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In 1985 I was working in the Ministry of Defence and provided support to GODDESS (GOvernment Defence DEsign System for Ships) . That was the future then although I think the whole thing was privatised after the MOD had poured millions into it.

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Read about it in D K Brown Book, used a brilliant system at VT’s Woolston as a kid in open day in 1987, the computer power was immense and graphics I had never seen before, even now it’s incredible what I think it could produce. Love CAD CIM CAM etc and any automated system and drawing production stuff as a kid, knew it was the way forward. So ahead of its time and I was allowed to use it. So much more to come and can aid the UK shipbuilding sector to level the field.


I remember David Brown well, he was deputy chief naval architect when I was there. It was an innovative project but as I mentioned earlier it got sold off. Another example of selling the family silver.


Must have been exciting times but all too typical of UK government’s shooting the UK in the foot. 1986, not 1987 was the year.


The should have used Game engines like Unreal already heavily used in automotive industry.


I watched a TV programme called ‘Warship’ (a Type45) the other day. When the ship was ordered to take part in military action against Syria, there was a palpable tension amongst the crew. This tension increased when the crew was called to action stations. At this point, all the budgetary issues about defence and affordability of equipping our naval vessels with only the best kit, came starkly into focus at such a moment. Those men and women (some of which are still just twenty years old) out there on the lonely seas and oceans deserve nothing less.


Which is why I’m concerned about the Type 31’s budget ceiling. I’m reminded of all the comments about Ocean and her commercial kit that wore out fast, resulting in her being considered an old and maintenance intensive ship after barely 10 years of service.


MSR, I too am a bit concerned about Type31’s. At £250.000.000 a pop that could mean suppliers are being asked to supply at a fixed cost between 2023 – 2028. If they can’t guarantee to maintain their costs over the programme period, something has to go? I can’t get the faces of the Duncan crew out of my mind. Maybe it’s time to deliver fewer new ships, but those we do end up operating can do the best job without compromise?

Gabriel Aparicio

you guys are already at 19 warships. do you really want to go below that?. the government etheir needs to pony up the dough or cut the navy commitments in half.


‘The price tag of a Type 26 frigate would not lead to the immediate conclusion that VR-based design has delivered big savings. The real benefits of this new technique are more likely to be seen in the quality of HMS Glasgow and her sisters, reduced through-life costs and more rapid deployment of new capabilities and upgrades.’

VR-based design, but is there real VR based manufacturing in which the build stages are mapped each hour day etc more so than mentioned here? Any problems red flagged and learnt about. We have offline welding etc. But also in ordering material from UK suppliers who are fully integrated with the assembly place (the Shipyard) in delivering plate that is prepared cut to shape even down to edge prep, profile and pipe, with little need or maybe a small ability/redundancy at the shipyard to deal with any unforeseen issues? The ship build process would really then begin at British Steel and Liberty Steelworks.

A Virtual shipyard in which the hull is being built digitally as well as in real life but also a shipyard that has a twin online self that can see the mistakes, connect to suppliers, see new technology that benefits itself and can update and modernise itself?

The other thing. You can be efficient as you like in building these ships, but it is the systems that can cost so much money and reduce hull numbers. Could it be those system suppliers who happen to own some yards are quite happy to see reduced hull numbers, as it’s the systems that make them the larger profits? Can we source better or the same from abroad, say Canada? Maybe it’s the systems that need to be looked at as the big expense rather than the ship hull? Can we miniaturize ourselves to walk through these systems that are installed in ships yet, to make them more efficient or cheaper? Ship hull may use more labour and have less profit in building them, so why do we speak of reducing hull numbers, if that is the case? Just trying to ook at this from a different angle.


Canada is the last place we would be able to buy hulls cheaper than in an domestic yard! They have even more problems with backhanders, old boy networks and political interference/delays/procrastination than the UK does!

Agree that the major cost component is and always has been systems. First in terms of development, initial installation and bug fixing, and second in terms of aftermarket costs. Aftermarket is also a huge earner for the suppliers, which makes them relatively agnostic regarding the number of hulls that actually get built. They want a fat, profitable spares contract for bespoke equipment that locks their primary customer into buying from them, alone – there is to be no shopping around for OEM stuff, thank you very much!

It was ever thus. There were only 8 Sea Slug destroyers because Sea Slug was such an expensive and complicated system to build, deploy and maintain. The small number of hulls was not primarily because Sea Slug turned out to be a technological deadend as most history texts enjoy claiming. It was primarily equipment and manpower costs. Looking back for inspiration at the original concept behind T26, when we were going to get a C1 and a C2 based on the same hull, but with C2 FFBNW, you can imagine if this idea had occurred in the 1960s. It would have made perfect sense to built another few County class destroyers without Sea Slug and perhaps fit them as helicopter destroyers (would have been better than the Blakes), or general purpose ships (with lots of room for interesting upgrades – imagine a Bristol-style sea dart launcher installed aft on a County class variant). The hulls were not the major cost component… at least not until the RN decided to stop building steam powered ships, of course.


Certain systems. Not the Hulls!