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Wow. Back in the day the RN want 5 R-boats to cover CASD; it is a hard task. This episode just shows how nuclear submarines are extremely complicated systems. Best purchased on a 4 for one basis. 7 SSN’s just means 1 point something availability as a norm and 2 exceptionally.

Supportive Bloke

Maybe it just points to how expensive it is to keep older systems running?

If you look at the cost of an A boat at £1.2Bn and then look at the cost of extending a V boat at £500m then you do have to wonder if a shorter service life isn’t sensible?

However, that would mean doing something about the pile of rotting subs at Rosyth…..

There does come a point in the cost curve where Parker is right and that you do want/need to replace rather than refurbish. Although I grant you the market for SH SSN/SSBN is precisely zero.

Stir into the mix the stupid amounts of money, £600m (which I simply don’t believe was the real budget as it is too small) in 2020 money so probably about £800m in today’s money, spent on T23 LIFEX & PGMU that would have funded a large part of T32 or another T26, assuming it was T31B2 and there is something worth thinking about.


Remembering there is actually a very good market for nearly new frigates…selling at 15 years before a major lifex really makes sense…if you look at the type 23 lifex it’s probably a good 60 million per ship….then look at how much you could get flogging them at 15 years…the 3 sold to Chile netted about 45million at 2005 money or around 90 million each in todays flogging a frigate at 15 years pre lifex actually gives you something like 150 million per ship ( lifex saving and profit from saving)…on top of that you also get:

reduced ongoing maintenance costs as your not fixing ships where the parts supply lines are closed and are wearing out.

increases your operational availability as all your ships are under 15 years old
having cheaper ships because your building lots more with no gaps in production (24 escorts being replaced on a 12- 15 year cycle….gives you around 40-45 ships build every 15 years or 2-3 ships every year….basically we end up selling more warships than anyone else…just via the second hand market.

doubles the navel ship building workforce, supporting workforce and revenues going into the tax base.

strengthen our alliances by providing our friends with easy access to cheap frigates…
It’s a basic win win win win for everyone.

Supportive Bloke

Also you have modern ships with state of the art parts and systems that you can incrementally evolve through the batches.

Problem is you can’t build them at T31 pace unless you need a huge fleet of 12-15 T31’s as IRL you need 8-10 max otherwise the fleet is unbalanced the wrong way?

The trouble is the Treasury model for capital expenditure. I’m not sure what the project size limit is for the rigorous model – this may be why T31 is a 5 ship batch to get under that lower limit?


The real problem was identified in the story
In 2010 the Cameron government decided to delay starting the Dreadnought programme to replace the Vanguard class by five years. “


Fact remains pay now or pay later which ever way you look at it if you decide you need 4 subs, you have to fund it. The treasury doesn’t seem to understand this concept.

The problem with the T23 was the idea of selling them after 15 years but the treasury forgot you need to buy replacements when you do


I think the 15 year rule was to avoid a half life full modernisation refit . They seem to have kept them on but done incremental modernisations at the regular refits which might be every 5 years. Some were sold .
In reality there was no actual plan as Labours plan in 2008 ending of the T45 build after 6, when they were costing £670 mill each, when the money for 7, 8 was diverted to T26 program development and 1st of class.
The Cameron/Osborne defence cuts shock meant the T26 was put on hold- officially to find a cheaper design but that was only twaddle- and wasnt resurrected till inside 5 years later with an election looming.


vanguard had 7 years off duty, leaving 3 to maintain one sub always at sea. amazing effort. respect to vanguard crew and the silent service


The *policy* remains but was it really CASD in practice when they had only 2 boats available ?

Fat Bloke on Tour

Is waste just now accepted as the way the MOD does things?
I am nearly starting to feel sorry for the Treasury in all this.

Time after time — doling out our hard earned for another MOD omnishambles.

The whole saga when written down just seems to emphasis the complete dog’s breakfast that is our current situation regarding our ability to provide some level of defence capability.

Vampire squid levels of self serving waste by Team MOD / UK MIC.

They seem to be making it up as they go along — providing they can find someone to pony up the cash for another round of failure they just keep serving up the same old tripe.

Interesting that Dounreay comes up — the de-commissioning effort would appear to be a job for life for those involved. Pity that we don’t have Ealing Pictures to document the situation.

Overtime Galore …

Supportive Bloke

IRL who is going to take on a fixed price/costs contract for an unknown that had never been done before and was never meant to be done involving nuclear fuel?

So I’m more than a little puzzled by your comment.

This is really, really difficult stuff just is decontaminating a huge mess of building and nuclear fuel dumps at Sellafield btw this is actually going quite well now. I was at some Sellafield related clean up meetings and one of my university housemates was also a nuclear engineer on the team. The issue is the unknown, unknown nature of some of the works: no proper records kept. As well as myths and folklore about what was done: a lot of which never were true.

Fat Bloke on Tour

No question that the workload is challenging — just a case that it would appear to be a career for some people and the drive for efficiency / completion seems non existent.

Civil service vibe regarding results / progress.

Might be wrong but my limited engagement pointed to a job for life mentality and that was over 20 years ago.


Just highlights why it’s a completely false economy to push OSD’s back, delay replacement programs and try to refit ageing assets!

John Clark

Good old Cameron, he still casts a very long shadow over defence.

The damage his administration caused to our armed forces will ripple on for years to come….


Two thoughts, everything the Cameron Government did with defence issues has come back to haunt us and at colossally greater cost to the taxpayer….and is it me, but Vanguard looks a bit of a rust bucket for a £500m overhaul…

Last edited 9 months ago by omiford

What do we think of Lancaster House accords? Initially I was very positive, despite the cost saving rationale. Now I’m far less sure.


The hull is covered in tiles, which wear and discolour. It seems they opted not to replace a good portion during refit which is why she looks so old and rather scruffy.

Supportive Bloke

Why replace things that will work perfectly for aesthetic reasons alone?


It’s not just for aesthetic purposes, these tiles wear, come loose and detach at sea, so they tend to be replaced during refit to ensure longevity…….


Ran out of money for anything else once the reactor work done most likely

After the previous coronation in 1953 there was a full fat review of her fleet by the new Queen. Dont think this sort of thing will be happening again with all vessels shiny


Having just seen pics of her arriving at Faslane, I am genuinely surprised at just how scruffy and rusty she looks! Doesn’t look any different to when she arrived at Devonport in the same shabby run down state for her refit.


She hasnt arrived at Faslane, she went straight up Loch Long and into the shed at Coulport

Fat Bloke on Tour

NL — outsider looking in.

Sub nuclear powerplants — scuttlebut back in the day suggested that the RN / MOD was having a few challenges in the field.

Specifically the different needs of the SSN fleet and the SSBN boats.

SSN = sports model reactors / flexibility / fast response.
SSBN = plodders / lengthy mission profile.

The V class were originally designed to re-use the T boat reactor / core and this led to sub-optimal performance.

Then things were improved but the A class then had to use the new V class reactor / core with all the SSN performance shortcomings that it brought with it.

Is this an old wives tale or is it close to reality?

Asking because the article suggests that the Vanguard’s original core was replaced.
Does this tie in with the story above or is there more to it?

If we are to go into the export market we need to be on our “A” game — no pun intended as the A class were not an engineering / product development success.

At the start anyway.


T boats used PWR 1 reactors, while Vanguard class was designed from the outset to use the PWR 2 reactor. During their first refit (LOP (R)), a new longer lasting core was installed (Core H), into the Reactors.

A reactor is a reactor, regardless of what class of SM it is installed in. Technology moves on, we went from PWR 1s in the S + T class and will be installing PWR 3 reactors in both the Dreadnought (SSBN) and SSN (R) classes.

Not sure what performance metric you are referring to, but, the PWR 2 produces plenty of power to drive both V and A class at speed.

Both the T and A classes are slower them the S boats they replaced, primarily as a result of tiling the boats, which added significant weight and made them less slippery through the water. The UK also changed direction performance wise with the T class, sacrificing speed for stealth, which continued with the A class. Back in the day Sceptre was clocked at 33.8 kts for a prolonged transit, you will be lucky to get 28 kts out of a A boat I imagine.


That takes us back to the RAN’s SSN ambitions. SSN(R) is going to be a barge. Whereas the MN’s Barracuda class are smaller than Astute. It would be a better choice for the RAN’s needs.


Yes the Barracuda class does have its advantages, however, the biggest disadvantage IMO is it’s weapon fit, only 20 racks in the bomb shop, severely limiting what it can carry, if you allow 10 racks for torpedoes plus 2 in the tubes – 10 strike missiles!

Agree that our SSNs are getting larger, but that is in part due to the greater weapon fit (including VPM). But then again, our surface friends are also putting on weight (T23 – T26), primarily for a greater weapons fit and supporting equipment. Bit of a trend developing in modern warship design then. God knows how large T83 will be, ≥10 k tonnes I imagine.


Strike would be best left to other platforms for them I think. They need a ship killer, a sea denier. The Atlantic is a different proposition to the Timor Sea.

T83 will be a 12k tonner…….Probably T45 should have been a 12k tonner! 🙂


Are they really the ‘displacements’ mentioned? Previously warships were measured without fuel but all weapons and actual weight of water displaced or standard and full fuel was full displacement.
But now days the volume of the vessel converted into gross register tonnage – a measure designed for tankers and bulker is used
Especially for cruise ships – which are mostly air space – its hugely inflated over the actual displacement of water but sounds good in marketing.


Interesting. That will be full bunkers and stores for warships.

Merchantmen it is the gross register tonnage which is volume.

I have been playing the hindsight game recently. “T45”, note the quotes, should have been a replacement for both T42 and T23. The RN should have returned to its roots and become a ‘cruiser navy’. Two out east, one in the Med, and one in Atlantic. With an aft silo full of TLAM we could have reached most places we would want to reach.

(Owning our own recce constellation would be preferable too.)

Fat Bloke on Tour

The RN uses displacement to describe their vessels.
Steel is cheap so most navies are going large at the moment.

Size isn’t the issue — it is the lack of numbers.
And the time alongside.


The RN doesn’t use displacement to describe ships.

The USN does, but not the RN.

You really do need to do some reading. It is OK having different opinions. But when those opinions are based on near complete ignorance they have no virtue.

Fat Bloke on Tour

OK — only 70 years behind the times.

What does the RN use to calculate the “weight” of their ships?

Published dimensions were in the ballpark regarding the displacement route.

Fat Bloke on Tour

OK — in my search for truth and enlightenment I went on the RN website — HMS Daring to be exact.

Info on general display — displacement = 8k tonnes.

Is this common or garden displacement or some sort of special RN displacement?


The time alongside is the biggest problem.

John Hartley

More likely, 9999 tons, as HM Treasury would have a fit of the vapours if T83 is 10000 tons+


You can imagine the Yes, Minister conversation can’t you?!?

Supportive Bloke

Why would making T45 larger have helped.

The only advantage in making T45 heavier would have been a higher radar mast?

As it is there is space for Mk41 / AShM and Sea Ceptor which hasn’t been filled yet? That is a lot of spaces for missile load out!

Whilst air is free and steel is cheap fuel and manning costs rise never mind the costs of the extra power plant to push the monster through the sea.


Did you read anything I said? It appears not.

Have a think before going half cocked.

Fat Bloke on Tour

Making a ship bigger shouldn’t increase the size of the crew.

Longer ship — same basic cross section / deck layout might help with fuel consumption.

Shape drag vs skin friction — quite a few examples of ships that have been lengthened and their fuel consumption has improved.

Wider / more stable hull — might have provided more room for a proper diesel element to their hybrid powertrain.

More sailing on diesel only would mean better fuel consumption than the GT on part load.

Plus it wouldn’t have tripped as often.

Win win is the view of the Glesga jury.


Well, they seem to be covering that scenario with various options which include Tomahawk, JSM, LRASM and JASSM-ER, all either ship or air launched variants.

Its a big purchase, as opposed to buying into the B21 Raider programme. It does make sense on the one hand and is certainly the cheaper of the two options. However, for the very reasons they stated not to buy the B21, are the very reasons IMO that they should have done, costs aside.

I do like what Aus are doing though, gearing up to support their interests, as they are a longish way from help.


There is nothing apart from F35 Charlie. I have been wondering for a bit why a two engine option wasn’t included in the F35 program.

Australia are going for it without a doubt. They certainly understand the need for firepower. I can understand why British accents are (very) common aboard RAN war canoes.


F35 had one engine in order for it to have a vertical takeoff variant thats most similar, there are other advantages in the weight savings, maintenance costs….yes eyebrows get raised about now.

Supportive Bloke

Also upgradability.

Small hulls make upgrades hard to impossible and/or crazy expensive. Add to that crew retention.

Fat Bloke on Tour

D32 — thanks for the response.

I will have a look and see if I can come up with the original comments.
Not sure if it came from the old TD site or from somewhere else?

The performance metric was related to output flexibility — the ability of the reactor to quickly change the output — which was seemingly more of an issue for SSN boats.

From memory — pretty distant unfortunately — it appeared to be pushback on the use of the V class reactor on the A boats or something similar.

Might be a case of a mis-understanding on my part or someone flogging their hobby horse to death to win a non-existent argument.


Ref ‘output flexibility’, believe you might be referring to an early issue discovered on A boats during sea trials, where there was some sort of mis-match/mis-alignment in the power output of the TG’s and the drive from the gearbox resulting in the boat not reaching its ‘top’ speed. Can’t remember exactly what the issue was, but believe it was fixed.

There should be no reason why one class of SM can’t change power states (which is what you are referring to) any quicker than another using the same reactor.

SSBN’s normally spend the vast amount of their time in the 1/2 power state, which gives them plenty of scope to change speed(different power states allow for different RPM, which governs the speed available at the time, you can only achieve max speed in the Full power state, and is rarely used) as they only mooch around at 3-4 kts.

SSN’s on the other hand switch between 1/2 and 3/4 power states on a regular basis depending on what they are doing. By going to the 3/4 PS, it allows them to use between 65 – 75% of their available speed, which is normally fast enough to get them wherever they need to be.

Rob Cook

The fact that cock-ups like this are in the public domain and up for discussion is very much to the west’s advantage. This is how we learn. Compare and contrast with how real-world military performance is affected by the secretive, authoritarian nature of other states.

Trevor Dixon

This has to be a joke

Mike B

Not a good look following on from the PoW propeller farce, not to mention cost.
It’s no wonder our ships can’t sink anything.

Raymond Leake

Would it of been cheaper to build a new submarine


7 years is a very very long time. And the reactor cock up. Messed up the delivery of the new reactors for the new ships. The fact that the new reactors are just relying on American technology totally without any sort of test reactor raises all sorts of questions.

Thomas Gallagher

My first proper submarine that we took on the first Daso fond memory of Vanguard