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Colonel Foster

I believe that we should have put the resources and manpower into new SSN’s and new ASW Frigates. It’s all a bit embarrassing.


Perhaps a lot of resources and people have been diverted to dreadnought, is that possible?


Unlikely this early on. Until at least one more Astute boat is launched, the DDH can only accommodate 3 hulls, so there’s no physical room to start assembling Dreadnought beyond ordering long lead items.

John Clark

It’s certainly frustrating, though these SSN’s are incredibly sophisticated and complex designs, you would think they would be well along the learning curve by now.

One would assume the great length of time constructing these boats, coupled with the dizzying pace of electronic advancement, means numerous differences between each build, so the old learning curve adage is perhaps not as valid as it once was..

They have to get the build times down, does anyone know the building time of US SSN’s?

David Graham

The 16th Virginia class SSN was handed over to the USN in June last year. Construction commenced in September 2012, and sea trials were in the spring of 2018. This gives a construction period of circa 69 months, the time being similar to the figure for RN T class boats. Cost: About $2bn. per boat


Well i must say there seems to be a lot of experts in here. Trenchant was recited with a new core and is 33 years old. Hull valves and necessary equipment replaced and tested to survive a few more years yet. What’s the problem?

The A boat in question is fine and will be in service in due course.. They are great submarines stop trying to rush them to fit in with your schedules.


People have been working on Dreadnought for nearly 10 years now. There’s also places other than the DDH where sections of Dreadnought can be assembled.

Captain Nemo

As noted she is the first batch two, maybe it’s nothing more complicated than that.
Out of interest, can anyone verify that the propulsion issue was ever satisfactorily addressed?

One more sub than the French and we call it Agincourt.


By all accounts the propulsion issue wasn’t as serious as was thought, the RN never gives much away but did note that Astute had met all of her design requirements including speed.

Captain Nemo

Many thanks. Specifically it was the ability to ‘sprint’ that was in doubt I believe, to get in and out of the attack in a hurry.


Ah the Joy’s of saving money in the short term by extending the build time so spending more money over the long term . Typical treasury short sightedness.
The type 26 is a case in point if the build time was 4 years per hull the navy could have had 13 hulls for the £8 billion but in a effort to save money in the short term the build time was stretched leading to higher build costs and fewer hulls for the £8 billion budget.
It is telling that the RAN will have 9 units in service quicker than the RN 8 units despite starting the build 3 years later and will have more hulls for less money.

Meirion X

But the RN does not need an all ASW frigate fleet. The Gulf conflicts, is an example of the RN needing a more diverse frigate fleet to operate in littoral waters like the Gulf.


If you take a look at what the Australians and Canadians are doing with it, one wouldn’t have to fit them all out as ASW platforms at all. It’d probably be quite cost effective to buy 13 T26, fit 8 with towed arrays and other specialist ASW kit and then put quad packed Sea Ceptor in the VLS of the other 5 for limited area air defence. That’d still be about as much punch as a T31, but on a quieter and more adaptable hull.

Meirion X

To have large frigates and Not making use of the space by Not fully arm them, , is a waste of resources building it and a waste of fuel hulling the extra weight around, I think.


My understanding is that the saying “steel and air is cheap” still holds for modern ship building; the government’s and industry’s shift to seeing as much value in the combat systems that go into a vessel as in marketing the vessel itself show where the true cost of a vessel is. Core crew requirements between T26 and T31 are 118 to 99, so no great increase in cost there either.
Fitting T26 hulls with a minimum of gear (the classic and hated “fitted for but not with”) gives us the T31-level capability we need now, with far more opportunity to expand later than if we went for a mix of hulls.
This would also make greater savings through commonality of training, spare parts and maintenance requirements, which might go some way to offsetting the increase in fuel costs (which I don’t think would actually be all that severe).
I may be way out on my assumptions, but it’s food for thought. Remember, one of the primary reasons for the T31 tender going out was to create competition for BAE, the whole point is to deliberately not use the T26 design regardless of whether it could be made cheap enough.


Yes and no, the RAN plan to replace 8 ANZACs with 9 Hunters but admitted last week that they only have 7 ANZACs, the Perth has been laid up for over a year because they can’t crew her.

Mark Keeler

I drove past the BAE shipyard in Perth the other week and 3 Anzacs were out of the water with a forth tied up along the way. Its been reported that Perth was laid up with manning issues. The other 2 are getting new phased array radars fitted.

Meirion X

The Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov is an example of a well armed frigate to operate in littoral waters like the Gulf.


I agree, the same also compromised the T45 procurement.
I believe it would have meant T26 could also have competed for the USN FFG(X) competition, a huge boost for UK PLC. and might have improved options for the fit of our own vessels with US-paid for integrations of ASMs and land attack systems.
The only flip side argument I can see about this is manpower, in that the RN don’t have enough to crew the ships they have. I believe the main reason that one of our T45s is alongside most of the time is to do with crew numbers rather than anything else. There’s no point in having 13 T26 if you can only put crews on 8. I know it might negate the need for the T31, so could use the theoretical crews for those, but we’d still be a bit escort-light if we did that.

Mike Barter

BAE are incapable of building anything on time and within budget for the MOD.


I would like to spend a day at DDH and just observe.
My guess is half the workforce is sitting around producing nothing.


A very accurate statement. The procurement process needs to come under the microscope!! BAE seem incapable of accurately planning and adhering to build schedules, heavy financial penalties need to be put in place to ensure this comes to an end!! Deliver on time or pay the price. The delays with Audacious are appalling and a real embarrassment!!


Could it be a manpower shortage?

Phillip Johnson

The most likely explanation is that parts are being borrowed to support earlier vessels. The workforce is installing it, then taking it out and then putting it back. The RN is doing this throughout the fleet to keep some vessels operational.


My best guess would be a wave of retirements as a ripple effect from the disastrous construction holiday.Complex engineering projects always go wrong without the benefit of people who saw it go wrong last time!It’s also more than possible that there has been a major cock up,they managed to weld a hull section upside down once.

Colonel Foster

Wow! That’s so wrong it’s actually funny. You may have a point. Our abilities seem to be diminishing? Why are the Chinese building the 2 new nuclear power plants in Somerset? Electric Boat have been very involved in the Astute program, more so as it’s progressed?


HMS Triumph, 1988,if anyone is wondering.
There is also a persistent tale of a fibreglass minesweeper being written off by the use of the wrong sort of paint stripper, but I have never got to the bottom of that balls up.Does anyone know the details?

Meirion X

If they managed to weld a hull section upside,
down, as you say, the sub would had to be taken out of water and returned to the building hall.
No news of taken out of water!
So I doubt it is that!

Glass Half Full

Perhaps submarine production/decommissioning rate is being adjusted to an average 3 year cadence and nominal 30-33 year hull life in order to keep a continuous build program for 7x SSN and 4x SSBN?

Increasing SSN production by 1 or 2 additional boats, or developing a SSK program for 4-6 boats at similar cost, seems attractive in order to increase overall numbers and as a result the production rate, but both seem very unlikely options for a number of reasons. One reason is the ever present manning challenges, exacerbated by increased boat numbers, but perhaps a more compelling reason is the anticipation that UUV patrolling will provide the numbers and coverage that could never be achieved with manned boats.

The US and UK are researching the use of UUVs ranging from small (e.g. 1.5 metre long Slocum Glider) to large (e.g. Boeing/Lockheed 15.5 metre long Echo Voyager XLUUV), designed to be long duration, persistent presence sensor platforms, with the latter example potentially capable of the full submarine mission set in future.


You are right, any additional vessels would have a problem with lack of personnel.
As said above, delays are down to several issues – parts cannibalisation is one of them.
UUV patrolling is quite hyped at the moment, but the sea is a vast environment to attempt to saturate.
Try finding a missing jet liner in the Indian Ocean, or a missing ARA submarine – even when you roughly know the location. And those are stationary.
Current UUV patrolling strategies are more focused on target locations, i.e. Naval bases etc.
These are known to have vessels coming and going, but are obviously open to counter UUV operations.
The volume of sea simply works against even tens of thousands of UUV’s.
They ping – they are detected.
They use passive, they have to be towing an array big enough to detect, making the UUV bigger – and easier to counter find etc.

Glass Half Full

I agree that UUVs aren’t a panacea to solve all challenges and scattering them throughout the oceans isn’t likely to be practical or practiced. They will however enable a more intensive coverage than would otherwise be possible with manned boats in specific areas of interest, whether offensive or defensive in nature.

The example of the HMS Vanguard and Le Triomphant submarine collision demonstrates that despite a huge ocean, certain methods and practices in relation to the requirements of a mission can lead to submarines operating in specific areas. The example does of course also illustrate how hard it is to passively detect another submarine, even when right next to it, if traveling at very slow speed. UUVs operating with passive sonar wouldn’t be likely to help in this scenario, but might be practical for detecting boats traveling at higher transit speeds.


As we used to say in the Royal Navy: it’s time to kick ass and take names. These boats are far too late in coming through. Someone is responsible and must be brought to account. No more excuses, if you can’t build the boats to budget and contracted schedule, get someone who can. The delays are now completely inexcusable.


Cannot agree more!! BAE need to be held to account.