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4thwatch

Will Megxit count as disaster relief and will Harry in his capacity as Top Marine have a role as SMO standing force APT(N)? Just asking?

Jonathan Saunders

HMS Prince of Wales will be on Westlant 20 and 21 and no doubt will be carrying a suite of humanitarian supplies with it.

Stevep

Best off sticking with an RFA with a helicopter. The River class aren’t much practical use for anything beyond fishery protection and flag showing due to the lack of a helicopter. I don’t know why we didn’t build four of them with a hanger paid for from the savings from not having a 5th vessel. Can any Navy have ever got less value for money for £500m than these ships.

ATH

I believe part of the problem was time. It took the MOD/RN so long to admit to themselves that the T26 was going to be delayed that there was no time to redesign the River and meet the commitments of the TOBA.

donald_of_tokyo

Uhm, there was an existing design at that time; Al Khareef class corvette.

Basing the TOBA-related OPV on the Khareef-class design, not Amazonas-class, would have been possible. I can easily imagine 3 Floreal-like Khareef-based OPV in place of the 5 River B2s.

The problem is, there was ANOTHER delayed decision there. Initial order was for 3 River B2 OPV, to save 2-3 years. They were intended to “replace” 3 Batch 1 OPVs = so having no hangar was OK. Logical, locally.

Two years later, there appears a need for another ~1.5 years of delay on T26, causing hull-4 and 5 to be ordered. Logical, locally.

Then there was a decision to retain 3 River B1 OPVs, not to be replaced by River B2s. Logical, locally.

But, looking back, all decisions were based on happy optimism = lack of responsibility. Three hulls of Khareef-based 2700t large OPVs (can be very lightly armed), in addition to 3 (or 4) River B1/1.5 retained, should have been much better decision.

But, the past is past. We must learn from it for the future. MOD must stop fulish optimism, such as “money will come later”, “man-power will increase later”, and “there will be no immediate war so we can slash the missiles storage” etc etc…

donald_of_tokyo

A few comments.

1: the River B2’s cost is not only for the 5 hulls, it was for retaining the workforce for T26.

2: OPV without a hangar is very common. Itself has no problem.

See Japan Coast Guard, Irish OPV, Danish Greenland patrol OPV, Portugal OPV ….

OPV within land-based air-cover do not need helicopter hangar. Land-based air-cover is much more efficient than ship-carried helos. So, HMS Forth in Falkland island is no problem. UK primary problem in Caribbean patrol is its lack of land-based air-cover. Thus, a ship with helicopter hanger is better, but not critical, because there are many land-based air-cover from allies.

GoppingFlipflop

The installation of a telescopic hangar would solve this issue

Never understood the logic of building LPDS, LSA and OPVs without hangars

Steel and air is cheap …it’s the systems which cost !

Sipowitz

But thats just the point. A hangar means you are intending to embark aircraft for long periods, this adds a myriad of other requirements, maintenance areas and equipment, air weapons stowage, briefing and planning space and accomodation for the increased crew numbers. Embarking aircraft to a vessel requires much more than simply welding on a large steel box to the back end.

Geo

Or it gives you a large enclosed space (well above the waterline so it doesn’t mess with your damage control zones) in which: your embarked military force (SF or otherwise) can do mission prep/reorg; or your embarked law enforcement types can examine evidence; or your shhh it’s a secret types can set their trailers up and run some wires for whatever ELINT/SIGINT activities they are not doing and certainly don’t want to be seen doing; or in which survivors from a wreak can be housed (Good OPV task that, takes them back to their coast guard roots, another good task is taking out evacuees from fires such as in Australia right now or westerns being pulled out of some 3rd world banana republic as the local president for life’s term ends abruptly); or for bulky cargo when the ships are being used as dispatch vessels (see Castle class in the Falklands 1982, there is a nice photo of a Chinook parked on one as well while you are researching); it’s also a nice securable area if you need to detain the crew of a pirate ship or the like; and can also form a classroom if you have trainees on board. Hangers really are the forerunners of the multi mission bay. Not including them is a bit silly.

John Goreing

Do these overseas territories pay UK tax and therefore contribute to the MOD budget?

ATH

No, most actively help the works rich avoid paying tax.

Barry Larking

These Overseas Territories (formerly Dependent Territories) are the result of 18th century wars and eager captains jumping ashore here there and everywhere declaring they had taken possession of some scrap of sand and volcanic rock for ‘King George’. In all cases they are too small and too remote to be self-sufficient. Britain has a two fold responsibility to maintain them. First, we grabbed them not the other way about, sometimes to prevent our European partners grabbing them. Secondly, giving them up could have produced more Grenada’s, places in melt down and a potential base for narcotics barons and or Soviet era ‘staging posts’. All a bit James Bond, but then James was the author of the ‘Birds of the West Indies’.

Incidentally, since we Brits have signed up to all sorts of environmental legislation at the United Nations, we made ourselves thereby responsible for protecting some of the world’s rarest and most vulnerable plants and creatures, not least a lot of coral also …

Paul.P

That’s the first time I’ve heard Offshore Registered Tax Haven Bank Accounts described as a vulnerable endangered species; nice spin.

Barry Larking

I designed and Illustrated the seminal work on these territories biodiversity. You might like to read it, though it is very detailed and a bit scientific. You would be better informed though none the wiser. No spin.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Biodiversity-Overseas-Territories-S-Oldfield/dp/1861075022

Challenger

In the absence of a telescopic hangar (and sufficient helicopters) it would be nice if the Royal Navy caught up with the 21st Century and actually got a proper fleet of small UAV’s into service. Deployed on the batch 2’s with containerized support it would go a long way in providing a surveillance capability.

It’ll be really interesting to see how this deployment goes. Ideally a River would be deployed all year round for presence and diplomatic/military engagement but with a Bay Class available for the Hurricane season given their unique mix of space, a flight-deck and landing craft.

Does anyone know if HMS Severn which is currently working up to rejoin the fleet will be operating as a navigation training ship permanently? The point of retaining the 3x batch 1 vessels was to beef up OPV numbers around the UK post Brexit but it seems increasingly likely that a lot of the batch 2’s will be forward deployed (with 1-2 at Singapore and possibly another in The Med both recently mentioned) leaving little-no increase in numbers at home.

ATH

Until a post Brexit fishing/Trade deal is done we have on idea what will change. There is a very big chance that BJ will prioritise financial and manufacturing access over fishing rights. He may well add fisherman to the DUP and all the others he’s lied to over the years.

Julian Edmonds

Actually we do know what will change. The end of Free Movement will mean that the French, Dutch etc. will no longer have the right to enter the UK without first obtaining leave to do so and this will greatly increase the number of potential law-breakers. Instead of just flimsy inflatables carrying people who are obviously not European, the Border Force will have to contend with people in expensive, fast, well-equipped yachts. There’s no way they can cope with their present equipment and it is going to need RN OPVs with multiple Camcopters to stop them.

Jon

Couldn’t agree more about the UAVs. The Wildcat’s through-life cost of over £80m each is probably why there’s no hangar. No hangar, less pressure to stump up for the helicopter to put in it.
But a couple of UAVs like the S-100 Camcopter should be a no brainer. They hugely extend the OTH EO/IR view, can carry multiple types of radar, great for search and rescue, ISR, they even have hardpoints for Martlet missiles, which would match the ones on the 30mm if ever the River gets upgunned.

Gavin Gordon

I do like the Batch II generally, but will certainly be intrigued with regard to their overall effectiveness against drug runners without helicopter backup in the near vicinity. Yes, no doubt simpler observational UAVs could be embarked, but you’d still import some of the issues inherent with a ‘copter if you became more ambitious – parrticularly if you armed them.
Trying to envisage just how you get the thing to issue a warning and then aim to take out the engines and not blow the go-fast to smitherines. As initially appealing as that sounds, I’d imagine the US lawyers tasked with sorting out with the legal complexities may have a bad day.
Still, we will see.

Jon

I was thinking of higher threat situations for the Martlets.

While the Camcopter has a loudspeaker, I don’t think blowing up ships, even with a warning, is supposed to be part of constabulary duties! The Caribbean is full of island nations who have small ships of their own, several of who have already undertaken joint exercises (no pun intended) with RN OPVs. You’d use the UAV to work out who and where the drug runners are, where they are headed, and if you can’t intercept, relay the information (perhaps along with pretty pictures) to relevant authorities. If you can keep monitoring and feeding location information forward, it would make an arrest very much easier.
Not only does the USCG also generally patrol the area, there’s a good chance they’d be running any international anti-smuggling operation in a large part of the region. They have ships too.

Sipowitz

I agree in principle, but like the answer I gave above RE. Hangars, embarking an UAV isn’t as simple as people tend to think. The physical footprint of the vehicle is reasonably small but when you consider the air-search radar, control facilities, extra personnel+accomodation it isn’t such a simple proposition.

D J

I don’t see the point of 1-2 B2 Rivers being based out of Singapore. They bring nothing to the equation. They are way under armed & don’t compare at all well to what others in the area already have. Australia is building 12 OPV of 80m 1640t fitted with 40mm main gun & similar radar. Brunei field a similar design with 57mm & Exocet. Thai B2 River based OPV have 76mm & 2 x 30mm. Singapore’s own 80m OPV’s have both 76mm & 25mm guns, NS100 radar & MICA point defence missiles. The building Malaysian OPV (a Damen 1800 based design) is similar to a B2. Unless they intend to just help chase pirates (most of which happens in Indonesian waters), it would be a complete waste of time.

donald_of_tokyo

How about simply filling the gap = stop the “clear lack of presence” of UK in the region?

French Floreal-class surveillance frigates have nothing special compared to the regional frigates /corvettes/ OPVs. But, they do a good job. Because of them, French “presence” in the far east was much better than that of UK, in these years when RN stopped sending an escort after SDSR 2010.

Last year, RN visited far east with HMS Argile, Montrose, and Albion after a loooong gap. That was good.

Combining the occasional visit of these high-end assets with “Floreal-like” presence will make UK presence there more clearer. A River B2 OPV ALWAYS deployed as a “presence ship”, supported by occasional escort or even CVTF visit will work nice, I think.

Lack of presence has very negative impact locally. And anyway, a single 36-man crewed ship is very “easy to maintain” deployed. Cheap and effective, I think.

Note I am just saying it is NOT a “complete waste of time”. But, I agree it is not clear if it is the priority for UK now. But, if HMG think far east is important, then permanent OPV is not a bad solution.

D J

Donald

I would note that a Floreal class has a 100mm main gun, 2 x 20mm guns, can carry up to 2 Exocet (launchers removed in 2014 as considered not required – still on the Moroccan version), has a hanger & helicopter. Can also carry Simbad launchers & Mistral missiles. It’s also larger & heavier (standard 2,600t up to 3,000t full load).

Presence is fine, but at least make it useful. A B2 River can be made useful (see Thailand), but the current UK version doesn’t have enough ‘presence’ to bother sending halfway around the world to an area swarming with similar but better armed ships. This does not mean stuffing it with everything possible, just be competitive (at least a AAW capable main gun) & hopefully add something most of the others don’t have (such as containerised anti-mine systems, NSM, AAW missiles – whatever).

donald_of_tokyo

Thanks.

My point is, you said “bring nothing to the equation” because River B2 is inferior in armament to regional frigates/corvettes/OPVs. In this case, T31 also brings nothing, because it is inferior to regional frigate and even corvettes in its armaments. The same applies to French Floreal-class.

On the other hand, your second point, “adding 57 mm gun (or 76 mm) on River B2” can be a good option to consider. But, it will
– increase the crew size, (bad for RN manning shortage)
– decrease the sea-going days (increased maintenance load)
Both are the River OPVs top merits within the RN fleet.

So, we need to find a merit on mounting such guns on River B2s. It all comes to what they are to be tasked.

If it is joining anti-pirates, and illegal immigrants control, no 57/76 mm gun is needed. Lack of helicopter hangar is a smallish issue, but anyway there are many friendly air-cover (or UK can). Please note the general LACK of helicopter hanger on OPVs in the region. Hangar is almost useless there.

Then, what will be the need for 57/76 mm gun? Bougenville/Solomon island is one of the hot spots there, but I do not think a 57/76 mm gun is needed. Hot war is of course an issue, but I think it needs a T31 at least, and “River B2 with a 57mm gun” cannot survive….

A River B2 with a 57mm gun, I can see rationale for Persian Gulf (counter fast boat attack). But, not much around Singapore.

Still thinking, though.

May be, rush into the 1st encounter of local hot war, which will be faught against OPV vs OPV exchanging a 76mm shell each other. With a gun and small amount of SSMs, this may work. But in this case, adding a comprehensive “soft kill kit” will be the top priority.

But, as T31 is very very lightly armed because of its very small budget, I will rather add these armaments to T31 or even T45 (e.g. SSM), not River B2. (this is my another point).

#A normal River B2, operating SBS troops using ORC boats may be an idea.

D J

Donald

There are other options to 57/76 mm, but need to be AAW capable. Both the 35mm & Bofors L70 based 40mm AAW capable, though given the option, I would go larger. Soft kill does not work against artillery shells. No-one would not expect OPV’s to take on corvettes or frigates. However it’s hard to coerce someone else’s OPV if they overmatch you to the point you are not much more than a target. There is also the ability to hopefully survive if you end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. A 2,000t naval ship is too big a target to be ignored.

If things do go badly in the area, there are several uses for OPV’s in a hot war, especially with all the SE Asia archipelagos. One is as escort for minor shipping – this requires some form of AAW ability at a minimum. Another is anti-mine warfare in the littorals (requires containerised systems). Another is littoral work as you suggested using Marines or special forces. The 30mm is not very good for this type of work. The 35mm is better but would need standard air burst rather than forward focused. Bofors L70 based 40mm (BAE or Leonardo) does do air burst with p3. All larger have both air burst & indirect fire capabilities. Without this, your ability to affect ground troops is marginal unless you can actually see the targets. Anti-armour weapons & mortars come into play if you get too close to shore.

donald_of_tokyo

Thanks again.

1: I think, one of the difference we have is, I think a River B2 (may be HMS Trent?) for Singapore in singleton is only for several years. A Type-31 will either join or just replace a River B2. After the 5 T31 comes in, I think the 3 River B1 will decommission and 3 of the River B2 shall replace them.

In this case, “up-gunning” shall be temporal, so a CIWS is a good candidate for me. Another possibility is to up-gun hull-4 and 5, formally forming the 2 “Batch 2.5” ships.

2: Another point is the forward-based River B2’s crew rotate in 4-month basis. This means, either
– there shall be very similar hull around Britain’s water, so that the “swap crew” can be trained prior to deployment,
– or, the exchanged crew shall start from basic training = River B2 will not be “ready” for a while.

If the former is the case, then again a CIWS-added River B2 can do it. Keep the basic hull of River B2 hull 4 and 5 the same to HMS Forth (hull-1 in Falkland), HMS Medway (hull-2 in WI), and HMS Trent (?) (hull-3 in Singapore), so that the “rotating” crew can train themselves in virtually the same hull.

A CIWS team can be added. Anyway, “CIWS team” is also rotating in the Bay/Wave/Tide deploying to the Persian Gulf.

Dern

Donald-san I think the big issue that always has to be addressed is: why are we spending money upgrading a River B2 instead of a Type 31. In the abscence of really really solid reasons to invest in the Type 31 I can’t see any argument for upgunning Rivers.

Challenger

I actually agree that the B2 River’s (in their current configuration) wouldn’t offer much based in Singapore. Low level presence and defence engagement in the West Indies with it’s numerous British Territories and myriad of small ports as well as around The Falklands makes sense, but a meaningful contribution to The Five Powers in The Malacca Straits and South China Sea requires some degree of power projection.

Hopefully any deployment will be a stop-gap until the T31’s start to enter service as it seems clear they’ll be forward based in places like The Gulf and Singapore – and with plenty of Sea Ceptor, some canister launched AShM and a bow sonar (with dipping sonars for some Wildcat’s being a very attractive bonus) they’d fill those roles well.

4thwatch

I happen to think adding a bolt on 57mm would be a huge improvement since it gives a really effective armament for a ship that size. For historic reasons and personal preference, I’d like to see them painted tropical white with green waterlines etc. After all USCG vessels painted white.

D J

Up gunning the B2 rivers would be sensible. Painting them white would not be. They are naval ships. Many countries paint their coast guard / marine border force a different colour in order to indicate they are law enforcement / customs etc & not navy. Being seen is also part of their job. White is quite a common choice (USA, China, Philippines etc), but is not the only colour used & most also sport a contrasting colour as well (US & China – white with red stripe on bow, Russia – blue hull & white upper, Australia – blue with red stripe).

Dern

What does a 57mm give you that a 30mm doesn’t? Upgunning Rivers is not sensible, since they decrease the main advantages of Rivers (days at sea and small crew) and would take money away from other projects that are in dire need of actual cash (Type 31 for example).

D J

Personally, I would only up gun the B2 Rivers (possibly swapping B2 armament to B1). Considering the rumoured armaments for the T31 & costs, I would suggest the Bofors L70 based 40mm is a reasonable compromise. The problem with the 30mm is range & lack of AAW capability. The B2 Rivers are 2,000t , 90m ships capable of 25kns & fitted with a front line CMS. Ships of this size can find themselves sent to places & put into positions they probably shouldn’t be purely because they are otherwise big enough to do the job. It will be 6-7 years before we are likely to see a T31 commissioned.

Dern

Again though what are you cutting from a Type 31 then to gain the cash for a 40mm for the River B2s? Let alone the radars, crew training, maintenance etc that you would need to actually get a benefit from your 40mm’s AAW use.
Here’s the thing you say they can be sent to places they shouldn’t be but with just a 40mm they shouldn’t be anywhere they shouldn’t be with just a 30mm either, and the other thing is: Rivers have been in service with the RN for nearly 20 years, and their predecessors also nearly 20 years, so in 40 years can you name 1 instance of a RN Opv being sent on an operation they didn’t belong in?

D J

Dern

I take it you are not a student of military history.

AAW capable guns also have other uses, especially if operating in the littoral space. The Scanter 4100 radar is I understand, capable of tracking air targets (is an EOS system also in use?). Otherwise why bother fitting CMS-1, additional bulkheads & magazine upgrades just to chase pirates ? History shows that in times of war, ships that are marginally capable will be used regardless of how marginal (see use of RN & RAN corvettes during WW2). At other times, it will be what ever is closest to an emergency situation. If you forward station ships around the world, you increase the chance of it being you. B2 Rivers are not 20 years old & are substantially different from B1’s (first B2 commissioned in 2018). They are 10m longer, 300t heavier & 5 kn faster.

As to costs, Just because money is or is not spent on B2 Rivers, does not mean more or less money will be spent on T31. They are seperate projects. UK spent around 38 billion pounds on defence in 2019. We are not talking 127mm guns here. As to training, If you fitted weapons planned for T31, then you can get training underway sooner. None of the major guns listed as under consideration for the T31 are currently in RN service.

Dern

DJ
Take your condescending attitude and stuff it up your backside.

Good now that we’ve gotten that out the way:
I asked for you to give me an example of when a RN OPV has been sent into a crisis zone it wasn’t equipped for, despite your snark you seem to have only been able to deflect and not provide and example. So you seem not to really have a point.

Money spent on the Batch 2 will have to come from SOMEWHERE. Even your limited intellect should be able to work *that* out. The RN’s naval budget is a fixed number, so if you want to spend the money on a Batch 2 to upgrade it with a bigger gun (that again gives no actual benefit, if you want it to survive in areas that require a frigate a 40mm over a 30mm will do little difference), it has to come from another program. So you want 40mm’s on the River B2’s? Guess what the most likely cost cut for them is taking the 40mm’s off Type 31. Or pehraps you’d prefer to cut the number of F35’s operating off QE to pay for it? Or maybe there is something else you’d suggest?

As to training you’d still need to give crews training they currently do not recieve for a more complex system that needs more maintenance and training to operate. You’d still be spending more on a platforms whose overall purpose is to be cheap to operate.

D J

Dern

As I said, I take it you are not a student of military history.

RN has generally not been much of an operator of OPV’s in the modern sense. There are no examples such as you asked for, however if memory serves, UK gunboats have been sent into questionable circumstances well before anyone thought of the term OPV. B1 Rivers are OPV’s & it would cost a fortune to turn them into much more. B2 Rivers are more like Corvettes without the weaponary. Who adds kevlar armour to magazines on OPV’s? Who adds front line CMS’s to OPV’s (other than Australia)? Who needs 25 kn OPV’s to chase pirates & fishing boats? I would add, I have been paying insurance on my current house for 20 years & it still hasn’t burnt down. I wonder if that means I don’t need it. The Atlantic Conveyor did not expect to find itself dragged off to the Falklands War (was a civilian not a RFA ship). It got sunk anyway.

To be perfectly honest, I would rather 76mm on B2’s, but unless it’s picked for T31, it won’t happen. There has been talk & some indication of up arming the B2’s. You don’t bring a new calibre into service for a class of 5 minor warships if you can help it. A number of similar navy’s are fielding or already use the 40mm. Australia is bringing the 40mm to their under construction OPV’s. However they are building 12 not 5. 30mm are also slated for T26, so it’s not as if they are wasted. World wide, most OPV’s in the 1,500-2,200t range are armed with 27mm / 30mm / 40mm / 57mm or 76mm.

You may have missed the global interest in littoral warfare. Some nations are building mutiple classes just for this purpose. If you wish to play in this space, with ships in the 1,500-3000t range, then you need AAW & some means of supporting troops ashore. Anti-mine or anti-submarine would be a bonus. B2 Rivers have room for 50 embarked troops. Now a 30mm on a 40m PB operating close to shore is one thing. A 90m 2,000t ship close to shore is asking for a Carl Gustav or the like in the side (has happened) or a few mortar rounds. A 40mm has greater range & availablility of P3 ammo with programable air burst, giving you a poorman’s equivalent of indirect fire. A 57mm is capable of secondary indirect fire & also has airburst. A 76mm gives you everything, but maintenance is higher. If you are not going to do any of these things – why build 5 very expensive B2’s rather then more B1’s or B1.5’s? (BAE don’t care, they will build what you ask them to build).

Military spending on projects, while related, are often independant. If RN & UK MoD have decided to up gun B2’s (& there have been indications), it will have its own budget. This does not mean they will take from T31 or if they decide to cancel up gunning, that there would be more for T31. As you say, RN budget is pretty well fixed (unless Boris is feeling generous). What they spend it on thou, isn’t.

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