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John McGee

also….what has happened to HMS Severn….re activation refit seems to be taking a very long time

Gary Davies

HMS Severn was returned to Portsmouth undertow in June 2019. As far as I know she has remained inactive since then.


She’d only require a pretty short and simple maintenance period to bring her back into service so the delay must be down to manpower, money or both.

We all know the Royal Navy is perennially short on people and bringing Prince of Wales into service must currently be squeezing the margins either further. I also believe the plan is to part man the batch 1 River’s with reservists which will take time to put in place.

I reckon we may see Severn back in service once Clyde either returns to the UK or heads to Brazil and releases that manpower back into the pool.


Severn is due to return imminently. She’s crowing up atm and she’ll be back at sea in 2020


I wonder if the MoD might potentially repeat what they did with the MPAs and carriers: gap capabilities to save money in the short term, to preserve other capabilities and secure their future replacements.

Not an option regarding Fort Victoria, given the need for her in the CSG, but a couple of the GP T23s could in theory be gapped instead of LIFEXing them. Far from perfect, but given that they’re spending so long in refit, biting the bullet and scrapping them early would save tens of millions that could go into other projects, or T31


But that’s the point they have already been gapped. For example HMS Iron Duke was laid up at Portsmouth for 18 months before being towed to Devonport. It is a similar story for other vessels.


That’s not gapping, because we still have Iron Duke. Except that now, it makes even less to refit her because it’s only going to give her another couple of years of service.

A T23 costs roughly £11mn a year to operate. If we retired two of the GP frigates that haven’t had LIFEX yet (I think that’s Iron Duke, which only went in this year, and Monmouth, which doesn’t even have Sea Ceptor yet), we’d be saving tens of millions that could be used to cover other critical work like the T45 upgrades. HMS Dauntless is probably slated to be one of the ships in the QE CSG21 deployment, I’d say it’s much more important getting destroyers working than upgrading outdated frigates.

Believe me, I don’t WANT to gap ships and temporarily reduce escort numbers, but I’m terms of economics it’s logical. Babcock already signed the contract for 5 frigates, as long as the Tories get in we shouldn’t have anything to worry about.


Sorry Callum, is all of this happening under the Tories or have i been asleep somewhere. If you discount 2 Type 45’s and 7 Type 23’s, the once mighty Royal Navy has available 10 escorts, the lowest number in HISTORY, and the only people who are to blame for this, is the Tories.


I was actually operating on an assumption of continuity: the Tories will most likely continue on as planned, while a change in government to Labour would likely see a lot of defence decisions changed.

Hilarious that you think the Tories are solely to blame for this. Under their government, we lost several old frigates and destroyers that were already effectively obsolete and planned to go out service soon anyway. In exchange, they actually got the Type 26 programme underway, we have the T31 programme as well, plus a useful increase in the OPV fleet. All of this done in the shadow of a global recession when money was tight.

Compare that to Labour, who spent over a decade doing what? Blowing holes in the desert while they ran down the rest of the fleet, sold off 3 young T23s, and botched almost every defence project they undertook. All of this done at a time when they were happily splashing cash elsewhere and running up a massive budget deficit.


i was just stating a fact. What did the Tories do in 2010 sdsr, Cancelled Nimrod MRA4 got rid of the navy’s small Carriers and of course the Harriers. There is a manpower crisis in the RN, yet the TORIES made 5000 sailors redundant. The British Army, is now the smallest size it has ever been. The size of the RAF is a complete disaster, two nimitz class carriers can carry the entire strenght of the RAF. All of this since 2010. Just stating facts.


You’re stating statistics with no context. The Nimrod MRA4 was ridiculously delayed and overbudget for an aircraft type that was several decades old.

Ark Royal and Illustrious were both only retired a few years earlier than intended, in order to save money that was used to secure their successors, and the Harriers were likewise nearing end of life. Scrapping old equipment a few years early during a financial crisis is entirely reasonable.

The manpower cuts were inexcusable, I agree, and by far the worst part of the 2010 cuts. As for the size of the RAF, I once again agree that it’s too small. That would need a serious budget increase to address though, which no party is offering.

Whale Island Spy

5000* desk jobs which have been partially filled by FTRS positions. Don’t believe the ‘truth’


Also, it was the Tories under Thatcher who were planning substantial defense cuts prior to the Falklands War. They simply b.s. There will be more of the same under Johnson plus the EU Defense Force.

Mr Anderson

I think the fact Labour bankrupt the country has a lot to do with things. What Labour followers don’t understand is that when there is no money, you have to make cuts. Whole countries can’t claim benefits payments you see.


under Labour it will be far worse!


No, it was Labour who procured 2 giant aircraft carriers. These were ships we could not afford. If … IF … we are to have these carriers then we should cut our cloth elsewhere, cut the army and to an extent cut tbe airforce and concentrate on a maritime strategy and not a mainland europe one.

It’s really no good everyone moaning. If the navy, army and airforce want all they want we would have to double the defence budget. And that’s not going to happen.

John Clark

I sort of agree with you Trevor, with regards properly funding the RN.

As we move towards worldwide trade, things have turned 180 degrees, where the army was the most important force for pointless sandbox wars, the RN will now become front and center.

Fully funded and capable Carrier Strike and a balanced naval capability backing it up, will become the vital cornerstone insurance policy, to secure our maritime trade.

As a natural extension of this ….

I would also say the Royal Marines should be fully funded and possibly expanded too to allow it to deploy at brigade level.

In the absence of extra sustainable funding, something has to go…

Challenger 2 is looking increasingly obsolete and at risk for one….

What else should we sacrifice, it’s a very difficult question.


The secrecy surrounding procurement and maintenance is a disgrace. There is no need whatsoever to keep it secret. It should all be published/reported to parliament regularly. So MOD and the contractors can be held to account.


Couldn’t agree more. Of course, keep the technical side of things secret as necessary. But transparency is the enemy of incompetence, and it should be applied far more heavily to the MOD than it currently is.

Phillip Johnson

Three comments:
1 PIP does not ‘fix’ the T45 propulsion problems. The problem with the gas turbines remains. The fix (replacing 2 diesels with 3) simply gives the T45 enough power to cruise on diesels alone. The risk of the GT’s failing in high temperatures is still there, which remains an operational risk to the ship at higher speeds in warm seas.
2. BAe has a contract with the MOD to do the PIP work. If the MOD cannot meet its commitments to input vessels to an agreed schedule that will generate an ‘Excusable Delay’ ($) claim. Which is more money for nothing.
3. Anybody planning a life extension on 20+ year old vessels has to expect significant structural work. Politicians and brass hats who calmly talk about life extensions on old vessels way over their design life of type should know better. The T23 life extensions will stretch into the distance.


Just reading the previous stories about the WR21 and its failures , nowhere is it mentioned that WR21 was originally a US Navy project and that UK and France had a later involvement. The Prime contractor was the US firm Westinghouse who later became part of Northrop Grumman.
Not even sure where the idea came from that it was the choice of a labour defence minister to include Rolls Royce to make work in UK?
The MT30 using much the same Trent engine is used in The QE class aircraft carriers, Zumwalt class, freedom class LCS and will be in many others.

“The development team includes Northrop Grumman as the prime contractor and system integrator, Rolls-Royce (RR) as the gas turbine developer, Allied Signal as developer of the recuperator cores, recuperator housing, and intercooler cores, and CAE Electronics Ltd. as the digital controller developer.”
The problem area is the US developed ‘recuperator’ , not the RR Trent derivative gas turbine. The RR Trent gas turbine ( MT30) without the US designed intercooler and recuperator is used on the very large Zumwalt class destroyers ( in preference to the GE LM 2500 GT sets) driving electric generators.
Recuperators are a bigger scale version found on home gas heaters and boilers, the incoming cool air passes in close proximity to the outgoing exhaust , heating it up, so the air is at a higher temperature when it gets to the burners, needing less energy to reach operating temperature.
And yes it was tested as a complete unit , at the US Navys propulsion laboratory in Philadelphia.

This story here says a ‘modified recuperator’ has been fitted and the background to its issues.

My take of the background issues , is the UK special issues arise from having a combination of gas turbine ( WR21) AND diesel generators ( Wartsila) that werent tested properly together .
Having multiple units with different inherent characteristics to produce a stable AC power supply at the required frequency , which is expected to act seamlessly together, is never easy, and the recuperator system problems including the outside water temperature issues have just muddied the waters.
When you are going from 2 diesels to 3 clearly major inside engine room reconfiguration is required and thats why the outside hull is cut instead of using the normal internal pathway for diesel/ GT replacement


The T45 propulsion issues are only partly to do with the WR21. The actual problems span a number of areas and components, some of which can be traced back to the original Electric Ship architecture developed and pushed (by MoD) in the mid-90s.

The WR21 itself was predicated on a somewhat spurious idea that diesel generators were a bad thing because they required lots of maintenance and lots of stokers to do that maintenance. Stokers are expensive and driving down manpower was/is seen as a “good thing”. By contrast, those lovely GTs Tyne, Oly and Spey didn’t because they were supported on a UxE basis. This meant that people got the idea that if only they could get a flat specific fuel consumption curve over the power range, they could integrate propulsive and ship service electrical demand and do it with (fewer) GT alternators and no DGs. Of course, it may be entirely possible that it was the specific DGs (or even RN support policies) that required such “high” maintenance, but don’t let facts get in the way of a good plan. There is a reason only a dozen WR21 units were ever produced and that commercial ships happily use DGs from the nice people at Caterpillar, MAN, Wartsila, MTU, Bergen etc…….

It’s also fair to say that the gubbins added to produce that flat SFC curve doesn’t help – intercoolers and recuperators add complexity to the engine and if there’s only one customer, then you can guarantee that the OEM is going to go out of business or pare support to the bone.

The DGs were added primarily to provide harbour genny capability, which is why they are relatively small.

However, it’s not so much that the turbine “doesn’t work in hot weather”, it’s that the overall system was not specified correctly (one reason why despite all the publicity, RR aren’t paying for the PIP). Hot intake air and hot intake water tend to reduce the power that the turbine and alternator can actually produce (exacerbated by the cludge added to the engine), which is unfortunate if the power demand in the distribution system exceeds that, leading to load-shedding and other issues. There’s more to the whole PIP than that, but essentially it’s an architecture issue, rather than specifically the turbine.

The other “delays” are likely to be down to shortage of technical manpower in the relevant COM organisations, dockyards and in the case of the RFA – possibly shortage of trades to man them. On the T23, the ships are old (generally 50-60% over their design life now) and the plate inserts will be down to the usual corrosion and pitting. Common and known feature with the class.


A good summary of underlying issues with the RN’s current situation, no wonder we’re struggling to meet all of our commitments…
In some ways, I see these numbers as a good thing; we are celarly short on skilled manpower to carry out refits etc. There is therefore a strong need and opportunity for greater employment in the shipbuilding industry here in the UK. This will, of course require additional investment (difficult to see from this whether it’s a matter of public or private investment, or both that is the issue), but will improve employment in vulnerable industrial areas with well-paid high skilled jobs (what the UK needs lots of).
Perhaps something we can use regional development funds for, to ease the strain on the defence budget while bringing long term skilled jobs in the south west and other areas that need it.
Obviously, I guess the old phrase “steady drumbeat” of further orders will need to be maintained to give these hypothetical new jobs some longevity, but that’s the whole point of having a national shipbiulding strategy!


Rosyth Dockyard has a large gap in it’s workload from the Prince of Wales leaving to the start of type 31 manufacture. It has had to make many of it’s workforce redundant, and ironically many have been transferred to work at Faslane, Devonport ,Barrow and Portsmouth. given that it has huge experience in re-fitting type 23 frigates would it not have made sense to bring one to Rosyth in order to ease the que at Devonport ?

John Magee

Since Dr Fox’s 2010 Defence review the former Government have ruined The Royal Navy, Then came Hammond cuts every wear Fallen a Joke, Williamson put in by May she had a shock when ordered to reduce Destroyers & Frigates to 13 he refused and had many battles with May & Hammond over cuts, they removed him, along came a former RNR who kept under cover, now we have a former Army Man, who has little or no interest in the Royal Navy Williamson had family in The RN & RAF so he understood what was required I attended a Dinner he was Guest Speaker in Huntingdon

.Tim D

The symptoms of this decline can probably be traced back to the 1990s and various governments were at fault. The issue now is how to rectify it. The blame game does nothing to remedy the situation.


It is often said that the RN fleet of 19 escorts is insufficient. However, as the above article points out, we actually only have 10. This is a ridiculous state of affairs. The T45 engine problems is actually a huge scandal; nobody as yet has been blamed or faced financial penalty (apart from the taxpayer). The T 23 LIFEX is a scandal too. Failure to replace these venerable old frigates sooner is going to cost us more in the long run. Simply put, we can’t go on like this.

Now we are committed to the T26 & T31 builds we must ensure that we maintain a drum beat of builds rather than spurts followed by keeping ships in service beyond their economic retirement date. If we don’t it will cost the UK MORE in the long run.


Part of the reason 19 escorts is insufficient is because most navies find it very hard to keep more than 1/3rd of their ships at sea at the same time. While the maintenance is taking much longer than expected, the RN is still doing a good job of keeping it’s ships at sea.

Steve Taylor

T45 is a specialist aero-space platform. Not really a true ‘escort’. For it to be an escort I expect it should be able to carry the fight to the enemy in all spheres. Even the single purpose AAW and FD frigates of the 1950s could have a good at submarine. And T42 regularly did well in ASW exercises. Too valuable to be trooping about on its own in a real conflict.


The Type 45s actually harm ASW operations, Admiral Perry said so in an interview. He stated that they can be heard from 100 miles away ( he might have been exaggerating a bit) So not only can they not fight Surface threats as their Harpoons are 1980s antiques from the Batch 3 Type 22s, they ring the CV dinnerbell for Subs to feast. Its pretty ludicrous to have a carrier escort that needs its own escort. The Type 45 is too overspecialised especially when compared to her PAAMS sister the Andrea Doria Class from the Italian Navy. Steve the Type 42 could also fire her Seadarts at enemy ships too and they had 324mm torp tubes filled with Stingrays ^^

Steve Taylor

Well you won’t get liked here or on other similar UK sites from coming out with that factoid. 🙂

T45 was going to have the same sonar set as the Horizon ships, but it was cut for budget reasons and replaced with a ‘mine and obstacle avoidance set’ designed for the Brazilians. Basically a parking sensor. T42 had the same sonar set as its frigate contemporaries, the 2050. ASW in T42 was what I termed a second rate capability with Sea Dart being its first rate capability (and so what in UK terminology made it a destroyer). In reverse then say T23 had SeaWolf for air defence as a second rate capability, and sonars (hull and towed) plus its machinery layout for a very capable ASW fit out (first rate capability) making it here in the UK a frigate. But all our escorts since the T12(M) have an all round ‘general purpose’ capability. The RN gave up on single purpose escorts back in the 50’s. But even single purpose ‘air defence’ frigates had a capable ASW fit out for the day. When the RN couldn’t fund 2087 for all T23’s (why at £40million sets and we have more than 8 sets I don’t know) they started referring to T23’s without TAS as ‘general purpose ships’, whether this was deliberate to obscure or just a term they picked I don’t know. For me the difference between a first and second rate capability is the first is an area (offence?) capability, and the second a defensive (local) capability. I have been in lots of ‘discussions’ on line with some who completely disregard T45’s ASW ‘problems’. They will go on about concentrating on T45’s primary purpose without any real thought. If you challenge these individuals and ask them if they would take say SeaCeptor and Smart-L off T26 to save costs they think you are daft, but this is the same level of handicap as T45 without ASW. Russian submarines are getting worse, and the closer the alliance between Russia and China gets the more of that Russian submarine tech will drip through to the Chinese. The submarine is only going to become more important in the 21st century. It did amuse when a few months back a T45 and T-boat conducted an ASW exercise and the former found the latter; either that sonar is a lot better than advertised, the ageing T-boat is really, really noisy (which it ain’t) or it was all a stunt. Even the Wildcat helicopter featured even though ours have no ASW sensors like the ones sold to South Korea.

The other problem is that lay persons tend to confuse T45 the ship with SeaViper the weapon system. I do it myself at times to ease conversation. But while the latter is utterly awesome the former is utterly abysmal. The propulsion system seemed to be have been foisted upon the RN for political reasons. We would have been much better off with a straightforward COGAG system probably in hull closer to 10k tonnes; steel and fresh air are cheap as the saying goes (vast over simplification). I remember Admiral Perry’s comments about T45 being noisy. One of the benefits of going IEP is supposedly a lower acoustic signature and indeed one of the drivers for T45’s was that it be quieter than T42 which shared a basic propulsion system with T22, but which was found to be noisier than Leander; probably lack of rafting, high speed turbines, and all the plumbing for a VP propeller did for T22. Nobody I talk to will comment on T45’s acoustic signature for obvious reasons. No not the Russians finding out, they probably already know the truth, no the media and then public finding out that T45 has other problems. Does it matter that T45 isn’t really an ASW asset? Not really if you are talking about it defending a carrier, ours or a USN, because the centre of CBG is going be noisy. Yes if we want to describe as an escort as SeaViper makes it a HVU so something to be escorted.

SeaViper is clever. T45 is poor. We would be much better off with more simpler ships and AEGIS as isn’t just us we have an escort gap but the USN too.

Steve Taylor

Meant to say…….

Russian submarines aren’t getting worse.

I notice 2 down votes without a rebuttal. Sad sacks.


The Russians probably found it amusing that the 45 couldnt hear their Whiskey Class sub with the Crew blasting the Russian National Anthem through underwater loudspeakers alongside them ? Completely agree with your description of 1st and 2nd rate systems. Even though the type 22s were ASW ships their Seawolf missiles were invaluable in 1982, especially with Seadarts problems and the use of 20 year old Antique Type 965 Radar which the Argentine Air Force trained against with their Type 42s lol This reminds me of USS Indianapolis C35 Portland class Heavy cruiser, she had practically no ASW assets and look what happened to her when she was denied ASW Destroyer escort

Steve Taylor

Sea Dart was a very capable system. Remember in GW1 where a missile from HMS Gloucester flew into a Silkworm; the story goes it flew through the Silkworm….end on….

T45 is a £1 billion pound ship and the silly thing is a percentage of the whole cost a decent sonar set would have been nothing and it would have brought so much to the mix.

I look at the RAN Hobarts and weep.

We are where are.


Sea Dart was improved over the years…its initial trouble were because it started with vacuum tube tech which needed warming up before launch ? more teething troubles than glaring deficiencies. Sea Dart had more issues with the Search and Track Radar (Type 965 AKE2) it was paired with which bit the RN in the ass in 1982 (Type 909 FCS radar was fine) Sea Dart finished life as a very good system and indeed did save US Sailors on the USS Missouri. That Silkworm had a 500kg plus warhead and could have killed many, there are reports of a massive fireball after the Darts hit ?

Steve Taylor

It is a shame the RN never had the budget to put a double ended Sea Dart ship into service. There were concept drawings for such ships. More cruiser than destroyer for the RN. Though in my imagination I see Kidd-like vessel.


I heard today that Daring is to be towed up to Birkenhead for its mid-life refit. No idea if that’s a rumour or official. Anyone else heard this?


People may find these links interesting to read with problems regarding the US navy maintenance problems: and: . There is a lot of BAE involvement in US yards too.


It seems the privatisation of dockyards and repair facilities has lead to greater costs and lower performance. It is what happens when you create monopolies.


Aren’t there any update on the current situation? This photographer who claims to be some some of expert says it is fake news. From looking at the MOD site it seems that 6 Type 23 frigates are in refit. What sources are you using?

Allan Desmond

decade after decade, its just become so very boring reading about the very poor quality of British ship building. And their inherent cultural ” Stupid Cheap ” mindset… ” we feel having anti-ship missiles on a warship is Just plain silly, an carrying three anti air missiles is more than enough… who cares if our ships break down, besides who’s ever heard of warships needing to fight in warm tepid waters

John A Magee

HM Naval Base Sheerness Closed 1959, HM Naval Base Chatham Closed 1984 Due to John Nott 1981 Defence Cuts, When HM Ship’s & Submarine’s each Home Based Ships, Chatham being Tidal was a Problem, But Chatham was the main SSN Refit Yard until Devonport was fully operational, whilst Devonport caused a Big Problem to an S Boat, Chatham was called in to refit The Damage caused by HM Naval Base Devonport, MOD had POST (N) which carried spares & equipment, Never was an HM Ship along side awaiting spares, Chatham’s refits like the other Naval Bases were delivered on Time & Cost over 7,000 workers were made Redundant some moved to Devonport & Rosyth, they were not welcomed, many Destroyer’s & Frigates are being constructed in Scotland Can MOD Navy Trust The SNP, at Present The UK Government are paying the wages of The SNP Glasgow Strong Hold, there are Shipyards who in the past have Built Naval Ships in England & Northern Ireland The Type 45 Destroyers, The Aircraft Carriers, The Type 26 Frigates & Type 31 Frigates all have been Built or Assembled in Scotland all have had faults or return Former Royal Dockyards in to full control of The Royal Navy, The Private Companies who were given Portsmouth, Plymouth & Rosyth Return to MOD & gain control of our Naval History