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Ron Owen

You are incorrect in your Bae assertions.
Iain Stevenson, Bae Shipbuilding MD, said that the Type 31 contest could turn into a race to the bottom. If it did, Bae would not join that race. In other words, Bae would not be pressured into submitting a loss making bid. I emphasis “could”.
Far from being indifferent to the program, Bae has had a team working on the project since it was announced in the SDSR.
But you are correct that there is an illogical and political inspired anti-Bae movement very active in the UK. Pathetic. Only the UK would shout to the world that it’s leading defence company is rubbish. And they wonder why warships are not exported. I confidently predict that if Babcocks or Cammel Laird are troublesome to the Treasury mandarins, the same poisonous rumours will emerge in the daily press. George Osborne was a past master and his influence lingers.


Having worked at BAE, I beg to differ. The place has British Leyland-itis. There are some very technically good people there but there is also a hell of a lot of deadwood (gold plated pension scheme is partly to blame), weak and confused management and a deep seated sense of entitlement which is a legacy of their period of public ownership. Everything they do is about 40% more expensive that it should be. They’ve never won a naval export order (Oman was won by VT). And what happened to the frigate factory that was supposed to bring world class efficiency to the Clyde? It’s just vapourware – unless the taxpayer is prepared to finance it.
The comparison with a lean mean and frankly ruthless outfit like Babcocks is stark. You can maybe get away with this in military aerospace where there are only like 6 companies in the world who have the technical ability to build a jet fighter, and three we are not allowed to buy from, but in frigates and military vehicles – there are plenty of alternatives.


I have a friend who worked at VT’s in Woolston. He had a great time, learnt a lot in the 90s with a dynamic business. Then he worked at BAE, where he just said, big is not beautiful. In fact, it is too slow to work as any dynamic company needs to, with too many lawyers, and too many people trying to justify their jobs. Everything about it breeds inefficiency.
I wonder if the 40% extra cost takes into account the average tax clawback the exchequer gets back, so they bump up the price to that effect?


In saying that though. It has to be in what departments of BAE is poor? I am sure BAE’s attitude, methods and philosophy do spread to the manufacturing front, but Govan Shipyard was Fairfield’s, and Scotstoun was Yarrows. You cannot blame the workers on the shop floor for management and UK government with all its officials in the past who all had to add there 10 penneth worth, when all that was needed was to get on with it (examples are the Bays and also the carriers with the shall we shant we, is it too big, design it smaller (250 million pounds), it’s small and not economical to do, so go back to big again, time lost prices going up, delay extra 2 billion pounds, BAE and other firms conniving (possibly) in making the government go from catapults back to ski jumps more cost, guess who more likely get the flak, the operator of the panel line in Govan.


BAE is not rubbish. They just don’t like building ships.


They should build that frigate factory in Scotstoun. It is inefficient to build on 2 separate sites with the transport involved. We have to do everything we can to make British shipbuilding cost effective.
The same can be said of having only tiny shipyards, each incapable of building a large ship by themselves, hundreds of miles apart. This is making British shipbuilding inefficient and un-competitive. We have to either enlarge an existing shipyard or build a new one with modern state of the art facilities, where big ships can be built on 1 site, without the added expense of transporting blocks hundreds of miles.


Also they use those floating things to launch ships. Surely that is the most expensive way of doing it? They should launch them down a slipway and make further savings. Also being that far up river isn’t a good idea, 1, they can’t launch large ships as the river is too narrow, 2, they have to transport ships, what, 20 miles or so down river to the sea. It would be a very good idea to build that enclosed dockhall much further downstream and make British shipbuilding as efficient and cost effective as possible for the future.

John Smith

Surely dropping the Venator design for the Arrowhead would be an utter folly considering the design maturity the former enjoys over the latter? Hopefully the Babcock/BMT partnership wins the contract to partially weaken BAE’s monopoly but not sure how this can be achieved with such a fledgling design within an already painfully constrained budget. I also think that the Government will want to give some work to A&P and CL to cultivate a sovereign shipbuilding capacity in these smaller yards as part of Sir John Parker’s vision of a shipbuilding “Renaissance”, so already there will be an inherent prejudice towards the BAE/CL/A&P consortium. Either way I hope the winning design features Steller System’s excellent stern garage concept and Chemring’s superior Centurion chaff launcher which seems to have been chronically undervalued by the MOD.


Arrowhead appears to be leaning heavily on the new US Coastguard cutter design so maturity might be more there than one would think.
As for the Steller System’s concept, lovely infographic but don’t expect them to get much further. They haven’t got a partner, all that is left is small yards like Ferguson who don’t have experience with warship construction or systems integration. For their design to go forward they would need to partner with BAE Systems, Cammell Laird or Babcock all of whom have partners and developing concepts already. Actually Ferguson is pretty much the only choice for partnership that Steller System’s would have and I would think that yard will be more interested in winning sub-contract work for the program.
I wouldn’t say Centurion from Chemring is undervalued by the MOD, the question no doubt does it offer a significant quantifiable over the fixed launchers (also made by Chemring) that the RN already uses making the investment in the vastly more complex system worthwhile. Actually you could make a very strong counter argument that a complex system like Centurion which involves a trainable launcher with all sorts of moving parts and many points of possible failure is the last thing you want for something like a Chaff launcher. There is not much that can go wrong with a fixed tube bolted onto the hull with a single cable


Remember that this contract is supposed to be all about the budget. Perhaps the Venator design can’t be built sensible equipped for £250M. It sounds like both Arrowhead and Leander have been conceived from the outset to meet a very tight budget.


A potential problem is that the Integration site (Birkenhead) hasn’t built a warship in donkey’s years, no disrespect to RSS Sir David Attenborough, whereas Babcock’s have a choice of Rosyth and Devonport, which will have just completed the carriers and Irish OPVs respectively. I suspect the MARS FSS project is a better fit for CL/A&P, building on their experience supporting RFAs over many years . It’s good to have competition.


Yes. The big sites with large dry docks and and especially ones with heavy cranage with recent experience of building parts, and integration of the carriers are very suitable for MARS FSS. Main integration sites for those ships are naturally Rosyth, Birkenhead, Hebbern, Belfast and Inchgreen. Babcock need to have ambition in the UK for shipbuilding. We know they do much business in the far east, but that does not mean they should not be part of a plan to build these solid ships. If the tax payer intake is around 38 to 40% (some say 60%, but I do not know how it is worked out, maybe by employees buying fuel, food, clothes, energy, rates etc), there is no way they are ever value for the UK tax payer if given abroad. The Government is clamping down on subcontractors paying themselves huge dividends. Selling that Rosyth Goliath crane especially if it went abroad would be so short sighted.


Devonport did nothing for the carriers or opv!!! All appledore!

Darren Riche-Webber

What do you mean, all Appledore? Appledore made bow sections for the carriers but did not do all of the work.

Barrie Jones

Babcock at Appledore was responsible for the construction of the bow sections of the 2 new carriers
Camel Laird are equally important for the navy although I think they manly do refurbishment work. Why not just standardise the project and spread the work across the shipbuilding industry? Or like everything else in today’s world, everyone has to make money. There’s so much talent in the UK in and around the military spectrum. Or does Bae Systems hold the upper hand. Oh and the 2000 jobs going more money saved foolishly

The Ginge

I am not sure why everybody is getting so excited about these Patrol Ships. They are going to nothing more than a River Class with a Hanger (Hence the Kareef Example which is a stretched River Design). The errors in the specification are startling for example
1. Requirement is for only a 76mm Main Gun. When A) Everybody knows 127mm is minimum to provide range for shore bombardment and B) we are introducing another size of ammunition in to the logistics chain C) Why’s it being cut down, for price pure and simple it does not meet the requirements.
2. Sea Ceptor not a core requirement. Despite the equipment being on the T23’s being replaced, so already sunk costs on equipment.
3. Radars. Again Type 997 Radar not a requirement, although a “nice to have”. Even though again they have been purchased for T23’s.
4. Anti-Ship Missiles not a core requirement and no room or design to accommodate an upgrade latter.
I could go on, but effectively we are getting a Corvette (Oh no he mentioned the C Word) in the 2,000 to 3,000 tonne range with No Anti Ship Missiles, No Anti Air. Both Russian/German/Asian (Various) ships of this size not only deploy these things but Russian Ships launch Cruise Missiles of this size boat.
Even the Maths does not add up. With 5 type T26’s cut and the rumoured bill for those being £800m to £1bn a pop it is a saving in the £4bn to £5bn range. Replaced by 5 Ships capped at £250m each or a total cost of £1.25bn. That is a saving of £3.75bn. Along with savaging the Amphibious ships the MOD has asked the RN to save an awful lot of money I can not believe that in 2015 the RN and MOD got there planning numbers that wrong. I would be interested to see if the increased cost of the F35B’s are coming out of the Navy’s budget and not the RAF’s.
But my overall point being surely we would have been better of having 1 more full fat T26 and buying another 3 or 4 Rivers at £100m each and adding collapsible Aircraft Shelters (On all Batch 2/2B & Possible Batch 3) and plus a 76mm Gun which we know fits on a River. Thus the RN would have 6 T45’s, 10 T26 ASW, 9 or 10 Upgraded Rivers. Just can not see the point in paying £150m more for these “GP” Frigates when really they have no more capability than an uprated River, which has the benefit of being a known design and cost.


Type 31- the Snowdrop or Chattering Class of Corvette.

Darren Riche-Webber

The real shipbuilding strategy is found in building the 1 billion pounds 3 Fleet solid support ships.


Think of a number of the top of your head, an outrageous planning method.Sir John Parker and the MOD planning department are obviously highly paid idiots, I could do better than that.This cannot be anything other than a disaster, although I suspect that it might not be any worse than the current method of planning.
Rumours that type 23 have been offered for sale to the Chileans and much worse for the Brazilians.


Arrowhead is not designed for front line combat. The head of babcock said so at DSCI 2017. The CL/BAES offering is a stretched OPV, not sure how this squares with the statement by the First Sea Lord that the T31e would be a proper frigate.


Lets unite the budgets of the services. After that we can heavily cut back the army and the RAF. Historically Britain has never maintained a large standing army, and recently – regarding deployablity – they have been useless (Afgan).
Seapower is where the UK should focus all its efforts right now, including FAA and RM. After all we depend on the sea to feed and fuel this country and we use the sea to deploy 80%+ of our equipment.

Iqbal Ahmed

Fir the first time since thd1980’s, BAE are not leading on a British warship building programme. Their alliance with Cammell Liard is designed to work around the MODs determination to break the BAE monopoly.
We need the widest possible economic benefit for this programme; with a priority for ships designed to cost and on time. This is the best way of protecting taxpayers money and introducing commercial shipyards in navy shipbuilding will only drive down costs.

Annoyed at government incompetency

Couldn’t agree more, the failings of Type 45 which was designed and built by BAE (bollocks everything always) and the supposedly already paying over the costs for Type26 shows they shouldn’t continue to get everything.
The award of those Type 26’s was more a political thing to keep the SOCKS happy than a true cost thing, and they’ve now kicked off that these have been taken away from the Clyde when they were supposedly assured of it.
The link up with Cammell Liard is a desperation thing as they can see (finally) losing that monopoly on the surface ship build contracts (although they also own Subs as there is no competition for that at Barrow-in-Furness). But even Cammel Liard is a joke, (if from what I’ve heard they’ve had the hull of boaty mc boat face or as properly assigned the Sir David Attenborough built in Poland) That means they’ve not the skills or possibly lied about the ability to meet costs (this was a commercial design and build issued by the government, not the usual oh the cost have gone up but hey ho well pay more as this is MOD contract government backed also but ignored eg Aircraft Carries).
One yard should get this build and design (even though they are owned by another A-Hole organisation in Babcock International) and that is Appledore Shipyard. The skills in build are 2nd to none, which is why I feel they were awarded or/given the most complex build sections of the carrier project which were all designed and delivered on cost, ahead of other yards who at the time may have lost those complex steel abilities and got the more simplistic straight side sections.
I say Babcock as an A-hole organisation because as an owner of that yard they have allowed the design side of to it to fall to pieces and will now have to rely on other divisions of it’s company away from site or huge amounts of Tax dodging SELF EMPLOYED CONTRACTORS like BAE do to complete the work. (By using this style of employment the government miss out on huge amounts of PAYE tax payments, as this lot work through agencies to pay themselves minimum wage against earnings presently of up to £32 per hour at Barrow-in-Furness to then submit as dividend payments against their self own, companies registered in there own names to minimise that tax paid (it’s within the rules but shouldn’t, be IR35 is not enforced enough as I know many employees who have been on sites longer that that time frame it states who should then be employed direct).
Appledore had this at one point everything under one roof, one employment system which they used during Irish OPV before contracts ran dry (because the socks as part of BAE got OPV as a safe guard to skills needed for the Type 26’s and Cammel Liard for the Ice Breaker bid lower but they lied as if correct mentioned above couldn’t build to costs in the UK so sub-contacted) Everything under one roof lead to the successful design and build of the Irish Navy OPV program but what has also lead to delays and cost rises on those carriers. But if they were to win it now this would then have to rely heavily on scumtractor labour or offsite employees at Bristol/Plymouth which doesn’t lead to a smooth build phase like they experience at present.


Cammell Laird hired some Polish welders to fill the skills gap. Nothing has been built in Poland. Just google Polar ship in Cammell Laird and see the amount of steelwork in the building halls at Birkenhead.


They didn’t actually lead on the Carriers, which were assembled in a Babcock yard and I understand the majority of the detailed design work done by Thales/BMT.




I think Babcock carried out around 50% of the detailed design work for the carriers. Initial design naval arch was carried out by many. Design work and what type of the design process and who can be difficult to discern sometimes. But Bristol/Bath, British staff at Thales, BAE at Barrow, BMT, Quintec Gosport, Babcock were all involved.


I can never understand, why as an aircraft carrier off the coast of Europe, we don’t understand the necessity of maintaining a first class Navy.
We have a strategically nonsensical political elite who repeatedly fail to grasp that unless we control the seas around us and beyond, all bets are off with our security. We have heard the Chancellor Hammond mouth off about there being no votes in Defence. That may be so comfortable in his Home counties constituency but when the Bear or the Dragon threaten he will like John Nott rue his stupidity.
That is why Defence is too important to be left to the present cheeseparing club of politicos. 7% of GDP set aside for a bribery slush fund called Foreign Aid; madness when they are stripping Defence to pay for it.

Matthew Marshall

I would like to see BMT or Babcock Marine won the the contract simply as a way to build up a competitor against BAE as a means to drive down costs and propel our shipbuilding industry.


The MOD is considering 20 different proposals. So we do have the capacity and all of a sudden, we have 4 to 5 different type 31 design concepts.
I think when the Prince of Wales is completed, there is a huge amount of skilled workers to work on the Fleet Solid Support Ships. The Tyne and Clyde is still close for them to pop back too for any work. But we have the capacity to do this work and bring in new people to the industry for the future. FSSS is the real deal, and I think so much attention is made for these frigates so to take away real attention from FSSS if the UK government are still evil enough to give this 1 billion pound contract abroad. No National government should survive this, but many have done so using some of the most poorest excuses known, and insult people’s intellegence. it’s a national scandal.


The 3 solid support ships are invaluable to British shipbuilding. They are large ships, they will provide plenty of work, something for British shipbuilding to really get our teeth into. They had damn well better be built in Britain. After we have finished building these we will have the experience and facilities to bid for cruise ships like other European countries do. If the facilities are not there build them. This is vital for British shipbuilding.


I am a little worried about Cammell Laird getting close to BAE. Look what happened to Vosper Thornycroft (VT’S), VT, then BVT, then BAE, now just Royal Navy is written on the side of the vision that VT’s had for it’s shipyard in Portsmouth. They (VT’) wanted to build more than just warships there, but BAE are not interested. Cammell laird BAE, CammellLairdBAE, BAECammelLaird, BCL, BAECL, BAE. Not enough ships to build for the MOD we are not interested in anything else. Another one gone, Birkenhead. I pray nothing like this happens.


And BAEcl.
But that aside, there have been mentions of the FSSS. If Babcock at Rosyth do a type of BAE, and are not interested in anything other than Aircraft carriers, and not interested in future long-term shipbuilding and main assembly integration. They still have load in/out facilities in which they could still build parts if it suites their business strategy and plan. But we could have musical cranes or the Goliath crane shuffle, in which say Cammell Laird get it in a deal, but the crane goes to Inchgreen (on the Cammell Laird website). Babcock says the crane was built only for the specific purpose, so they are selling it. I don’t buy that (pardon the pun) because unless someone else is building carriers of the Queen Elizabeth class, there is no use for this crane, so who would buy it? As for the skidding equipment, is it reconfigurable? But then, Cammell Laird are mating a section of Polar ship from the Tyne to the main hull without skidding equipment.
There are so, so many exciting ideas and so much potential.

Darren Riche-Webber

And BAEcl.
But that aside, there have been mentions of the FSSS. If Babcock at Rosyth do a type of BAE, and are not interested in anything other than Aircraft carriers, and not interested in future long-term shipbuilding and main assembly integration. They still have load in/out facilities in which they could still build parts if it suites their business strategy and plan. But we could have musical cranes or the Goliath crane shuffle, in which say Cammell Laird get it in a deal, but the crane goes to Inchgreen (on the Cammell Laird website). Babcock says the crane was built only for the specific purpose OF BUILDING THOSE CARRIERS, so they are selling it. I don’t buy that (pardon the pun) because unless someone else is building carriers of the Queen Elizabeth class, there is no use for this crane, so who would buy it? As for the skidding equipment, is it reconfigurable? But then, Cammell Laird are mating a section of Polar ship from the Tyne to the main hull without skidding equipment.
There are so, so many exciting ideas and so much potential.


They should perhaps keep the crane at Rosyth and build the solid support ships there? Possibly build them in blocks and assemble them there?


I’m totally confused with all of this why cant we do it the old fashioned way, set out the weapons, speed and range within a max tonnage then leave it to the designers to come up with a design and cost. The cheapest wins.
So let us say that the T31 should have the following
1x 76mm or 127 mm
2x 30 mm
24 Sea Ceptor
8 Harpoon or future equivalent VLS
1 Helicopter max for Merlin
Radar suite appropriate e.g. Artisan.
Does it need Towed Array Yes /No
Speed 26 knots max cruising 18knts
range 4,000 sm at cruising
Mission bay Yes/ No
1 RAS point
24 Royal Marines with RIBS
max tonnage 4,000 tons
Operations up to sea state 6
Can any equipment be utilized from the decommissioned T23 Yes No
Life span 25 years
There is more such as command and control, passive defense, ECM suite etc and how many are to be built as the more you build the cheaper it will be.
The above equals cost, if the cost is to high then something must either give or space left for containers to be retro fitted.

Ray Veysey

How the MOD could even consider going back to BAES while they have doubts about them is crazy, Giving the 31e contract to someone else would give them a good lesson. Another must would be to give the steel contracts to the UK, a lesson to the EU that we can survive without them.