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Hugo

Really hope whichever government is next makes the most of H&W, seems like they have a sustainable plan for their yards.

N-a-B

I’d hope the panel line is capable of more than 16m2. That’s not a panel line, its a hobby shop.

You might also want to check your info on the build dock. It may be 12m deep, but you only get 8.5m of water over the sill at the top end of most tides.

Fingers crossed H&W does turn into a success story, although I suspect there will be some fairly spectacular lows on the way. It was still the right decision to award the FSS contract to Team Resolute, given the alternatives, but there’s a long way to go yet.

Supportive Bloke

I’d say the whole article needs a careful fact check.

…… 30,000m2 of covered fabrication halls. As part of the £77M investment that followed the FSS contract award, a 5,000m2 extension is being added to the halls with an automated panel line capable of manufacturing 16m2 panels.”

Why increase a 30,000m2 [is that actually right?] covered hall by 5,000m2 to add a 16m2 capable panel line?

Am I missing something or does that not line up properly.

Maybe what it should say is that

As part of the £77M investment that followed the FSS contract award, a 5,000m2 [extension] new building is being added to the halls with an automated panel line capable of manufacturing 160m2 panels.

But that is only speculation!

Supportive Bloke

I’m sure they are from H&W they just don’t seem right….

Cris

The dry dock dimension figures are incorrect. The article is talking about the large building dock but it gives the dimensions for the Belfast dry dock…

Jon

Have a look an another report, this time for the planned expansion with the figures given in square feet. The numbers are consistent with this article.

insidermedia.com/news/ireland/plans-lodged-for-expansion-of-harland-wolffs-belfast-facility

N-a-B

That 30000m2 is a tad on the ambitious side as well. The two fab sheds adjacent to the build dock are about 40m x 80m and 30m x 70m, which by my maths is just under 6000m2 total.

There sure as hell isn’t another 20-odd thousand sq metres of covered fabrication hall anywhere else!

Joe16

I dream of a hobby/work shop with 16 m² of clear work space…! But I take your point, could they have meant a line capable of managing panels 16 x 16?
I’m hopeful that Navantia and H&W management can get the whole thing running in such a way that they can be commercially competitive long term

SailorBoy

That is more realistic, a sixteen metre square rather than a square of 16 square metres.
I’d hate to imagine putting a ship together from panels only 4x4m, like one of those 3D puzzles with tiny pieces.

Gunbuster

8.5m over the sill is an issue.
She would need to be in a light load condition , which is pretty standard for going into a dock.
They would also need to remove the blades from the prop hub in the water first.

Whilst QE/POW where in build the RN was asking a lot of companies around the world about the use of dry docks if the vessels where on a deployment and needed to emergency drydock. A sensible precaution I am sure all will agree. I did the report on our Graving Dock which is bigger than the H&W dock

Nigel Collins

I wonder if we could pick up work from the USN as well?

“Japan and the US are considering a plan to maintain and overhaul the US Air Force (USAF) Boeing F-15 and Lockheed Martin F-16 combat aircraft in the Asian country. Defence officials from the countries are set to discuss the potential project at a new bilateral forum on defence industry co-operation to be held in Japan in mid-June, according to the US Department of Defense (DoD).

The new Forum on Defense Industrial Cooperation, Acquisition and Sustainment (DICAS) will examine opportunities for deeper industrial collaboration between the two countries, a Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD) spokesperson told Janes. “This forum includes the sustainment of US Navy (USN) vessels and air force aircraft at Japanese commercial facilities,” the spokesperson said, adding that details about the overhaul project have yet to be decided.

The forum will be conducted by US Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William LaPlante and Masaki Fukasawa, commissioner of Japan’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA), the DoD said.

Japan’s MoD said there are several benefits to sustaining US naval vessels and USAF aircraft in Japan. “In general, conducting maintenance and repairs in Japan on US Navy vessels and US Air Force aircraft deployed in the vicinity of Japan, without them returning to mainland US, will contribute to strengthening Japan’s defence production and technological bases,” the MoD spokesperson said.

Such maintenance and repair work will also improve “the readiness of US forces by shortening the repair period and increasing efficiency”, the spokesperson said, adding that this would improve the “deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-US alliance”.

N-a-B

It only works because the US have substantial forces forward deployed in Japan. While there’s a substantial USAF presence in East Anglia, not so for the USN. Their European forward deployed forces are in the Med, Rota (Sp) and Naples (It).

...

Belfast Dock (at the mouth of the channel) is the only graving dick suitable for true emergency docking of the carriers in all tide conditions in the UK. But it wont survive without government sending work to Queen’s Island.

The Commissioning Dock (under the cranes) has less depth over sill as you have stated and is intended for initial assembly before full weight application. But final fit out can still be completed in Belfast Dock.

There was talk of increasing the depth over sill in the Commisoning Dock. But I have no idea how much work that would involve to achieve.

Either way both these docks are integral to sovereign UK dry docking of large vessels and need supported through investment.

Duker

Seaton port Teeside as well, at 375mx 120m its the longest and widest in Britain
https://www.navylookout.com/dry-docking-the-royal-navys-aircraft-carriers-what-are-the-options/
This is the Portsmouth new build option

Portsmouth-D-Lock-3-basin-conversion1
Theoden

Great news for Belfast, UK and the RN. It’s just a damn shame UK Defence journalism in mass media has fallen so far. Now it’s in the hands of the politicians to follow through on the National Shipbuilding Strategy. At least both main parties talked about 2.5% in their manifestos so until there’s a reason not to be i’m going to be optimistic.

Drew murrY

All ships for the rn ,rfa,should be designed and built in the UK.

Hugo

There’s nothing wrong with picking up foreign designs, especially on a tight deadline like T31.
But FSSS is designed in the UK, but if we want a guarantee of revitalising H&W and getting them quickly Navantia helps with that.

FI1982

Using all UK Products, Systems, Workforce too ?

Hugo

There are plenty of systems the UK doesn’t make, and would be infeasible to sustain by ourselves. Nothing wrong with cooperation

Hugo

Ah, gotcha.

Supportive Bloke

With the right investment, the UK could take a lead in niche markets through innovation in novel propulsion systems, autonomy and renewable energy. The 30-year forecast also indicates that there is plenty of government work for UK yards, provided future administrations properly fund the ships that the Navy and other agencies will need.”

The key is automation [reduced labour costs] and reduced energy costs.

The first one has been dealt with the three new plate lines and the BAE + Babcock build halls.

The second is a joke and is strangling UK industry on the alter of net zero. If anyone is serious about UK manufacturing becoming competitive in all areas then energy costs are #1 with skills being #2 [maybe that is back to front!]

Sean

Best way to reduce energy costs is pursuing net zero. Energy from renewables and nuclear is cheaper than fossil fuels.

Grant

Not once you factor in intermittency requiring over capacity, the vast cost of rebuilding our grid to accommodate it and the additional needs of electric vehicles nobody wants.

We could of been energy independent with plentiful fracked gas which the US has proven that all of the scare stories about earthquakes were wide of the mark. Gas is a transition fuel and whilst net zero is important, so is having an economy and not making people’s living standards much worse as a result

High power costs certainly do hold back manufacturing in this country. The Germans subsidise it and are happy to burn lignite.

Other than that, we need to look at tariffs – the EU charges them on our products but we do not reciprocate, hence they can compete in the UK, we cannot in Europe and a lack of industrial strategy in general and desire to invest in these manufacturing jobs in general.

Joe16

We’re going to need to rebuild grid infrastructure regardless- it’s not going to hold up forever and our demand is increasing regardless of the generation source. so pretending that it’s all because of renewables is a bit of a pretence by energy companies and government.
It’s true, intermittency is an issue with renewables. But there are larger scale storage technologies out there that are nearing market. It’s the way of the capitalist world that innovation and invention proceeds to market only once an identified need has materialised- because no-one invests otherwise. Large scale storage therefore necessarily lags behind the renewables it will support. Again, not a reason to not drive towards net zero. More of an encouragement to keep driving and encourage innovation and industry growth in that sector as a boost to UK PLC.
I agree about power costs, but there’s nothing stopping the government from providing preferential rates for industry in the same way that Germany does- if there isn’t enough wind power at certain points then the gas peakers will fire up. In fact, if industry had preferential rates then they’d probably be able to increase production and use up the excess wind power that is the flip side of the intermittency coin. It’s not like renewables are stopping them- it’s the energy companies not wanting to cut their unit rates on energy.
As far as tariffs go, we do not face tariffs exporting to the EU as long as we have the right paperwork and can prove that the item has been manufactured in the UK- no passing through stuff made elsewhere. But I agree with you, the government has no industrial strategy to speak of, and it sucks. They look after their mates in the city of London and the big oil companies, and that’s it.

Sean

Intermittency is something that is factored in for all types of power generation as no source is available 100% of the time. That’s why there are diverse methods of generation, together with the electric mountains for energy storage and continental interconnect. Even including these, non-fossil fuel power generation is still the cheapest form of energy.

We don’t need to rebuild the grid to accommodate renewables, the majority of our power comes from these. As I write this on a Friday evening, 40% is from wind 4.5% from solar, with gas at only 21%.
https://grid.iamkate.com/

What we do need to do is to expand grid capacity to accommodate the increased demand due to the decline in gas heating, the increase in electric cars, etc.
(Just because you can’t afford an electric car doesn’t mean they are “not wanted”. Every electric car driver I know would never go back to an ICE vehicle. They’re as obsolete as steam engines.)

Fracking is dependent upon ground conditions around the world. Previous experiences has shown the U.K. is not geologically suitable and it’s not needed anyway, we’re already transitioning past gas.

The Germans are burning ignite because
(a) they were naive enough to become dependent on Russian gas
(b) they were nervous enough to shut down their entire nuclear programme after Fukushima.
Now they are in a mad dash to copy us and develop offshore wind, etc. so why would we want to copy them?

The U.K. and EU both have tariffs on various goods from each other. And since Brexit, U.K. exports to the EU have increased whereas EU exports to the U.K. have decreased.
The U.K. is still in the top 10 of countries by manufacturering output –
https://www.safeguardglobal.com/resources/top-10-manufacturing-countries-in-the-world-2023/

Duker

manufacturing output ?. Your claims as usual mislead
From your own data

  1. Italy – 2.3% Global Manufacturing Output
  2. France – 1.9% Global Manufacturing Output
  3. United Kingdom – 1.8% Global Manufacturing Output
  4. Indonesia – 1.4% Global Manufacturing Output

How did Italy leap ahead of UK ? And when

Since 2010 UK manufacturing declined 0.95% as a % of GDP – the best comparison

When Thatcher came into power in 1979, the UK’s manufacturing industry had already begun to decline as a percentage of the country’s GDP, from 20.57% in 1970 to 17.62% in 1979, according to figures from the ONS. Alhough this figure continued to drop, it did so at a considerably slower rate during Thatcher’s time in office, recording a figure of 15.18% when she left office in 1990.”
https://www.investmentmonitor.ai/manufacturing/who-killed-british-manufacturing/?cf-view

Duker

Even including these, non-fossil fuel power generation is still the cheapest form of energy.”
So no subsidies required… LOL

Wind output isnt on demand so requires a nuclear or gas turbine backup.

The availability of the nameplate max output is a different order of magnitude as well. Say 10-15% for wind , compared to 60-75% for thermal generation.
So you have to build 3x as much wind power generation to match the availability of say a single thermal power station with 4 generators.

The thermal cant compete on cost grounds as their fixed costs are too high where as wind can sell at £1 PER MWhr AND has no penalty for only giving under 10% of their output on a low wind day.
Forget batteries as they make money by arbitrage , buying low and selling high. Sometimes they bat for both teams , from arbitrage and having standby at same time . Guess which one misses out when an emergency needs the standby. The fines for breach of contract are just another cost of doing business
https://reneweconomy.com.au/tesla-big-battery-fined-for-failing-to-deliver-promised-capacity-when-coal-plant-tripped/

Sean

No renewables don’t receive subsidies, however the oil and gas sector you adore receives huge tax breaks. I suspect you own shares in them.

This is going to be a shock to you Sherlock, but they don’t build wind farms in just one place. They build them all around the British Isles. Unlike you, they also do research to choose sites where it is very windy. As a result, we always have a good amount of wind power on tap.
With nuclear providing a base-load, and storage and interconnects providing additional reserve.
Coal is gone, and gas plants will soon be too.

Knowing the facts won’t support your propaganda you pluck figures from the air. As I right this, wind is not providing 10-15% of the UK’s electricity as you speculate – it’s supplying 66% of our electricity.
Or don’t you believe the National Grid?

As for storage, the U.K. has been doing that for decades with electric mountains, so your dementia driven meandering about batteries and a story about Tesla in Australia is irrelevant.

Grant

Massive tax breaks… the offshore oil and gas industry in the UK pays tax at 75%……

SD67

My word you talk some nonsense
– Nobody is transitioning past gas in fact intermittent renewables increase our dependence on it.
– The largest electricity storage facility in the world would give us 3% backup for one hour. Interconnectors are already maxxed out
– Nuclear and Coal regularly have uptime approaching 100% vs 50% if youre lucky for wind
– Offshore wind is more expensive than fossil fuels hence the Contract For Difference subsidies required
– Most EVs are made in China, whose economy is largely coal powered

FI1982

Indeed, China has some 1300 active Coal powered Power Stations and more coming on line every month…. something like 83% of the power they produce is from Coal…. We buy into their EV Shite because we are Sheeple being told what to do by the Rich, Elite….. the sooner we wake up to this crap the better…. Also, as i’m now on one, The vast majority of the Oceans rubbish comes from ten main rivers across the World…. guess where they are ? ….. wake up folks, This little Island is insignificant to the extreme in the Worlds problems…. I just wish we were more Intelligent as a whole…..

Sean

I think you need to stop watching GB / Fox News.
China is the world’s largest producer of electricity from wind power, more than the whole of Europe and North America combines. It’s seen a 25% increase in production in the last year alone.
https://www.reuters.com/world/china/china-widens-wind-power-lead-with-new-generation-record-maguire-2024-04-18

Longer term China plans to phase out all coal-powered electrical generation, renewables being cheaper and China being forecast to be badly affected by global warming. Unfortunately they are lagging decades behind the west.
(A cynic might think the CCP is wary of the internal discontent that might arise from sacking overnight the 3 million employed in coal production.)

This island is not “insignificant”, but you most definitely are.

Sean

– The U.K. is transitioning past gas. Since 2019 the % of electricity generated from gas has fallen by 7% with generation from wind up by 12% over the same period.
– And who says we need that much?
– The inter-connectors aren’t maxed-out. At times we export electricity to the continent, at times we import electricity. All depends on who has surpluses and at what price. Varies by the hour.
– That’s just not true. The 1 coal station we have, Ratcliffe-on-Soar, is rarely used – all 4 of its generators were briefly fired up In January for the cold snap. It will be decommissioned next year. As for nuclear station uptime, it’s actually 77%, not the 100% you claimed.
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5a75a748e5274a545822d2b9/Nuclear_Capacity_in_the_UK.pdf
– Offshore wind is not more expensive than fossil fuels. Contract for Difference is not a subsidy for wind power. It’s a scheme to encourage investment in electricity generation from diverse sources, including but not limited to wind AND nuclear.
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/627e3b178fa8f53f8e7c4d18/CfD_evaluation_phase_1_executive_summary.pdf
– China is the worlds largest generator of electricity from wind power and aims for renewables to account for 80% of its power by 2060.
https://www.iea.org/reports/an-energy-sector-roadmap-to-carbon-neutrality-in-china/executive-summary#

Maybe before quoting “facts” that are easily demonstrated to be false, perhaps you should do some real research of your own first. Have you heard of Google?

Last edited 1 month ago by Sean
Grant

We do still manufacture a lot of complex things – despite Government dis-interest and mis management. A little bit of support and industrial strategy – and yes perhaps a bit more of an attitude of buying British first and we could rise up through those rankings, which would be great as our service economy is very susceptible to being impacted by AI.

Electric cars work for some people for sure, but not the majority. The slowdown in sales make that point.

Sean

Electric cars work for most people, unless
• They are travelling hundreds of miles per day. This will diminish as ranges continue to extend.
• Have no access to at home charging, such as living in a flat with no on-street charging. This will change as most chargers are rolled-out; most residential streets where I live have lampposts that offer charging.

The slowdown in sales is to be expected:
• With all new products you get initial large sales from first adopters who can afford to buy.
• We’ve just gone through the highest inflationary period since the 70’s.
• Car drivers who are in the know are awaiting the introduction of solid-state batteries which offer far greater life compared to current technologies.

Andrew Harris

Wow, That’s a heck of a lot of presumptions there, most car drivers i know are dead set against EV’s as they are not so stupid as you seem to think they are.

Supportive Bloke

The issue was that the generating companies were able to take a 30 year holiday from investing in large ferreting plant and were not offered the tax incentives to keep a trickle of investment going.

The lack of rolling investment has driven energy costs upwards.

Add that to Clegg’s stupid comments on nuclear and you have the toxic mess we have now.

Sean

“ferreting plants”??? Someone call Compo from “Last of the Summer Wine”

Companies don’t need tax breaks to invest, they do that anyway if they want to stay in business. The problem was the UKs dash-for-gas, building has fired power stations. And it’s gas that keeps U.K. electricity prices inflated as it is priced by the basis of gas generation, which is significantly higher than the price of generation from renewables.

Supportive Bloke

Nope

If you want heavy investment into something offer a tax break.

Then watch the money roll in.

The super deduction has actually create a wave of SME investment in automation and new green tech.

BTW it was supposed to read ‘generating’ my iPhone auto mangle stepped in.

Sean

The vast majority of companies don’t ask for tax breaks for new investments. They make them anyway, but if HMG is offering to make it cheaper for them, they’re happy to take the cash. But they were going to do it anyway.
Certainly the case at my company, and at all the startups and SMEs that we provide deep tech services too.

ps: I’m sure iPhones auto-correct has gotten worse over the last 18 months or so, producing some quite ridiculous suggestions.

FI1982

Nuclear power has immense costs, these cost’s are in the clean up, re-processing and disposal. Only the deluded believe that nuclear is the cheap option… look at the 21 x N Subs currently stored in Devonport and Rosyth, waiting decades for some future Government to foot the bill…. then take a look at the horrendous costs involved in de-commissioning N Power Sites…. Don’t be so sure about your beliefs my friend.

Jon

As long as it was a fair bit cheaper in any year not to dismantle the submarines than it was to dismantle them, they weren’t going to get dismantled: a perfect example of short-termism. That cost us over £500m not to dismantle them over many years. The cost of storage at over £30m a year (and rising) is now on a par with the cost of dismantling: a whole-life project cost of £300m ish with a this year cost of £33m. So the operation will go ahead. It’s worth noting that the cost of dismantling all the stored subs is still less than the cost of building a single new one, so it’s not immense in the grand scheme of things. (Not to mention being cheaper than not doing it.)

Andrew Harris

Hi dude, these figures don’t include the long term storage costs, they are massive in the long term and I get what the chap is saying, look up the cost of long term storage of nuclear cores from the N power stations.

N-a-B

Nope. The simple reason they remained afloat was waiting for a decision on long-term waste repository.

Duker

Maybe . The US dismantles the subs and stores just the reactor compartments.
So awaiting a ‘long term storage’ is a red herring for kicking it into long grass now

hanford-site-the-hulls-of-nuclear-submarines-are-placed-at-news-photo-17019728531
N-a-B

No. The Hanford reservation is the US long term storage. There isn’t anything remotely equivalent in the UK either in terms of space or government control.

FI1982

That’s why all our N Boats are in Rosyth and Devonport… waiting for the next bunch of “Leaders” to find a long term and affordable solution.

D J

And is never likely to be. UK is simply too small. Realistically, it’s. US, Canada or Australia (as regards UK). Nuclear waste is one of those too hard questions. You need space, stable geology & no people (& the means to keep it that way). That’s not to say these three agree, but other morally acceptable alternatives are rather scarce. AUKUS “may” have some unknown small print.

FI1982

Which is basically what I said… isn’t it ?

Sean

The 21 nuclear submarines are nothing to do with U.K. electricity generation costs. They have now begun a process of dismantling these with a scheduled programme in place.

Nuclear had high CAPEX, but very low OPEX. Which is why the national grid has all available nuclear stations operating all the time, they provide base load.
The CAPEX is better addressed by the SMR approach which is now in development.

No, you’re no friend of mine, I have standards.

Russell Grimshaw

Nuclear is not cheaper. Factor in the build cost, decommissioning cost and, most importantly, the fact that there is still, after c.70 years of civilian nuclear power, no viable plan of how to manage the waste for the next 1/4 million years.

Joe16

Automation and modern processes are one of the reasons why I’m so optimistic about this Navantia partnership, I’m really hopeful that this investment at H&W will enable them to be competitive on civilian as well as military contracts.
As far as energy prices go, I agree that something needs to be done about that. The idea that a steel mill has to pay the same unit rate for energy as I do at home is utterly ridiculous. But that’s not a net zero consequence, as far as I’m aware it’s always been that way? And if it is a result of net zero, then it’s a lazy government hash job of trying to meet targets quickly- by making it too expensive for industries to operate at full capacity, rather than encouraging them to invest in modern equipment and processes by reduced industrial energy rates- showing them a way forward to make back their investments. But that would require joined up thinking and persistence on the part of ministers who only really seem to be jockeying for a higher cabinet position.

N-a-B

No. They won’t be competitive in the commercial market. The Cadiz shipyard – where the FSS blocks will be built – hasn’t built a fully commercial ship in years. They did some Suezmax tankers (subsidised by the Spanish national oil company) about seven years ago. It hasn’t done much else.

Last edited 1 month ago by N-a-B
Louis

What the Cadiz yard does is irrelevant.

There are plenty of Western European yards that are very successful in the commercial market. Cruise ships, ferries, tugs, fishing vessels, OSVs, yachts etc.

Duker

Navantia is the lead construction partner for FSS contract . So their major shipyards at Bay of Cadiz or Ferrol are the only option for this project.

N-a-B

And every single one of those yards has a small but committed client base developed over decades. They don’t randomly change horses unless their preferred yard stuffs up.

That’s what H&W lacks, a client base and track record

ATH

I think the lack of a track record is the key issue. Why would any fully commercial company put work with a yard that hasn’t built a ship in decades? Even if the owners subsidise the build the clients are as much concerned about the knock on cost of late delivery as they are about purchase price.

Joe16

Fair point, I’m not suggesting it’ll be an overnight thing by any means. Clients in the industry aren’t dumb, and any wider success is going to be built on the back of these initial ones announced. Unless I mis-read, they do have some civilian/commercial contracts landed- although admittedly for dock structures etc. rather than ships?

N-a-B

They’ve got some Thames barges, simple steel, no outfit. There is a huge difference between barges for ILW use and real ships.

Joe16

Although I thought they also had the Falklands Islands dock? Maybe that hasn’t actually been awarded yet.
No argument in terms of complexity though, it’s baby steps- and I think that’s the right way to go.

OkamsRazor

First class article. It is a mystery to me why the mainstream press are always so keen to do the doomster on British companies.

ATH

Or the press are honestly reporting the concerns HMT have about signing off a significantly sized 100% financing package for a company with very small assets. What H&W need in my opinion is an equity investor to give the company more financial stability.

Whale Island Zookeeper

It would be nice to think Appledore could be kept afloat.

comment image

dc647

Hopefully the government doesn’t let the yard fail, would be nice to have a yard that is not in Scotland to be able to build RN ships in case the SNP cons the Scots into independence then the work could be transferred to NI easily ideally it would have been nice to have a English yard just in case.

FI1982

Appledore has had a very chequered history stretching back some 170 years, it constantly re invents itself, long may it continue to do so. Some fantastic Ships have been floated out into the Torridge over the years and ship building on both the Taw and Torridge goes back many hundreds of years, it’s just the silt that curtailed bigger craft from being built.

Sean

It’s not going to happen.

If you want to worry about Scottish independence then read U.K. Defence Journal. They have a clickbait article every week about what independence would mean for shipbuilding.

Wild? I was absolutely livid! ...

Oh yes … UKDJ and the never ending “Scottish Dilemma” (Use Billy Connolly’s beautiful West Central Scots; Glaswegian accent).

In my opinion and experience, unlike the wonderful Navy Lookout, George Allison’s autocratic moderation on UKJD does not allow for fair and constructive criticism of the website, its authors or the articles published on the website. It’s the antithesis to the abstraction of free speech and other such democratic principles that are fundamental to British values, British values that many British military service personnel died for over the centuries.

If Harland & Wolff Group Holdings once known as InfraStrata plc can contribute to the strength our defences, together with Babcock, BAE Systems, Cammell Laird, Rolls-Royce, and BMT and all the other indigenous suppliers, all the better.
Naturaly we need to keep an eye on Navantia.

Anyway back toNot the Nine O’clock News 1979.

PAMELA STEPHEN­SON is a TV pre­sen­ter in­ter­view­ing Pro­fes­sor Tim­o­thy Field­ing (Mel Smith) and Ger­ald the Go­rilla (Rowan Atkin­son), who has been trained to a high level of hu­man com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

PAMELA: In the past few years, there have been some ex­tra­or­di­nary break­throughs in com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween men and an­i­mals. Some out­stand­ing cases be­ing those with dol­phins and with owls. But, in the fore­front of this field is Pro­fes­sor Tim­o­thy Field­ing . . .

PRO­FES­SOR: Good evening . . .

PAMELA: . . . and his ex­per­i­ments with a go­rilla called Ger­ald.

Ger­ald the Go­rilla nods his head.

PAMELA: Pro­fes­sor, can Ger­ald re­ally speak as we would un­der­stand it?

PRO­FES­SOR: Oh, yes, yes yes — he can speak a few, ac­tual words. Of course, it was ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to get him even to this stage, erm . . .

Ger­ald is check­ing his nails.

PRO­FES­SOR: When I first cap­tured Ger­ald in the Congo, in ’67, I think it was . . . (he is in­ter­rupted.)

GER­ALD THE GO­RILLA: ’68.

Pamela can’t quite be­lieve what she’s hear­ing.

PRO­FES­SOR: ’68. Erm, there was an aw­ful lot of work to do. He was enor­mously slow and dif­fi­cult. I had to do a lot of work with him on a sort of oneto-one ba­sis.

GER­ALD THE GO­RILLA: Yes, if I might butt in at this point, too. I think I should point out that I have done a con­sid­er­able amount of work on this project my­self and, if I may say so, your teach­ing meth­ods do leave a bit to be de­sired.

PRO­FES­SOR: That’s a bit un­grate­ful, isn’t it?

GER­ALD THE GO­RILLA: And, your dic­tion, for in­stance, is not re­ally what . . . ( he is in­ter­rupted).

PRO­FES­SOR: I’m sorry, can I put this into some sort of per­spec­tive. When I caught Ger­ald in ’ 68, he was com­pletely wild.

GER­ALD: Wild? I was ab­so­lutely livid!

N-a-B

He bloody does eat daffodils you know….

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

FI1982

?

regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

FI1982

Lol…. you know exactly what I meant…. !

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

FL1982

I haven’t got a clue what you are getting at = hence the question mark.

Can you please explain (in plain english).

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

Sean

To be fair to George, it’s his website, he can choose to do whatever he likes with it, it’s private property. So if he wants to moderate it or not in a particular way, it’s his call. You just have to remember that before deciding to get embroiled in the comments section.

I’m actually following more US based websites these days. Fewer click bait articles and amazingly far far fewer racists, xenophobes, conspiracy theorists, and Russian trolls.
That said, I doubt I’d ever see a classic comedy sketch being quoted in the comments section there!!!

Joe16

I’m glad that H&W seems to be making a real go with this!
Diversified portfolio, taking advantage of industries that are seeing growth in the UK; instituting modern processes and and methods to improve productivity; taking advantage of the available government support where necessary. So far so good.
They’re gunning for some fairly complex work, so hopefully they’ll be able to deliver it- some stressful but hopefully rewarding months to come in Belfast!

Ian

Belfast is Not in Britain!
Britain is England Scitland and Wales!

FI1982

It’s about as much in Britain as “Scitland” is….

Joe16

I would agree, but I said UK, not Britain. Last time I checked, it’s The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland..?

Nat

Hi, A very interesting article, with what appears to be some positive news regarding the UK’s ship building infrastructure and capacity, with H&W in the process of expanding their capacity for future Large Vessel Construction and Dry Docking. One quick question to anyone who knows, Is that will the size of H&W’s facilities, enable possible future QEC CATOBAR conversion, should the RN desire it in the Future? I know this is currently pipe dream thinking, but all the same could this ship yard prove a suitable future option? Anyway great article, Cheers.

FI1982

To fly what aircraft ? … F18’s, Rafale’s, ? The only viable option would be another F35 Variant surely ? Can’t see the point unless the UK built a Sea Tempest.

Hugo

Plus if any conversion work were to take place it would probably be Rosyth, especially seeing as they built them.

FI1982

Yup…. personally and as a Tax payer… I must admit to being a little Peeved at the amount of money that was wasted by the then Government when they looked again at the C&T option……

James

The Tempest is a big machine in mock up form. It’s not too late to look at a carrier version. But a non starter as was the Sea Typhoon, a company project.

Duker

Its too late for that. Its the worst option to be having major changes at this stage that werent considered at the very earliest . Theres also the partners to consider.

Nigel Collins

A version of it might be on the cards in future, it’s certainly flexible enough.
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https://www.navylookout.com/the-royal-navy-has-ambitious-plans-for-its-future-maritime-aviation-force/

D J

While I have no idea, it’s worth considering that all three Tempest lead partners all operate carriers (Japan is running a little late), of the STOVL type. Does it mean anything, practically, probably not. It does though mean that the question was at least likely considered.

...

Yes

Arthur

Would be great if they could help with the Kings Ship HMS Bronington

FI1982

Yes, The King is way to poor to be able to fund the restoration of “His” ship.

ATH

That ship is so far gone anything going forward will be more of a recreation and a restoration.

Random Commentator

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard has a specialist wooden boat team and apprentices that could do the work.

Random Commentator

I don’t see the point investing in Belfast when it is likely that it won’t be part of the UK long term. Put the money into developing an English or Welsh dockyard instead.

Whale Island Zookeeper

Irish unification will only come about if the UK pays for it for 50 years or more.

It is the same with Scottish independence, well the SNP’s idea of it, as that would only happen if we English paid for it.

Shame they closed Portsmouth but that’s government for you.

Random Commentator

The Northern Irish situation is different – it’s always been known that the Catholic population has more children and they would be in the majority in the 2030s and at some point they would vote to join Eire. The government should be putting money into Milford haven as a long term solution – Portsmouth doesn’t have space anymore – too much base area has been surrendered to the council for housing.

Whale Island Zookeeper

The Northern Irish situation is different – it’s always been known that the Catholic population has more children and they would be in the majority in the 2030s and at some point they would vote to join Eire.

We will still end up paying for it.

The government should be putting money into Milford haven as a long term solution – Portsmouth doesn’t have space anymore – too much base area has been surrendered to the council for housing.

I didn’t say they should re-open Portsmouth I said it was a shame they closed the facility.

Duker

Not quite like that – as showed in a simple majority referendum in Scotland.
Northern Ireland doesnt operate like that – the tyranny of the majority. Its split into 3 sections not all equal size. Unionist, republican, middle road. No one has a majority and even if they did the other ‘communities’ have a say too.
Modern diversity !

James

Im not paying for anyone to leave the Union, Im not paying anyone to join some other country. I’m ready to pay to move all of our force infrastructure back into England if needed. Very expensive and a long term project, but m not willing to be held to political ransome by some SNP or Irish Nationalist. Im not willing to share or divvy out any part of our forces or their kit to some one else, other than the Ukraine. I would even pay to re open your exotic animal zoo on your island. God save the Union Flag, Long live the Flag of St. George. If you think Im ranting Zoo Keeper I learnt it from you.

Whale Island Zookeeper

Well the ‘government’ decides how your taxes are spent so you wouldn’t have a choice? And has the ‘government’ has shown repeatedly down the years if it a choice between the English and the foreigner then the latter wins out of every time.

Jon

I finally got around to reading the reports in the Times that started the whole rumour mill going and I’m not sure that any of the comments I’ve read in the Defence press over the last few weeks have explained that slant.

Harland and Wolff have a large outstanding loan of around £150m. No UK bank would lend them the money and they went to some risk-hungry place in the States, which gave them the loan at a very high rate, effectively about 14%. In order to get out from under that rate and to expand at Methil and Arnish, H&W have sought a £200m loan at a UK bank at a more normal rate. The only way they can get the loan is with a government export guarantee, which ensures any risk will fall on the government (and the taxpayer) and not on the bank.

The Times article effectively stated that unless they could get the cheaper loan, the current interest rate would bankrupt H&W, something John Wood H&W CEO has vocifererously denied. It also implied they wouldn’t get the guarantee, tanking H&W’s stock price.

The government (ministers) agreed last December to move forward on a 100% guarantee of the new £200m loan, but the Labour party and others called them out as playing favourites because it’s more normal to only guarantee 80% of a loan. So in order to appear squeaky clean the Treasury and the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, are not playing ball. As I understand it, negotiations are still underway as to whether the loan will be guaranteed in full or not.

I find the whole thing bewildering. The Times article was scurrilous. It’s obvious that H&W will eventually get something, either an 80% guarantee of the loan, or 100%. And the government/Treasury needs to pull its finger out and make a decision. Order books are good and the build plans seem to be on track (of course they won’t be 100%, but that’s just the nature of the beast). The real risk seems to be financial. In other words guaranteeing the loan would itself be enough to significantly reduce any risk of H&W defaulting. Given that HMG are into H&W for a contract of £1.6 billion, the Treasury’s penny pinching and obssession with how things look is risking the tax-payer forking out far, far more in the near future. HMG have insisted that the FSSS will be built in the UK and it won’t default over to Navantia if H&W go bust. This means either the sub-contract goes to another UK shipbuilder, which would cause interminable delays and incur huge extra costs (probably well in excess of £200m), or H&W would have to be bailed out by the government anyway.

The Treasury need to have it explained that they are just supporting their friends in the banks again. They should be comfortable enough with that!

Nobody comes out of this looking good: the Times, the UK banks who refuse to accept risk even at a price, the government, who now they’ve given the FSSS contract to Team Resolute need to follow through on the consequences, and the opposition, who rather than scoring political points should back the government on the 100% loan, protecting over 1000 jobs and the smooth running of a critical defence project. The taxpayers are on the hook no matter what, so the Treasury needs to be told by the Prime Minister to just do it now, and the heck with the politics.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jon
Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

Jon

As I pointed out here on Navy Lookout several weeks ago, this issue reminds me of the Bay-class ship-building fiasco of quarter of a century ago (note 1).

The Treasury are not penny-pinching: they are now playing very silly buggers…(or, quitye possibly, being unbelievably naive….)

You key point is :

“I find the whole thing bewildering. The Times article was scurrilous”.

Spot on

However the other key point, the one that you did not make, is that the orginal article in the Times was also totally anonymous.

Therefore, quite soon after having lost the FSS contract “fair and square“, a very-well-oiled Public Relations department went to action stations. Hence the PR guru’s have leaked some very scurrilous comments, totally anonymously, to the mainstream media in London.

From there onwards, especially in this era of social media, these types of rumours very soon get a life entirely of their own….

The one very simple truth, which explains this FSS fiasco, is that certain big company(s) in the UK defence sector really don’t like fair competition….. and are now playing dirty tricks.

It will soon be both us taxpayers and also the Royal Navy who will (quite soon) loose out.

Regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

Note 1.

Please see the orginal NAO (National Audit Office) report for full details for how much us taxpayers, and also the RN, lost (in terms of pounds, shillings and pence) as a result of that Bay class ship-building fiasco. I simple terms, once awarded to a dfferent shipyard, that contract went “double-bubble“.

Whale Island Zookeeper

I never understood all that necessary business with the redesign of the uptakes. Why didn’t they just take the simple route of following the Enforcer base design? I remember the talk of RAN personnel speaking about the lemon scented freshness of the design as they took the newly named Choules south. Crying they have no money and then useless spending is something else the MoD is good at…….

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Last edited 1 month ago by Whale Island Zookeeper
N-a-B

Because the Enforcer design was way in excess of the required capability (and budget) of what was originally an LSL replacement.

Irrespective of what the blurb may say, they’re two different ships, not least with two completely different propulsion systems.

Whale Island Zookeeper

The uptake redesign was entirely unnecessary so wide spend money doing it? I had mentioned the unnecessary spending on a tight budget so why tell me that again? It wasn’t a small amount either relative to the rest of the budget either. The engines are in the same position in both designs and uptakes are uptakes I wasn’t talking about other facilities or features of the ship.

N-a-B

Er, no.

The two NL ships actually have different hullforms and propulsion systems (Rotterdam is shaft driven, while JdW has pods). While the engines on the two NL ships are the same and in the same location, that’s not the case for LSDA.

Not only does the LSDA have different genset arrangements, they’re also in a very different place from the NL ships. The original uptake arrangement over the stern was always “interesting”. The reason they had to rearrange it once in service was a result of some unforeseen effects on the electrical system.

Whale Island Zookeeper

The two NL ships actually have different hullforms and propulsion systems (Rotterdam is shaft driven, while JdW has pods).

I never mentioned JdW.

Not only does the LSDA have different genset arrangements, they’re also in a very different place from the NL ships.

Sorry I believed they were roughly in the same place. I posted the two pictures to give relative positions and basic differences in design.

But none of that addresses my original point about the redesign being pointless and costly. I am aware of the problems it caused with the ‘electrical system’ not just from articles but friends in the RFA who had to address it.

N-a-B

If you know what the problems were with the electrical system, then you know they had to do something about it.

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

Whale Island Zookeeper

You and others can read here – without paying the £7.50 that buying the orginal hard copy from the HMSO would have cost you – the full “gory details” of the Bay class procurement cock-up

(PARENTAL ADVISORY: This report includes shocking details of huge cost over-runs within the MOD. Accordingly, reader discrecesion is advised.)

NAO report (HC 98-iii 2007-2008): Ministry of Defence: The Landing Ship Dock (Auxiliary) Project

To quote the key paragraph in full (NOTE: The emphaisis in bold is my own).

“……..and the costs of the project have increased by some 80 per cent to a contracted price of £596 million. Many of the problems on the project stemmed from the way it was initiated, in particular the commercial and project management, budget under-estimation and over-confidence in contractor competence. As both our previous reports and those of the Committee of Public Accounts have made clear, the issues are not unique to the LSD(A) project”

However the bean-counters at the NAO are well-known for their waffle.

Instead they could have just said:

“The UK could not even copy a very sucessful Dutch Design”

regards Peter Bryson

N-a-B

Page 9 of the report (Part 2) is actually more accurate, as is para 2.2 on the previous page. In particular the bits where the immaturity of the design – and failure to recognise such – are mentioned several times as well as the compression of the timescale for the Govan ships.

So far from the UK “not being able to copy a very successful Dutch design”, a more accurate statement might be that the very small project team were unable to discern that SH were offering them a concept design. Pretty much everything that went wrong originates from that point.

One of that team is still in DE&S.

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

N-a-B

I will start by making the statement that I think that this will be one string of post(s) where we will be “agreeing to disgree” – right from the very start – as to the “root causes” of the Bay Class fiscal calamity…..

  • To quote NAO Page 6.

“Swan Hunter was the only bidder to submit a tender that met all of the key performance parameter requirements. This was at a price of £148 million which was lower than either of the other two bids”. 

Therefore, as was fully expected by both parties, a legally-binding contract was then signed. That was between the winning bidder, Swan Hunter and the MOD…..their contract was for two ships to be built, with a further option for an additional three…

  • So what happened next?…….to quote NAO Page 4

“There were concerns about the future of the Govan shipyard. Without securing orders for a minimum of two ships it was assessed that the yard would not be able to sustain the necessary skills capacity to meet the needs of the forward naval warship programme which included the Type 45 Destroyer and Future Aircraft Carrier. It was decided the number of LSD(A)’s to be procured should be increased to four, against an original capability requirement for five ships, with the two additional vessels to be built at the Govan yard. Given that the additional cost of procuring the two extra vessels would otherwise have to be met by displacing higher priorities on the defence programme”

Translation = the losing bidder sulked….and quickly realised that they were now in a politically embrassing position (i.e. being forced to lay off skilled staff in Scotland) ……..so very quickly afterwards the losing bidder threw their dummy’s out of their pram….

Please note the one key ommission from this NAO report……. The NAO did not name the person in the sentence:

It was decided……for additional vessels to be built at Govan”

For those of you reading Navy Lookout who may have lost the plot: Govan is over one hundred miles away from Swan Hunter….and Govan is in Scotland.

  • What happened next is described on Page 11:

“The project was taken forward within a more aggressive timescale than either the Department or Swan Hunter had originally envisaged when planning assumptions had been based on a two ship project. The planned-for gap of a year between the First of Class and the concurrent build of the second ship at the Govan yard was reduced very quickly to only three months.” 

Translation from Whitehall gobbly-gook:

= the “more aggressive timescale” simply meant there was no time whatosever for Swan Hunter and their (sub) contracted dutch design team to do their contractual/ planned (proper) detail design.

Conclusion

The simple truth behind this whole (very-sorry) episode is that there was never (orginally) any plan by winning bidders Swan Hunter’s to have any ship(s) built at Govan (i.e. when the (aforementioned) legally binding contract was signed between Swan Hunter’s and MOD).

regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

Note 1

And the simple fact that you said ..

One of that team is still in DE&S”

really does sum up what repeatedly goes so badly wrong inside MOD…..

N-a-B

From memory, the people who made the call on Govan would have been in very senior positions in the ministry – and most probably working for Liz Symons (MinDP).

I think the only point I would make is that you’re assuming that the MoD knew the maturity of the design when contracted and that the only issue is the additional lead yard services contract put on SH to provide the relevant info to Govan.

Anecdotally, the project team hadn’t understood the level of design maturity and – like many a NL reader – had assumed that an artists impression or rendering meant there was a fully detailed ship design behind it. Not so – and from that point it was always going to end badly – irrespective of whether the two Govan ships were added or not.

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

N-a-B

Taking each point in turn:

Decision Takers

The simple truth is that the key decision to place half of the Bay-class work with the Govan yard was (quite clearly) a very-political one = thus unduly interferring with a signed-up contractual arrangement for Tyneside….. (and one which had never ever mentioned “govan”)

Public Knowledge of Immature Design Maturity

I was definitely not assuming that the ship’s design had been mature before Govan started work……… because even before any of these ship’s had entered into service / been commissioned, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee had been getting their teeth into the whole LSA programme……

822.pdf (parliament.uk)

(Advisory: yet more gory and expensive details of huge cost overruns…..)

Simple truth is that – because MOD changed their minds – the initial design team never had a chance to complete their design. They were certainly never given the time they needed to do their detailed design properly (a timeline which had been specified within the orginally agreed contract ).

Hence the phrase “more agressive timeline” being highlighted in my orginal post.

Design Changes

You clean “forgot to mention” that, just to compound the SH design team’s problems, the MOD introduced thousand’s of post-contract detail changes into the Swan Hunter (dutch) design. That further delayed the completion of their detailed design.

(hence the very large “final settlement fee” included in the NAO report)

Conclusion

  1. The simple truth was that the Bay class was a very-clear-cut case of when nationalistic political expediancy (i.e. to protect Scottish shipbuilding jobs) took preference over good sense and good commercial practice = and thus us taxpayers (in England) picked up the final (very big) bill.
  2. And the only reason these ever-bumbling civil servants keep their jobs is to help protect the politicians……
  3. As I have noted before on NL, with both the ongoing FSS programme and also the forthcoming MRSS programme, I now have definite sense of “deja vue”…..

Thus, overall, as I noted previously, I think we will have to “agree to disgree” as to the “root causes” of the Bay-class fiscal calamity.

regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

PS Whilst on the subject of very-dodgy government procurement practices …. ones which repeatedly occur in the region of the UK which is located north of Hadrian’s Wall….. can I ask you if the Scottish Police Force has determined who really owns the “SNP’s” camper van yet? (i.e. is it “Mr and Mrs Sturgeon”; OR the SNP party; OR us long-suffering taxpayers?).

It is just that this item has “dropped out of the news” south of the border….

Duker

Yes. You would know that concepts or preliminary design can be quite detailed with layout and volume ‘considered’. Theres many assumptions built into that stage some would he ‘heroic’ depending on the skill of the designers and their CAD people.

This is my bias to an existing design ‘developed further’ as the best approach which of course you have a different approach , for good reasons.

Andrew Harris

Haha.

Mark

And now it has an IR dispute over trying to move to a 5 day working week compared to the 4 day one agree in the past, with GMB union members voting for Industrial Action.

Duker

False, the Belfast telegraph says
“The GMB union said members voted with a 98% majority after the company failed to make a pay offer for the year 2024/25”

Last edited 1 month ago by Duker
Random Commentator

H&W reported as ceasing trading on the Stock Exchange today. Labour will need to renew the £200m guarantee quickly or they will be toast.