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Supportive Bloke

At least this makes sense as a relatively low cost way for making sure things can happen.

Frankly I am surprised at how cheap this is as Babcock are taking a valuable facility out of service and leaving it idle for the duration of the contract.

Also this is a serious sized yard with multiple dry docks and it needs to be fed more than the odd bones to keep it running.

T31 -> T32 is great in that respect.

There is no reason that another Goliath can’t be added to the other docks for the FSS – or whatever that ends up as.


The Goliath was only required for the specific build strategy of QEC – specifically the blocks above hangar deck level. No need for it for T31.

FSS is highly unlikely to be built in Rosyth – let alone anywhere else in the UK – irrespective of what the messaging is. The vast majority will be built overseas and then “integrated” (a moveable feast) somewhere with both space and capacity. That place will not be No 1 dock.

Not sure you can describe No 1 dock as a “valuable facility”. A valuable facility is one that is used fairly regularly and generates revenue. Inhabitants of that dock since QNLZ docking in 2019?

Supportive Bloke

I agree that lifting the upper blocks was the reason for the Goliath. And I agree that T31 has no need of the dry dock of the Goliath that is there.

However, the superstructure of anything big will require something to lift its blocks into place too?

FSS is an interesting proposition and would have been totally doable in the UK if the whole capacity generated for QEC had not been allowed to dissapate. But I suspect that FSS UK built would be about 1.7x the cost of a bare hull bought in and fitted out in the UK as with the tankers.

I’ll rephrase that – of national strategic value…..?


Lairds did the superstructure lift of SDA with a (big!) mobile crane when the hull was in the basin. That’s how I’d do an FSS.

Any UK fit-out will be minimal. The tanker and FSS are incomparable in terms of their outfit content.


Goliath lift capacity definitely primarily of use during build but may come in handy for future more significant refits. Challenge with high capacity mobile like you mention Cammellaird using is the dockside space they require and the speed at which their capacity drops as look to lift further from their pivot point. For anything more than one-off/special lifts they can really be a pain.

Believe no.1 dock had been allocated for emergency dockings already hence the lack of use since 2019 (and before that when PoW was in the basin).

FSS I suspect will come down entirely to what politically is more important, cost or messaging. Seems unlikely to be UK but wouldn’t rule it out.


Which is why you only use them for one-off special lifts (as QEC did for the first bow lifts of QNLZ). Much smaller cranes only needed for small equipment items.


Is your view on the FSS down to the likely on cost for U.K. build or do you think the existing (and genuinely potentially available) yard capacity is inadequate given their existing commitments?


It’s the latter. People forget that the yards that did the genuine heavy-lifting for QEC were Govan and Portsmouth, both of which were the only yards to build really heavily outfitted blocks. One of those is utterly committed to Type 26 – likely until early 30s – and the other no longer exists as a functioning shipyard. Rosyth itself will do well to deliver T31 on time and then ought to be looking at T32.

There is no-where else in the UK that is a functioning build shipyard (Lairds is the nearest) and there is a critical shortage of the right people to design, manage and build these ships. Each of which by the way will comprise somewhere between 25000 and 30000te of material. In essence, they’re trying to do 75% of the carrier build, in half the time, with a quarter of the budget and with much less than half the shipyard capacity.


Hopefully HMG will see this and not for purely political reasons insist on British build even if they know it will delay delivery by 5 plus years. Or the even worse option of insisting on H&W to fully build the ships which would probably add at least 8/10years to the contract.

Supportive Bloke

Depends on your perspective.

From a CSG availability perspective having a fully working fleet of FSS is nearing top priority.

That might temper the ‘UK built’ song sheet quite a lot when the time it takes to generate the capability becomes clear. There is not a lot of conversation about that.

When I was looking at Naval Architecture in the ’80s it was UCL, Southampton, Newcastle, Glasgow(?), Strathclyde and a couple of other places that I forget!

What I am trying to say is numbers trained are not what they once were.


I fear John Spellar will reap what he has sown.

Last edited 1 year ago by N-a-B

It’s also worth pointing out that there are actually plenty of Naval Archs in the UK. There are very few marine engineers with a design background (either M or L). Crucially there are very few people with experience of shipbuilding control and project management. It’s not something you can pick up at University either.

That’s the biggest gap – people who can run a build programme in an actual shipyard.

Supportive Bloke


But the route used be Naval Arch -> Yard -> Lean to PM on the job.

Now what is the training router for PM other than BIM (God Help Us) or death by GANNT chart and S Curve analysis. The missing ingredients in all industries are always common sense and experience.

I agree QA is, quite rightly, much more important than it once was.


Hope springs eternal. However I fear the worst.


How about extending For Victoria out-of-service date to ~2030, building FSS hull-1 outside UK to be delivered around 2028, and FSS 2nd and 3rd ship build at Rosyth after T31, delivery around 2031 and 2033, and simply forget about T32?

RN lack man-power, even putting HMS Echo into reserve, and re-building man-power needs time. What if T32 comes AFTER FSS?


To do that you need a design owner that wants to work that way. After FSS the replacement for Albion and Bay class is supposed to start build. On top of this HMG wants to fit in the Mine Warfare Support ships, the deep ocean survey ship and Boris’s gin palace.


Understand your point.

“a design owner that wants to work that way” is not easy, but I prefer Navantia to team-up with Babcock to do this..

“Albion and Bays” can easily see life extention. If, only if, the national ship building strategy is to re-establish UK ship building industry, they need continuous order. FSS + MRSS shall be distributed.

“Mine Warfare Support ships, the deep ocean survey ship and Boris’s gin palace.” I think Cammel Laird can do it?

Last edited 1 year ago by donald_of_tokyo
Supportive Bloke

The Albions have been 50% resting so the hull and engine stresses will have been massively reduced.

Whilst they are fantastic command and control platforms: more the issue is that they are not what is needed in a drone enabled world.

If there is one thing that can be delayed it is Boris’ gin palace. That can be given to Fergusons……what would Crankie say to that eh!!? That would be an awkward one to spin away from.

The Bays have worked pretty hard and were built to a mid level so they might extend a bit but not as much as the Albions which were built to a very decent spec.


“Albions … not what is needed in a drone enabled world.”; May be, may be not. At least, she can be an excellent USV mother ship, with a dozen (or more) of 12m-class USV in her well-dock?

“Bays”; I see no big problem extending their life. Yes, it will cost, but a LSD with 35-40 years life was common in USN (e.g. Austin-class (40 years). Also, HMNLS Rotteldam and Spanish ships, both 8 years older than Bays, are both active.


FTVIC is fragile enough. Not that many Pielstick engines of that type around anymore – or more precisely, spares for them.


Thanks. So you mean, if the national ship building strategy is to re-establish UK ship building industry, FSS is too “early” to handle it, because UK industry needs time to train them?

My point is, ban T32, and build FSS in place of it. No need for T32. First of all, no crew there. Also, there is no money.

Even if there be such money, just simply increase T26 for one or two will be better, I think. “Learning curve with steady drumbeat” of T26 will provide redundant workers there, I guess.

But might be not enough, as you say…

Glass Half Full

Why would a FSS built outside the UK need to wait until 2028 for delivery? Navantia could surely turn around a ship earlier than that.

Then the 2nd and 3rd FSS get built in Belfast with a UK workforce that worked on the 1st FSS built in Spain. The 2nd FSS would be built with onsite Spanish engineering and management resources supporting the H&W workforce and the ability to bring in additional Spanish resources if timelines start to slip. By the 3rd FSS H&W should be able to standalone.

I doubt anyone expects H&W to magically get up and running as a ship yard but they are already working on dry docking large cruise liners and turning them around rapidly.

So no need to impact other naval ship building programs.


But, it will leave Belfast with no work after FSS? MRSS? Then what after it? Also, Rosyth will be doing what?

Almost zero chance for “building-export”, so Rosyth have nothing to do after T32. (Continue with T33, T34.. 30-40 escorts for RN, will never happen).

Spreading work in timeline is important. Also, I am not proposing any sacrifice on building, just changing T32 into 1-2 more T26, because BAES Clyde has the work force.

PS FSS “in service” in 2028 is normal (I miss-spelled it as “delivery”, sorry), I think. Selection 2023, detailed design (there is NO detailed design of FSS even in Navantia), 1st-steal-cut 2024, launch 2026, delivery 2027, in-service 2028.

Glass Half Full

H&W are structuring their business for energy, defence, cruise & ferry servicing and conversions/updates, commercial fabrication, and offshore renewables sectors. It’s this mix of commercial and defence work at MoD shipbuilders that the NSS is trying to establish, to stop shipyards being dependent upon MoD contracts, which is unsustainable, and to encourage the development of commercial lines of business. One edge that H&W have in the commercial space is that they can dry dock large cruise ships in two of the largest dry docks in Europe and they are in a very convenient location for it. All of which is a long way to say H&W don’t need guaranteed MoD work, which is good because the MoD reiterated again recently in a written response to the Defence Committee that they won’t be doing that.

Last edited 1 year ago by Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full

(cont.) The recent NSS refresh listed, in addition to the 3x FSS, up to 6x MRSS, 1x Auxiliary Oiler, 1x Ice Patrol Ship, up to 4x Sealift for MoD plus the much maligned National Flagship. The NSS also listed a number of non-MoD ship requirements including 4x Medium and up to 14x Large Ferries for Scotland. There are also a number of other vessels that may also make sense for H&W Belfast, CL and Ferguson to compete for, assuming the latter recovers from its current ferry problems. Production of FSS at Belfast is unlikely to be fast, so it seems there is a quite significant backlog of large projects for a number of shipyards.
Regarding Rosysth. BAES isn’t guaranteed the T83 contract, although it should be theirs to lose. We’ve discussed the issue with BAES before so I won’t repeat my views. If the MRSS contract doesn’t go to the previous listed companies then they are a prospect for Rosyth. Future OPVs late 2030’s. I’m excluding MCM support ships or Multi-Role Ocean Surveillance as they are not explicitly listed and so might convert existing platforms. Babcock don’t get guaranteed contracts either.
While export of new ships is challenging, it is still happening from European yards. Certainly assuming we cannot ever export ships built in the UK is a certain way to ensure that outcome.
You dismiss T32 in favour of T26 but I believe this is the UK’s opportunity to design a new modern light frigate fully optimized for mission modules, possibly also with an OPV option like the Italian PPA program. T31 was a necessary compromise because of urgent need but if we do want a chance of future exports then we have to keep innovating in ship design.
A 2028 in service date for FSS makes more sense.


Thanks for detailed reply. All reasonable, but my “realistic” (or pessimistic) point-of-view doesn’t disappear.

On NSS: UK (not RN/RFA) was ordering ship from other countries because it was cheaper. NSS means more cost to be there, who are paying? Scottland Furgason marines’s ferry became more than twice costy than planned, and 4-5 years of delay. Of course, it will get better, but I’m not sure all the stakes holder can accept the inevitable cost rise (say, 20-30%?). How long this strategy will continue?

On H&W: They were doing wind jobs, off shore jobs, and many other jobs even when they were “alive”, and even so, they collapsed. Babcock Rosyth is also looking for jobs other than ship building (ref, statement of Babcock when they build the hall). So, all depends on NSS.

Fingers crossed, actually.

On T32: I do favor T26 over T32, but in these series of comments, just saying so because BAES Clyde must have redundant workforce, because of 1.5-year fixed drumbeat AND learning curve. “Let’s use it” is my point.

Anyway, thanks a lot for fruitful discussion. I’m enjoying it.


It’s a two year drumbeat. The first batch will be commissioned on average every one and a half years because the first one will have an extra year’s testing, so expect a one year gap then a two year gap.


I hate to pour cold water, but that “structuring” is virtually indistinguishable from their previous efforts prior to receivership. There was a reason they went under with a total of ~75 permanent staff and that is that they are simply unable to attract sufficiently wide revenue streams.

Drydocking ships requires very different facilities, people and working practice than shipbuilding. It’s why you rarely find any company that conducts both activities and at the same site. H&W have not yet addressed their fundamental weaknesses – no track record, insufficient staff (technical and production) and missing facilities. Lairds are in a better position in terms of track record and staff, but you’ll notice that they’ve been very quiet in terms of bidding for shipbuilding contracts of any description. SDA was a very close-run thing.

The “list” of future programmes in the NSbS is essentially irrelevant, for the simple reason that outside T26/T31, FSS and the Flagship there is no money. Nothing inside 2025 – which conveniently will be after the next election.

Last edited 1 year ago by N-a-B
Glass Half Full

We’ll see what a different management team can achieve. H&W clearly have to build a reputation for successful execution on projects. They seem to be working on doing that. I don’t recall the old H&W having a focus on cruise liner servicing and executing on it? We’ll have to see how well … or not … H&W Belfast do with MS Queen Victoria and MV Aurora this May and June. They seem to have had 15 vessels through Belfast in the first quarter.

H&W also seem to have attracted contracts for their Arnish, Methil and Appledore sites. Small steps.

The key for the H&W group at this stage is flexibility and a steady ramp of diversified business, even if that is atypical for the industry.

Not sure what the relevance of the 2025 date is for H&W or why only MoD build contracts should be considered?


Because the “non-MoD ships” you referred to as potential targets for H&W are similarly unfunded.

Getting revenue via the refit/repair contracts is great – but frankly essential because they are spending a lot of money without many visible means of support.

Old H&W may not have had a cruise liner focus – but they did go for Irish sea ferry refits – which are essentially on their doorstep and still went bust. We’ll see how long the cruise liner bulge (post C19 layup) lasts.

None of which reconciles the fundamental lack of build skills, facilities and track record……


Yes. If we weren’t so fixated on built in UK we could do what other countries sometimes do and have the first built outside of the UK on the condition of skills transfer for the other two. But I think Lairds has to be brought up to speed, and if the space isn’t there in Birkenhead, it’s worth revitalising Inchgreen.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jon

Inchgreen should be filled in and built on. There is nothing there of any value whatsoever. No hardstandings, no people, no facilities other than the dock.



Greenock is getting investment since the Ocean Terminal. Gearing up Inchgreen would have a lot of support.

I just checked and there’s already £19m going into the dock area.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jon

Support to do what exactly? At the moment the best use is probably as a marina. One side has already got nice new houses less than 50m from the dock.
What sort of planning/environmental issues do you think that will bring. I would bet on no noisy work outside 8 till 6 Monday to Friday and absolutely no grid blasting/painting without complete encapsulation of the work.
The site is gone as far as heavy industrial use.


£19M which will not be in any way connected to shipbuilding. Business park or gentrificatoin more like.

David Graham

Spot on. I grew up in Greenock. I remember Inchgreen when I was a boy. It was the site of Greenock’s town gas works, and in these days there was a rail spur from the main Gourock-Glasgow railway.

The site is hemmed in to the immediate south by the main A8 dual carriage way, and to the east by newish industrial development, housing etc [the old Lithgows and Wm Hamilton yards]. To the west is the Great Harbour and immediately north is the river. There is no infrastructure of any kind; even the cranes are gone. The other relevant factor is the myth of skilled labour. There is none in Inverclyde, as McColl, and later Tim Hair found out to their cost with Ferguson Marine. My father was a close friend of Louis Ferguson, grandson of one of the founding brothers. He must be turning in his grave.


You’re assuming that the RFA doesn’t have manpower challenges…..



So you mean there is not need for 6 MRSS, because of lack of crew? I think only 2 of the 3 FSS will be manned. Also, there will be no replacement for Waves (both are now in extended readiness). And, yes, I admit MRSS will not be so many.

In that case, more and more re-establishing Belfast is pointless, I guess.


They could use that Goliath crane to lift on the 30mm guns couldn’t they? Obviously they are weighing heavily with their Lordships decision making and must weigh 1000 tons each. Lol. These carriers need some additional self defence don’t they? They spend a lot of time maybe 80% of their time without a goalkeeper escort or embarked planes. Sea Ceptor or 57mm would be more useful than the 30mm.


When has a QE carrier ever been in a remotely threatening area without an escort? The massed hordes of Lime Bay are no threat.


She was there on Sat evening sheltering from a thunder Storm.


I’ll carry them on piece at a bloody time if it gives the carriers more protection..


Its a shame the old King George V dry dock in Southampton can no longer be used

Last edited 1 year ago by Smithy
Supportive Bloke

What for?

There are two big dry docks, Rosyth and H&W, that work with some infrastructure around them.

They are hardly used to capacity?


Glad you mentioned it Smithy. Any answers to the question as to why a national maritime facility, an important defence asset, was allowed to deteriorate to the point of uselessness?

Nick B

Sounds risky, given Scottish Independence remains more likely than not over that time period.


Scotland is land-connected to England, and independent shipping and complicated Brexit principles are likely to hamper for years. The general public in Scotland would not want further chaos on top of the present chaos.

In fact, the independence vote was rejected by the majority.


The SNP is not Scotland. Despite what the BBC and Sky News tell you.

Fred the Frog

Why do you always talk down to people on here ? Is it some sort of insecure trait, are you an attention seeker ? do you not have anything better to do all day ? just curious.


Why is what I do a problem for you? I am not sure where I talked down to anybody in my last comment. As I told you last time they treated me like dirt here first off so I all I do is repeat in kind. Have you always been Fred the Frog? Shall I ask the site owner to check your IP address?


And age lol

Fred the Frog

It’s 72 FYI.


Ah great, D.O.B, sort code account number and address next as your being so helpful thanks

Fred the Frog

Talking down to fellow posters on here has been your way for many years yet you don’t like it when others dare to challenge you, So feel free my friend, see how it all pans out on a public forum with the current privacy laws. I’m guessing you will be happy for your own IP address to be made public too ? Yes ?


Shame the Royal Navy is not using Rosyth as a base anymore

Fred the Frog

Oh do please tell why ? I’m guessing you have some utterly brilliant explanation.


Really sorry but I dont have a super dooper whopper of a reason for you. But we built it there for a reason , but to be fair we don’t have many ships left in the fleet to base there anyways, however I would rather Gibraltar being a proper base again as that gives us far more felxability


Agreed. There should always be at least a patrol boat and preferably also a frigate at Gibraltar at all times. Right now the RN simply doesn’t have enough hulls to do this. The recent paper “We’re Going To Need A Bigger Navy” suggests building what it calls “a heavy corvette or light frigate” to flesh out the numbers. This sounds very much like the “Black Swan Sloop of War” concept that was circulating in UK defence circles about a decade back. It made sense then and it makes sense now.


We should have at least 10 Corvettes for all the commitments the RN has…it would free up bigger ships and give the UK a far bigger presence globally. I wonder what the price of operating a corvette is to say a type 31 or 32..


Also at least Gibraltar has new boats and a OPV based there now, better than what they had…


It is a modest upgrade, and better than nothing. But Spain, I’ve noticed, has been rather mouthy where Gibraltar is concerned for some time now. Methinks a stronger military presence there would shut them up quite quickly.

Fred the Frog

You really think so ? What would you like to base there ? just curious.

Fred the Frog

It sounds like you want to go to War with Spain, a fellow ally and member of Nato ? Yes ?

Fred the Frog

Nope, i guessed you wouldn’t have.


I suppose this means that London is more keen on throwing a bone to the Scots to try and keep the UK together than it is the Irish. The Belfast docks are much easier to get in and out of, though. Here’s hoping no one starts a shooting war in the inconvenient times when one of the QE’s is stuck as a sitting duck at Rosyth while waiting for the next favorable tide and weather. Surely some kind of relatively low cost dredging and widening operation could be done at Rosyth to prevent this sort of ludicrous event from happening?


For the avoidance of doubt, QEC can’t get into the build dock in H&W. Sill depth too low.

That leaves only Belfast dock.

Fred the Frog

I’d suggest you might want to look into the lengths, widths, depths and geology of the Firth of Forth before submitting any “low cost” proposals.

Mike B

There was an idea of enlarging D lock in Portsmouth.
This would have provided the city with good jobs in line with the governments so called levelling up policy.
It could have been used for small tasks for the Navy and private sector when vacant.


The fundamental problem with that idea being that it was b0ll0cks. There are plenty of good jobs in Portsmouth – it’s not a question of levelling up. Nor would “private sector” revenue have covered off the investment. Look up Fleet Support Ltd (now long subsumed into BAES). That was intended to be a vehicle to allow Portsmouth to do both naval and commercial upkeep work. Aside from the BAS boats, I think the only commercial ships they ever got in there were the Wightlink ferries. Which now go elsewhere anyway.

More to the point – no-one really knows what C&D lock are sitting on and no-one really wants to find out, either…..

The Navy would have had to allocate several hundred million pounds it doesn’t have to find out.

Last edited 1 year ago by N-a-B

Someone just posted on twitter after they saw the POW in Rota without aircraft on deck and wondering whether this is because currently the only squadron is The Dambusters RAF squadron? I’m asking the same question.
I would say its time for at least a measely flight of F35’s to be on permanent assignment to the Carriers pending the first FAA squadron. Surely the Fleet merits some recognition and 4 or 5 a/c now that we recently had a few more F35’s?
Maybe some lazy MP’s should be asking questions about this?
Now I understand why the Navy kept their Battleships. At least they had some guns to loose off and the RAF couldn’t interfere.
Wake up Britain!