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With a budget deficit, wartime debt levels caused by COVID, the prospect of worldwide recession caused by high energy prices and the slowdown in the Chinese economy as they continue to strive for zero COVID, there’s not going to be any new money. On top of that with inflation outstripping growth by 6% to 8% annually budgets are going to be cut in real terms every year.

Even if we tried to generate money by for example cutting foreign aid, it’s not going to be put towards an increase in defence spending as there are no votes in it compared to “schools and hospitals” and support for “hard working families”.

What is spent is often spent badly in an attempt to use the defence budget for job creation (£4bn in 2022 prices on MR4) or on the wrong things with overly optimistic assumptions about technology and poor project management (£5bn on Ajax).

It’s time to stop trying to do everything badly with hollow capabilities across the board and decide to do fewer things well. We’re never going to fight a peer to peer war on our own so need to assess the capabilities we do need and those we’d rely on allies to provide.

As an island nation geographically surrounded by our allies there is next to no threat of land invasion by mechanised forces or attacks on our airspace by advanced fighter aircraft so our main priorities should be power projection and defence of the Atlantic sea lanes against Russian submarines. That’s why for me we need to invest in a proper Navy. That means a proper carrier air group with 20 F35’s deployed which have stand off land and ship attack missiles, TBM capability for the T45 and a full range of weapons and sensors on the T31 to turn them into frigates instead of large OPV’s.

The RAF should focus on air defence of the UK (overseas air strike being done from the carriers). That means fewer Typhoons not all of which need to be modernised with phased radars etc. given that the only air defence threats are unescorted long range bombers and cruise missiles. Air transport should be prioritised so the C130’s should be retained in service.

The army needs to become a predominantly light infantry force so its investment in mechanised vehicles would be cut to a small number of tanks and tracked AFV’s. In a peer war it would play the role that the Ukrainian army is of defence of key positions with more land war focused allies doing the manoeuvre warfare with armour. It would also focus on maintaining its excellent logistics, support and training capabilities.

I don’t think that cuts to army vehicles and RAF jets are great ideas. I just think that it’s better to choose to do a few key things well rather than lots of things badly in the hope that jam tomorrow will close the capability gaps. The jam isn’t coming.

Last edited 2 years ago by Sunmack

“Overseas Airstrikes” are sometimes best done from somewhere other than the carriers. Ukraine is a perfect example.


There’s what threat we face as a country and our value / obligations to NATO. The Army, as an example, is the only Army in NATO that has conducted Armoured, Divisional Level warfighting since WW2 and in living memory. That means something to the other nations and to potential adversaries. Light infantry forces are very mobile (in a strategic sense), but they can’t face armoured forces alone – you’ll be spanked by manoeuvre so I just don’t buy your analysis. The fact is, by not having a British Armoured Division, our allies would be considerably worse off (and by dint we would too).

Personally I think we should reduce our aspirations in the Pacific and concentrate on the Euro-Atlantic region and high North. If were talking about not spreading too thinly, not over committing would be where I would start.


I think you’ll find that the US army has conducted armoured divisional warfighting since WW2 and in living memory and has done so on a much larger scale than the British Army.


Hasnt Israel and Russia too? And Korea and lots of other nations..


Even Labour appear to realise that an increase in defence spending is required.


Labour (like all opposition parties), is arguing for increases in all sorts of spending that it won’t honour when it’s in government


Yes. They will use ‘flexible’ phrasing like support this or improve that and even commit is unknown time frame

The Treasury has its own strike forces that ‘knock the stars from the eyes’ of any new government

Last edited 2 years ago by Duker

Easy to call the government of the day out and claim a commitment to defence when you are in opposition. When the opposition becomes the government and gets to decide where the money is spent it is a different story. Defence has not been a priority for either of the main parties for decades and unfortunately I do not think this is going to change markedly as a result of the situation in Ukraine. Global ambitions, too many commitments and not enough money in the MoD budget to pay for them. The same old story.


Except we’ve been hearing the same hollow shouts from the Tories from the past 12 years. It’s the same story each time with whatever the crisis of the day is, X happens, Boris pledges -insert very large sounding number here- (that works out something trivial like £1 per person), everyone moves on then the ‘promise’ is quietly dropped citing some vague reason.


Let’s not let this conversation/site degenerate into Labour v Tory. Both major parties are equally useless. Neither keep their promises & then spin the news to look like they did.

“oh we totally spend 2% on our defence! It’s those other Nato members that don’t” whilst quietly shifting this and that spending into the “defence” budget to pump up the numbers. £5B on foreign military aid?! Why is that in the MoD budget?

“ooh look! We save £220M on X project per year & secured Y many jobs. Aren’t we clever!” – achieved by stretching procurement & build times by a decade and doubling the overall cost of the thing we need… meanwhile leaving the nation with capability gaps all over the place. But that’s probably the next governments problem isn’t it?!

Labour or Tory, they are mostly con-artists. They love the power and lime-light but through incompetence, lack of conviction, stupidity, corruption, negligence or just doing what they think will be popular with the uneducated masses on Twitter, over the last 25+ years they’ve both done a lot of damage. And both were supported by an equally naff bevvy of beurocrats in the MoD (NB – not all MoD staff are naff btw!).

We are where we are. Time for someone new I say! But I am but one voice.
Anyway, don’t actually want to start a political argument. Point is – they’ve both been garbage. Let’s just agree it’s a sh1te state of affairs & should be remedied.


Wasn’t trying to but it’s been very frustrating to watch this past decade and how blatant and blasé it has all become under Boris. Sadly we won’t get any meaningful change whilst FPTP is the way we elect governments.


Sorry if I over-reacted. It’s likely I inferred too much. Probably caused by regularly seeing statements blaming one party over the other when they’re both garbage on this issue (I think Paul C in his reply to you is correct).

I agree that it has been very frustrating but I’d suggest it’s not the last decade, it’s more like the last 30 years since the end of the cold-war & the beginning of the “peace dividend”. No immediate threat anymore, so ‘good times create weak men’ (the politicians) so to speak.

Re FPTP – all systems have their issues. PR = mob rule etc. If we look at the Whigs, they faded, became “liberal party”, faded again, became LibDem & are now the Westminster version of the appendix – a vestigial organ nobody cares too much about that occasionally makes a fuss. Point is, change does happen under FPTP, it’s just slower – which is often a good thing. I would posit it’s one of the (many) reasons our system of government has delivered relative stability over the last 400+ years, slowly evolving, whilst the rest of Europe has lurched from one revolution to another.

Last edited 2 years ago by Stu

I agree with your comment and am not arguing for Tory over Labour. The Tories talk up defence to appeal to the pro-defence sentiments of traditional Tory voters/party members/MPs and Labour do it to prove they are no longer the hard left anti-defence mob and so win over moderate opinion. Both are spin merchants with little real regard for the value of defence, they just say they have to further their agenda (i.e. gaining and then remaining in power).


Long range Tu95, 142, 22M and 160s are regularly escorted by Su27/30/35s.


The fantasy: ‘we are growing our Royal Navy’

The reality: Both the Waves laid up, Echo laid up, MCM’s decommissioned with direct replacements, T23 frigates decommissioned without direct replacements, Trafalgar’s decommissioned before Astute’s arrive, no firm plan to replace Scott…..on and on and on!

What other blue water, supposedly top tier navy scraps or lays up ships before the replacements arrive!!!


Exactly. And all of those compromises could have been avoided if we’d used the £5bn being spent on Ajax. Still, a scout vehicle that doesn’t work is a far higher priority than mine warfare, submarines, RFA’s and ocean survey. Not.

Last edited 2 years ago by Sunmack

Are you proposing to endanger submariners by operating boats beyond their safe lifespan? There’s a reason why the Trafalgars are being retired.
The Trafalgars have replacement Astute’s in build, each more capable than its predecessor.
The T23s have replacement T26s and T31s being built.
While ideally you have the replacements entering service before their predecessors arrive, it’s not always possible. But to prolong the use of clapped-out vessels eats up huge amounts in maintenance costs, costs that rise with age.


No not proposing the Royal Navy keeps on operating dangerously old boats/vessels.

The issue is the complete lack of planning and foresight to ensure that assets aren’t withdrawn several years before their replacements are ready. Best case scenario is the last Astute is delivered and commissioned in 2026 and the first T26/T31 in 2027!

The MCM and survey vessels and RFA tankers are all being withdrawn or laid up with plenty of life left in them.

There seems to be little-no plan to effectively replace the plethora of smaller but important vessels in the MCM and survey fleets beyond a footnote on the National Shipbuilding Strategy document!


It’s not a lack of planning or foresight. It really is down to budgetting choices. If a new ship is delayed either by funding or programme slippage, it is not always possible to run on the asset it’s supposed to replace, however many plans you have.

If – for example – Lloyds Register issue a condition of class or revoke the class certificate of a ship that may be endex, or may require wildly expensive solutions – which also require a lot of time out of Fleet Time to fix. The SVHO actually have some “interesting” issues resulting from their build and interpretation of construction drawings. Ditto SRMH – some ships have found that shotblasting GRP tanks may not be a particularly good idea…….

So if the safety certification can’t be achieved without significant expenditure, you’ve got a hard choice to make. What you can’t do is just ignore it. Because the Defence Maritime Regulator will come and get you. Duty Holders are a real thing with real – and accountable – responsibilities.


Not a ‘complete’ lack of planning & foresight. Just ‘very poor’ – no contigency for programme slippage, often not clearly defining programme requirements at the outset, some questionable project management & ‘defence’ as a political topic has been deemed less important by too many leading to decisions based predominantly on budget & not capability.


each more capable than its predecessor.

And still can only be in one place and may well be facing opposition that also may be more capable than its predecessor.


Lol, if you think we will be going to war with a peer navy anytime soon your nuts! I can’t see it, Russia hasn’t the balls and more chance of North Korean submarines fighting the RN in our waters.


The Trafalgard were worked hard and show it! That tv documentary n a trafalgar had all the toilets not working for hours, they were gonna have to shi£ in bags and bin them! And the main fridge broke meaning they had to eat loads of stuff before it went off… and there’s more…a fire too…. Jesus I’m surprised it made it back to base!!


That’s a stretch. Flight III AB’s are more than capable of doing Tico’s work.


Not a stretch. Remind me how many Ticos have been decommissioned and how many Flight III Burke are in commission?

Ten gone or about to go and the first not flt III not even accepted.

Last edited 2 years ago by N-a-B

9 of the Flight IIA + Technology Insert (which have some the best parts of the Fl III) are either completed or under construction


But they’re not replacing the Tico’s – which was the original premise. Nor (if I understand it correctly) are the Flt IIA+ able to conduct the Force AAWC role.

Overall the USN is still missing its Battle Force total goals.

The overall point is that balancing budgets – particularly with ageing ships – is a continuous set of hard choices. They also tend to be hard on manpower (both numbers and workload) as well.


I’m not sure it’s a lack of funds in the case of the US Navy. It’s more a case of colossal waste on Zumwalt’s and LCS thanks to the lunatic Donald Rumsfeld who started those programmes due to his obsession with technology. Had they not wasted money on those solution looking for a problem projects they’d have had more than enough for to get cruiser and frigates programmes underway which would have had hulls in the water by now.


Neither LCS or Zumwalt were started as obsessions with technology for the sake of it. They were actually solutions to perceived problems – it’s just that no-one sense-checked the problems.

Zumwalt was the result of designing a ship where low signatures drove the design to a place where it simply wasn’t sensible. That was on the basis of a perceived threat at the time. It also co-incided with a shift in procurement strategy where NAVSEA handed over responsibility to industry. Trouble was, neither industry or NAVSEA had designed a surface combatant since the mid-80s (Burke) – a gap of around 15 years. You could make a similar parallel with the trials and tribulations of T45 / T26. Or Ajax for that matter.

Ditto LCS. The perceived threat was that FIAC and shore based ASM would pose a significant threat to large surface combatants and certain war-gaming studies supported that. Peer to peer naval warfare was not seen as likely. Hence the solution was seen as small, quick and cheap to build (ho-ho) fast ships with modular payloads and lower manning. Trouble was the technical expertise to determine which military requirements really did need to be in the ships was lacking. It’s not a million miles away from what’s happened to Ajax. The RN actually had a very lucky escape – one 2* in the early noughties was all for an LCS-alike instead of an FSC/T26.

We may be about to re-run that argument on a different axis with T32 / Podularity……

However – irrespective whether you believe they were valid or not, those programmes still affected the budget – which means there wasn’t money for the other stuff. The USN made a conscious choice. Just as they are still doing with various attempts to cancel refuelling carriers (ie decommissioning them) and the cruiser programme.

Last edited 2 years ago by N-a-B

Clearly the Zumwalt design would have made a very capable AAW Cruiser , with all the difficult parts like hull, propulsion system and the myriad other minor systems and the software that drives them available. Even the build process design is a major undertaking these days along side the sourcing of the actual equipment.
The radar hardware and software is essentially off the shelf ( the flat plat antenna size is scalable) and the same goes for the numbers of VLS.
For complicated reasons there was an obsession with stealth and the absurd automatic 6 in gun system. The stealth worked to point but that didnt stop the hull-structure being adapted for a large platform AAW cruiser
Rumsfelds time led to a lot of issues in warship design but Obama was essentially lazy and preferred watching evening sports rather than giving a bit of time to defence projects. ( Trump was a morning TV guy, but both spent far too much time at golf that would be unacceptable say for a UK PM)


As much time as Barry spent on the golf course or basket ball court? Or are just parroting MSM bile?


‘Both’ , I said spent far too much time golfing.
But there was a clear winner in that ‘race’. Plus Barry served 2 terms but Cadet Bone Spurs only 1


The first three T32 should be called Ajax, Achilles and Exeter.


There is a replacement hull in service that can do the Tico’s job. It is an option if the US decided it needed numbers.


What type is that ? or will it become like the Ticos were from the beginning , an overload of an existing type

Fred the Frog

Oh stop it now X.



Fred the Frog



The question is whether dedicated replacements will be built or whether the RN will follow the mine-hunting strategy… Have autonomous systems that can be loaded aboard any frigate, say a T31, for use when needed. If so, it might mean the RN can get an extra T31 or T32 from the savings made on not like-for-like replacements.


But that would mean ‘doing more with less’ when the treasury wants ‘doing less with much less.’


No it wouldn’t, read my post again.
It would mean that when a hydrographic survey ship was needed, the autonomous systems could be loaded onto a T31. At other times the T31, such as wartime, these could be offloaded and replaced with armed drones, weapons etc.
The savings from not buying and operating two specialist hydrographic ships might be enough to fund a sixth T31 frigate.
In short we’d be getting more for less.


Thats quite a leap. You cant just ‘load autonomous systems’ for seabed surveying onto a frigate. Not that even such systems exist or make sense


Yes I understood what you said, I was challenging your assumption that the MoD would get to keep those savings.


I see your point & like the optimism. Assuming such autonomous sytems are created & acquired, I can see the argument for ‘an extra frigate & all T31 can do some survey work when not at war.’ Had a similar discussion regards MCMV replacements – which I am against.

Unfortunately, I’m a pessimist & don’t think it will happen. They may say that it’s the plan BUT then the bean counters will get involved & say something like “the T32 will be even better for autonomous systems & they’re “lean/modular/agile/efficient/networked” (or whatever buzzword is popular that day) so we just get 5 x T31 as planned & “wait” for the newer T32″.


Clearly showing how tight the RN’s resources are.

Increased OPV force was nice, but, before all the 5 River B2s are deployed, Echo and Enterprise were frequently used for patrol duties, such as visiting Black Sea, stationed in Falkland Islands (when HMS Forth is in maintenance) and may be other places. Operating 8 OPVs (3 River B1s and 5 B2s) along with 2 Echos and Scott might be not easy.

At the same time, two T23 saw early decommissioning, while 1st-SL states the escort availability does not degrade, or even improve. I understand it means RN can only man up to 12 escorts, and as 4 more T23s are coming back from LIFEX very soon, RN cannot provide manpower to sustain HMS Montrose (hence she will be decommissioned in 2023).

In short, man power is still tight, I guess? Improving number of new Navy cadets is good, but it does not provide enough number of “skilled” engineers yet, I understand, because it takes at least several years to be trained as such, and I read that RN is lacking such skilled man-power.

Two CV fully active, each with 150-200 more crew than originally planned, requires huge man-power resources. Remote controlled MCM USVs does not necessarily mean “less crew”, because needs for skilled engineer do not decrease (actually, it will even increase, because additional autonomous gears needs maintenance).

Before talking about growing number of ships (on paper), RN must think of putting resource on retaining those skilled members. RN needs money for more salary, than additional escorts (like T32), I think.

Last edited 2 years ago by donald_of_tokyo

Montrose is at the end of her usable life having been run hard in the Gulf for the past few years. Lancaster is heading out to replace her.


I would bring the 4 B2 Rivers (excluding HMS Forth) back to the UK to undertake home water patrols and sell the 3 B1 Rivers. The money and manpower saved could be used to retain genuinely useful assets like MCM’S, Echo or the Waves in service. That would be far more valuable than the flag waving and occasional delivery of humanitarian supplies to the dockside that the B2’s are currently doing.


B2 River deployments are a joke and just reveal how weak we are.

Craig Lewell

I was thinking the opposite actually, why do we need 20mm cannon armed ships for fishery protection let alone 30mm armed superior Batch 2’s?

When the Batch 1’s are retired could you not just replace them cheaply with something like the Cutlass class used in Gibraltar? Then the Batch 2’s can largely stay where they are currently deployed save for Tamar and Spey (who will be backfilled by two Type 31’s) which can be deployed to Op Kipion with autonomous mine hunting capability from an embarked TEU. This would be alongside a Type 31 acting as the mothership and replacement for HMS Lancaster (but also with autonomous mine hunting from it’s mission bay)

Yes, you go down from 5 hulls to 3 for Operation Kipion (not sure about where the RFA Bay Class will end up – might be Duqm for Littoral response South) but if you need the flexibility to escort tankers through the straight then a Batch 2 can fill that role far better than a mine clearance vessel, particularly if the Wildcat from the T31 or a Bay Class can have it’s range extended by ‘lilly-padding’ from the Batch 2’s for fuel. Might even be a host of spare 30mm cannons to add to the Kipion Batch 2’s for little additional cost as the T23’s are withdrawn and if needed for additional force protection (see this site’s excellent article on upgunning the OPV’s).

It would save having to rush a Type 45 into theatre like last time the Iranians played silly buggers.

Last edited 2 years ago by Craig Lewell

I couldn’t agree more. B2s are fine for presence patrols in peaceful areas, providing a huge number of per annum days at sea. Replacing them with undergunned T31s that cost far more to operate and give fewer sea days is a collosal waste. Similarly replacing the B1s with B2s instead of a cheaper OPVs. They would have to be a lot bigger than Cutlass as they don’t just work from shore, but definitely not in the £120m a pop category. Perhaps more like the evolved Cape class at about £100m for three.

The Type 31s are warships and that’s what they should be used for. And if that means no undergunned Type 32s so the T31s can get some weaponry, I’d prefer it. Of course Rosyth would have to be given something to build, so how about 3 evolved Cape class OPVs to tide them over?

Craig Lewell

Cape Class look like a good shout, very good in terms of Aukus, but it would be interesting to see if the company that produced the Cutlass could make something larger with greater endurance but similarly limited maritime policing fit-out. No reason of course why we couldn’t get the Cape design (as we did for Arrowhead) and build locally ☺️


I think there’s still the idea that the Type 31s will replace the OPVs; however there’s a slight shift in the mood music and a recognition in some parts of government that the OPVs may be the right solution in some places. James Heappey, Armed Forces Minister, said in a recent speech:

“…I hope that the Navy strikes a balance between putting Type 31 out in replacement to the batch two OPVs but also in addition to the batch two OPV. So the right platform with the right profile is in the right place…”

He went on to state his personal view that

“…the Royal Navy here in the UK, use a set of smaller simply maintained, highly exportable patrol vessels in our home waters…”

Perhaps the export successes with frigates and OPVs are starting to get ministers thinking about a toally new UK design.


Thanks, I also agree to your suggestion (although I also think OPVs much larger than Cutlass-type boats will be needed).

Using River B2 in Persian Gulf is a nice idea. If it can handle MCM USVs (with their 15t crane) it is perfect. Even if not, MCM USVs can operate from Bay-class LSDs (which is officially planned) and River B2 can do all the other jobs currently covered by the 4 MCMVs. River B2 can even carry and operate command container of the MCM USVs, as already tested.

I am also a big supporter of River B2, providing large sea-going days with good sea-keeping. But, anyway crew of the 5 additional River B2 must have come from HMS Clyde and some MCMVs, decommissioned in place. And, I guess it was not enough. Additional capability provided by River B2 is great, but it is not for free.

If we want all the 5 OPVs and Echo/Enterprise/Scott to be active, RN need to sacrifice something else. May be disbanding all 5 remaining Sandown MCMVs will solve the issue (although most of their crew will be re-appointed on MCM drones operations, which surely needs good amount of man-power (“un-manned” is NOT “man-power free”).

Last edited 2 years ago by donald_of_tokyo

I would argue that the OPVs provide great value to the nation, from a manpower and cost perspective they can undertake patrols and low risk missions at a fraction the cost of a frigate. For the cost of running a single frigate you can run 4 OPVs, the savings by selling off the B1 Rivers (with their smaller crews than the B2) doesn’t even equate to a single frigate and is a rounding error when it comes to carrier or submarine operations.

Let’s acknowledge there’s a place for small vessels which are not primarily designed for war fighting and that they carry out important roles that free up larger vessels.


No objection. Actually, my original comment has nothing against yours.

Just simply stating that although the capability added by the 5 River B2 is great, man-power resources needed for them is still non-negligible (although very efficient).

My point is, as resources like man-power looks still very tight in RN, RN shall invest more on man-power than equipment. In other words, more salary (or investments to improve there state-of-life) will make RN much stronger than buying (more) Type-32, I guess.


If something is very efficient it implies a worthwhile measurable outcome.

The B2 deployments do not give worthwhile outcomes.


Where’s that Bofors 57mm article we were teased last year?



Jordan mason

Britain used to have the best navy in the world and now its a shade of what it once was

What the f**k is going on with the british military

The F35 is overpriced and the typhoons while having served the RAF for a while are becoming less useful with surface to air defences evolving

The AJAX program has been a balls up from the start

And the navy barely has any ships that actually work when they need to aside from the vanguard class submarines and even they and there main armament need replacing to keep up with the Russians and the Chinese

In other words the defence secretary needs to do his job and get the military the equipment they need to do their jobs

Dave Simpson

Inaccurate, sweeping and simply wrong

Fred the Frog

Well, You say that but actually your own reply seems to be similar.


F35 is cheaper (per unit) than the Typhoon (£88M v £110M). Running costs are an issue with the F35B being around $40k & Typhoon being $22k per hour. Doesn’t sound too bad until you multiply the differences by the 8,000+ hours each airframe is expected to last.

‘Typhoon less effective with surface to air evolving’ – I don’t think this is actually something the Typhoons of the RAF can’t overcome but the only available solution to this supposed problem is stealth. The only stealth option at present is the F35. What would you suggest?

It’s not only the defence secretary – he’s only been in the job 3 years & this is a problem decades in the making. Any defence secretary inherits programmes like T26/T31/Ajax/Carriers/Astute etc. etc. as they’re rarely in power long enough to see it from concept to delivery. He has a budget set by the government of the day (which needs to be increased & then spent better) & has to spend it as best he can. We also have to remember he only makes strategic decisions & actual execution is handled by career civil servants & project managers that he didn’t appoint & a good chunk of which are jobsworths, incompetent or corrupt.


Those figures are no way comparable.
F-35 is ‘out of factory cost’ excluding development costs. Typhoon included development and major overhaul costs over first 10 years
Even Tranche 3 buy of 40 is ‘UK way’ price of £75 mill each

For various reasons even F-35B costs when calculated the ‘UK way’ are roughly 3-4 times the out of factory cost ‘ US way’ We’ve seen that with P-8 when the US navy publishes its annual buy contract price of 12-15 P-8s the actual cost is roughly £75 mill each ( I had worked it out previously)


In the mirky world of defence procurement, it’s hard for spirited amateurs to compare apples to apples. Such complex deals always include a level of support & this will be more for one country & lesser for another. You may well be correct as I’ve seen Spains purchase puts Typhoon costs at $160M each including spares, support etc. Whereas they’ve been reported as cheap as $60M each for other Euro countries (although I suspect this price would be with some sort of subsidy & support/spares etc. to be added on later). I went with the most recent ‘fly-away’ costs I could find for each. Lockheed say F35 = $88M but their deal with Finland tots it up to $146M each with support.

But I think we’re both on the same side on this one – F35 is really expensive to support & fly.

Point I was making was to counter Jordan that “F35 is overpriced” – The actual price is in the ballpark of Typhoon & so just saying “it’s overpriced” is a bit simplistic & doesn’t tell the whole story.


“jobsworths, incompetent or corrupt”.

When the FSS competition falls over again in the near-ish future, the person most responsible won’t be SoS. Or a civil servant. It will probably be a naval officer who is somewhat out of his depth.

Watch this space.


To be honest I am surprised Main Building isn’t pushing a solution that involves not building a ship………


That end of the M4 isn’t the problem, nor are the denizens of Tracy Island now that certain posts have changed hands.

Last edited 2 years ago by N-a-B

My understanding is that you are somewhat of an SME about such things so I’ll take your word for it. If this is the case though and you’re speaking from experience, why do we keep making the same errors? Why hasn’t someone, anyone said ‘hey, you know what… maybe we shouldn’t do things the same way over and over again and expect a different outcome this time. Maybe we should do things differently. Maybe we should speak to someone that has executed a similar task & achieved their goals & see if we can learn something from them.’?


Trouble is we don’t make the same mistakes over and over again. We make different ones driven by different factors.

The fundamental underlying flaws in the FSS programme are :

  1. Insufficient actual UK build capacity to execute in the required timeframe – politically very unpopular, but true. Mandating majority of build/integration onshore shuts out a number of options.
  2. Application of T31 approach to procurement (seen as a success), but for a ship type for which very limited OTS options exist (if at all), which is as far away from the case for T31 as you can get.
  3. Given the above factors a flexible, supportive commercial approach is required to ensure sufficient entrants to run a competition. Suspect – just like last time – there will be insufficient suitable bids to make a viable competition.

All compounded by an ever increasing time pressure. I hope I’m wrong, but……

Phillip Johnson

There may be something to watch here, the RAN recently reorganised its Hydrographic service which contained 2 Ocean Survey vessels, and 4 sizable Catamarans for inshore survey.
2 of the Survey Cats have been retired (and sold), a series of contracts set up with commercial survey operations and the remaining RAN survey vessels reoriented to do specifically military survey and hydrographic work.
A lot of people were scratching there heads at the time, but the RAN found relatively little trouble in finding commercial survey providers.

Malcolm Thomas-Chapman

In this, the Queen’s Jubliee year, couldn’t HMS Echo be converted to become a ‘Royal Yacht’ and be a gift from the government and the people of the UK?
As the previous Royal Yacht Britannia, which also served as a ‘hospital’ ship the new Royal Yacht could also have a another role that fits with Her Majesty’s personal interests. (A couple of suggestions could be a disaster relief ship providing essential supplies with a small team or something connected with saving the planet).

Fred the Frog

Which Planet are you on ? just asking.