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Cammy

For 5 dam Frigates! We need 10 minimum, even if we built an extra 10 and sold them after built like those 3 corvettes we had for a while that I wish we kept, nice gunS and armaments on them and smaller than our new opvs , hangars aswell right? But sale fell through but we did in the end sell.

Callum

Are you on about the Khareef class corvettes? We never had those, they were specifically ordered and built for Oman.

N-a-B

I have a horrible suspicion he means the Brunei Corvettes, built at Scotstoun, early noughties. Rejected by Brunei,because (if you believe BAE) they were too complex for the Bruneians to operate. If you believe the Bruneians, they were 20 percent overweight, had significant noise and habitability issues and didn’t meet their stability criteria, among other things. We dodged a bullet there.

Michael Nicholson

BAE won the argument in court

N-a-B

They did. Largely by proving the RBN requirement was sufficiently loose to get them off the hook. Didn’t change the “alleged” issues with the ships…..

Cammy

Yeah but they were for and sat in Britain for ages because the buyer never paid so we’re sold eventually. We should have kept them.

Callum

We never owned them, the RN would’ve had to buy them from BAE. Given that the fleet was in the process of selling or scrapping far more capable warships, why buy a handful of corvettes?

Cammy

This is so great, I bet english yards would love this investment. I’m so happy for rosyth, shame if it’s still closing as a Royal Navy naval facility. Hms Caledonia hopefully is saved after this investment. And we need to get some foreign orders for ships, we sell expensive everything from jets to missiles why not ships……….like germany, italy, France, Turkey.

Meirion X

Why not build sections/blocks in Appledrone, while the new assembly facility is being built in Rosyth?
It would Speed up the Type 31 program!

Fedaykin

Appledore is shuttered and gone

Challenger

Appledore is on the brink of being sold and rumour has it that the new company is already negotiating a contract for fishing vessels with the Faroe Islands.

It makes sense for a yard the size of Appledore to try and specialise in small-medium sized commercial ships.

sparky42

Pretty much, I mean the fit out for the Irish P60’s didn’t exactly go well.

Darren

In what way what was the problem? I am interested in the problems and wont give some sort of sarky answer back.

sparky42

Two of the hulls were significantly delayed in delivery due to the winter storms affecting fit out while they were sitting on the mud at Appledore, and one had significant propeller/shaft issues that may or may not have been connected that resulted in the Navy refusing to accept her until Babcock made repairs at their own cost.

Darren

I though the mud issue does not surprise me.

Alan Mcshane

Wasnt Duncan the last dynamic launch?

Rob

T31 will be a success if:
1. We get more than 5. 10 would be good but probably 8 is OK. I can’t see any profit for Babcock without an enlarged order.
2. I’m OK with the Bofors guns but they really need at least 24 Sea Ceptor missiles each to have any chance of survival in a conflict. An anti-ship missile must be acquired too, you can’t field a naval combat vessel that can’t do naval combat.
3. We need to sell some. The Gulf & SE Asia look like good targets. It may also come to pass that the RCN, RAN & RNZN, once they’ve got T26, want some patrol ships too.

It’s great that Rosyth is getting this infrastructure but the build rate is still terribly slow. From 1940 to 1945 we built 400 escorts. Now we can only do 13 in 15 years. Can’t we build blocks at Cammell Laird or even in Belfast. Shame that Appledore can’t be involved too. At the SDSR the Navy must insist on more and more quickly to keep the fleet relevant.

Lastly, I’ve said it before but again. this should be the Tribal Class. Great fighting names – Ashanti, Cossack, Gurkha, Maori, Mohawk, Nubian, Punjabi, Sikh & Zulu – great multicultural names.

Geo

Comparing modern build rates to 1940-45 build rates is disingenuous. Also, I’m sure you can build blocks in out of the way places such as Appledore but by adding transport costs for getting those blocks to Rosyth then you reduce the number of ships you can build…. Your choice?

Rob

Comparing build rates with 40-45 is disingenuous…Yes but I was trying to highlight the terrible build rate for our frigate replacement programme and, you know, spreading the cost for longer will cost us all more in the end. The best course of action would be to build 8 for the RN rapidly, then some for export (hopefully), then build 8 or so more for the RN and sell of the first models. A production line of 20 or so would be good for the RN, good for British shipbuilding and turn this into a serious project.

fearlesstunafish

isn’t that what we used to do?? pretty sure for a fair while most countries navies were made up of ex uk ships….. or maybe that was when we started just selling everything off to downsize :/

N-a-B

No, it was largely the result of the Cold War ending, when the RNLN, the RN and the USN dumped two or three dozen ships ( T22, Knox, FFG7, Kortenaer, FFG7) on the market, thereby knackering export new build opps for at least a decade.

Trevor

We are likely to keep building them and at some point sell them on second hand and replace them. May be the new owner will up gun them… they will be big enough for that flexibility. And if we are able to add extra ones in ourselves that would be good as well.

Darren

Those places were building certain pieces of ship, like double curvature hull shapes. I do not know of the expertise in doing this a Rosyth, in using plate rolls and heatline bending which at least make thos parts of the fabrication of higher value, even though less expensive equipement may be fitted in tose areas. it could be a case of planning to pick up from one area, I.e, Bow Appledore, centered on a barge for optimal stability, then stop over at say Cammell laird, with payloads or ballast altered then, stop over at Harland and Wollf then or vice versa Fergusons to final delivery at Rosyth? There is also the New Pallion shipyard waiting in the wings. How much is the transportation costs compared to a quicker assembley?

Stephen

No successful shipbuilding country in the World (Germany, France, Japan, Korea, China, etc.) builds pieces of ships hundreds of miles apart. It is not that they are all wrong and we are right. Britain’s archaic shipyards have been under funded for decades and have fallen behind. We have to invest in new facilities and equipment so that our R.N. and R.F.A. can build our ships in one place, in modern, state of the art facilities ensuring maximum efficiency, productiveness and competitiveness.

Darren

Don’t disagree with you. But Shipyards do build peices of hull or superstructure away from the main yards. Ulsan’s main yard builds bow and stern sections further south of it’s main yard. Itlay build cruise ship section hundreds of miles away. It all depends on the amount of bows or midship sections to tow or barge around that make sense to do and the time saved to allow the big facility to concentrate on the big stuff, that may mean simpler hull build (no double curvature), but more outfitting/fitting out. More computer modelling is needed on this.

Pallion is closer to Rosyth than Portsmouth was to Govan, in which only one T 45 bow was transported at a time. Imagine invested UK shipyards working together totally digtally integrated to each other with also their UK steel suppliers and other suppliers in the UK able to calculate the most effecient way of doing things.

Phillip Johnson

The RAN will have 3 DDG’s, 9 T26’s, 15 OPV Type (12 Lurssen 80, 2 large MCMV and 1 large survey) and will struggle to man those.
Canada would probably only be in the market for a T31 type if the T26 budget gets cut.
Best prospect is probably 2 ANZAC replacements for NZ, but cost will matter a lot. NZ plans are 1 larger OPV for the Southern Ocean, then 2 new frigates, then replace the existing 2 OPV’s. All subject to funding. The ANZAC’s completed 97 and 99 so 30th birthday is 2027 and 2029 but both are likely to be run past that to around 32 and 34. NZ pretty much only funds 1 ship at time.

Darren

Maybe Babcock are looking to build (assemble) these ships with the big dry dock free for other things, like FSSS, Hospital ship, Amphibious ships and assualt (Ocean or dock) carriers with other non destroyer frigate type warships in the future at least being part of the build solution, along with Cammell Laird, Harland and Wolff and others. But the Sir John Parker condition is to show investment from these UK tax payer funded contracts. Realistic prices with realistic investment.

Callum

Fairly certain you’re right. Before the contest was paused, the British bid was based around Rosyth, which would obviously require the dry dock. Long term, they’re going to want the QEC maintenance contract, which is essentially going to come down to either Cammel Laird (which would need some upgrades but has the readily available dock), Portsmouth (needs major investment but strategically the best site), and Rosyth (best current facilities but access issues that restrict emergency availability).

Pete

Belfast has the next most suitable dry dock for FSS ship construction or QE repair after Rosyth. And as you say can’t see them both fitting in the Rosyth yard at the same time and with the T31 build.

Stephen

If Scotland get the F.S.S.S. on top of everything else they have already had whilst all the English shipyards close down or are without work would cause outrage in England. We are the ones who make up about 90% of the population and pay around 90% of the price of these ships, we are not the ones they want to be screwing over. The R.N. and R.F.A. is more than big enough so that England can build some of our ships. Cammell Lairds could desperately use this work and some investment.

Cammy

Punjabi? No thanks

Challenger

The only way we’ll see some export orders is if Rosyth has a ‘hot’ production line which can offer potential customers a tried and tested design that can be built quickly and for a good price.

5 frigates just won’t achieve the economies of scale needed! If we’re serious about fostering a revived shipbuilding industry then 10 in service and a rolling program of replacements before they get too old and outdated is required.

Keep it all at Rosyth as even if subcontracting didn’t hike the price it’d potentially affect the complexity and consistency of the build.

And with so much complex shipbuilding now north of the border FSS has to be awarded to Cammell Laird as both the only UK based yard with capacity and also the only sizable surface vessel facility left in England.

N-a-B

You’d be surprised about the economies of scale. In general, the learning curve and build efficiency savings occur over the first 3-4 hulls. After that the curve is asymptotic. Bulk equipment orders can’t be much more than that either or storage costs tend to increase. Some of the mechanical issues QNLZ and PWLS saw in trials and commissioning were due to equipment going into the ship 6+ years before being flashed up.

Challenger

Interesting stuff N-a-B, thank you! I get what you mean about bulk ordering too far into the future. Would ordering batches of 4, ie end up with a class of either 8 or 12 provide a measure of consistency and forward planning? I’d be interested to hear why by the end of the production run the T23’s were so cheap and quick to build. I assumed it was due to a culmination of 16 units over a 15 plus year process – or was there something specific about that design, build and industrial situation that helped where it may not on T31?

N-a-B

The T23 were not much cheaper between ships seven and sixteen. The last 3 or 6 didn’t have the tail (2031Z) on build, but that wasn’t a major cost. Once batch 4 went to Yarrow’s that was competition finished, but the design and workpackage info was well established over two yards by then.

Batches (IMO) are a bad idea. People think it saves money – but it’s actually low tens of £m which you end up paying for when your industry has forgotten how to design a frigate from scratch. See USN for details.

Pete

H&W is probably more suited for the FSS Ship build than Cammell Laird. And well overdue a contract.

sparky42

While the Irish Navy does have a manpower issue, given normal procurement timeline we’re talking about the better part of 5 years before the MRV would be brought into service so the issue might be a changed issue by then.

But I really doubt that the Type 31 would be in the running, it’s really not what seems to be what the INS wants, let alone the price tag.

Callum

There’s a post by a blogger called Engaging Strategy about the RNs escort numbers. While total hull numbers are going to fall briefly over the next decade, the number of active escorts is actually going to increase thanks to LIFEXs on the T23s and the T45 engine upgrade.

Assuming he’s right (and it’s fairly safe to do so, his arguments are based on solid logic and facts), it doesn’t matter too much that the T31 is coming later than expected.

Sim

To achieve this he makes the assumption there’ll be a follow on batch of 3 T31s, without these the numbers don’t add up.

Callum

They do, he adds in a theoretical additional 3 T31 as a Batch 2, but also keeps a separate set of numbers for the theoretical and the currently real.

Jon

What’s currently limiting active ships is the number of trained surface crew available. If we only have the crew for twelve escorts, then that’s the maximum. Diverting crew to the last three Rivers this year, may mean we’ll only have enough for eleven escorts.

The 2020 SDSR needs to increase the target crew numbers, undoing the 2010 mess, as well as the Navy actually managing to significantly increase recruitment/retention rates. If that happens, I think we could see an increase in the total number of active ships to thirteen, despite hull numbers dropping. It becomes even more likely if HMS Monmouth is stretched for nine months into 2027.

I applaud the idea of reducing headquarters staff in favour of frontline, but that will only help if frontline recruitment can cover the reductions. As we’ve seen from 2010, it’s easier to sack people than replace them.

Simon m

Agreed that manning needs to be solved but it also has to be remembered that T31 has significantly less manning requirements than T23 & T26 also represents a large reduction in crew size.
If the RN can also improve recruitment & retention (which fingers crossed looks like it could now be improving) then long term a fleet of 12 T31 and 10 T26 is not completely unattainable from a manning perspective if you do the math. If a T45 successor also reduces manpower then 8 or 9 could be procured to replace 6.

Add to this the likelihood that MCMV will be more automated, virtual reality training, increased sophistication of sensors, AI, information sharing & hopefully reduce deployment lengths by smarter use of crew and assets. This will also help with more efficient use of assets and resources.

Obviously this may need more money which seeing as we are struggling for a few sea ceptors launchers at the moment!
But considering the RN may have been planning on the next major high end surface combatants being 1billion plus and realistically now approximately £500 plus million maybe achievable.
Also buying a T31 per annum seems realistic.

Then as long a SDSR doesn’t blow everything out the water, there is potential for a larger navy.

Also a number of escorts will be in refit so to get your 12 you need 18/19 anyway.

Teves

Should consider building some of these to cover air defence, sub protection and land attack to protect the strike group vessels to take up the strain on type 45 which can only do air defence. We should have a mini version of an arliegh Burke destroyer. Cheap and useful. All should have multi role armed usb for local area ship protection to prevent a USS Cole incident.

Meirion X

A Jack of All Trades, is a Master of None!
looking at the Burke specs, I would say, it is much better at AAW than ASW. Especially the new Flight 3 version.
The T31 would be better than a Burke at ASW, due to having diesel engines.

N-a-B

Diesel engines do not a quiet ship make – and certainly not the T31 configuration.

4thwatch

What is to say if you build an ASW version for batch 2 you can’t raft up the engines etc or even fit the T26 powertrain? Agreed there would be cost implications but all the trials would be done by then and the size of the T31 would be an advantage. Progressive enhancement of a tested design.

N-a-B

What makes you think the T26 plant would fit in the T31? Or that the signature would be comparable, given difference in form?

Meirion X

As I am aware, it is proposed that the T31 will have 4 diesel engines worked in different combinations of operation.
So One or Two used as a low power mode, so the ship should be quieter?

N-a-B

Quieter than what? A CODAD plant is nothing special.

DaveyB

Are they still going to use a gearbox drive train to the propellers or will they use electric motors?

Meirion X

It is still Not clear yet. Still in detailed design stage. A point needs to be made for the propulsion to be ordered, a long lead item.

Ron5

It’s extremely clear, 4 diesels connected by gearboxes and clutches to propeller shafts. No electric motors of any kind.

Bob2

NaB, I was wondering what your opinion is on the ASW capability of the French Frégates de taille intermédiaire, which like the T31 has CODAD propulsion? The French seem to think it could be a useful ASW asset as they are equipping it with the Kingklip Mark 1115 hull sonar and the CAPTAS-4 towed sonar.

N-a-B

There’s a reason the RN didn’t fancy FREMM. Just because it has a sonar and a help doesn’t mean it meets RN requirements.

Bob2

NaB, I guess what I am really asking is as well as a high end gold plated asw frigate such as the t26, is there a place for a non optimised vessels such as t31/FTI/PPA in ASW, even simply in a supporting role for a t26-like ship?

N-a-B

Gets into all sorts of tactical discussions. Obviously having a half decent sonar helps, but doesn’t mean the ship can substitute for T26.

Gold-plating is not a helpful term.

Simon m

I don’t think anyone is suggesting that T31 can replace T26. Just that it can support ASW & then design has improvements in this area available to it.
There’s a balance between number of picture contributors and number of high end assets. The more sonars/sensors in the water the greater the chance of finding a sub.
This is why I am frustrated when people suggest only Merlin can be used for sub operations when other nations employ the Wildcat in this role the later is not going to replace the former but can contribute. I also find it amazing that people don’t want a tilt rotor based AEW, when potentially 5 high ASW Merlins could be tied up in this role their not suitable for it’s a double whammy for me AW609 could be procured at circa £20 million a unit add aux tanks and the fact it is loitering rather than powering off somewhere it should give similar endurance but higher altitude & quicker swapping of on station, better escape speed, cross deck crowsnest you then get your £50 million pound Merlins back either ASW or supporting Marines.

Rather like a Typhoon/F22 combination sometimes it’s not a bad thing to have some non gold plated assets. In any war like operation Type 26 is likely to be the frontline asset with T31 on the second line inner layer. Surely tactics could be evolved to use the quietness of T26 the extra sonars (hopefully of T31) to defeat subs, before they get close to the carriers? T26 is likely to be the best asw unit in the world, so they will have to get used to working with noisier assets as part of a coalition anyway (unless RCN/RAN).

DaveyB

It could also be dependent on the size and accessibility of the multi-mission role bay. Will they be large enough to handle large underwater unmanned vessels (UUV) like Boeing’s Orca. If it can, then because the UUV operates several kilometres from the “mothership”, the ship’s noise would be nullified. But you now have a “noisy” ship playing the role an ASW vessel. Still have to solve the communication issues between the UUV and ship first though!

Joe16

The US is basically asking for a mini-Burke in their FFG(X) programme; they’re expecting to pay $900M per vessel for a run of 18. There’s no way, unfortunately, that a mini-Burke can be considered cheap. Certainly cheaper than a T45 and maybe a T26, but not in the same league as a T31.
The T45 and T26 combined as a team are basically what you’re proposing for strike group protection, with the exception of the land attack part which hasn’t been a mission of the RN surface fleet for a very long time. Of course, naval gunfire has been used from frigates in the Falklands and Gulf war. but surface ships have never carried land attack missiles.
I’m not at all against an ASM with some land attack capability (very specifically thinking of the NSM) to arm the T31 and other escorts, but I definitely think that an anti-ship missile is more important than a land attack one; that’s what we’ve got F-35B for!

US Guy

“Credible sources suggest that Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) may pitch a Type 31-based design for the US Navy’s FFG(X) competition.”
I may be wrong on this, but I think a requirement of the US FFG(X) program is that the ships be built in the United States.

Callum

The ships have to be built in the US, but as with the Australian and Canadian T26 builds, a share could come to the UK, and there are significant logistical benefits to a much larger ship class.

Michael Nicholson

The Danes own the IP not Babcock

Callum

Not anymore. Part of the T31 deal is that the UK can export the design, OMT sold either Babcock or BMT the IP (can’t remember which)

stephen

It is more likely that OMT allowed Babcock and BMT to use their design as the base (given that they are part of Team 31), Then, as Babcock and BMT has modified the Iver Huitfeldt design sufficiently so that they can claim total IP for the ‘improved’ design. This way, OMT retains the IP of the Iver Huitfeldt design in Denmark, whilst Babcock has the IP of the arrowhead 140 within the UK.
So IF the HII proposal is based on type 31, expect it to be the ‘full fat’ version (eg. 4+ mk 41 vls modules, mk 45 5 inch gun, harpoon, phalanx etc.) that the royal navy really wants but can’t afford

donald_of_tokyo

I remember Babcock guy said,
– they have the full control of the design to built it
– and they have the IP on places they modified

When asked about IP, if Babcock has bought all IP, no doubt they will say so. But, they explained in two separate issue, hulls and modification, it means NOT all IP.

Also, if you look at Naval Team Denmark web, IH class is still there. (interestingly, Babcock is not yet a member of the team.)

So, I am with Stephen-san’s understanding.

Anyway, with only 1.25B GBP allocated for Babcock, and need to build ship build infrastructure as well as 5 hulls, it will never pay for the full design IP.

Simon m

OMT are part of the T31 team and will be getting a cut of any T31 sales.

What Babcock Team 31 have done is improve on the design and get the full RN seal of approval.
So if for little difference in cost would you opt for an improved RN approved design that could come with systems such as sea ceptors integrated with more recognised/widely used and upgradable CMS? or the original?
Plus the UK has more global clout than Denmark and purchasing from Uk could have other political enhancements.

Duker

For FFX Competition they selected the 5 original ( LM later withdrew with their LCS based design) competitors 2 years ago
“Each design the Navy selected was based on a “mature” parent design that is already in production for the U.S. or foreign navies and that could incorporate a laundry list of systems the Navy will require for the FFG(X). Foreign designs required a partnership with a U.S. shipyard for construction.”

Out of the question a paper design from UK be chosen ‘now’
HII ( Ingalls) contender was based on the Coast Guard Cutter hull in production. This I think would be a very strong contender as the myriad of subsystems is already US origin or production.comment image

James Fennell

Its not a paper design, T 31 already in service with Denmark as Iver Huitfeld class frigate. T 26 is a new design and as such was not eligible, but T 31 is an evolved design and could compete.comment image

Duker

In production …?
The Coast Guard Cutter has 8 in service and another 3 building or about to be. Ingalls have their own design what advantage is there for them to use a ( foreign) design that had the last ship in Commission in 2011.
Its a fanciful idea that doesnt meet the criteria or was even on the shortlist… unfortunately has the very criteria that people with their heads in the clouds will love.

James Fennell

It’s obviously entering production for the RN, but that not was not a requirement if I recall. The RFP said “a competition for FFG(X) is envisioned to consider existing parent designs for a Small Surface Combatant that can be modified to accommodate the specific capability requirements prescribed by the U.S. Navy”. Thus it needs to be a proven design not necessarily one ‘in production’. Especially as they will be adapted and built in the USA anyway.

NickC

HII (Ingalls) has not revealed ANY detail of their design for the FFG(X) to the media. The USCG NSC, Legend class would need a massive re-design to meet USN survivability standards and volume to fit 32 VLS cells, eg two physically separated engine rooms to survive hit, etc, Fincantieri FREMM has the separated engine rooms but had to add 300 tons of steel to toughen up the ship to meet the USN standards, lengthened ship by ~22 feet, new DGs and electric motors etc. Proved impossible for Lockheed to meet the standards with their entry based on the LCS Freedom class even though they pushed displacement from 3,500 tons to 6,000 tons+ and why they pulled out

That’s why rumours started of Ingalls might go with a lower cost option instead of designing a new ship vaguely based on the NSC and using the Iver Huitfeldt design as it at least starts with separated engine rooms and 32 Mk41 VLS cells, alternative rumour was they might go with a cut down Burke which they have in production, if Ingalls do not win contract in July we might never know which option they went with.

WeeWill

I’m sure I read in one of the US business journals that the lack of commitment to a design by HI was to keep options open…and since Aus and Can went for T26 they’ve had their heads turned by that? Can’t find the sodding link though :-/

N-a-B

The key word here may be “small”……

Duker

In production was a requirement… thats what the shortlisted designs are .
The NSC from Ingalls , an established warship builder, has a single GE gas turbine and 2 large diesels. Theres your separate propulsion there and raising the protection standards would be a simple process
Look at how long it will take for UK to bring its ships into service. The USN has some urgency which is met by taking an existing design and its production base and making relatively minor changes for the frigate function to allow production to begin fairly quickly

N-a-B

“Raising the protection standards would be a simple process”.

Do, please, explain. Why, what and how…..

NickC

Druker re the USN survivability standards imperative for the FFG(X) including requiring separated engine rooms. Reflecting the severe flak and with egg on their face USN rec’d from Congress for the original LCS class ships design whose survivability standard was zero, one hit and abandon ship. USN now wants to scrap the first four LCS, the last only six years since commissioning, as too expensive to upgrade to a new minimum survivability standard later ships built to, still not Level 1.

Perhaps did not make myself clear that engine rooms have to be separated longitudinally fwd and aft to survive hit leaving one still operating to ensure ship propulsion, your definition appears wishful thinking if it would meet the USN standards for the FFG(X).

You can find drawing of the NSC engine room layout on the RENK pdf, would mention that FREMM layout shown is limited only to show RENK gears, does not show fwd and aft DGs that power the electric motors. Interesting to note the RENK MGR for FREMM reported to weigh 130 tons.

http://www.tmspl.com.sg/downloads/RENK/RENK_Navy_Applications.pdf

Geo

“Credible sources suggest that Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) may pitch a Type 31-based design for the US Navy’s FFG(X) competition.” – Now that’s an interesting sentence.

Paul

As opposed to a revised version of the US Coastguard Cutter most are expecting them to pitch. I think the line of reasoning is that the base ship is the Ivar Hujdfelt design, but updated via the RN Type 31 program. My only worry is the ships ASW pedigree. Something I believe is stressed in th FFG(X) specification.

Duker

No . They had to be based on an ‘in production’ vessel

Simon m

How is a USCG? An in production warship? What consideration was taken in to account during design and construction of this design going toe to toe with submarines, frigates, fighter jets, marine attack helicopters? Because if this was considered the US coastguard is seriously over funded.

Therefore by the time you take all of this in to account you have a new design not in production unless LCS mistakes are to be repeated.

Simon m

I am not sure of the concern? It has met nato URN hull standards, only needs one diesel turning at low speeds. Furthermore engines can be raft mounted and there is space for further dampening. You have to remember T31 is compared to T26 in the UK not the other designs touted for FFG(x) most of which would probably be comparable to T31. I would certainly think it would be better than a USCG cutter that had little in the way of ASW in its original design.

The USN have really shot themselves in the foot not considering T26 especially when money almost seems no object to them, whatever they buy now will be second rate.

Mike

Exports: South America never gets a mention and yet the expanding Brazilian navy must be a target and Chile another. Take it form one who knows.

Joe16

It’d be great to sell some to them! I also wonder if the Dutch may be interested, seeing as their current IH frigates are curerntly 10 years old- they may make a potential customer to tack onto the end of the production run.

sparky42

Why? The Dutch can build their own ships.

donald_of_tokyo

I guess Joe16-san meant, “Danish”, not “Dutch”.

Joe16

Thank you sir, I did indeed! The danger of rushed responses…

Joe16

Sorry, I did mean the Danish, asDonald said. They got their hulls built in Poland before fitting them out in Denmark. I can imagine the same happening if we had a hot production line.

sparky42

They did that because it was cheaper to build in Poland due to costs, I somehow doubt that a UK yard is going to be able to have the same low costs even with a current production line, not too mention the B word.

Joe16

Absolutely, they did it on cost. But I’d respectfully disagree about it being more expensive to go British; I made a mistake about Poland; the frigates were actually block built in two yards (one in Lithuania and one in Estonia), before being assembled at Odense shipyard in Denmark and fitted out afterwards (I think at a separate military shipyard). Odense shipyard closed in 2012, so another suitable assembly location would have to be found and a lot of the expertise will have been lost. The two block-building yards are commercial ones too, so by this time they’ll likely have lost a lot of the skills they gained in building military ships.
Honestly, I don’t see how OMT could build replacement IH-based hulls cheaper and certainly not better anywhere other than a hot UK production line.

donald_of_tokyo

Brazil has their Tamandaré-class corvette start building. 3500t FLD, 107m long, armed much better than T31 and consing similar to T31, I think they will not be interested in T31 as is.

Brazil has 5 Niteroi and 2 T22B1 frigates, all commissioned in 1976-80. Then, how about more up-armed T31s? Here, I think Iver Huitfeldt class may be the rival. Note that even with T31 contract, Babcock is NOT A MEMBER of Naval Team Denmark (http://navalteam.dk).

As Naval Team Denmark succeeded in selling IH design to UK, teaching Babcock = a ship builder with zero experience of building any escort, to build the T31s, I think they can do the same with Brazilian shipyard, already built Niteroi, Inhauma, and building Tamandaré-classes.

In other words, I am not sure how Babcock can win export to a country who has their own shipyards.

As for Brazil, I think ex-UK T23 are good candidates. Even though they are old, T23s are still ~15 years younger than any of the remaining Brazilian frigates.

N-a-B

Good summary.

Ron

Is the frigate factory an intresting development, only if it is used to its potential otherwise its a waste of money.
I agree with many of the comments here that once Batch 1 is completed then there should be a rolling Batch II with Batch I vessels possibly being sold to allies that need a modern combat ship but cannot afford a brand new one. Bringing the total Phase 1 build to 10 ships 5 Batch I and 5 Batch II. Phase 2 could be new foreign sales and further RN buys.
There is however a possible issue with sales to countries such as New Zealand, Brazil etc, the T31 on paper does not look fighty enough. There is no Towed Array, no big gun, no anti ship missiles, no long range strike missiles etc. We all know that the T31 can take them but on first look they do not look impressive. Posssibly and idea and yes it would cost some money but not to much would be to have some drop in, plug up and play modules, so for example a compact CAPTAS 4, or two Mk41/SYLVER A50/A70 modules, possibly even mine laying or torpedo tube modules. This then could be used to demonstrate how quick modules could be pluged in to alter the fighting capability of the ship, so for example if it takes a week to drop in the towed array and extra VLS the T31 has gone from a patrol frigate to a capable anti-sub escort frigate very quickly, its not to T26 standard but then again not everyone wants or can afford the Rolls Royce. This would increase the potential sales of the ship to other countries as some would want these capabilities from the outset, some would buy modules to fit the ships if and when needed, and depending on the buyers possibly a pool of modules could be made for allied nations to pick into (pick and mix concept).
Cammell Laird now needs to get the FSS ship contract and possibly the contract for the Albion/Bulwark replacements (HMAS Canberra concept is the best fit for the replacements), with modules being built in other parts of England and N. Ireland. That would keep all of the UK yards working for the next ten years, give the RN a much needed boost in numbers, flexibility to the RMs and the Army, HMAS Canberra can take a complete armoured battlegroup. It could also potential create sales as nations would see that the British Government has trust in its ship building ability. If we don’t trust them why the hell would anyone else.
There is however two areas of construction that I think is needed for the RN that no one does or looks into. All the ships at the moment being built for the RN are blue water combat ships or OPVs which in many countries would come under the Coast Guard. What the RN does not have is coastal brown/green water combat ships or AIP submarines. Let start with the subs, we do not sell our nuclear sub deseigns to any country and rightly so, but also we cannot afford a fleet of 12-16 SSNs, so why not do what the French have started doing, have two versions of the same sub (Barracuda Class), one nuclear power and the second AIP, it gives the RN fleet a high low mix say a 1 SSN-2 SSK that would mean with the 7 expected SSNs we would have a further 14 SSKs and the AIP version could be sold allied nations. Then there is the brown/green water combat ships, these I see as either Fast Attack Missile Boats or small corvettes such as the Hammina class or the Sa’ar 6 class. Very useful vessels in confined waters such as choke points, around Islands, in some ways much more useful in these situations than a DDG whos friend is space. Several nations would be intrested in these so there is a reasonable chance of sales on the world market and there are several smaller yards in the UK that could handle the build. For example the Sa’ar 6 costs for the four ships is £390 million with the weapons fit extra. Thinking about it the RN could have got 12 of these for the price of the five T31s. In this price range there would be several nations intrested.
So there is a way to get value for money, but strangly enough it is not to reduce the numbers but to actually increase numbers, if we look at the T45 the reason they are so expnsive is due to the radar suite, possibly one of the best if not the best out there. However by buying only 6 of these the developement cost is spread over a limited ammount, if we bought the original plan then the ships would have been 20 % cheaper or order 10 for the current price of 8, that would not have been to bad and possibly allies would have been intrested.
So these are ideas that I would use to rebuild UK ship building, build out the RN for a Global Britain at a reasonable cost, reassure allies current and new, take potential threats to British intrerests headon all be it alone if need be and compete on the world stage for building programs, the T26 has done well and we used to do well so why not again.

Jon

Agree with the rolling production of Type 31. I think the Navy should buy a Type 31 every year and sell them when they reach 12 years old (nine/ten operational). It might be easier to sell discounted second-hand ships as countries in that marketplace usually can’t build their own. I take NAB’s point from a different thread about the Treasury blocking the RN selling ships young, but the argument can and must be made. Also agree we should build AIP subs.

Corvettes can be very cheap if you exclude the price of sensors and weapons, reduce the range and don’t worry too much about Atlantic conditions. Not that helpful to the RN which needs blue water capability. Instead we should pay for the design of B3 Rivers, so if we need to keep a shipyard going for whatever reasons, we don’t get a hurried design. Also the B1 Rivers won’t last forever.

I also disagree that Canberras should replace Albion and Bulwark. I’d rather see two slightly cheaper Mistrals replacing Ocean and Argus. Albion and Bulwark should keep on keeping on.

donald_of_tokyo

Very big money will be needed.

T31 is costing 400M GBP average, and its unit-cost = cost for one-more hull, will be around 300-350M GBP.

Then, when RN sells T31s in 12-15 years, how much it will gain? 100M GBP per ship, at most? As the “replacement” T31 needs another 300-350M GBP, RN needs 200-250M GBP per hull every year. In other words, 2B GBP every decade.

From where this money will come?

Secondly, if it is 12 years sells, with 1 year drumbeat, it means 12 T31 in RN and 23 T31 in export (they will surely use them for nearly 35 years). At where you can find such a huge export potential? Brazil do NOT need T31, because they have MEKOA100 3500t corvettes which is better equipped than T31. With uparming Brazil may buy some, but now they operate only 7 frigates. We need to find yet another 16 T31s to export.

In short, impossible. Zero probability for sure.

We must be realistic, not optimistic, or UK will AGAIN lose lots of money in vain. Personally, I think T31 build rate must be slowed down to 2 years per hull. This will keep the shipyard alive longer. Even if “15 years then export” idea comes true, 8 hulls in RN, and 10 hulls in export market is much more “realistic” (but still very much optimistic, I think).

Jon

I agree that much of that £400m is one-off costs integrating new systems into the Navy, and the price will drop. Not sure what to. Let’s say you’re right and it’s about £325m (seems a fair estimate). 50% of the cost of ships built in the UK comes back to the Treasury in taxes, so £325m = £162.5 (taxes ploughed back) + £90m (sales) + £72.5m capital cost per annum. Not a huge sum to find after all.

I think much smaller countries than Brazil would buy frigates at a sub-£100m price with 20-25 years left on the hull. Brazil wants to build its own frigates. And so what if I’m wrong? We just stop building and stick any extra hulls in mothballs until we can sell them or use them some other way. If it means Rosyth swaps to building MCM replacements in the mid 2030’s, in what way is that a problem? The downside can be limited.

Going for a slow build increases costs per ship. Again. My way may be a gamble, but yours is the certain overspend that we’ve seen so often.

“2B GBP every decade.” I think it’s nearer £750m, but here are some suggestions, if you want:

1/ Cancel the Dreadnoughts and buy 4 Columbia class from the US – savings of at least $10bn, probably more. In exchange for spending $20bn in the US they can buy 4 QE class carriers from UK, sorting out their carrier issues and giving BAES a reason to upgrade the facilities in Scotstoun (which might reduce the price of the second batch of Type 26). Put some savings into more Astutes or AIP to prop up Barrow.

2/ Cancel HS2. Upgrade the current line for passengers and move freight on to alternate routes that can be built for considerably less. Savings $70 bn.

Those two should see us through for the next 400 years. After that the Type 31 might be obsolete. It’s even possible less than half a percent of the current defence expenditure might be found in a less radical and more realistic fashion. Such as an increase in central expenditure. The £75m I think it will cost for a new frigate every year can certainly be found.

donald_of_tokyo

1: Tax coming back will never be counted in the MOD budget. If so, T26 will see much more money coming back, and its 4.5B GBP cost shall be rated as “1-1.5B GBP”. (T26’s ingredients are much more British, while that of T31 is in most cases of German, Dutch and Danish). So, 2B GBP per decade will never become “725M”, sorry to say.

2: The “much smaller countries” for export market exists. And it is competitive.

Most needs corvettes. Modern corvettes are very capable, equivalent to frigates in 1980s. It has SAM, SSM, good sonar (e.g. CAPTAS2), helo and a gun with 3D-radar, in general. Sigma-10514, Gowind2500, MEKO-A100 are the top 3 candidates (all are better armed than T31, no surprise). South Korea also has a good chance (Philippine), and Turkey as well. It is followed by, Chinese Type 056 and Sigma 9013 classes and many others.

So, may be NZ, Oman, and …. Colombia, Equador, Portugal … (not highly likely) ….

Sorry, but it is simply IMPOSSIBLE for me to look for 20-30 ex-UK T31 export market.

3: Dreadnoughts and HS2. Pure fantasy, at least. Asking for GDP 3% defense budget is much much feasible.

Jon

Tax coming back is real, and just because the Treasury won’t apportion it in the accounts, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be open to it in a project justification, which is not the same thing.

There are 30 Oliver Hazard Perry frigates active right now, and that’s just one class of second hand frigate, so I don’t get your absolute rejection of the idea on those grounds. Especially when we can stop at any time if the idea fails, leaving maybe four or five to get rid of. Perhaps smaller nations that currently run corvettes would like to run frigates if they could afford it. Simply saying they won’t doesn’t make it so. Why assume you understand the market in fifteen years time?

Yours is pessimistic counsel. Sir John Parker said that a 1% delay in project time could result in a 0.38% price hike. And you want to double the build time, increasing costs by 38%, getting nothing for it (not even mothballed ships that could prove useful in time of war). The downside of my plan is of the same order, but you plan to fail. Your best outcome is my worst. At least my idea has a chance of success.

donald_of_tokyo

1: All ministry is now asked by PM to cut 5% of their cost. If MOD is allowed to discount the tax, surely all ministry will do the same. Also, if it happens, it will be exactly “a state-subsiding” approach. Not bad in its nature. But I think none of the parties are looking for it? (I might be wrong here).

2: OHPerry is yes, good example. But counting it as 30 is not good here, because significant number is built in their own nation. Like Brazil, they are highly unlikely to buy Rosyth-built escort.

There are 21 Ex-US FFG7 class in the world. Among them, 8 is for Turkey, now growing their own shipbuilding industry. Remaining is 4 (Egypt), 2 (Poland), 1 (Bahrain) and 6 (Pakistan). Egypt will be filled with Italian ships, and Pakistan will be looking for cheaper option, not a 15 year-old escort. Good candidate for “3rd-user” of ex-UK T31.

Also, many many rivals are there. Naval, Navantia, Fincantierri, Hyundai, and China. Why on earth UK T31 can get (almost) all of these “remaining” candidates?

These things can be easily analyzed. I am far from pessimistic. Just realistic.

3: “And you want to double the build time, increasing costs by 38%” is incorrect. Why France, a great successor of escort/corvettes export, is building ships in 1.5 year drumbeat, and NOT in a 0.5 year rush? It is because, in the latter case, you will see a 10 year gap in ship building before the next high-speed building starts. And, this approach is much much expensive than the “1.5 year drumbeat”.

Your idea completely relies on UK MOD to spend huge amount of money to keep building the T31. My point is, this will never happen. If based on this judgement, your idea results in complete loss of Rosyth in 2028, and mine is to lengthen it to 2035 or so, so that RNZN ANZAC replacements can be foreseen.

Even if the ship built cost get 10-20% higher, the money to be spent to export them, if needed, is much less than the money needed to continue T31 building (huge “state subsiding”). Much less.

For example, RN can bargain (by small “state subsiding”) the Ex-UK T31 for any export.

Anyway, SDSR2020 is coming soon, we will see if you are correct = MOD do decide to spend a lot of money on “more T31”, or not within a year.

Jon

I agree my idea won’t happen. I’m arguing it should.

The 38% isn’t my number. Sir John quoted it from an MoD study. The shipyard wouldn’t close after ten years if my programme fails. If I want 10 active ships on a rolling programme, I commit to buying 15 (because you can’t just stop). An aging programme (conventional) requires ships out of service during major refits, so you’d need to build 11 ships your way.

Here’s the failure position of my programme: I can’t sell my “old” ships after 10 years at any price, and I stop, converting to a conventional programme. I will spend £300m x 15 = £4.5bn. You will spend £410m x 11 = £4.51bn. So in costs they are the same. My four spare hulls are used as targets, or drone experiments. Perhaps sunk of the Cornish coast for a divers’ tourist centre.

My programme lasts 15 years, not 10, and yours lasts 22. But you have encouraged a flabbier shipbuilding programme where inefficiencies run rife. Your builders are less able to compete on the open market. My gamble is not as bad as you paint it.

Of course my success case will keep the shipyard open indefinitely.

donald_of_tokyo

Thanks. But I do not imagine to buy 11 of them for RN. I just mean as follows:

– base: 2B GBP for 5 ships, handed-over from late-2025 (hull-1) until late-2028/early-2029 (hull-5).

– if with 2 years drumbeat: handed-over from late-2025 (hull-1) until late-2032/early-2033 (hull-5).

Build cost may increase by 38% (as you say), but this is on 1.25B GBP, not 2B GBP (because others are on GFX and training, not-related to building). Then, we have 1.73B GBP. (*1)

So my proposal may add ~500M GBP to the program, while keeping Rosyth “alive” until RNZN Te Kaha/Mana replacement is needed.

If we continue 1 year drumbeat until 2036 Te Mana replacement, it shall be hull-12. So, if
– RN orders another 5 as T31 B-2 (~1.6B GBP)
– then the 2 RNZN frigate replacement comes in
So your plan needs 1.6B GBP, compared to my 500M GBP.

I’m not saying your plan is totally impossible, but I will rather invest this remaining 1.1B GBP to buy 1 more T26 (~800M GBP) and add BMD capability to the 6 T45s.

On the other hand, investing

*1: actually I doubt it, because T31 program is delayed. I’m afraid Babcock is forced to “over invest” to meet the too tight schedule. Following French Naval yards, I think the optimal will be “1.5 year drumbeat on average”; say, 1.8 years at hull-1 and 2, and then gradually getting faster as the learning curve improves. But this is just speculation, I admit.

Jon

Ah. I misunderstood. My proposal is an alternative to a second batch of T31s, and I thought you were talking about an increased quantity too. If you only want the 5 T31s for the RN we are poles apart.

I wonder if it’s worth hanging on in the hope of a couple of T31 sales from NZ. If the T31 is too expensive, I doubt NZ would buy them. Alternatives like the Pohjanmaa class will be more cost effective.

And what then? Do you see more T31 sales after that, or Rosyth swapping to MCM?

I understand you think it’s not possible to build at the speed Babcock has promised, and you may be right. But they certainly won’t if they don’t try.

Trevor

What we need is not so much a Fleet In Being, but a Shipyard In Being.
8
Strategically the country, the government, needs to fund the cost of any overcapacity.

If the replacement for T45 can be based on a T26, then it may be possible (?) to fit in the necessary T45 replacement in the T26 program (?).

Trevor

How goid are these ither ship builders? And how good are the qualities their ships?
Of course this does not necessarily help us sell any ships. I have to say I have no interest in selling anything to the current Turkish regime

Simon m

The difference for Tax coming back to the mod over other departments is it is one of the few government sectors that can can generate income via export.
It also has large tangible saleable /exportable assets rather than a service and delivers knock on effects to the local community & national economy. Most other departments are simple services they don’t have the temptation to buy large assets from overseas. Plus the RN is hamstrung as unlike any other assets warships have to be built in the UK. Once that card is used then subsidisation consideration of economic come back has to be considered.

Duker

France doesnt have two version ( nuclear and diesel) of the Barracuda class.The first nuclear boat isnt in commission yet and the diesel version is proposed for Australia’s RAN, to be built in that country . There is no chance France will build some ‘conventionals’ for itself

A Kiwi

That’s a big shopping list. I think 14 SSK’s are a stretch but instead of an 8th Astute, 3 AiP SSK’s would be a useful addition.

As for the Type-31, containerised Towed Sonar Arrays (eg Thales Captas 2) could go into a ISO TEU in the mission bay, which, I believe has space for 6 TEUs in total.

I do agree there is scope to have modular systems to bring capability to vessels.

Bloke down the pub

‘A solar farm or ground-heat recovery plant is also planned to provide at least 50% of the power needs of the site.’
Solar power in Scotland? Who are they trying to kid?

My guess for the future of this yard is that rather than try to sell straight off the slips to foreign navies, they’d do better if they could build a steady stream of new vessels for the RN and the Navy then sold them on second hand after ten years use. They get the business, the Navy gets a modern fleet without having to pay for mid-life updates and foreign customers get modern ,lightly used vessels at a competitive price. This would also create the flexibility to increase the size of the fleet at relatively short notice.

Gavin Gordon

Pedantic, but I’d have thought the elevation is west.

Paul.P

Good news. In addition to the RN Type 23s there are a lot of Mekos and ex RN Type 23 and Type 22 frigates out there for Babcock to go after with Type 31e; industry ‘standard’ guns, radars and CMS. Wish them best of luck.

LLnow

“Credible sources suggest that Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) may pitch a Type 31-based design for the US Navy’s FFG(X) competition”

Credible sources are incapable of reading the rules in the FFG(X) competition regarding vaporware?

Sintra

What “vaporware”?
The three Danish AAW frigate/Destroyers that are serving for several years now?
Just to remind, the T31 is a Danish design, it’s a “defanged” Over Huidfeldt.
That Danish design and it’s older siblings, the Absalon’s have been used by a bucket load of American think tanks has a hammer to hit the US navy honchos by comparing this particular successful program versus the LCS sh**t show.
Looking at what we know the of the FFGX specifications no one would be particularly surprised if one (or more) of competing teams had thought of the Iver has a potential design.

LLnow

Then it is a Over Huidfeldt not a T31

JohnHartley

What is the maximum length ship you can build in a 160m shed? Would have to be shorter than 160m obvs, but how much shorter? I say this in case we ever wanted a stretched T31.

Ron5

6 thousand tons not big enough for you?

JohnHartley

More length than tonnage, in case we needed a bigger hangar & landing deck.

Ron5

Could build in two sections side by side like the t26 at govan. Then join up on the hardway outside. Would give you the length you want.

Jon

N-a-B was suggesting they might try to poach T26 work (150m).

Simon m

I think T31 could form the basis of a T45 replacement so perhaps a bigger build vessel would be useful. We need something to compete with BAE to hopefully bring cost down.

Ron5

Nice article and an impressive start for Babcocks. Not a fan of the ship but I do hope this portends good things.

PS am I allowed to hope that bow cutout in all the pictures will accomodate a sonar rather than just an empty bulb?

Simon m

It can as per requirements whether it will is another matter I’m hoping the delay will allow some equipment to be wrestled from T23 particularly sonar and 30mm guns potentially sea gnat

Stephen

A second batch of Type 31 should definitely be ordered, realistically 3, for a total of 8. I also think we will get some export orders.

When the time comes for the Type 45 replacement will Babcock provide B.A.E.S. with some competition with this facility?

Also, yes, the F.S.S. ships should be given to Cammel Lairds, I think everyone is agreed on that, they could desperately do with that work now R.R.S. Sir David Attenborough is practically complete. This will mean 4 British shipyards will be kept busy, the Clyde with Type 26, Rosyth with Type 31, Cammel Lairds on the Mersey with the F.S.S. ships and Barrow with the submarines.

Michael Nicholson

It’s not big enough for a T45 replacement. A proper strategic plan might have done that but it’s not clear if you could even build T26s in this facility

Ron5

Of course it is big enough. Look how they are building the t26s at Govan.

Simon m

T26 in current form is not big enough either.
You’re also going on the assumption Sampson will still be the best radar option in 2040 & beyond which is potentially fair but not a given.
If Iver Huiltfeldt can shoot down ABM & carry 58 SAM then so can T31 design with the correct equipment.
Both T26 & T31 may not be the optimum solution, considering BMT are part of the T31 project another design may be an option.
I still would like to considered stretching and lifex for T45 plus 2/3 batch 2. Especially as some can’t have much mileage on them being in Portsmouth a lot of the time. Money saved could go to more T26/T31

OOA

Can’t help but feel that we have it back-to-front on the guns: Expensive T26 which stays with the CSG with a proper gun vs cheaper T31 – which I presume would be the more natural choice to send inshore for NGS – has a pop gun?

Ron5

So put the really expensive gun & magazine on the cheapo frigate?

OOA

Yup. Would get more use wouldn’t it?

Ron5

Before the t31 is sunk? Probably not.

Simon m

I don’t think survivability is an issue for a properly equip T31. This could easily be achieved by giving T26 40 sea ceptors and T31 24. There are simply recycling the current pool with a few additions it’s just T23 had equal spread of 32 per vessel

Darren

Looking at the module hall, there seems to be a lack of steel production facilities to go with it. I.e Panel lines, plate and section rolls along with the still required, plate and section preperation facilties, along with the still required onsite cutting (plasma, laser etc) cutting facilities? There are big doors either end of this hall.

Ron5

Can they bring pre cut and pre prepped sections from elsewhere offsite?

Bernie

This was a very interesting discussion

Duker

The area just outside the plan seems to have large number of smaller covered spaces and or empty ground. Were they used for the carrier build ?
The modern method is to build smaller blocks separately before joining them in the final assembly location. These blocks may be a bit big to road in from distant places and a bit small to barge in, but could be trucked in from the larger dockyard site.

Dern

That’s not “the modern method.” That’s *a* method that is sometimes used in big ship construction these days when it makes sense to do so. Type 26, and by the looks of it Type 31 are being built in one location.

Duker

Smaller blocks has been done since the T42 days and continues now for very good reasons. The covered final assembly line is just that.
No one builds a frigate warship from the keel up as a continuous build anymore. As to whether the blocks are done in the general area of the Rosyth dock or more distant locations by sub contractors isnt known yet.comment image

Stern of T42 HMS Southhampton under construction in final assembly hall from worldnaval ships com

N-a-B

That’s an 80 te unit, built at Woolston nigh-on forty years ago. That’s not how you build modern warships.

You seem to be misunderstanding the phrase “building from the keel up”. All ships tend to be built from the keel up – the difference being that fifty-plus years ago, the keel used to be erected on the building berth and you built up from there – steel first and outfit when the hull was complete.

Modern practice is to build the largest blocks practicable undercover, before transporting them to the launchway / dock. These blocks are build up from units, sub-units and steel assemblies. The best facilities such as Blohm & Voss and a couple of the Damen yards erect the blocks undercover in the building dock – as do the big far Eastern yards, just in the open air.

It is theoretically possible to have the assemblies and sub-units fabricated elsewhere – Appledore did the steel for QEC sponsons in sub-units, which were subsequently shipped by coaster to Rosyth for assembly into units and blocks. However, that was within one company and was done precisely because the steel fabrication facilities at Rosyth were minimal and those at Appledore were small, perfectly-formed and owned (or leased) by the same company. Plus on a project the size of QEC you could absorb the extra costs.

You don’t do it if you can avoid it. Largely because the transport costs aren’t the only issues. You have a raft of QA and commercial costs as well for signing off dimensional tolerances, completion of work, NDE of welds etc etc. The pic in the link below below shows an LSD unit block in Wallsend fab shed. The size of that unit was limited by the size of the shed door and the capacity of the transporter unit. They’d have used longer units if they could get away with it – as you can see, they couldn’t go any higher!

https://www.naval-technology.com/projects/bay_class/attachment/bay_class6/

Around that unit, you can see assemblies and subunits being erected in the shed. These had come from the fabrication bays and the panel line to the upper right of the photo (out of shot). All of that was under the control of one management team – able to control defects, work around problems without involving commercial departments etc etc. You build the biggest blocks that you possibly can, because you can install more outfit (penetrations, pipes, vent trunking, cable ways, large equipment items) earlier and with better access compared to when the ship is buttoned up ready for launch. You can see a similar process with the T26 build photo in this link.

https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/first-type-26-frigate-hms-glasgow-taking-shape-on-the-clyde/

The difference is that their sub-unit / assembly sheds are next door, rather than feeding directly into the three bay shed. But crucially, still in the same company and shipyard.

To give you an idea of the scale, back in the 80s, unit/block sizes were between 80-150 tonnes in weight. In the late 90s, VSEL started using 2500te blocks in the LPD build. QEC main hull blocks were between 7000 and 11000te. The three main blocks of T26 will be nudging 3000te for the two hull blocks, with several hundred tonnes for the deckhouse block (which will be a specialist contract lift).

It is possible to fabricate the assembles and sub-units off site – but I’d be very surprised if Babcock did so, given the additional overhead it incurs on a relatively low-price contract. Wherever possible, you’ll do all your build in the same facility.

Ron5

Very interesting. Thank you.

Duker

Thanks for the considered response. However it just reiterates what I said about a final assembly hall putting together pre- built blocks – often pre-fitted. Thats the ‘modern method’ and yes it dates back to the T42 era like I said.
I wasnt perhaps quite detailed enough about ‘prebuilt from the keel up’ which meant the the stem to stern shell of the hull was built first on the keel blocks.
The size of the modern blocks varies with the overhead crane capacity . The QE carriers having a large enough crane to lift super blocks. The Bay class, in your link, being similar , the blocks were built under cover and then moved to the outside final assembly location- which unusually seems to be a floating dock ( very tricky to get the balance of weight and buoyancy right).
Like I said , builds in different locations and different classes, can vary quite a bit, but the principle ‘ by blocks’ remains.
As an aside , its intersting to view google maps aerial photos of Newport News outside building docks for the USN carriers, they have 2 under construction simultaneously -using blocks which come from the adjacent fabrication yard. One dry dock is too short for the full length hull, so the bow block is added much later

N-a-B

No one disputes that build is by “blocks”, that’s been the case for decades. What you still don’t seem to have grasped is the difference between assemblies, sub-units, units and blocks, let alone the issues on builds in separate locations, but never mind, life’s too short.

However, block size isn’t necessarily related to crane size. It depends entirely on the build method employed. Using a build dock can give issues in lift capacity, which can limit outfit efficiency, which is one reason why T26 and T31 aren’t built using a dock. It tends to be sub-unit and unit size that is limited by lift – generally by o/h craneage in the assembly shed. VSEL built the AO and LPD with nary a crane in sight at the berth – and in blocks of several thousand tonnes. T26 will be the same in Govan and T31 similar at Rosyth. They won’t be using the crane for that either.

Mr Archimedes is also perfectly capable of being tamed. The floating dock at Wallsend was the result of some bizarre thinking by the Dutchman who took over the yard and resulted in digging up the large slipway – which was capable of much larger ships. However, that dock is little different in use from the floating barges used for outload and transport of the big QE blocks and launch of River B2 and in due course , T26 and T31.

I’m afraid your understanding of HII Newport News is also awry. The shipyard occupies the entire waterfront – it’s not separate yards – although the submarine build facility separates the carrier end (North), from the outfit piers at the southern end. Only one dock is used to construct the carriers and that is dock 12, which is the NW end of the yard. It has a blocking area directly adjacent to it, where blocks – and some units are positioned for pre-outfit. The assemblies and subassemblies come from the fab sheds, directly adjacent (SE) to that area. This is one of the reasons that they struggle with level of outfit for those ships. Tends to be a tad wet in Virginia and as – in this case – their block size is lift-limited to 1000te and some change – they have to use relatively small blocks (cf several thousand tonnes on QEC), which sit outside for some time, limiting the amount of outfitting you can actually do, without incurring damage to material.

They certainly don’t use two docks to build simultaneously, nor do they add on a bow unit much later. I suspect you may be confusing what is now the refit dock (dock 11), with the build dock. That dock (11) built CVN65 and the first three early Nimitz before they opened the dock 12 facility (CVN71 was first build in that dock). If they wanted to do two simultaneously, dock 12 is (just) long enough, with a cofferdam to separate the two hulls. However, while they have contracted for two ships in one contract a couple of times, the actual build is staggered – it just means they can have certainty in placing material orders, developing the design engineering workpackages etc.

Duker

You seem to assume no one else knows the same stuff as you do. I left the ‘block size’ open as open sources dont yet know the exact construction sequence of the T31 yet, so No Im not confused.

Dern

You might want to work on your reading comprehension. I’m arguing with “bit big to road in from distant places,” and your silly assertion that ships are always built in multiple locations. They aren’t. The road access to Rosyth isn’t a problem because the ships will be built entirely within Rosyth.

N-a-B

They have some other smaller fabrication facilities on site, but nothing like a panel line. Suspect they’ll get their steel pre-cut and formed by a subby. Not ideal, but CL did it for SDA. Won’t be cost-effective for anything bigger than a frigate though.

Darren

What I am getting at are all fitted out blocks and structures coming from other feeder facilities? You would only bring the rig units or blocks in a hall like this for final hull asembley, but are any pre fabrication activities taking place on the actual Rosyth site, as those are being replaced by this Hall. The final stick it all together and get the ship out of there. I think it was only flat, more simple sections like the sponsons, done at Rosyth?

N-a-B

I’d be very surprised if units / blocks were built offsite for the reasons outlined above. Babcock have no other real fabrication facilities now and doing it outside of Babcocks adds a whole lot of additional cost & risk in commercial and acceptance terms, let alone transport. There’s not a lot of room in the contract price to accommodate that. Outside chance of A&P Hebburn doing some of the less densely outfitted bow and stern units to ease load on Rosyth, but…..

Darren

But the Rosyth facility would need, a Steel production facility able to do all cutting, welding, bending, fitting of plate section and pipe with wiring etc, and a unit production facility next to the module hall, like VT’s in Portsmouth had. All I see is a module hall, or rather, a big hall with some cranes in it and big doors either side. What is feeding it?

N-a-B

Hence the suspicion that they’ll get their steel delivered pre-cut and pre-formed from a subby, ready to build their assemblies, sub-units etc on site, like CL did for SDA.

There are plenty of outfit production shops and other small-scale steel fabrication workshops on site at Rosyth. Just not in optimal locations adjacent to the build hall.

Darren

Sorry, ring units or hull rings, that become hull blocks.

Captain Shit Stain

Perfectly good facility on the river wear which with a bit of work could reopen giving a welcome boost to the north east.

Trevor

Yes. It would be nice to see something in the north east.

N-a-B

There is something in the NE. It’s called Palmers yard (or A&P Hebburn today). Probably the only open uncommitted facility in the UK at the minute.

Darren

Owned by Cammell laird

N-a-B

Not quite. CL and A&P are two separate companies, owned by the same parent.

Darren

James Venus’s New Pallion shipyard is a UK jewel that many are not aware of.

N-a-B

Not built a ship for over thirty years, although at least its still there which is more than you can say for Austin Pickersgill opposite. Haverton Hill still exists on the Tees, etc etc. No different to H&W.

David Broome

The Type-31 looks like a NZ contender but any order for that is a decade away as the ANZACs are in Canada for Mid Life Refit. Indications for them are out of service mid-2030s that means it will face competition from other designs that will emerge (assuming, hopefully, the RN has ordered Batch II Type-31s to increase the fleet beyond 19 surface combatants) . As for the Type-26, magnificent though they are, cost is prohibitive at the moment.

Duker

Could be possible , but more likely NZ will tag onto Australias Hunter/Type 26 ship building program which should run longer. They did the same for Australias Anzac/Meko build program mostly for standardisation reasons

A Kiwi

I don’t think it is likely. The Aussies are budgeting A$35 billion for 9 Hunters at A$3.88 billion a ship, which makes BAE UK built Type-26s look like a steal.

Buying Aussie made would need a heap of offsets to justify NZ$8.2 billion for two frigates. What is more is that the Tenix/BAE yard in Whangarei, where the ANZAC modules were built, is long closed and redeveloped too.

The Hunters are ASW optimised whereas the Meko-based ANZAC’s have always been GP frigates. There’s also been divergence on equipment and sensors between NZ and Australia. NZ’s ANZACs were built for but not equipped with harpoons but like the RAN, never equipped them with a towed sonar array either.

On current form it makes the Type-31 or similar far more likely but no order is likely for a decade. That said the Type-31 in the RNZN could see an increase in hulls from the current two.

donald_of_tokyo

I agree T31 will be “one of the good candidates” for Te Kaha/Mana replacements, IF the Babcock site keeps running until ~2032.

But, there are many rivals there. MEKO-A100 and 200, Dutch new frigate, FTI (but its French…), and some from South Korea. To be competitive, it will be better if NZ-MOD/RNZN involvement can be invoke from now.

Luckily, Devonport (NZ) Dock is operated by Babcock. So, for example, can we expect some of the fitting-out work shared there?

If this kind of “involvement” can be done, the most important issue will be to “keep the Rosyth site running until ~2032”.

Duker

That A$35 bill is whole of life costs outside of crewing and fuel. Its not the Build cost, they give that number for political reasons.
We can see the same process at work for the UK P-8 order. The USN gives annual contract award price when it and other countries place orders for P-8s , its around $140 mill per plane.
Yet the UK ‘program cost’ is talked about as around £3 bill pounds , far in excess of the actual price paid to Boeing. A rule of thumb is 3x cost to buy and put into service is announced as ‘program cost.’

And no the RNZN is going to buy more than 2 . Like UK they dont have staffing or operational spending even to make the best use of 2 ships let alone 3

KiwiRob

I actually believe there is a very good chance that the RNZN is going to buy 3 vessels, they know that 2 was a complete disaster and has caused them significant operational issues. I we had 3 chances are 1 of them would be operational now, unlike the current situation where we have none.

donald_of_tokyo

Good thing is that, while the ANZAC crew is 180+, T31 is 100+ (if include flight team). Even if a bit up-armed, like adding CAPTAS4CI and increasing CAMM from 12 to 24, still the crewsize will be ~110.

“2 x 180+ > 3x 110”, means man power is not a driving factor here.

Anyway I understand the default is for 2 hulls. But as we see in Defence-Capability-Plan-2019 adding LSD to the expected polar patrol ship, the “3rd frigate” debate may well come again.

But, as the budget will be limited, trade off between “2 (so-so) well-equipped GP frigates” vs “3 (very) lightly equipped ones” may come in.

NickC

Haven’t seen T31 crew numbers from Babcock, IH class is ~120 plus flight detachment.

Question whether £20 million ? CAPTAS4CI worth fitting as T31/IH all diesel so noisy and make CAPTAS effectiveness problematic at best.

Duker

Not in replacement plan, the existing re-equipment plan exceeds the long term funding as it is without adding extra ‘nice to haves’

Duker

The mid life refit seems to have been badly done , which meant the 2nd frigate went to Canada while the first was still incomplete. One period in the life of the ships is hardly a reason to buy an extra one for that ‘just in case’.

David

It’s true that something like the Type 26 is far beyond what New Zealand is likely to want or need. A simple ship like the Type 31 would be a much better fit for them, although they will probably keep the Anzacs going for a long as feasible. I’m not sure whether ship exports from the UK are really viable in this day and age though on a whole range of grounds (cost, quality, time frame etc.). It is possible that New Zealand could look to buy second hand ships. Any kind of cost-competitive tender would likely see the work go elsewhere.

Geo

I’m not 100% sure about this but I don’t think they can be added onto the end of the Australian program even if they wanted to. BAE were not allowed to build the Hunters in either of their two Australian yards (Henderson, WA or Williamstown, Vic), they had to assume control over the ASC yard in Adelaide, SA for the duration of the program and build them there (SA is to Australia what Scotland is to the UK in terms of successful pork barrelling defence projects) now that part I am certain about, what I’m not certain about is the timeline after the Hunter program, however I suspect BAE will have to hand the yard straight over to DCNS for the Attack SSKs.

ngatimozart

New Zealand is interested in the Type 26, not the Type 31 and would most likely be looking at 3 FFGs not 2. This is because the NZ govt has found out the hard way that 2 FFs are not viable and that 3rd FF is a necessity. Also the geostrategic situation in the Asia Pacific has changed and the submarine population within the region is breeding like rabbits.

No, we don’t have a capability to build our own and we would either participate in the RAN or RCN build programs. At the moment the RCN design looks the more compatible because it has the Lockheed CMS330 2.0 CMS including AEGIS and Sea Ceptor, where we have the CMS330 and Sea Ceptor already on our ANZAC FFH. It will also have 5″ Mk45 mod 4 gun, 32 Mk-41 VLS, Mk-54 LWT torpedoes, Link 16 / Link 22, CEC, etc., and we already have the gun, VLS and the Mk-46 LWT torpedoes which we’ll phase out soon when the P-8A Poseidon arrive. If we go with the RCN build will depend upon cost, but it has a potential run of 15 ships; 12 ASW FFG + 3 AAW FFG / DDG.

The RAN Type 26 Hunter Class build is a continuous build in batches of 3, with each batch having incremental capability increases over the previous batch. If NZ went down that path we’d have to:
1) Change CMS to the RAN variant of the SAAB 9LV CMS and pay to integrate Sea Ceptor with it or,
2) Supply new radars and integrate them with CMS330 2.0 or,
3) Pay to integrate the RAN sensors CMS330 2.0.
I am a bit loathe about No 1, because the RAN doesn’t have the best track record with software development. Their SH-2G(A) Seasprite software fiasco comes to mind. They blamed it on the manufacturer, Kamen, but it was the RANs fault. A$1.7 billion it cost and they cancelled the project in the end. No’s 2 and 3 are reasonably expensive as well because integration is always an exensive and risky proposition. However, the ANZAC Frigate project came in on time and under budget, so it is reasonably feasible that the Hunter class can do so as well.

Between the two, on paper, the Canadian build would probably be easier to go with, however Canadian defence procurement is on par with Indian defence procurement for complexity, difficulty, bureaucracy, costliness, political interference and political ineptness. So cost both monetary and time would be a major factor especially as NZ defence procurement does consider value for money seriously. That last reason, VfM, is why the Type 31 wouldn’t be considered against the the Type 26.

One final point, It’s not as though NZ cannot afford the Type 26 with all the bells and whistles. It certainly can – it could definitely afford 4 probably 5 and 6 x 110 m OPVs armed like corvettes. The claim that NZ can’t afford to spend much money on defence is a political lie, that has been trundled out by both sides of the political divide for the last 30 years. We spend 1.1% GDP on defence, have 21% govt debt, GDP of about US$220 billion, and the country is valued at US$1.13 trillion.

David

Just because New Zealand “can” afford huge expensive ships doesn’t mean the government is likely to buy them. There are pretty much zero votes in purchasing expensive defence equipment from overseas.

Simon m

Join the club the political lie of most western nations! Except the USA. Who seem the only country capable of protecting anyone’s freedom. Who can blame them for getting upset when other countries don’t pull their weight with an affordable 3.4% gdp on defence

Duker

US 3.4% isnt really relevant. First they have an expensive nuclear Triad, when France and UK only use submarine boomers. Secondly they have a global reach including Asia and Middle East, where of course Europe needs to only focus on….Europe and Med fringes. Some additional factors add lessor cost, the USMC has its own airforce , along with the National Guard and oddly the US Army has its own landing craft.

KiwiRob

Ngati I know for a fact that the NZG have been looking at Type 31, they sent delegations to Cammell Laird and Babcocks before the winning design was announced.

sparky42

From memory they also sent a delegation to the French FTI when the Greeks were looking at them?
https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2019/10/25/naval-group-starts-construction-on-frances-newest-frigate/

So perhaps they are looking at everything coming onto the market?

Duker

No wonder the Anzac/Meko midlife refit went haywire cost and time wise. No one was concentrating on Job One

sparky42

How many such midlife refits ever go to plan? And surely an equal job is starting to look at what comes next, particularly if there’s to be cross over from what’s going into the refit and what might be the replacement?

Nighthawk

They have been looking at and sending delegations to all current frigate programs to see what is out there…

The French FDI/FTI Frigate Program
The UK Global Combat Ship Program (Type 26)
The UK Type 31 Frigate Program
The UK Type 32 Frigate Program
The US FREM Constellation Frigate Program

  • and a few others … mainly to see what is out there…

Officially industry engagement doesn’t start for another couple of years…

A Kiwi

Look, i’m interested in a Bentley but can only afford a Mondeo! Being interested in something is different from being able to afford it (or to get it through Treasury (HM or NZ’s)) .

The NZ Government will not drop $12.3bn. on 3 Type-26s unless there is a spike in the economy or geopolitics create a threat environment.

If there isn’t, then it has plans to buy several LPDs and by that time, will be moving to replace the OPVs too. The significance for the Type-31 frigate factory is that it fits with the type of vessel NZ could be in the market for (especially if onto Batch II by then). It will face competition but right now, it is a contender.

sparky42

A bit more on the suggestion here that Ireland might be looking at the Type 31, this seems to be based as I said on the meeting between the UK Embassy and Babcock, I’d hazard a guess and that was more to do with the Defence conference that was held this week in Dublin which Babcock attended.

There’s nothing to suggest that the Type 31 is even being looked at from the MPV, wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the Vard design instead.

Darren

A Vard design built in a UK Shipyard? Be cheaper than anywhere in Europe.

sparky42

Will it? She’s going to be Commercial Standards if the P50s/60s are to go by with limited high end equipment, no reason why the Eastern European Yards couldn’t build her (it’s unlikely Ireland would go further afield), and not too bring politics into it, but it might suit Dublin to send some 150-200 million euros to a fellow EU nation than the UK.

Course then you get into the question about Drydocking it if it’s the Vard 7 313 as it won’t fit into Cobh’s yard…

John Lyle

Ship Factories are a reality, NASSCO in San Diego re- engineered the shipyard and it’s processes in the 90’s to accommodate this scale of thinking.
Needs a “balanced “ line and trade skill set flexibility to really amplify the capabilities.
Also re- Engineering the supporting docs that provide the PI ( Production Information – drawings and planning products) including the subsequent training groups of the supervising team.
Great concept however needs intelligent and experienced thinking to develop the supporting information along with several traditional union boundaries to become a more flexible and integrated workforce, that is “station”focused within the building . Move the ship and material not the manpower ..this will maximize productivity and scale of efficiency.
Great concept and great share. Now execute! 😎🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🇺🇸🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 John Lyle.

John Mepham

I am sure these Frigates could have been built in England or Wales, why do we keep throwing this type of work at Scotland, when all they wan’t to do is leave the UK. What happens if they do leave and become a EU state ???, and maybe we don’t have a trade deal with the EU . I am not anti Scotland !!!, I love the place and the people, Just concerned things could all start going wrong ?.

Bob Baker (bobbyboy)

Absolutely great that the we ,the British are building BRITISH ships for Britain. BUT let’s also put business to the proven ship building source at Appledor here in the westcountry. Result:: unemployment reduced..benefits costs to the government reduced, further income to the government in the form of tax and pride and independence and prosperity returned to North Devon and the west country

sparky42

Appledore maxed out at building the Irish P60’s how do you think they could build T31s?

Jurgen God

Cammell Lairds Construction Hall was designed and built for exactly this type of contract, modular built multiple class vessels in a production line.
The hall as it stands today could build 4 T31e’s concurrently!
Both Barrow and Rosyth are receiving massive injections of cash to modernise/build privately owned facilities. How does that fit in with a fair, open market and a level playing field for British shipbuilding going forward?

Jason

We should buy US ships ( it takes less time to build them ) and Australian/Canadian builds.