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So the important bit of this article is:

HRAS capability has been deleted.”

Nothing else to add.


The decision not give the F35 a stand off land attack capability by not equipping them with Storm Shadow which has driven this design change is absolutely stupid. Why invest in the ability to project air power anywhere in the world from the deck of a carrier and then leave your only long range strike missile fitted to a load of Typhoons on land bases in England and Scotland.

Peter S.

We don’t seem to have much of a plan for heavyweight missiles from any platform. Perseus is years off. But I suppose the planned integration of Spear3 ( which may get some land attack capability for SEAD) will give us some decent striking power. For longer range land attack, we have Tomahawk and it might be easier to add ship launch to sub launch.


Spear 3 range would require the launching aircraft to enter into the engagement envelope of most area defence SAM systems.


The engagement range maybe, but into the detection range of enemy radar is less likely. However, I agree it is not a perfect solution.

Peter S.

Isn’t the key feature of F35 its stealth? Spear3 will be carried internally preserving stealth whereas Storm Shadow would be external.

Supportive Bloke

We also have a decent stockpile of them: StormShadow


They are in the Falklands and cyprus too..


” At least two ” oh, so that’ll be two then. Type 31 was alway’s “At least five ” Type 45 was intended to be 12, F35 was to be 138, let’s see what actually gets ordered/built.


Just to add this, Could a third hull be built as a Hospital Ship using money from the Foreign aid budget ? Employment and great use of UK tax payers money ? or am i just being silly.

Expat Alien

Not a silly idea but as a hospital ship would be subject to the Geneva Conventions so no use as a FSS. A fourth hull as FSS/PCRS (Primary Casualty Receiving Ship) funded in part from overseas aid to replace RFA Argus would make a lot of sense


The Third Hull Hospital Option was just me thinking that only two would actually be Ordered. Third or Forth, either way would be very welcome in so many ways, not just for the future of Ship Building in the UK but as a fantastic way to help the World in times of need.


Out of a FA budget of, what is it, £15 Billion, this would be money well spent in my opinion.


Maybe something like the modula-hospital-system (Marine Einsatzrettungszentrum (MERZ)) for the German Berlin-class would be an option too. They can be equipt with a modular 26 Cotainer-Hospital for 46 patients.


It’s a great option but in no way does it become a dedicated Hospital Ship.


That’s true! But i think it’s a good extension for humanitary (special during the hurrican-season in the caribean) or litoral strike operations. Furthermore a bigger version could maybe be be atleast a capable PCRS.


I think we are thinking loosely along the same lines though.


Why not two. What hull will this FSS standardise on. Is the T31 hull too small for this/wrong shape? Whatever it is we should build two hospital ships from foreign budget in the same form factor that can be used for soft power projection, helping abroad and emergencies abroad and helps industry and economic stimulus at home as well as an emergency nhs hospital or two that can be wherever needed in the uk (eg extra Covid hospital etc)


HRAS was never a cost driver (surprisingly inexpensive) and HMWHS was never a feature or requirement.

While understandable politically, a cold hard look at UK capacity and capability would reach a different conclusion.

A hospital ship would be very different, negating 90% of most design and production documentation – and hence any perceived saving.

Last edited 3 years ago by N-a-B
Supportive Bloke

That is the trouble with the salami trimmer method of procurement. You still end up with recognisable salamino at the end just not a full fat salami!!

Lots of small valuable enhancements are removed from the package to make it fit the budget.


HRAS most certainly is a driver of cost. The rigs themselves are not the main expense (Rolls Royce have already developed them) but the access routes, hatches, lifts and handling arrangements driven by the transfer rate and dimensions are inevitably more expensive.

HMWHS was never formally specified but the transfer rates, manning requirement and proven system on the QEC made it pretty implicit in the early concepts (That’s a direct from an industry figure involved from the beginning).

Last edited 3 years ago by NavyLookout

NAB is right.


No. Really, it’s not. The cargo handling systems (eg lifts etc) are driven by the dimensions of the loads and the number you want to move simultaneously. The weight has a minor effect on hoist winch size.

As for HMWHS, anyone who has seen the system, understands how it works and how intrusive it is, would instinctively understand that trying to fit it in a ship designed to supply all manner of cargo types and sizes is a non-starter. Your industry figure may well be employed by the OEM of the system who thought they had a USP. None of the submitted designs included that system (allegedly).


Ref HRAS, you are absolutely correct. In the distant past I served in an AFES and you are right about what drives cargo handling. The removal of HRAS [specifically designed to support carrier operations] is another example of how much has been forgotten/ignored by the current thinkers and leaders about the support required for carrier operations.


NAB, I Know, That’s why I said “Hull” , it would be far cheaper than building another design from scratch which is what many are calling for. Am I right in thinking that HMS Ocean was based on a similar Hull design to that of others ?


The “hull” is built from a large number of drawings and the production process is controlled by a large amount of documentation and work packages. As per previous, 90% of those will change between a stores ship and hospital ship, so you save next to nothing.

Don’t confuse hull design with hullform (which is essentially the shape). Hullform development is a small handful of £M. LPH used the underwater shape of CVS. The hull design package (structure & compartmentation) was completely different. Saving? Couple of million at very best.


Well That Told me then ! I only sailed on them, not designed them !

Supportive Bloke

Is a word missing that that i think N-a-B has assumed.

Should the last sentence have read:-

Am I right in thinking that HMS Ocean was based on a similar Hull design to that of the Invincibles ?


Ocean was based on the Invincible Class, with some modifications (no ski ramp, davits for landing craft etc) and built to cheaper commercial standards.


Errr, no. Hullform yes. Hull design no.

Supportive Blok

I know that I Ocean was built to quite a low commercial standard.

I was trying to put context in the conversation so others who were not on the inside track could understand what we were talking about.


Some real positives here but the battle isn’t over yet! A ‘significant proportion’ of the work could be weaselly politician speak for the prospect of Navantia doing most of the construction work with H&W getting a small amount or assembling blocks build in Spain.

They also may be mentioning three ships again but it’s no doubt still going to be a case of ‘up to three’ which will be driven by how tightly the budget is controlled for the first two – historically quite a big challenge for UK firms.

Probably better to either licence an existing design or do what we did with Argus for any new hospital ship rather than trying to adapt something designed for a very different role which has never worked out well for us!


Not sure what existing Designs are out there though ? RFA Argus is a converted Container Ship thus “Adapted” She is also a very old ship, I’m just trying to present a case here.

Last edited 3 years ago by borg

Argus was a big empty box. Not the same.


Oh, I thought she was converted to be a useful Asset often called upon over nearly 40 years !


Started off as a big empty box. Still a big empty box really.


There isn’t much in Argos apart from lots of space. The hospital facilities like ITU take up relatively little of the hull volume. I know I have seen it on more than one occasion…….


My point is it can get pretty tricky and expensive to take something designed for a specific role and adapt it for a very different one. Sometimes it’s better to either start from scratch with a fresh design or buy a big, empty cargo ship second-hand and then fit it out as was done with Argus.

4th watch

I’m wondering if converting a Cruise ship would be a better starting point for a Hospital ship. They are dirt cheap right now.
The Foreign aid budget is awash with money; besides maybe they could offer cheap holidays for 3rd world tyrants as a profit sideline.


Has the investment in naval facilities in Bahrain and Oman reduced the need for stores replenishment East of Suez? I seem to recall that until fairly recently a Fort was normally operating in the area.

I understand that the 2 older Forts haven’t been upgraded to support QE & PoW but they could presumably still support the wider fleet? Hard to know whether having them both laid up in Birkenhead is purely down to manpower and money or whether the changing disposition and priorities of the RN also means there just isn’t a pressing need for them.


The 2 older Forts will never set sail again. They’re being maintained at a low level in Birkenhead just in case a Falklands/GW1 situation occurs again so that large quantities of munitions can be shifted. But they’d need a ton of cash thrown at them if that was the case.

Basically we’re down to Fort Vic in practice.


A case of, “Any Fort in a Storm ” ?


I sadly can’t see them sailing again either, however i was curious whether laying them up was purely driven by running costs/manpower or whether expanding our facilities in Bahrain and Oman has enabled it by reducing the need for at sea fleet replenishment East of Suez, only really leaving the carrier-group needing support.

Clearly 2 FSS are the minimum needed to guarantee stores replenishment for what will probably be an annual task-group deployment headed by QE or PoW, but of course 3 would be better!

Alongside this the increase in overseas facilities and forward-basing should reduce the demands on the RFA in general.

Supportive Bloke

But let’s face it we are most likely to be working with the USA. The conversation is likely to be ‘we will bring a Nimitz or two can you guys bring as much of your CSG as you can and we will backfill the rest for you.’

Or if they haven’t got a Nimitz to hand and it suits mutual policy objectives ‘can you send your CSG? Do you need anything? Two AB’s and FSS – no problem, happy to help an ally’

The only time this breaks down is Corporate #2 and that is presumably why the two old Forts are in mothballs so there is a possibility of regenerating a capacity.


<i>‘we will bring a Nimitz or two can you guys bring as much of your CSG as you can and we will backfill the rest for you.’</i>

Yes in a nut shell. The USN are already factoring in escorting our carriers into their ‘escort’ work load.


The USN is doing this. Petty down voter down voting facts again. Petty down voting is more important than facts to support the site’s cause.


No. The reason why you have underway replenishment is to be free from the land (to an extent).

The Forts are expensive to run.

Lee H

Afternoon All
Let’s look at the positives.
UK ship building is an area that HMG is interested in, it is an area that it wishes to grow – not just in Scotland but around the country.
We now have 3 FSS, not 2 with an option for a 3rd, by removing some of the overly complex rigging and automated movement systems has reduced cost and complexity which has in turn allowed for funding of a 3rd ship.

We may be in a position soon where requirement outstrips capacity, which oddly isn’t too bad a place to be in. It means companies can start investing in apprenticeships now, building for the future to make sure we do not have a skills shortfall moving forward (like we are seeing in the armoured platform market).

We have, T26 being built by BAE who are already looking ahead to T4X. We have agreed a partnership with Australia with regards to the T26 programme (Canada hopefully not too far behind).

We have a T31 frigate shed being built which will allow for 2 T31’s to be build concurrently (giving opportunities for export orders to be built in the UK). We have a fixed order for 5 with potentially more to follow.

We have signed an agreement with Ukraine which could allow the building of up to 8 Patrol vessels, with 2 built in the UK at Appledore.

We have proved that Cammell Laird can build a complex vessel pretty much on time and to cost.

We have seen that if the unions, industry and government work together we can get the things that we need – A UK ship building industry, building complex vessels on time and to cost.

We have Dreadnought being designed and built at Barrow, where they are already starting the FASM programme to replace the Astute class.

All of this whilst COVID has been going on.

We have the potential for the RM to be reequipped with smaller more agile shipping (replacing Albion and Bulwark), mirroring what the USMC is doing.

We have the RN hopefully being brave enough to decommission ships that can no longer be manned with the money saved being reinvested in the purchase of their replacements.

The last 20 years has seen a reshaping of the UK ship building community, now as we come out of the other side with solid orders and potential opportunities for growth we should feel a little happier, especially knowing that everyone in the sector had their part to play – all underpinned by the National Ship Building Strategy written by Sir John Parker. Not all the recommendations have been followed, but at least some of them are which is more than can be said for many of the other reports written for HMG.


While I support your upbeat message, “We have proved that Cammell Laird can build a complex vessel pretty much on time and to cost”, isn’t exactly correct. If anything they’ve proved the opposite.

Something Different

I agree with those sentiments. The Navy is in decent shape compared to the immediate aftermath of the 2010 review. Look at our comparator navies (France, Italy, Germany, Spain) and we are in good shape.


You can’t really count Germany or Spain as our naval competitors.

Italy will have 10 FREMM all ASW and area AAW capable along with their 2 Horizons so that is 12 first rare escorts. We will have 6 T45 (not very capable ASW) and 8 T26 with an enhanced PDMS. Cavour and Trieste may not be big, but you could argue that perhaps more realistic choices. They are buying 16 Thaon di Revel-class patrol vessels that are far beyond our Rivers; they are light frigates really.

The French have similar programs in play. The Australians too.

The only area we out class the rest of Europe is SSN’s. And our blessed government can’t even keep their numbers up to a minimum of 12.


I forgot Italy is planning to build 3 LPD’s, 2 more destroyers, and a large submarine rescue ship.




From plus 2 down to -1 so 4 down votes.



That’s a good summary! But Italy has only 4 ASW-Fremms. The other six are a GP-Version. I don’t know if they have a towed array sonar.

And i read that there are now discussions in the Italian Navy, about the 16 Thaon di Revel-class Ships. Becaus they are to big for most italian Harbors in the patrol roll, and and lack of ASW-ships they maybe will build just 7 and and a few additional ASW-frigates of a new class.

I couldn’t find the source again. I think the idea came from the new commanding officer of the italian navy.


All Italian FREMM will carry UMS 4110 CL which

is a long-range sonar for offensive ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) and self-protection. It is designed for multi-mode operation and can simultaneously operate two active channels – ASW transmission modes – as well as passive channels for listening only or for the tracking of torpedoes. It also has the capability to carry out obstacle avoidance. A conventional cylindrical array lies at the heart of the UMS 4110 CL system, operating at about 5 kHz so as to exploit the range advantage of a rather low frequency.

Unlike the sonar set in T45 which is a MOAS which has been enhanced in a limited fashion to provide some ASW capability. T45 will only ever carry Wildcat which has no ASW sensors (unlike the ones sold to Korea).

FREMM being designed as an ASW ship from the get go is going to be quiet. One would humbly suggest that a ship designed for ASW, with a sonar designed for ASW, and coupled with a good ASW helicopter like NH90 is an ASW asset.

I find it odd on this site that I am attacked for saying T45 has little to no real ASW capability. And then have to call ships designed for ASW operations with a decent hull sonar but without towed array sonar not ASW ships but ‘general purpose’ ships. Never mind T31 with no sonar, no rafting…..

As for TdR ships even 8 of them puts them ahead of us with the Rivers B2 and T31 used in a ‘frigate role’.

Last edited 3 years ago by X

I’m absolutely with you about T45. And thanks for the informations about the sonar. And yes, what you say about the FREMMs sounds reasonable.

I always were impressed by Italys plans of 16 TdR. 8 are still great. And they still participate in the EU Patrol Corvette project with up to 8 further ships.


T45 as we know isn’t the ship the RN wanted beyond Sea Viper. They wanted 12 replacements for T42 and the ships should have been more like Burkes, Horizons, or the RAN’s Hobarts. Budgets were cut and things were sacrificed to get Sea Viper to sea. In ‘war’ T45 will sit with in the ASW screen so its poor ASW capability isn’t a problem as such. Sea Viper is that good. But that means T45 isn’t an escort more a specialised ship that needs to be escorted. Saying that will earn me lots of downvotes here but those are facts. This does mean in the future we will have 6 specialised aerodefence vessels and 8 true escorts which isn’t enough. I don’t really see T31 as a ‘fleet escort’ really; it is a long range patrol asset. I just home if we send one to the Gulf it is sunk by an Iranian submarine…….

Italy and Australia will have in a decade or so much bigger and more balanced fleets. With France sort of sitting between us and them. I was a carrier fan back in the day. But that was carriers sitting at the centre of 30-ish sized fleet of escorts, 12 SSN’s, 3 amphibs (plus RFA), and with specialist ships in support. The submarines may have taken more money out of the budget than the carriers. But the carriers are still a huge investment that has impacted the surface budget and manning pool. And I am not sure now we are going to get value. In a war they will be a US asset; I can’t see any national emergency requiring a fleet carrier at this moment. And if we did have such an emergency we would be scraping around for aircraft to fill it. It isn’t a question of money, more a question of where HMG spends our money.


I’m absolutely with you. I always thought, that the Juan-Carlos-class could be a fine key-element of a balanced fleet for the most european states. For me they are a great combination of ASW-, amphibious- and strike-operations. And that for a relatively good price that leaves room for more/better escorts. But defence policy is long-term policy…


Yes the JC’s are the best small LHx’s.

If I were to wave magic we would aim to have a mini-arg. We would have a pair (better three) of something like Makin Island plus (three) large dock ships, some modern fast landing craft, and a clutch of something like the modern Karel Doorman. Rotate a commando battle group through. And so on. We would have enough F35b and Merlins to rotate for sea control.


Honestly, in return for proper investment in the facilities at H&W (and maybe Appledore), with transfer of tech, processes and skills, then I’d be OK with Navantia building all of hull 1 and major elements of hull 2 in Spain. The process can be steadily handed over to H&W.
It’s the lack of modern equipment, processes and skills which are the killers of our competitiveness in this industry, and if we can get that set up as part of this competition then we are well placed for future commercial work and other RFA build contracts.
That means we’re building T26 and T4X in Glasgow, T31 in Rosyth (and maybe elsewhere), RFAs in Belfast (and maybe Devon), and refitting RFAs in Liverpool. That’s not at all bad, but will need to make sure that we encourage the firms to chase foreeign military and commercial work too, they should never be solely dependent on UK defence.
Government investment in what is already a very healthy offshore wind industry is good, as the wind farms are increasingly needing support vessels that are more permanently based in the field. At the moment, a lot of these are made in Norway and Denmark and based upon oil and gas OSVs, but no reason why we couldn’t build them here. If we aren’t just talking traditional hulls, then the piles, towers, jacket structures and all the other steelwork required for the windfarms is also an option.
There are loads of ways that this could work into the future, but it relies on our government being as keen to support national interests outside of London as other countries are. France, Spain, Norway, and Denmark all manage to support domestic ship industries -despite EU competition rules- so I have no idea why we can’t. It all sounds like another case of our government hiding behind a convenient lie so they don’t have to do the hard work of boosting British industry (just like FSS “warship” Euro rules nonsense).


If the FSS get built in Belfast, all the investment there will go to waste when the yard closes after the build and the workers laid off. There’s no chance of follow on orders from the MoD and the chances of winning exports are tiny which is why they haven’t built a ship in forever and went bust.


Scattering scarce investment money around like confetti is no way to prepare for the future. Concentrate the investment in a couple of yards and keep those yards supplied with work is the answer. And is what is stated in the National Shipbuilding Strategy.


I take your point, but we need all of these ships at the same time. Glasgow is slammed with T26 (and probably T4X) at BAE and T31 (hopefully extending to B2 and exports) at Rosyth, Cammel Laird are the only other “active” option but they seem to be fairly busy with their maintenance works and potentially blocks of T31.
If we need FSS to support CEPP, which we do, then we need it within the timescale noted above. If we’re going to build in the UK, then where else could we do it than H&W with Navantia’s input? Unless CL expand their facilities, but that still gives us 3 surface ship locations rather than the two.
I did note the problem with multiple yards- France and Spain I believe struggle with this too. I just don’t know how else we get everything built in the time we want it built in…
As for future, well it can’t just be military contracts of course, but there are other markets out there, as I said. If Glasgow is pretty much purely military, that gives H&W an opportunity to get in on the commercial market- which is why they were bought up from insolvancy anyway. That was for a noted market in the offshore renewable energy sector, which is only expanding. Seeing as renewable energy is an investment target for government anyway, encouraging companies to use a British yard to spend the money doesn’t seem unreasonable. Besides that, the FSS design lends itself to any number of other commercial light container or even LNG vessels with a bit of work. No reason why they can’t pick up the contract even for a replacement for our liquid stores RFA tankers when they need replacing too.


Besides that, the FSS design lends itself to any number of other commercial light container or even LNG vessels with a bit of work. No reason why they can’t pick up the contract even for a replacement for our liquid stores RFA tankers when they need replacing too.

Utter nonsense. The FSS is about as far removed from any commercial vessel as one could imagine. Everything about it is different. Internal layout, internal systems, compartmentation, accommodation, electrical systems. Everything.


Thanks for contributing to the civil discourse on here.
I’m not an expert by any means, but my understanding is that a key part of the specification (which I’ve only been able to find descriptions of, rather than the actual thing) was that the bids were to minimise differences from commercial standards wherever possible, and I’m pretty sure that Lloyd’s standards have been brought up. To me, that would have covered a great many things (including electrical wiring to be LSZH and other such things) to a suitable level without having to deviate from a high quality commercial design. As far as the layout, they’re solid stores ships, I’d expect them to need large clear deck space to fit bulk items and containers- not at all unlike small commercial cargo vessels.
I realise as auxiliaries they will have different comms and sensor fitouts for example, but they don’t affect the structural design of the vessel. To be honest even the wiring standards could be changed without significant change to the design, the wiring still needs to go from the same A to the same B.
Please, if you’re going to state that “everything” is different, why not explain how and why?


The closest I’ve found is here, which again lays out commerical standards where possible etc.
The only other big difference is the RaS stuff, which is largely topside stuff that can be removed without changing the design of the ship. They’ve already removed the HRAL and automated wepaon handling system requirements, so again bringing it more in line with your avergae commercial bulk carrier.


Partly because I don’t have time – or inclination – to write an essay. Secondly because from your description above it’s obvious you don’t know the first thing about ships and ship design.

Describing large stores ships as analogous to container ships because they need large clear deck space, suggests that you’ve never even looked at how containers are stowed and handled on commercial ships. Nor indeed how a naval auxiliary is arranged to carry its wide varieties of cargo. The structural design of the vessel is not affected significantly by comms and sensors – but it is wildly different between a naval auxiliary and a commercial container carrier – let alone an LNG tanker, for which there are major structural implications as well as all the other ones.

The specification as you put it, is never going to be online for very good reasons. It ran to eight volumes of hundreds of pages each and Lloyds “standards” were a tiny part of it. You may wish to examine LRs website where you can access their Commercial ship rules and their Naval Ship Rules.

If you don’t want to have your assertions challenged, do more research.

Last edited 3 years ago by N-a-B

I have zero problem with my assertions being challenged- it happens plenty and I appreciate having things that I did not understand explained to me. Most people manage to do it without being rude but you’re straight out choosing to be disrespectful, don’t hide behind “not having time”- you’re reading through 63+ comments about a naval ship contract on a defence site just like the rest of us.
I’ve already clearly explained that I’m not an expert on ship construction, but you’ve been singularly unhelpful up until now in explaining anything about how I’m not understanding the differences. I didn’t say that the design wouldn’t need work, but the hull form is not dissimilar from bulk cargo (which I did mention alongside container and LNG) vessels which do at least superficially match the usage of solid stores ships. Maybe they still wouldn’t be sutiable, but some explanation rather than “you’re stupid, shut up” is the way that normal people exchange information.
If Lloyds Naval and Lloyds Commercial rules are different, then thanks for the info- I wasn’t aware that the FSS were being built to naval rather than commercial. How hard was it to actually put some helpful and constructive information in your response?!


The nasty man told me I didn’t know what I was talking about.

Dry your eyes princess.

You want some help? Answer these questions and see if it helps.

  1. What sort of cargo is carried in a naval auxiliary, how is it packaged and what might it need during stowage? Is it accessed and handled while at sea? How is it handled? How many cargo holds?
  2. Do the same for a container ship.
  3. Do the same for an LNG carrier.
  4. Do the same for a “bulk cargo ship”

Then ask your self if they’re the same. That’s before we start talking about crew sizes, aviation facilities etc.

The major similarity between a solid support ship hull and those of the other ship types you mention are that they all float. Beyond that? Not so much. Look up speed, number of shafts, block coefficients, main propulsion engine type, etc etc.

No-one called you stupid or asked you to shut up. You just demonstrated ignorance and had it challenged. Deal with it.


No tears, just a bit baffled that “responding like a dick” is your plan A when it comes to people you don’t know. There are plenty of knowledgable people on here, often veterans who aren’t generally known for their manners, who manage to get their point across while acting like a normally socialised person, not sure why you struggle so much with that.
Thanks for the additional information, I’ll take a look.


If you want respect, don’t dig a deeper hole when challenged – unless you can back it up with facts rather than guesses and feelings. It tends to bring out the dick in people – particularly those who may actually know what they’re talking about.

In the spirit of helping, you may also wish to look up BiFab (and what happened to them) on renewables. I’d also have a good hard think about why shareholders of private companies (the people who actually buy commercial ships) would for one minute consider putting orders into yards that have no track record whatsoever in building commercial vessels on time or on budget in living memory. Particularly in a shipping slump when there is huge overcapacity in both ships and build facilities and where freight rates are low enough that people are scrapping 10 year old 8000TEU containerships.

The reason people use Norwegian and Dutch yards (not Danish – their last big yard closed some years ago) is that they have managed to maintain a track record and a market share and now even they are struggling. Have a look at comparative market share between the three asian giants, europe and the rest and then explain why the UK can suddenly re-enter that market.

Similar factors apply to exports of UK-built naval ships. Governments tend to want to build their own – albeit less fussy about whose design. There’s also the small problem that the RoK and Japan are now exporting as well as China, as well as Mr Damen and M Naval Group and Sg Fincantieri etc. Entering a crowded market from a position of relatively high cost and low track record is not universally thought of as a good business plan……….

Last edited 3 years ago by N-a-B

I will say what amazes me across sites like this is the belief that a ship is a ship is a ship. There is next to know appreciation of the complexity of design, missions, refit cycles, or anything. Most comments would if it were to do with aeroplanes pretty much amount to, ‘C130 fly, let’s put missiles on those’.


No I mean there is no appreciation for hull, systems, missions, or anything. Any ship will do.


Think of the fun you could have with “Any ship will do”


I am not saying any ship will do. The commentators who know no better on sites like this, who are the vast majority here, say it. It is all weapons Top Trumps…….


We all play fantasy fleets. I just some would look beyond the weapons and aircraft.


Yes have to agree.

I suppose I better confess to my cunning plans for the carriers of pushing the double deck buses and F35s overboard and covering the flight deck with LORA missile launchers.?


The problem is Joe16 firstly you are mixing up build standards with design requirements. Just because FFS can be built to commercial standards doesn’t mean the design is what the market wants. FSS as already alluded to is nothing like a container vessel, LNG carrier or bulk carrier.

Secondly even if the FSS design was adaptable to development into a container vessel, LNG carrier or bulk carrier it wouldn’t increase the chance of Infrastrata/H&W or any other UK yard starting to build or sell those kinds of vessels. Companies interested in buying those types of vessels give the orders to the yards that can steel bash out the hull the cheapest! Currently that is places like Vietnam, a UK yard hasn’t got a snowballs chance in hell of competing in that market!

This idea comes up on occasion and it does get irritating having to explain it repeatedly hence N-a-b’s irritancies on the matter I would guess.


Blimey, next you’ll be saying “it’s unsinkable”.


Yes. All FSSS does is give higher steel type intensive shipbuild from frigates and destroyers etc. All else is different.


Have to disagree with your comment…..”If the FSS …..

Interesting podcast starting from just before 22 minutes in.

Last edited 3 years ago by Don

I totally support the decision to build these in the UK. As the article points out, this leads to lots of the spend coming back to the Treasury. However, it’s also likely to lead to a higher build cost than building them in say South Korea. That extra cost will come out of the Mod budget leaving less money for other vital areas of investment. The additional cost of building in the UK should be calculated and the difference should be returned to the MOD as a rebate by the Treasury.


The South Korean hull build bit was 550 million pounds net and later than the original date. The UK content was around 160 million pounds gross. What some in industry have been going on about and what you mention about a rebate is the tax claw back factor. Most reports give this to be anything from 35% to just over 50%. The More the taxpayer general itself buys from it’s own people and industry, the more money it gets back. Buy one get one free or at least a third.


Would be good if they could build in a method to resupply VLS at sea


No one has really managed to crack that yet despite some efforts. It’s why it’s important to have plenty of VLS in the first place. T26 is a good step in the right direction (72 rather than the 32 on T23 and 48 on T45), but T31 is more worrying…..


Why cant a large helicopter like the Merlin carry the ‘storage’ unit as an underslung load from supply ship helicopter deck to destroyer or frigate deck.
After all thats what the dockside crane essentially does and a previous life as a geotech site engineer observed occasionally small helicopters ( Squirrel sized) were used to drop long wooden piles into pre bored holes.


A large helicopter like Merlin could do exactly as you suggest…that isn’t the problem.

Nobody has worked out an effective method to load the missile into a VLS whilst at sea.


I thought the very last part had been solved , by the USN at least, with its VLS crane as part of the launcher boxes. Only change the helicopter transfers the load to the crane to allow final insert. However the crane could be the first item the helicopter delivers and the last item to take back. The USN doesnt have a copter of the size of the Merlin in its deployed use which could be the only reason they havent tried it.comment image


There’s a reason why every single US ship that originally had those VLS cranes (which take up three cells) had them removed a long time ago.

A 2 ton canister, 6 or 7 metres long, carrying an explosive item, suspended from a single point and subject to ship motion and wind. What could possibly go wrong. .. ?


It is difficult enough getting a RIB or boat over the side even today.


Down voted by somebody who has never performed the evolution….


Don’t compound your stupidity.

Supportive Bloke

The problem is that you really need a gantry which has a bottom guide as well so the whole thing is held stable in 3D.

That is big, complicated & heavy.

As the photo shows they are guys guiding the bottom of the canister into the opening.

The USA has such a large fleet of AB’s that cycling them through a nearby port to reload is practical.


Explosive items ?
Done all the time in underway replenishment, thats a core task of vessels like RFA Fort Victoria.
Sure its complicated and has some danger , thats why its only done by navys who train for this and execute regularly while at sea to maintain the skills.


Hmmm. You mean done for the first time in three years last week? And then only 4.5 bullets to HMS Northumberland.

There’s a lot more control for a pallet with horizontally stowed weapons on short strops from the jackstay travellers than there is for a long weapon suspended from one end. Pendular motion is a real issue – among many others.


That’s not HRAS. It’s a configuration/geometry mod for the RR ( now Kongsberg) 2te system. Which was not used during JW202 or work up. One wonders why…….

The piccies are just from ULS (unit load spec) and RASS (RAS spec) configurations for the loads and some quite outdated. They’re not specific to QEC or HRAS. For example, the mk20 1000lb bombs aren’t cleared for F35.


The other thing people tend to forget is that you need to remove the empty canister as well, which essentially doubles the number of items you’re handling. It gets very space-intensive very quickly.

The US had a demo system at Port Hueneme in the early noughties which was essentially a powered X-Y traversing frame that was transferred across, sat over the VLS farm and allowed you to plumb one silo at a time.

It was a horrifically complex, slow and demanding serial, which is why the programme never went any further.


So you are saying even the port loading is complex ? It seems straightforward to me with a crane operator and two people to guide the box or missile base in. having the crane on board the ship means it sways with the vessel , while loading direct from the helicopter means its moving in 3D slightly differently to the ships deck.

Supportive Bloke

Ummmm no.

If the ship heels the motion relative to the hole you are trying to put the missile into is amplified by the height of the crane job.

The missile from the helo would not change the vertical. But you would never be able to fully insert it on anything other than a millpond.

Imagine what would happen if the missile is half inserted and the ship heels. The missile case is then caught trying to bend and dragging the helo down. There are huge forces in play that would probably trigger the overweight disengagement mechanism – so you now have 2t of missile in uncontrolled free-fall to the bottom of the missile farm or a missile case that is bent and half in half out.

Supportive Bloke


Auto correct on my phone….


The hook to underneath the copter its not a rigid connection but flexible movement and carries the tension in the wire.
I thought offloading the canister to to deck crane first would allow loading in higher sea states.
I dont see any of this happening as the will isnt there anymore.

4th watch

There was I thinking it wasn’t rocket science!


Hang on, I think I got this , Merlins are hunters, Squirrels are prey and Piles are a pain in the arse.


Given the shorter length of SeaCeptor and it’s cold launch system, might it not be possible to reload from within the ship? Especially on the T-31 where the vls is high in the superstructure, which implies more room underneath.

4th watch

Maybe the system needs to have some sort of track like a bottle filling line and so half your vertical launch farm is replaced with a refill mechanism of reloads in horizontal.


Are you reinventing Sea Dart?


Others have expIained the inherent problems with loading a VLS of significant size while at sea. I believe, though, that this would be easier with the new BAES Adaptive Deck Launcher, which is loaded sideways. Perhaps that is another reason for considering its addition to types 45 and 31?


Well won’t be built in n.eire. will be assembled apparently, how leaky will they be


I have commented on this on other forums, but the most innovative and cost efficient method of meeting ALL of our large ship requirements and ensuring we have a drumbeat we can afford is to build Float on Float off ships with dedicated mega modules.

for those who need convincing, go to Think Defence and read the article on these that for me was a real game changer

put simply, we can buy or build FLO FLO’s for circa £100m and then spend the money on interchangeable mega modules.

This approach really lends itself to large platform – non combatants and also has commercial merit as at certain times of the year they can be hired out to the commercial market.

The modules themselves are in the thousands of tonnes and are not small and we would need to invest in a site to build, maintain store and load them.

this would be ideal for a Belfast Liverpool combo with perhaps us moving the Goliath crane or buying another.

this approach could replace every large vessel we have over time and is very flexible. It is also incredibly cost effective.

I do believe we need to be far more innovative and with the Bays, Albion’s, Forts, Points, Scott and Argus all coming up for renewal at some point in the next 20 years there is an opportunity to standardise and save a load of money, add in the tide replacements in 20 years time and you can have a fleet of 12-16 FLO FLO’s providing virtually any capability we wish, from fuel, solid stores, hospital ship, RO-RO, Littoral Strike, mothership, helicopter carrier, Humanitarian…. the list is almost endless.

It may be a step too far, but in my opinion the UK military needs to get innovative quickly and we have used off the shelf hulls previously, why not take it a step further and go FLO FLO.


I think you are suggesting building ships like the army’s Boxer, with different payload modules that can be interchanged.

Boxer is larger, heavier and more expensive because of this capability.

And not all payloads can fit the “one size fits all” module.


I can see where you are going but it would save nothing. You would be basically building two ships at once. Consider for example both halves would need a refit. Plus other problems.


The USN tried it with LCS and much smaller ‘weapon systems modules’. They built the ships while ‘concurrently’ developing the modules. They have ended up with the ships and no modules.
To have people trained to operate in the modules and sitting on shore while another module is in use would be even something a very rich country would struggle with.

To even think that a tanker could be swapped to a hospital ship and then helicopter carrier shows some enormous misunderstandings about how ships are designed let alone far more complex beasts like naval ships. This is not Lego, it would appear on the surface as a structural impossibility for a vessel that travels on some pretty rough oceans and be a stability nightmare.

A carrier already can act as a ‘stores ship’ for its escorts , and the sheer size means it can transfer considerable fuel to others, act as hospital ship and even use helicopters for vertrep.

Thinking about reusing a ‘hull form’ for even 2 different classes of ship isnt new. The Type 42 and 22 were designed about the same time and it was considered. But while practical the air defence destroyer with room forward for a large missile magazine meant a different hull form to a anti submarine frigate trailing a towed array. By the time all the other changes in superstructure that were necessary it wasnt worthwhile in steel fabrication to to standardise. However They had the same Olympus/Tyne engine combination ( later T22 had Spey)


Very minor point but I don’t think the Type 22 could, or did, tow an array.


Type 2031Z 


Batches 2 & 3. As noted below 2031Z and SK-capable flight deck.


As others mention for T22, it was even done for a Leander exocet conversion Argonautcomment image


Thanks all for the correction. Just the Batch 1 could not.


T22 really matured as a design once it was stretched (mostly to fit Classic Outboard). B1’s were really a bit of a dead end.


The B1 length was limited by then Devonport frigate overhaul complex. The 2031Z towed sonar along with the CACS combat system with the ‘Classic Outboard’ electronic warfare equipment plus a bigger flight deck to take a Sea king size.
Hardly a dead end if a small stretch was all that was required accommodate better equipment. Computer mainframes of the time took up large spaces and needed access to all the ‘boxes’


Interesting background to the 2031Z towed array sonar
Dr Curtis’ main break-through started in 1979 after he had designed and made a narrowband processor for the SNCP programme. When the surface ship towed array, sonar 2031, was troublesome and of concern to the DUWP Project Leader, Rodney Bown. Curtis’ earlier work persuaded Bown that, rather than industry, Curtis’ team at AUWE could build the towed array processor and meet the deadlines. Taking a risk of bucking the trend for expensive defence industry solutions, Bown gave Curtis the job to work in parallel with Marconi the contractor. Under Curtis’ leadership, his team designed and built a 32 channel 5 octave processor in about 6 months. When it came to the trials in HMS Lowestoft, the Curtis team walked onboard at 9am and left at 1230 with the system working and tested. The trial had been arranged for Marconi, but their system was not ready, so it was agreed to trial the Curtis equipment instead. This was so successful that Admiral Hill Norton, the First Sea Lord, was invited to see the results. He in turn went to the Controller of the Navy and the consequence was that the Marconi contract was cancelled in favour of the Curtis system.315 Not only were the deadlines achieved but the MoD saved about £70 million. The set became sonar 2031Z and went to sea in the Type 22 and then later, the Type 23 frigates.”

and when it became availble for a SSK
A team member explains Curtis’ genius by doing what the Americans and UK industry were not doing. He took another route, building modular hardware based on commercial digital electronic devices (this meant few board types and low-cost devices) and then used simple computers for control display. He also used local small sub-contractors. Together with digital memory advances his solutions were effective a very real outcome being a 60% reduction in the system weight and an 80% reduction in power consumption over earlier sets.318 This made powerful processing available to the SSK – and with considerable cost savings.


Thanks for sharing. Most interesting.


B1 was a dead end in that was the original plan for the class. Classic Outboard was the primary driver for the stretch and all the other goodness flowed from that. It showed the limits of the original planned class. So yes a dead end.

Glass Half Full

You are stretching your one-size-fits-all FLO-FLO concept too far when you suggest possible use as a replacement for vessels ranging from 13,000 to 40,000 tonnes displacement. It also doesn’t make sense to make tankers and solid stores ships flexible when we are going to need them in those specific roles all the time. They also don’t need FLO-FLO capability, assuming it is even practical for such ships to be based on a FLO-FLO platform.

As for Albions, Bays, Points and Argus. Regardless of whether they are considered non-combatants or not they will be targets in a hot war. Any replacements have to be viable for perhaps 30 years+ from late 2030’s availability onwards in such a scenario; both on an individual ship basis and as a system of ships carrying out a task, such as amphibious landing.

If you are planning on using FLO-FLO instead of a well-deck then you will have ships stopped in the water (with what sea state tolerance?), taking time to flood down, unloading and then pumping out before being able to move again at any significant speed. Well-deck vessels will have similar issues, compounded by having to sustain multiple ship-to-shore LCU trips while hull down. That makes both types of ship very vulnerable to submarine attack. It will also make them very vulnerable to any ASM (sub-sonic stealth, supersonic, hypersonic) that finds them, and the likely implementation of LEO surveillance by Russia and China in due course makes that much more likely. Its going to be challenging defending a CSG or ARG moving at 25kn under these conditions, ships at 0kn are inviting trouble. Which is why we need a re-think on how we deploy men and material/vehicles across a beach or into a harbour in wartime to avoid providing large, easy targets.

If we want to leverage a common platform for Albions, Bays, Points and perhaps LSS if that is still a thing, then a UK solution similar to but with larger displacement than the USN LAW program, with ships of around 4,000 to 8,000 tonnes displacement, would IMO be a better solution. It reduces static ship time to a minimum with direct beach landing and reduces risk of major loss in a single ship by using larger numbers of smaller inexpensive platforms, which are built to commercial standards and require very low, potentially optional, manning. Commanding such littoral actions will need to be done from other platforms such as the carriers, or possibly the high end escorts.


I would argue that this is entirely possible as it is wing done now and that even for solid store ships we don’t need them all the time as so,e are always tied up.

ultimately we are looking at spending £500m on a ship we can build for £200m if we go modular. Are there compromises along the way possibly, but the beauty of the mega module design that you can build the components needed far cheaper.

so for an sss let’s assume 2 or 3 module each of 50m length.

module 1. Armament hold with all the blast protection needed.
module 2. Fuel load to international standards (double hulled etc)
module 3. Standard solid stores

a large commercial FLO FLO costs c.£100m. Let’s assume an average of £50m per module. That is £250m all in which means we can buy more.

need to reconfigure to a hospital ship or RORO. Relatively easy with the required infra.

we clearly will have to standardise on a common hull size, but this shouldn’t hold us back from doing it.

Boxer is a useful analogy here, as we standardise the hull and customise the load.

if it was down to me I would cancel all Ajax, warrior and cep and order 4K boxers tomorrow and concentrate on the capabilities. The price would reduce significantly and we would get real value.

the alternative is the Albion’s will be picked off eventually, just as diligence and ocean were, even the points are being reduced due to lack of use, and let’s not forget our 4th bay class so perhaps this is a solution we should consider.

lastly if push did come to shove, we could buy some FLO FLOs relatively cheaply and add our spare modules should it be required.

it’s different I accept that, but that’s what we need to be looking at I believe, especially for our large vessels in the 200m length range.



Last edited 3 years ago by Ron5

The Boxer analogy shows that your solution would be a shed load more
expensive. And cost saving is your only justification for this fantasy

Glass Half Full

You still haven’t addressed the vulnerability of these platforms and that was my main point wrt replacement of Albions, Bays and Points.

You are being a little disingenuous when stating some SSS are always tied up, there are reasons for that. The current Rosalies are old. To avoid costly updates to them (hence why they are in extended readiness), we are working Fort Vic hard and its still not adequate, the RFA have also had manning issues. We are building new SSS to support carrier ops that we haven’t had in the recent past, in addition to other deployments. It looks like MOD were hoping to get away with just two SSS but may have decided that we need three to support carrier ops plus at least one other simultaneous deployment, with one in routine or longer term maintenance.

You also seem to be assuming we are going to be moving modules on and off frequently to maximise utilisation, which is not likely to be trivial or inexpensive endeavour, assuming its even practical to do frequently for these types of module. I also don’t think Boxer is a very good analogy for something on this scale. A less positive alternative is the US LCS program where they are now deciding not to utilise the flexibility of mission modules and to instead fix the function for each ship. Neither example proves or disproves the utility of modules.


I think the requirement for law programme mentioned above could be met by the absalon class for us.

add another deck onto our T31 and you have sorted it, as we will not be putting any of these ships on a beach it’s the closest we will ever get to that idea as if the RN has a choice of vessels at 4-8k tonnes it will choose more escorts.

Glass Half Full

In suggesting Absalon class you are assuming access to a port to land equipment and supplies. In a hot war that access is not guaranteed to be available and certainly not safe against peer and near-peer adversaries. Again you are overlooking the changes taking place in the threat environment. A vessel capable of direct beach landing provides options where it is far less predictable where a ship might land troops, vehicles and supplies etc.

A larger LAW solution would allow a direct transit from the UK to Norway. It could embark off a beach and disembark on a beach, no port required, no pre-known target location with exact GPS co-ordinates such as a port. The only time the ship is static is when it is beached, which is why ship size is constrained to enable rapid off loading of a limited load.


“Just” add another deck.

What do you think that will do to centre of gravity, stability, structural design, systems design and capacity?

Phillip Johnson

The release suggests a fair amount of hedge betting. The MOD puts a lot of emphasis on white collar skills but when it comes to ship BUILDING the choke point is generally the skills related to heavy metal fabrication. Easy to lose, hard to regain and not the clean easy work a lot of people prefer.
Currently both the T26 and T31 projects will be working to build their workforces in just those skills.
Once a yard down sizes or worse closes it is far easier to talk about re-building a capability than it is to actually do it. If you want an example, you just have to look at the trouble the (relatively simple) BAY class ran into.
The brutal truth is that 9 out of 10 people who call themselves welders will meet not MOD standards.
If there is more capacity for shipbuilding in the UK fine, but politicians have done very little to build that capacity. Companies seeking the FSS contract will make a lot of promises in terms of jobs and capability, does the MOD actually have the skills to really evaluate those Promises?



Supportive Bloke

There shouldn’t really be a lot of hand welding in a modern fab line.

Most of what we now buy is robot welded and the quality control and speed is at a different level.

All the long Sean’s should be done by robot.

Yes, there will be “awkward bits”, done by hand. Really the “awkward bits” should be designed out.

Supportive Bloke


Phillip Johnson

People talk about robots (or more correctly automated welders) but:

  1. forget that you need to be an experienced welder to set such machine welders up. Unfortunately as you get rid of basic hand welding you also get rid of the chance for young welders to build the basic skills.
  2. don’t realize that any training course won’t do more than set people up with skills to start learning.
  3. there is still a lot of hand welding usually in awkward spaces. Some of the most time consuming tasks are sealing around the maze of bulkhead and deck penetrations (hatches, cables, ducts, pipes). The other big hand welding task is sealing around stringers (the lengthwise strength members). These are either angle or Tee and where they pass through a bulkhead the resultant gaps have to be sealed to water and gas tight standards.
  4. Machines build panels, people then assemble panels into blocks.

This. In spades.

Supportive Bloke

I would certainly echo your point

“ don’t realize that any training course won’t do more than set people up with skills to start learning.”

Unfortunately the ‘qualifications industry milk bottle top mafia’ have pulled a real blinder in conning people into thinking that an NVQ in XYZ means any real deep skill set.

It is the bane of my life explaining to 25yr old guys that the NVQ in their sweaty mits doesn’t mean that they are suddenly due a massive pay rise.

4th watch

Are FFS having the same engineering and systems as the QNLZ and Tide Class? Standardising on these items can obviously be a big cost saver in construction and in life maintenance and could help UK industry tremendously. So much seems to be imported due to failure to invest in a drumbeat of orders. Thats why the NSS is so vital and so obvious.
So much has been flogged off one wonders if this is achievable again.


BMT has said that their FSS design is based on the Tides (which were designed by them) so we can assume a lot of similar systems. I believe the hull form though has had to be altered to meet the requirement for increased speed with the same propulsion train. More slippery.

The competing design from Bae would, I think, naturally have less commonality.


What is the point of our carriers?

I am not criticising the present govt or indeed the previous coalition govt of 2010. Labour ordered these carriers (for whatever purpose they divined, and after hedging around with them for years) and contractually made it impossible to cancel.

We have stumbled into a significant and necessary maritime strategy. And as such it seems (to me) this is at the expense of a major land based strategy. (At the same time we have left the economic orbit of the EU … but are still a leading player in NATO) All of this may be a good idea, I do not comment on its efficatious-ness.

But what IS our maritime strategy?

What actually do we want? Thereafter perhaps we can suggest what components to build which fulfil that strategy and beyond that we can produce the nuts and bolts which comprise those components. And where it might be best built. But first … ??

4th watch

With the cold war and the USSR half way into Europe we decided to invest in a large land Army to essentially refight WW2 if necessary with resupply from the USA across the Atlantic. This had been necessary after the lessons of WW1 and WW2. Since then stabilisation of various critical points in the Middle East etc became more important as fighting WW3 in Europe had less attractions.
Carriers are a deterrent and a tool to deploy force in multiple theatres.
Bizarrely we abandoned this capability and had to make do with the Invincibles which fortunately used the Harriers to some good effect.
With the obsolescence of the Harrier there was, conveniently and by design, the F35 as a continuation of Naval air power at a level much below the megacarrier. The QNLZ class cost roughly 25% of a megacarrier and are far more efficient in manpower. (1600 vs 5000+ crew!}
The long and short of it is Naval Strategy comes down to denying bad actors of whatever type their aim of shutting down freedom of navigation and generally causing trouble and imposing their control around the globe. Twas ever thus.


Our strategy is to contribute to the maritime defence of the West. In the broadest sense. The carriers are in the form they are because Blair saw the UK as an enforcer in the Rules Based international system. Now they will make up US carrier (CVN and LHx) numbers to some extent.

As for ‘major land based strategy’, well the mid portion of the 20th from 1914 to 1945 run against the grain of our history. Needed at a time, but something the country should have moved away from. The Russians ain’t coming to invade Western Europe, why would they? The latter is something many on sites like this can’t answer because they are war fantasists.

Where Russia is a problem is beneath the sea. And 7 SSN’s isn’t enough. We need two frigates to our north and 12 P8 just for the UK (and another clutch to follow the duty carrier).

A. Smith

Now is the perfect opportunity for the MoD and Royal Navy to agree on a “200m common hull” which can be used to build all future RFA, Albion and Ocean class replacements. Instead of planning on building 3 hulls they should be thinking long term to use such a common hull on all future large vessels.


Once again, the myth of a common hull. It’s utter nonsense.


But a great Idea, You might want to loosen up a bit matey. Embrace the site you are Posting on, It’s just the Internet, no wars will actually be fought here, no battles won, other posters might not be as brilliant but sometimes, we do have good ideas. A Common Hull is one, It’s quite possibly the way It’ll go, Think type 4 X , Think Type 31, Think of all the RAF Aircraft that have gone to be replaced with Typhoon and F35, I know you are really knowledegeable, you keep telling us, i just think you could be a little bit nicer. 🙂


On the contrary, a dose of real knowledge and experience is exactly what sites like this need. I for one am very grateful for NaB taking the time.

As for being nice, if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.


Thanks for the Downvote, again. Oh and, You’ll never experience the heat i’ve endured mate. Literally. You think this place is hot ? Try losing Skin.


Not sure you’ll be able to link your “Real Knowledge and Experience ” comment Ron5, so I thought I’d share a few facts. 1982, South Atlantic, Transferred, Bombed, burnt, transported home, Not a hospital ship, would probably been nicer to look at though.


I respect your service but that doesn’t make you a naval architect. And before you mention that I’m not one either, it was not my knowledge and experience being referenced above.


So All your thousands of posts on this site and others are based on no knowledge or Experience then ?


lol…….. loving your Down Vote again.


It just makes me wonder how Ron5 thinks being abrasive and nasty is some sort of virtue. For what reason? He is the same across a few forums not just here.


I don’t know him, I do see his post’s though, you are right about his Abrasiveness. I can’t reply on the UKDJ site since being Censored but It’s all true and I have to say that a few others on there are just as bad.


Well I think he is the petty down voter. Persons like him destroy sites.

Supportive Bloke

Well we can still debate things and learn different perspective from N-a-B, Borg, X and a lot of others.

We’ve all done a little (or a lot) in some field to have some knowledge but above all there is little harm in kicking the ball around.

I for one respect the debate.

Maybe we all just need to be a tiny bit more careful with language where we differentiate between knowledge, speculation and fresh ideas?

There is space for all that.

A. Smith

There are unfortunately some people in these forums who are happy for the crisis in defence procurement to continue and think that “we’ve always done it this way” justifies their point of view and negates the need for change.

One of the reasons why ship numbers are getting smaller and ship costs are getting bigger is because the people with the “wrong knowledge” are making the decisions and the only ones sitting at the table.


I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone state “we’ve always done it this way so it’s right”. What I have seen is people postulate all sorts of ideas without any real basic understanding of the issues.

So, let’s take your “200m common hull” for RFAs, amphibious ships etc etc and analyse it.

Shall we start with what these ships are supposed to do? Usually a good idea.

Tankers – carry large quantities (typically 15000-20000te) of F44 and F76 (density ~0.8 t/m3) in multiple tanks. Cargo transferred via numerous pipelines at something like 600m3/hr/line. Cargo tanks tend to be deep and must be separated from the side shell. RAS stations need to be midships, such that the ship can keep a hydrodynamically stable position alongside the ship(s) it’s fuelling.

Store ships – embark, stow and keep in safe conditions a huge variety of cargo ranging from ammunition, through tinned, chilled and frozen foods to cleaning fluids, bin bags. bog roll, naval and air spares. All provided in different packaging ranging from bespoke munitions containers to small items in individual box. Many with different stowage requirements (temperature, humidity, electrical safety, ventilation etc etc). Density of cargo items variable, from 2te/m3 for beer, to 0.5te/m3 for an AIM120 container, but will actually be much less overall as you need access space and things like stacking limits, separation rules etc apply. Cargo handled onboard at sea – unlike commercial ships where cargo handling is virtually exclusively alongside in port. That means clear vertical and horizontal routes from cargo holds to the embarkation and RAS points on the upper deck, none of which can compromise internal subdivision, which is required to meet survivability requirements (damaged stability, fire protection etc). Those routes must have adequate strength to take FLT pressures and clearance to allow them to manoeuvre with cargo. You also need extensive pre-staging areas to have cargo ready to go to the jackstay rigs (or flightdeck for VERTREP). All these spaces are manned at some stage so need lighting, HVAC, firefighting, escape systems, communications, smoke detectors, flood sensors, etc etc.

Again RAS stations equidistant about midships, but aligned to potential receiving ships. QEC is a particular problem in this instance.

Depending on whether carrying vehicles requiring landing craft or not, may need a stern dock, capable of being flooded to a depth sufficient to allow laden craft to enter the dock. This affects the entire configuration of the ship from an arrangement and hydrodynamic perspective. It’s not something you can just “clag on”, as it affects principal dimensions and also requires a huge amount of ballast tank provision in specific places and of course the pumps and lines to fill and empty them.

If carrying vehicles, then need vehicle deck with access to dock, probably flightdeck and ideally side or stern ramp for loading in port. Vehicle deck needs to be strong enough for heaviest vehicle loading, high enough for largest vehicle (plus additional height for lighting, HVAC, firefighting systems etc) and is generally above watertight subdivision (which has an impact on your survivability philosophy).

If using helicopters, you need a flightdeck and if operating several, a large flightdeck and preferably a hangar. Lots of configurations possible, but a below deck hangar will require lifts and a clear height of ~7m, plus HVAC, lighting , firefighting etc etc.

Assuming you want troops to man these vehicles, landing craft helicopters etc, you then have to find deck area and volume for several hundred people, plus showers, toilets, messing areas, access, dining spaces, personal gear stores etc etc. Because they’ll be living aboard potentially for months. huge impact on lighting, HVAC, electrical systems, hot and cold fresh water, grey and black water, sewage treatment plants and so-forth. That’s all in addition to the ships complement. Just to complicate things further you also need to provide escape routes, Life-saving equipment etc etc.

Why is all this important? It’s just words, right? It’s important because it will hopefully demonstrate just how different these ship types are.

Oh, but that’s just the internals, if the hull is the same it doesn’t matter right? Wrong.

Those differences are reflected in every single design calculation, document, certification statement, design drawing, production drawing, equipment specification that you actually build a ship with. It’s not just a computer generated shape that pops out for some whittling by the shipwrights. Producing all that takes upwards of a million manhours and they’re not transferable. This is where cost lies.

Your RFA tanker has approximately 25% of its area requiring normal access, whereas the figures for stolid stores and amphibs are closer to 80%. That has huge implications for systems design, electrical power provision, chilled water systems, insulation, fluid systems etc.

Weight distribution is very different across ship types, because of the different arrangement requirements and cargos. That has a major impact on the actual structural design (steel plate type, thickness, section type, thickness, spacing, bracketing etc etc). Thousands of details, all affected by the arrangement of the ship and its systems.

It also means that you tend to want to adjust the principal dimensions and coefficients to ensure that you do things like float on a relatively even keel, float at a sensible draft etc etc. For example, you tend to want your amphib to have a relatively low draft to get in close to shore, yet still offload landing craft. A tanker tends to have a deeper draft to efficiently carry its (relatively) heavier cargo. That’s why even the hullform (shape) tends to change with design requirements. Change the shape, change the characteristics, change the design documentation, change the production drawings and info.

The hullform shape is relatively cheap to define, test etc. Usually a low handful of million, which when compared to the tens of millions spent on producing the design information for the hull and systems is in the noise.

“Common hulls” sound attractive if you don’t have to design or build them. However, the single most important point is that the tens of millions invested in conducting multiple designs (compared to the billions in building them) means that you don’t lose the skills required to do so. If you lose that – as we found out with T26 and the US found out with Zumwalt and LCS – you are in serious and expensive bother.

Despite my better judgement, an essay. Apologies.

Last edited 3 years ago by N-a-B

Hi N-a-B, really good informative post fella tavm. Despite your reluctance for an essay, would have probably saved you time and grief if you posted it several days ago, so no need to apologise imo.


Get a copy of this book…….

Ferries are more ‘straightforward’ than a warship. The book details the many problems and variations on a theme. And when you have read it consider how complicated a warship must be.


Cheers, will have a look.


His “Point” was indeed made a few Days ago, I respect his knowledge and expertise on the subject, Personally, I’m happy to be “Corrected” however sad i am that a “common Hull” is so obviously seen as an impossible achievement/joke.


My post wasn’t aimed at you or indeed several others, but just a comment about posts in general. Like you’ve said, a lot of knowledge floats about on this site, I’m happy to learn where I can. I too thought a common hull might be the way forward, but obviously not.

I believe we will get a hospital ship, eventually, I think the political will is there, just not the timing. What form it takes is another question, part funded by the foreign aid budget I can well imagine, but that’s just a guess on my part.


I wasn’t thinking about where you were aiming mate…….The trouble with the Internet is that it is all too easy to take comments the wrong way and then reply aggressively knowing that you are safe being hidden. My whole point was purely about my perceived and somewhat Naive assumption that a dedicated Hospital ship might just come from this project. I’ve since realised just how wrong my thinking was. I’m happy and entirely comfy with the Essay I’ve since read.

A. Smith

Thanks for the information, it was an interesting read.

The French are using the FREMM as a common hull for anti-submarine and anti-air warfare roles and have also used the Gowind-class design to be adapted into frigate, corvette and offshore patrol vessels.

The Karel Doorman has been designed as a multi-role support ship that can function as an amphibious warfare ship and also different auxiliary roles.

Both Naval Group and Damen are successful shipbuilding companies which produce many types of vessels for a global market.

Building destroyers and frigates on an ad-hoc basis costing in excess of a billion pounds each and in small numbers is unsustainable. BAE (our prime contractor) does not design, build and market vessels in the same way that Naval Group and Damen does and this is confirmed by their product portfolio and sales.

A common hull for our auxiliary, hospital, LPDs and helicopter carriers should be considered when there are successful examples of common hull usage in existence today.

Many of the areas and variables you mention (weight distribution, liquids, steel plate type, steel thickness and air flow etc.) can be simulated on computers and using known data from existing ship designs.

How do a multitude of goods arrive on ships from China? They also use computers to evenly distribute the weight – on the same hull – month after month. They don’t design a new hull each week depending on the cargo, they evenly distribute containers based upon weight, contents and other variables. Do they change the fire exits each month? Or the air conditioning ducting every week? Do they keep adding and removing sleeping quarters every day? No.

A common hull would therefore be designed to be flexible and sensibly accommodate the known ship roles (auxiliary, hospital, LPDs and helicopter carriers) features and requirements where possible.

A common hull would share parts, components and blocks common for all the ship roles it would serve, be cheaper and quicker to build, increase efficiencies, create economies of scale and allow for better management for human resources in construction and maintenance.

There are benefits of a common hull which cannot be ignored against the “boom and bust” of current shipbuilding in the UK.


Oh dear.

You may wish to consider the differences between a 14000 TEU containership comprising a small deckhouse with 20 odd crew, a relatively small engine room with a slow speed diesel engine providing propulsive power and around a dozen vertical cargo holds, with the ship types you think are common hulls. You are confusing cargo with function and facility. A loading computer does not simulate its way out of those differences.

Simulating variables from known designs does not obviate the need to conduct the relevant design calculations and more importantly achieve Class Approval for the resultant drawings, plans etc.

Gary Google is not your friend if you don’t actually understand what the internet is telling you. Ever worked in a design office or a shipyard? Been aboard the warships you think we’re so poor at?

Your “benefits” look good in a management consultancy stylee. Sadly, like many text book theories, reality gets in the way.


FREMM’s are warships not specialised auxiliaries designed for completely different purposes.

And Karel Doorman is multi-role, not swing role. She can’t be a dedicated tanker one day and a dedicated amphib the next. She can do a bit of everything but nothing as well as a purpose designed vessel.

Then you’ve said, “A common hull for our auxiliary, hospital, LPDs and helicopter carriers should be considered when there are successful examples of common hull usage in existence today.”

There are none that do all these jobs.


I’d love to see a Hospital Ship, My thought process just focussed on an opportunity to build such a Ship based upon a probable 30,000 Ton Design, unlike the “Mercy” It seems a futile wish though, never really understood the difference between “Hull Design and Hull Form” I do now though !


Form is all about hydrodynamics.

Design is the internal layout.


Yup, I think I got it now !!!!!!!!


Back in the old days ‘navies’ would re-use successful hull forms (shapes) or know enough to modify out (to some extent) the problems.

Design is where everything goes. From engine rooms to ops to messdecks to magazines to the galley to the tank to intakes and uptakes, and that everything not only fits in but also follows design rules for safety, water tightness, pollution control, etc. and so on.

Supportive Bloke

And often end up with the most amazing bodges……but back in the day the ‘drawings’ were not that detailed and the constructional detail relied a lot on the institutional memory of the workforce and decisions of the yard engineers on how to fudge it all together….


Yes. They made some cock-ups.

Supportive Bloke

I think we would all love to see a properly equipped ship with a great hospital facility.

The guys and girls from all three services deserve that if they are sent in harms way.

I’m a bit puzzled how the MOD thinks they are going to discharge their duty of care to service people once Argus retires. The hospital facility in the QEC’s is too small.

I appreciate you have a special affinity for this from your service days.


Another pass by the down voter I see. Utterly pathetic.


Worst feature on this site to my mind. It was one of my greatest successes on the UKDJ site, to get George to delete this Part. Didn’t really like his response though ! Censorship is so disappointing in an otherwise free speaking Country.


Have to agree with you both on this, assume that there is no way back on UJDJ site for you? I was following those posts before they disappeared, took a few moments to realise that they were pulled. Yes, censorship does suck at times!


I don’t really mind though, it’s just one little site I Infested !!!!! There are many others and they are not as Censored, so a lot nicer truth be known. I’m probably a bit of an Enigma having a Mixed race background, experiences most would not comprehend and Scars to prove it. Just wish I was born with a natural Hull Design Brain though.


I agree some of my posts have not appeared or disappeared on UKDJ – not very impressive when they are all temperate and not abusive. I’m also very careful not to reveal any secrets.


You’re mixing up free speech with the right, or lack of it, to spam up someone else’s site.


Dominic Cummings is now out for better or worse. He was good for good for BREXIT, but bad for procurement amd understanding tax clawback and investment in UK industry and people, with the return that gives.