the rhetoric has already done that job, for PM!

  193. All Politicians are the Same says

    @Shark Bait

    I think we established the other day that you did not know enough about actual Naval tactics or what a GP Frigate was to make your criticism anything more than an irritating mantra.

  194. Rocket Banana says

    Shark Bait,

    “Our response is to cut our ASW assets”

    How is replacing 8 x ASW T23 with 8 x ASW T26, replacing 7 Trafalgar with 7 Astute, investing in 30 x Merlin HM2, 28 x Wildcat and 9 x P8, cutting our ASW assets?

    We have enough assets to protect the trasit and insertion of our RFTG. We also have other ships with hull sonars that can either ping actively in the littorals or sit and listen to an active pinging sonobuoy droped by Merlin or P8.

    Yes, there are an increasing number of SSKs and SSNs but it’s not like they are pack hunters.

  195. shark bait says


    We are replacing 13 ASW optimised T23’s with 8 T26 and some patrol boats
    We have written of 8 ASW Merlin
    The reaming ASW Merlin now have to replace the Sea King ASaC.7, further reducing numbers.
    We are eventually replacing 20 nimrod with 9 P8
    The P8 will also have to replace Sentinel R1, diluting availability further.
    Wildcat isn’t ASW capable in RN service.

    SSN’s are the only capability that remains constant. (if we forget about Swiftsure)

    Our ASW assets are declining, in the mean time Sub numbers are increasing, and the other big NATO navies are increasing their ASW capabilities.

    That bares all the signs of a force responding solely to fiscal challenges, where they should be responding to operational challenges as well.

  196. All Politicians are the Same says


    But surely non tail T23 are useless GP Frigates by your reckoning. We have had no MPA for years so P8 is a huge actual uplift and your Sentinel comment is pure supposition.
    As for Crows Nest, well I had a beer with the Merlin capability manager last night and you are yet again way off.

  197. shark bait says


    We established no such thing.

    A GP Frigate offers very little credible war time capabilities;
    It’s AAW is only fit for self defence.
    It’s ASW fit is non existent.
    It’s ASuW capabilities can be replicated so easily on any vessel, including auxiliaries.
    The only thing it could do is NGFS if its lucky enough to have a big gun on the front.

    A GP Frigate is a peace time pirate hunter, it does not offer good value in any high intensity role.

  198. shark bait says

    The non VDS T23 are not particularity valuable platforms any more, they should never have had that capability removed. Their saving grace is they could accept a VDS sonar in an emergency. Over the last decade we have reduced from 13 ASW frigates to 8, a decline.

    Ignoring the MPA gap, capability will be down from the nimrod days. My Sentinel comment is pure supposition but is not unreasonable, highly likley our small fleet will have to cover 2 roles.

    Merlin numbers are also down over the last decade. Would you care to enlighten us how ASW Merlin availability is going to remain constant when also tasked with replacing Sea King ASaC.7?

    How ever it is framed the UK’s ASW capabilities have been in decline. Meanwhile we maintain our ambitions of being a global navy with a nuclear deterrent and super carriers, but with fewer resources to support them. It’s hollowing out. It’s trying to do more with less, and we are at the point where resources are being spread too thin.

  199. All Politicians are the Same says

    @Shark Bait

    You are so far out of your depth it is amusing. I am generally tolerant of the good ideas club but have not spent the last 2 decades actually doing the stuff you spout nonsense about to not correct you.
    I told you how a GP AAW fit works in an escort screen or as a goalkeeper and Sea Vector will increase this capability.
    I even explained how hull mount sonars work in the screen with an active policy. You do not even realise that 2087 has limitations on speed and manoeuvring do you? Or how that would affect tactics. Or the implications of water depth and frequency?
    Explain to me which auxiliaries have the ops room and ISTAR capabilities to fully utilise an ASuW missile fit?
    Never mind the damage control capabilities or the legal aspects.

    You now correct yourself on T23. Iron Duke has just returned from SNMG duties was she valuable, yes she was. Tail fit no! Submarines tracked, hell yes!

    So we now ignore the gap to try and make your point, clueless.

    No I will not enlighten you but not all airframes were upgraded.

    Have you ever even set foot on a warship?

  200. shark bait says

    This goalkeeper role is a myth. Goalkeeper makes no sense, its much more cost effective to put the goalkeeper on the platform. Why do the Americans not have a goalkeeper? because it is cheaper to put SeaRAM on the LPD.

    The LRASM is being developed with a deck launched option specifically to place on auxiliaries as part of their distributed lethality programme. An RFA with a wild cat and deck launched ASM can self escort against surface targets. No GP frigate required.

    I understand to be truly effective against subs though the widest range of environments a hull sonar and separate arrays at different depths.

    If Iron Duke is still effective against subs that further corroborates my case, we are planning to replace 13 ASW assets with 8, which is unacceptable.

    I know not all HM1 we’re upgraded, a reduction in the fleet, which means stretching the HM2 fleet between ASW and AWE is only going to reduce ASW availability further.

  201. All Politicians are the Same says

    @shark bait

    The Goal keeper role is a myth? Based on your massive experience? It fulfills a couple of functions and putting missiles actually on the HVU massively interferes with flight ops when you need to use them.
    Against a pop up this would be bad.

    USN units like RFA are civilian manned without the ability to conduct an engagement or the CBRNDC structure to survive one. Do not confuse capital ships with auxiliaries.

    You totally missed my point on Merlin.

    I used to teach baby warfare Offices at least they had some idea.

  202. dmereifield says

    I’d be very interested to hear what people think in regards to the desired specifications/capabilities of the T31. Specifically the headline stats (ala top trumps) that a civilian with no navy experience (me) can understand;

    Hanger/flight deck size:
    CIWS (present/absent):
    CAMM (present /absent/minimum required/other antimissile system):
    Offensive missile/torpedo systems:
    Estimated compliment (based on the above specs):
    Estimated costs (based on the above specs):

    It is being billed as a frigate (as opposed to a patrol vessel) so I’m assuming it will have some utility in a hot situation, beyond it’s routine maritime security type duties in peacetime.

    Much obliged

  203. Stephen Duckworth says

    @ dmereifield
    Sonar: Type 2050 bow + Type 2031Z towed
    Radar:Type 997 Artisan 3D
    Hanger/deck: Lynx sized hangar/Merlin deck
    CIWS :absent
    Main Gun: 4.5″ Mk8
    Aux guns: 2 x 30mm + 2 x 5.56mm miniguns
    AsuW: 2 x 4 Harpoon
    Offensive torpedo systems:2 x Twin 12.75″
    EEW: Seagnat
    Anti-torpedo : Type 183 towed
    Estimated compliment: 150
    Estimated costs $1 billion meh ha ha ha
    Basically pulled through from T23 GP and refurbished and refitted :-)
    Same kit , new design hull.

  204. dmereifield says

    Thanks SD. Sounds nice, but would do you think we should be hoping for given the anticipated budget and timeframe?

  205. All Politicians are the Same says

    @Stephen Duckworth

    we have not had 2031 in service for sometime, never mind seagnat.

  206. Shades says

    So, let’s say T31 is, as everyone seems to fear, BAE’s Cutlass, on the basis that it’s virtually an off-the-shelf design. Presumably, RN will specify all the same build/safety upgrades applied to the Amazonas to get to the Batch II Rivers (as set out in the guest post on here). In addition, surely it would get the weapons fit from T23s (4.5″ gun, CAMM, CIWS, 20mms etc). So what would be lost from the T26 GPs it is replacing?

    Fit for TAS (the need for which has been hotly debated over the past couple of days)
    VLS (with nothing to shoot from it)
    anything else?

  207. dmereifield says

    Judging by the T26 it won’t have the torpedo tubes. Would it have the hull mounted sonar? The Kahreef and Amazonas don’t. Presumably they will not be ffbnw TAS either. How much does any of this matter?

  208. Mickp says

    Cash is tight, very. Equally importantly, SDSR 15 determined objectives for the RN for which 8 T26s and 6 T45s are sufficient for a high end escort fleet, ie to support a deployed carrier group (in 99% or more of the time in coalition) and cover CASD. APATs convinces me that is just enough. I think it is acknowledged there is no redundancy. The same can be said of the SSN fleet, with the current damaged one causing strain. All these 14 ships can be assigned other tasks in peacetime. In my prudent way of thinking I would be trying to eek out an extra T26 and Astute before giving any priority to making T31 anything other than a River plus (rather than T26 minus). Up thread APATs suggested a weapons fit for T31. That should be the aspirational target, no more though. No strike VLS, possibly no AShM other than on Wildcat. No TAS. No 5″ gun if money can be saved. Hold out for a hull sonar and CAMM to give them a limited all hands to decks wartime role as HVU goalkeeper, RFA escort or simply standing tasks backfill.

    We are perhaps fortunate no one in power has suggested giving the 5 new Rivers a gun upgrade and a T31 designation. I think I would rather have a 14 or 15 ship fully manned and armed fleet than 19 less so.

  209. Martin says

    Am I the only one who thinks that the BAE Avenger design would have been great for the batch II rivers? Take away the heavy gun and missiles and it would have been a fairly useful vessel instead of what we now have. It just goes to show for all the talk that they could not put a hangar on the batch II river, well here is one. While the batch II river class has been thrown in to make up build work on the Clyde it is worth noting that the UK is desperately short of OPV’s as highlighted by a recent House of Commons committee report. Adding to that pressures in the Mediterranean that have seen the UK have to deploy its coast guard cutters and the Batch II rivers do not seem to be a total waste of time. One might have hoped though for our £130 million we might have gotten something more like Avenger than a modified HMS Clyde. If only the RN did not have an aversion to putting a hanger on anything other that an FF/DD.

  210. Repulse says

    @Martin, I completely agree the UK needs to ensure that it gets the maximum from any ToBA payment to BAE due to any T26 delay. The evolution of the Batch 2 River to an Avenger class is the best approach IMO with a order of 3 ships to cover FIGS, WIGS and APT(S) to be delivered by 2020 when the T26 order can start in earnest. This is not the T31, nor is it the UK export wonder to save UK ship building, but a necessary medium term fix.

    With this very narrow remit I’d say we should use this to drive the requirements for kit / capability:

    Endurance: 30 days / 6,000nm
    Speed: 25kts
    Sensors: 3D Radar and hull mounted sonar
    Medium Calibre Gun: Reused 114mm (cheapest option)
    Small Calibre Guns: 2 x 30mm Sigma mounts with LMM
    Missiles: 16 Camm
    Aviation: Wildcat / Lynx capable deck & Hangar
    Cargo: 6 ISO Containers and ability to support clean water production

    What is not needed is:

    ASuW missiles (though maybe fitted-for-but-not-with space)
    Merlin Hangar

  211. Mickp says

    @Repulse, what you describe is not very far from APATs T31 spec. Why doesn’t your idea become the long term T31 fix of 6 hulls?

  212. Repulse says

    Yes it may be close to APATS specification, but by tying it to very specific requirements then it could be different. I have probably over specd the WIGS and FIGS requirements.

    If the T31 is supposed to act globally (Inc East of Suez) then the specification is very different. Also, I want the UK to consider the follow on to the 8 (or 10) T26 more closely, ensuring that it is aligned to a workable ship building strategy and future MHPC opportunities which increases the RN capability.

  213. Pacman27 says

    Do you guys believe any of our escorts have enough “offensive” capability, especially one that would successfully defeat a peer or near peer.

    From what has been said on this forum the gun is unlikely to sink anything of any real size which basically leaves torpedoes and harpoon as we don’t have strike length silos.

    Seems to me that all the weapons systems mentioned are very defensive in nature, but what about us being able to sink another ship of a similar size?

  214. Rocket Banana says


    The best way to kill a ship is with a sub. In 1982 the Royal Navy expended 200 anti-sub weapons just to deter a single diesel powered 1200 tonne sub. Even then it got the chance to destroy several ships and would probably have succeeded if the gyros were wired correctly.

    Then of course there’s the Belgrano… and lots of ships in WW2.

    We put defensive armament on our ships to effectively neutralise the threat of attack. With 48 CAMM the enemy would have to fire 24-48 Harpoon equivalents to get through which becomes cost prohibitive. The only real threat then comes from an air force that can continually launch missiles until the cows come home… which is why we have a carrier (floating air force).

  215. Shades says

    Apparently, the USN is concerned about their anti-ship weapons as well, particularly the relative range of Harpoon against the usual suspects’ equivalents – restricting mutually supportable dispersal and giving potential opponents additional A2/AD options.

    As well as pushing development of LRASM, they have been test firing anti-ship tomahawks, which might be cheaper and therefore deployable in larger numbers. I think both of these are being developed with bolt-on deck launchers like harpoon so we should be able to stick them on anything we want relatively easily when harpoon goes out of service.

  216. shark bait says

    “The best way to kill a ship is with a sub” I think thats proven to be true, which is why our reduction in ASW is frustrating.

    “With 48 CAMM the enemy would have to fire 24-48 Harpoon equivalents to get through which becomes cost prohibitive” Does it really become cost prohibitive? 50 million USD to sink a 1 billion USD frigate seems like a pretty cost effective solution.

    Looking froward it wont even require 50 ASM. Perhaps more like 10 ASM hidden with a swarm of 50 gremlins (decoy drones) launched from the back of a C130. As long as they look similar to the radar, target will be forced to expend its SAM’s to take out usless gremlins, increasing the chance the SAM makes it through. Saturation attacks could be come very easy, and very effective.

  217. The Other Nick says

    A T31 with an active HMS and no TAS would make good target practice for a modern quiet submarine using its passive TAS which would enable it to triangulate location and even identify the T31 through its unique sonar signature and launch a heavy weight torpedo, before in the HMS detection range. ATLAS ELEKTRONIK in March 2012 tested its heavyweight torpedo the SeaHake mod4 ER and achieved a range of over 140 kilometres. I’am sure not black and white as stated but but not to fit the T31 with TAS, of the various choices available not just the expensive 2087, is pathetic, even the USN is planning to fit the 3,000 ton LCS with the MFTA and CAPTAS-4 VDS.

  218. shark bait says

    Agreed @TON, it indeed Is pathetic. To be a credible combatant it need to have stopping power against domains, without the ability to detect subs it is left unnecessarily vulnerable.

    Its not prohibitively difficult to achieve either, many TAS exist and are in service already, we have a new diesel electric propulsion entering service, designs like the Venator have a stern ramp and mission bay under the flight deck to there is also clearly space to add a TAS. Everything is is available, apart from the will to equip our forces with the quality credible equipment they deserve.

    CAMM, NSM, CAPTAS-2, and a wildcat would give the T31 the minimum credible capabilities against all physical domains. I suppose we would also need to explore EM and Cyber domains too?

  219. Mark says

    So any ship without a towed sonar is now a sitting duck. Utter nonsense. You don’t put any ship into a situation where it is going to be shot at unless it’s part of an all arms task group. Multinational or otherwise. You would think ships are getting sunk every week to hear some people.

    Just take a look what tasks we’ve been sending rfas, survey vessels even type 23 with no sonar teams or missile onboard to do for years and ask would it not be better for everyone to tailor a vessel to these types of tasks to free up the specialist vessels to do the high end stuff and stop spreading the high end stuff to thinly.

  220. The Other Nick says

    @Mark. The USN are going to the expense of fitting the LM MFTA (Multi-Function Towed Array) to all of their Arleigh Burke destroyers, Ticonderoga cruisers and Zumwalts, wonder why they feel the necessity.

  221. shark bait says

    The French and Italians are building their light frigates with towed sonars as well, I wonder why they feel the necessity.

    There’s noting wrong with a platform to free up specialist vessels, but these should look like the “ship that is not a frigate”. There is no point investing in a complex warship if it not designed for high performance tasks. Much more cost effective to leverage commercial design, which is perfectly cable of low performance tasks.

    The T31 is being designed as a complex warship, therefore to create a valuable return on that significant investment it must be a credible combatant, requiring capabilities across all domains.

  222. Stu W says

    Specs for the Khareef class below @400m for 3, what would BAe charge the MoD for the same today. Inflation has been low and steel is also at all time low. BAe have stated a stretched Khareef aka Cutlass class is at the high end of the cost curve so I think they’re asking over 300m a copy.

    Displacement: 2,660 tonnes
    Length: 99 m (325 ft)
    Beam: 14.6 m (48 ft)
    Draught: 4.1 m (13 ft)
    Propulsion: Two MTU diesel engines
    Speed: 28 kn (52 km/h; 32 mph)
    Range: 4,500 nmi (8,300 km; 5,200 mi)
    Endurance: 21 days
    Complement: 100
    Sensors and
    processing systems: SMART-S Mk2 3D S-band multibeam radar
    TACTICOS combat management system
    Thales Nederland Sting electro-optic weapons director

    Armament: 1 × 76 mm Oto Melara cannon
    2 × 30mm MSI DS30M 30 mm cannon
    8 × MM-40 Block III Exocet SSM
    12 × MBDA VL Mica SAM

    Aircraft carried: 1 x medium helicopter
    Aviation facilities: Enclosed hangar

  223. Rocket Banana says

    Shark Bait,

    To fire off 24-48 Harpoons you don’t just need to buy the missiles. You need to buy the ship to carry and launch them too. Which ships carry that many? Tico? AB? How much do they cost?


    “A T31 with an active HMS and no TAS would make good target practice for a modern quiet submarine using its passive TAS which would enable it to triangulate location and even identify the T31 through its unique sonar signature and launch a heavy weight torpedo, before in the HMS detection range.”

    I assume it is triangulating by being in two places at once?

  224. Rocket Banana says

    We obviously have lots of slow, noisy ships, all messing around in deep water where the enemy sub sits below the thermocline with it’s own arrays listening to everything we do. It then pops up undetected, fires a heavyweight which we pick up on our hull mounted sonar and do nothing about.

    Certainly a problem.

  225. Don says

    RN releases names for Type 31

    HMS Mallard
    HMS Mandarin
    HMS Mulard
    HMS Muscovy
    HMS Magpie


  226. ArmChairCivvy says

    @ Simon, about on those lines ”
    when you have the right kit (operative word “have” as this may have been dreamt up as per today):

    ” enemy sub sits below the thermocline with it’s own arrays listening to everything we do. It then pops up undetected, fires a heavyweight which we pick up on our hull mounted sonar and do nothing about.”

    Modernization of the VA-111 ‘Shkval’, it appears, involves making essential changes to its design, shape, and even application tactics.
    – maintaining F1 speed of closing in
    – doing something about short range, noisiness and terminal guidance

    Well, we should look into topedo defences, just like APS is making inroads with IFVs ((US retrofitting Abrams, Bradley and Stryker fleets).

  227. The Other Nick says

    @Simon. “I assume it is triangulating by being in two places at once?”
    Have seen it quoted that rwr can instantaneously triangulate a radar signal using aerials at various positions on a/c based the difference on TOA. A submarine’s passive TAS can be up to several kilometres and by using TOA to monitor active HMS ping should be able triangulate source of signal with no problems. Please advise if you contrary info.

  228. Rocket Banana says


    Would that be accurate enough for a firing solution?

    How does the sub triangulate the vertical dimension?

    Can it assume the ping is coming from the surface?

    Would it give its own position away and risk hitting what turned out to be a decoy or active TAS?

  229. Rocket Banana says

    General question for those who serve (or have served) aboard:

    How long is pre and post deployment leave generally?

  230. The Other Nick says

    @Simeon. I have no access to classified specs but the MoD boasted that the the 2087 could locate submarines at thousands of miles so no doubt that a submarine with a towed array would be able to generate accurate firing solutions, submarines have an advantage in that they do not create as much noise associated with the air/water interface as surface ships to interfere with reception of signal by the towed array. Submarine heavyweight torpedoes like the SeaHake® mod4 ER with its range of 140 km, speed 50 knots, conformal sonar with panoramic sensor angle and wake sensor plus fibre optic cable for two way communication/control are formidable weapons. My argument is the T31 should be equipped with the proper kit including a TAS otherwise they just gunboats and waste of money with little hope of survival in a hot war and as backup to the very limited number of Type 26’s.

  231. Stephen Duckworth says

    I have updated Wiki indicating that Seagnat and the 2031Z TAS are no longer in RN service :-)

  232. Not a Boffin says

    ” It just goes to show for all the talk that they could not put a hangar on the batch II river, well here is one.”

    Jesus wept. Is there a part of the phrase “The 111m Avenger is longer and wider than a Batch II River Class OPV” that is difficult for you to understand? To spell it out it simple terms :

    1. Avenger is not a ready for production design. it is a CG image – much like all those ones of FSC and T26. There is a substantial amount of design work to execute before you can even think of getting the design through a certification process, let alone go to production.
    2. That is important, because it means that it is not ready to go into production now. Nor was it ready to go into production when the batch 2s were ordered. The driving force behind ordering the B2s being that because the hull design – and more precisely production information – was essentially unchanged from the Amazonas, they could start cutting steel and using the steel trades on the Clyde with minimal delay and impact on the design teams who were busy doing T26.
    3. I do not call a ship with a 23% increase in length combined with an increase in beam a batch 2 river. I call it a new design. So do BAES. They’ve called it Avenger.

  233. Rocket Banana says


    “My argument is the T31 should be equipped with the proper kit including a TAS otherwise they just gunboats and waste of money with little hope of survival in a hot war and as backup to the very limited number of Type 26’s.”

    So what do you make of the 5 x GP T23, the 6 x T45s, the two Albions, HMS Ocean and the RFA ships we currently operate? Do they all have little hope of survival?

    As part of a task group (war) they would be protected by a Merlin ASW squadron, at least a couple of T26, Astute and P8.

  234. JohnHartley says

    Just a thought, but could some of that Reaction Engines Sabre/Skylon tech be used to sort out the T45 engine cut out problem when the sea is too hot? After all, if they can cool high supersonic inlet air in a short space of time, maybe they can cool at sea level, doing just a few knots? Might be the first real world use for a spin off of this tech?

  235. shark bait says

    @JohnHartley, in short no. The WR21 fitted to the T45 already has an intercooler, an intercooler that is the root cause of the problems.

    There is no need to cool the sea water, its cold enough. The intercooler is there to cool the air mid compression to improve efficiency, because just from compresson effects the air will be around 300 degC before seeing any fuel. That is a large temperature gradient between the air and the sea water, but in between the air and the sea water are 2 coolant loops and 2 heat exchangers to keep the salt out, but are flawed an thus inadequate to provide sufficient cooling at high loads, causing the wrong temperatures in the wrong places, and the turbine needs to shut down before taring its self apart from the inside.

    We should keep advanced cycle engines well away from ships, no intercooler or recouperator, its asking fro trouble on big high pressure ratio engines. However combined cycles may be worth exploring, its a much better chance for greater efficiency, its kind of telling that commercial applications all use combined cycle over advanced cycle for applications above 1MW.

    I’m not 100% sure how the Sabre engine works, but I think it uses the liquid oxygen fuel as the coolant, which wouldn’t be applicable to a marine gas turbine.

  236. Stephen Duckworth says

    Just to stir things up a bit who thinks it would be a good idea to speed up the production of the planned T26/T31 ? By producing them quicker the remaining half dozen or so T23 would be left with some milage on them and a big pile of type specific spares from the previous scrapped 7 abaiable. This active reserve fleet could be used by the reservists for years to come on a type familiar to them. Obviously the spending would need to increase but could be fitted in before the massive weight of Successor’s spending starts to hit.

  237. shark bait says

    Wouldn’t be possible to build much quicker than one a year, which is the rate they need to hit to match the decommissioning schedule of the T23. Even at that rate the duke class will be 34 or 35 years old by the time they retire.

    Furthermore they Royal Navy does not have the resources to sustain a reserve fleet, if there is an increase in resources there are many other things higher up the priority list.

  238. Shades says

    @stephen duckworth – there might be an issue with crewing but I think cost per vessel would actually decrease. As @NAB has confirmed below the longer the construction time for a warship on the Clyde, the higher the production cost, because that vessel will have to bear the running costs of the shipyard for longer.

    Of course what it would do is bring the costs forward, which seems to be a big issue for the MoD – i.e. they might have to spend some real money out of their annual budgets over the next few years on production.

    Otherwise, I agree it would be good idea representing good value for money and getting the new ships into service quicker. Bearing in mind the the OSD dates of the T23s are already being extended, we might be better off taking them out of service sooner as the new ships come online though, rather than keeping them in service as reserves. We could then transfer their kit over to the new T26s and T31s.

  239. Jeremy M H says


    Would that blow the Type 26 coat totally out of the water as they are to pull equipment off the Type 23’s to save money?

  240. Jeremy M H says

    Cost not coat…stupid iPhone…

  241. The Other Nick says

    @Simon. If anything like the Falklands the Admiral will be paranoid about protecting the carriers and standing as far off as possible and allocate the Type 26’s, Type 45′ and Astute’s as a screen. No Air Marshall would risk putting the $300 m+ P8A anywhere near as it could be shot down by an ancient Mig 15 if in range or as in Ukraine with the Malaysian B777 by a SAM (SA-11). So due to small numbers of frigates and reliability problems as with current Type 45’s any support for the landing force could be left with the 2nd rates ,GP T23’s/T31’s?, and we saw how ineffective the frigates were in trying to hunt down the one Argentine submarine San Luis a Type 209 despite a reported 200 attacks against it . It is reported that the reason none of the task force ships were torpedoed by the San Luis in its two attacks with its SST-4 torpedoes was due to their incompetence in reversing the polarity of power cables between the torpedoes and the submarine so when the torpedoes’ gyros were spun up they tumbled on launch.

  242. Rocket Banana says


    Waiting for TAS or APATS to interject here but if you’re talking about protecting a landing force a la San Carlos then a VDS seems utterly pointless to me.

    You’re in littoral waters with intermix of surface and deep/cold waters (hopefully providing NGFS and naval GMLRS to the landed troops).

    You need to go active and “ping” from a load of sonobuoys dropped by Merlin or P8. You then listen with everything you’ve got and process the combined data to build a picture of the water.

    In any instance where the ship is moving on its own (in littoral waters) it might as well ping from its own HMS, as the sub cannot hide below a thermocline and will have to hunt at relatively close range because it will not be able to remove the littoral noise at long ranges.

    In open ocean, unless you’ve built a quiet ship the sub will likely know where you are anyway. In order for you to then know where an enemy sub lurks you could: 1) sprint and drift with a passive VDS, 2) run the gauntlet actively pinging to detect the incoming torpedo and then deploy countermeasures.

    I see option 1 as T26, and option 2 as T31 :-)

  243. Clive F says

    @ TON: May be if it (San Luis) had caused some damage we would be getting T31 with tails?

  244. Mark says

    Well the navy could buy 5 of theses as there type31. Give the cocktail party’s in the far flung oceans a real twist


  245. Repulse says

    Given the recent reports that preparatory work has begun on a fourth batch 2 River OPV, think I’m going to have to give up on a filler build of 3 Avengers prior to the T26 build starting. However, I think it would be wrong just to build just 2 more to the same specification.

    As the River class will still remain BAEs best chance of exporting warships in the next decade then a joint MoD / BAE funded upgrade to a Batch 3 surely is needed. Also, as the 1SL says these ships will cover FIGS and probably APT(S), so life outside the safe UK EEZ has to be considered. Plus, a third ship for me to cover WIGS surely is a no brainer also?

    This would give more time to design the T31 properly over the next 5-10yrs as surely a MOTS design seems a dream and also goes against advice from experts like NaB about keeping design skills current.

    Here’s the two enhancements I’d vote for:
    – Retractable hangar for a Lynx at the expense of the larger flight deck.
    – 3 x Seahawk Sigma 30mm guns with LMM and MBDA Mistral missiles.

  246. ArmChairCivvy says

    the MN is phasing them out
    “MBDA Mistral missiles.”.
    Why would we be starting to introduce them?

    But if you really want to, then you could get mounts on which you can swap between them and an autogun (from a navy that has also phased Mistral out).

  247. mickp says

    @Repulse – if its a stand alone point defence system then SeaRam. A mounting point that allows CIWS / SeaRam option would be all I would propose. Both self contained and IIRC we did trial SeaRam on a T42 in the past. I would settle for CIWS, but a SeaRam option would be good. Might have to be mounted at the front though on the existing design…

  248. Stephen Duckworth says

    The USN are paying attention to the SSK issue as they are at best struggling to effectively deal with them in joint exercises.
    The analytically conservative Congressional Budget Office was alarmed enough to officially report that “some analysts argue that the Navy is not very good at locating diesel-electric submarines, especially in noisy, shallower waters near coastal areas. Exercises with allied navies that use diesel-electric submarines confirm that problem…[For example,] Israeli diesel-electric submarines, which until recently were relatively old, are said to always ‘sink’ some of the large and powerful warships of the U.S. Sixth Fleet in exercises. And most recently, an Australian Collins-class submarine penetrated a U.S. carrier battlegroup and was in a position to sink an aircraft carrier during exercises off Hawaii in May 2000.”

  249. Repulse says

    @ACC: “the MN is phasing them out” – fair point on the Mistral. The point really was around having a low-end AA missile to offer limited air defence, plus the ability to tackle UAVs which will be increasingly used by terrorists and smugglers. The Mistral, apparently is integratable with the SeaHawk Sigma platform. I guess LMM will have some AA capability ultimately reading the marketing blurb, but I’m not sure if this is just to airbrush the demise of the Starstreak II. If the platform could be integrated with a AA LMM, Starstreak, Sting or Simbad the end result would be the same.

  250. Repulse says

    @MickP: “if its a stand alone point defence system then SeaRam. A mounting point that allows CIWS / SeaRam option would be all I would propose. Both self contained and IIRC we did trial SeaRam on a T42 in the past. I would settle for CIWS, but a SeaRam option would be good. Might have to be mounted at the front though on the existing design…”

    I understand the comment, but not sure the RN needs anything near the capabality of SeaRam or Phalanx for FIGS, WIGS and APT(S) as it stands today. An option for a “fitted-for-but-not-with” CIWS would be good, but I do want to avoid the discussion of trying to turn an OPV into anything more. What I am trying to stress is that the additional Rivers should have a design that has evolved from the Batch 2 model (as at a low risk as possible) to better match the specific operation requirements for these standing commitments, and also to improve export actractiveness.

    I think adding a SeaHawk Sigma gun platform with missile laucher, should be low risk as it should just bolt on where the current guns are (the Amazonas class has 3 guns). There may be a requirement for a magazine, but as these missiles are portable it could be just a desk mounted box.

    I understand that analysis of a Telescopic hangar on HMS Clyde was considered, so whilst it would be some work, I think again it should be at the lower end of the risk scale.

  251. shark bait says

    @Repulse; LLM and Starstreak both offer a “low-end AA missile” capabilities, and both would fit on the SeaHawk Sigma gun platform. Why bother introducing something new?

    The Oto 76mm Strales is a capable CIWS, with obvious other uses.

    Are any of these valuable on a patrol boat? I would normally say not, but given the lack of proper aviation facilities and the desire to do more with the rivers perhaps it would be worth the investment?

    A hangar would be immeasurably valuable to the rivers if they’re going to be deployed over seas often. With a 10m extension, hangar and some of the equipment above would it be worth the inflated price we’re paying for the batch 2? Would it be valuable to have a slightly larger, slightly more capable river pootle around Med, APTn and APTs during peace time, leaving the real escorts to focus east of Suez? Even into the Indo-Pacific reigions?

    It wouldn’t be a good platform for the RN, however it would be less bad than the current river situation. All purely theoretical, that opportunity is long gone.

  252. shark bait says

    @stephen duckworth; Everyone else seems awake to the threat, yet the RN responds be cutting ASW assets. The RN we’re regarded as the worlds premier sub hunters, how long is that going to last?

  253. Repulse says

    @SB: “LLM and Starstreak both offer a “low-end AA missile” capabilities, and both would fit on the SeaHawk Sigma gun platform. Why bother introducing something new.” If that is true and not marketing talk, then agree there is no need.

    “The Oto 76mm Strales is a capable CIWS, with obvious other uses.” – I think we are missing a multi-purpose medium gun, but again for the specific FIGS, WIGS and APT(S) role, I do not see it needed.

    “A hangar would be immeasurably valuable to the rivers if they’re going to be deployed over seas often. With a 10m extension, hangar and some of the equipment above would it be worth the inflated price we’re paying for the batch 2? Would it be valuable to have a slightly larger, slightly more capable river pootle around Med, APTn and APTs during peace time, leaving the real escorts to focus east of Suez? It wouldn’t be a good platform for the RN, however it would be less bad than the current river situation.” – Again, no problem if an extended version had been deisgned and is on the table, but it’s not (as NaB says) – what I am suggesting though is an evolution of the design (with relatively small low risk changes).

  254. mickp says

    @Repulse, Ok I get what you are envisaging and as you note there would hopefully some scope for a limited upgrade of the B2 Rivers without much structural work. Not sure it will be considered though however, I suppose it would inform the lowest end capability of the so called T31s – for which there is a very broad spectrum of options from an enhanced B2 at the lowest to a T26 ‘lite’ at the highest. Depends what we need really

  255. Don says

    A slightly improved River with a hangar would be capable of Figs Wigs APT(S).

    But Is the RN resisting this and keeping the spec at OPV levels on the rivers so as not to compromise on Proposed Type 31 numbers and specs?

    Would a River with a hangar and low end air defence eat into better equipped Type 31 numbers.

  256. shark bait says

    Normally yes, but in this instance perhaps not, we had to buy the rivers to an inflated specification regardless of the T31 program so perhaps it would have been better to build something a little less terrible.

    Perhaps the worry is protectionism of high end assets by keeping the river useless, however if naval leaders are unable to articulate the differences between and OPV with hangar and a Frigate they should not be in the job.

  257. Julian says

    Re hangars on River, maybe a little bit of help might come out of the upcoming unmanned warrior exercises where, amongst other things, will be the latest ScanEagle (not the one the RN are currently trialing since apparently they consider that out of date). I’ve seen a few drawings showing River carrying 20′ ISO containers either side of the funnel just aft of the RIBs without encroaching on the flight deck and a ScanEagle-sized UAV could certainly be containerised and could increase at least surveillance reach and who knows, maybe the exercises will have something that is containerisable, ship deployable & recoverable, and could carry some sort of weapon such as a couple of LMM or similar. That could add some useful capacity in some scenarios to make up for lack of embarked helicopter. I do also like the idea of using River B2, at least a hull or two, as first installation for sigma mount to add Martlet to the main 30mm.

    Re T31 hanger I wonder whether a workable solution to the Wildcat-or-Merlin issue on something like Venator 110 or Cutlass (if that also has a hanger only sized for a 10 ton helicopter or thereabouts) might be to stick with Merlin-sized flight deck (if River B2 is Merlin-sized then surely Venator/Cutlass/Avenger’s must be capable of being made so if not already) and smaller hanger (big enough for 10 ton helicopter, i.e. slightly bigger than Wildcat) and add a telescoping extension at the flight deck (door) end whereby, if in-extremis a Merlin did need to be permanently embarked, it would only be a matter of retracting the extension for launch and then, after landing, taking the Merlin into the hanger, extending the extension over its tail, and closing the door at the end of the extension. A more modest 3 metre or so extension would surely be pretty simple to stow & deploy. With some clever design it might even be possible to only supply fitting points at the rear of the permanent hanger so that it could be FFBNW and a unit fitted as required for a deployment.

  258. Don says

    It appears that Pallets of Camm could potentially be fitted on Batch 2 Rivers.
    Using the Rivers 2D radar .

    12 Camm per pallet . Perhaps up to 6 pallets . 72 Camm .

    In flight, the missile can receive mid-course guidance via a datalink before the active homing radar seeker takes over for the final approach to target. This does away with the need for separate tracking radars, making CAMM compatible with any 2D or 3D surveillance radars and allows targets to be hit that are not in line-of-sight.[21]
    CAMM(L) is the land-based variant and will replace the Rapier missile batteries of the British Army[10] from 2020 or so. Four three-pack launchers[20] are fitted to a self-contained “pallet” that can be fitted to a range of trucks.[25] The launch vehicle will not have its own radar, instead taking targeting information over a secure datalink as part of an integrated air-defence network[25] and using the active seeker head for terminal guidance. Some reports have called the land variant, “Land Ceptor”.[26][27]

    If they developed this it would give the Rivers some punch !

  259. Pacman27 says

    RE: hangers

    T31 Wildcat
    T26 Merln


  260. crj says


    Wizard wheeze! I had a similar thought not long ago, and harboured enthusiasms for a surfaced-launched SPEAR 3 derivative hurled from the same tube. One must be careful proposing such things around here though, those in-the-know get terribly cross. Suggesting a River might be turned into a warship could raise NAB’s blood pressure, and may even agitate him sufficiently to cause him to spill his grog, and then where would we be?

  261. shark bait says

    A naval CAMM pallet should be developed, as should SPEAR 3 integration.

    I don’t understand why we would put it on a patrol boat though?

  262. David Stephen says

    There are some people on this thread who seriously need to come to a better understanding of ship availability. The so called rule of three is a myth. Perhaps in previous times 3 hulls where required to maintain one on station but that has not been the case for decades. Modern warship availability is far better. The RN currently has 6 type 45 destroyers and from this number has an aspiration to keep 5 deployable! With the current propulsion issues that is clearly ambitious. However those problems will be solved eventually. And when they are, a more realistic target would be 4 of the 6 destroyers available at any given time. The official target for type 26 availability is 6 deployable from a fleet of 8. Again ambitious (6 from 9 seems better) but this is obviously far greater than the 2.5 nonsense being banded around by some. We also have to consider the roles that require a frigate/destroyer presence. Yes the carrier will need escorting but unless deployed to a “hot zone” then this escort presence need not be nearly a robust as some seem to think. Yes Us carrier battle groups look impressive but this does not mean that it is the only or indeed the best way deploy such groups. CVF will routinely embark a package of 14 Merlin (9 ASW & 5 AEW) so can throw up a pretty comprehensive ASW screen without aid. Adding a frigate (23/26) with a 2087 TAS and an additional ASW helo in some situations will be desirable but not ALWAYS necessary. Only a deployment with a severe submarine threat would require any additional reinforcing. If this is required then the addition of a 2nd frigate is well within our ability to provide. In regard to destroyer coverage, one type 45 should always accompany the CVF. This 1 ship can provide all the AAW protection needed. Any enemy who can throw more than 48 SSM or aircraft at us (China/Russia) will not be faced alone. So we should be able to protect the carrier with 1 destroyer & 1/2 frigates. Add to this the CAP from the carrier and you have a pretty well defended asset. If we have 4 out of 6 destroyers and 6 out of 8 frigates available and compare this with the roles that require them then we can see it is far from the doom and gloom some people are advocating. There are only 3/4 deployments which require the presence of a destroyer. These are OP Kippion, CVF escort, FRE, and maybe 2nd CVF escort. No problems once the engines are sorted. There are only 5/6 deployments which require a frigate. These are 1/2 CVF escort, TAPS, OP Kippion, APS. Again well within our capabilities.No one is saying we are not in need of extra ships but please end the nonsensical chat about US Navy type availability. The RN has always kept ships at sea for longer and more regularly than others.

  263. Rocket Banana says

    David Stephen,

    If we have a T45 in refit then expecting to keep 5 in the water is plan stupid – that’s not how machinery works :-) So I agree with your figure of 4 T45 assumed available. Of these we need to earmark one deployed and one in transit, on leave or OST. This leaves the other two bobbing around in UK waters as FRE and RFTG. If we deploy two then there’s nothing guaranteed to be available for the RFTG… should have built 8 :-(

    6 of 8 of the T26s is also exactly what I think. One in planned refit the other buggered because its new, has teething problems, or has hit a sand bank and needs checking out. Of the 6, two can be deployed, two can be in transit, on leave or OST, and Bob’s your mothers brother, we end up with two bobbing around in UK waters as TAPS and RFTG.

    So with only three deployed, they’re going to be: Kipion, APT(S), and CTF or NRF.

    I’d like another frigate for a continuous APT(N) too – something to sweep the GUIK cap in addition to an SSN and a P8. Gives Ivan something else to consider. Using little boats for APT(N) seems as though we’ve forgotted to keep out own back yard clean in favour of messing around elsewhere. Perhaps FRE, TAPS and the two RFTG escorts are enough to do this and do their main tasking duties. I do however doubt this.

    Will T31 be good enough for FRE – no.
    Will T31 be good enough for TAPS – no.
    Will T31 be good enough as the AAW escort for the RFTG – no.
    Will T31 be good enough as the ASW escort for the RFTG – no.
    Will T31 be good enough for North Atlantic ASW – no.
    Will T31 be good enough for Kipion, APT(S), CTF, NRF – no.

    What exactly is the point of bothering with it at all? Coast guard? A crappy version of APT(N) that doesn’t consider a sub threat? If we’re just talking WIGS then why not just send a Bay (or Tide/Wave) with a hangar?

  264. David Stephen says

    Simon You are right, if the type 31 can’t do any of the tasks that need covered it should not be built. Saying that we still need at least 5/6 new ships to replace the GP type 23s. I don’t think the new ships need to be able to do TAPS or FRE as I would not give them a TAS or high end AAW. If they can do singleton deployments and contribute to a task force and possibly cover APTN & APTS then I would be happy with that. To do this they would need range and a decent but no stellar armament. NGFS would be a must as we don’t want and indeed can’t afford to use one of the 14 high end ships for this. So a 4.5 inch gun. It would get Artisan 3D and 16/24 CAAM, a type 2050 sonar (recycled from type 23) and a 8 cell MK41 vls (tactical). With a hanger for a Wildcat. If built like this then they offer a decent capability. If it was up to me they probably would not be getting built but as they are we need to try to make them useful. With this equipment fit they would offer at least as much use as the 5 type 23s they replace. Those ships still offer value as we are using them now. So at the very least it’s new for old. A Captas 2 would instantly make them a much more capable vessel but that might require more speed and therefore cost which will be the biggest factor.

  265. JME says

    Seems like we should wait abit anyway before we commit to the type 26 design and try to target the Australian and Canadian contracts for new frigates.
    I’m sure that value for money could be found with a joint UK/AUS/Canada frigate like the eurofighter programme?….maybe not the eurofighter programme actually….but post brexit and with the depreciation of the pound now would be the perfect time to try and sell to the above two. Hulls could be constructed here then sent abroad for finishing or something like that. and in the future if we need more ships and the dollar is cheaper we could buy abroad and send workers over there on a seedcorn-esque initiative. Or vice versa.
    The type 31’s will end up being the new FRES/MIV anyway until we realise that we need more type 45’s or 26’s like the challenger upgrade.

  266. Rocket Banana says

    Perhaps I’m coming round to someone else’s way of thinking and I apologise for that but, the more I think about this, the more I think T26 as C1 and C2 was the correct direction to take.

    So in effect I’m erring towards 8 x Iver-Huitfeldt and 6 x Absalon equivalents. Same hull, similar propulsion, different top arrangement.

    …as long as the Absalon equivalents are geared up to insert and support a small marine unit with NGFS and GMLRS/VLS.

    Obviously it all comes down to cost but looking at the price the RDN paid for their Iver-Huitfeldts it looks like a great model to copy.

  267. donald_of_tokyo says


    Will T31 be good enough for FRE – yes. With ASW capability similar to T45 snd AAW capability about a half of T26, and 2/3 of T23 mod, with land-attack capability similar to T45/T23 mod, and with similar range/endurance, T31 can surely work as FRE. It is not “good at FRE”, but surely “can do”.
    Will T31 be good enough for TAPS – no. Agreed.
    Will T31 be good enough as the AAW escort for the RFTG – no. Agreed
    Will T31 be good enough as the ASW escort for the RFTG – no. Agreed
    + Will T31 be good enough as the close escort for the RFTG – yes. For inner layer ASW, goal-keeper AAW, T31 can work well.
    Will T31 be good enough for North Atlantic ASW – no. Agreed
    Will T31 be good enough for Kipion, APT(S), CTF, NRF – Surely yes. All these tasks are done with T23GP, not T23ASW. T31 can do all of them quite good.

    We are talking abount having only 5-6 T31. If there are 2 tasks for them, it is enough, and I found 3-4 of them in the list above. Thus, I think building 5-6 T31 has a good rationale.

    Of course, another way will be to build additional 3 T26 and nothing more, reducing the escort number from 19 to 17, which requires one standing task to be abandoned.

    There is only these 2 choice. All T31 story comes from the calculation that, 5 T26 (total 13) is not affordable, simply because T26 become so expensive.

  268. dmereifield says

    @Donald of Tokyo/Simon (et al.)

    According to Janes, the T31 will have “a sensor package optimised for air/surface situational awareness; self-defence against air and asymmetric threats; offensive effects against surface and land targets…” – if true, this suggests a lack of HMS, let alone TAS. If this were the case, just how useful would it be for the standing tasks (or indeed any potential hot situation)?

  269. Repulse says

    @Simon: let’s get in 8 T26s and the 5 (hopefully 6) new rivers (3 with retractable hangar) before 2030. Then look at a new class of @8 to get to 2040 and the start of the AAW replacement (hopefully again @8).

    The new class could have an amphibious assault role and could in my view replace the LPDs, especially as there are no ships to protect an independent ARG at present. BUT, it would require a shift in the way the RMs operate and new RFA ships for heavy lift (plus an additional LHA IMO).

  270. Stephen Duckworth says

    For fans of the Absalon download Mighty Ships Series 2 Episode 1 on operation Kippon.

  271. Pacman27 says

    In my opinion the Danes have got it absolutely right with the Absolons and Huitfeldts, both ships are incredible cost effective designs. Whilst I think both ships are fantastic I do believe the UK should be building 12 T26 that are fully loaded and in effect become the UK’s Burke class. This would give us 2 per CBG on a 1on 1off rotation and the ability to have 4 further squadrons of 2 ships each that could rotate through cycles as required, creating 6 squadrons. These ships would be supported by 4 T31 each creating an escort force of 36 ships. We create this by retiring all Hunt, Sandown, T23 and T45’s in service over the next 25 years at a pace of 1.4 escorts being built p.a. In support of our national shipbuilding strategy.

    The T31 design (perhaps using the same hull as the T26) could be split into ASW and GPF specific fleets with the GPF version following the Absolon capability that includes being able to deploy a company inc Tanks etc.

    My preference would be to create a Karel Doorman type auxiliary that could be dual purpose in provide expeditionary capability (KD is able to cater for 6 MErlins or 2 Chinooks and has great stores and RO/RO capability) with the T31’s being based on the Meko A200 class or the Iver Huitfeldt depending on unit cost.

    The Danes have also ordered and Aegir Tanker from Korea and it is configured with a 48 bed hospital and deck facilities so this can be done with the Aegir Design – if not replace our current SSS and bays over time with Karel Doormans, if of course we can man them.

    It does strike me that the Danes are able to design 2 blinding ships at a good price point (500-600m) whilst the UK seems unable to do so.

    Perhaps it is time to get real and build smaller or build better and more.

  272. Peter Elliott says

    Do our professional commentators rate the Danish ships for their capability on exercise? Or on Deployment? It strikes me that we can’t really evaluate their VFM unless we understand how capable they are operationally. Do the Danes come to FOST ever?

  273. Pacman27 says


    The Danish ships do FOST (possibly run by the RN who do a lot of Navies). Absolon has led several fleets including Somalia (if memory serves me right) and these ships are respected. I also believe the Peter Willmoes is BMD certified by the US.

    So these ships are very capable – VFM is another discussion as the quoted figures are generally accepted for a under configured vessel. They are none the less very good and the absolon is probably unique in what it offers and for me excellent value.

  274. David Stephen says

    Those ships are very capable but not nearly as cheap as is made out. Large chunks of the cost where deferred until after construction (FFBNW). Also they are a compromise, it is at best unwise to place troops and equipment on a ship tasked with NGFS and other things that require being closer to shore. Better to keep those functions on the escorts and everything else on the LPDs & LSDs. The Danes can’t do both separately so Absalon makes sense but it is not really suited to the RN.

  275. Repulse says

    @SD:Putting aside the cost comparison of the Absalon class, to which I agree the numbers are misleadingly low, I think the question whether a ship of this hybrid nature is relevant to the RN is a good one.

    The Absalon class give the Danish the ability to move a medium company of 200 men, though to get any heavy kit off it needs a safe harbour. Also, limited supplies means any operational period will be restricted.

    The USMC is looking at CLT (company landing team) operstions, but the UK still looks at Cdo level operations unless we are talking SFs. I can imagine that CLTs could make sense for SF ops, but unless you are operating in an area of small islands (like the Pacific) or remote & small towns (like Greenland), then something larger is needed. At this stage, I can see the only UK requirement would be for SF operations where if a company of RMs were needed it could be easier supported from a QEC, LPD / LSD or other RFA. Anything smaller (@60 men) and lighter will be supported by a T45/T26 and hopefully a T31/MHPC.

    Having said all that, the problem for me is that the QEC belongs nowhere near the shore, and the RN no longer can protect an ARG of LPDs/LSDs. Do whilst, I wouldn’t go for an Absalon, unless the number of Escorts head again north of mid twenty, the RN should be looking to add additional self defence and NGFS to an Albion replacement.

  276. Not a Boffin says

    The professionals really can’t be @rsed with this crayoning any more. Particularly from those who have never set foot on any of HM war canoes – let alone their internet fantasies.

  277. David Stephen says

    What? So the opinion of anyone who has never served on active duty is invalid? That would seem rather arrogant. Perhaps I have picked you up wrong, I do hope so.

  278. CasualObserver says

    Opinions are like arseholes…..everybody has one. I think everyone can have an opinion on a particular subject, however when someone who’s very knowledgeable on a subject decides to impart his/her operational knowledge then perhaps that is an opinion more valid than others.

    To put it another way, everyone who’s into say football will shout and scream and the tv all day saying that manager X should do Y and Z to achieve a result…….but unless they are managers or pro footballers themselves then frankly that opinion needs to be taken with a pinch of salt and treated as what it is……an opinion.

    I for one prefer to read the facts from those in the know. So I personally hope that NaB carries on.

    All in my humble opinion of course ;-)

  279. David Stephen says

    Who said he shouldn’t carry on? So everyone can have an opinion but the only valid ones are from serving or former armed forces personnel? Bullshit! I don’t need to taste a turd to know I won’t enjoy eating one. If someone studies a subject and spends time thinking about it with a level of inteligence, I don’t think that their opinion is automatically of less value than someone who has served. Being in the forces does not necesserily mean you know the best way to run them. Also how do you or anyone else know the background of everyone posting here? Do you think everyone who runs this site serves? Or is “in the know” If not why read the articles on here? I will listen to all opinions expressed in this thread, because I think they are all valid. However certain posts come across as sanctimonious and arrogant.

  280. Observer says

    Actually David, there is also the case of “operational practice” where we have encountered people not “in the know” making suggestions that sound right on paper but totally does not work out in the field because of operational limitations and practices. So yes people can suggest but unless they get their hands on, sometimes their suggestions simply don’t work out in practice but they won’t know it until they try it out in real life.

    For example, someone once suggested using Black Hornet Nanos for armoured formations and advances, which sounds ok, until you realize that the speed of the Black Hornet is anemic compared to an armoured vehicle and using them as scouts limits the speed of an armoured advance to a crawl. So, nice and right sounding in theory but a disaster in practice.

    This “hands on, on site” experience is what those who have served bring to the discussion.

  281. Observer says

    Oh and to be facetious, you never know about the turd too! Guess what is the world’s most expensive coffee?

  282. David Stephen says

    I agree and understand that the hands on experience is hugely valuable and enjoy listening to that perspective. I also understand that some suggestions from people without that perspective can sometimes be rather fanciful or Silly. That is a long way from thinking everyone who has no hands on experience is unable to contribute. I have never actually tasted coffee but from the smell of even the cheap stuff you could believe that they all had that in them.

  283. shark bait says

    I can confirm the turd coffee tastes good, always good to approach things with an open mind.

    Operational experience is hugely valuable, and so are new approaches otherwise an organisation gets stuck in a status quo bias.

  284. IanW says

    Absence of field experience is not a necessary bar to knowledge and analysis – John Keegan springs immediately to mind. However, JK’s reputation reinforces NaB’s point to some degree. His reputation was built on solid reading and research, and critical engagement with those who do the job.

  285. Don says

    With Type31 looking like it will have very little ASW role and the Successor Trident now approved it seems the Astute run will finish and SSBN will take over sub production capacity.

    Is an off the shelf foreign purchase of 3-4 AIP SSK/SSP to improve sub numbers , availability , capability , morale , and asw role/deterrent worth considering ?

    Could this solve several problems – -1 low sub numbers with n0 production capacity to increase these due to SSBN production .

    -2 Low ASW surface ship numbers

    however the main issue still is low personnel numbers !

  286. mickp says


    “Is an off the shelf foreign purchase of 3-4 AIP SSK/SSP to improve sub numbers , availability , capability , morale , and asw role/deterrent worth considering ?”

    Yes it i worth considering in my view in the whole pot of whether we even need T31 or if we do what it looks like and what it is to be used for. Some will say we don’t do anything less than SSN for subs but there are also considerations about submariner training pipeline and indeed offering an organic training for ASW v SSKs. 7 SSN, and similarly 8 T26s is I assume deemed the minimum necessary to meet strategic requirements but there is probably very little room for manoeuvre if the unexpected happens, e.g. grounding or hitting a fishing boat. Rather than rushing off an designing a T31 as possibly a ship without a mission, other options to be considered could include any of, 1 extra T26, an extra Astute, 2-4 SSKs as you suggest, more B2 Rivers (with enhanced defensive capability), reactivating both Albions with improved defensive fit (CAMM), an ice patrol ship with hanger etc. Some may say that’s crayoning, but no more so that trying to design a new frigate when the design of the next version is not complete. I personally would kick the T31 into the longish grass (post getting the first few T26s) for it to evolve into more like the MHPC concept. In the meantime phase out the oldest non TAS T23s and look at some of the options above to ensure there is depth behind the small core strategic fleet for all the good stuff that should be a given, EEZ patrol, surveillance, flying the flag, HADR etc.

  287. H_K says

    Found this interesting comparison of the pint-sized Gowind corvette (102m, 2600 tons) versus its larger Fremm cousin (142m, 6000 tons). Good example of concurrent build (both ships launched within 24 hours of each other), and clearly a lot of design reuse going on (why mess with something when it’s working?).

    Food for thought for T31… how to pull-through T26 design elements to reduce design costs and facilitate concurrent build? And how would a scaled down T26 compare to Avenger/Cutlass?



  288. H_K says

    Oops wrong pic… the 2nd pic (D654) is the Fremm that was launched a year ago, so already has all her weapons and aerials installed. I wanted to show her sister ship D655, which looks a lot more like the Gowind corvette since they were both launched a weekend ago.

  289. Not a Boffin says

    I suspect very little design re-use going on. Just because the upper works look similar does not mean they have the same design.

    For a kick-off, the Gowind seems to have a bulbous bow, whereas FREMM does not. That means the hullform is significantly different.

    The boat bay is midships, because that’s the position where relative motion between the ship and the boat is minimised. That’s a principle, NOT a design. The design in way of the boat bay will be tricky structurally, because although it’s the best position for positioning the boat, it’s also the area of maximum bending moment. Weight / depth / length relationships will be critical here. You can also see that the bay is proportionally much larger than that for the FREMM. The structure will be significantly different.

    Propulsion? Yes, OK both have two shafts, but FREMM is CODLOG and GW is CODOD. Very different designs, very different arrangements.

    I’d be surprised if there was a single drawing or calculation (which is actually how you tell how “common” designs are) that was used across both ships.

    Having similar visual features, does not indicate design re-use.

  290. H_K says

    NAB, I know there is probable zero reuse at the detailed design level.

    I was thinking more about savings from using common design principles, spatial configurations and equipment, essentially scaling up or down as required in a Lego-like way (for lack of a better analogy), which seems to be how Damen and TKMS also operate.

    I.e. if there is a well understood framework for how various hull blocks and spaces inter-connect, how pipes, cables, people and munitions flow, and how certain specific spaces are to be configured, I imagine that could still greatly accelerate design, costing and risk/capability tradeoffs (which seems to be where T26 has run into headwinds between MOD and BAE).

  291. Not a Boffin says

    The things I was referring to are not the detail design level. They are basic design issues.

    The factors about spatial arrangement, traffic flows and soforth are actually where experience of designing multiple classes of ship generates that body of knowledge. It’s not a computer programme or a database (at least not yet), but the collective expertise of people.

    When I was a young lad, the “expert systems” that would allow that knowledge to be incorporated in a computer design package were “a few years away”. In the main, they still are……..

  292. Repulse says

    Different requirements so different design, but will be interesting to see: http://www.defensenews.com/articles/france-nears-decision-on-frigate-designs

  293. JohnHartley says

    If there was any money or political will, I would suggest we look at a licence built, RN modified variant, of the South Korean, FFX-II Daegu class for the T31. 122m long, 3600t full load, helicopter deck & hangar for a Wildcat. 127mm gun, 2x triple torps, 1x RAM (could be swapped for laser in RN use?), 2×4 SSM, 1x 20mm Phallanx, 16 cell VLS SAM. 8000 mile cruising range. Powered by Rolls Royce MT30. A proper compact, but capable warship. Instead we will end up with some undergunned, overpriced OPV dressed up as a frigate for PR purposes.

  294. Repulse says

    Going for a foreign design is bad news all round. Firstly it will be a compromise for UK requirements, our design capability will likely die on the vine and I doubt we’d save much money after all the consultancy / legal fees.

    The importance of the T31 design in my view is increasing, given the recapitalisation of the Russian fleet and the need for the UK to remain globally relevant post Brexit.

    The T31 (and subsequent variants) need to be seen as the vehicle for the recapitalisation of the RN. Whilst a balanced T26 / T31 order is a necessity, monies from any MHC and future OPV should really be bundled into the T31 programme to ensure that the numbers are maximised.

    It is a real crunch point IMO if the RN decides to buy the two additional Rivers or starts earlier with the T31. If we can quickly come to a design surely the second would be preferable.

  295. JohnHartley says

    Well what is it? Do we still have a competent UK design capability or not? If we do, where is the detailed, thought through design? If not, lets look at the nearest foreign design to our needs, use what remaining design capability we still have, to modify it & get on with building it, before the RN & our shipyards wither away.

  296. dmereifield says


    Apparently BAE have already started on the last 2 rivers

  297. Repulse says

    @dmereifield, as far as public information goes some initial BAE work has started, but no contracts signed and not too late to change course.

  298. dmereifield says

    Thanks for the info Repulse, let’s see how it plays out. Hopefully we will get a clearer picture with Hammond’s first budget and the shipbuilding strategy in the coming months

  299. Not a Boffin says

    The driving factor (rightly or wrongly) is getting steel fab work into the Clyde yards in very short order. There are two ways to do that – build more Rivers or order T26 right now. GPFF is an irrelevance in that debate – as are fantasies about foreign ships.

    Fallon doesn’t seem to like the number coming out of BAES for T26 – although one suspects the budget profile is the real issue. Until that impasse is overcome, it’s Rivers, as GPFF has not yet even passed Initial Gate. Nor would foreign fantasies.

    The issue du jour is the T26 cost, which is less about the design than about the industrial construct. Something which will not change whatever ship off Wiki people want to drool over.

  300. Sisyphus says

    I lurk often, and hardly comment, but I wanted to clarify. Among many issues, from what I understand from NaB’s detailed knowledge there is some simple maths involved that are increasing the costs of the T26 ..If one T26 is built on the Clyde by BAE, ceteris paribus, every two years, then all the running costs for those two years of that yard [with nothing else being built] will ALL be apportioned to that one T26… I don’t know what that cost is, but I know how to [very crudely] halve it, and that’s to build the T26 in one year … OK, I perhaps over simplify, but, NAB, does this point hold…

  301. The Other Chris says

    Some historical perspective from 1906:

    While browsing newspaper archives trying to determine if there was a press release for the amount of bacon stores carried aboard HMS Dreadnought (no, seriously – you can blame TD!), the Pensacola Journal carried an Associated Press article.

    Of particular note was the comment on the length of time of her construction (column 1):

    “There are two reasons why work is being rushed on the Dreadnought. One is the great saving in cost…”

    – The Pensacola Journal, Feb 11th (1906)

    Source: https://goo.gl/1CDWVI

  302. Peter Elliott says

    Something for the Clyde steelworkers to get their teeth into. Give it a helipad this time and there’s your PCRS..?


  303. Not a Boffin says

    That is the general idea, but it is more complicated, in that BAES under the ToBA are required to provide a sustainable complex warship ship design and build capability. That means – quite correctly – making sure you have the right age and experience profile through the yard and a plan for maintaining it. If you only have a fixed expectation of orders, then to make the skills/experience equation balance with the work throughput, you may have to slow the throughput. That tends to have an unfortunate effect.

    The HCDC evidence session had the Clyde workforce at 2300. Broadly speaking that’s 4.5M manhours per year that need paying for. Every year.

  304. Repulse says

    @NaB: Putting aside the T31, am I right in thinking that as long as BAE has said level of fabrication work, then the MoD have fulfilled their TOBA obligations? Whilst I understand that building a T26 the ratio of the cost for fabrication is lower than an OPV, and money is tight currently (may change in the budget) so it would cost more to get the level of fabrication work on “finished” T26s, could one option be to build two empty T26s in parallel?

  305. Shades says

    One T26/T31 per year still takes us into the early to mid-2030s, rather than the mid-2040s on a one FF/2 year basis. By the mid-2030s, surely we should be looking at a T45 replacement, as they will have been in service for 25-30 years by then. That assumes, of course, that the Clyde can build one T26 per year.

  306. Peter Elliott says

    Part of the problem would seem to be that theTreasury (and perhaps the MoD) think they’re buying ships wheras, in fact, they are owning a shipyard.

  307. Not a Boffin says

    “could one option be to build two empty T26s in parallel?”

    This is the sort of thing that sends me a bit mental I’m afraid. Define “empty”? If you mean just the steel fabrication explain how you intend to install the myriad items of equipment, pipes, cabling, linings, cabins, storeroom and office furnishings without tearing the ship apart again?

    Modern efficient shipbuilding requires outfitting to commence almost as soon as the units start being erected in the build hall / shed. What some people refer to as “fit-out” is actually storing compartments with things like cushions, technical publications, anchor chains etc. The vast majority of outfit (pretty much everything except the shell, decks, bulkheads) is installed throughout the build and cannot be retrofitted. Unless manpower and money really are no object. To give an idea – the steel trades generally represent about 25-30% of the manpower effort required to build the ship. The remainder is outfit trades. The outfit trades are spread out across the build duration, with peak loading from about halfway through, till near the end. Steel trades on the other hand tend to be front loaded – peak use is up to about a third of the way through the build period.

  308. Shades says

    What are the odds that October will see any of the following:

    1. publication of the NSS mandating the building of one FF/DD per year (or anything sensible);
    2. main gate/manufacturing contract signed for 1st batch T26;
    3. publication of the T26 build programme on a one/year (or 1.5/year) basis (cutting steal in 2017, or, at least at any point before 2019);
    4. publication of specifications for T31; and/or
    5. the T31 specifications being credible – such that it can be described as “bristling with weapons”?

    Apologies for any crayons that were harmed in the above but I’m sure when the NSS was announced it was planned for Oct this year and at the HCDSC session in July the MoD contract negotiated indicated signing of the T26 contract around the time of the publication of the NSS.

  309. Not a Boffin says

    Odds are 1000000 : 1 against that October will see any of that – at least publicly.

    1. Publication of the NSS is linked to the Chancellors Autumn Statement – currently scheduled for 23/11.
    2. That would appear to be linked to 1 above, so November at earliest (eternal optimist)
    3. See 2 above.
    4. Reputedly VCDS has signed off on URD. Which is a long way off a “specification”.
    5. Credibility is rarely measured by bristles – of weapons, brushes or hedgehogs – other than by the weberati.

    One might speculate that the entire thing is being driven by a misconception as to what is driving T26 cost, but that would just be speculation.

  310. Peter Elliott says

    I find it possible to conceive that under the stress of finalising an SDSR that non-specialist service personnel, civil servants and ministers might just fail to grasp what the cost drivers of military ship building are. Hence the unseemly grab for the figleaf of GPFF.

    What I am struggling to credit is that a ship building expert charged with delivering a National Ship Building Strategy (NSBS) would fall victim to the same mistakes.

    What I can however anticipate is that the afore mentioned politicians, service personnel and civil servants will demand to have their faces saved.

    On that basis I would expect the NSBS to be either (a) Delayed (b) Suppressed (c) Gutted (d) the subject of Mysterious Resignatons and possibly (e) all of the above. Call be a cynic if you must ;)

  311. Shades says

    @NAB – thanks: end of Nov it is then – to look forward to with hope or fear that another opportunity will be missed.

    On point 5, if weapons/sensor fit isn’t driving the cost*, then what would be the justification for not fitting a frigate with as many weapons as she can carry (without compromising her seaworthiness or seakeeping etc.)? Isn’t she basically a fighting platform and should therefore be able to fight as much as possible and be as versatile as possible (i.e. affordable)? Nearly all of the concept drawings published so far show the T31 being significantly less well armed than the T23 – although at least the latest Venetor drawings include some strike length VLS, which, I understand offer such a range of weapon possibilities as to hugely increase the ship’s potential versatility. Also none of the specs or drawings released seem to indicate there will be any hull mounted sonar. I get it that some in the know might consider it not needed for the core role of the T31, but why not just fit it anyway, just in case it comes in handy?

    Is it cost, seakeeping or crewing? Or am I basically just re-hashing the old “how could T31 possibly be a better option than a few more T26”?

    *I have been listening, I promise: it’s basically Clyde man hours.

  312. Not a Boffin says

    Anything and everything published thus far on GPFF has been what’s available OTS or nearly OTS. It’s all lobbying.

    One reason not to “bristle” with weapons is that weapons attract manpower to operate and maintain them. They also tend to require length to accommodate them. Both factors tend to make the ship bigger. In the minds of VSO and SCS “bigger” = “expensive”, whether this is actually the case or not. Do not pass go, do not collect £200 etc. If the GPFF is > X tonnes, it’s the wrong answer. Because it’s bigger than X tonnes.

    People also cost money, so more people is similarly the wrong answer. Hadn’t you got the memo? Autonomy is coming to save the day – “cos they’re unmanned, innit”? What could possibly go wrong……..

    Just because you haven’t seen a sonar on the lobbying material doesn’t mean that there isn’t one or that one isn’t wanted. All the stuff out there is being put in the public domain to influence pollies, VSO and the commentariat. There’s a long way to go yet……….

  313. Observer says

    And just to throw an anchor to windward, “unmanned” does not really mean “unmanned”, it just means that the man isn’t in the vehicle itself. The difference is rather stark. If you don’t have aviation assets on board a ship, you don’t need an air wing and maintenance crew, once you have a “UAV” on board, you’ll also need at least 2 pilots and maintenance staff. That’s hardly “unmanned”, just “man not included in toy”. So once you add in toys, expect your requirements to go up, especially if it is a capability that is “new” to the ship and requires a whole support staff along with it.

    And in the end, whatever the navy gets, the sailors will learn to muddle along with it. That’s the way the world works since time immemorial and locations universal.

  314. JohnHartley says

    Defensenews says the French are about to pick the design for their intermediate frigate (4000 tons). Might be interesting to compare its capability & cost against whatever T31 turns out to be.

  315. Repulse says

    @NaB: “define empty” – fair point, I was thinking without the “expensive” kit, or building the “T26 modules” which have a higher fabrication effort proportionately, but understand it’s not that straight forward…

  316. R PM says

    The RN and RCN should joint build together …say 24 to start.

  317. Not a Boffin says

    What are these T26 modules that have proportionately higher fabrication effort? Higher than what?

  318. WiseApe says

    What the hell is an “intermediate frigate?”

    The only sane answer to that is: A frigate that is still under construction.

    Anyway, if you read the DefenceNews blurb it says: “The warships, designed for antisubmarine, air defense and anti-surface capabilities…” Isn’t that the job description for Type 26? But the French are putting it into a four thousand ton hull. They should call them Le Type 23.

  319. Repulse says

    @NaB: As I say, point taken. My ponderings were around that an OPV cost has a higher proportion of fabrication cost as it is overall less sophisticated, meaning more work under the TOBA per government pound (as I understand it). This way the government can minimize its overall costs by buying OPVs. My (flawed) question was could some pre-work still be done on one or more T26s on bits that would allow the government to meet its commitments, and ultimately give something useful, without increasing the overall cost and avoiding buying unwanted OPVs.

  320. Don says

    The bean counters will ensure any costs will be kicked back to the next fiscal year at the earliest.

    So after the Autumn statement and if we get the Ship building Strategy in November there will be a lot of heel dragging under any pretext to push decision and costs into Fiscsl Year 2017 . Which is April 2017 !!

    Frustrating !

  321. Not a Boffin says

    I see what you’re driving at now, but no. Fabricating sub units, units and blocks of T26 would use steel trades hours. Trouble is, you’d have to leave them as sub-units and possibly units. Once you start erecting them as blocks, then you need to be outfitting. The thing about having sub-units and units lying around the place is that they start taking up lots of floor space, which means that if you don’t erect them as blocks, you pretty quickly end up with no space in the sheds. Which means you have to stop fabricating the sub-units, unless you fancy leaving them outside, which is generally a bad idea….

  322. Not a Boffin says

    And of course you’d still need to be on contract for the ship(s)!

  323. BusinessCat6 says

    6 Type45s to replace the Type 42…. too few because they were too expensive
    8 Type 26s to replace the Type 23s… too few because they were too expensive
    5 Type 31s to replace the Type 23s….. too few because, we will see but we all know the reason….

    With every iteration the RN gets smaller and weaker.
    Every iteration bedeviled by uncertainty, falling budgets & zero leadership.

    The end game here seems logical.
    The Royal navy are 3 procurement iterations away from bolstering their surface warfare fleet with Rhibs…. or maybe rubber dingys because the Rhib programme went over budget!

  324. Ron5 says

    As additional ships are built in the same class, they get built quicker and more cheaply. There is a learning curve. We’ve seen that most recently with the QE carriers (PoW is being built significantly quicker than QE) and further back with the Type 23 and Type 45 classes, build man hours decrease in a most satisfactory manner. I was always under the impression that governments and defense ministries relied on this factor to keep program costs within budget. The US most certainly does. Although I assume annual cash flows would actually increase as the ships are delivered faster and faster.

    The phenomenon is universal in all manufacturing industries, the more you build, the quicker and cheaper the item becomes to make. It seems unavoidable, companies will get the benefit whether they like it or not. Their workers will learn.

    How will this be handled with the Type 26/31 when the Treasury has made it very clear that they want a steady annual cash flow and a constant build time. The infamous “drum beat”. IMO a daft name for a daft idea.

    So how will Bae slow down build of successive T26’s to meet the drum beat?

    Will they lay off workers with the hope they can be re-engaged? Seems contrary to TOBA.

    Will they reduce their worker hours to shorter and shorter work weeks? Once again seems unlikely with a unionized workforce.

    Will they just leave the ships completed early, tied to the dock until the Treasury check arrives? Not sure why Bae would be, in essence, giving the Treasury a large, interest free, loan.

    I think our friend NAB has hinted at this being an issue in the contract negotiations. Or maybe he has been saying this should be an issue but isn’t. Obviously he can’t spill the beans. But I am curious as to how the seemingly Mohamed of learning curves will meet the mountain of an annual budget driven Treasury.

  325. Not a Boffin says

    That’s not how it works.

    Shipbuilding – and especially warship building – is not a production line. There simply isn’t the volume. The learning curve is very asymptotic and basically involves improving the organisation of the build – particularly deconflicting outfitting activities (which reduces manpower wastage) – and exploiting the creation of workpackage detail (reduces white collar effort) and improves estimating (reduces manpower demand). That has pretty much shaken out by the end of ships 4 or 5. Beyond that any reductions are marginal.

    What that should mean is a reduction in the overall manpower required to build at a specific interval. Because there is a ToBA to sustain capability, you won’t realise all those reductions, but you should see some.

    Whatever – it isn’t a question of having completed ships hanging around, not least because you run up against facility capacity constraints – if you only have one slipway you can only have one ship on the berth at a time. If you only have a panel line capable of fabricating X tonnes of steel per shift, that’s all you can get.

    If you want to invest to overcome that constraint, that’s fine. But the payoff is dependent on whether you want to have more and quicker deliveries. If you do (eg Virginia SSN) then it’s fine. If you don’t – for example because you’re crew/fleet number constrained, then you don’t. We don’t have two QEC assembly docks because we don’t want more than two. We don’t have two shiplifts at Barrow, because we don’t want multiple boats in Buccleugh dock in commissioning at the same time.

  326. Ron5 says


    Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

    I’m still a bit puzzled about what would happen with the excess workers as the efficiencies kick in with ships 1 through 4. If I understand your reply, it would appear they will be fully paid to be idle via TOBA after the ship is completed earlier than the previous.

    Or perhaps they were equally idle before but the project management improvements moved the periods of idleness from during the ship build to after. If that makes sense.

  327. Not a Boffin says

    The point is that you don’t finish the ships as early as they could be (because the delivery schedule is driven both by RN manning and EP cashflow) and you also carry a structural overmanning in the shipyard workforce to cover training and ensure a sustainable age profile. So much of the learning curve effect is lost. That’s part of the price for sustaining a sovereign capability….

  328. Donald_of_Tokyo says

    If the required manpower decreases after hull 4-5, how about starting T31/GPFF production around there?

    If the 1st T26 is to commission on 2025, 3rd hull will be on 29 (if 2 year drumbeat is true). If the 1st T31 is to commission on 2030, the man-power balance will not be so bad?

    This requires the T23s to be used longer. It may even result in gapping ~1 escort (reduction from 19 to 18) around 2029. But, from work balance point of view, it may work I guess?

  329. Ron5 says


    Thank you again.

  330. Rocket Banana says

    For reference Dauntless was built using 2/3 of the man-hours of Daring. By the 4th T45 they’d only shaved it down to 60%. The 5th and 6th came in a little less, but the majority of the “learn” was done during ship numbers one and two.

    If you stagger this kind of learning over a number of build stages and years you’ll see a very lumpy man-hour demand. Add to that the design process and it gets even worse. No wonder we have ToBA. No business can survive the ups and downs that are dependent largely on which colour bod is running the country in a four-year cycle.

  331. Shades says

    presumably that also plays into the 5 year notice period to terminate ToBA – so no government will get any benefit from terminating during the same parliamentary term…

  332. Not a Boffin says

    The problem with quoting T45 numbers is that they were dependent on the build strategy at the time. Daring was erected and launched in Scotstoun. The rest were erected and launched in Govan. All used Portsmouth built fore-ends and superstructure elements, plus outload and barge transfer. Portsmouth was a brand new facility with only some of the guys from Woolston who knew how to build ships. The same effect would not necessarily apply to an existing build yard. It’s also why you have to use QEC figures with care. Once you lose the context of build, you lose some of the ability to assign cost effect to its cause.

    First of class will always take more manpower. However, if you give the FoC a lightly longer build period (as most lead yards do), then you don’t need more bodies.

    I repeat – warship building is not a production line and never has been.

  333. Rocket Banana says

    …warship building is not a production line and never has been

    Apart from the first example of an assembly-line in history?

  334. Not a Boffin says

    No. You’re out of your depth again. Go to a shipyard and understand what’s going on rather than reading the interweb…..

  335. Shades says

    First of all apologies for going somewhat off-topic, but I was a little confused about the Successor announcement over the weekend that first steel would be cut on the first boat in the next week – particularly as cutting steel on T26 seems to be something no one is willing to do until a very detailed plan, both for the ship and the build, has been agreed. Is there a detailed plan for successor or is successor being treated differently?

    Does Barrow have capacity to start on successor when Astutes 4-6 are not finished? Are they nearing completion any time soon?

    …and what about the 7th Astute, for which no order seems yet to have been placed? Does the successor order mean it’s been quietly dropped (or booted into the long grass)? Is this the next cut after Diligence that hasn’t become public yet?

  336. Not a Boffin says

    “Boat 7
    Procurement of long lead items for Boat 7 has commenced. As reported in MPR 13, the programme has
    pursued a number of opportunities to batch buy materials for Boats 5-7, delivering cost savings to the
    programme and protecting the later Boats from the potential impact of material shortfalls; this opportunity
    has allowed steel for Boat 7 to be cut early in January 2014.”

    NAO MPR 2015

    What that means is that the final price (given procurement of LLI) for Boat 7 has yet to be concluded. However, given that they’re crunching through the LLI, I’d be astonished if it wasn’t agreed soon. May even be part of the Successor deal.

    T26 and Successor are being treated differently – although not in the way you think. Successor has an imperative that T26 never will. Detail definition on the boat has been ongoing for a number of years for precisely that reason..

  337. Shades says

    Thanks @NAB – very reassuring

  338. Repulse says

    Meanwhile in Finland they are planning some very basic OPVs…


    Goes to show one man’s Lite Frigate is another man’s OPV :)

  339. Julian says

    Maybe the Finns have done us a big favour here. With what looks like a reasonable sized gun, 24 CAMM-sized VLS, 8 box launched weapons and a full hanger their OPV is scarily close to a possible weapons fit being discussed for T31. If the UK government did green-light a T31 so close in capabilities to the Finnish OPV it would highlight the absurdity of what they were trying to get past the British public by labeling it as a GPFF.

  340. WiseApe says

    I don’t wish to rain on anyone’s parade here but it’s worth pointing out that in the Finnish boats’ case, the “O” in OPV stands for “Offshore,” not “Ocean,” which gives a clue as to their role and endurance.

  341. Stephen Duckworth says

    @Wise Ape
    On the Finnish OPV , the four to purchased will replace seven. The rot spreads……..

    Condolences to all those affected by hurricane Matthew. 1m people from Florida are evacuating their homes and business and 1/2m from South Georgia not ignoring the deaths and destruction already in Haiti and the Bahamas. Six 20′ ISO cubes and an over capacity shipboard desalination plant ain’t going to cut it IMHO. A large dedicated HADAR vessel converted from a civilian vessel and permenatly forward deployed in say the Dominican Republic with crews rotated by commercial flights and topped up by the same on a hurricane warning is required.

  342. dmereifield says

    BMT have also updated the technical brief:


    it outlines a number of configurations, with the VENATOR-110 Light Frigate configuration “tailored to incorporate a precision deep strike capability, or embody the latest generation of variable depth towed-array sonar to augment the existing hull mounted sonar”

    Other interesting points:
    “design of the aviation spaces allows these facilities to be adapted to suit the customer’s range of existing and future aviation assets, such as NH90, AW159 Wildcat, SH-60 Seahawk, AW101 Merlin or future replacement”

    “blending of Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS), softkill decoys, surface effectors such as 30mm or 40mm cannon and lightweight missiles on any of the Adaptive Weapon Positions provides layered defence in the air, surface and sub-surface domains.”

    3 VLS options – 1] 24 sea captor, 2] 48 sea captor, or 3] 25 sea ceptor and 8 Mk41

  343. Alex says

    HSV Swift got some play on here. The UAE navy took her too close to a two way range: http://www.thenational.ae/uae/wreckage-of-uae-aid-ship-attacked-by-houthi-rebels—in-pictures#1 hit by a C-802 (or similar) plus unknown but significant small arms fire (shades of the RM on South Georgia)

  344. Shades says

    The GPLS variant is beginning to look, to my untrained eye, reasonably bristly, versatile and potentially credible, particularly with the strike length VLS. Certainly looks streets ahead of the BAE proposals, but maybe that’s just what’s in the public domain. I hope BMT are right on their pricing. It’s not clear whether BAE, who thanks to ToBA will have to build them, have yet input on the build price – no conflict there of course.

    One thing though, are they fast enough? Types 23 and 26 have 28+k top speed and Russian, US and FREMM all seem to be broadly similar. BMT seem to have opted for a different type of propulsion from the T26, apparently on price. Wouldn’t there be efficiencies though in having the same engines across the frigate fleet and the carriers?

  345. Shades says


  346. Challenger says

    @dmereifield & Shades

    I am warming to the Venator design as well. Definitely seems the best of the bunch….at least out of the British options.

    Max speed of 25 knots isn’t too shabby. A medium gun, 24-32 CAMM and towed sonar (with any strike VLS or box launchers being optional extras) would make it suitable for fleet train and amphibious group protection whilst T26 stays further upstream of the threat with CVF.

    If the RN could get 10 T26 and then 6-8 Venator shaped vessels i’d say the surface fleet would be in pretty good shape.

  347. dmereifield says

    10 T26 and 6-8 T31 – you wish (me too), sadly, I fear the chances are higher for reduction of T26 numbers from the 8 currently planned. Who knows how many T31’s we will get (or what they will be) but we have been told 5, or possibly more. I don’t hold out much hope for the “possibly more”, unless, it will be at the expense of T26 numbers (which wouldn’t be desirable)

  348. mickp says

    @Challenger, dmerefield – I await being accused of crayoning etc, but that top end Venator concept filling in for the ‘lost’ 5 GP T26s would appear to have been carefully put together to do just that. Two big ‘ifs’ though – money / cost (but as it stands the SDSR is on paper at least designed to fund at least 5) and secondly, the ability of all concerned (BAE, designers, Navy, MOD, etc etc) to be able to spec, design and build the thing beyond CGI / Powerpoint (or virtual crayoning) (although Venator is at least at model testing, I assume T26 is??). Until steel is cut on anything resembling a frigate, I remain sceptical on the latter. I would hope 8 T26s is ‘locked in’ but at the higher end of the T31 Venator spec some may question whether we just run with T31 / Venator and less T26s. I would hope that if operational analysis requires 8 ASW T26s (with attendant speed, range, capacity) to support carrier strike and CASD then that is not overruled for penny pinching purposes. Everyone needs transparency though and we don’t want the Navy or anyone deliberately under speccing T31 to avoid a threat to T26 numbers (actual or perceived). The other key question is can T31 or T26, or both, be started soon enough to avoid building more Rivers and early retirement of T23s (even if a modestly enhanced version as me and others have discussed)?

  349. wirralpete says

    Completely off topic ladies and gentlemen,

    Am posting this on the the most viewed thread, but please if you can watch the eloquent and heartfelt interview on bbc victoria derbeyshire this morning by the first coloured (sorry if this non pc) person HOWARD GAYLE to play for LFC

    Will post link when it comes up

    Never ever forget the people of the commonwealth who have and still do fight for our principles and values and our responsibility
    to them to defend their freedoms whether it is Falklands or any other peoples and communities.

    We are defenders of poor and vulnerable people around the world who have fought and died for us, because they believe and we should continue to do so, ,that we will never let them down when any bullies such as Russia in eastern europe,

    Asian countries in the far east,

    And the people in the mid east who are suffering horrific traumas to their families and CHILDREN.

    Our armed forces should be seen as defenders of the values and principles that we set in stone in the Geneva Convention and the establishment of the UN 60+ years ago.

    My thoughts are it should be a Member of the Commonwealth ….not Empire etc.

  350. JohnHartley says

    Just been watching Michael Portillo playing (Continental) trains on the BBC. The Italian Navy invited him aboard their latest frigate, where he pretended to shoot the manually operated 25mm cannon. Why are the Italians still fitting manual 25mm cannon to their latest ships, when the RN is having a health & safety, fit of the vapors, about such guns?

  351. The Other Nick says

    Pre Euronaval 17-21st Oct. 2016 briefing on the current thinking behind the FTI (Frégate de Taille Intermédiaire) a DGA/DCNS 4000 ton frigate to meet French Navy and export requirements for delivery starting 2023, able to be better than similar projects in Spain, Italy, Germany and others.
    Laurent Sellier, the DGA head of naval weapon systems said options include “A very silent hull with a small towed sonar” or “A slightly less silent hull with a larger towed sonar”. He added: “at this stage we are leaning towards the second option”
    Thales will reveal a new sonar system is being developed, potentially for the FTI during Euronaval 2016. The new Thales SeaFire radar (under development with two full Sea Fire panels are set to be delivered to the Shore Integration Facility in Saint Mandrier, near Toulon, Southern France in early 2018) FTI will have a four planar array with approx. 500km range, 76 or 127mm main gun, Aster 15 and 30 SAMs, mention that the Aster 15 has a shorter min. engagement time, Exocet MM40 Blk III, MU90 torpedoes, may be using the SEACLAD decoys by Lacroix, deployed by the NGDS system by Sagem and/or the SYLENA by Lacroix with a new new combat management system (CMS).
    A model “DCNS 4,000 tons Frigate” will be showcased by DCNS booth. The DGA and DCNS are hope full that the decisions on some of the main systems for the class will be taken by Euronaval.


  352. Not a Boffin says

    The trouble with defence exhibitions and the exhibits at them, is that no matter how good they look, they’re still not under contract…..

    DSEI 2013 – http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/news/naval-exhibitions/dsei-2013/1235-bae-systems-shows-updated-type-26-design-at-dsei-2013-defence-exhibition.html

    DSEI 2015 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK0GGTyoWPc

  353. Think Defence says

    That last video from BAE, I was about the fifth viewer (from the YouTube view count).

    It had a spelling mistake

    I pointed it out to the BAE Twitter account

    It was withdrawn

    And published later in the day with the typo corrected

    Did I get a single word of thanks




  354. The Other Nick says

    I personally doubt if the T31 frigate will ever be built, may be a few cosmetically enhanced batch II Rivers if lucky and called T31’s. It’s a smokescreen to cover the cut back to eight T26’s and even that number may be problematic as the RN will forced into a corner by the Treasury for bread crumbs leftover after the cost of the Successor program to fund either the F35B’s or ships.
    The recent reality check in the devaluation of sterling will escalate the cost of kit by an additional 20/25%, most UK kit is now sourced overseas as exemplified by the recent $3.2 billion? buy of the P8A’s and even a large percentage of the Type 26 kit is foreign sourced.
    There is no possibility the Treasury will fund it, it will be cuts and more cuts.

  355. Mark says

    With the French an RN looking for a ship that sounds almost identical maybe time for fr/uk collaborative project and dual sales pitch for overseas customers.

  356. Not a Boffin says

    Feel free to Gary Google “CNGF” and “Project Horizon”…..

  357. The Other Chris says

    But… but… the Italians might be interested too! ;)

  358. Mark says

    The Italians you say TOC.

    Well one may say had the RN stayed with horizon once radar selection options were agreed and followed on into fremm the RN surface combatant fleet may of been in better shape than it is now.

  359. Rocket Banana says

    Amusing comment Mark,

    Well one may say had the RN stayed with horizon once radar selection options were agreed and followed on into fremm the RN surface combatant fleet may of been in better shape than it is now.

    Considering we have 1.5 times the number of Horizon equivalents than both the French and the Italians together and the FREMM deliveries have been cut back to about 8 apiece (ring any bells), I’m not sure we’d have benefited much. There must be a reason the French and Italians don’t need or can’t afford as many ships. I’d imagine its the same reason we don’t/can’t.

    In fact the more one reads the odder it all seems. T45 numbers cut because of the value of CEC and then not fitting it, and the bringing forward of T26, and then not doing it! French FREMM numbers pruned back in favour of five (yes, five) smaller vessels.

    My suspicious view is one that I have aired before: We spend so long delivering a solution, it is obsolete before it has even got into production. We need to move quicker or learn to evolve solutions rather than re-invent them every time.

  360. Chuck Hill says

    Thought you might like to see what the US Coast Guard is buying–the Offshore Patrol Cutter. 25 ships are planned. It is built to modified navy standards and ended up light frigate sized: 110 meter (360 ft) in length, 17 meters (54 ft), of beam and 5.2 meters (17 ft) draft, bigger than expected–cost and size are not directly related. It has a range of 10,200 and a sustained speed of 22.5 knots (which I believe means a max of about 24 knots).


    The design was done by Vard, the same company that designed the new Irish OPVs being built by Babcock’s Appledore shipbuilding facility.

    The contract for detail design and the first nine ships is $2.38 billion if all options are exercised or $264.4M/ship. Average cost was expected to be $484M/ship. Presumably some of the difference is government furnished equipment.

    I have also looked at what I believe to be a doable weapons upgrade, on the assumption that the ship should be able to take at least 140 to 150 tons of weapons and aircraft.


  361. clinch says

    Anyone seen that there’s been a briefing paper published in the last few days? It’s entitled ‘The Royal Navy’s new frigates and the national shipbuilding strategy’.

    uk national shipbuilding strategy site:researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk

  362. The Other Chris says
  363. UninformedCivvyLurker says

    Reading between the lines of that Shipbuilding report, doesn’t it kind of say, our entire future plan for shipbuilding is to use Scottish yards. It also says the UK will not build ships in an Independent Scotland. So while the SNP keep prattling on about another independence vote, I can’t see how we can commit to a 30 year frigate building exercise, if we have to shut down and relocate the building to Belfast, Liverpool, Portsmouth, wherever in the event of a Scottish independence happening in the next decade or halfway or very soon into the build project.

    If we’ve already started building and Scotland goes, would we forget about “not building warships outside the UK”, if we do that then would we go to tender with Korea or Germany or somewhere.

    Just my uninformed observations of reading that document.

  364. Not a Boffin says

    The briefing paper is just that – a briefing paper that collates a selection of public domain info and sets it in a temporal context. There are no conclusions, nor should any be inferred – with perhaps the “interesting” exception of whether a T26 build timetable will be forthcoming as part of NSS or not. One might almost think this is a piece of expectation management.

    The author is an ex-journo, now a HoC researcher. Nothing wrong with that. However, would suggest that reference to 900 shipbuilding firms with 32000 employees is of limited relevance to the NSS debate, let alone T26, GPFF.

  365. Shades says

    @NAB – yes that is a very interesting point. The briefing paper does rather raise the question of whether the T26 build schedule will be included in the NSS:

    “Defence Minister Harriet Baldwin told the Defence Committee that the building of the T26 is “part of” what Sir John Parker is looking at.54 Tony Douglas, the head of the MOD’s procurement arm (DE&S), said that the Type 26 “is not mutually dependent upon the national shipbuilding strategy.”55”

    My recollection was that Tony Douglas had said the opposite – i.e. that T26 build schedule was absolutely central to the NSS, but I won’t be able to check the video of the session until this evening at the earliest – assuming it’s still available on the parliament tv website.

    If the NSS doesn’t include a build schedule for T26, then what value will it actually be? The briefing paper seems to suggest that the point of the NSS will be more about how to balance frigate build for the RN and unicorns*. the only way to do that presumably would be have a very slow build tempo for RN build that could be compressed to allow for any builds for overseas sales that might turn up.

    *build for overseas sales

  366. Ant says

    Nice to see Think Defence quoted as a learned reference on page 17. Well done TD.

  367. clinch says

    This is from the document: “Industry’s view is that the MOD’s CADMID acquisition model will not be able to deliver the programme at either the estimated cost (under £350 million per unit) or timescale (to replace the Type 23’s that will leave service from 2023 onwards), according to analysis by Jane’s Defence Weekly. The consensus among industry, IHS Jane’s reports, is that the MOD “will have to pursue a streamlined, design-to-cost ship procurement that leverages off-the-shelf design and proven, low-risk technology as far as possible.”BAE System’s Managing Director told MPs that he does not think there is any current design to meet the MOD requirements for the frigate.”

  368. Don says
  369. Jules says

    Oh great now the Germans are building up their navy, everybody watch out! :)

    “At least five Braunschweig class corvettes will enter service with the German navy in the next few years, in what can be seen as a signal to Russia, according to the newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung.”



  370. Not a Boffin says

    Or alternatively, that the MKS180 programme has been delayed and there is a need to put steel through their yards – if you believe Jane’s. We have River, they have K130 – although the debate has already started as to whether they can actually build the same ships after a hiatus of several years………

    I keep reminding folk, it ain’t just us. Our issues are just closer to home and therefore more prominent in press…..

  371. dmereifield says

    NAB, would it have been better for us to have spent a bit more on corvettes as opposed to OPVs? We seem to have a phobia of corvettes, but our European friends don’t seem so snobby. Ok they have different requirements to us, but I’m sure we could find a use for them?

  372. Not a Boffin says

    It’s not phobia or snobbery. It’s a requirement to operate worldwide, at range from support – something that Corvettes are not usually suitable for. Particularly the sort of corvettes that are covered in whizz-bangy things and easily confused by politicians and fanboys as something they are not.

  373. Jules says

    We can’t really start building corvettes, we don’t have much use for the traditional corvette any more, The Germans are building their five or maybe more Braunschweig-class corvettes, for a specific purpose, which is the Med/black sea, to face off the communist hordes and policing the flotillas of rubber dingies.The corvettes are most likely being acquired to offset delays in the MKS 180 program. They are less expensive than frigates, and they would not have to be designed from a blank sheet.
    However as has already been stated, they probably won’t be exact copies, I doubt that all the kit to build them still exists, so I would expect a modded version? Or maybe the Germans just are really that efficient?
    If we started down the corvette route it would have to be a global corvette for the range/endurance, which would mean yet another expensive, extensive and protracted design stage, as we re-create the invention of the wheel…Again…
    Hence we will get cheap “light frigates”, which in all reality will be the same thing in all but name…
    I wish we could just buy some off the shelf and have done with it to be honest…

  374. JohnHartley says

    This range fetish might make sense if the UK lacked bases, but we have Bermuda, Gibraltar, Cyprus, Ascension, Falklands, etc. There are also friendly ports we can stop at in USA, Australia, Canada, Bahrain, etc. We have scope to build more in Pitcairn, South Georgia, if we want to.
    When the RN was 600+ ships, it was happy to have Corvettes, MTBs, small Frigates. This fanboy would rather the RN escort the Russians through the Channel with a whizzbang armed corvette, rather than a toothless OPV.

  375. Clive F says

    Will the Germans call these new Corvettes Pocket Frigates? lol

  376. The Other Chris says

    Regarding why we built the Rivers:

    “…we are effectively ordering the OPVs to soak up money we would have been paying in any case to have these yards stand idle.”
    – Philip Hammond, 2013

    The existing Rivers go out of service between 2017 and 2023, picking this existing design allowed quick modification and roll into production to keep skills sharp and solves the current problem of replacing what have been an effective but now ageing OPV fleet.

    Regarding range – it’s not just the amount of fuel a vessel has and the efficiency of her engines at cruise determining range but other elements such as the accommodation standard, stores, waste processing, maintenance cycle and the availability of supply vessels which used to be far more plentiful in the RFA.

    Rivers are intended to build on HMS Clyde’s proven performance and self-deploy without supply vessels as far as FI, skipping through Gibraltar et al as necessary, intended to operate at 99% availability 300+ days a year in austere conditions with complete local maintenance.

    The shorter legged, heavier crewed corvettes with greater volumes of complex payloads would find this more challenging.

    Pitcairn won’t get a base.

  377. El Sid says

    This range fetish might make sense if the UK lacked bases, but we have Bermuda, Gibraltar, Cyprus, Ascension, Falklands, etc. There are also friendly ports we can stop at in USA, Australia, Canada, Bahrain, etc. We have scope to build more in Pitcairn, South Georgia, if we want to.

    The red team love this kind of talk, whether it’s a base or a depot ship. It makes it so much easier for them – they just have to drop some big bangy things on a single fixed point, and short-ranged ships with small stores of food and ammo practically drop out of the equation. Corvettes are for defending your home coastline – if you don’t have much requirement to do that, then you don’t have much requirement for corvettes. Israel does, and that’s why they are perhaps the leading corvette navy. Germany has a bit of a requirement in the Baltic so it has a few. The US doesn’t, so it has no corvettes.

    When the RN was 600+ ships, it was happy to have Corvettes, MTBs, small Frigates.
    Because it was designed to fight a war in the North Sea and Med. Take away that requirement and you lose the need for corvettes. People associate corvettes with the Battle of the Atlantic but that was an exception – we were lucky in that our North Sea coastal ships – the Flowers – were just about good enough for the Atlantic, as long as the crews didn’t mind extreme hardship and they had the backing of certain force multipliers. Namely that Whitehall had decided to not buy another sexy battleship and put the money into some sheds at Bletchley Park instead.

    There is a established strand of opinion in the US that as part of a return to Reagan’s 600-ship navy would like to see some corvettes deployed forward to the Western Pacific. It’s just about justifiable in military terms – but it makes no sense for them to carry the Stars and Stripes. Let them be part of the 1000-ship navy, the extended network of allies. The likes of Brunei and Oman can afford decent corvettes of their own, and give them local logistics, but they can’t afford 0.1 of an aircraft carrier. So let them contribute the corvettes to the team, and let the big countries concentrate on the things that only they can do – like carriers (and JSTARS and satellites etc)

    It’s similar to how the Roman Empire worked in the early days – allies on the borders of the Empire contributed local troops for local defence – not the best armed but prepared to fight to the death for their homeland, with the Gucci, mobile, Imperial troops able to back them up when there was an incursion. It went wrong for the Romans in the later years because they abandoned defence in depth and tried to give everywhere the security of Gucci Imperial troops which they just couldn’t afford. Same with the Soviet Union, it went bust trying to give everywhere the same security that Moscow had enjoyed historically.

    This fanboy would rather the RN escort the Russians through the Channel with a whizzbang armed corvette, rather than a toothless OPV.

    Pure willy-waving – they know that if they were to try anything, there’s a couple of squadrons of Typhoon/Tonka near to hand, and there’s at least 1 SSN in the vicinity. And a corvette just can’t carry a big enough salvo to make a dent against a modern AAW defence. So what’s the point? The best way to sink a ship is with a submarine, the second best way is by air. Ship-launched missiles are very much the last resort, and one would hope that in the English Channel we’re not at the last resort stage.

  378. El Sid says

    Nice to see Think Defence quoted as a learned reference on page 17

    Although only as a reference to a FOI, it’s almost like someone just waving hello. If they really were paying attention to @TD, the NSS would be a single sentence :

    “Box up the RN and outsource it to Maersk”…..

  379. JohnHartley says

    El Sid. Is the RN not to defend the North Sea in the future? Or the Med or Atlantic? Willy-waving? Yes Putin is good at that. He does not want war with the West, but he loves to embarrass us, if he gets the chance. Now that the RAF lacks Sea Eagle & RN submarine numbers are a third of their Cold War strength, I don’t think complacency is a wise strategy.

  380. JohnHartley says

    Janes says China has just launched 3 more Corvettes. Does not stop them building Frigates as well. Janes says they are sending one to the New Zealand Naval Review in November. Is the RN sending a ship? Does the RN have a ship to send?

  381. El Sid says

    The Northern Fleet has lost >80% of its submarine strength since the Cold War, so since you want to play numbers, that implies the RN is now stronger now relative to the Northern Fleet…

    I know it’s more complicated than that.

    Also it has allowed us to massively increase the number of guys behind the scenes in Cheltenham and elsewhere, military effectiveness is not all about grey-hull Top Trumps. But it is surely the height of complacency to think that a corvette vs an OPV makes a fig of difference to transiting ships.

    The RN is going back to its traditional model of the 19th century, of having bluewater ships that can be used to defend the backyard, rather than the aberration of the early 20th century when (in part due to treaty restrictions on building bluewater capital ships) we flooded the RN with small ships for the North Sea that were naff all use when it came to defending Singapore.

    As for China – they have lots of enemies in their backyard, it makes sense to build small ships as part of A2/AD in the South China Sea, that’s their immediate priority. The US doesn’t have that same threat in the Caribbean, Europe doesn’t have a similar threat in the Med (which is more of a coastguard issue).

  382. The Other Chris says

    Descending into the ridiculous.

  383. Frenchie says

    I’m not a specialist in the maritime field, I just translate an article from a French website, do not ask me what it means, this concerns the experts of the blog.

    Belharra: The new frigate of 4,000 tons of DCNS

    A name and a more original design. This is in reference to the famous Basque wave Belharra, the largest in Europe, DCNS decided to name his new frigate that we present from this afternoon detail and exclusivity. A model that will be the basis for future FTI of the Navy, to replace the five Lafayette from 2023. But it is also, and perhaps above all, enrich the offer of naval group export with a vessel more suited to international market needs, currently very active in the segment of medium-sized vessels between the corvette and the heavy frigate, and integrating the outset an architecture adapted to the emergence of new technologies such as digitization battle vessels.

    Powerful in all areas of fighting

    Very versatile, the new frigate DCNS, is compact but incorporating significant capacity in all areas of struggle. It may include implement surface to air missiles (Aster, VL Mica), cruise (for export) and anti-surface (Exocet MM40 Block3), artillery from 76 to 127mm, Gun Mount small caliber remote operated or a CIWS system offering protection to 360 degrees against asymmetric attacks (there will also aboard an innovative view to defense center responsible for managing the proximity threats), torpedoes, a helicopter and 10 tonnes drones fixed or rotary wing aircraft. Its means of anti-submarine warfare are highly developed. They include a hull sonar and a towed array, with either the CAPTAS 2 or the new compact version of CAPTAS 4.

    With a CODAD type of propulsion, with a capacity of 40 MW, the Belh@rra (trade name includes @) will offer maximum speeds of 27-29 knots depending on the model and will have a law autonomy 5000 miles at 15 knots.

    A modular platform from 118 to 137 meters

    Declinable in different versions of platforms and devices according to client needs, with models ranging from 118 to 125 meters for short versions and from 127 to 137 meters for the long variant, this modular frigate will embark mission modules under containerized and will incorporate many innovations, such as a new generation of Central Operations with multi-mission tactical table, implementation capacities of several drones, computer architecture adapted to the massification of digital data, maintenance connected …

    Integrated Topside with fixed aerials

    If it can be proposed with a rotating radar 3D, it is also the first French frigate intended from the outset to board an integrated topside comprising a fixed radar and active antenna panels, such as the Sea Fire of Thales. The assembly is integrated into the Panoramic Surveillance Intelligence Module (PSIM), developed by DCNS and brings together in a single structure the mast with most of the sensors and the Central Operation and local partners techniques. Designed and built independently of the construction of the platform, the PSIM can be connected before boarding a Shore Integration Facility (SIF) to test the combat system and sensors. This concept, implemented on the type corvettes Gowind 2500, makes the realization and integration of flexible vessels and provides significant time savings.

    Embedded intelligence

    New centerpiece of DCNS product portfolio, this frigate present according to its designers the advantages of a modular, robust, simple to use and has an operational intelligence presented as unmatched in the market. What hopes the French group, symbolize as the name suggests a new wave of the next generation of surface ships.

    The Belh@rra particular incorporates the latest developments, of DCNS in terms of new embedded computing architectures, hence the use of the @ sign in its name, symbol of the digital age. Automation very advanced, augmented reality, touch screens without keyboard … Ships tomorrow, operated by “Generation Z” will be extremely digitized with a omnipresence of connected and interactive systems, both for business and for the conduct of the platform and maintenance.
    This generates real challenges in integration and scalability of new technologies, with increasingly rapid update cycle, but also in terms of energy management and significant increase in embarked systems and digital data flow. In this perspective, DCNS has undertaken to assemble all computing and software systems, today autonomous, like the combat system (CMS) and the platform management system (SMS), in some “boxes”. These will be located in different places of the vessel to meet the requirements of redundancy and resilience, while avoiding saturation of space by the proliferation of systems and networks.

    Housed in local, dedicated, physically secure and watertight to cyber attacks, these “boxes” that will streamline space and resources, will also facilitate greatly the integration, maintenance and scalability problems of systems and more global platforms throughout their life cycle.


    DCNS will also be able to fully deploy this new platform concept of i_maintenance. Integrated from the design phase, maintenance of future vessels will be based on smart systems and online tools, enabling the crew to better manage outages and easily make updates with the aim increased availability. In addition to remote support, interactive documentation, augmented reality tools and workshops including 3D printers for additive manufacturing of spare parts will be available on board.

    Easy to build

    Although designed to military standards, with a very high level of survivability it should be noted that this frigate, if it wants high-tech, has been designed from the outset to be easy to build, from the perspective of local achievements in transfer technology.

    Its staff capacity will also be more important than the FREMM, to meet the wishes of some marine for which the very small crews are not a priority. Thus, Belh@rra will accommodate 130 to 145 people.


  384. H_K says

    Looks very “British” from this angle (mini T26?).

    27-29 knots (up to 40MW CODAD)
    5,000nm @ 15 knots
    Sonar: CAPTAS 4 compact
    127mm gun + 16 VLS or 76mm gun + up to 32 VLS

    Program Unit Cost: ~€630MM ex-VAT, but incl. R&D
    I.e. 20% cheaper than a FREMM frigate


  385. ArmChairCivvy says

    Thanks Frenchie and H_K, looks like the size based costing has something in it (go down a fifth in size and lose a fifth in cost?).
    – looks like they have adopted wave piercing hull form (the Dutch for smaller and the Cousins for larger vessels, before them)?

    Anyway, let’s just take a half dozen of those and build a PA2 that DCNS can then fit out in their own time (no cash changing hands; and we can get our ducks in a row as for NSS in the breathing space that would create… not to mention the RN not dipping under 19 escorts).

  386. Don says

    See the Russians are coming out to play. The Admiral Kuznetsov , Peter the Great ,and the other Russian surface ships in the group are: two large anti-submarine warships – the Severomorsk and Vice-Admiral Kulakov – and four support vessels.

    ASW ships as the group most likely will be shadowed by at least a USN SSN and even an Astute if ones going spare!

  387. 40 deg south says

    John Hartley

    List of ships attending the RNZN 75th celebrations here.

    Lets see. Australia, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, USA.
    Nope, no RN vessels.
    However, we are being sent a senior officer and a band.

  388. Jules says

    Lots on show at euronaval, don’t see mush from us here though?
    Bit of a hotch potch of piccies on google from different events but there is no shortage of CGI! Big shortage of cut steel, not sure we’ll get a toe in on exports TBH but if we were in t he market there’s plenty to buy, TOBA, is there any way to have BAE build the OPV’s and T26, satisfy the TOBA deal but get Light frigates (Corvettes!) off the shelf?
    Well off someones CGI shelf anyway!


  389. The Other Chris says

    The conical mast gives away its DCNS heritage, used extensively on the Gowind family designs either in the water, in the yard or on paper. Similar but distinct from the Sea Giraffe AMB installations.

    What’s next for UK naval sensing after Artisan, SAMPSON and S1850M/SMART-L’s?

  390. Frenchie says

    For France the FTI with a tonnage of 4200 tonnes will be implemented by a crew of 125 people. Its capabilities are close to a FREMM ensures an engineer from the DGA. The FTI will therefore have air-ground capabilities with two launchers of 8 Aster 30 missiles (against 4 for the FREMM). It will have a new generation of radar with four fixed planar antennas Sea Fire of Thales, fully digital and integrated into a single mast. The first reversed stem frigate of the French Navy will also have Exocet anti-ship missiles from MBDA and a 76mm gun.
    The FTI will also implement a hull sonar and a dipping sonar and torpedo MU-90. However, it has limited capacity for action towards the earth. Small ships for special forces will be planned but no naval cruise missile. Baptized FTI for France, DCNS has renamed Belharra for export, and will be inserted between the Gowind (2500 tonnes) and the FREMM (6000 tonnes).

  391. JohnHartley says

    defensenews says the French have picked their choce of FTI. 4200 tons, with Aster 30, 76mm, Exocet, MU90 torp. Also the new compact version of CAPTAS 4.
    Also, the Cook islands & Tonga are managing to send a patrol craft each to the RNZN 75th, yet the mighty RN is reduced to a jolly for an officer + a band.
    We are governed by idiots.

  392. Not a Boffin says

    Tuesday’s “debate” on T26 in Westminster Hall.


    The game of chicken continues……

  393. The Other Nick says

    The Russian take on a 4,000 ton frigate is the Admiral Grigorovich class which carry a formidable arsenal of weapons, appears totally different to RN thinking of operational requirement for a T31 as curtailed by Treasury budgetary control.
    1 x 8 cell VLS for either the Kalibr land attack & AShM cruise missile, a Russian equivalent to the Tomahawk, with 500 kg warhead and supersonic speed near target (as used by Russian corvettes last year when launched from the Caspian sea against Syrian targets), the second missile option is the 3M55 Oniks a 3,000 kg mach 2.5 ramjet with 600 km range AShM, basis of the Brahmos co-developed by India and Russia.
    2 X 12 cell VLS for the 3S90M Shtil-1 600kg approx. SAM, a member of the Buk missile family as used to shoot down the Malaysian 777 over the Ukraine in July 2014.
    2 X CIWS. The 12,500kg Kashtan-M CIWS uses 2 × 6 (guns) plus 2 × 4 missile launch tubes. The GSh-30K six-barrel 30 x 165 mm rotary cannon with firing a rate of 9,000 rpm with max. range of 5,000m, has twice the rate of fire and heavier shell than the Phalanx at 4,500 rpm using the 20 x 102 mm shell. The 8 x 9M311 missiles have a max. range of 10,000m.
    2 х 2 533mm torpedo tubes
    1 × 100mm gun
    1 x RBU-6000 Smerch-2, a 3,100kg anti-submarine rocket launcher with 12 x 213 mm tubes, an updated and more powerful version of the old RN Hedgehog . Rocket 112.5 kg, range: 600 m to 4,300 m, warhead effective radius: 130 m, depth up to 1,000 m
    1 Ka-27PL or Ka-31 helicopter, similar in weight to a Sea King
    “Russia will supply two Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates to India, which will assemble one and build two additional ships in one of its shipyards. The contract covering the agreement should be signed by year-end, Tass reports”

  394. Not a Boffin says

    Well if people will keep posting the same old sh1t, I’ll just have to keep reminding them that back in the day the same old sh1t – sorry ground-breaking world-leading cost effective design – looked like this.

    DSEI 2013 – http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/news/naval-exhibitions/dsei-2013/1235-bae-systems-shows-updated-type-26-design-at-dsei-2013-defence-exhibition.html

    DSEI 2015 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK0GGTyoWPc

    Perpetual onanism over CGI is not something to be encouraged

  395. WiseApe says

    “However, we are being sent a senior officer and a band.”

    Well hopefully that’s Coldplay off our hands. When did we start Transporting undesirables again?

  396. Jules says

    @NAB OOOh Get you!!! :)
    The French will build theirs because the French have a shipbuilding industry with yards and order books and stuff, wheras we have…
    Well what do we have really?
    Bottom line, the Type 26, will errr…Miss the boat and garner no overseas orders, it’s coming tooo late, it’s still not completely designed and it’s going to be put back again likely, we have more chance of selling a few OPV’s to be built in Thailand etc, type 26 may end up being a superb Frigate, Destroyer, Cruiser, (Star Destoyer) or whatever it is but it is not commercial in any way, we’ll get eight and it will be far too expensive for anyone else to consider. The 31 however may have a chance but again I think it’s coming too late, currently the french design may only be CGI but it will be built and it will be in service before ours, it will sell because the french can sell ships, warships even and no better way to sell ships than having one in the showroom.
    We aim to sell ships down under but we send a band, and four T45’s alongside???
    I’m aghast…

  397. JohnHartley says

    Re RNZN 75th. We are told that post Brexit, Britain needs to push manufacturing, exports & global trade. So why are we not flaunting our wares in NZ? I can see we have too few frigates/destroyers (in a fit state) to send, but what about one of the new OPV? There must be a market for those with the smaller navies in the Pacific. Eire sent its OPV to Japan via lots of stops at friendly ports.
    Or the RAF using a new A400M to transport a new Wildcat (with dummy Sea Venom). A chance to show off all that kit to potential buyers in the Pacific. I fear we have squandered an opportunity.

  398. Tubby says

    In response to TON’s comment, I looked up the Admiral Grigorovich and according to the ever reliable Wikipedia the Admiral Grigorovich has a endurance of 30 days and a crew of 200. I presume the endurance represents the number of days it can travel at i’s cruise at before re-supply for fuel and stores, rather than the length of time before it has to return to port for maintenance, and I wondered how this compared to type 23, as to a complete novice like myself the Admiral Grigorovich appears to be cramped and to have very short legs compared to the type 23, and presumably even more so compared to what we require today – would that assessment be right?

  399. Not a Boffin says

    Merely pointing out that several people posting similar links about the same CGI ship and salivating over the same CGI ship is not an argument that it’s going to happen. Or more importantly happen for the price suggested in the articles.

    One of us might just know a little bit more about the actual state of the T26 and GPFF programmes – as opposed to what Harriet is prepared to say.

  400. Rocket Banana says

    A game of chicken? Looks like a game of chicken and egg.

    Decisions before strategic planning? Unlikely.

    This National Shipbuilding Strategy is going to be very interesting because if it is going to by in the public domain it is going to have to be utterly full of lies and vagueness.

    Perhaps if Nicola stopped bashing Indyref2 around then things might be a little more pain sailing (see what I did there).

  401. Rocket Banana says

    “…what Harriet is prepared to say”

    Nail. Head. Full of lies, BS or both.

  402. ArmChairCivvy says


    That would be about right (the whole of their ocean-going navy has been put to sea and pointed towards Syria)
    … I hope they won’t fire at fishing vessels as their tsarist predecessors did, thinking of being under attack from Japanese torpedo boats – in the fog of the English Channel!

    However, they do have better stealth ships than we do. Google Yantar (she has an identical sister ship in the Pacific) , which by cutting undersea fibre optics makes whole battlefields disappear. Not herself, though – she is a scientific deep-sea exploration vessel after all, and totally civilian, so why should she need to?

  403. mickp says

    “Perpetual onanism over CGI is not something to be encouraged”

    I agree look where it has got us with T26 and GPFF

  404. ArmChairCivvy says

    Simon, RE “Looks like a game of chicken and egg.”

    Look up the question whether the 5 GP frigates (whatever they will be) will be built on the Clyde!
    – ohh, did you just see that pink elephant fly over there!

    And as the diversion was not complete: Let me talk you quickly through the OPV build prgrm
    – another flying elephant… and that one pink, too!

  405. Not a Boffin says

    Just to be clear. I’d be very surprised indeed were the supposed Indyref 2 to be any sort of factor in the NSS. At all.

  406. Jules says

    @NAB, My bad! When I posted my link I did have a look down the page first to see if anyone had already posted it but for some reason all of frenchies links didn’t show up, so I thought I’d post it as it would have been new and fairly interesting, beaten to the punch though… :(

  407. 40 deg south says

    “Well hopefully that’s Coldplay off our hands. When did we start transporting undesirables again?”
    +1 to that man!

    From a prospective ship export to NZ angle, UK’s only contenders are T26 (construction date receding into distance) and T31 (has not even progressed to CGI yet). The first Batch 2 River is presumably not ready for a long voyage yet, and is exceedingly unlikely to make an export sale at BAE/Govan prices. So the choices were limited, to put it mildly.

    The RN ice patrol vessel HMS Defender made a port visit to NZ several months ago and is currently near Chile – I suspect someone dropped the ball in planning that voyage and was simply unaware of the RNZN’s big 75th coming up.

    Sending a band does look embarrassingly like a token afterthought. A bit more lateral thinking could have seen an A400 (which NZ is very interested in, and has plenty of UK content) carrying a few items of smaller kit – the RN’s new Pacific 24 RHIB would be a good example. It would be a good chance to display/demonstrate modern equipment in front of a dozen other navies, as well as showing some diplomatic/commercial interest in NZ.

    That said, the loyalty to/interest in the UK of the average NZ citizen is vastly over-rated by Britain’s Conservative right. A few old salts (particularly those who transferred from the RN to RNZN) will be mightily offended. The remaining 99.9% of the population will neither know nor care who owns the grey ships floating around Auckland.

  408. 40 deg south says

    John H
    “Also, the Cook islands & Tonga are managing to send a patrol craft each to the RNZN 75th, yet the mighty RN is reduced to a jolly for an officer + a band.”

    Not to mention Samoa, with their vessel the mighty Nafanua.

    I intended to add a sentence to my original post recognising NZ’s three Pacific neighbours, but forgot. Given Auckland’s status as the world’s largest Polynesian city, those crews won’t lack for either a bed or a beer from the moment they enter port.

  409. ArmChairCivvy says

    @40, I agree with what you say (though I think most folks here are quite fond of the Kiwis; just that so few are visiting relative to the Ozzies).

    RE ” A bit more lateral thinking could have seen an A400 (which NZ is very interested in, and has plenty of UK content) carrying a few items of smaller kit – the RN’s new Pacific 24 RHIB would be a good example. It would be a good chance to display/demonstrate modern equipment in front of a dozen other navies, as well as showing some diplomatic/commercial interest in NZ.” The ineffectuality of Gvmnt support for defence exports was recognised a while back and the consequence was changing the Lead Ministry from F&C to be the MoD. I guess there are still some teething troubles, and as a Customer to the industry they might be over-sensitive as to whose products they pick for promotion (impartiality?).

  410. Grubbie says

    My guess is that the problem is that Bae has let all the designers go as they are quite expensive to employ. This is despite Bae being paid whether they build anything or not. Civil servants just do as the defence industry tells them and the labour government just wanted to keep the unions and jocks happy, no-one had a strategic plan. Bae doesn’t do anything that the government hasn’t paid for that they can stick a big margin on.
    As I said, this is only a guess and I would be happy to hear from anyone with more information. I am also guessing that this design capability will be very difficult to regenerate if it even can be.

  411. Not a Boffin says

    Errrrrr, no. Sounds good in the Daily Mail. Far from actualite.

    Just for clarity – the “40% of design” remaining to be done will principally be the production of compartment arrangements and items lists, plus some detailed piece part manufacture drawings. Primarily a job for (highly skilled) draughtsmen – as opposed to designers.

    The “gap” in ship design occurred around the mid noughties when the old and bold on 45 were on QEC and gradually retired. The juniors hadn’t got the background and breath in DD/FF design, which is actually more challenging than big ship work. Which – combined with the rather dogmatic RN operator input into the T26 design, has led to some of the “issues”.

    Not the big issue now of course, which is the inability to conceive of a build strategy that takes a sensible amount of time and hence affordable amount of labour, while still balancing drumbeat, numbers, budget profiles and beachballs on noses.

  412. ArmChairCivvy says

    Grubbie, you say you are speculating. I am no closer to the industry but I would say you are 100% right.

    BAE will have hedged its bets, but the country would have lost out big time… the second time.
    – the rumour has it that the “Admiralty” retained Naval Architects, one upon a time.
    – So that each class (there used to be so many more) could be designed to the right parameters; be it speed, or something else

  413. Rocket Banana says

    “…the rather dogmatic RN operator input into the T26 design”

    Can you elaborate on this at all?

  414. ArmChairCivvy says

    Is this “beachballs on noses” something that relates to the number of ” trades” tha can be kept on the “bench” or something totally else… rather cryptic, it all, I must say

  415. The Other Chris says
  416. Grubbie says

    @NAB, prior to Bae persuading the government to remove the competition, Vospers used to bang out plenty of designs, Bae is still relying on their ancient efforts. FTI certainly looks the part as far as fashion goes.

  417. Not a Boffin says

    I fear you have been somewhat misinformed. The formation of BVT was less at the instigation of BAE, than those nice consultants at RAND working for Paul Drayson.

    Many of the design Naval Archs who worked on T26 – particularly in the early stages when she was formed – were VT or ex-VT. BAES actually uses early stage design software developed by VT………

    As well as offering designs that are based on VT parentage – which is where Krabi/Amazonas/River B2 actually originate from. The last “pure” Scotstoun (YSL) heritage ship they offered was those beautiful Brunei ships.

  418. Grubbie says

    @NAB, surely there should be a whole spare team of designers and draughtsmen avaliable? I had just about managed to flush mind of the memory of Lord Drayson, whatever happened to this much lauded genius of “smart procurement”?

  419. The Other Chris says

    Speaking of F2000’s, the Lekiu’s are getting SCANTER 6000’s.

  420. Not a Boffin says

    Spare from what?

    Owned by who?

    Paid via what mechanism?

    Size your shipbuilding industry to an inconsistent customer and what do you get?

  421. Jules says

    A side note, Dreadnought???


  422. Not a Boffin says

    Well HMSM Glass Carpark or HMSM Silent But Deadly just don’t scan well…….

  423. JohnHartley says

    Silly me to think Successor would be logical with W following V, so I was expecting HMS Warrior, Warspite, etc. If it is a new D class won’t that confuse with the T45? Still we could have HMS Devastation, or perhaps HMS Diana, which by all accounts could be very destructive.

  424. The Other Chris says


    Given the PTB’s want to assign an Anti Submarine Frigate Type number to a vessel that’s not intended to perform ASW nor be noise-reduced or equipped for such in order to save cash, it doesn’t surprise me.

  425. mickp says

    I hope Dreadnought will lead to classic battleship names, rather than any sort of D class – Warspite at least, reuse an R name perhaps, Nelson…

  426. Grubbie says

    @NAB,precisely my point under the ToBA 2009 one would have thought that there would of been a carefully thought out industrial preservation strategy, not just money for nothing.

  427. Not a Boffin says

    That’s what ToBA was supposed to do. BAE have (mostly) held up their end of the bargain. MoD? Not so much……

    But that is why tying a strategy to a single customer whose ability to meet his responsibilities is constrained by a Finance Director who has a wider purview and no real skin in the game is somewhat less than optimal.

    And it’s “would have….”

  428. JohnHartley says

    Well if its RN heritage D names, we could have HMS Defiance, Despatch, Devonshire, Darter, Drake, Dasher, Diligent. Or if its W, how about Wolfhound (a Dunkirk Destroyer) or Wolverine (it was an HMS before it was a Marvel).

  429. WiseApe says

    Well if Corbyn gets in, I suggest HMS Dereliction.

  430. Grubbie says

    Nab,single customer biggest problem. I think that any export customer might like you to design something that they would find useful, or at least modify it to suit their needs. Bae is not interested in developing anything that isn’t cost plus.

  431. Not a Boffin says

    BAES deisgn what MoD ask them to (and then keep them waiting for forever, because they don’t like the cost). I’m far from a BAES defender, but if your main customer can’t make his mind up – “export” which is quite frankly a crock for proper DD/FF is going to be difficult…

  432. Chuck Hill says

    Take a look at what the Thais are talking about doing with their next River class. https://thaimilitaryandasianregion.wordpress.com/2016/01/30/bae-to-support-construction-of-second-thai-patrol-vessel/

  433. Chuck Hill says

    Looks like the Thais may be adding Mk41 and Harpoon in addition to 76mm and 30mm guns to their next River class. https://thaimilitaryandasianregion.wordpress.com/2016/01/30/bae-to-support-construction-of-second-thai-patrol-vessel/

  434. dmereifield says

    No idea how reliable any of that is (Thai word press site), but it also seems to suggest Mk41 VLS in boats 3-6…

  435. Nawapon says

    Check out latest news on RTN Krabi Class OPV “Safran’s Sigma 40 integrates with Harpoon missile system” https://thaimilitaryandasianregion.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/safrans-sigma-40-integrates-with-harpoon-missile-system/

  436. mickp says

    My last bit of crayoning – but no new designs from me, just get the current one in the water. If the RN has strategic aspirations for carrier strike and signing co-operation agreements with the likes of Japan then we need to be able to engage globally with effective global platforms. Forget T31 then. Build more T26s. A T31 that cannot do high end ASW is a complete waste. The RN should not go Hi-Mid-Low, it should be a high-low structure. If we need a token nod to cost saving, then the T26 needs switching around, the ASW variant with TAS is the true GP variant with mission bay, strike cells 5″ gun etc and rather than taking TAS off to create a GP variant, I would have a simpler ASW dedicated variant for carrier ASW escort / TAPs in the Atlantic – thus all T26s are fully ASW capable. Simplification would be around main gun, strike cells and mission bay but same basic structure and propulsion, and having TAS. The 8 full fat T26s ‘on order’ become the ‘global destroyer or even cruiser rather than frigate, and aim for around 8 ASW versions as the ASW escort fleet. At the low end, we might need a few extra Rivers if more delays with T26 but invest in them in terms of modest up gunning and UAV options to make them credible long range presence and patrol assets. Lastly, replace the Archers with something a little more up gunned for better port and coastal security and push the old Rivers into a restructured border force.

  437. clinch says

    Perhaps what the Thais are doing with their Rivers supports the earlier article on here suggesting that Batch 2 was potentially a much better vessel than people were saying – versatile enough to take a number of weapons systems when needed.

  438. Frenchie says

    Reportage from Navy Recognition about FTI frigates.


  439. Don says

    With the FTI having only a 16 cell vls , will the French be looking for quad pack missiles ? To boost numbers or will they settle with 16 Aster ?


  440. The Other Chris says

    Folding fins on Aster was suggested however it’s a lot of development and funds are currently aimed at the Block upgrades leading to NT, so unlikely to be quad packed.

    VL MICA-M is a possibility along with CAMM(M). They are probably more likely than e.g. ESSM.

    If you take a look at other assets in the Med, in particular the Marina Militare, there will be several smaller vessels toting Aster 30 alongside the Horizons.

  441. Don says

    A modernized version, the Crotale NG (New Generation), entered production in 1990. This version used the new VT-1 missile with Mach 3.5 speed, load factor to 35G, 11 km range, 13 kg warhead (8m kill-zone) and 6,000 m ceiling. The system includes a S-band Pulse Doppler radar (20 km), Ku-band TWT tracking radar (30 km), Thermal camera (19 km), Daylight CCD camera (15 km), and an IR localiser.[1]
    VT-1 Can be quad packed .
    However playing Top Trumps Camm would be better .

  442. Tim says

    We got the Type 42 because the Type 82 was too expensive. We got the Type 21 because we needed cheap escort hulls. The admiralty then did the Type 22 but that was expensive so we got the Type 23 because it was “hoped” to be cheaper. We then planned 12 Type 45’s but they got expensive so we could only afford 8 of them but then the price went up again so we only got 6 for the same cost as the planned 12. Next we wanted a type 24 to complement the Type 45 and to replace the Type 23 but that got nowhere so we decided to get 16 Type 26’s instead. It was planned that the Type 26 would be much cheaper than the Type 45. Then after giving BAE £131m to prepare the sale of 3 Type 23’s to Chille for the price of £131m we only needed 13 Type 26’s. But guess what? The Type 26’s have gone up in price so we can only afford 8 of them which will probably turn into 6 at a price close to that of the Type 45 and as we only have 6 Type 45’s we don’t need more than that. But it does mean that we need 5 or so other cheap escort hulls (sound familar?) to keep the total at 19, if indeed by the time we get them we are still running a 19 escort navy. Note that HMS Dauntless and HMS Lancaster are now training ships due to overspending on waste. Will the Type 31 actually be cheap? Will it be actually be anything more than tax payers money given to BAE to design yet another class of ship that is only 5 feet shorter than one we already have?

  443. hugh mailer says

    How sad! It’s all about PAY!!! Leander class frigates had crews of almost and in some cases more than 200 bodies. They only weighed in at 2000 tons. Type 22 and 23 both have/had far less manpower but only Leander sized crews in more than double the tonnage.. Large Communications branches of more than 25 ratings and senior rates have been virtually done away with the same applies to Engine Room staff. What other branches can the Mod get rid of!! I dread to think. The RN sold it’s soul to Gordon Brown for those two new Helicopter carriers. Type 31 and other projects with crews of under 100 how can 100 men fight a war in Defence Watches. It’s a joke. Capital Equipment once ordered is now very difficult to cancel so today it’s the manpower who suffer. We just have no trained sailors left to man the ships we have available now. We have no trained Fleet Air Arm, rumour has it that the Mod is quite happy the type 45’s are hardly seaworthy, this means more crew for the carriers. How Pathetic!!

  444. Rodney Patterson says

    A simple solution would be to produce a diesel powered version of the Type 23 frigate. MTU now make a 10,000kW diesel and 2 of these in place of the Spey gas turbines plus the existing diesel electric system would give 27,000Kw thus giving a speed of 25 knots. This would enable a very large saving in design costs and if an existing hull were converted provide an in service prototype in about 3 years. The weapons fit would be the AS Type 45 fit plus the AA type 26 fit or a combination of existing weapons to choice.
    The large hull would provide space for later updating. A great amount of hull testing and detailed design work would be eliminated.

  445. Rodney Patterson says

    A simple solution for the Type 31 frigate might be to have a diesel engined Type 23 with a reduced weapons fit to suit the role required. Replacing the 2 gas turbines with 2 x 10,000kW MTU diesels would give 26,600kW if the existing 4 smaller diesel electric engines were retained which should give a speed of 25 knots. A suitable weapons fit would be the AS fit from the Type 45 and the AA fit from the Type 26. Already the SeaCeptor is being fitted to the existing Type 23s. The Type 23 hull with a simple weapons fit could provide, in the future, space for additional weapons or assault troops as required. A large amount of the cost and time of design work would be saved and if one of the younger existing Type 23 units were modified a prototype could be at sea in about 3 years time.

  446. Not a Boffin says

    Given that the T23 don’t even meet the safety requirements of the early noughties, do you really think that trying to use them in the thirties and forties is remotely sensible? Before you start – fixing those issues is not simply a question of some yellow and balck paint and a bit of hi-viz clothing.

    Meanwhile, even the MPs have figured out that something is awry and that the NSS may just be a bit of a fig leaf…


    Not that the fragrant Harriet was having any of it though……

  447. Daveyb says

    I have been following this discussion and I thought I’d like to point out a few issues with the Type 31 concept that is seriously annoying me and I believe a poor route for the Navy to follow. There seems to be a general underlying trend throughout our Navy, which is a general lack of lethality, the ships have become overly defensive in nature, prioritising Air Warfare (AW) over everything else. What is the purpose of a warship, it there to dominate an area (above and below sea level) either through deterrence or intimidation! Therefore it must have the tools readily available to enforce and carry out this task. It must have sufficient capability to win in peer to peer scenarios, whereby it must be able to protect itself but also over-match its adversary. As part of the overall design and systems package it must also manage any asymmetric or contingency operations that may evolve en route or patrol, so therefore have the systems/deck space/volume already embedded to cope with these scenarios.
    This general dumbing down and lack of capability has I believe been driven by poorly scoped contracts which has led to over inflated costs and delays, with no penalties placed on the manufacturer. This in turn reduces the hull numbers (Type 45) or maintains the hull numbers but through a dumbed down design (Type 31). The First Sea Lord has stated that the ship will not be a corvette, yet the offensive/defensive systems that are to be possibly fitted will make it a corvette in essence; or at the very least a re-invention of the Type 21. Which as the Falklands proved was only useful for two scenarios, NGFS and as a sacrificial decoy during the Amphibious landings. The root cause to this problem is only having a single source supplier who not only provides the ship but also the majority of its systems i.e. Bae Systems.
    An example of this is the Type 45 program, where due to delays and cost over-runs we now only have 6 ships. The ship is one of the most advanced in the World, but can at present only contribute to AW defence. It has very little offensive capability relying on its medium calibre gun to fulfil this role. It can be returned to port to be re-rolled with Harpoon etc., which is pretty useless when a situation arises when on patrol. Dare I say that Bae are not acting in our National interest and perhaps prioritising profits and shareholder interests? This problem has to a lesser extent been highlighted in the recent report for the National Ship Building Strategy. But there is very little extra capacity outside the yards owned by Bae to build a complete warship. They certainly do not have the facilities to compete, which is one of the fundamental problems at present.
    I hate to use our cousins across the pond as a good example, but the Aleigh Burke class is perhaps the model we should be following. Whereby a batch of the ships is put up for tender and the shipbuilders must bid for the contract. Thereby ensuring the price is competitive and fixed, with incremental penalties if the ship does not meet certain deadlines.
    How does this fix our procurement problem? Perhaps we should look at using the US model by using competitive tender as suggested by the Parker report. However this will probably require splitting Bae and is there enough of market to supply two “warship” builders in the UK. Perhaps we should look at the French model whereby a number of the yards a partly State owned and therefore renationalise Bae and the yards it controls. Whichever route is decided investment in another competitive yard is a must. The stranglehold that Bae has over the MOD must be broken. This “elephant in the room” must be addressed or we will be continuously having this problem of either not enough hulls or toothless “frigates”!

    Just to add another design into the mix, how about a RN version of Austal’s LCS? It has the capacity for future development, sufficient volume for contingency and developing operations, a relatively quiet hull, high speed and a long endurance, a hangar capable of handling two Merlin sized aircraft, landing pad capable of handling a Chinook with a relatively very small crew! Replace the 57mm gun with a Leonardo 76 (probably require lengthening to fit Bae 5”), fit Sea Ceptor with Artisan 3D, Naval Strike Missile, Marinised Brimstone, two Merlins etc could be quite a ship.

  448. Ronald Lockley says

    I have looked very carefully at the possibilities of the so called T31 class and have come to the conclusion that it should be possible to have a very effective warship built in the UK at different yards throughout the country without BaE involvement. Weapon launchers and sensors should be fitted and an expected life expectancy should be that of the potential weapons outfit e.g. 25-30 years. With this being fixed then the ship should be designed around its outfit without major upgrades.
    The next limiting factor is the potential shipyards, from what I can see there are several that can cope with a length of 430 ft or about 140 m’s.
    Next question to be answered is what is the purpose of these ships, well there could be three tasks that they could carry out.
    1. To act in the anti- piracy, coastal defense, stand alone warship in a low risk environment.
    2. To act as an escort either for fleet operations e.g. aircraft carrier task force, amphibious assault group or convoy.
    3. Act as part of a action squadron e.g. one T26 with 2 T31 for multi tasking.
    Each of these tasks require an anti submarine requirement, anti surface, anti air, self defense, low level gunnery and a limited boarding capability. In point 2 and 3 a fleet supply vessel would be available so range does not need to be more than 4,000 sea miles.
    So now we are starting to get the specifications for the ship.
    The next issue is cost, to make this vessel competitive and give an incentive to the UK government to build possibly ten such ships with a potential export market it cannot go over £500,000,000 (five hundred million pounds) per vessel.
    To carry out the tasks 1,2 and 3 the T31 does not need to be a command and control ship, she will not need to have a large multi mission bay or land Chinook helicopters, her main task would be to act as an escort with a limited strike and area defense capability with a good anti submarine possibility freeing up the T 26’s to do there job.
    So now lets look at the possibilities for such a vessel.
    With several yards being able to deal with a 430 ft ship within the building we will use that as the starting point.
    Length: 420 ft or 128 m
    Beam: 54 ft or 16.5 m
    Draught: 18 ft or 5.48 m
    Speed 28 knots, cruising 15knts
    Range at cruising 4,000 nm
    Power plant 1x gas turbine, 2x diesel. twin screws in pods, no rudders required. third diesel connected to a get me home propulsion unit in the bow section.
    Endurance 30 days.
    Crew 80+20
    Expected weight 4,200 tons
    Now to fulfill the requirements of points 1,2 and 3 the ship needs to be equipped electronically RADARS and SONARS.
    2087 VDS active and passive
    2050 hull mounted sonar
    ECM Suite (med threat)
    S2170 torpedo detection
    C41 Communication suite
    Integrated navigation systems
    electro optics
    With this electronic outfit and looking at the tasks this vessel should carry out the following weapons outfit should or could be carried.
    1x Lynx wild cat or Merlin. if the Wildcat then an extra 2x VUAV’s could be carried.
    1x 76 mm gun forward (possible 155mm but not really needed)
    2x 30mm
    2x 7.62mm mini Gatling guns
    1x CIWS
    24 Sea Ceptor
    1x 16 cell Mk 41 Mod 3 launcher forward capable for Perseus, SM6, VL-ASROC, Tomahawk and Storm Shadow/SCALP missiles.
    2x 11m RIBS
    2x Remote Submersibles
    2x Decoy suite
    With the ship equipped in such a way it is a very usable vessel, capable of looking after itself whilst acting as a good escort. It would have North Atlantic sea keeping capability but be able to act as a patrol vessel. If we could keep the cost down to half a billion per vessel it should have a good export possibility whilst we could build possibly 10-15 of these over a ten year period. If that is the case then we could have ships on permanent deployment to the Falklands, Jamaica, Gib and the Red Sea, whilst having a reserve for the UK. These vessels could then act a local reinforcement group for the carrier task force as it goes through there waters of operation.
    As for possible designs I saw one from the UK company SPARTAN Ltd which does seem to fit the bill.
    So guys comments please.

  449. Not a Boffin says

    I would hate to see what you’d come up with were you to look carelessly at this.

    Aside from the fantasy spotters kit list and arbitrary sizing, you might at least try and get your facts right. I suspect you’re referring to Project Spartan – a GPFF concept design produced by Steller Systems ltd, who are a small NA consultancy with approximately half a dozen people.

    I’m also very interested to know where the “several” shipyards unconnected to BAE and “being able to deal with a 430 ft ship within the building” are. Noting of course that the definition of “several” is more than two but not many…….

  450. Daveyb says

    There are still a number of independent yards around the country with the facilities that can handle building the Type 31. The following yards all have dry docks with a length greater than 200m and a depth greater than 5m.
    1. Harland & Wolfe – Belfast.
    2. A&P Group – Tyne.
    – Tees.
    – Falmouth.
    3. Cammil Laird – Merseyside.
    4. Babcock International – Rosyth.
    Not sure what’s happening with the old VT yard in Portsmouth.

    No comments on RN version of the Austal LCS. After the problems with its propulsion have been sorted (not as bad as Type 45) it should be more than capable of operating in North/South Atlantic as well as littoral.

  451. Not a Boffin says

    Don’t confuse the existence of a dock with a construction facility.

    H&W have a sub-unit shed but no panel line, no undercover construction hall and minimal experience in complex outfitting.
    A&P Tyne have a panel line and a shed where they can build big units, but lots of difficulty getting those into a dock
    A&P Tees and Falmouth have pretty much no fabrication facilities so would struggle to build a small tug
    Cammell Laird would probably build on their slipway
    Babcocks Rosyth have a big dock and a big crane but not a lot else. There’s a reason that all the steel for the (few) QEC units that Rosyth assembled was fabricated in sub-units in Appledore.
    For the umpteenth time, the shipbuild facility in Portsmouth was deliberately stripped of equipment and is now used for upkeep of MCMV. More to the point, all the people who knew how to build ships have long gone.

  452. Chris says

    I still think that project spartan looks like a good bet. But like Nab says if they are such a small firm they won’t be able to do much more than the initial CGI image and portfolio they have produced. So why not get them to work with BAE systems to produce the full design and let the MOD look at that. As long as the cost isn’t much above the £500m mark then that should be a good export opportunity as well. And due to the lower cost there is always the chance of buying more of them and spending money that would be given to BAE anyway on more of these ships.

  453. Not a Boffin says

    Anyone overly taken with Spartan ought to have a look at the mission bay. Then another look. Then think about whether a compartment that size, in that position is going to flood in the event of hull damage and what happens then. DefStan 02-900 Pt 4 and Spartan will not be happy bedfellows.

    Don’t get me wrong – Steller are a good bunch, but this design is just a CGI to get some attention from NCHQ and get them (or their partner) in the game.

    It ain’t BAE they have to work with either. Having Steller as design authority with BAE doing the detailed engineering is a contractual nightmare waiting to happen (for Steller).

  454. Chris says

    Isn’t that the same with any mission bay in the same position. But yea I agree it would be bad, a big open space to flood.
    What would you like to see from the type 31 NaB? Or what do you think is manageable with the budget?

  455. Not a Boffin says

    Not the same. Depends on the size of the bay relative to the ship (and the waterline).

    I’d like to see the T31 become a properly thought out design and programme. Not a panic measure generated through ignorance.

    Nothing is manageable, because the dirty little s*cret is that at this time there is no budget.

  456. LandSharkUK says

    The T26 is already the perfect GP frigate, take advantage by making the T31 ASW, allowing the T26 to be the multi mission GCS the RN need

  457. Not a Boffin says

    There is no money at present for T31 in any shape or form.

    There is certainly no money to make the T31 an ASW ship.

    It’s an awful lot more than just fitting a sonar.

    And no, autonomy is not going to magically save the day.

  458. LandSharkUK says

    Thats not really the case.

    There will be money, and we have a recent example how we can achieve acoustic performance without braking the bank. The Polar ship is 13,000 tonnes of specialist kit, with an advanced propellor, electric propulsion and double resilient mounted machinery, built as a one off in the UK for under £200m, so I dont accept a 4000 tonne ASW frigate is not possible on a budget.

    I accept it probably wont be as capable as the T26, probably having to travel slower before self noise masks sonar returns, but a proficient towed array platform is realistic.

  459. Mark says

    We are people trying to make the therotical type 31 an asw ship. We have a specialist asw ship type 26 we have a specialist aaw ship in type 45. We don’t need another ship in those fields.

    The type 31 was muted as a ship for low scale maritime security tasks in areas we wish to retain a presence. You could say this would allow us to stop using things like survey ships, minesweepers, rfas ect for these tasks as we currently have so they can get on with what there good at.

  460. Not a Boffin says

    There may be money eventually but at this present time there is no, I repeat, no budget.

    When that budget arrives, it will be at the expense of something else, so it is unlikely to be a large budget.

    That budget will have to pay for a self-defence capability (assuming the current lunacy in vogue in certain quarters is eventually quashed) and then a set of sonars, comms systems etc that are not cheap.

    That’s before we start talking about what frequencies the acoustic signature profile of the NERC ship is optimised to suppress and whether they’re the same as those required for hunting submarines. Then we probably need to think about whether the signatures and speed profiles are the same.

    Then we can get down to thinking about what auxiliary systems need to be running (and at what load) and whether they’d be equivalent.

    That’s before we start trying to cram it into a relatively small space where arrangement demands will make it quite a bit harder and more expensive to build than a nice big commercial ship, where it’s easy to put “stuff”.

  461. Mark says

    The nao assessment of carrier strike. We will have spend spent nearly 14b pound by the time the first carrier sails in 2021 with perhaps a dozen jets if we’re lucky.


    The Aircraft Carrier Alliance and the Department are dealing with potential cost growth of between 1% and 2% on the £6.212 billion approved cost of both carriers. The Department has not accepted this increase and is working with the Alliance to minimise any cost growth. The Department has brought forward Lightning II costs originally planned for after 2020, so that two squadrons of jets are available sooner. The total forecast spend of £5.8 billion on Lightning II procurement to 2020 could change if foreign exchange rates shift and the total number of jets on order globally varies.

    The forecast costs of supporting and operating Carrier Strike are less certain. Support and maintenance costs to March 2021 are forecast at £1.3 billion. Contracts, however, have not been let, and requirements will continue to be refined as the equipment is used. Historically, the Department has underestimated the costs of supporting its equipment. Operational costs up to March 2021 are estimated to be £0.6 billion.

    Introducing Carrier Strike will fundamentally affect how the Navy works. It will need to move away from deploying single ships to using a significant proportion of its fleet to support and protect the carriers. Before the Department can operate the carriers and jets together as Carrier Strike, there will be an intensive period of training, trials and further work. This period is crucial to ensure crews can safely operate the equipment and give the Department confidence the capability works as intended. The Department has examined the feasibility of deploying Carrier Strike before December 2020 and advised against it in anything other than an operational emergency.

    The Department has made decisions that could limit how its uses Carrier Strike. The carriers and Lightning II jets rely greatly on technology for military advantage. Technological failures on the carriers might mean that larger crews are needed or place greater pressure on existing personnel. The design and testing of the US-led Lightning II programme is happening concurrently until 2019, increasing the risk that jets already in the UK fleet need modifications. This could reduce the number available for forming the first squadron in readiness for first carrier-based deployment in 2021.

    The Department accelerated its purchase of Lightning II jets, which will support pilot training, but the number of pilots will be just sufficient up to 2026 with limited resilience in the event that personnel decide to leave the services. Additionally, the Department is relying on an unusually high level of simulator-based training for pilots which, if not sufficiently realistic, could limit how well prepared pilots are to operate the jets. The Department decided to fit Crowsnest radar systems to Navy helicopters that are already in demand, rather than buying new aircraft. High helicopter demand could limit the availability of Crowsnest to protect the carriers.

  462. Mark says

    Some more from the nao report

    While the carriers are expected to offer greater flexibility in how the Department responds to global events, deploying them will require a signi cant proportion of the Navy’s eet to form the carrier task group. The task group is likely to represent around 27% of the Navy’s eet by tonnage and 20% of the personnel needed to crew the eet, depending on how the carriers are deployed. Currently, the Navy carries out multiple operations concurrently using single ships. This means the Navy will need to change fundamentally how it operates and make judgements on priorities.

    The Department has already reduced existing capability in other areas to prioritise Carrier Strike. The decision to operate both carriers means both ships must be crewed. The Department decided not to extend in service HMS Ocean (the Royal Navy’s current agship and helicopter carrier) beyond 2018 in order to provide crew for the second carrier. HMS Ocean underwent maintenance and re t work between 2012 and 2014
    to ensure that it could provide a helicopter carrier capability until at least 2019. But it would require signi cant capital investment in a major re t to keep it running beyond that. The Department now plans for the carriers to provide some capacity to support battle eld helicopter operations. However, the necessary changes to the carriers to enable this are yet to be fully funded and will add further work to the CEPP schedule. Also, the Navy’s capability to undertake certain ‘ship to shore amphibious operations’ from 2018 onwards will be reduced.

    1.17 Planning for rst deployment has highlighted a number of necessary decisions and investments. This is helping to focus future work, including: reinforcing the need for changes to the way the Navy works and ensuring Navy Command’s global infrastructure can accommodate the demands of the carrier task group;
    ensuring exibility in the schedule to allow battle eld helicopters to be tested and own from the carriers (paragraph 1.12);
    balancing the use of Lightning II on the carriers with other demands, such as upgrades, training requirements and unplanned military deployments;
    ensuring IT infrastructure is in place to support information sharing across the carrier task group; and
    aligning operational planning with that of the US in preparation for rst deployment.

  463. Don says

    New Russian SSN Kazan due to launch March 30th.

    So Any RN improvement in ASW capabilities would surely be welcomed.

    But the bottom line will be money.

  464. LandSharkUK says

    The desire to make the T31 ASW capable stems from the suggestion the T26 is already the perfect GP frigate.

    I would further that by suggesting it is much simpler to replicate the T26’s ASW qualities inside a lighter hull than it is to squeeze all the qualities that make it the perfect GP frigate inside a small hull.

  465. The Other Nick says

    There are numerous options for ASW sonars besides the large and expensive S2087, development moves on.

    One based on the Defence Research and Development Canada – Atlantic, developed and patented the Horizontal 60 mm sound Projector Array, HPA, based on the Barrel Stave Projector. The advantage being the small dia. HPA transmitter can be incorporated into the active/passive towed array streamer so as able to be installed in smaller vessels contrasted to the complexity of the overboarding equipment of a large VLA sonar body. Ultra Electronics Maritime Systems develop and manufacture the kit.

    A development being the Low Frequency Active Passive Sonar, LFAPS, during operational evaluation last December by the Royal Netherlands Navy aboard the 3,300 ton HMNS Van Amstel initial impressions were extremely favourable. “Quantum Leap in the field of submarine warfare!”

    The French Thales Combined Active and Passive Towed Array Sonars, CAPTAS 1 to 4 range, the top of the range is the new compact CAPTAS-4 update of the 2087 VDA was launched at Euronaval 2016, reducing area from 84 m2 to 45 m2 and weight from 34 mt to 25 mt.

  466. Steve says

    Thanks TON – I believe the Ultra equipment you describe is what is fitted to the RAN AWDs the first of which has just completed trials. In 2008 it was chosen over the Thales equipment even though Thales manufactured towed arrays in Australia. Interesting to know the trials results though I am sure they are classified. There is single, simple fairhead in the stern that does not require heavy lifting equipment.
    Janes IDR December 2008 Nowhere to hide: LFAS systems evolve to meet ASW requirements gives a good early description.
    According to the Janes article the system has dual frequency (4 & 7.5KHz) hull mounted sonar, and a 1.8 KHz source and 3.25KHz projectors in the towed array. It also has the Ultra torpedo detection passive array. System design should allow networking with off-board active sources such as dipping FLASH and sonobuoys.

  467. The Other Nick says

    UEMS have a page listing half a dozen informative background papers on the Canadian DRDC Atlantic sonar research in collaboration with UEMS.

    Bruce Armstrong who developed the Barrel Stave Projector whilst with DRDC now with GeoSpectrum Technologies Inc, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, are marketing/selling the Towed Reelable Active Passive Sonar. GeoSpectrum claiming TRAPS being the first towed active/passive sonar system to enable small frigates, corvettes, coastal patrol vessels, and ships of opportunity, to perform effective ASW operations due to its its reduced size and weight.
    Noticeable that TRAPS using the compact BSP in the vertical mode, assuming makes for a simpler system than the horizontal layout used by UEMS due to the propagation properties of the sound projector signal.

  468. Not a Boffin says

    Point is – none of these sonars are cheap, their size is relatively irrelevant. The impact on shipboard systems of a NR requirement is also best described as “not cheap”.

    Cumulative effect of these “additional” (in the eyes of the cheap and cheerful fanboys in NCHQ) costs on a cost-capped ship will push the cost over what is deemed acceptable.

  469. The Other Nick says

    I’m sure none of the sonars are cheap, though an order of magnitude less expensive than the reputed £50 million each for an S2087, and the expense of building and outfitting a NR ship would cost. If you want cheap just buy a tarted up Batch II River class with its main armament of a 30mm toy gun, but that’s just throwing good money after bad, defence is not cheap.

  470. Not a Boffin says

    “I’m sure none of the sonars are cheap, though an order of magnitude less expensive than the reputed £50 million each for an S2087, and the expense of building and outfitting a NR ship would cost.”

    Any evidence for that last statement? Particularly the bit about NR outfit?

    “If you want cheap just buy a tarted up Batch II River class with its main armament of a 30mm toy gun, but that’s just throwing good money after bad, defence is not cheap”.

    I know that, you seem to know that. If only the people in NCHQ who are pushing T31 actually understood that………

  471. LandSharkUK says

    “but that’s just throwing good money after bad” that’s sums up this whole T31 folly rather nicely!

    Adding a towed sonar will not be cheap, but neither is adding a mission bay, Mk41 & 5″ gun. At least with the new generation of compact sonars we could buy thee systems and share between six platforms, for example.

    Admittedly only by my guesstimates, it looks like 3 sonar sets is a cheaper way forward than 6 mission bay’s, 18 Mk41 silo’s & 6 big gun’s.

  472. Donald_of_Tokyo says

    In regard to the Noise Reduction (NR) for ASW, a light frigate like Venator 110 can do “some” job on ASW if equipped with CAPTAS4CI, or totally a waste of money? In other words, French FTI can do ASW or not?

    Here, I think a typical light-frigate of ’90s = Dutch M-class will give us a good view. How is their reputation in view of ASW ? It was designed to carry TACTASS in ’90s, so the hull shall have some NR. Surely not as good as T23s (also built in ’90s). Also, ANZAC frigates and Vasco Da Gama, both MEKO200, are also designed to carry TACTASS, and built in ’90s. How about them? I think they are worse than M-class, but still they were built with some NR requirement?

    # Here I am comparing T26 to T23, and T31 to M-class or MEKO200, depending on the NR level we expect.

    PS In CAPTAS-4 CI movie, the guy clearly states the towed receiver is shorter than that used in CAPTAS-4. It looks as if the receiver TASS is somewhat similar to those of CAPTAS-1, not even CAPTAS-2. Interesting.

  473. The Other Nick says

    There may be possibilities for a lower cost partial/adequate NR frigate, though not at the Rolls Royce cost of the T26.
    The Abu Dhabi ASW class 1,650 mt ASW corvette was designed by Fincantieri. They conducted studies to investigate the optimal trade off, cost vs performance, to fulfill the noise requirement for operation of the Thales CAPTAS-2 VDS and Kingklip HMS.
    Their ASNE Paper
    “The solution defined in the simulation study for the propulsion train, led to installing the propulsion engines upon resilient mounts – single stage – with proper associated rigidity. The reduction gears are rigidly mounted on foundations carefully treated by means of appropriate visco-elastic materials and doubling plates, aimed to dampen frequencies considered critical to the sonar’s performance. 
    The more classic alternative would have been to install the engines and reduction gears upon a first stage of resilient mounts on a common base, coupled to the ship’s lower hull by means of a second stage of resilient mount. 
    This alternative would have cost more, been more difficult to implement in the ship and decreased maintenance space access for workers.”
    Fincantieri also market software designed to mitigate transmission of structure born noise in design stage, sure there must be other suppliers.

    Unable to find the cost of the GeoSpectrum TRAPS VDS contract funded by the Build in Canada Innovation Program for testing by DRDC/Canadian navy, but, ATLAS ELEKTRONIK and the Indian Ministry of Defense signed 2014 contract for the delivery of six active towed array sonar systems (ACTAS). The total costs quoted range from 40 million Euros to $51 million for the six systems.
    “The Atlas towed array sonar ACTAS operates in the low-frequency range and permits observation of the sea space at ranges in excess of 60 kilometers, depending on the sound propagation conditions of the water. ACTAS can also locate and track surface vessels which permits reconnaissance of both submarines and ships in the same sonar search area.”

  474. Not a Boffin says

    “The solution defined in the simulation study for the propulsion train, led to installing the propulsion engines upon resilient mounts – single stage – with proper associated rigidity. The reduction gears are rigidly mounted on foundations carefully treated by means of appropriate visco-elastic materials and doubling plates, aimed to dampen frequencies considered critical to the sonar’s performance.
    The more classic alternative would have been to install the engines and reduction gears upon a first stage of resilient mounts on a common base, coupled to the ship’s lower hull by means of a second stage of resilient mount.
    This alternative would have cost more, been more difficult to implement in the ship and decreased maintenance space access for workers.”

    Hmm. Doesn’t sound like NR as properly practised. Sounds a lot like NR to limit impact on own sensors. Interesting that they only looked at the propulsion chain rather than comprehensive.

    As for T26 “Rolls Royce” – don’t for one moment think that the cost is significantly driven by the NR measures – that’s like believing it’s driven by the size. Which results in fallacies like T31.

  475. LandSharkUK says

    interesting they went down that route and not hybrid electric propulsion, full isolating the mechanical prime movers from the hull.

  476. Rocket Banana says

    With 8 ASW dedicated T26 planned we will replace one-for-one our current ASW capability.

    What we’re not getting is a replacement for the 5 GP T23’s.

    I don’t quite know the history but did the T23 GPs come about because they thought we may as well use the same hull to reduce costs or did they come about because we really wanted 16 ASW ships but couldn’t justify the cost of 2087?

    Option 1: use T26 hull for T31 (seems to get many votes generally)

    Option 2: build more River class as lillypads for perimeter ASW operations with Merlin from the CBG core

    Option 3: fund the naval development bods and design an ISR and NGFS stealth corvette

    Option 4: buy the Freedom class

  477. Not a Boffin says

    There was no such thing as a T23 GP originally. All were intended to be ASW specialists, until in the middle of the build run, Ivan went away. That had two consequences – people in town got the idea that the ASW threat had “gone away” and lost interest and those that were interested decided that as “the threat” was now SSK (with AIP), 2031Z (a passive system good for picking up relatively noisy SSN) was no longer required. Resulting in the last three commissioning without 2031Z installed.

    Then we decided that we could only afford 8 S2087 (which went on the most modern – Westminster onwards, ex Grafton – from ~ 2004) and subsequently sold three to Chile. The remaining 5 became GP ships, as their 2031Z was first mothballed in place and eventually removed.

    Pick the logic out of that one……

  478. The Other Nick says

    “As for T26 “Rolls Royce” – don’t for one moment think that the cost is significantly driven by the NR measures – that’s like believing it’s driven by the size. Which results in fallacies like T31.”

    If NCHQ fixated on cheap to meet minimum budget/funding available and neither NR measures or size (steel is cheap and air is free?) are that expensive, what are the cost drivers for the mission requirements which NCHQ have yet to agree on.

    Assuming the kit as the main cost driver for the 750/1000 mt mission payload. How much a premium would you pay for hybrid electric drive propulsion vers. straight diesel propulsion with separate generators.

    “To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what progress has been made on the procurement of type 31E general purpose frigates; and if he will make a statement.
    Answered by: Harriett Baldwin, Answered on: 16 January 2017
    The Ministry of Defence continues to progress the Type 31e General Purpose Frigate requirement. The programme is in its pre-concept phase.
    This work is considering the capability the ships will need based on their role, operating environment and the threats they will need to counter.”

  479. Mark says

    Well it would appear the French have just got on an ordered one


    The defense minister has approved administrative steps to launch a €3.8 billion ($4 billion) program for five intermediate frigates for the French Navy, procurement chief Laurent Collet-Billon said March 22

    Shipbuilder DCNS will be prime contractor, with electronics company Thales supplying a new multifunction naval radar, dubbed Sea Fire 500, and a new compact version of its Captas-4 towed array sonar

    MBDA Aster 30 anti-air missiles will arm the French Navy frigates, but the service has shown little interest in upgrading to an anti-ballistic missile capability, an industry source said.

  480. WiseApe says

    They’re putting Aster 30 on their light frigates? And CAPTAS-4? And getting 5 for £3.5 billion. I don’t know who is running the French Navy but he must be on very good terms with the tooth fairy.

  481. Not a Boffin says

    No 1. “Payload” (ex fuel) is a long way off 750te.

    No2. The point I’m making is that people are making decisions based on erroneous understanding.

    No 3. Not as simple as you might think. Separate propulsion and generators mean more units and more uptakes / downtakes / seats etc.

    No 4. Regurgitating Harriet isn’t big or clever.

  482. The Other Nick says

    “No 1. “Payload” (ex fuel) is a long way off 750te.
    No2. The point I’m making is that people are making decisions based on erroneous understanding.
    No 3. Not as simple as you might think. Separate propulsion and generators mean more units and more uptakes / downtakes / seats etc.
    No 4. Regurgitating Harriet isn’t big or clever.”

    No 1. Venator mission payload quoted by TD of up to 700 tonnes: fuel load determines range & cruising speed (assume capability to escort CVF) , water & stores equates to days endurance plus weight of crew, ordnance & other.
    Volume and weight available for electronics and armament outfit/payload totally different figure as will be weight margin for future growth, 10% of FLD was the USN standard.
    No 2. “erroneous understanding” apologies but missed where you outlined them.
    No 3. Understood not a simple trade-off, though wondered if previous history with HED and new technologies now maturing into cost competitive HED design for capabilities required.
    No 4. To the ordinary punter that’s not in the know it’s only info available.

  483. Think Defence says

    The stuff above on Venator is a straight lift from BMT, not sure how that has been derived or what it includes

  484. Donald_of_Tokyo says


    “Doesn’t sound like NR as properly practised. Sounds a lot like NR to limit impact on own sensors. Interesting that they only looked at the propulsion chain rather than comprehensive.”

    If active sonar is considered as the primary option, being quiet ONLY in the frequency band where the sonar is pinging makes sense, I think.

    Being quiet in specified frequencies is technically much easier than being quiet in wide frequency band, from vibration dumping technique. (Also need to be quiet in frequency band used by Merlin, to perform multi-static ASW tactics). The ship with this active-oriented-limited-NR will not be as good as T23/26 in ASW, which can also be used as passive sensor, hiding their position from enemy subs, still utilizing others’ sonar, such as Merlin’s FLASH, for multi-static tactics. But, anyway in shallow water ASW, the ship will be actively pinging, so there is no need to hide themselves. Thus, “the ship with active-oriented-limited-NR” will not be useless, but not be considered to replace T26, I guess. (I think this is the way French FTI was designed).

    On the other hand, looking comprehensive is important. I read an article written by OB of JMSDF saying that, in Hatsuyuki-class DD the main noise source was finally the compressor added for Prairie/Masker. In succeeding Asagiri-class DD, it was fixed to use the GT’s pressured gas.

  485. Rocket Banana says


    Thanks for the history lesson on the T23.

    Seems like the powers that be would have ditched the 5 GP’s if they could have got away with it (i.e. if there were no standing tasks that demanded their existence). I guess therefore that 8-4-8 seems reasonable.

    Now, could someone educated (and reaslistic) please explain why the USN Freedom class is not a great match for a T31(esque) light frigate. £300m each? We could ditch one of the MT30’s but we’d keep RR and BAE happy-ish. Especially if they were built under license somewhere other than on the Clyde. I’m happy to take a battering here :-)

    The more I look at the Freedom class the more I see the Black Swan, which although slated by many seems like the ideal intermediate role ship for disaster, humanitarian and constabulary tasks.


  486. The Other Nick says

    Simon you ought to do some research, the Freedom class have been an unmitigated disaster the result Congressional pork barrel politics and USN admirals greed of just wanting more money. A very few highlights, Freedom was launched back in 2006 and first two of class now been re-classified as ‘testing’ vessels, none of class have as yet have achieved operational status with their ASW, MCM & SUW “mission modules” .

    The US Navy’s proposed FY2017 budget requests $1,125.6 million for the procurement of the 27th and 28th LCSs, or an average of $562.8, £450 million for each ship so 50% higher than your £300 million figure. That £450 million just buys you a ‘sea frame’ with no mission module, Freedom a 3,600 tonne ship with main gun of 57 mm and two 200 rpm 30 mm cannon, with its semi-planning hull a great speed of 40 + knots but at the price of a maximum, maximum range of 2,100 nm at 14 knots and allowance of only 105 tonnes for mission module payload and history of breaking down (causality in USN parlance)

    PS The latest LCS contract let by the USN was to Northrop for $69 million with potential $812M to gun mission module “The gun mission modules consist of two 30mm guns and are part of the LCS’ surface warfare (SUW) mission package (MP).” Does not include the 57 mm BAE System main gun. “According to the U.S. Navy the surface warfare mission package will begin developmental testing aboard USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) later this year and will culminate in operational testing and initial operational capability in 2018.

    An expensive disaster, DoD SAR March 2016 report – “Program costs increased $7,058.4 million (+32.32%) from $21,842.3 million to $28,900.7 million, due primarily to a quantity increase of 8 ships from 30 to 38 (+$6,414.3), increased cost due to the incorporation of Frigate related enhancement to the LCS baseline (+$2,046.2), increased cost due to schedule changes (+$496.1), and adjustments/revisions to the escalation indices (+$21.7). These increases were partially offset by revised estimates for schedule changes, proper pricing of outfitting and post-delivery requirements and to reflect LCS actuals (-$1,919.9 million).”
    Please note excludes costs of mission modules approx. additional $6-7 billion.

  487. Not a Boffin says

    The whole LCS thing from the off was a little strange.

    The original CONOPS (post Cole) was that “the littoral” could be very dangerous for expensive surface combatants depending on RoE. The solution was therefore to have a fleet of small, fast probing ships, which could also theoretically deal with the primary threats that were thought difficult – FAC/FIAC, mines and SSC/SSK. The fact that they were small, also (theoretically) meant you could have more of them, which meant that a loss was not as serious as losing a larger multi-role ship. Note that at no point did anyone specifically suggest these things were expendable.

    Trouble is you can’t do that all on one small ship, so the bright sparks looked in the dictionary and found the word modular. Then they looked up modular in Janes Fighting Ships and found the Stanflex and thought it had already been done and would therefore be easy. So far so good.

    However, they then for reasons which most find inexplicable, decided that they wanted to put go-faster stripes on the ship and be able to dig holes in the ‘oggin at 45 knots or so. But as they needed to base the ship in CONUS and deploy over long range, this small fast ship also needed to find room for an efficient cruise propulsion system – which is not the same as an efficient high-speed propulsion system. At this point they were in a bad place, as fitting dual mode propulsion in a lightweight (for high speed) ship, while providing room for adequate bunkers for TransLant range is best described as “f8cking difficult”.

    But credit where due, they got a couple of decent high-speed forms and persevered. Up to this point, NAVSEA and the first tier US yards had largely been (deliberately) kept away from the party, because the programme was to be the poster boy for cost-effective rapid efficient acquisition of war-winning transformational capability with added sensitivity training or somesuch jargoninstic nonsense. However, once NAVSEA did get involved they immediately started pointing out that certain design features, which were fine for a commercial fast ferry, might not be so clever for a “warship”. even a transformational, cost-effective, paradigm shifting one.

    Then the ships started getting heavier and more expensive to meet the NAVSEA equipment requirements etc etc.

    We were lucky. I was in a small meeting with the UK 2* in charge of ship capability requirements about 14 years ago and he was gagging for LCS or something like it. Thankfully he got a new job before common-sense went out the window.

    Never underestimate the power of a “trendy vision”, allied with buzzwords and often a budget crunch to make the barking seem plausible. Which brings us nicely back to the T31…….

  488. LandSharkUK says

    I struggle to understand the LCS, there is some good thinking behind them, but not when it’s all thrown together inside a speed boat. I don’t understand how its still going, and why on earth they have to versions. The independence class doesn’t look as bad, so why on earth carry on with both?

    If we built at normal steel displacement trimaran for the T31 it would’t be bad at all, its afford us a huge mission bay, ready to be filled later. But clearly not going to happen.

    Also if they really wanted something to kick ass in the littorals they should have gone with these….

  489. Not a Boffin says

    Trimarans probably ain’t going to happen for the UK for a number of good reasons. The yanks are having plenty off issues with their big modular bay on the Independence. CGI is no guarantee of functionality. Do tell why you think a “normal” steel hulled tri would work for the UK.

    Skjold is “really good” (aka cr@p) at TransLant oceanic passage. Which is why the US didn’t choose that route.

  490. The Other Nick says

    The Vosper R V Triton trimaran demonstrator was delivered 2000 still active, currently contracted to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service on anti-illegal immigrant patrol in Australia’s northern waters.

    The advantages of trimaran the triple-hull design, claimed by QinetiQ/DERA, was faster and more manoeuvrable than an equivalent sized mono-hulled ship, a reduction in drag of up to 20%, higher stability plus an increase in the available deck area. Another thought may be the outer hulls could take a hit by an ASCM and ship would survive.

    Extensive sea trials were undertaken in a wide range of weather conditions up to a sea state of 7 to 8 to assess the ships general handling, architectural and structural and its sea-keeping behaviour compared to a conventional monohull design, special attention paid to the slamming effects under the decks linking the hulls using the US Navy supplied, NAVSEA, onboard monitoring kit.

    The disadvantages are the more expensive build, increased beam especially in docking restrictions, limitations of volume in main hull and sure NaB has full history of pros and cons.

  491. Mark says

    Probably been better for the littoral combat theory that LCS tried to replicate.


    Especially as some of the boats could now be remotely operated.

  492. LandSharkUK says

    “Do tell why you think a “normal” steel hulled tri would work for the UK.”

    An American study highlighted “system density” as a reason for price inflation, trying to pack, integrate and optimize many complex systems is a small space is difficult. More space makes that easier. The cheapest way to acquire extra volume is to build things wider, but that doesn’t apply to the naval domain due to increased drag.

    A trimaran offsets that, increased volume for no increased drag, plus increased maneuverability, as well as greater stability for mounting sensors high up. There are plenty of theoretical advantages, others highlighted by TON, how well that translates into the real world is questionable. The Americans certainly ruined it with too many conflicting requirements, but I’m confident the RN could succeed with a simpler type.

  493. LandSharkUK says

    The Skjold may not be deploying across oceans alone, but perhaps on the back of a mobile landing platform it could be supported globally?


    I think this has some relevance to the T31; if we are just building a crappy pimped patrol boat we would be better off not bothering. It would be more valuable to invest in a big utility platform and fill it with fast combat boats and aircraft. That would be more general purpose and useful than an extended river class could ever be, utilizing distributed off board systems to add some specialist capabilities.

  494. The Other Chris says

    [quote]”…[multihulls have] limitations of volume in main hull…”[/quote]

    Nail on head.

    To quote NaB from 2013

    [quote]”Monohulls work because they do the vast majority of things well. All these other forms (Trimarans, Pentamarans, PACSCATS, SES, ACV, foils, SWATHs etc) all have their niche advantages, but can be utterly dependent on lightweight materials that don’t scale or are required only to have short endurance etc, etc. Or, as with many of the multihulls, their construction cost is higher than the monohull for little commensurate gain.[/quote]

    Source: http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2013/06/not-enough-ships/#comment-181409

  495. The Other Nick says

    French semi-equivalent T31 ‘inches’ forward, very political as coming before the April 23rd Presidential election. A version of the French Navy’s proposed FTI medium-size frigate programme. Highlights from DefenseNews
    The defense minister has approved administrative steps to launch a €3.8 billion ($4 billion) program for five intermediate frigates for the French Navy // DCNS will be prime contractor, with electronics company Thales supplying a new multifunction naval radar, dubbed Sea Fire 500, and a new compact version of its Captas-4 towed array sonar // MBDA Aster 30 anti-air missiles will arm the French Navy frigates // DCNS’ export version of the intermediate frigate, dubbed Belh@rra, with the onboard digital technology reflected in the use of the @-symbol // The 4,200-ton Belh@rra vessels are intended to slot in above the Gowind corvette, which weighs 2,000 tons, and below the multimission frigate weighing 6,000 tons.


  496. LandSharkUK says

    The French appear to be doing the light frigate thing correctly. I advocate something similar for the RN, however I suspect that price is similar to 5 more T26…..

  497. Not a Boffin says

    The MLP + Skjold is a re-run of the heavy-lift mothership concept that MoD looked at in about 2004/5. Could never be made to work because it relied on a large capital intensive asset that you couldn’t recover investment on (H/L contracts are generally incompatible with military readiness/notice requirements).

    There were other technical and operational limitations too.

  498. All Politicians are the Same says

    We must be careful not to confuse transport into theatre by heavy lift ship and basing from a heavy lift ship. The French have just deployed 2 Tripartite Class MCMVs to the Gulf on a heavy lift ship. The US deployed all their Avenger Class MCMvs, Cyclone Class PCs and Island Class Cutters operated by CTF 55 by heavy lift ship. Indeed they look at us funnily when we announce that we are rotating MCMvs by sailing them home and out.
    I guess what counts against the LCS is that it is a bit bigger and therefore must appear to be more capable, it also kind of replaced the OHP so it must be capable of self deployment as well. in terms of operating something like a Skjiold in support of 5th or 7th fleet then there are no issues at all. The model is firmly in place of units being moved into theatre by heavy lift ship, maintenance being done locally and ships companies trickle drafted with many doing 2 years plus.