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Could this be a leak designed to show the the Navy needs all its escorts but that the amphibious assault capability is a “luxury”
My guess is the if you put a gun to the First Sea Lords head ( which the government is in reality doing) he would sell the Albions if it allowed him to keep all the escorts and crew the carriers.


Any cuts would be madness, but the lesser evil would be cutting platforms rather than capabilities. Regeneration of the latter is far less likely and more costly.


I wouldn’t be so sure about that. Capabilities have been restored or gained in the past, most visibly the new carriers but also HMS Ocean, the Poseidon MPAs, etc. Meanwhile the escort fleet hasn’t increased since the Second World War (not exactly surprising), but more worryingly it hasn’t survived a single decade since then without losing ships. The submarine fleet is in almost the same situation (numbers did grow briefly during the mid Cold War).

History shows us that no one has ever really protected the mainstay of the fleet, and now when we thought we’d hit rock bottom with 19 (17), we may dip to 17 (15). The French Navy will outgun us as well as outnumber us at that stage


Truely the threats should be towards those in government and the MOD who fail to respond to the obvious and increasing threats. I.E if they pursue policies that lead to being over whelmed by China and Russia they will be held legally accountable even after they have left office, resigned or comfortably retired.

Phillip Johnson

Leaks like this generally come from ministers offices and they are in effect testing the waters to see if any one complains.


Scrap the carriers, its never too late to back out of a bad idea.


1. Slash foreign aid.
2. Cut off people’s dole cheque and tell them to get a job.
3. Increase defense spending to 3% of GDP.

Anthony D

Despite its relatively high profile, spending on jobseeker’s allowance – paid to those who are unemployed and meet certain criteria – accounted for only £2 billion or a little under 1 per cent of total welfare spending.

Meirion X

The Vast majority of welfare spending is pension related, or on social care.
Total Dole would only amount to about £3 billion per year! NOT worth it!

Paul Bestwick

So what instead no aircover for our frigates and destroyers?


A bit like the last 10 years and the next 5 +then?A carrier can’t protect the fleet if it’s been sunk,and anyway, what fleet?


Break out the white flags and hide in a corner, eh?


You shouldnt be on here saying untruthful things like that.


Investing money now on bringing T31 into service as quickly as possible will bring savings and may partially reduce the strain on crewing ships.

The Crew numbers for two T23 is enough for four T31. Granted this won’t address some of the pinch points in crewing issues.

If a couple of T23 are to bow out earlier than planned this maybe acceptable if a couple of T31 were ready or almost ready to fill their shoes.


The debate should not be amphib v Frigate it’s IF there is no more money and short term there isn’t going to be how much do you cut Army which was protected in 2000-15 by Iraq and then Afghanistan,

Money wise defence is getting the 2% of GDP that was demanded and which as is well known is less than most of Europe. But GDP is going to be lower than was in the planning assumptions because of Brexit and the £ is worth less against the $ and € and is likely to fall further.

So if no more money as % of GDP BUT that is less in cash and buying power then the debate becomes what is a priority and an extra battalion taking on the Red Army in Poland is not the priority


2% is not less than most of Europe. Frances spend is broadly similar, the other big states spend less as a % of GDP.


We don’t spend 2% of GDP on defence.

Osborne shoved the costs of MI5 and MI6 plus GCHQ added pensions and the nuclear deterrent costs to the defence budget to get to 2% we actually spend 1.4% on defence which will fall to 1.2% as the cost of the replacement for vanguard begin to soar out of control which they are beginning to.

Anthony D

MI5’s budget is paid from the Single Intelligence Account (SIA) which also provides funding for the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).


Stopping procurement disasters before they happen.The next disaster is the type32e.Why is STRN not campaigning against this obvious lunacy?


Because its the Type 31e!


One disaster after another!


Which is actually a damn good concept , you don’t need a billion pound warship for anti pirate patrols or guard ship duties in the Caribbean.
Actually do we really need to spend 8 billion on 8 frigates ?


You can do those jobs with an OPV ,although you might as well use a frigate if you already have them. We have no use for such a ship, nor does anyone else,which explains why no one buys them.


Quite literally everyone has use for light surface combatants (corvettes for short range coastal defence, frigates for ocean going international deployments). Notable examples include the French La Fayette and upcoming FTI classes, which follow the exact same logic as the Type 31: tasks that require a warship that can defend itself, but that don’t warrant first rate vessels. Anti-piracy, trade protection, visible deterrent, light escort, reconnaissance, and more.

“Was I to die this moment, ‘Want of Frigates’ would be found stamped on my heart.” Admiral Nelson himself saw the need for more frigates, and this is the guy who lead the most famous conventional naval battle in history. Another battleship isn’t worth as much as another half dozen frigates. Was true then, its true now.


I just knew someone would come up with that.You forget the state of communications back in Nelsons day ,frigates were incredibly important for intelligence and communications.Network enabled is what he wanted.All the jobs you’ve mentioned can be done with an OPV with a hanger ,type 31e falls into a capability gap that dosnt exist.


Indeed, Nelson understood the need for intelligence and communications. He also saw the need for utility over pure capability. Frigates gave him options that another first-rate wouldn’t have, such as raiding supply lines, creating diversions, etc. A force of ships of the line supported by a few unarmed boats wouldn’t have given him the save versatility.

An OPV can’t defend itself against an actual warship or land-based launchers, making them a liability anywhere with but the most permissible environments. That rules out deployments to the Gulf and the trade protection role. Anti-piracy I’ll give you, as that doesn’t require any true warfighting capability. As for the deterrent, escort, and recon roles, you need a warship with the offensive, defensive, and sensor capabilities to actually do something. You say the T31 fills a non-existent need, yet navies across the globe see a clear need for comparable vessels.


Obviously, after producing £1 billion underarmed type 26 cruisers with no money for weapons, something has to change. I don’t dispute that we need more escorts and they they are going to have to be cheaper. It’s the procurement strategy that horrifies me.
Remember Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Geoff Hoon,Lord Dryson,Des Brown and the Rand corporation?Remember smart procurement?The predictable result of UK integration/BAE monopoly strategy?Remember what happened to the cost of the carriers when the build was slowed down to save money?
Looks like genius next to the type 31e plan.


Definitely don’t dispute any of that. In a better world a mid-range T26 would’ve gotten underway over a decade ago, with an order for 17-20 hulls.

Tragically, we seem to exist in some sort of hypocratic paradox where borrowing billions for to make the national budget is normal, but spending money sooner rather than later to keep a project running smoothly is apparently insane.


Better to spend .5 bn on upgrading to 8 type 31e with 1/2 decent sensors and spend the remainder on
SSN’s and cut pouring money into various lost causes world wide with the misappropriated Aid budget. But we are led by fools so it wont happen.


1: I understand QNLZ is requiring 800 ship core crew, 130 more than planned 670. PoW will also need 130 more. If we need 260 more crew than planned, from where RN can get it?

Sorry to say, but disbandin 2 T23GP is no problem, and RN may even need to band 3rd one, as proposed early this year.

By doing so, RN can save operation cost (excluding crew cost) for 1 T23 (the 3rd one), and equipment maintenance/licensing cost for 3 T23. I think the latter is also not cheap.

There is no crew. That’s it. Let’s face the reality.

2: If 260 more crew is needed for 2 CVFs, I’m afraid RN is already losing the crew for 2.5 T31e.

From another stand point: if the 5 T31 is to replace 2 (as I propose to cut 3) remaining T23GPs, 360 crew = 3.5 T31e.

Anyway, it will be very difficult to man all 5 T31s without cut elsewhere.

Is it clever to build assets which RN cannot man?

In other words, why not built 2 more T26 (~300 crew), not 5 T31 (~500) ?

Escort number “on paper” will be decreased from 19 to 16. But, active escort number is only decreasing from 17 to 16, and if 13 T23s (8 ASW and 5 GP) are replaced with 10 T26s, I think it is already a “win”. T26 is much more than a simple T23 replacement, I feel.


Your maths is flawed only 1 carrier will be operational at any one time .
The RN is facing a retention problem which has got progressively worse over the last 8 years and although has slowed in certain areas has increased in engineering and electronic arms of the navy.

There are not enough crew to make up a cbg, not enough crew to make up a flight group hence the presence of the USMC F35B.
All these things where known in the 2010 SDR why do you think they wanted to scrap the carriers project? Not just the cost but the long term manning problems it would cause.

Even Lord West now regrets to the ordering of the QEC project saying that the price the navy has paid has destroyed capabilities that will never be rebuilt.

Either we fund our defence properly on a long term plan of 3% of GDP and remove the costs of MI5 and MI6 plus GCHQ and pensions and the deterrent from the defence budget or we slowly end up with no ships due to no sailors and no money.
If defence had seen the same increases as education its budget would be 70 billion a year .


The inactive carrier will still pretty much a full crew. Remember it has to be maintained and do its work up while the other carrier is deployed so that there isn’t a gap, so you’ll still need a full crew minus perhaps the air wing, which will need to transfer its aircraft anyway.

They wanted to scrap the carriers in 2010 because they were taking a hatchet to the defence budget and 2 70,000 tonne carriers were an obvious target, they just couldn’t because of a very smart contract. The manning crisis was partly caused by making 5000 sailors redundant, everything was on relatively on track before HMG showed everyone how potentially insecure a forces career is.

I’m with you on the increase to defence spending. An additional £2bn is needed just to keep current plans on track, but 3% GDP is really needed to create a balanced force.


When trade routes are compromised and energy is denied passage, what then for UK defence? Unless there is a concerted effort to match the rising superpowers, we will feel the effects of not having a navy worthy of true global reach.

Sadly, UK governments never really takes defence too seriously, as too many other priorities get its attention. Many past chancellors have shown utter contempt towards defending the realm, and nothing will change. Worst still, the current chancellor was once Defence Minister so he knows all the moves and tricks the MOD play.

International stability is worse now than it has been for many decades, yet the UK Government continues to present two faces, one purporting to support the three services, and the other, a cynical half-hearted regard.


Sailors are a precious and finite resource.
The priority would be to have them available for front line fighting units.

Five Batch 2 River OPVs could use up approximately 290 sailors that are not available in a front line fighting role.

This is enough to crew three T31 that if designed well could contribute to a front line fighting role.

If cuts are needed to free up crew then cut all five Batch 2 Rivers and replace with three T31. The T31 can perform both the OPV and war fighting role. Where as a OPV is limited in what it can contribute to a war fighting role.


Yes, that’s why the RN didn’t want 5 river batch 2 with no hangers.
Produce the type 31e to an impossible timescale with an abitary budget and mission profile and only disaster can follow. Quickly setting up this industrial capability is going to need lots of investment and a largely foreign workforce.This is a ruinous strategy .


A coast guard outwith the defence budget could take over the Rivers.


EEZ patrol including Falkland’s OPV is vital to UK.

And, on EEZ patrol, a River B2 is a specialist there, and much more capable than a T31.
– River B2 can provide 300 sea-going days with 56 crew in 2:3 rotation = 5.4 sea-going days per crew.
– T31 will, I guess, provide 180 sea-going days with 100 crew = 1.8 sea-going days per crew.

In other words, River B2 out performes T31 by a factor of 3. T31 (not to say T26 nor T45) is much less capable than River B2 if it comes to patrol.

If it comes to combat, T26/45 will out perform T31 by a factor of more than 3, and River B2 will contribute very little. Castle-class OPV and Polar patrol ship did contributed to Falkland war, but not at war fighting.

So a fleet of mixuture of OPV (patrol specialist) and T31 (surveylance light frigate) and T26/T45 (proper escorts) has no problem. The only issue is in the balance between them.


We already had 4 rivers that the RN was perfectly happy with,although hangers would have massively increased their usefulness even without sufficient helicopters. You haven’t really explained what a non proper escort is meant to do.


Dear Grubbie-san

Thanks for comment.

1: River B2 is born to “save” T26, and it is to “replace” River B1. Anyway they are River OPV, regardless of B1 or B2.

2: What a T31e is expected to do is all written in T31 RFI.

It is NOT designed to be a “warfighter”, but is required to join NATO fleet. It is also required to cover tasks in between EEZ patrol and war fighting.

Many of T23 tasks in this decade did not include ASW. Some T23 even deployed without ASW crew. Very little air-threat, and no plan for NGFS. Wildcat is important, as well as RHIBs. I understand T31 is designed to cover these tasks. All the high-end tasks of T23 (TAPS, USN CVTF escort, etc) will be covered by 8 T26s.

As I myself is proposing to ban 5 T31 and add 2 T26 (similar cost with -200 crew), you can see I am not a big fan of T31. But, it has its own rationale, as I understand. French Floreal class is doing their job as “flag waving” perfectly. In Indian ocean and Pacific, France has much better presence than UK, thanks to frequent “contribution” using the Floreals.

T31 is something in-between Floreal and LaFayette.


Type 42s were deployed without seadart as well, but what’s the point?You could just use an OPV. There’s no point in non warfighter warships.


First of all, I am not a fan of T31. I propose to replace 5 T31 with 2 T26 to save crew. It needs similar cost, but 200 less manpower.

But, reading from the info, I can see RN thinks, a ~4000t ship stable to operate a helo, armed with a gun and self-defence AAW kit can do tasks an OPV cannot do.

If we look at T31 candidate “Leander”, we can see it is virtually a “British La-Fayette frigate” with 4 (not 2) RHIBs + 2 ISO containers. Thus, there is a working example RN knows how it works, have some modification plan, and they think it can cover 5/19 = 26% of the tasks RN escorts is covering. As even Floral class is working very well, representing French presence worldwide as a Flag Waving ship and providing value, it is one idea I agree.

This is what I said.


Greetings Donald of Tokyo

The times online has more info on cutting 2 type 23 , apparently also under the knife is the entire type 31 program or 2 type 26 plus losing the 2 type 23.
Apparently the MOD has totally screwed the procurement budget due to the deterrent replacement costs already going over budget.
Also under threat is the F35B order of 138 planes with the RAF pushing for the remainder after the first order of 34 being changed to F35A saving £3 billion and the army loosing 50 challenghers tanks .

The time has come for some very honest and brutal debates about how we fund defence and do we have the political will to make hard decisions if we decide we don’t want to pay the piper.

The type 31 is dead in the water and the Type 26 will mirror the Type 45 numbers game 12 originally ending up with 6 so 8 type 26 will turn into 4 because there is no money .

Good bye Royal Navy.


Thanks Andy-san.

I could not find the Times online, but actually I think “under the knife is the entire type 31 program or 2 type 26 plus losing the 2 type 23” is reasonable, sorry to say.

National Ship building Strategy is totally a bad idea. UK does not have the luxury to grow up 2nd escort builder. Rather go patiant and put effort in controling the BAES high-cost and RN not-well controled requirement lists causing it. In other words, work hard.

If 2 to 3 T23 are to be cut, it means reduction in escort, and T31e rationale disappears. If a cut is needed, cutting T31 is the right thing.

One objection, though.

No good bye to RN.

Military is reality and always there. Just allign it to meet the resource. Of course, this means reduction in requirement. No “east of Sues”. No APT-S (already banned). Retreat from Afganistan. No “seven” squadrons.

But, this is still not the end of the day. Military will be always there.


I actually see us stepping down from a tier 1 capability as there is no political will at the top to maintain it.

To be honest I would like to see the nuclear deterrent scrapped as we actually don’t control it the American do , that would free up £2 billion a year and remove a billion a year from procurement costs .

We gain nothing from having it and the money would be better spent else wear.

I just see the RN becoming a coastal defence force.

The carriers will not see 10 years of service.


The USA is the only Tier 1 player. Everyone else is playing at it. 24 jets on a 70000 tonne target doesn’t make you tier 1.


Won’t be 24 for at least 5 years unless you count the USMC planes , which makes the QE part of the usn, because hell would have to freeze over before the US relinquished control of any part of its military.


I agree!Probably the best thing to do now is ditch the type 31e and build 2 more type 26. This is obviously sub optimal, but if we abandon the crazy idea of deliberately slowing down production and build 2 more, the unit cost should come down significantly. By speeding up the T26 we aviod too much of a gap and wasting money on the type 23.Then come up with a proper plan for a cheaper frigate ,aiming to build 20 in cooperation with countries like Holland, New Zealand ,Poland ,etc built in blocks.There was never any hope of exporting without massive subsidies with the current plan.We shouldn’t worry too much about metal bashing and try and preserve as many key technologies as possible, most of the welders are imported anyway.There is no way out of this mess,caused by a complete lack of vision.What will probably happen, is the type 26 will enter an acquisition death spiral as the numbers decrease and the unit cost rises.


The type 45s have actually deployed with just 4 missiles and 30 rounds of 4.5 on occasion.
I understand not to fully arm in peacetime but our stocks of missiles for the type 45 are not sufficient to fully arm 2 of them .

Meirion X

I very much think the Dreadnought program is draining the Royal Navy’s budget over the next crucial decade for RN fleet procurement. Priced at around £9 billion per sub. is of poor value of money for CASD, and needs to be cancelled. The UK does not need the range of Trident D5 missile. A Trident C4 or like type missile should fit in a Astute class sub. and will be sufficient to cover the range of the North east Atlantic to Eurasia.
If the UK needed to threaten China, a sub. would need to be sent to the Pacific anyway, just think about it!
So why not develop the Astute class for CASD with 4 new build ‘stretched Astute’s with a added missile compartment equipped with a new missile. Cost should be about £2 billion per sub.
Maybe UK could buy USA’s old C4 missiles and upgrade them.
Only USA needs Trident D5 for the range, because of the vast Pacific ocean as well as all of the North Atlantic.
The some of money save should be spent on a more capable mid range fleet escorts and BMD for UK base’s.