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4thwatch

I hope this project gets the go ahead in the next year or two at most.
It shows up another point which is that when considering a blue water navy, big is beautiful whether it be a supply vessel or frigate.

Graeme Chidgey

I wish they could squeeze a forth hull in for a dedicated hospital ship. These ships really should be paid from the foreign aid budget. Pretty good disaster relief platform.

Fedaykin

Whilst in my ideal world I would like to see an Argus replacement based upon the Stores ship hull I highly doubt we are ever going to see a direct replacement for Argus.

I think we need to think outside of the book for the at sea Casualty reception capability. A containerised hospital solution that is scale-able and can be deployed to any vessel with a suitable vehicle deck including STUFT might be a practicable and affordable solution.

Grubbie

Yet more evidence that the RN is well below the critical mass required to support a big carrier battle group. We simply don’t have the manpower or resources to support it.All the eggs are in one basket. Spend 20 years slowly backing out or just do the sensible thing and scrap them now before wasting any more money on a a stupid and vain scheme.

4thwatch

@ Grubbie. I do disagree. For starters the 3 Invincibles which two QE’s replace, absorbed more manpower. Second as I have said above, big is beautiful for a number of reasons including survivability, endurance, flexibility and carrying capacity. All the eggs are in two baskets at least and not one.
They do of course need adequate funding. This could quite easily come from the Foreign aid budget and besides we only spend a miserly 2% on defence.
The RN has been seriously neglected for many years. Many problems can be put down to sea blindness on the part of politicians. Whatever the pros and cons of maritime air and the way the UK handles that, at least the RAF and Army for whose benefit the navy also exists have a strong involvement and role to play.
It seems to me that we may not have everything in place to overwhelmingly support a carrier group but I can’t see having organic air cover destroys the purpose.
A Fleet in being is a handy military asset and a strong deterrent. Lets keep it that way.

Grubbie

It won’t be a strong deterrent. Any enemy will know that they only need to knock out one carrier, the other one will be in long term refit and their will be no crew or air group.They will also be aware that they only need to take out a couple of underarmed escorts or supply ships. The previous POW didn’t deter the Japanese very much. There were never enough resources to properly operate the Invincibles either. Big is indeed beautiful, but not at the expense of being hopelessly out of balance.

Random

Hardly an apt comparison. A lot has changed since WW2 (and even then Battleships where no equal to Air-power). How many nations can you name that have more than 2 Aircraft carriers? I can think of one.

Lee

India, the US, China soon will have

Random

Lee India has two, one of which they scrapped this year so that not them. China has one that’s a training ship and plans to make a second which will make them… a two carrier navy. Huh. Still can only think of one: the US.

Grubbie

Exactly my point. The French are going to be out of action for year’s with a very expensive refit.Two at least gives you one to use but not one to lose.

Darren Riche-Webber

Naval Architects and the Admiralty have tried to explain to politicians for years that big is as well as your points, is also cheaper to build in terms of scale and easier to maintain and run. We went from big carriers to think again with cost and delay at a smaller design, then think again back to big carriers and a design like the original, when all they needed to do was read a book by someone like D K brown.

Darren Riche-Webber

As well as a consortia betwen Royasth Babcock and Cammell laird, there are many options which can tap into other resources and facilities untapped but to be reactivated.
Pallion is one, near Rosyth and A&P Tyne/Tees, in a closer North East consortia senario, which may be better in terms of cost. Hull blocks do not have to be put on a barge either, they can be towed especially if closer to the main integration facility (Rosyth with it’s goliath crane).
Certainly a lower value ship, carrying a piece of hull or superstructure from say Portsmouth to Rosyth is not a s viable as a top line Frigate Destroyer or Carrier, but closer groups (North UK area say from Merseyside, Barrow, Belfast, Clyde, Tyne and Wear (Pallion) to Rosyth makes more sense.
You also have a North West cluster Cammell Laird, Barrow, Belfast, Clyde, in which you have big deep dry docks at Cammell Laird, Belfast, Inchgreen. Which area makes what in the build strategy is another thing along with their capability. Certainly a float out of a large parallel midship section from Pallion up to a certain deck height would be nice and suite the facility, but can it have the staff from other facilities for planning, fabrication/fitting out etc. For a yard that has not built a whole ship for years, may be to start again, simpler or rather sections that do not carry as much pipework eletrical, and require more curvature smaller sections could suite. That is just one example. But one thing is for certain. Build it abroad, is taxpayers money lost abroad with no tax claw back and not impetus for reinvigorating a new viable modern UK shipbuilding sector with a modernised workforce, the benifits the areas outside of London and the South East, helps to re-balance the economy, and makes for a more innovative, effecient shipbuilding industry that can benifit the Royal Navy and RFA too.

Grubbie

The ship has sailed I’m afraid. Completely uncompetitive there have been no export orders for years after a few heavily subsidised ones. No critical mass.The sad part of it is that it wasn’t for lack of money.

Darren Riche-Webber.

It was for bad decisions and money not invest in properly modernizing the facilites and workforce as well as eu rules killing the UK. The ship is far from sailing though. But if we listen to people who are cannot doers and who feel like this, we may just as well go to bed.

Tim

I don’t like this building completed blocks in different places idea. It’s too easy for someone to reduce hull numbers and close a yard without leaving a capability gap. If we had one big hull design with configurable spaces inside and one yard did the entire hull and a second yard did the fitting out then it would be cheaper for both yards and impossible to reduce numbers without leaving a capability gap, not to mention that it is easier to move a watertight hull around than it is to move blocks.

If we had 16 big RFA ships like this with a service life of 32 years, that would be 4 builds in 6 years followed by 4 recycles in 2 years for the first yard. Plus 2 new fitouts and 2 midlife upgrades every 2 years for the second yard plus the annual maintenance of 16 ships. That’s a better situation than the complexity of moving blocks about and all the political time and money costs of trying to organise it.

Darren Riche-Webber.

We are not looking for these yards to be completely dependent on the MOD. That’s the point. We need them to get back into shipbuilding and flexible. It is a quick way to build ships.

Darren Riche-Webber.

You also fail to understand fitting out.

Tim

Replacing radars and missiles and guns and engines generally happen during a ships life so they can also happen at the beginning of its life, especially if it is designed with configurable spaces.

Building ships quickly is not desirable because once we have the fleet up to the size we want we have to close yards, and then later on all our ships get old at the same time and our yards have closed.

I’m not interested in the building method. It’s not important. I’m interested in saving the royal navy and the permanance of our building capacity. So a multi-yard process which can reduce capacity by closing a yard without losing any capability, is not as good as multiple specialised-only-yards of which none can be closed because of the resulting loss of capability.

Darren Riche-Webber

Not been able to reply because of on going computer problems. Fitting out, as in engines after the hull is built is not an efficient way to go about shipuilding. Once the type 31es are built (whop knows the number (RN and export), a number of yards should be investing and diversifying. As I say, the whole point is to not have these yards wholly dependent of warship building. The replacement for the type 45s will be in focus by then. The picture at the top is of the solid support ships. These ships would it in well for a main assembly facility fed by two nearby yards building sizable hull blocks. Your ideas are very expensive, and probably one reason why numbers have been cut. As Sir John says, these ships are complex, but not any more than many commercial ships. Please read the report.

Darren Riche-Webber.

To follow on from my recent reply. I don’t know if you watch the thing about the most expensive or supposidly luxurious cruise ship built. Built in Italy with one section in the water towed over 300 miles to the main assembly yard. This was a system we had looked at (Barrow idea) in the early 2000s for the Carriers, but others have done it, probably because they do not have some of the negative commentators here, thoughts. Blocks are not a problem being made watertight. Why did we not do it, you ask. Probably because of BAE having enough money from the UK to give them a piggy back instead. As I say, this would be in a more local closer consortia area, rather than say Portsmouth to Rosyth.

Tim

Its not so much the moving blocks around that I have a problem with. Its having all yards capable of doing everything which means someone can close one without capability loss. If our yards were speciallised only then closing one would be very difficult and we would have to have numbers to keep them all open.

Darren Riche-Webber

I am not looking at these yards being dependent on Building grey ships. Those feeder yards need to be seen as just that, but at the time, part of the team as Sir John Parker says. They may have other interests, such as Cammel laird. They can supply to the main integrator facility be it Rosyth, A&P, or Inchgreen, Cammel laird, Belfast etc (assuming we are looking at final assembly in a deep drydock, instead of load in to a yard that will dynamically launch). For example, the Swan Hunter built Bay ships had their Bridge and superstructures built at Port Clarence Teesside and fitted to the hull that was in a floating dry dock at Wallsend. This is where Swan Hunter saw the building of their part of the Carrier happening (Port Clarence). Despite all the cost problems, this was a new way of doing things, (and sadly too late for the past Swan Hunters, this cost was seen as a proper realistic price by the NAO in their report). Those other yards are flexible and looking at other avenues not dependent on Taxpayer ships all the times, but need the revival from building these ships, or rather parts of ships like these to get back into meaningful shipbuilding this Country can do. The myth of being too expensive and the cliches of the ship has long sailed, need to be put to bed.

Darren Riche-Webber

I do appreciate your worry over capability, but regarding these 31es and Fleet Solid Support Ships, this is the way to go for UK shipbuilding.

Darren Riche-Webber

Sorry Tim, I keep coming back to this. This is regarding the GP Frigates. But if one yard builds a simpler part of the ship, it will not be specialized, it may make more sense to build a bloc that requires ore curvature in one yard to leave another concentrating on a part that require for or outfitting/fitting out. I don’t think you have to worry about 14 yards being used though (number of parts breakdown for the Venator design). A number of sections would come from one facility, and in cases will, if it makes sense, be connected together, if they are in order obviously. Also, if BAE had not decided that Govan and Barrow would be ruled out for building other types of surface ship as those yards had done recently, and as BAE are not interested in anything but the most expensive ship types), they would not be looking for just building all the RN surface combatants.

Darren Riche-Webber

and as they wanted too, if they new others were not after Govan, just one yard in this Country specializing in Frigate building. Not to do with reduced numbers in 26’s.

Darren Riche-Webber

It does not have to be complex in this digital world, that’s the point.

S D

Without going into too much detail there is little practical advantage to building the ship all in one place. In practice it’s easier to transport 1 completed block than all the 5000 individual parts that make up that block, and inspecting them individually, receiving them, storing them, trying to find them again, discovering that some have been lost, some damaged, some shelf life expired, pay invoices from a lot of small suppliers rather than a handful of large ones.

The British shipbuilding industry was the last holdout of the old craft based production process where a team of master engineers would build the whole thing from start to finish a la Saville Row. It can work but it’s expensive and inflexible. Also, different parts of the build need different skills, by the time you’re 3/4 of the way through the welders have basically finished and the sparks are taking over – so what do the former do for the next year?

Aerospace and autos have all gone to modular pre assembly – hence why Airbus wings are built in Wales, also how the Germans build cruise ships. Sir J-Ps report sums describes how block build allows “industrialisation of the process”. A fab shop can be given a contract for 10 identical blocks, they set up a production line and become expert in building that block over and over. Any customer-specific customisation comes at the end at the integration site .

Anton Deque

Dismal planning and imagination again makes one wonder at the quality of thinking at the top. Incidentally, how do you encourage young people to enlist and train if there are not exciting aspects to the service? This country needs to re-connect with its navy (B.B.C. ‘British Navy’!) sooner rather than later.

‘Action this day’ – Winston Churchill.

kyle

nice rule Britannia

kyle

hey guys b,n reeding you,r comments for years thought i would sign up ,thanks kyle.

4thwatch

Apart from the Forts these fine powerful ships should be the basis for all the large hulls needing replacement.
Argus
Ocean
Albion
Bulwark
Economies of scale through Standardisation and Series Production leading to possible exports and a New merchant shipbuilding industry is the opportunity of a lifetime. It has taken the QE class and the S Koreans to show the way and make everything possible. If you then add in the Bays you are looking at a 20 year cycle and could keep building new to sell off or expand the Fleet.

Pacman27

I would like to see 8 of these vessels and for them to be multi purpose along the lines of the Dutch Karen Doorman JSS. Although a compromise I do think the uk would get greater value from a SSS fleet that doubles as a hospital / LHD/ LPD when necessary but is a SSS in its day to day activities, would also stop these ships being put alongside in extended readiness as I think we would use them a lot.

4thwatch

I forgot to include in the list of standardisation, the two Wave class tankers that will need replacing in 10 years or so. If the MOD and Navy get to work on this it’s a huge opportunity.

NavyNewbie

Just out of interest does anyone have any idea how much a well deck would cost rather than a steel beach type arrangement? I know that it affects the whole design of the ship, but would 3 FSS ships with well decks absolutely pass the 1B budget or does it not add considerably to the cost? I appreciate that the primary purpose of the ships is solid stores but I’d welcome a decent amphibious capability, especially as it looks like we’re going to lose Ocean and her 4 LCVPs with no replacement.

Darren Riche-Webber

http://www.civitas.org.uk/press/the-catch-22-for-uk-manufacturing/ http://www.civitas.org.uk/content/files/IdeasForEconomicGrowth5vFULL.pdf http://www.civitas.org.uk/content/files/EUStateAidProcurement2.pdf . Need I say anything when this is read, people will understand the lies of “value for taxpayer” and “we don’t build ships like these or have not for years”. Yet, we have not built proper carriers for over 70 years and frigates for many years too (similar time to tankers last built). In competent and conniving officials and politicians have use these eu rules for the benefit of cronies and not been capable or want to circumnavigate these rules as other Countries in eu do, to their benefit of their shipbuilding industries.