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I think that, despite all the negative hype about these ships, they will turn out to be an excellent platform for a number of “jobs” throughout the RN. ASW, patrolling, fishery protection, deterrence as well as monitoring Russian ships through the Channel. It would save us trying to shadow Russian warships with a minehunter! They may not be heavily armed, but it would be good to see them deployed with a Merlin or Wildcat, and they look great too!
On another note, it would be great to see a photo essay of HMS Queen Elizabeth in New York!


Steve I agree. And yes… they certainly do look excellent!
Would not mind getting command of one of these.


The bit I don’t get about the TOBA is why we didn’t get £650 million worth of ships rather than about £350 worth,if it was going to cost us that anyway.The Merlin thing is news to me, it was a major selling point and extra reinforcements were added seemingly for no good reason.The learning productivity curve is immense with any large engineering task, there should never be holidays. Paying extra to build rivers and type 26 slowly is insane, it would almost be cheaper to build them faster and set fire to the first couple.Its aĺl very well having space for UAVs,but where are they?Inevitably crew members will purchase DGI phantoms and be better equipped than their employers.


I agree, if we’re paying £650M to keep a ‘warship building capability’ going, then the MOD should insist on £650m worth of output that should include substantial discount on any warship orders, seems someone is having their cake, eating it themselves then also getting the taxpayer to pay yet again for the cake. TOBA needs to be scrapped and the UK naval ship-building industry made competitive again – isn’t that what Sir John Parker’s review and new shipbuilding strategy was supposed to deliver?
Seems its the same old same old overly expensive and under-performing RN ship’s from the same monopoly supplier.
Also, why are these ships so poorly armed with just machine guns? A Russian corvette has far superior capability including missiles, torpedoes and CIWS –

Even the similar size Chinese Type 056 Corvette (1,500 tonne displacement, 90m length, 25 knots, 78 crew) has bow sonar, towed array sonar, 2 x YJ-83 anti-ship missile cells, SAM launcher, 2 triple torpedo tubes) – now that’s an OPV/Corvette, not a River Class OPV with a few pop-guns – that’s not even going to worry French fishermen !


I suspect the guarantee was for a certain number of man hours, but was plus the cost of materials and equipment. So the more complex the build the more it would cost on top of the man hours.
The secondary problem was that it took to long to accept that the T26 build start was going to be delayed. This lack of time meant that whatever was built had to need only a small amount of design work.
The result was the B2 River program.


£650m to pay people to sit around with no ship orders, or as a subsidy for BAE to use them on other projects, with no tangible RN benefit doesn’t seem taxpayer value for money and seems someone is having a laugh at taxpayers’ expense – literally.


The trouble is with a navy as small as the RN (compared to the likes of the US and China), it’s very difficult to sustain a competitive shipbuilding industry, as there needs to be a steady stream of work coming in.

But often it turns out to be “feast or famine” which also costs over and above the odds to the consumer as you need to factor in the cost of hiring and training a new workforce every time you get a new contract, and then making them redundant after the program finishes.

5 years between building classes of ships might not seem like a lot, but that’s far too long to keep people employed while not receiving any orders.

It all comes down to a lack of foreign exports recently (as even minor nations seem to be under pressure to employ their own people to build the ships themselves, as we saw with the T31 export contracts) and a lack of planning for a sustainable industry in the national shipbuilding strategy to make sure there is a steady stream of domestic orders.

Ideally, BAEs would be taking commercial orders in between, but it’s hard to compete with the far east or even eastern Europe on price, and they would always be a lower priority than the MoD, though perhaps the high-end niche market would be a possibility.

The contract seems to have been quite poorly written, in favour of BAEs as the delay in the T26 program is their fault so the taxpayer shouldn’t be made to foot the bill for that.
If the MoD & Government had planned for the contingency then they could have been building more useful ships than we’re left with (like unmanned vessels).


How about driving them hard in the training role and perhaps keep a couple of batch 1 and ditch the university boats which have no practical role?


I am in the ‘so what’ space. This is a strategic #11 led industrial strategy FU. Failure to have a proper rolling thirty year NSS across the entire naval spectrum is twenty year political failure which MOD will have done their best to mitigate.

We are only talking about ASW limitations because there aren’t enough ASW frigates.

There are so many roles for these ships which are perfect including fisheries, anti piracy, humanitarian, local shadow, patrol, training etc.

I really like them. The price is Gov fault as is lack of other naval assets. Leave the Rivers alone and keep the B1s.


Hmmm their weapons load out is rather minimal…the ships are 79m long (90m for batch 2) and should have some air defence ability yet it only has 20mm and 30mm guns which have no air defence capabilities. Damen produce Smaller Sigma Class Corvettes that have way more abilities


Just more expensive weaponry on the bottom of the sea if you send them against serious opposition.Dont use them in risky areas.


Yet the Type 45 cant handle ASW threats and would likely get sunk under the same logic


Glad you said that


BAe could fit lots of weapons if HMG wanted them to. But without a complete redesign the ships wouldn’t be “proper” warships able to take as well as give damage.
The Rivers are pure patrol ships, the biggest threat they should have to take on is a boat load of Pirates. The 30mm is fine for that.


Ok,here an idea.Purchase 50 quadcopters for about £1000 each and make them available to crew members for less than half price. They would be required to use them at least occasionally on board(with some kind of offer to replace lost ones!), large prizes on offer for imaginative uses,good photos and modifications, etc.The prizes should be at least big enough that the crew member can more than earn their money back if they come up with good ideas and promotion material.


OK, so you voted it down, lets get BAE,Boeing or Thales to do something for £50 million.


I also like the River class o.p.v.s, but we need more of them, other European countries (France, Spain, Italy) have more than us. We should keep the batch 1s permanently but even that is not enough for a country with our coastline length, especially when you consider some will be being refitted/repaired, some far away (e.g. Falklands), etc.

Anthony D

Hopefully we’ll no longer need to use frigates in the constabulary role.


Thanks for nice summary in new information of River B2 status. I like those ships.

1: Flight deck, measured from blue-print diagram (shown in movie), is 22 m long from stern to flyco room. (flight deck it self looks like 20m long marked).

It is 23m in Type-23 so yes it is very tight. Will be OK for SAR helicopters in Falkslands, I guess. (As even MEKO200 has a 25m long flight-deck, RN is opting for smallish flight deck, historicaly).

2: Time from HMS Forth laid down to that of Spey is 30 months = 2.5 years. Delivery time difference will be some 24-30 months. As TOBA was kown to be £230M per year, total cost matches well.

“About 2.5 years were saved by River B2, and HMG payed nearly 2.5x £230M to BAES”.

I think TOBA is critically important for UK, to save T26. Therefore positively speeking, we got 5 River B2 “for free” (both ironic but also true). Looking at the shorfalls on Forth, it also paid sadly (hopefully, no same mistake on T26).

3: On the stern space, I am very much interested in.

CAPTAS-1’s support-arm looks like need 2x2m footprint. From the internal CG movie I’ve seen, it is known that laddar mechanics is located there. But, the twin ladder shall have ~2m separation in between. As the room foward is accomodation (beds, dining/meeting room, shower/toilets) for ~50 RM troops, if the wintch can be mounted astern, CAPTAS-1 at least can be mounted easily. CAPTAS-1’s wintch and control electronics needs only 2 locations each with 3×2.5×2.5m, and wintch and arm can be located a few meters distant.

# If the arm does not fit, may be we can add a small extention, or increase the stern as FFG7, Freedom-class LCS, or Italian FREMM. (just sayin doable).

River B2 was born for TOBA. As built, it already “worked” (T26 build will tell us). As a modern EEZ patrol vessel, and for low-thread constaburary mission, it will work well. For example, I think one of them can replace HMS Echo/Enterprise in Med.

If more need arises, we shall consider modifying it to be a shallow water ASW asset. It is not clear it can, but worth discussing I think. Shallow water ASW is a big issue, albeit in limited area (such as Baltic sea or Persial gulf).


How about using English, could you explain the meaning of TOBA, FREMM, CAPTAS?


Hi Mark. Do you want me to write it down here? Its fairly easy.

– TOBA is a “Terms of business agreement”. The term itself means some sort of promiss. But, what is written is importat.
Government has TOBA with BAE, to support Clyde ship yard.
It also has TOBA with Babcock, as well. Of course, different “agreement”.

– FREMM is a french/italican frigate’s name. It is a name, trademarked by Naval and Fincantierri.

– CAPTAS is also a name of a sonar family. It is a name, trademarked by Thales.

I hope this helps you.


That’s all I wanted, many thanks., acronyms are a total a pain and it makes life so much easier if you can give the meaning.


That comes to £575 million,why did we pay £635 million?Also ,why did we not receive 8 ships?We could have given 3 away if necessary.


Agree it is good point. Cost difference is small, it could be 2.8 years.

On hull number, In this web, there were suggestion that River B2 is built really high grade.

Another possibility is, the 230mn do not include equipments, such as diesel and radar.

I am not sure.


Hi Donald,

I think your idea of a stern extension is interesting, what length were you thinking?

Why not consider adding a more substantial block, maybe 12m or so and add a Wilcat capable hanger? By moving the deck crane to port side of the hanger and relocating the RHIBS to the starboard side of the hanger it would be possible to increase the size of the flight deck to 22m/23m.

Add a 57mm/76mm gun, Phalanx FFBNW and Artisan from a decommissioned T23 and you would end with in effect a River Batch 3. With a similar top speed to Leander I think an RB3 would be almost as effective as a T31 in the maritime security and presence roles, and all for a fraction of the cost of the T31 programme. Manning levels would also be lower than the T31 equivalents. If the T31’s are going to spend most of their time chasing drug smugglers and rescuing migrants would River Batch 3 OPV’s not be a sensible way forward?

Even if it cost £50m a hull or £250m for the 5 hulls to convert the River Batch 2’s into River Batch 3’s it would still seem like good value and the remaining £1bn from the T31 budget could be used to build more T26’s.

It would be good to see these River Batch 2’s actually make a meaningful contribution to the fleet after all the money that has been spent on them.


Hi Poiuytrewq-san

I think a 1m extention astern is good enough to accomodate CAPTAS-1 sonar. (As a bi-product, if we make it full width extension, it will also make the flight deck 23m long, the same size to that of T23 frigate.) If doing ASW, addition of Ship Torpedo Defence System (S2170 Sea Sentor, in RN) will be also needed. All in all, I think “1m extention” will pay a lot.

Longer extention I think is not doable. Cutting amid-ship and adding a section is only possible if the ship cross-section is the same for a certain length. This is not good in view of fluid dynamics. I think River B2 has not such section.

Extended River B2 (River B3) is I think very similar to Floreal Class. As Floreal is very succesfull in their constaburary and flag waving tasks (but of course not in full warefare), I agree “River B3” is good in itself. Separating T31 program into “1 more T26 and a few River B3” is one of my favorite idea.

Coming back to River B2, I think its fate is defined by other aspect, not themselves. Now it is best configured for EEZ patrol and low-threat constabulary operations. Adding armaments will make it “less usefull” (=less sea going days).

If the T31e project cannot be found (cancelled), then River B2 may be forced to cover some of the tasks T31e was supposed to cover. In this case, up-armed River B2 may come in.


These ships do look like a really bad idea. For the same money it seems the navy could have had 3 Amazonas, 2 Type 31e and the Type 26 being built on time.

Then having Type 26 in service would have helped sales pitches (though these seem to be going ok anyway), and maybe encourage more UK built content in those exports.


STRN, RN,everyone just seem blase about blowing half a billion pounds. 100million here, 100 million there, soon youre talking big money and no ships.It must be said that the RAF is by far the worst offender,it’s a near certainty that an expensively upgraded platform is going to be scrapped.


The worry is the type 26 program will be cut to 6 and the type 31 will not be built .

There are only funds for 3 type 26 to be built over the next 8 years and there is no money allocated for the type 31.

The discussion about the cost of the B2 river class has sailed blame Gordon Brown and new Labour’s useless defence secretaries for that debacle just like Osbourne and Hammond are to blame for the the terrible state of all 3 services due to Osbourne demanding massive savings and Hammond meekly going along with it .

We have a national ship building plan and then we don’t bother to fund it.

Useless politicians.


I have to say that I dislike these ships on many levels

1. How they were funded
2. The reasoning behind them
3. Their lack of offensive or defensive capabilities (an issue across the whole surface fleet actually)
4. The decision making around all of this
5. The quality of the product.

For the same price we could have had 4 Samuel Beckett class OPV’s with 76mm gun and UAV only (Schiebel 100’s for instance).

But no – we build something that doesn’t really do anything of significance and it costs a fortune. They may well end up being a useful addition to the RN (a major problem in itself – and damning indictment of where the RN is these days), but that does not make this class useful or value for money.

We have no choice, we must use these, so perhaps a sea ram set up on them would be useful, but these must be replace in 20 years time by the latest batch of T31’s as the RN up- arms.

We need escorts, whether that’s a corvette or big destroyer (which T26 really is ).

Take a look at the C-Sword 90 Design or the Visby class corvettes to see what we could have had for this money.

Sorry, but everything that is wrong with the MOD and UK industry is front and centre with this product.

Anthony D

Hi pacman, surely they can chase Somali pirates, Caribbean drug smugglers and other low end constabulary duties, freeing up Type 26/31 for what only they can d.


Avoiding the subject that I’m not allowed to talk about, I would be interested to know how the type 31e came to be, as it seems to appeared out of nowhere and off the top of someones head.


I’ve been ordered to be more positive, so I will say that they are very attractive looking ships.


Apparently Grubbie the B2 Rivers are good sailors in all sea states.
The type 31 was a idea from from 2 frigates captains over lunch with the under secretary for defence who apparently relayed it to Fallon who asked for the concept to be studied. Then when the Boy Gavin took over he saw the potential to increase the surface fleet without terrifying the Treasury .
Alas the dour Hammond is incapable of being bold and far sighted and dose not see the huge potential of the type 31 idea all he sees are spread sheets .


What is the huge potential of the T31?


Export , there is a large market for a light frigate .
Not every navy wants a t26 or needs one.

We use to do a good trade in building frigates for other countries.

The type31 has the potential to capture that market.


River B2 is a very nice ship as a EEZ patrol vessel.

It’s high cost, coming too early (River B1 is still young), all comes from T26 project delay, not River B2.

When thinking about cost, what is TOBA (for T26) related, and what is River B2 shall be distinguished. Sadly, there is no information disclosed here. One comment said (among the first 348M), ~100M is TOBA related, but it is not official. (If 3 EEZ patrol vessel with CMS was 83M per hull, it is “reasonable”, I guess).

Armament/equipment of River B2 must be defined by their task.

As an EEZ patrol ship, it is perfect now (Even over spec). Adding more armaments make them “BAD SHIP”, because “sea going days” is the measure of excelence for an EEZ patrol ship. Less maintenance load, low crew number, good fuel efficiecy is the top priority. Adding SeaRAM, CAPTAS-1 or even a helicopter will seriously degrade the ship’s excelence.

If EEZ patrol is not needed (for example, RN decide to keep River B1), then other tasks can come in. Task first.

For example, if shallow water ASW is needed, then adding CAPTAS-1 by Thales or ST2400 by Kongsberg will be good option I think.

Glass Half Full

Leaving aside cost which is old history at this stage (the term sunk cost comes to mind), I agree with OPVs as is being fine for EEZ work inc Caribbean policing, Falklands/S. Atlantic patrols and Mediterranean migration patrols. If the UK needs to increase utility/capability on an ad hoc/exception/all hell breaks loose basis then there seem to be a few options for home waters/littoral environments that may make sense without trying to turn OPVs into corvettes, frigates or dare I say destroyers based on some peoples dreams.

1. Mission module based Captas 1 or Captas 2 ASW capability. Captas 1 comes in 2x 10 foot containers or 1x 20 foot ISO. Captas 2 comes in 1x 20 foot container plus 1x pallet.
2. Or fit temporary collapsible/accordian hanger (optional) and Wildcat with Thales Flash dipping sonar. Korean Wildcats already have this sonar.

Or potentially do both if the Captas sonar doesn’t take flight deck space

1. Mission module i.e. container based. Lots of capability options and it seems increasingly likely UK MCMV will take this path regardless of which vessels are used.

Point Air Defence
1. Container based Sea Ceptor. Nothing excessive needed in terms of numbers and may even be capable of working off the onboard Terma Scanter 4100 2D radar for initial threat identification and targeting.

Clearly container based solutions may well mean giving up helicopter capabilities if requiring flight deck installation on OPVs. However container solutions can be flown anywhere in the world to change capabilities on the fly (sorry couldn’t resist the pun) along with their specialist operating teams. So not reliant on developing the necessary skills base in the full time crew.

Wise Old Owl

Interesting discussion on the SEA5000 sonar options here:

From what I can gather the Ultra VDS on Aussie Hobart class is made in UK, and provides integrated active, passive and S2170 in single tow. Must be a smaller footprint than CAPTAS…1 winch vs 2 (3 if you factor S2170!). Website is a bit naff.

Bloke down the pub

Geospectrum inform me that there are no technical barriers to mounting this system on the side of a vessel , rather than on the stern.


Interesting proposal.

If deployed from the side of the vessel, avoiding screw inflow will be “technically” trickey.

Another point is its towable speed, which is “up to 25knots”, so River B2 will be OK with it. Note CAPTAS-1 is towable up to 30 knots.

Wise Old Owl

TRAPS is definitely at the budget end of the spectrum – it has similar active performance as this sonobuoy.
Probably more aimed at small OPVs…or impersonating an MPA.


Good article on the current status of the Batch 2’s
The exhaust gas treatment system being to latter Batch 2 builds is to reduce the NOx emissions in accordance with IMO Tier 3 requirements. I understand the reason it was not fitted to earlier Batch 2’s is due to a delay in IMO making Tier 3 mandatory and to save money.

Peter Lever

Seems to me that a River Batch 2 OPV could work well in the Caribbean alongside a Bay Class RFA – the 2 could make up for each other’s limitations.


Seems to me that a River Batch 2 OPV could work well in the Caribbean alongside a Bay Class RFA – the 2 could make up for each other’s limitations.

see more at

Last edited 3 years ago by adam

This is what the navy could have had for roughly the same cost each.
Khareef-class corvette – Wikipedia


The Catalytic converter converts nitrogen oxide, not CO2.
See link: