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SeekTruthFromFacts

You can have it fast, or you can have it cheap, or you can have it good.
You cannot have all three. Any engineer can tell you that.
We don’t have the money and we need it fast, so we should just call it a corvette. Honesty is the best policy. That will avoid the RN being tasked with things that it does not have the equipment for.
Best of luck to MOD and the eventual builders.

Michael McClelland

Perhaps if we went back to a core workforce instead of contract companies who are bleeding us dry with huge prices we may cut the costs dramatically.

Iqbal Ahmed

The title speaks to the unfathomable arrogance amongst a section of right wing British nationalists. This is what is wrong with Britain today.
For your information, Aldi and Lidl are kicking ass and threatening the profits of more established high street supermarket brands like Tesco, which are in decline. These German supermarkets ruthlessly cornered niches in the market. Their commitment on price and quality while eschewing brand names is a success story that the RN and its mortibund procurement process could learn from.
I also agree with Seektruth that these ships are good for defence rather than ‘Great power’ global overreach. Just what the navy needs to bolster its numbers.

Ian

I’m afraid the analogy doesn’t stack up Iqbal.
Selling class 2 friut at a lower price than class 1 will have customers and eating them doesn’t tast much different- they just look less appealing.
Going to war in a frigate by name only means sailors will die and that gives an all together different meaning to less appealing.
It’s not British nationalism to point out your own bias & incoherent comment.

Silent Majority

That’s right. No unfathomable right wing British nationalist shops at Aldi or Lidl. Everybody knows that.

Ian Willis

These ships will be best suited for service in low intensity warzones.
That’s right Iqbal. Not everyone can shop at M&S or Waitrose. We have to make do and make up the numbers.

Ian

What’s a low intensity war zone? Either it’s fit for war or its not. #WrongKindOfLeaves

Iqbal Ahmed

Isn’t the Channel and Altantic home waters defence patrol pretty low in intensity?
Fisheries and border protection are a higher priority than making provocative journeys through Chinese man made Islands and claimed territorial waters.

Ben P

They are replacing frigates, they need to be able to operate in medium-high intensity combat zones. Low intensity zones like the channel can be patrolled by offshore patrol vessels.

Ian

FGS we are not at war there, if we were then we’d face proper warships. How hard is this to understand – really?

David Flandry

How often does a RN warship transit the South China Sea today. Rarely. But you have the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, eastern Mediterranean, Baltic and Black Sea, and in home water Russian subs sneak around the three remaining HNB,

Grubbie

Good for nothing. Where the hell did the £250 million figure come from? It’s a suspectiously round number, quite apart from obviously not being enough.
Lidls smoked salmon is excellent.

Left hand down a bit

The navy needs a general purpose frigate for patrol, escort duties and flag waving, a modern day Leander. We have high end destroyers and type 26 frigates to make a carrier battle group, we need more than an OPV with a 30mm and no helicopter as being built at present. So come on industry build it and show what can be done. ps could we have it by the end of the decade please.

ATH

When built the Leander was not a patrol frigates, it was a high end ASW warship. The risk is the T31 will not be up to high end war fighting but an expensive way to do Maritime Policing.

4thwatch

It seems to me ASW is going to further continue to develop into the whole inter-communicating gamut of platforms deploying various kinds of drones and ASROC type missiles. Individual high end ASW frigates wont be much use on their own. Therefore there is definitely a role for a lower end frigate as a successor to the Leanders as long as its not too small. It should deploy all the essentials as part of a convoy or task group. In modern war it seems rarely is a warship alone and acting independently unless its a submarine. The Germans discovered this when they lost their very capable large surface raiders to the RN.
Numbers of hulls are important just as size matters. I’m sure algorithms will show this. 19 high end combatants may in fact be more dangerous in their paucity of numbers than 30 or 40 less capable. The RN rarely had the ‘very best’ equipment except that they were rugged, available and well fought by their commanders and crews.

Challenger

The £250 million price-tag is an arbitrary and palatable round figure that bears no real resemblance to reality.
The Type 31 will sadly end up as either a very under armed corvette or something built to dangerously low commercial standards or perhaps a combination of both. Whatever the winning bid/design it won’t be able to offer much in the way of air, surface or sub-surface defence making it more of a liability than anything else in a task-group. And we can completely forget about exports!
It’s a shame because getting English shipyards involved and block building are welcome changes. This impossibly low price, coupled with the wider budgetary issues and talk of flogging Albion/Bulwark and some Type 23’s to Brazil/Chile makes me really fearful for the Royal Navy as a serious and credible force.

Ron Owen

“The NSS is an otherwise sensible document”
Not in the slightest. The instructions were to create a way to build warships by anyone other than Bae. What’s been produced is a short term solution to build large patrol boats after which the new builders will fall off a cliff as they will have had no chance to develop skills to build high tech warships like the Type 45 & Type 26.
The NSS also quietly changed government policy so that warships other than frigates & destroyers would be built overseas. This site has made no comment whatsoever about that betrayal. Shame on you.

Ian

I am not alone then in thinking the NSS is a slow motion car crash for UK warship construction.

Paul

So we carry on with each ship costing more than the last and taking 20 years from start to ship commissioned?. Some of the tyoe 31s will be sold off before the final type 26 is finished building. This initial batch is to see if industry can produce to a price. Do you really think batch 2 would be the same spec as now. I expect much more capability in the future. For now its getting base platform right.

The Snowman

When you are short of cash, I think there is some merit in matching kit to requirements. If it is anti piracy and anti drugs, showing the flag, then the stated min spec of a medium gun, point defence, and a helo / hangar will meet this.

ATH

That’s fine, just don’t try and pretend it’s a Frigate. I can see that the U.K. has a use for a Maritime Police vessel class. But if they are instead of rather than as well as frigates then be honest about it and cut the stated capacity of the RN as a war fighting force.

The Snowman

Fair point ATH.

Frostchamber

What it boils down to is whether, say, Babcocks can build a 115-120m vessel to warship standards equipped with a medium gun, Sea Ceptor, basic sonar and a hangar at four times the cost of a Samuel Beckett. I suspect they possibly can.
I’m not one to gratuitously knock BAe, but something was needed to lance the boil of the monopolistic pricing of UK Warship build. £1bn a pop for a T26 with all that mid-range tech pull-through strikes me as extraordinary and unsustainable. OK I’d be happier if the target for T31 had been set at £350m – and we may end up in that ballpark eventually – but I have a feeling that Babcock’s in particular may be able to get close.

Rob-D

I am going to Balance off here guys
The plan to build type 31a is just that so far..a plan. I think the figure of £250M was drawn up to keep the treasury off their backs and the hope is that getting the ships under construction and then adding kit when a more sensible government comes in is the way to go. However, the construction to commercial standards is quite concerning as i served on HMS Enterprise and she was build to civilian standards and i know what water tight integrity on her was no where near as good as on a type 45.
The navy needs the hulls now and getting them built is one good thing, then we can play the up skill card as if the British government want a credible maritime presence then we need ship that can fight and win against any adversary
The time is now approaching where the military has to say enough of the ‘death by a thousands cuts’ and type 31 could actually be what tips the scale and makes the government fund defence as it should and not listen to the ‘ no votes in defence ‘ rhetoric of Phillip Hammond.

Grubbie

Corbyn is definitely not going to lead a sensible government,although Labour has historically spent much more on ship building to keep the unions and jocks happy. Also they they know that the bills will come in when another government is in charge. Sneaking it past the treasury and piling it on the pfi credit card is why we find ourselves in this position.
Survivability standards appear to make very little difference to the fighting ability of a modern warship, once hit they are a liability in a combat situation regardless of whether they stay afloat or not. I wouldn’t claim to be an expert, this is just based on observations from the Falklands onwards.For example Nottingham was only saved owing to very calm weather and the decision to carry an enormous amount of extra timber. It then took 2 years and £50 million to put her right. In a war time situation she would have been scuttled.

Iqbal Ahmed

I think Labour usually has more sensible armed forces procurement policies based on opposition to unilateralism and using international fora to solve problems multilaterally wherever possible.
Even Jeremy Corbyn says he would support more ships for the Royal Navy, extra surveillance aircraft for the RAF and greater funding and numbers for the armed services and police.
New Labour ran down the armed forces only because of the cost of the involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, which even the Tories agreed to (Labour actually relied on Tory votes for war, in the Commons).
There is too much anti-Labour feeling on this site for it to be neutral. The Tories have had 7 years in power now and have created a 20 billion ‘black hole’ in the defence budget. Despite the austerity the country suffered, the deficit has actually grown under Chancellor Osborne. As has inequality and poverty.

Grubbie

Oh no, the deficit is nothing like the one when they left power. Also the 40 year strategic and fiscal disaster of the carriers and industrial policy (if you could call it that).
You are being highly optimistic relying on plants for world peace.

4thwatch

Hammond is an accountant. The Battle has always been between the naysayers and those who know what is required to go out and do battle.

Womble

Babcock Appledore will easily be able to make each ship at an average for £250m, lets not forget that the pricing is average each and as you build through a class the costing of each ship gets cheaper! Babcock Appledore is a commercial yard with no steelwork contractors so price instantly kept low.

JME89

Anyone here able to do a quick comparison between the type 31 and the type 23 or know a link where they are directly compared?

Ben P

You cant compare a ship that has not had its design chosen to an active ship. Wait a year for the design pick.

Geoffrey Hicking

In some ways, £250m seems like a really clever move. Warship prices always rise during construction… and so if you want a final price of £400m, then set it low, and watch it slowly creep up. Could backfire horribly, but it might be worth a try.
So long as they bring as many members of the design team under one roof and get the design mostly finalised before construction actually starts. Don’t repeat the Astute/ Type 45 errors…

Frostchamber

You have a point. Having said above I’d have been happier with a £350m limit, I then thought about it and realised what you’d probably end up with is much the same initial offering but priced at £350m instead of something closer to £250m. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see core spec (eg with Terma Scanter and CIWS) close to £250m and a finishing point (including Artisan and Sea Ceptor) closer to £300m.

Spd67

I agree, 250m for the first batch of 5, not including the cost of transferred equipment from the GP T23s should be achievable, and provide a decent GP capability. We can then scale up the concept to around 350-400 million in subsequent batches, which might also find favour for the USN FFGX program.
And Sir Johns report is spot on IMHO, hes basically asking shipbuilding to do what aerospace and automotive have been doing for decades. Mr Tusa is misinformed. Trying to do everything on one site is not efficient, ask Boeing of the German cruise liner industry, systems integration and metal bashing are different.

Dan

Unfortunately, the £250 million cap includes the value (not sure how it is determined) of recycled RN kit (from retiring T23s, for example). Otherwise, I’d agree that a £250 million base platform plus all that could be cross decked from elsewhere would seem reasonable.
I’m more hoping that they build the first baseline “light” T31 at the £250 million cap as proof of concept and then are happy to spend a bit more on the latter hulls to make them more capable.

Iqbal Ahmed

Politicians need to hold the RNs feet to the fire to ensure that the £250 million cost per unit is not exceeded. Taxpayers have to have confidence that their money is being well spent and the MOD is one of the most wasteful departments in Whitehall. They get away with it by waving the flag, which causes resentment with other departments that are expected to live within their means.
If this reasonable price point is a trick to force more money from the Treasury as costs spiral, or offensive systems are added, responsible senior officers must be identified, disciplined and removed from their posts. Their behaviour would be akin to malfrasance in public office ie. corruption. Especially as many senior officers end up working for the very same arms corporations after retirement.
RN already has nuclear submarines, attack submarines and the new carriers. Destroyers, Frigates, the Marines and auxiliary support ships must be where the cuts are made to ensure the RN/MOD live within their means like everyone else. NATO will fill gaps, as necessary. Isn’t this the point of our membership?
Our society is not feudal Japan or Junker Germany. The military do a difficult job but in a democracy they cannot be treated as an exception beyond criticism for waste and profligacy. The ease with which people here talk about costs escalating is disgusting.

Silent Majority

Why not just purge the officer corps ey comrade?

Iqbal Ahmed

Only if they show any Bonapartist tendencies, comrade. Lol

Darren

Defence analyst Francis Tusa has studied UK shipbuilding patterns since 1945 and argues against the whole industrial ethos of Type 31. He says that shipbuilding is most efficiently done by a single company on one large site. He suggests that because ship construction numbers are relatively low, the benefits of competition are outweighed by no single yard having the skills and economies of scale to drive down costs. BAES would probably agree.
He may have been right within certain time eras and types of ships. But I do not know now. Modern facilities have panel lines that do not need to learn repetitive production procedures. The Arleigh Burke ships are still expensive even after a huge number and built at one facility. This Digital shipyard plan looks at simplifying production to suit certain facilities and speed up production, but that will not be replicated within the real cost factors which is electronics and other, with maybe even designed costs. The shipbuilding alone is said to be a whole project factor of between 30 to 40%, so you can be 100 most efficient at that, but if you are only 30%+ of the factor, you have to look at other areas. Should design and electronics if they can do it face cheaper and after taking out tax claw back, be cheaper, if done abroad?
I am just giving out different views, but all needs to be taken into account.

Darren

if my previous comment get in, this will make sense. If not, this will not. But, the 80s, going to VT’s ship launches at Woolston and then winning a sea trials on board HMS Atherstone, I was told about cost. This ship cost around 37 or 40 million, but the first ship of class was more due to certain conditions and first of class with design. I remember being told that the next ship Hurworth would cost a few million less because of repeat building and lessons learned. This has been said about HMS Prince of Wales too. But, overall, it is not such a factor. Just being in the habit of building ships would be a good factor though. The thing with the Hunt class ships though is this. They were manpower intensive to make, with spaced out (the resin adhesive smell) lay up fibreglass tradesmen. They were all using rollers laying up matting. They learnt more, and I’m sure procedures with eletronics suite was cheaper to make too, but the expense or higher percentage was probably with the ship’s hull build? But there is lees scope now with very modern techniques with metal ship building.

Darren

250 million for the actual hull is high. I know the Polar ship is not built to warship standards. But, it is made to withstand breaking through ice using a different quality steel, it has a smooth as possible hull, in which any differences in thickness of it’s steel plate are kept within the hull, it is complex, had moon pools etc… its cost was put at 200 million, but now the figure of 150 million is used. She is also over 15,000 tons. This also gives me confidence that there should be no argument over building the Solid Support Ships in the UK. They would have to be built for 10s of millions to be ever worthwhile buying from abroad.

Darren Riche-Webber

With the internet, more can be found out, and some get found out be it groups or individuals. It was done so before, but took longer, and was usually too late. We have forgotten about that.

Darren Rich-Webber

If the total price is 250 Million, the hull would be just over 80 million. If the price is not including weapons, the hull will be around 100 million pounds.

PMIL TECH

I suspect that very few on this forum or at the MOD have had any high level commercial experience. If they had they would know that the norm with high tech kit is to get more functionality for the same price or the same functionality at cheaper prices. The exception is where you have corruption or a monopoly/oligopolistic supplier. Whilst radar/misile system may be “high tech” hulls/propulsion systems are not.
If one looks at input prices such as steel/energy, these are clearly falling. If one looks at manufacturing process, machinery/CAD/CAM these are also falling, therefore much of the commentary is ill-informed or mid-conceived.

Darren

Yes. Processes are changing in which the so-called wage differences and other things are less of an issue and out to the UK’s advantage (they just need belief and desire from the government which will give confidence to the UK builders). Also, just building warships in the past is different to commercial shipbuilding in which it is said never created much innovation or efficiencies as commercial. In many ways, Warship builders probably felt they never had too. May be why our yards from the outside do not look too different from yards in the 30, 40s and 50s.

Darren

I have already left an agreed message, but to add. This is the cry of the brickie. He builds a standard house for the developer at a set rate (usually the ganger and other brickies busting a gut and shouting at the even more hard worked hoddies, generally being a c to them). Then builds a higher value house that cost overall 200 to 250 thousand for a 1 million plus, price tag for the same developer. Then the developer builds standard houses again, and asks why are the brickies on the same rate as the higher value house, err…. Welds do not know higher prices just like panel lines and the such. A manual welder makes a weld that is worth what the weld is worth no matter what.

Womble

I feel that many saying £250mil is not enough are basing their pricing on what BAE have typically been given, let’s not forget that the government are trying to get away from just telling a company how much they can have and then asking for a ship!

don

The Damen Crossover XO series seem to be a good fit for the Type31e.
MODULAR BUILDING SYSTEM
DSNS offers pre-designed, customised options for payload
areas, Command & Control, weapon, and platform systems.
Working through the requirements with the customer, DSNS
is able to select the most suitable – tailored – platform
configuration. In addition, the modular building system is
ideally suited to fulfil any economic development requirement
and to involve local yards in the construction process.
http://products.damen.com/en/ranges/crossover

Jeff

This is hardly a new situation as the UK went through the same episode back in the eighties. In that case a plan to build a “cheap” frigate started as a cheap tug for a towed array gradually grew and became …the Type 23 complete with Harpoon and Seawolf. The Dutch went through the same exercise with their “M” class.
When will the politicians learn?

4thwatch

The interesting thing will be to compare the Type 31e with the Russian Admiral Class frigate project 11356.

Dudley

As someone from the US I have the advantage of hindsight. Our Navy has already attempted to build a warship for pennies. The result was our useless littorial combat ships. When I read about the Type 31 I recognize many of the same arguements. We had to learn the hard way. We spent time and money for what? A small boat that cannot fight in a blue water engagement nor in a rough sea. However they are very fast so I suppose our Navy can donate them to our Coast Guard. They are perfect for catching drug runners being small, nimble and fast with a shallow draft. No one can fight a war from an aluminum tin can. It was the Royal Navy that taught us that lesson in the Falklands war. Do you see any export value in this type of ship. Other countries will recognize the shortcomings of the design and will not buy it. The US had to start over and buld a proper frigate. But you still have the oppotunity to cut your losses. Change the design while you still can. Either build a smaller number of proper frigates or build a corvette. But what ever you do build a real warship to warship standards.