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Harry Nelson

I wonder if they had their tongue firmly in cheek with the “still expect the project to deliver on time”??

Iqbal Ahmed

More to the point, was the initial £250m price tag a dishonest way of getting the tendering process past the Treasury? With the MOD knowing full well that the price would skyrocket when reality hit home? Very sneaky.

I hope that the MOD scraps this project rather than spending hundreds of millions on R&D and setting up production lines only to scrap it all midway. The MOD has a bad habit of wasting taxpayers money. In the end, it just means more capabilities being cut at SDSR time.

I see no problem with a £250m frigate that protects our home waters and fishing waters post Brexit. This type of lightly armed ship will stymie greedy politicians from sending our forces on ‘foreign adventures’. We have bigger issues closer to home to solve.


Upholding the rules based international order, securing freedom of navigation in the world’s trade choke points, combating drugs trafficking and piracy, providing humanitarian assistance, training with our allies, contributing to coalition operations and promoting our values and interests on the world stage…..are those the ‘foreign adventures’ you mean?

You’re right….how absolutely horrid!!!

I’m all for expressing ones opinions, but when an individual seems to be tirelessly and tediously anti Royal Navy on a site dedicated to promoting the Royal Navy….and frankly more often than not just plain anti British it fills me with contempt.


I note your complete absence of a viable strategy


You’ll have to be a bit more specific with your dig!

Iqbal wasn’t critiquing strategy, just wheeling out his usual bit about how the Royal Navy is screwed and should give up any pretensions of being anything more than a coastal defence force.


Record downvote!OPV or £250 million frigate are easy prey and can do little to protect home waters from anyone other than an angry fisherman.Whats needed there is SSKs,minehunters,or (wisper it)the RAF.
The RN has even less idea how to extricate itself from the structural mess it’s in than I do.

Meirion X

I think the blame lies with the MoD then the RN, for the under estimate of cost of fully kitted out capable T31!


At what point would it make more sense to simply ditch the Type 31 and go back to the plan to build some GP versions of the Type 26, I wonder?


At no point, is the answer. The issues with ordering 13 T26s still remain: far too long a construction time (mid 2030s currently for hull 8, a theoretical hull 13 wouldn’t hit the water until well into the 2040s), and the design itself is still expensive, a GP version is never going to be cheap enough. That’s also going to clash with the T45 replacement schedule, which will almost certainly be Clyde built

Even a T31 programme delayed by a year or two and costing £1.5-2bn is still significantly more practical and economical. The RN needs new hulls quickly, shipyards need the work now, and an extra £500mn-1bn (instead of ~£4-5bn) is an optimistic but achieveable goal.


That timescale is largely self-imposed though, isn’t it? The MoD could speed up construction of the T26 hulls if it wanted to. And how realistic is £350m per ship for T31? What if it turns out that it would cost £500m or more to deliver a credible frigate to meet the RN’s requirements?


To speed up production of T26 would cost a lot of cash up front, which the MoD doesn’t have. The reason its so slow in the first place is so that the MoD can fit the payments into its yearly budget. Its like if you or I bought a swanky car or phone on finance: we’d never be able to afford the overall cheaper up-front cost, but we can by paying monthly plus interest. It would also screw up the production scheduling and budgeting that all of the suppliers have done based on current build rates.

£350mn for a light frigate is fairly doable overall. Adjusting for inflation, the first T23, HMS Norfolk, cost around £300mn today. Later ships ships were obviously cheaper. This is slightly misleading, due to the ever increasing relative cost of modern military equipment, but that primarily applies to cutting edge tech. £250mn plus equipment was THEORETICALLY possible, £350mn is definitely doable.

£500mn starts getting you into the territory of an export level FREMM, which seems unlikely for a light frigate unless something really goes tits up.


The construction has been stretched out for cost reasons the original budget for 13 ships was 9 billion over 10 years by 2026 .
The treasury refused to pay so now we have 8 ships costing £8 billion built over 18 years .
You build fewer over a longer period and the unit cost increases .
The navy hopes by naming them the programme will not be salami sliced like the type 45 , 12 to 10 to 8 to 6 to save money end result they actually cost more money than the treasury where trying to save .


Should never have closed Vospers Portmouth and given the monopoly to Bae, simply daft.

Gavin Gordon

General Purpose Type 26 licensed to other UK yards. Already on the way to being a known build factor and meets approval as an export, albeit in specialist a/s format. Economy of scale should, under any sane commercial system, lead to cost savings over and above that of being classified GP, as the US can demonstrate – even if later versions of Arleigh Burke are subject to price increases, then their are still the savings from an evolved design to mitigate. There is no realistic guarantee that T31 will not escalate out of all proportion, as I can see, until you’re left wondering exactly where the ‘savings’ were meant to come from. Furthermore, it is difficult to see how it will morph into an export vessel, since many other countries will be keen to try their hand at making a simple frigate or prefer to buy from establish players – so likely no economies of scale will evolve from that route either. Finally, with the increase in electronic & electromagnetic warfare, and it’s associated power requirements, larger hulls are surely a safer bet.


Economy of scale is fine but it doesn’t turn a £900m/£1b warship into a £350m or anything close. Other than the sonar the equipment on the T26/31 is similar. Most of the extra money goes on making the T26 ghostly quiet in the water.


The problem is a T26, built by BAE at Govan and Scotstoun, is always going to cost a billion. There’s not much cost you can take out – my understanding is the noise reduction is inherent in the design. Unless you want to completely reengineer it for diesel only propulsion in which case it will end up as a different ship. It already has the lowest spec radar you can realistically put on it.

I suppose they could “maybe” reuse the 4.5 but that saves what 15 miilion? Less the cost of the design change? What else – Take out the VLS and fill it with ballast? Thats maybe 50 milion. And you then have a big chunk of hull doing nothing. Remember the starting cost was 1.2 bn GBP. And the GP version is replacing a ship that had 8 harpoons one Lynx and 32 Sea Wolf. Do you really need 8000t to haul that around?

Rather than trying to cut cost with T26 I think they should go the other way and add capability – standardise it on Hunter spec and at least get someting for our money

In terms of T31 if we can get a modern mid size GP frigate for 350 million it is a bargain IMHO (Im guessing A140 plus a BAE CMS)


What spec in terms of sensors, defensive and offensive kit do you imagine you can get for that budget on an A140?

Meirion X

I can not see the point of fitting a main gun to the Type 26 frigates, why use a £1 billion ASW warship for coastal bombardment??
Of cause it would be fitted with guns on port and starport sides.
More Mk. 41 cells are better for this type of warship and AShW system.

Meirion X

Because a Type 26 frigate used for coastal bombardment would also be put in Range of shore based missile batterys.


There’s certainly logic in what you say, and it’s not without precedent: the first batches of T22 frigates had Exocets in place of a main gun. Then the Falklands demonstrated that ships needed to be able to fill as many different roles as possible and take care of themselves, especially in an ever shrinking fleet. NGFS is a relatively cheap and useful option, and guided shells mean MCGs are a viable anti ship weapon in tighter waters like the Gulf.


If the the max budget peaks at £350 million per ship, then the T31 concept is still a viable one.

If not would it not be better for 12 T25s and 5 OPVs along the the lines of the Holland class but with greater provision for Unmanned vehicles

Captain Nemo

Slow hand clap? I know I’m struggling to find the words.

Maybe at this point say £350m and attract more bidders, I’d like to see Damen here with the ‘Crossover’ or ‘Omega’.
Or just stick £1.25bn on the table and say “what can I get for that”? We might see some left of field suggestions which would set us apart from our competitors (both industrial and military).
That being said, maybe also work on the principle that you’re here to underpin the Royal Navy and that the turnover of ships is an unknow quantity, unless Chile has plans for World domination of which I’m unaware.
It’s moving toward farce now, the project looks unprofessional and is going to start feeling unlucky, not good a good feel for a ship.

Perhaps a sigh? A sigh and a slow hand clap…


Think it’s important to remember how important these ships are going to be for the RN. They are due in service before T26 and though T23 have done far more than was ever expected of them they are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain with no extra funding provided to keep them going (on about normal FTSPs not A&As and refits) Also current thinking is that at least 2 will be forward deployed in the Middle East and Far East with one possibly in the Caribbean (although that may fall to an OPV). If 5 are ordered (possibly more but looking increasingly unlikely) that leaves 3 in UK for Refits, getting ready to relieve ships on station and helping out with FRE. This will leave T26/45 available for CSG/TAPs/FRE. They do have to credible as they will be used to supplement the CSG as and when it enters their JOA, 350 mil might just about cover that but the core ships company will have to be small (fwd deployed ships will have 2 crews) certainly no more than 100. Without these ships the slim chance that the RN could generate a CSG become non existent.


Any chance of a translation to English, CSG, TAP, FRE? I worked for the Royal New Zealand Navy and I don’t know what you are talking about!

Paul Bestwick

CSG – Carrier Strike Group, FRE – Fleet Ready Escort (an escort ready for use in and around the UK). I have seen TAPs explained, but I cannot remember it.




TAPS – Towed Array Patrol Ship – Frigate allocated for anti-submarine duties, typically hunting Russian Submarines off the North of Scotland, North Atlantic or GIUK gap.


I cant help thinking this project is still very vulnerable to the next round of defence cuts and this report is preparing the ground. Even if it goes through there is a danger we wi have exactly the same problem as the Type 21’s. Perfect peace time warships but found to be sadly lacking when it comes to a war situation.


We need to up our ante on defence. A recent estimate puts Russian Defence budget at around 4% with its GDP at UK levels but buying all home grown projects. Even 4% seems low but they still have conscripts and much industry is Government owned.

Kevin Hastie

You`re right….everything will be vulnerable to the next defence review…..which is likely to be under Comrade Corbyn who will sell off everything, including out aircraft carriers to find money for his failing economy. Not that the Tories are much better; they have sunk more ships than any hostile regime!


That’s right Kevin, we have a Marxist-Leninist waiting in the wings to apply hard-socialism that will drive away the entrepreneurs and affluent and send the British economy to the bottom. If they sell-off the Royal Navy for a song I am going to be one pissed off hombre!

Kevin Hastie

Me too, but the Uni-young will rejoice!


Until unemployment and ridiculous living costs hit them like a brick in the teeth


MOD taking the risk of inflation and FX rate will “virtually increase” (or “stop degrading”) the actual cost for build. At the first glance, this benefits Arrowhead 140 and MEKO A200 bids. BUT, in place, RN/MOD must think/estimate the FX risk by themselves. With F35B and P8 already being a big FX risk for MOD, I guess MOD will want NOT to take risk in T31e. In this case, Leander will be benefited. Overall, this is good news.

Now with GFE cost “not included” in the £1.25B, RN/MOD must seriously consider the “balance” between selling T23GP to Chili or Brazil, or scrap them to provide equipments for T31 (and partly T26). Having stronger relation to the two countries clearly benefits UK, but recycling (relatively) new equipments from modified T23GP will surely benefit T31e.

By the way, does someone know how many “kits” are preserved from the decommissioned T42s ? They carried, Mk.8 mod guns, S2050 hull sonar, torpedo tubes, ESM/chaff kits (albeit rather old), and some data link assets.


The T23 probably won’t find buyers even is South America. When they finish RN service they will likely have had more than 30 years of hard use. The systems will be modern but the hulls will be totally worn out.


It has been pretty obvious for a while that for 250m you would end up with a ship no one would want to buy, especially with statements to the fact of wanting minimum transfer from T23. An export version was always going to cost more. Trouble is, to be a credible frigate against peer & near peer opposition you need to be at or near their higher end export spec. An A140 speced out to 32 mk41 vls, whatever radar you want, whatever gun you want, whatever CMS you want will definately get you a credible frigate. The export versions (or base + options versions) are what the companies thought they would actually have to supply to make a saleable export frigate. 12-24 CAAM is not enough if you want to do more than protect yourself. Thales cannot buy BAE radars & CMS for less than it can supply its own, if it has to supply new. With a low fixed budget, no-one can afford to take risks with unfamiliar gear or additional integration costs or design anything from scratch.

As to actually making export sales, the best option is probably the A140. Its size makes it harder for other nations to build in their own yards, but has the ability to go to a high end GP or AAW heavy frigate if you want, at a price (off a hot production line) that will be hard to beat. NZ will soon be looking for 2-3 replacements. They don’t have the capability of building their own, so a good place to start. I doubt though, that they would be at all interested with either of the others.


You are right about New Zealand needing replacements. Both Te Mana and Te Kaha over 20 years old now. They are both going through major upgrades to keep them going. Sadly I can’t see the political commitment in the Government here to pay for replacements. We were going to follow the Australian Navy but there is no way they will have the money to pay for the Type 26’s. I expect as usual they will run the ships into the ground.


Er no New Zealand don’t need replacements! I don’t know why people keep bringing this up?! Te Mana and Te Kaha are going through their mid-life upgrade and a Service Life Extension Program. The NZ MOD have only just started to float the idea of what next and is a long way from ordering something new.

There is no rush and the NZ government have other stuff they want to spend money on, their upgraded ANZAC can soldier on for many more years perfectly well.

Also lets be clear the average New Zealander feels no particular passion to help the ship building industry of the mother country. Any program to replace Te Mana and Te Kaha will be competitively tendered and the New Zealand navy will have very much an eye on ‘best value for money’! Personally I can very easily see them going for a South Korean built frigate.


You obviously don’t work for the New Zealand Navy! We have been looking at a programme of replacement for several years now. This is available via NZDF website for public consumption, when I have time I will give you the links. The two frigates now over 20 years old , do you seriously think these ships are going to not need planning for replacements? Therefore, there is an active task group within NZDF. We were planning to go along with the Australians but as I mentioned there is complete lack of political support. They can’t even agree funding to replace the C130 Hercules which are over 50 years old now.


Interesting, as far as I was aware they were barely kicking the tyres on the idea. I didn’t say that they are not going to need planning for a replacement just that they had barely started which is rather born out by what you have just typed.

I think Te Mana and Te Kaha will be chugging around for at least another 15 years so I regard this current work as a mid life update or Service Life Extension as I also wrote.

I will be surprised if NZ buys British, it would be nice but I am not hung up on the idea and it irritates me when people assume it is a shoe in.


It is a typical NZ putting it off as long as possible. Canterbury was run right to the limits and as I recall was well over 30 year when she retired. People serving on her said she was was unsafe at the end and were lucky not to have a repeat of the time the Royalist broke down. Sadly it looks like the same will happen to to the 2 frigates. The UK has the same problem with the Type 23’s which are all going to hit 30 years in service. Running ships on that long is not a good idea.


Thought 30 odd years wasn’t excessive for Naval hulls? Can’t see NZ doing anything for at least another 10 plus years. I mean the first of the Burkes is hitting 30, the Tico’s are older, the RN kept the 42’s in service for that length, the Type 22’s are older…


They are not mid-life upgrades (unless you are planning on keeping them for 40 years), they were done earlier. They are combat upgrades to keep them at least relevent. In 2010 they upgraded the engines & later other systems. NZ got ship 2 & ship 4 of the 10 ship Anzac build. Thats commisioning in July 1997 & December 1999. So one of these ships is about to be 22 years old in a couple of months, & the other one 20 years at the end of the year. That is commissioned life, they were launched & conducting trials before that. It also takes several years to build them. Australia was test firing ESSM in 2003, well before the Anzacs stopped building (last commisioned in 2006). NZ is only now changing from the original SeaSparrow missile (of which the Anzacs could only carry 8).

The first UK T23 to be replaced will be around 32 years old at the time. Australia is planning to commision its first T26 in 2027, which would put HMAS Anzac at around 31 years. For NZ to do the same, it would be looking at delivered in 2028-29. The last of 5 UK T31 is expected in 2027. Also RNZN are pushing hard for 3 frigates – right now, NZ has zero frigates available (their both in Canada – one preparing to come out of refit & one preparing to go into refit = none available).

So its not hard for everyone to see the alignment. The cheapest way to buy a ship is off a hot production line (maximum efficiency is acheived around ship 3), where everyone knows what they are doing. A cold or warm production line will cost you more. A new production line will cost the most (where they have never built that design before). It will take 3+ years to build a ship, so you would need to order by 2025-26 to achieve that & you need to work out what capability you want (& can afford) & then request & study the detailed offers before you can do that. Of course the UK is not the only country that will have a hot production line, but as it will be at the end of a run, you have the most leverage & the builders will know exactly how much room to move (price wise) they have. Provided of course they are building something you would want to buy.


I can tell you that there is absolutely no chance of the RNZN getting 3 frigates so I am not sure we’re you got that from. We originally wanted 4 frigates and we only got 2 ships because the contract had been signed with Australia. If Helen Clark’s had got her they would have been cancelled. You obviously don’t live but as I keep saying there is no political will for paying for new frigates. The upgrades were agreed by the previous National Government. There is possibility of an extra off shore patrol vessel.


I don’t think RNZN will get 3 either, but I gather that’s what they are after. Comment came from a NZ navy officer. The current NZ frigate availability highlights why that would be a good idea. I think it will be ask for 3 & hope to get 2 (if you don’t ask, you don’t get). On the 3rd NZ OPV, the NZ Chief of Navy was pretty certain it would eventuate before 2025.


You are very knowledgeable, as we say over here yeh right!


What part of my comment don’t you think is correct? That RNZN would like 3? That they will likely end up with 2? That the NZ Chief of Navy did not publicly state that he expected the 3rd OPV before 2025? I am not saying NZ will get the 3rd OPV by 2025, only that the Chief of Navy publicly stated in an interview the he expected it by then.

I realise that there is no domestic political will in NZ to buy new frigates. But without any, NZ has precisely 4 P8s & NZSAS to bring to the table. Military aliances & allies expect all parties to contribute something. Frigates are the easiest way to contribute with the lowest risk to personel. Also to move army anywhere in numbers, you need ships & ships need escorts. Even France manages to have 2 light frigates in the Pacific. There will be considerable external pressure.

It has also been pointed out by a couple of people, that due to the design & build of the existing NZ OPVs being a little too comercial, structual problems may start to appear at around 20 years, especially if they have been working them hard. If they are right, then NZ may have to look at replacing them around 2030 as well. Perhaps they will just build 5 OPVs & call it a day.


I just find it a little bit annoying when someone who doesn’t live and certainly doesn’t work for the Navy seems to think he knows it all. Some of the things you say might be are correct but some are certainly not. I don’t think it is appropriate that I go into any more details so will end the conversation.


Sorry to have put you offside. Was not my intention. No, I definately do not know it all. Just a passing interest & trying to work out why certain things are heading in sometimes conflicting directions at the moment.


Would like to see A140 selected for the T31e.
The potential to go AAW heavy frigate is an interesting prospect. Imagine if a second batch was built and two of this batch had the Sampson/Aster combination it would be a great boost in AAW escorts for task group operations.

Meirion X

That combination would take the price of a T31 close to £1 billion each, which would be out of the question for the MoD!
No need for Sampson on a frigate, just introduced Cooperative capability system to network between warships.


Cooperative engagement capability is a must. Hopefully it will be introduced sooner rather than later.

Also the Wildcat as a istar assest should be fitted with a data link asap.

Captain Nemo

We could buy four Arrowhead 140 and enough StanFlex modules to fully equip three active ones within the £1.25bn.


In a swamp of difficult decisions this at least means the Royal Navy is less likely to end up with a £250 million corvette or large OPV it doesn’t need.

We’ve already got a good OPV design with the updated River Class to offer for export (albeit in a very crowded market) and T26 is already doing very well in filling the large, highly capable combat ship niche.

Going for Arrowhead at roughly £350 million a ship would be a very wise choice and fill that mid sized, mid priced frigate slot which could meet with success with New Zealand, Chile, Brazil or several Middle Eastern countries.

Arrowhead with Sea Ceptor, Artisan, the 4.5 inch gun, a bow sonar and torpedo launchers from the T23’s with some provision for either a canister or vertical launch anti-ship missile would have a decent level of robustness and be able to project some power beyond merely defending itself.

Glass Half Full

Its funny how the MoD gets criticized for spending too much on “gold plated” equipment and inefficient programs, and then gets criticized when it sets an aggressive purchase target intended to meet a number of goals, including the aim to establish a more robust domestic shipbuilding industry based on international competitiveness. What its “failure” with the target £250M demonstrates to all constituencies, including the treasury, is that it cannot source the level of capability it seeks and considers necessary for a GP frigate in RN service at this price point, and that additional funding will need to be found to maintain the RN frigate numbers. Having gone through this exercise, it is in a stronger, data based, position to justify a higher price point for RN use; it doesn’t necessarily exclude a lower cost option for export.

At what cost and delay? Probably minimal to none respectively. The cost issue was unlikely to be with bare hull and propulsion costs. More likely to be with overall capabilities including the sensor and armament fit out, and commercial risk that the tendering companies had to build into their quotes; items that the article suggests are now being addressed through Govt. guarantees and GFE. So IMV none of the designs is likely to have to change materially in the base design.


All the companies were putting forward designs with options for additional or better equipment if UK wanted to pay the money. They have already designed in (allowed for) these options, as they knew no-one else would buy a UK 250m spec ship. All of the consortiums offered more missiles, towed array, main gun to 127mm etc. They just need the RN/Mod to spell out their definition of ‘credible’ & what GFE they will supply. I agree, there should be next to no delay (at least on the supplier side) unless the designed in options are not capable of making a ship ‘credible’. eg the US FFG(x) competition started out at a suggested minimum 16 vls, now changed to 32 vls in the draft RFI. That’s what USN now see as ‘credible’. Some could already meet that, others had to scramble & redesign.


As T31e competitive design phase is on-going, major requirement list cannot be renewed. If renewed, MOD need to call for another bid, as it is significantly changing the contract; asking for something “in-between Floreal and La Fayette”, but at the last moment requiring “T23GP equivalent” is far from fair.

– I guess it is small difference to be seen, filling the “10-20% exceeding cost” by putting the FX and inflation risk out and adding some GFE.

– But, if really significantly renewed, I think it will delay T31e by at least 1 year. As RN has two escorts in extended-readiness, impact there is virtually zero (Just re-activate the escorts in extended-readiness).

Also, there are two clear merits.

1: By disbanding a T23GP 1 year before a T31e, GFE transfer will become more easy.

2: By shifting the key decision point of T31e AFTER SDSR 2020, RN will get an “contingency” in case the political situation is very bad and further cut become inevitable (at least 50% probable, sad to say). If T31e is already gone ahead and also RN forced to cut ~1B GBP, very tough decision must been taken. (For example, the top candidate will simply putting PoW in extended readiness.)


50% cut? Sounds like you think a Labour Government is inevitable
But in that scenario we’re likely to see Dreadnought cancelled, so the RN would have money freed up that could be spent on frigates – if they spin them as being “for humanitarian and disaster relief work” rather that war fighting.


Not 50% cut.

I am saying, there is a “50% possibility to see further cuts”. Very different argument.

It could be ~1B GBP, it could be more. But, if it is “~1B GBP” (which I think is “modest”) within 10 years period, T31e well fits in. If T31e contract was already signed, another mean shall be found to provide the “~1B GBP”.

Actually, I cannot find better place than banning T31e. Therefore, T31e key decision point shall better be shifted AFTER SDSR2020.

This is my point.


They have already stopped & restarted the competition before & are basically doing it again. Everyone will have to recalculate their bids just due to the GFE, let alone anything else required to make them ‘credible’. Changing the major requirement list will not be a big problem, provided it stays within the scope of what the designs are actually capable of without going back to the drawing board. eg all designs are capable of 32 CAAM by the simple fact that all are capable of at least a single 8 cell mk41. All are capable of main guns up to 127mm. All are capable of towed sonar arrays etc. Just not without more money or GFE or both. GFE can be a double edged sword if its not something that everyone is used to eg TKMS may never have even seen a 113mm main gun before, whereas both BAE & Babcock have worked on & with them. They are no longer manufactured. If you were going to fit a 57mm to meet the price, but if its now to be a 127mm, not a problem but the price is definately going to change.

Captain Nemo

I think the MOD is criticized for its examples of feast and famine as demonstrated through the juxtaposition of T26 and T31 and when it does mess up it tends to do it to a pretty monumental extent, this probably detracts from its successes.
However, I think the budget was identified as inadequate by most defence watchers at the project’s inception; if there was a red line on capabilities then why try it on when there already existed a wealth of existing data and examples to draw from?

Phillip Johnson

The RN appears to be well on the way to a surface force of:
6 T45’s
8 T23’s and
9 OPV’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A Pickthorne

The Leanders of the 70’s were refitted with specific roles, Ikara, Exocet, and Sea Wolf, this meant there use was pre-determined, surely with the modern designs of warships today it wouldn’t be to difficult to design and build these ships with inter-changeable mission bays so that the ship’s can be retrofitted for the brief/task they are being used for. With the UK now having our own CTG coming into service with the QEZ and POW, we need a formidable surface support group to protect these assets, and as good as they are supposed to be, the Type 45 Daring Class are to few, thinly spread around the globe on deployments, in refit or AMP, or in reserve due to manpower shortages. Plus, I cant understand why the MOD have to spend £millions on getting designs done, surely that should be borne by the firms bidding for the contract, if a company asked me to pay for supplying a quote I’d soon tell them where to go.


By 1982 only 2 leanders had Seawolf and 1 of them had it landed after testing (HMS Penelope). The other was deployed to the Falklands conflict with it, HMS Andromeda. (More Seawolf Leanders were ready after the conflict). Yes the Type 45s are spread way too thin especially when they are only effective at AAW and would get slaughtered by Subs when operating alone as they only have a bow Sonar and helo deployed ASW- Compared to the towed array sonar, triple torp tubes on the Type 23 and their helo. Type 45 actually hurts ASW operations for the type 23s 🙁 they are far too noisy.

Alex Hughes

As we currently operate the River Class OPV would it not make sense to operate say 4 of the Kareef Class corvette in addition to 6 Leander for the T31e? Commonality of parts, design costs must surely be lower and as the Kareef is in service abroad already it would seem the Leander has an excellent market appeal to existing Kareef customers?


I understand your reasoning on the commonality of parts design etc. However the RN has a finite number of sailors and would want to use them to crew ships that would give the RN the best returns. So l don’t think using sailors to crew a corvette is a good use of sailors, they would be better used crewing a credible frigate.

Barry Larking

Two of the largest (there may also be others) companies treading in the U.K. pay little or no U.K. corporation tax. Google and Amazon. The U.K., or its successor, England, is in urgent need to reform its foreign aid budget and fund targetted programmes with measurable reported outcomes. There is no shortage of money, simply will.

Cam Hunter

It was a joke to begin with, but the fact we can salvage lots of expensive equipment from the type 23s should save a few hundred million. Like sea ceptor, radar even sonar if the type 26s are getting new gear, I know the type 31s won’t have anti submarine torpedos ect but if we have them spare from old 23s then why not, and if the type 26 frigates are getting the 8 type 23s anti submarine suite then why the hell are they costing billions each??.

And we should save 5 type 23s for GP duties in our over seas territory’s like the falklands or just save them for light duties elsewhere and get rid of there hardcore anti sub equipment. We will end up selling the 23s and another nation like Brazil will buy them and run them for decades!. Just like the type 22s that we’re sold or scrapped, they are still active abroad…. we could keep even 3 type 23s active for another 20 years and they are all having life extension and upgrades done to them now one by one….


The UK ship building industry has already fallen below critical mass, how are you going to keep it going?

Cam Hunter

By building ships


We won’t have any money or crew for that if we don’t get rid of some of the old duffers. Worse still is chucking money into refitting knackered type 23s.

Meirion X

I agree that a honest assessment of early T23 frigates like HMS Iron Duke, might mean it is not worth upgrading them, only maybe repair with reconditioned parts.
Only worth upgrading later T23s.


Is a shame that the government couldn’t pick a design it likes then allocate it to a yard afterwards would like to have seen an Iver built by CL with BAES tec In it.

Ian Williams

Thank goodness common sense is getting a look-in. The official position and its voluntary reserve seem happy to believe two incompatible things at once: that the light frigate can free up its more expensive siblings for task-force and anti-submarine work, and that this role does not require much in the way of surface and submarine weaponry.

It is precisely because the Type 31 will operate away from the task force and anti-submarine shield that it needs to be able to look after itself. The proliferation of quiet-running conventional submarines and long-range anti-ship missiles pose a threat in many parts of the world where such ships might venture.

It is possible to suggest a reasonable self-protection capability without the full fat solutions that drive up the cost of specialist vessels. Other navies recognise this. The planned French medium frigate will have a compact towed array sonar, surface to air and anti-ship missiles, and a helicopter with dipping sonar and torpedoes. It will not be its navy’s primary anti-aircraft or anti-submarine vessel, but it will be able to look after itself. If the Type 31 has much less than this we will be putting our sailors in harm’s way without adequate protection.


French FTI is costing 3.3B GBP for 5 hulls, including the design and initial costs. To my understanding, this amounts to more than 4 unit cost of T26. Designing and building a UK version of 5 FTI equivalent, or 4 more T26, I personally prefer latter.

If adopting Danish hull design, we can reduce the initial cost from 2 unit cost equivalent to 1 unit cost, approximately. Then, total cost could be 2.8B GBP, still high. still nearly 4 T26 equivalent..

Ian Williams

If we are being more realistic about the weapons and equipment fit and the price tag, then maybe there is a case for reconsidering the earlier plan of a more general purpose version of the Type 26. However, it would be good to break those costs down. as it is notoriously difficult to compare like with like in these matters. It would be possible, for example, to consider a GP Type 26 on an opportunity cost basis, allocating the bulk of the development costs to the specialist vessels. Equally, the Type 31 can be designed to have the ability to fight without all the additional expenditure of a top-end specialist ship, e.g. it might not need all the quietening features of the dedicated sub hunter, and canister launched anti-ship missiles might do instead of a strike-length VLS. A cheaper towed array and a Wildcat kitted as it is for South Korea could be considered for defensive purposes.

It is a balancing act between the quality of numbers and the ability of ships to look after themselves unsupported by the RAF or a task force. If it can’t do that, then the cheaper ship is a false economy and a danger to those who sail in her.


The T26 costs twice as much as the French FDI with a far less capable AAW system. It makes little sense to spend so much on inferior capabilities.


Why doesn’t the government use funds from the overseas aid budget since they will be used for disaster relief when in service. In fact they should use aid money to replace the assault ships with assault carriers, just like the Italians.


Makes a nice model!

[…] Under construction Type 31 Destroyers will also be hundreds of millions over budget. […]