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IMO, Its another a symptom of the RN having to find the funds to keep two carriers in the water. Spend tens/hundreds of millions on an expensive life-ex for a 30yr old sub or use that money for Carrier ops or any other number, take your pick, of RN commitments.


CSG21 cost £70 million. This amount would never have solved the chronic and severe underfunding issues, but on the other hand I agree with you on a broader point. We are completely sacrificing our ability to fight a war in exchange for maintaining our supposed global reach and blue water capabilities. Without practically doubling the budget, this is useless since being able to send only 1000 troops far away is pointless and pathetic.

Last edited 2 years ago by eclipse

I’d upvote if I could 🙂
Only caution I’d add is; before we double the budget (or increase it 1p tbh), please could we (as a nation) decide what our military needs to be capable of, what that looks like & then not waste the taxpayers money achieving it?


Agreed. I believe the military needs a full redesign. A proper one, not led by bean counters but led by young professionals. The US army did so in World War 2, and that’s how it changed so quickly. The military right now is a mess, it’s essentially left over bits of the same army that fought WW2, with some new bits added in in a big pot, mixed together and brought to the boil. The cap badges nonsense is ridiculous, sure tradition is important but not when it gets in the way of common sense organisation.


I think the problem sits more with the politicians than the bean counters, to be honest; they are the ones who set the strategic picture for what they expect the military to do, and assign the funding priorities at a top-down departmental level.
I fully agree that the decision makers in the MOD need to change the way they do things, but even the guys we currently have are being given an impossible task when it comes to task and resource.


I think that an injection of £10 billion today would allow the army to reorganise and spend more efficiently in the future, something that is supported by the entire Labour Party, the majority of the Conservatives but not the Chancellor. The entire model cannot be changed without some sort of breathing room provided, and as far as I understand the MoD is chronically out of money.


You want to mimic the US from WW2… Where their defence spending peaked at around 43% of their GDP (of a superpower)?

Thank goodness the “bean counters” are in charge rather than you, else we’d be bankrupt before the end of the week!


You misunderstand. A restructure doesn’t mean enormous spending increases or anything near 43%, it simply means that the obsession with cap badges must be lost and that the military needs to stop being organised as in World War II. This will make spending more relevant and efficient, the army more deployable, and prioritisation easier to do.


“The cap badges nonsense is ridiculous, gets in the way of common sense organization”. I am assuming from said remark you have never served in Her Majesty’s armed forces? You presumably don’t understand Association Football supporters either. Pray do tell us how Cap Badges inhibits any given reorganization of the armed forces? Any chance I can be in the same room as you when you tell a Para he has to give up his cap badge for yet another reorg. That would be your first lesson in basic human psychology which seems to have escaped you.


The submarine service has had more money than the carrier programme. The big problem was when the government halted production to save money which has ultimately down the line has cost more and will continue to cost us into the future. Once started the drumbeat of SSN production should not be halted. In preserves skills and the industrial base. Our government, that is the apparatus and system, is just stupid in the extreme.

Supportive Bloke

Spot on

Supportive Bloke

There is also the other side of coin in that it allowed the whole program to be reset and various improvements in working practices could be made that would not have been possible with entrenched workforce.

This stuff is kept quiet about so as not to offend unions but it is a real effect of such a reset.






“The big problem was when the government <insert example here> to save money which has ultimately down the line has cost more and will continue to cost us into the future.”

Again and again and again and again.


You really are on the wrong track here, looking at the ten of millions instead of the tens of billions.

For example, in this year’s defence equipment plan, an extra £9 billion was added to defence nuclear over the next 10 years, which the blurb refers to as investment to improve submarine availability (including base infrastructure). Of course that’s for the Vanguard submarines, spend on which can’t be checked or audited, not the attack submarines which might stop us reaching the nuclear threshold in the first place. The £9bn is extra, bringing defence nuclear support up to £27bn. Spend on 30 year old submarines far exceeds that on carriers.


I think you misunderstand how interrelated the world has become. For instance we are seeing some bad actors get a lot more aggressive and behave exactly like 1930’s dictatorships. I dont think it would be responsible for the UK to stand back and allow them to run roughshod over the oceans.
We cant just have submarines and a coastal force which is what you are suggesting. We need to have a proportionate stake in the more complex Sea-Air-Space combat environment or go home and more or less give up and let China, Russia rule the world. How would you like that? IMHO we need to spend 3% minimum on defence. No big deal we’ve done it before and more. I cant remember a more dangerous time in world affairs.


The second biggest line item in the equipment plan after submarines is ‘defence digital’ £28bn. Ships are 20bn and combat air is 17bn. You can bet your life that the majority of that £28bn is wasted by the MOD ar$heats. It would be far better used on training, more f35s and merlins and some weapons to go on our ships and planes. As with all government spending the money could be used far more effectively

Last edited 2 years ago by Grant
Armchair Admiral

Laid up….or ready to “do-up” and transfer to the Ozzie’s????


For what . They have zero nuclear boat operational experience or knowledge, to get to that level might be more than 5 years or more using their experienced SSK crews and even then require RN support ( which takes away from their operational capability)


Sounds like we have a few crews short of subs to 2-4 years good opportunity to keep a couple of the Trafalgar’s to help the Aussies get the guys in the game.


Simply unacceptable and frankly embarrassing. We are now operating at less than half of what should be the authorised minimum strength of 12. This was set out 20 years ago, when Russia was economically inept and in crisis and China an economy smaller than us. The RN is underfunded, undergunned, and simply incapable of fighting a war against any nation of strength today. While the Chinese mount ASBMs on the Type 055, dubbed by navy lookout and by H I Sutton possibly the worlds most powerful class of ship, the Type 45s have no weapons except for a pathetic number of Asters, too much of which I guarantee will be the Aster 15. A defence budget boost is direly needed, and for those saying the budget is “mismanaged”, recall that the french budget is not much less than ours and their military is similarly less in capability. It is impossible to compete with the Russian PPP defence budget of 180b with 60b, and frankly Wallace’s nonsense that the British army beat the Russians and “could always do it again” hasn’t been true since Russia recovered from its 90s recession.

Supportive Bloke

It is impossible to compete with the Russian PPP defence budget of 180b with 60b”

as most of the Russian defence budget appears to be stolen or misappropriated that isn’t really an issue.

Simply unacceptable and frankly embarrassing. We are now operating at less than half of what should be the authorised minimum strength of 12. This was set out 20 years ago, when Russia was economically inept and in crisis and China an economy smaller than us”

I am inclined to agree but how do you fix it? I mean it needs fixing as sub sea is an area we have the tech and experience in. It is a real and not a rhetorical question. Given that both Russia and China have large SSN programs and the Chinese can actually fund theirs this is a real issue.

“While the Chinese mount ASBMs on the Type 055, dubbed by navy lookout and by H I Sutton possibly the worlds most powerful class of ship”

You need to be careful with that approach – ships with too much kit on board are just large floating maintenance problems.

the Type 45s have no weapons except for a pathetic number of Asters, too much of which I guarantee will be the Aster 15″

The addition of Ceptor to the T45 has already been announced as well as the change to a full load out of A30 missiles in the VLS. So I think the fix for that is in the works.

The reason for the current mixed load out is that it provides defence in depth for the T45 itself. The A30 has a wider minimum radius of engagement than the A15 so the A15 is more to protect the T45 itself.

Remember the Falklands lesson that the T42 couldn’t protect itself and had to rely on the T22’s to do that.

A defence budget boost is direly needed”

I think everyone agrees on that: except for Rishi Sunak.


“as most of the Russian defence budget appears to be stolen or misappropriated that isn’t really an issue.”

Whether we would win in a war against Russia is possible. But the damage London would sustain should not be acceptable. We would have literally no defence against the hundreds of Russian cruise and ballistic missiles, save for 6 type 45s and only 24 sky sabre launch trucks.

“I am inclined to agree but how do you fix it? I mean it needs fixing as sub sea is an area we have the tech and experience in. It is a real and not a rhetorical question. Given that both Russia and China have large SSN programs and the Chinese can actually fund theirs this is a real issue.”

The Astute is, comparatively to the Virginia, a relatively cheap platform. We need a defence budget boost not for the luxuries, but first and foremost for getting adequate numbers of prioritised items that we already have. As much as people want to call ourselves poor, we are not. We can afford quite a lot actually. Let us take the British economy of 3.5 trillion this year. Boosting the budget to 3% provides another 35 billion. As far as I understand, only the navy has a recruitment shortage. Although the army does as well, its battalions are far shorter of tanks (or at least will be) and certainly of artillery and armoured vehicles than they are of people. The RAF is in the same situation with typhoons. 20 of these billion then could be an annual emergency procurement/upgrade pot, similar to the procurement and upgrade injection Germany recently announced. 20 billion, over the course of five years, totalling 100 billion, could afford us over 100 tranche 4 typhoons, an extra 5 astutes, and that would still be less than a third of the total. Over only 5 years. That’s 3%. Even 2.5% could afford that, if nothing else in that case.

“ You need to be careful with that approach – ships with too much kit on board are just large floating maintenance problems.”

At the same time, ships that are underarmed run out of missiles too quickly, especially if they don’t have a means of retaliating. Type 83, in my mind, should aim for 64 long range AA, of which 16 ABM, and 32 Mk.41 cells of which 24 for FC/ASW and 8 for quad packed sea ceptor. I’m not sure how the Chinese are doing with the 055, but I believe that they’re still ironing out issues, especially with ballistic missile integration into what was intended to be a mainly cruise missile platform.

“ The addition of Ceptor to the T45 has already been announced as well as the change to a full load out of A30 missiles in the VLS. So I think the fix for that is in the works.”

A fix that, I believe, will realistically come in 5 years before the retirement of the first in class. If it was sped up, it would be good. I also believe that the ISSGW cancellation isn’t reasonable considering it would have cost only £200 million and would have at least given us the chance of sinking an enemy warship with a ship!

“The reason for the current mixed load out is that it provides defence in depth for the T45 itself. The A30 has a wider minimum radius of engagement than the A15 so the A15 is more to protect the T45 itself.”

I’m not sure what the loadout ratio is meant to be or what it actually is, but in any case I think the Sea Ceptor addition will be welcome, if only it was scheduled earlier on. Should be done at the same time as the PIP is happening to save time.

“Remember the Falklands lesson that the T42 couldn’t protect itself and had to rely on the T22’s to do that.”

That was a somewhat awkward problem, though I’m not sure quite how that occurred since I would’ve thought that the missile/jet would be intercepted well outside minimum engagement range?

“ I think everyone agrees on that: except for Rishi Sunak.”

I’m still confused on why he’s sticking to his austerity, when he’s basically given up on it for everything except defence. Even if, and I hope he has the sense to do so in the autumn budget, he announces it later this year, 6 months is a lot of lost time, especially as war rages on only a thousand miles away, especially for the procurement of things such as ammo, missiles etc.

Talking of, have we restarted production of NLAW and Starstreak, or have we given away over half of the former without replacement, and what is presumably a significant chunk of a small amount of the latter?

Supportive Bloke

“That was a somewhat awkward problem, though I’m not sure quite how that occurred since I would’ve thought that the missile/jet would be intercepted well outside minimum engagement range?“

The practical detection range was close to or inside the engagement range.

Sea Dart was not great, in its early iterations, at anti missile whereas Sea Wolf was rather better.


Ah, so the radar fitted wasn’t exactly ideal for the missile being used. Type 45 radar can see a lot further than I Aster can shoot today, a very good thing for situation awareness and preventing above situations.


Sea Dart did its job in Falkland for mission it was designed for.
What did not worked was the Seacat – which RN certainly know – and without AA guns RN ships were sitting ducks to dumb primitive attacks that could overfly the ships without being downed. That is how dire RN designed their ships short range AAW protection, worse than WW2.
If the Argentinian bomb fuzes were simpler they might have won the war.

Supportive Bloke

That is why on current ships AA is layered.

Say on T45

Aster 30
Ceptor / Aster15

Roughtly in that order.

On T42 there was really only one layer: Sea Dart, in 82.

The missile systems themselves were OK.

The problem was how awful the radars were on the B1 T42. By Exeter a better set was fitted.


Agree with every point made save one – “I think everyone agrees on that: except for Rishi Sunak.”
I think everyone on this site agrees with “we need a boost” but I think the bulk of politicians are much the same regardless of party: they seem to see the defence budget as a ‘jobs creation programme’ & they’ll reduce & reduce it, or have some accounting wizardry include depreciation for the assets and then include the strategic deterrent & then include the pensions costs etc. etc. to make it look like the number wasn’t falling too much. Then they can spend the taxpayers money on whatever other pet project they have or that Twitter deems neccesary that day.
I’m not trying to defend Rishi here, just point out that he wasn’t the first. They’ve all been at it for decades & few have said anything to stop it (regardless of party).
The Russia-Ukraine war may actually wake up the politicians (and the general public) to the need for a robust military.
Only other thing I’ll add to the conversation is that there is little point getting a boost in spending if it is not used effectively – i.e. it just fills in the hole left by previous under-investment and/or waste and/or just to create a dozen more jobs to keep some locals happy for 5 minutes and/or boost BAE share prices by 2p. Lessons need to be learned first.


It’s a bit sickening since the main purpose of a government is to protect the people they represent from enemies and allow them to live their lives as best they can.


Unfortunately, the only way the defence budget will realistically increase, is if Russia win against Ukraine. From Russia’s performance so far, I would say that’s unlikely, unless they have a massive influx of troops and capability!

Supportive Bloke

Or use WMD of some kind?

The Russian might be better at a war of attrition just flattening places and moving on.

Although, as others have observed, they have not skills in urban warfare so they cannot clear the rubble they create.

Gavin Gordon

Ironically, Rishi Sunak wrote a well-received dissertation ten years back highlighting the need for more subsea capability for UK security. As we (and he) all know, the security situation is now much worse – not ‘just’ Putin; the US Vice Chief of Naval Ops, Adm Lescher, recently stated that a confrontation with China was now anticipated for later this decade not 2030s+. What’s changed for Sunak? Chancellor of the Exchequer, of course!
The UK really does need to demonstrate adequate urgency, doesn’t it? If not in rectifying vessel numbers initially, at least fitting out what we have with offensive weaponry and getting those hulls out of maintenance urgently (Bae has co-opted Portsmouth into the Type 45 PIP as a possible start, I’ll concede, but the completion date for all – 2028 – still needs to be reassessed, evidently).

David Barry

We need to be more astute in our purchasing of boats – min 12 next generation.


But David, do you really think we have until 2040?

Supportive Bloke

I don’t think we have the luxury of time either.

And 2040 is a very long time away.


Agreed. Even if this altercation with Russia fizzles out without being forced into a broader confrontation, I think things are going to get progressively worse in the coming years and we’ll be learning forgotten lessons all over again. Again.


Unless Barrow gets significant investment with enlarged facilities and a big uplift in trained people then any increase in SSN numbers is impossible in the short or medium term.

Do we even have enough people in the UK willing to serve as submariners in order to fill more than the 11 boats we will have (including SSBNs)?

Most likely scenario is that we will get 8 SSN(R) and the rest of the mass is provided by under water drones.

Supportive Bloke

That is very likely.

As ever the issue is underwater comms at high data rates.

Josh wilson

I think it’s obvious we need at least 4 Diesel Electric submarines to prop up our Sub fleet, realistically we’ll have to deal with 7 SSNs at the most due to the build time for the 4 new dreadnoughts being priority. We have to remember Astute is nearly 20 years old and quite frankly it is unacceptable to have your 7th Submarine commissioned when the 1st is approaching that kind of age and it does not bode well for the future considering the 1st SSN(R) probably won’t be commissioned until the 2040s


HMS Astute has only been in commission for 12 years not 20.
With a planed sub fleet of 11 and each sub having a life of about 30/35 years it’s bound to take a long time to build the SSN class unless you want a gap in production. That’s why we a now building a batch 2 variant of the Astute class. Even if we were to up the SSN fleet to say 12 you would still be looking at 20 to 25 years to build all of them.

Supportive Bloke

Just at a faster drumbeat.

I agree not having gapping is actually very important to keep costs down and skills up.


Astute wasnt declared fully operational till 2014 as it was a ‘rough’ build standard.
But only time fired it weapons when a a seaman went berserk on board

David Barry

How have the Cons been allowed this moniker Party of Defence?

They are anything but this ludicrous, misappropriated saying.

Indeed, just as the Bluffer in Chief bravo sierras his way out of responsibility and common decency, his Con Party does the same over defence.

We can all place tin foil on our heads but:
12 SSN
24 DD/FF

Is a minimum for the Royal Navy.


allow me to amend that to:
12 SSN
we are witnessing the problems with having only 6 destroyers
18 FF


From where do you pluck the figure of 10?


8 I believe is widely considered to be the actual minimum. 10 allows us to continuously operate 3-4, but also accounts for 2 potential wartime losses, considering we are entering such a time.


Based on specific tasking requirements, in this case anti-air warfare platforms, the minimum is, ironically, the current 6. The only tasking the RN currently has for dedicated AAW ships is 2 for the carrier group, so rule of 3 says 6 hulls. Everything else the T45s do can be done by smaller and cheaper platforms.

I would, however, say the RN should maintain a destroyer on station in home waters for ballistic and cruise missile defence. A BMD destroyer deployed north of the GIUK gap has a far better chance of intercepting Russian SLBMs and SLCMs than any UK land-based system. So call it 9 well-equipped destroyers with that tasking.

For reference, based on current taskings and the rule of 3, the RN needs 9 ASW ships, 10-15 General Purpose ships, and 9 SSNs.




Yes, not rather optimistic, but I believe having a military in the first place means it may become involved. Now is such an unhappy time.


One class of ship should have replaced T42 and T23.

We should have revisited our cruiser roots. 🙂


Like Arleigh Burke? Even the Americans are getting frigates again, and they also have cruisers!


The Americans will possibly have cruisers only for another 7 years, when the Ticonderogas hit their 35 year planned life. The replacement cruiser programme has been scrapped and they plan to fill the role with Flight 3 Arleigh-Burke destroyers.


The Arliegh Burke replacement the DDG(X), will be a similar size and displacement to the Ticonderoga’s. As the USN require a ship that has plenty of space for system growth.


The destroyer replacing the Arleigh-Burke will be similar size to Ticonderoga because they can’t squeeze any more onto the ABs. This assuming the DDX(X) programme doesn’t end up getting cancelled like the CG(X) or heavily reduced in numbers like Zumwalt.


The new DDG(X) is basically a Cruiser. It’s a DDG in name only.
The new Constellation Frigates will replace the capability of the early Burke Flight I DDGs. I hope no one ever builds another combatant without an embarked helicopter.

Supportive Bloke

Slight correction

“ I hope no one ever builds another combatant without an embarked helicopter.”

I hope no one ever builds another combatant without an embarked air – think heavy drones will be able to be counted in a lot of roles soon.


I find it ironic we disembarked all aircraft from combat ships except our carriers in 1943. We realised the mistake when we put Wasps on our frigates and were one of the first to do that.
Now we can see how much we need drones and must progress it rapidly and effectively.


Wasnt a mistake. Helicopters didnt exist in mid 40s.

A manned helicopter that could carry a torpedo and could land on a frigate or destroyer didnt come till the early 60s


The Constellations are replacing their previous class of frigates the OHP’s. They are not replacing the AB’s.

I choose to ignore LCS. 🙂


I thought you suggested operating only one class of surface combatant; a cruiser-like destroyer + frigate. Or did you suggest having a destroyer/frigate combination to replace the T42 and T23, AND a cruiser class??


Cruisers the RN had before 1915 were essentially large destroyers for work with battle fleets . Destroyers were below 2000 tons then.

By WW2 a cruiser could operate at long range and had the crew and fuel to do so. Destroyers needed constant refuelling and their boilers descaled.

AfterWW2 as the large naval gun disappeared form ships and machinery improved a destroyer could do the work of a cruiser

Even more so now as destroyers and even frigates have grown in size due to the move away from long narrow and unstable hulls to more spacious and broader beamed naval vessels. The vertical launch missiles has helped that in the long hull for arcs of fire for the gun and missile systems arent required and stability for crew comfort and a helicopter deck means wider is best.


Because Labour has been even worse than the Cons whenever they’ve been in power ??‍♂️


Says he as he forgets 1957 and Nott in 1981
then 2010, 2015, 2021 all Conservative
of course the defence budget was around 4% of GDP back in early 80s when they wanted 17 SSN


I remember her when she was so new she still smelled of paint. Seems like yesterday.

Supportive Bloke

Most navy ships stink of paint.

Repairing and repainting them is a near constant process to keep the tin worm at bay.


Which is why Austal convinced the USN not to paint their aluminum LCS or EPFs.


Russian ships always smell of cabbage. American ships seem to have all different smells. Australian ships smell like RN’s ones.

Supportive Bloke

Very true.

The Russians couldn’t afford to paint their ships or feed their crews in the 90’s

Remember the chicken coupe?


Yes it does.


I am very old now. 🙂


Unfortunately so am I, about 34 years older!!!?

Leslie Leveson

Polotics is a curse has goverments from different parties will follow opposite views on defence strategies One will prune right back to the barest navy structure, the now there is emphasis on increasing Royal Navy presence
To my way of managing should be left to persons who have skills in understanding needs and wants and not leave it to politicians of some whom has a bias on spending money on defence.Commander Rasputin loves those comments as he rolls out subs and suface ships.-



Your not a believer in democracy then?

Portsea Islander

Not IHS Janes anymore, just Janes. We’re independent now.


Seeing how SSN’s are produced at such a Glacial pace, shouldn’t we have some conventional submarines for training and other less strategic uses?


Would certainly make sense, and the joy of introducing a new platform is that, in theory, there’s much less time pressure than programmes replacing existing assets.

Several questions need answering of course. What yard do you use? Do you expand Barrow and exploit the existing knowledge base at the risk of affecting the nuclear boats, or do you go elsewhere and take the extra time to establish a new workforce?

Who is going to be prime contractor? Do you stick with BAES, utilising as much economy of scale from commonality with Astute, Dreadnought, and SSN(R), or do you go to another company? If so, do you go with a British company like Babcock or BMT that only have paper boats, or do you contract in a foreign company?


That is why the Upholders were purchased. Originally the RN wanted something simpler than Upholder. But the government spied a chance for exports which never really materialised. Selling to Canada doesn’t count as disposed of them and didn’t build anymore.

Supportive Bloke

Upholder was a full fat sub squeezed into a small hull.

Better could be done now: without a doubt.

Still need to make the pressure hulls somewhere. It won’t be Fergusons for sure……I hope…..


Upholder was a full fat sub squeezed into a small hull.

It was about average in size terms for its day.

And I said the RN wanted something simpler not that Upholder was a simple submarine.

Last edited 2 years ago by X
Supportive Bloke

I didn’t say it was a simple sub?

i was agreeing with you?


Upholder class 1st laid down 40 years ago
Disp 2400 T 12kts surface 20 kts sub 50 crew

Compared to Japans Soryu class which includes AIP
D= 8.5m
Disp 2900 T sur 13 kts sub 20 kts 65 crew

All submarines are squeezed into a small hull, nuclear boats just seem to have a very large propulsion compartment and everything else is still squeezed.

Mr Donald Baker

I still have the Original Bottle of Rum given to me as a Gift for manufacturing the 300 “TOT” Measures presented to the Original Crew on Launch Day the 15 April 1988 when she began her Champagne Inauguration helped by the Princess Royal Princess Ann
Didn’t She Do Well ??
Old E.R.A.’s come in handy for some things?????especially Coppersmiths.

Supportive Bloke

What a wonderful story.




“There is no urgency for AShM on surface ships as the SSNs cover that role”

All five of them? What a pathetic situation. If Labour had not elected a commie as it’s leader Cameron would have been out on his arse.


5? More like 1.something other. 🙂

Joseph Todd

There is now limited value in being a nuclear only service… We should also be looking at a new generation of SSK with the capacity to operate in the litoral as well as deep water SSN. Contrary to some contributors, I’d suggest that the obsession with nearly useless ASW frigates is a major issue. The best ASW platform is another boat


Agreed, but to be built by whom? There’s limited industrial capacity. Find me a UK shipyard that can build them and I’d say give it a go.


Rosyth couldn’t build frigates….until it could. So how about Marlin/MSubs, the guys doing the autonomous Mantas?

“MSubs’ early diesel-electric submarines focused on ease-of-use and were operated as private pleasure craft, scientific research vessels, and military training vessels.”

They may never have built a warship, but neither had Babcock. They’ve still got some experience to build on. There’s no reason they couldn’t build to a Swedish design.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jon

No we couldn’t build a SSK, even to a foreign design. We last built SSKs in the early 90s (, Birkenhead) when we still had the skill base to do so. That skill base has gone and never replaced, so where are all those lost skilled engineering types going to come from?. Building SSKs is a tad more complicated then building some UAVs like Mantas etc!!!


I thought the quote made it clear, that this is a company that has built manned submarines for the civilian market. I see no reason why you think they couldn’t, with help and support, build for the military market. Of course it’s more complicated, of course skills are lacking.

And as always, it’s a question of time, money and will. There is time, but neither money nor will.


Sorry fella, have to totally disagree with you on this one.
Msubs are probably v high tech and very good at what they do – which is design and build both manned/unmanned small submersibles, predominantly for research purposes. Yes they are branching out with their Mantis UAV, but build a 3-4000 ton SSK they cannot do.
There is a world of difference between what they offer and what it takes to design and build a SSK. Not sure how familiar you are with SMs, but if you get the chance. go down to the SM museum in Gosport, they have an old A boat on show, then ask yourself if they could build one!!


Agree there but they seem interesting none the less


Yes they certainly do. Didn’t realise how many variants they actually make.


We only have SSN’s because we have SSBN’s. That the only permanent task for them is the Indian Ocean and we are chopping all the support shipping (Scott going, Dili’ gone) one wonders if anybody had any idea of what to do with the service.

Wendy Harbon

Maybe with the Russian illegal War on Ukraine, the Royal Navy needs every operational submarine it can send to sea. So it maybe be a sound idea, to delay decommissioning another Royal Navy SSN, for a year say!


As it’s be in commission for a year without going anywhere it’s a good bet it’s not fit for sea and would cost a fortune to fix.


Whenever increases to the defence budget are mentioned to pay for things like more SSN’s the first thing I think is that the MoD really needs to demonstrate it can spend more wisely and get some value for money!

It’s a bit like the NHS. Vital yes but throwing billions more into a money pit without trying to fix problems procurement and management first makes no sense and just pushes the problem down the road.


Ideally, a force of SSKs would help. They are girce multipliers good for a range of activities Given our limited shipbuilding capability, the best bet would be 5 Sweedish or 5 Japanese built. Maybe with a second batch of 3 built under licence. But it needs the funding for both the boats and the extra crew.


Why 5?


5 I think that’s the minimum fleet size to enable 2 at sea at any one time assuming one is in refit.




Not just funding for crew but a source of people who want that sort of life style.


Agree, so rates of pay. As attraction would be Plymouth based and not as long as sea as SSN or SSBN. So it would help the whole submarine service.


I think if you based one in Gibraltar it would be a very useful and interesting place to have one. But yes base them overall in Plymouth or Portsmouth.

David Broome

I’d settle for 3 x Taiji to clear Faslane. It could be argued as part of global Britain and cementing the UK joining the TPP. BTW for continous deployment it is multples of 4 isn’t it?


What would these three SSKs be (Taigei I presume) clearing exactly?


Once you have the nuclear support structure in place (training, support, maintenance etc.) Are SSKs really that much cheaper than an SSN given the extra value an SSN gives? It’s not as if they are 1/4 of the price.

Last edited 2 years ago by Sipowitz

Does anyone remember when John Nott tried to destroy the RN in 1981? The Tories are going for a rerun.

This is what you get after years of tax cuts that benefit Johnson’s rich friends.


I dont see that in 2022. We spent it on the NHS and fighting Covid. I think we need cross party support on defence more than ever.


Cross party ?
Its the tories who keep on making major cuts and cuts by stealth

Last edited 2 years ago by Duker

fighting Covid


Steven Alfred Rake

So the RN has the grand total of 2 maybe 3 SSN’s at sea at any time they must be good to be able to protect the Carrier group/s, Amphibious Group, SSBN, and to monitor Russian sub movements all at the same time.
Words escape me, all I can think of is that Mr Putin must have a big smile on his face right about now.


When there are only 4 boats available it would be difficult to have more than 2 at sea at once. They are great vessels by all account but that is completely insufficient.


This ^^^^^^^

Submarines are complex and fragile. Best used on a 4 for 1 basis.

David Broome

Imagine if we redirected the overseas aid budget into defence….i know forlorn hope but imagine if we had three Taiji-class convebtional boats augmenting our SSNs.


We recently put tens of billions into defence, and it was almost all pissed away. I used to think the point Challenger made, that we have to reform DE&S first, was a counsel of despair. I was so disappointed by the latest defence equipment plan, that I am coming around to that way of thinking. But we have to ask why the reforms after the Gray report in 2011 had no effect. I think the idea was right but the remedy was insufficiently radical.

We have to abolish top level budgets for major projects and keep the categories only for minor purchases/support. Furthermore, Parliament needs to send defence equipment plans back for a rethink when they are rejected by the select committees (defence and public accounts). Ministers can no longer be given the benefit of the doubt.


Is not the greatest threat to the UK the shutting down of sea lanes and sub-launched missile attacks on the homeland? And we have, five(?) SSNs?

It’s why my brain does a flip when people say the surface fleet doesn’t need AShM’s because anti-ship is the SSN’s job. The SSN’s are as rare as rocking horse shit, especially with carrier escort duties. They also not only have to be available and available in the area but have to close with enemy shipping and evade any screens before they can get a shot off. It’s nuts.


Western Europe as a whole is dependent on the sea not just the UK because we are island. If you look at it collectively Europe’s absence of sea power in toto that is amazing.

Our carrier strategy, not so much the carriers, is our problem. In hindsight, wonderful thing it is, we should have returned to the RN’s historic ‘cruiser’ modus operandi.

Blair wanted to play ‘world policeman’ and saw carriers as essential to that. And as we have seen now that was flawed in terms of IR and has ruptured the RN.

Imagine we had replaced T42 and T23 with one class and kept numbers reasonable (say 24) and actually increase SSN numbers to 16. We could have had three ships in Indian Ocean region, 2 in the Med, one for the North Atlatnic, and two more for other duties. 16 SSN’s would have allowed us one in the North Atlantic, two in the Indian Ocean, and one elsewhere. Still a stretch. Would have still needed a secondary class of escort and still needed a class of SSK for training and ‘bastion defence’ of Faslane. We should have built something like the Cavour or Trieste and thrown money at Crowsnest to support the fleet. As it is the QE’s are the centre of a fleet that do little, mainly because it can only be in one place and so much of available assets have to be there to protect it.


The German U boats lost and were driven from the Atlantic because we owned technology, the surface and the sky. You can argue we need a massive re equip with drones and the carriers to extend our reach North and South and space. We need a bigger Navy- full stop. Defend against Russia with multi layered defence. Close the Baltic same as the Black Sea.


What are you saying?

Michael BB

What needs to be done is the defence and treasury ministers of the 3 main political parties need to sit down and thrash out a defence policy; and stick to it.


2 or 3 Trafalgar class, in decommission etc, that could be used by Australia for training and defence purposes.

Let our HM, Sister Realm, have them.

PS, plenty spare parts on the other subs, awaiting disposal too.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tim

They are worn out.


Silly comment. How many old Russian subs are knocking about? Far older than the Trafalgar’s too.

These subs would make excellent training facilities, plus light defence work too.


You do not go to to sea in a submarine that is no longer safe. And you sure as hell don’t do it in a nuclear powered one. It’s not like flogging off crap surface vessels to some third world country. They have used every ounce of capability up on that sub.


Utter rubbish. You talk, as if these subs are like fruit and veg with a sell buy date ??? These subs, are capable of training and light missions. This is exactly what Australia is looking for.


Australia is looking for a long reliable class of boat.

It’s you talking utter rubbish.


he has a point about ‘fruit and veg’ ….it literally is like a use by date except maybe £400 mill will give your sub another 5 -6 years of life. Good luck with getting that money


Well, Australia might be willing to pay, as they are spending a fortune on lengthening the service life of the Collins class.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tim

PS, Collins life extension around $ 100 billion


No it isn’t that much, far from it, that amount would probably buy some 150-200 new SSKs!! Think you might be a tad out of it depth here.


Typo. Around $10 billion, meant.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tim

No, you talk rubbish as Australia needs a new subs base and training etc, before she is ready for a new class nuclear subs.

Trafalgar class, can fill the gap.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tim

No. They’re not – and a sell-by date or more accurately retire-by date is exactly what they have.

Aside from pressure hull fatigue life (which is essentially finite), look up other things like reactor chemistry, embrittlement of metals exposed to radiation (which basically means the majority of marine systems in the RC). That’s before you get to things like supportability of safety critical systems (which means most things on a nuclear submarine).

The older things get, the more frequently they fall over – and that’s really not something you ever want to see in a nuclear submarine. I’m pretty sure that’s the opposite of what the Cobbers are looking for.


You’re wrong. How many old Russian subs are knocking about? ?

Last edited 2 years ago by Tim

Tell you what. I work directly with the boats and understand their design basis and safety regimes. You?

And as for how many “old Russian boats”, surprisingly few and those that are have been subject to decades of inactivity followed by exorbitantly expensive refit/refuellings. Their safety record is also decidedly suboptimal.

Last edited 2 years ago by N-a-B

Ahhh, hit a nerve I see. Yes, plenty of old Russian subs doing the business. So, it stands to reason, these Trafalgar’s, can help Aus get into the nuclear subs game.

PS. US (according to media reports) are on about giving Aus, possibly, several old, Los Angeles submarines too.

You see, some people think outside the box and are way smarter than you. Just like me ?

Last edited 2 years ago by Tim

Tim is very clever and has a great idea:
Copy the Russians!


Thank f8ck for that. I’d often wondered what happened to Bubbles when Michael Jackson died. Now I know.

Where are these “plenty” of russian boats doing the business? How does it stand to reason? Here’s a little hint – there are less than ten Russian boats of a similar vintage to our T-boats. Most of them spent the nineties and the noughties alongside, which means they haven’t used up their hull or reactor life. One of them has allegedly been in refit since 2001 and still hasn’t returned to sea. Ours – and the US 688 boats – worked rather harder……

Media reports and politicians are one thing – a good ideas club. At some stage, people who actually understand risk, safety, cost and the art of the possible have to be involved. Then the people who “think outside the box” tend to be exposed as the bluffers they are.

Speaking of which – your technical expertise with respect to nuclear submarines is…..?

Last edited 2 years ago by N-a-B

ONLY, around 10 Russian subs from around 1990 era? that’s quite a number. Pulled alongside too, and dropping anchor now and again ….. training purposes maybe ?

Well done, you’ve just proved me right ?

Last edited 2 years ago by Tim

PS, would you like to tell me how many US Los Angeles subs from around 1990 are in service? That’s a good lad

Oh look, quite a few, with a shelf life 2024-26+ ?

Last edited 2 years ago by Tim

Those Russ boats are mostly for show. Incidentally, if you’re going to start operating a nuclear fleet safely, mirroring Russian practice is unlikely to satisfy your regulator. These folk tend not to be bluffers.

As for the 688s, all of which had a refuel in the late noughties, early teens to keep USN SSN numbers up while Virginia’s were built. There still aren’t enough of the latter to free them up.

Care to deploy your expert knowledge as to the feasibility/likelihood of refuelling T-boats? Or just keep bluffing?


Yes, your replies are showing a distinct lack of clarity and self belief.

I guess my evidence that US, LA-subs, will still knocking about, well into mid 2020s, shows that Trafalgar’s lives, could no doubt be extended for training and light military ops.

You lose,

Better luck next time.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tim

Are you in the market for a bridge? Or perhaps a unicorn? One careful owner for each.


Here you go…

“Speaking last Friday at a Wilson Center event in Washington, D.C., former Australian PM, suggested that, in the short term, Australia should consider leasing or purchasing one or more existing U.S. submarines to develop Australia’s capability to operate nuclear-powered submarines.

“In fact, there are many ways to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia. Helping Australia produce Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines, even the lower-level Virginia-class submarines, will require a long time. Therefore, the US is also considering selling its decommissioned nuclear submarines, such as the Los Angeles-class submarine, to Australia.
Such an approach will be the easiest and fastest way to reach the goal. By equipping Australia with second-hand weapons, the US can build Australia’s submarine fleet into its own squadron in the Indo-Pacific region. And Washington, not Canberra, will have the final say on what weapons will be deployed on the vessels and where the fleet will be deployed. 
The US’ suppression against China and Russia won’t stop, as doing so helps the US maintain its own established international order. For China, the best way to cope with it is to keep strengthening ourselves and master more methods to defend our national security, sovereignty, and development interests. Only when a country is strong enough, will others show respect.
At present, China still needs to make all efforts to develop its economy, science, technology, and especially national defense capabilities. Without a strong national defense, nothing is possible.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Tim
Phillip Johnson

The Australian PM you are referring too is probably Tony Abbott. His track record on Defence is almost as bad as the Australian Labour Party.
The simple fact is that is that beyond one small reactor in southern Sydney used mainly for nuclear medicine, there are zero facilities, experience or operating procedures on the Australian mainland to support the operation of SSN’s. It will likely take a generation or more to produce them.
Not for the firsts time Mr Abbott is taking about things he does not have to deliver.,


Sorry, it is not clear to me how the Russian military displays best practice in any regard.


We are talking, that these subs are for training and light work lol.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tim

PS, how many US subs in operation, from around 1990 is?

Oh look, quite a few, with a shelf life-2024-26+ ?

Last edited 2 years ago by Tim
John M.

It strikes me that this forum needs to change its name back to “Save the Royal Navy”. The long-standing doctrine of defence on the cheap has not gone away. This is a total disgrace.


We have built submarines in lots of other places in the UK, however they are vastly more expensive these days and we prob don’t have the skilled workers.


I can’t think of anywhere other than Cammell Lairds that have built submarines in the UK since the 60s. That’s over half a century ago…….

The last boat Lairds built – and bear in mind this was Lairds in the 80s that had been a shipyard continuously, rather than the current Lairds which is essentially a ship repair yard that conducts some build activity – was Unicorn. That was 30 years ago.

They are building non-pressure hull bits of steel for Barrow, but that’s a very long way from being able to build a submarine.

Last edited 2 years ago by N-a-B
Defence thoughts

All those people that talk of 7 SSNs being enough (especially some on the UK Defence Journal) are going to have to explain why the RN wants drone subs. Presumably the Admiralty is suddenly riven with incompetent fantasy-fleeters or something. If we only need the bare minimum then there is no need to spend on more- so why is the admiralty spending more?


Most here don’t know what a drone is or does. It is just the latest craze and they have jumped on the bandwagon.


Some are still on the ‘cruiser’ craze which meant ships built in the war stayed longer than necessary despite the crew shortages in 1950s ( RN didnt really take on national service compared to huge numbers in RAF and Army).
US navy wants to retire all its ‘past it’ Ticos in next 5 years and its a pipe dream to think a replacement is ever going to be funded.


It wasn’t a craze. The RN policed the sea lanes of a global trading network.

All you are saying to me is that once again somebody here hasn’t a clue about what are talking about……..

Stoker L

Goodbye SSN018 I have many fond memories serving on this boat


The problem is mainly political but a lot rests on defense procurement and massive waste which is endemic through all government departments the NHS being the worst
Rid defense of political bs let the professionals run the show and I’m pretty sure many politicians are getting payments from certain defense contractors which should be a criminal offence…
Russia has the same budget as the UK, which is absurd.