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The Whale Island Zoo Keeper



Shame that there won’t be an ASW sonar operator in the crew


‘Capability upgrades under MOD’ – Mk 41 VLS, sonar, torpedos?’ Will MOD will contract Babcock to do this work?

Supportive Bloke

Mk41 is already green lighted.

Sonar is highly likely./

Torpedoes – no idea but a heavy drone mounted torpedoe delivery system would be my preference.

Last edited 7 months ago by Supportive Bloke

No indication that a sonar or anything other than Mk41 will be added before entering service.

Supportive Bloke

Is said Mk41 green light – very publicly announced
Sonar – *likely* – didn’t say a cert


Why is sonar likely? If there was a plan for a sonar would it not be smart to build the ship with a sonar dome?


So this might come as a shock, but ships are equipped with what they need for their planned duties. I know this is wild right, a GPF doing constabulary duties like Fishing/Pirate/Island Hurricane duties doesn’t need sonar. I know shocking right! It is amazing that GPFs spend 90% of their time doing this stuff.


So this might come as a shock, but you cant read. I was asking a question to Supportive Bloke about why he thought a sonar was likely. I was not advocating for sonar in that specific message.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

1) It doesn’t need missiles, air search radars, or medium guns either.

2) It is a very brave, radical and far reaching idea to strip everything away.

3) Perhaps the money saved could perhaps purchase nets for fishing duties and perhaps a Jolly Roger for pirating duties?


Almost all GP frigates, except some light frigates (3,000t or less surveillance types like Floreal class), have a hull mounted sonar. Without it or a viable alternative (like a sonar equiped helicopter) you are not General Purpose. You need to be able to do some of everything, including ASW & mine avoidance. If your frigate is operating globally & things go pear shaped somewhere, it has a fair chance of coming into action on its own. If it does join up with others, they are restricted on what they can do with it & it currently has very limited AAW & ASuW capability to give it something useful to contribute. Even a Floreal can at least do NGFS. T23 GP has hull mounted sonar, 32 CAMM, AShM & a NGFS & ASuW capable main gun.

It’s the other 10% that you may encounter that can get you or others killed. What’s the odds your house will burn down? What’s the odds that you took out insurance anyway?


1: General Purpose is NOT multi-purpose. “Must have hull sonar” is just your personal opinion. At least in RN standard, it is as such. Read the T31 RFI, Zero requirement (just FFBNW) for hull sonar. T31 RFI is RN official document.

World is large and SSK is very very expensive nowadays. There are many theaters you do not need any ASW capability.

2: By the way, I also “personally” do like to see some ASW capability “optionally possible” with T31. But, looking at all ASW-related reports, I’d like to see “2 of the 5 T31 equipped with CAPTAS-4 sonar” much more than “all 5 T31 equipped with some hull sonar”. If RN is to spend skilled ASW crew on an escort, they must have good sensor, not very inferior (against SSK) hull sonar.

3: Mine avoidance sonar can be added. It is cheap and does not require skilled ASW crew.

Last edited 7 months ago by donald_of_tokyo
The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

1) The RN can’t afford front line combat ships like T31 not to have sonar. The cost of the system over and against the total cost of the ship and crew is insignificant.

2) You need to explain how GP it not multi purpose.

3) Countries might not be able to afford submarines. But they may be allied to countries that do.

Last edited 7 months ago by The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

• The T31 has Sonar 270, you wouldn’t go hunting a sub with that but it detects torpedoes, etc. but then the T26 is the sub-hunter, which is why it is way more expensive.
• Only the foolish risk a warship close to shore for NGFS these days.
• It will most probably get the NSM too as each T23 is retired along with the CAMMs.


And at the moment they are still non-existent and there are very very few of them even planned.


2 T31 under construction, not quite non-existent

Supportive Bloke

And why not the T23 GP hull mounted sonar?


Because it’s not in the budget. The MoD and Babcock are already in a fight over money. The last thing the MoD will do is change the spec and give Babcock an excuse to charge more and deliver late.


T25 is way more expensive as it was done the old fashioned way, lots of studies, delays, definition of requirements , often changes. All the while MoD was a captive client of BAE.

I read recently on a helicopter requirement , the Air Corps wanted 50 changes to the AH-64 Apache upgrade from the old version. The Minister of Defence and the Chief of General Staff werent having any of that nonsense and the rebuild/upgrade was done to the standard Boeing system on offer that US Army gets.


Be careful what you wish for. It’s not that T26 was done in an old-fashioned way and T31 was done in a “modern” way. The requirement for T26 as contracted was pretty much identical to that for the original FSC Initial Gate in 1999.

The reason T26 took so long was not “lots of studies”, but down to two main factors :

  1. HMT could always ask the question “can you safely extend T23” and until the late noughties, the answer was yes. Beyond that point, the answer started to be yes – but it’ll cost huge sums and require years to complete. At that point the balance shifted in favour of a new ship.
  2. In the design phase, BAES applied their usual risk-reduction approach which was to throw design resource at the project, doing huge amounts of detail. Unfortunately, a major design change was required and because they’d done too much detail too early, there was no money left to do that revision. Long stand-off over who would pay, compounded by trying to hide the size of the thing (in displacement terms) and a comedy build schedule and price. Nothing to do with “requirements” per se.

Before we all prostrate ourselves at the altar of the T31 as the “new” way, we might want to wonder whether – for example – a 20 year old design has all the growth margin the RN want……

Supportive Bloke

But they are warships.

And warships need to be able to do the war thing.

War is packaged to include the unexpected.

If we send a CSG to the next ‘unforeseeable war’ – remember Libya just after the wisdom of deciding no carriers were needed for 19 years – then it will have to deal with whatever it finds.

Active sonar is an area denial tactic – the sonar can also be used to passively listen for reflections from active sonar buoys and this is where multiple ships at multiple vectors can be really helpful.


There is no money to pay for this. This is especially true as the MoD now has to fund a proportion of the service pay rise from the existing budget.
T31 will be used in mid threat areas and for global presence missions. High end war fighting will be left to the carrier/T26/45.


It’s a war ship, in a war it will do high end’s not an OPV. It’s a 6000 ton GP frigate, that will have MK41 silos, CAMM and a good gun will be in high end conflict And it will almost certainly end up as part of a carrier or amphibious group.

Last edited 7 months ago by Jonathan
Supportive Bloke

I agree.

In ’82 anything that floated was sent down South.

T31 is already, relatively, better spec’d that ships sent down South.

With a few tweaks and upgrades it is a very fighty ship.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Sonar is more important Mk41.

Mid threat areas? There won’t be any mid threat areas. Who will be fighting with a 6000 tonne warship on its own?

I am constantly amazed at the mental gymnastics here to justify poor RN decisions by creating all manner of whacky scenarios.

The Chinese are building a European navy each year. And the PLAN is going to be deployed worldwide.

Mid threat area……Good grief…………….


0: In ALL ASW related reports, low-frequency active-passive VDS+TASS systems is stated as “quantum leap in capability” against hull sonars. This mean, hull sonar is “quantum leap-level inferior” to CAPTAS-4 or alike. CAPTAS-like sonar is more important, but is hull sonar so?

1: Pinging a hull sonar is equivalent to saying “please shoot a torpedo to me” to the enemy sub. SSK may not shoot a torpedo, if there is an air-cover, such as Merlin and P-8A which will come to sink it if T31 had been sunk. As hull-sonar is so inferior to modern SSK, SSK will be located very near to T31, and torpedo countermeasure may not have enough time to react.

And, if there are P-8As and Merlins in the sky, why not they themselves ping?

2: Pinging a CAPTAS-4 will detect SSKs from large distance (as described as “quantum leap”). SSK might shoot a torpedo, but torpedo countermeasure can do all what they want. And, still, SSK location is known = they are almost dead.

Do we really need a hull sonar on T31? Hull sonar will never make her an ASW escort (not even 2nd-rate).

I would rather invest the resources to ARCIMS SeaSense ASW USV, and/or SeaGuadian MQ-9B ASW-USV. For T31, mine-avoidance sonar is the most we need. If any ASW sonar, add CAPTAS-4 and make T31 the 2nd-rate ASW escort.

Supportive Bloke

It is what the sonar is used for that matters.

Sonar can be active or passive.

You can use the hull sonar to passively listen for reflections from active sonar buoys that were dispensed by Merlin, drone, P8 or potentially fired out of the T26’s main gun. This does not give away the location of anything other than the sonar buoy.

Yes, T31 will never be T26 in any way shape or form.

The range of a modern active hull sonar is absolutely massive and in most circumstances far greater than torpedo range. So banging away with active sonar, whilst it does give away the T31’s position, also makes it very, very risky for the sub to approach. So you effectively create a sterile zone. This can be used to herd a sub into the waiting Merlin / T26 combo that are ready to pounce.

As for P8 it is hard to understand how it would operate persistently long way from home? Think Corporate again that would be very hard to manage even with the P8’s considerable range without AAR.


“The Chinese are building a European navy each year. And the PLAN is going to be deployed worldwide.”

Of course, UK is NOT fighting against China by their own. Persian Gulf and other trade area are still very important for UK. And, threats from terrorist in the middle-east does NOT disappear even if China is building several escorts every year. Actually, this means UK shall send much cheaper (to build and operate) escorts to these “not China, but still important theater”.

As MUCH as you up-arm your KIPION frigate, as LESS the T45 and T26 which shall confront China (together with US) will be armed. Bad thing, I think?

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Your comment is so shortsighted and skewed and frankly bizarre I honestly don’t know where to start to address it.

Terrorism is the Gulf? You think not spending about £30 million on a sensor that tells you what is happening beneath the vast expanse that surrounds a ship is justified because terrorism in the Gulf? Do you think the Gulf states don’t have assets of their own to deal with terrorism. How does a 5000 tonne frigate from NW Europe factor into this scenario. You seem obsessed with the Gulf. You mention it in every thread. If the UK start to frack gas we won’t need a presence in the Gulf. The Saudis and Iranians are now in diplomatic talks. And what happens if Iran allows China (or Russia) to base SSK’s there for their own security? I just don’t follow it at all. Don’t buy a sonar because Gulf terrorism………Wow………

The West is short of escorts and submarines. Navies don’t spend a lot of their time now fighting wars. They do spend an awful lot of time watching other navies. T31 can’t do that without a sonar. If we are sending a ship somewhere you can bet somebody else will be interested too in that area. If only to see why we are interested. And if it comes to an exchange of fire a ship that cannot ‘see’ beneath the waves is hobbled. This is so fundamental it is actually hard to put into words. Post WW2 the RN didn’t go out to invest in large number of AAW assets but they did invest heavily ASW because the sea provides the ultimate camouflage. That’s why small countries buy submarines. Submarines are instruments of sea denial. The idea that in several hundred square miles of ocean off a coast or at a choke point there is a submarine is enough to give commanders pause.

The West is running short of submarines and escorts. And the security situation is now global not just defined to continental theatres. We can’t afford to have hulls that can’t look after themselves or contribute to the overall security of a task group.


You get me wrong, completely.

I want RN to be equipped with better ASW assets. And, I think “adding a hull sonar to T31” will never make it a good ASW asset. So, I am against such waste of money. UK must put effort on improving ASW capability, not adding a nearly useless hull sonar to T31.

What is more needed are (sorted from my personal priority):

1: simply increase T26. It is an ASW escort, world best. 9th and 10th hull is very important.

2: simply increase P-8A and/or buy MQ-9B SeaGuadian UAV with ASW kits added. We all know, from SSK, ASW assets in the air is the most feared (while a T31 will hull sonar is peanuts).

3: buy a few kits of ARCIMS SeaSense ASW system. Choke point ASW can be well covered by them. It is equipped with low-frequency active passive sonar with TASS, although a small version (Atlas’s ACTAS).

4: If adding anything to T31, it must be CAPTAS-4 or CAPTAS-4 CI (a compact version with shorter TASS), not a hull sonar (which is “quantum leap” inferior). If CAPTAS-4 is too expensive, try Atlas’s ACTAS (but, only if coupled with ARCIMS SeaSense is purchased. Commonality will reduce maintenance cost).

Adding hull sonar to T31 is, “if money is there, not bad to have”. And as there is not enough money nor man-power, I am not a fan of it.

If there are money and man-power to add hull sonar to all 5 T31, I will rather leave 3 T31 not having it, and buy CAPTAS-4 for the remaining 2. T31 without sonar has a lot of jobs in Persian Gulf. Not because there is no submarine threat, but because there are plenty of air-based ASW assets, which is much much better than a hull sonar on T31, there. Also, T31 has a torpedo detection sonar and decoy system.

I really hope you can understand I am thinking much of ASW, not less of. SSK capability is so high, so that ASW must be done with systems of system, not just a single hull sonar on T31.

This is what I meant.

Last edited 7 months ago by donald_of_tokyo
The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Because you are talking rubbish. You quote facts here there and everywhere. But you have no understanding. None at all.

You can tell me you are against wasting money when you advocate sending a frigate to sea without a sonar.

The sonar is where the ship is. WHERE THE SHIP IS.


What sonar? If it is CAPTAS-4, I have no objection.

For ASW CAPTAS-4 is needed. Actually, more T26 is needed. Hull sonar, as you like. Constellation class, Japanese FFM both does NOT have a hull sonar other than mine avoidance sonar. They use CAPTAS like sonar for ASW.

Last edited 7 months ago by donald_of_tokyo

What is the purpose of the RN if it doesn’t bring anything to the fight other than police-ship duties? Might as well stay in port and save money that way. Either the UK gets serious or gets out of the navy business. The current path is going to end in pain and embarrassment.


Uhmm, I myself is proposing hard to make RN capable to fight… Why you have different impression?… May be my wording is bad, sorry.

My point has 2 items.

Item-1: T31 need CAPTAS4-level sonar if operated for ASW in solo. Hull sonar is not bad when operated with other assets. But in solo, it is nearly meaningless because she will always lose.

Item-2: KIPION tasks are not solo. There are many ASW assets there, much better than “T31 with hull sonar”. Adding a hull sonar is good, but will NOT dramatically change the situation. Modern SSK is very quiet and adopts sound-stealth (hull shape and tile) and therefore “multi-static low frequency active-passive” is the only way to beat it (the reason for item-1).

Among the many assets deployed in Persian Gulf, T31 is the best to fight against fast-boat-swarm and small-drones-swarm, much better than T26 or T45. T31 can work well as a member of allied forces there.

So even if RN do not have money and man-power to add CAPTAS-4 to all 5 T31, 2-3 T31 (for KIPION in rotation) can work.

But, how about another 3 T31? I agree it is a problem, I agree.

…. Details…..

RN’s asset to fight ASW is T26 and not T31. I am not a fan of T31. T31 ate £2Bn cost, equivalent to 2.5 T26 hulls. I think RN shall order more T26. But RN has ordered 5 T31 (without a sonar) and 8 T26 (ASW specialist), and the Defense Command Paper to come next week is said to be with “not enough money”.

Note that even with “no money”, RN pushed for “Mk41 VLS” rather than “sonar onboard T31”. This also means, RN is thinking “T31 without sonar is more fighty than T31 without Mk.41 VLS”.


Supplement comment.

If you mean you want more T26 and less T31, I agree.

If you mean a hull sonar on T31 will make it a good ASW warfighter, I’m sure it will not. T31 is the best anti-swarm escorts in RN. Adding a CAPTAS4 sonar to T31, I have no big objection. It is about how much money is left for RN.

Last edited 7 months ago by donald_of_tokyo
The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Exactly. One of the plus points about going with the IH design over the offering is size. This means the T31 will be able to move with the carrier. At which point some loon eager to bash their keyboard without engaging brain comments to say something like ‘They aren’t supposed to do that………’


The T31’s won’t be with the carriers much because they will be long term forward based doing trade protection and defence diplomacy. They may on occasion work with a passing carrier both British and allied but it will be a tiny part of their time.


Interesting, the specialist ASW frigates and AAW Destroyers I served were very capable of, and often did act as “General Purpose” ships, doing all kinds of “constabulary” duties and HADR work. What comes as a shock is the myopic view of GPF as “giant OPV” with no capability for full on “war role” – if you are equipped you can slide down the scale, but if you are not equipped you cannot slide up it. Let’s keep our finders crossed they actually get the mk41’s, and something useful to put in it!

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Those specialist ASW frigates could also fire on aircraft. And the specialist AAW destroyers had a sonar and did well in ASW exercises…….


No don’t see this. Was amazed Mk41 was added, was hoping for NSM moved from T23 at best.
Helo with sonar best chance.

Supportive Bloke

The ship is described as FFBNW sonar.

So the spaces are there and the inner watertight compartment and lockout will be there.

Cutting a sonar dome into the hull plates is not the biggest job in the world.

The cost of the sonar itself is not that high.

The issue is more rates to man the sonar.


Isnt the ‘dome’ more of an add on to the hull with just the cables run through the hull plating, a retractable dome could be more complicated


Not quite. There’s a thick (~100mm) sole plate machined to a tolerance to mount the array on. Then there’s the actual dome and more importantly the fastening arrangement that ensures it doesn’t go walkies under sea loading……

Supportive Bloke

There are different ways of doing it.

The full fat way is that there is a fibreglass dome that is effectively sonar transparent.

The sonar sits inside this.

As N-a-B says this can be on a hydraulicly retractable sole plate that must return with precision and lock so the sonar doesn’t go walkies and equally alignment is maintained as well as providing the critical damping (the mass of the plate, its resonance and how it is mounted are all important) when the dome hits a submerged TUE etc.

The dome leads into a watertight compartment within the hull with a double set of watertight doors so if the fibreglass dome is breached the ship is fine.

The sonar semi-wet space can be accessed for maintenance – checking connections etc

That has broadly been the arrangement from the Counties onwards.


The sole plate isn’t retractable. It’s an integral part of the structure.

It forms the flat surface on the underside of the bow unit shown in this pic.

The forward section of the first Type 26 frigate is rolled out – Naval Post- Naval News and Information

Supportive Bloke

Maybe I’m dreaming but I’m sure we used to lift the sonar on Glamorgan up internally……

Mind you after 35 years my memory may be wonky.


That’s because Glamorgan had a hull mount (which may have been retractable), whereas modern ships moved to a much larger bow array.

Supportive Bloke

Sorry – you are right – on reflection.

The sonar dome, fixed, post 1987(?) refit was right in the centre of the ship.

The retractability was the sonar element itself which, seemingly, broke every 5 mins. So anyone was dive trained was roped in as being the rescue guy on standby.

Pete lloyd

It doesn’t say its going to be painted battleship grey either.But the odds are it will be.Duh.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

I was hoping for black hull, white upperworks, and buff uptakes.


BAE Systems containerised torpedo launch system concept, one of the more ‘fighty’ PODs options which could mitigate for the lack of fixed TLS on the RN’s Type 26 variant (Image: BAE Systems).

Screen Shot 2023-07-12 at 13.49.25.png

“Mk41 is already green lighted.”

But not sure for the first 2-3 vessels. We do not even know the amount of budget allocated. I think it is more in concept phase, than in purchase phase. This means, at least the first ship will not have Mk.41 VLS next year to be integrated.

I think it is almost sure that, T31-hull1 will not be with Mk.41 VLS, unless we are happy to “commission” her in very late 2020s.

Last edited 7 months ago by donald_of_tokyo
Supportive Bloke

All possibly true.

But as I have postulated before the Mk41 VLS for T26 will have already been ordered, with all the other long lead time stuff, and could well be sat in a warehouse somewhere.

If those can be used as ‘stock’ and backfilled with new units then it might not mess up the timetable as much as it might appear to if LM can produce more units.

I grant you that hull #1 and maybe #2 might well be the last hull(s) to get Mk41 VLS fitted as they might be too far along for this integration at build stage.


You can postulate all you want. Stick to the facts.

Supportive Bloke

The spending of monies for long lead time kit for T31 and T26 was announced long ago to Hansard and by press release.

The FMS acquisition of T26 Mk41 VLS is also in the public domain.

Those are the known facts

I *speculated* that LM might be able to backfill Mk41 units that were bought for T26 so they could be used for T31 – that isn’t that crazy a stretch.

I believe that T31 will have 16 Mk41 and 12 Sea Ceptor as this requires minimal cutting about and will fit into the space reserved for the 32 Mk41 VLS slots. It could be 16 Sea Ceptor but that would imply a part used control cabinet as each cabinet controls 12 missiles. Maybe a higher packing density is possible as it is cold launched?


Deal in facts. Not what you wish will happen. We have been on this road many times before with the Royal Navy.

Ancient Mariner

T31 is slated to carry at least a Wildcat helicopter and has an Air Weapons magazine so aerial launched torpedoes seem to most likely ASW weapon outload?


I can’t honestly see her being in the water in 2023…..maybe rolled out sometime next year?


In water by New Year? My arse.

Some of the steelwork quality looks a tad shoddy in the second pic as well.

Supportive Bloke

I was thinking exactly that too.

There is(are) very bendy connection member(s) for linking the decks (?)…..they look like they are not continuously welded to the bulkhead which makes little sense or they are very deflected which makes even less sense…..could be angle if the photo but not an amazing look.

If it is a handout photo I’m amazed it was allowed out.


Stiffeners depending upon location get stitch welded. Saves on weight and ful pen welds over the full length add little that stitch welding does.


Not according to those nice people from LR. I wasn’t referring to the stiffeners, more some of the shell plating


Yes . Compare to the hull support structure in grey – probably built by a structural steel contractor off site- looks very ‘neat’


I was on an LR compliant RFA yesterday. Not everything is full pen continuous length welding. As I said stitching is permissible in certain areas. In the photo the use of container type crinkle steel adds stiffness without using longies or stiffeners but saves weight higher up.

I wouldn’t worry about decks. They will get a cement type underlay with an epoxy coating over the top to smooth them out. It deadens noise and gives the crew something to scrub at sea.

The paint finish again not an issue. Steel plate is protected at manufacture with a weld through coating. It stops corrosion but allows welding to happen without affecting weld quality. The 30ccm either side of the welds will be locally spot blasted and primed separately.


Minor bulkheads and flats, yes. Intermittent welds permissible.

Major load carrying structure, not so much. It’s not about weight-saving (frankly, if you’re worried about the extra weight of some weld material, you’ve got big problems!), rather trying not to put too much heat into thin plate – which ends up with lots of residual stress, distortion and some fairly meaty remedial work to get back in alignment.

I don’t think there are any corrugated bulkheads in that ship – the photos seem to show standard flat plate with offset angle stiffening. The bit I was intrigued by was the shell plating port side in the second photo. The strake doesn’t follow the line of the rest of the shell – looks to me like they’ve had to hack out some of the shell and re-do it for some reason.

It’s not particularly surprising. This will be the first real ship that Rosyth has built and doing complex curvature is always a learning process. It’s also a bit hit and miss with the pens for cabling pipework and HVAC. While there are some marked and cut iwo 2 deck bulkheads, there’s little evidence of the actual pens and bulkhead pieces themselves. Could just be that they’re doing the installation of those once the next block is integrated on the hull, but it’s usually easier to cut them on the plasma bed, rather than in situ.


I think even BAE couldnt get everything inside the hull for first of class before it was closed up, and some equipment was put in later through an ‘new opening’.

Just in time works well on paper


This is less about getting everything in, more about the apparent absence of completed pre-outfit – in particular hotwork. The issue with Glasgow was a gearbox delay from te esupplier – which has to be in the ship prior to launch.

Venturer has a shipping route on 1 deck (which is the missing panel on the bulkhead in the photo).


Just relooked at Photo 2.
Maybe they had to put something in so cut out the plate or the weld failed a Bomb shot and they had to grind it out and start again?

Lots of temp external stiffener evidence to get the blocks to align for welding but that’s common on hull work.

Crinkle bulkhead to right internal on photo 2 and on the unit being fabricated on the floor adjacent to the ship. Its not uncommon to see it in use above the waterline.

If the T23 plate is a good starting point, then a T31 plate should be around 12-15mm below the waterline. Heating should be manageable with that thickness of plate and modern welding techniques.
I have worked on USN PC craft with 6mm plate below going to 4mm above the waterline. Stich welding, staggering the welding areasto allow cooling off where all needed. Using modern inert gas welding kit with continuous feed rod helps enormously in managing heat input and weld quality especially on block assembly using robot welders. Using sticks (SMAW) leaves you at the mercy of the welder and how good he is.


Cross purposes again, I think. Heating on shell plating of >12mm isn’t what I was referring to. It was minor bulkheads of 3 and 4mm steel which is where one normally sees intermittent welding for angle or flatbar stiffeners, because continuous welding (even staggered) just puts too much heat in – and for no real strength benefit.

Looking again, they do appear to have corrugated minor bulkheads on that unit on the floor and on the port-side on 1 deck. The forward bulkhead on the ship is at fr128 and the corrugation is a couple of frames abaft that forming a minor non-WT bulkhead.

Still surprised at that shell plating strake I’m pretty sure the compartment it forms doesn’t have anything substantial in terms of equipment to fit. I think all the NDE is UT for that part of the structure, so it would have to be a fairly significant defect to replace the plate. Might just be they had welded up the main frames and longy’s all the way, prior to joining the butts and discovered that you don’t do that, so you’ve got some re-alignment scope.

All part of the learning curve for Babcock I suspect.


No industrial design teacher would allow that hull surface form.


Interesting question on the ‘original’ schedule.

I’m pretty sure the original 2016 tender launch and National Shipbuilding Strategy wanted them in service by 2023, not launched (or ’emerging from a construction hall’) in 2023.


Quite possibly. I note they will undergo a capability upgrade before entering service, so I assume that incudes installation of Mk41 Vls which will delay entry into service further, although it will be worth the wait.


Only if by then the RN has weapons on hand that can use the Mk41. Currently there are no weapons under contract for the Mk41.

Supportive Bloke

There are plenty of missile types, that are cleared for Mk41, that are in production.

That is the least of anyone’s worries.

Look on the brights side: at least there are missile launchers being fitted.


They may be in production. Some of them may even be integrated in the generic version of the CMS, but probably not most of the American ones. But if they’re not even budgeted for never mind ordered for the RN it’s in my mind questionable if service entry should be delayed for fitment of a launcher for nonexistent weapons.

Supportive Bloke

The Danes and the Dutch have quite a lot of missiles integrated with TACTICOS / Mk41 VLS

SM-2 IIIAs – Danish
SM3 – Dutch
SM-6s – Danish
Tomahawk – Dutch

Are all integrated as well as a few other things hinted at.

The Germans are in on the act too.


Not sure if the “mid market” radar fitted to the T31 would support any of the US SM series of missiles. But irrespective of that nothing is in the very tight MoD budget never mind under contract.

Supportive Bloke

Don’t think of a ship as just its radars and CMS.

It is part of a system of systems – it might well be firing missiles at a target spotted by T45 and then mid course corrected by SAMPSON on T45 or the very powerful air search radars on T45 or QEC.

It could well be one of the reasons T45 isn’t getting Mk41 that it can remotely use the other Mk41’s coming into the fleet.


There is no way the U.K. will be buying any Mk41 compatible anti air missiles until at lest the T83 happens.


Do they have the extended length Mk-41 launcher to take some of these big missiles

Supportive Bloke

There is space for them in T31 and the Danes have them – what is ordered is another matter!


Danes have SM-2 Block IIIA missile not the ‘longer version’


Yes, but they have a proper radar in their ships.

I am not aware of any current Standard missile that operates from ships that do not have 360º simultaneous radar coverage.


Are you sure ?
The T26 has the MK41 too


Yes. The new Anglo-French long range system is planned to be Mk41 compatible but isn’t yet under production contract. It is supposed to come into service shortly after T26. There are increasing questions about exactly how shortly given the system is still at the concept stage.


That date was always a fantasy. After the time it took to agree a contract and the chosen bid depending on a lot of facilities construction and staff recruitment/training the initial contract date was way way after the tender fantasy one.

Supportive Bloke

Which I am finding very hard to believe as the hull is not even vaguely finished.

And there is not much evidence of pre outfitting of the modules – no pipes wires or ducts hanging out of any of the openings. Which means the next phase will take ages.


Good catch. For first of class it would seem to make sense to get the basic outfitting done and then increase that for later ships. It seems that its 1960s all over again


Navy lookout in July 2021 story said the same as above
The first ship will be in the water in 2023, handed over to the RN in 2025 and fully in-service by 2027.’

2 years later it would seem the in the water date has slipped again , or have they kept the in water date but have no pre outfitting at all for a fully enclosed hull
HMS Glasgow being joined up


“Once accepted from Babcock, all five ships will undergo a period of capability upgrades under the MoD and demonstration trials before entering service”.

What is included here? Here is my candidate list.

(1) CAMM?
Even after the MOD contract with MBDA for SeaCeptor integration with TACTICOS CMS, Babcock spokes person continued to say, they do not know how many CAMM launchers will be carried. If CAMM is to be added in “a period of capability upgrades under the MoD”, this makes it consistent.

(2) ESM/ECM/communication kits?
Not sure, but there are said to be equipment carried over from existing T23GP fleet.

(3) Mk.41 VLS?
3-1: It is announced but not yet clearly budgeted nor designed. All sources says the number is “up to” 32-cell, which means the design is not yet determined. Even said budget is not announced. For example, Interim-SSM program was announced with “£200M” budget. Future Commando Force new LSS conversion plan was announced with “£35M” budget. But we see no such number for Mk.41. It the program in much more concept phase, with budget NOT allocated yet?

3-2: Detailed designing takes time. See T45 adding CAMM program announced mid-2021 and starting its work on mid-2023. It is normal it took 2 years from decision to start work.

If “totally replacing” the amidship place with 32-cell Mk41 VLS, then the design is there (IH-class, if the space under the CAMM launcher is NOT used for anything else), but this means T31 will lose CAMM.

ExLS in Mk.41? It is not yet certified, no one have ever adopted it. This means, UK will be the kick-off customer of it. Very good thing, but surely will cost and also need time. Even its stand-alone system’s kick-off customer is Canadian Navy with their T26 frigate. Surely doable, but surely costs and take time.

This is my view.


“Once accepted from Babcock, all five ships will undergo a period of capability upgrades under the MoD and demonstration trials before entering service”.

This means it will take years. But, RN needs new GP frigate immediately.

1: There is only 3 T23GP now. At least, 2 are for KIPION deployment (in rotation). In the original plan, 5 T23GP are planned to go out of service in 2023, 24, 25, 26 and 27. Two has already been gone. So, we need the first T31 “accepted into service” on 2025. Not “handed over to RN”, nor “commission”. This means starting RN trial on early 2024 at least. (it includes first-of-class-ship trial thus normally takes 2 years)

In short, no time left.

2: Fortunately, we do not need Mk41 for KIPION tasks. Even “only 12 CAMM” can work there.

In short, no Mk41 needed for 2-3 hulls.

So I think the speed of the program is very important here and thus RN shall proceed with “12 CAMM” or “20 CAMM” to save time for the first two hulls. (20 CAMM in 16-cell Mk.41 VLS equivalent area, just “copy” the arrangement RNZN did for their frigates).

Not delaying T31 hull1-2 is very important also for RN, because RN is confronting severe shortage of manpower. If RN can “double crew” BOTH T31-hull1 and 2, they can replace the task-load of the remaining 3 T23GPs (one is “double crewed” = 4 hulls equivalent). At the same time, “185×4 – (110+15 (air))x4 = 240” will be freed.


There is no Kipion rotation per se …unless you count it happening every 4 years. Once out here they stay here the same way that the MCM force has. The crew RIP’s in and out every 4 months.

Weapons fit wise it’s a fair call. The CAMM fit is dual role nowadays having a quick reaction anti surface capability as well. With the heavy gun armament and PODS fitted adding additional capability (Of some description) they will be ideal for KIPION. I had heard that 2 will eventually be out this way. One Gulf and the other LSG.

Sandown’s will be gone by 2025 and Hunts will then follow along with the FSU. That will release a chunk of manpower as well.


Thanks for clarity.

“There is no Kipion rotation per se …unless you count it happening every 4 years.” : I am talking about this “every 4 years”. KIPON-used frigates go into loooong refit (or decommission) after coming back. This means, to keep 1 KIPION deployed, you need 2 hulls.

“Sandown’s will be gone by 2025 and Hunts will then follow along with the FSU. That will release a chunk of manpower as well.” : Uhhhm. I doubt it.

RN already lost 3 Sandowns and two Echos. Where these crews went?
Forming the MCM-USV team of MCH-block1.
RFA Stirling Castle and Proteus are handled by RFA, and RN crew is there for specialist operation.

Note that 1000 man-power has been lost within Jan 2022 to Jan 2023, coincident with 3 Sandown loss and 2 Echo loss (and manned-escort number reduced from 11 to 10).

The remaining Sandowns’ crew and Hunts’ crew will be needed for MCH block2, including “up to 4” LSVs. Not so many crew will be release for escorts. And this is before considering further man-power loss going on this year…


It will release manpower.
You dont need a full on Sandown crew to man a container and service boats that you lift in and out of the water.

However there may well be some loss of “Gaps” being done by cutting ships and crews. It happened before and will happen again. ” Well you lived without that gap being filled for 4 years so you obviously didn’t need it filling”


RNZN used the older single cell layout, rather than the later closer 6 cell layout, so I would expect closer to 24 rather than 20. Each launch controller can also only handle 12 CAMM, so its cost effective to get as close to multiples of 12 as possible.


Sorry, no. RNZN 20-cell CAMM launcher has HIGHER density than RN 6-cell system. IF you carefully look at it, it is clear.

By comparing the “16-cell Mk.41 equivalent area”, you can see RNZN is slotting 20 CAMMs there, while T26 slots only 12.

Actually, RNZN first said it is 12. But, later it came out as 20. I think someone in the navy said, “12 is not enough”, and packed as much as they can. I think they wanted to make it 24, but as they do not modify the hull there, and sticked to the room reserved for 16-cell (short-version) Mk.41 VLS, it came out as 20.

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The T26 overhead shows and is described as 24 silos and another 24 in front of the bridge, where did you get ’12’ from


OK, will say it again in a different way.

T26’s forward silo for 24 CAMM uses equivalent area with 24-cell Mk41 VLS (actually, a bit larger space).

Te Mana’s 20 CAMM silo used 16-cell Mk41 VLS area.

The latter is higher density. I hope it is clearer now…


Te Mana had only an 8 cell Mk41.

I appreciate your detailed info but Its the 12 cells on the T26 that your graphic does agree with
24 sea ceptor behind funnel and another 24 forward of the bridge
Plus a group of 24 Mk41 ( 3x 8)


Te Mana had a VLS area for 16-cell Mk41, but just equipped with 8 cells when built. On her modernization, 20-cell CAMM tube is installed in the deck area for the 16-cell mk41. In short, Te Mana carries 25% more CAMM than Mk41 cell numbers.

T26’s forward CAMM has 24 cells. It uses a bit larger area than the area used for 24 cell Mk41.

Thus, TeMana CAMM VLS area has higher density than T26. In other words, if RN decide to increase CAMM load from 48-total to 60 (25% more), it is doable by adopting TeMana’s configuration.

I hope it is clearer now.

Phillip Johnson

Several comments have already touched on this but I will say it out loud:-
. ‘If the pictures are recent, this ship is about 12 months behind original schedule. It was supposed to be in the water this year and it hasn’t got a hope’.
It is not just the missing steelwork there is absolutely no sign of pre outfitting as the various bulkhead holes show. You would also expect internal surfaces to be in more than red oxide primer.
Question… much trouble is the project in? I would suggest both schedule and budget are at risk.


To the surprise of absolutely no-one, with the possible exception of some of the more credulous senior mgmt in Babcocks.

Ship 1 will slip, because they’ve never built a ship at Rosyth before and they’re learning that having a big assembly shed does not make you a shipbuilder. But no-one sensible really expected them to hit the dates. It’ll get better.

I wouldn’t worry about the paint at this stage. There’s a unit/block butt to weld up. Not a lot of point putting a nice new paint system on, only to get it covered in weld spatter. Once the pre-outfit hotwork has been finished in that area, then they’ll get the painters in.

Last edited 7 months ago by N-a-B
Supportive Bloke

The issue is more if they learn from this and get up to speed.

This may well be why BW opened T32 up.

Also part of the funding fudge with Babcock may well be to put the seatings in for T31 as the rest of the thing is so delayed. But that will depend on skilled workforce. However, given the collapse in steel fabrication for general construction and warehousing in particular there may well be quite a lot of experienced welders looking for work quite soon.


I don’t think there are many welder required for warehousing. They’re mostly bolted fabrications. They won’t have the relevant quals for shipbuilding welding procedures either.

Babcocks will learn. In general you get an asymptotic learning curve effect over a single class of ships that levels off after three or four hulls. Difference can be as much as 30% reduction in production manpower between first of class and fourth ship.

Supportive Bloke

Sure most steel frame buildings are bolt together but IRL the beams are fabricated somewhere and the welding has, since CE marking became a thing, improved beyond recognition. As has weld testing.

I agree about the asymptotic improvements in unit based production.

I’m sure they will get there: they have to otherwise their export pathway lies in tatters.

All I’m saying is labour recruitment and retention may well not be the issue it has been for the last 3 years.


90% welded from what I was familiar with. Bolted on site but the welded at specialist structural steel shops.
im sure the naval standard could be achieved with appropriate course for experienced heavy steel welders and as much as possible with machine welding.
We are all looking at the last photo of the forward section but the first one of the more complicated shape for the stern looks very tidy.

I understand also that black noise suppression ‘coating’ will be applied below water line in the area of the diesel engines, as used on the T26


The price is supposed to be fixed. Babcock and the MoD are already in dispute over the companies request for additional money to cover inflation. If the ships are late there will be a question over any contractual penalties the MoD might be able to impose on Babcock.


Already MoD engaging in penny pinching cuts – the nine crew members referred to in the caption has been airbrushed down to 8 in the pic ????


They needed someone to take the picture!


Ones on leave ?

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Or the ninth has already been gapped………….

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Ignore this it doesn’t apparently exist and is only a threat to ships fitted with ASW equipment.
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Thats the problem especially for pacific Littoral nations. There isnt the money for the RN to be a ‘two ocean navy’- it was even obvious by the early 70s. Now even ‘one and half’ with some deployments to Indian Ocean- Gulf waters runs the navy ships and crew too hard. Cant be a Man City or Arsenal on a QPR budget

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

It isn’t a problem for China if given basing rights. Say boats in Nigeria and Argentina.

There are no out of the way corners now. Naval warfare is truly global.


Really ? just having illogical bases doesnt prove anything, the Chinese arent going to waste resources when their own coastline isnt that secure without extending out – hence the 9 dash line

Remember how Germanys East Asiatic Squadron did in WW1,

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Well if the Chinese aren’t coming and the Russians are incompetent why do we need a navy?

You need to make your mind up.


Its called Nato . The Asian clone SEATO doesnt exist anymore when the UK decided to stop being a two ocean navy. The French at least have their overseas departments in the pacific and a patrol frigate of two. The UK has Pitcairn Is, hardly worth a harbour tug- well it has no harbour and HM Governor lives in NZ
I wish the british government would make up its mind with this submarine nonsense

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

If HMG had a sensible energy policy we could leave the Gulf behind. If Saudi Arabia and Iran reach a compromise then we might not be ‘wanted’ in the Gulf.


Is Hartlepool United

Last edited 7 months ago by Boris

Just defending Poole Harbor will do nicely lol

Last edited 7 months ago by Harkens

why don’t you ask those children that need to use Hackney food bank what they prefer, eat today or ‘two ocean navy’?
or those Met police officers, 60% were doing more overtime, 26% had a second job and 40% were selling their possessions to meet cost-of-living or ‘one and a half’ ocean navy?

Last edited 7 months ago by Arjun

Where did you get all that from ? I got this from the official website of the Met Police.
Starting salary £31.500 – 33,500
After completion of probation £35.900 – 37.000
After 6 years service £50.000
All of the above to increase by 7% plus £1.000

Last edited 7 months ago by David Steeper
Shaikha.K. Al-Bahar

so what?
Sir Mark Rowley Met Police Commissioner 

go and get a real life in London and join the Met then

Last edited 7 months ago by Shaikha.K. Al-Bahar
The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Interesting. The benefits bill for Greater London is much larger than the defence budget. Only 36% of the capital’s population is British. How much more of our money do you want? Perhaps we should ask the British what they want?

I am sure we gave you your country back in 1948. And India seems bent on a building a big navy.

What exactly do you want?


Our money or taxpayer money?

Does this 36% British also include the Mayor of London and the Prime Minister?

And what has India got to do with the UK defense budget?


Vice Admiral Paul Marshall, Director General Ships at DE&S, told the Committee that mobilising a skilled engineering workforce is a risk to other shipbuilding programmes.

DE&S is now in dispute (but not yet formal legal action) with Babcock, the manufacturer of the Type 31 frigate, regarding the spiralling costs of that programme


The BAE playbook bought into action pretty quick.

Supportive Bloke

Notifying a dispute means that certain contractual mechanisms are engaged. That is all. It is a placeholder action. And not particularly unusual.

It just means that certain papers have to be served to protect the party (Babcock’s) ability to claim under the contract. The contract could well contain inflation or ‘unforeseens’ provisions which they are trying to claim under.

In this case it is likely a a binding arbitration or maybe adjudication – these are know as ADR, Alternative Dispute Resolution, mechanisms.

Depending on the type of contract then there may not be another other legal recourse once the ADR has run its course.