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greg bartlem

I am not sure that having a two tier navy is all that bad, there are many tasks where it is crazy to send a major warship into such as fighting piracy. Hull numbers really need to increase, but 10x Type 26’s and 15 x OPV’s could be great. Another thought, wouldn’t it be better to lose HMS Bulwark and keep hold of Ocean as she seems more useful and is cheaper to operate plus we have the bay class. What do people think?

There are plenty of “light GP frigate” designs out there: BMT Venator 110 multi-mission vessel, BAE 99m corvette, DCNS Gowind 1000 & 2500 corvettes, and HII 4501 & 4921 patrol frigates. All of these are worthy of feasibility studies.


Half seriously I wonder if you could simply develop the Type 23. Its got half the kit going into Type 26. It will have lasted twice its projected life. Seems to be the right size. Good starting point at least.


I’d also like to mention the sigma class as small credible warships that seem to have been built on a budget. The U.K., like is in the US, have a habit of gold plating warships. We’re doing it now with the $950 mil “cheaper” ffg(x) that will be baby Burke’s. It’s easy to look to the hottest zones on earth and imagine these ships there, yet we both have responsibilities and duties in other less intense areas of the planet. I’m watching 31e with great interest. I honestly want you to succeed in a credible warship that is truly affordable.

Dave 168

Re, “BAES is profiteering or at least grossly inefficient”
I don’t think you understand how much it costs to employ a person today, pension, sickness, holiday pay, employers National Insurance, training just to name a few will all have to be payed for.

James Kellard

BAe is profiteering, of course they are! Take a look at the minimal changes between the latest OPV’s for the RN and the Amazonias but an astronomical leap in price. BAe is a nightmare company much like GD is as a provider of LW equipment (I worked on the development of BOWMAN and have first hand knowledge of the gravy train). Every European ship builder is providing ships which are no less capable but far less expensive than BAe products. However there is a rather bizarre culture amongst officers involved in procurement programmes in which expensive ideas are often thrown in, withdrawn, changed almost pointlessly to justify their position on the design teams.
Sometimes instead of just throwing ideas into a hat a better approach would be to study existing or past designs and bring them into the modern age


I remember BAE team leaders boasting down the pub about how they were making 70k a year on LPD mate, in a part of the country where you can buy a house for that kind of money, people in that company are on a good wicket. They all had nice little buy to let empires.
The joke was that if you screw up continuously for five years you’ll get promoted out of your job. Noone gets sacked.
BAE has a 7.5% cost of capital because theyre a PLC so they have to pay a 5% dividend out of after tax profit. Also a 3 billion pension deficit which needs to be serviced and a bloated upper management that they cannot afford to get rid off because of all the gold plated pensions grandfathered in since before privatisation. It all adds up.

criss whicker

Some say, its not the product, its the label and customer,
jeans cheap to make, stick a Tesco or asda label on it £5-10 if lucky, put a m&S or Americano and watch the price soar,
ships like planes and tanks are the same, stick a royal navy ticket on it, and it will cost the earth,
other countries seem to get similar for a lot less,
BAE and the government will always explain away the high costs, and the result is the same over decade’s and decades,
we always end up with less and less, that cost more and more, and yet we are always told its for the best,
we don’t seem to build our own planes anymore or tanks, all im saying is, sooner or later, at rate we are going, we are either going to end up with nothing, or forced into a European military and told its for the best,
but what do I know, im just a concerned member of the public.


If a ship or platform is only able to be built in country then you are likely to be paying monopoly pricing. Apparently BAE have priced themselves out of the export market by demanding exorbitant licence fees for non-british builds, nothing to do with the cost of building or equipping the ship.


If Bae have priced themselves out of the export market then how come more than 50% of their gross annual turn over comes from overseas operations?


In theory the T26 is a very fighty ship capable of the full spectrum of war making. But if it is also going to be the navies primary sub hunting asset, one has to wonder how often it will actually be able to act independently – at least two will be required, alongside at least 1 xT45 as escort to the QE carriers, and the same again would need to be committed to any amphibious task group. Taking into account rotation that leaves at most 2 x T26 at any time for deployment elsewhere – or less than one hull available if a deployed ratio of 1 to 3 is maintained for the carrier group and other commitments.
There are perhaps two ways to think of what this means for decisions on hulls beyond the initial 8 T26.
Firstly, to accept that the T26 with its do everything brilliantly capability is actually going to be most effective where the big fight is – and that is also going to be where you deploy your carrier. Certainly, the carrier needs at least two specialized asw assets – and by the sound of it, that capability is primarily reserved for T26. An approach that accepts the T26 is tied to a carrier battle group alongside T45 could make sense. However, this means that additional hulls would have to take on the role of being independently deployable, which also means the full range of surface, anti air and asw capabilities. The ideal ship would be more T26 (!), but perhaps something along the lines of the Danish navies Absalon support ship, which has great flexibility including ability to embark troop and vehicles, or carry 2 x Merlin to undertake the asw role, would be more affordable in terms of build and manpower.
The second way this might go is to prioritise T26 for independent deployment, and build additional hulls specifically with the carrier escort role in mind. These could be hulls prioritized for asw operations only, because they will only ever operate in tandem with carrier and T45 (or possibly independently in UK waters where they have air cover from p-8 – think asw protection for successor). They would still need the ability to self protect against air attack, which probably means using sea-ceptor from retiring T23 (and therefore the capability to provide a meaningful contribution to protecting the carrier group), but they would have no need for land attack or anti shipping capability. Less flexibility, yes, less capable yes, but potentially also much cheaper in terms of build cost and manpower. Stealthy hull, sea-captor and ASROC in vertical launch silo, merlin capable flight deck and hangar, towed decoy or tracking array. A sub killer and anti-air asset which might have genuine export potential (as sub killing is likely to be a growth industry).
What is certain is that the need to service and protect the carrier group changes everything in terms of availability and deployment of escort assets. In the short term it would seem sensible for the 2 additional river class OPV’s to be 99 meter hulls with (at least) a lynx capable hangar so that they are able to undertake West Indies and East African constabulary missions effectively – I think BAE already has a design for this, and as we will be paying through the nose to keep the Clyde working may as well try to get some better value for money.


I think you have hit the nail on the head and tying up the ASW elements, especially for the new carriers, is an absolute key requirement for the new carrier escorts. Whilst I expect the carriers to have a resident ‘Astute Class’ submarine to assist with this task I would have also thought that a significant number of anti torpedo counter measures both decoys and especially the latest anti-torpedo torpedoes will be required, I would also have thought that it would be advisable not to just limit these assets to the limited specialist ASW escorts but to spread them around most of the task force vessels, including all escorts, helicopters, the carriers themselves particularly at the stern to counter wake following torpedoes and even on RFA’s if necessary. Whilst this may sound like paranoid over kill to some I would contend that with the advent of the relatively cheap but extremely quite non-nuclear submarines with AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) which will be able get past current ASW screens and overwhelm single specialist ASW escorts by firing 4 or 6 torpedoes at once. Not a desirable situation to be caught up in.

greg bartlem

I guess it comes down to who is the perceived threat? Are ee building a navy to fight China or Russia on our own with their huge sub modern sub fleets. Is this realistic or are we building to counter slightly lesser threats? Yes we need to protect our Islands from harm but our carriers are unlikely to be taking on this level of threat surely? its more likely that the likes of North Korea or Argentina etc are where the carriers will be most needed. My argument therefore is we need a balance of high end and lesser escorts. Ships cannot be in 2 places st once. So a Black Swan type class of hopefully about 10 or so cheaper frigates alongside the 8 mire substantial ASW frigates sounds sensible to me. Aegis would though be a real help for the type 45s though…


I think that you have completely and utterly missed the point. It does not matter or come down to who the threat comes from or where it originates, when we have to protect extremely high value assets like our two large carriers. Time and technology move on at present and/or very soon most major and lower league military countries will have the resources and/or capacity to procure extremely quiet small non-nuclear submarines probably with some sort of AIP power system which will be able to get close to high value naval targets and swamp their defences with numerous torpedoes. If you doubt what I am saying then I suggest you Google ” current AIP submarines ” and do some research. My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that dedicated high tech ASW escorts should be urgently procured to protect all high value naval assets along the same lines that the Type 45 (Engine problems accepted!) protect against air attack.

greg bartlem

Hi there, thanks for replying. I do appreciate what your saying but we are highly unlikely to be using both carriers together, how could we man them? therefore we need a good sized fleet of escorts to protect them. how many is a good question! But and this was my point, the navy is active throughout the globe, its silly that we are having to use the likes of RFA as guardships or high end vessels to counter piracy. We cannot afford a navy with 30 expensive frigates and destroyers so it comes down to choices, I like the thinking of building cheaper sloop type vessels alongside the 8 or so new frigates to build up the fleet. Otherwise we end with a navy comprising a tiny amount of high end ships. Of course I would prefer otherwise!


I really am at a loss to understand how you can continue to make so many completely unjustified comments and suggestions . Saying that it is unlikely that the carriers will ever be used together is nonsense as it is almost certain that they will operate together at times. Check their specifications and do the maths. As a guide non nuclear carriers spend in the region of 40% of their time in refit, maintenance and repair, hence the need to have two carriers to maintain one carrier in operation at all times. However, over say a 5 year period, compliance with this schedule automatically gives single ship operation for 4 years plus double ship operations for 1 year, consequently they can work together for about 20% of the time. Next look at their specs, they both have designed in secondary rolls i.e. disaster relief, hospital ship, etc. consequently when they do work together it may not necessarily be as a pair of strike carriers. Their main secondary roll, however, is that of Helicopter Assault Ship whereby, as recently announced, they have the capacity to carry nearly a 1,000 troops supported by chinook helicopters. This exceeds that of HMS Ocean, a commercially speced ship, which is getting past it’s sell by date that, for some unknown reason, you previously advocated keeping at the expense of HMS Bulwark which is a newer and far more robust Landing Ship Dock which when twinned with her sister ship HMS Albion can give continuous single ship operation. There should be no manning problems as the ships can be manned by RN sailors when required in the future.
As far as your comment that using RFA’s as escorts is ‘silly’ I would remind you that ALL the latest large RFA’s carry significant numbers of RN personnel to maintain and operate helicopters, the installed array of close in weapons e.g.. Phalanx and other duties. Increasing the scope of these functions is certainly not silly as they have already proved their worth in a number of operations.
Your suggestion that a lot of Black Swan Sloops and/or more OPV’s should be built cannot be properly evaluated until such time as a some realistic details of their proposed specifications and capabilities are available, Currently I am a bit sceptical of the new OPV’s ability to carry out serious escort duties.

greg bartlem

Hi there thanks for disagreeing without being rude. Lets see what happens. Personally I would love to see a much larger navy but its not something you or I can affect. My comments were based on my perhaps flawed understanding of current manning issues. However I am still a little skeptical of the current liklihood of being able to put both carriers out to see together. But they are being built for huge life spans so who knows what the future may bring.


Use the Lego brick concept for the new frigate or for that matter any other surface RN vessel. Mass produce sub assembly modules and assemble to size required (and budget). Its the common sense approach. But I fear that left uk military planning years ago. Getting rid of the Ark Royal (which could move out of harms way unlike raf torando/typhoon bases)and Harriers when they are needed now shows that. I hear laughter from the other Harrier users saying things like ”To think, they developed the concept.What were they thinking off?!”


Light Frigate?
Why not instead go back and look at the Black Swan Class Sloop of War Concept
That sounded more capable and flexible than a light frigate concept could ever be
especially if it included stanflex

greg bartlem

I totally agree on the sloop idea, the concept that was on this site a while back could tick a lot of boxes. If we stuck with the 8 frigates and supplemented them with a class of about 20 Black Swan type sloops – that could make a real difference I suspect. However, I wonder how many Frigates / Destroyers we would need to sit alongside the carriers? Not sure


2 sloops! I think you are being overly optimistic there shipmate !


Should have read 20 sloops!


Thankfully it has been decided to retain both carriers. 6 Type 45 Destroyers and 8 Type 26 Frigates are insufficient numbers to protect a carrier battle group while dealing with the many other commitments the government expects of the Royal Navy.
The commitment to spend .7% of GDP on foreign aid should be reduced to.2% and the defense budget should be increased by 1/2% of GDP with that increase going entirely to the Royal Navy. What is the purpose of giving away money at the expense of defending the nation and losing a power projection capability?

greg bartlem

I disagree on foreign aid, yes ee can learn to be wiser at how we use it, which is true of all government departments including the MOD but the UK is still one of the wealthiest nations on earth. As such we have a duty of care that we must encourage everyone to share. To care for the poorest people on our planet be thst here or abroad. We are now a world economy. However I also believe in having a strong armed forces which is where we agree. I feel that they have been run down yoo far.

Michael Watson

I think it is clear as day light that the RN needs more frigates for all the roles the HM Government requires the Navy to do. As we are all aware RN has a limited budget, so we need a mix of high tech and low tech frigates to have any real possibility of getting more frigates. Any budget frigate should be flexible and pack a punch, surely our designers and engineers are capable of designing such a frigate? It would be a shame, but if our people cannot do this than we must go abroad to get such a frigate off the shelf.
Yes it is nice to have all singing all dancing gold plated frigates but we are getting fewer and fewer ships for our money.
So come on UK Designers, Engineers and Manufactures, design and build us a capable/effective light frigate????
I do not believe this is impossible.


It might well be impossible, this country seems to have slumped into a position where we spend more money on design studies etc than actually building something! The best value we can get is buying proven off the shelf systems. For example RC135 and P8 Posiedon for the RAF. How about 16 x Arleigh Burkes for Navy?


Its a shambles. 9/3/16 BAE and RN ‘negotiating’? I don’t believe anyone knows what the heck is going on. Looks like now Portsmouth has gone they haven’t a clue when any of these are to be built. Osbornes pretty yachts (OPY’s) look like favourites to all be built first.


at least “design”is close enough to at least get it shortlisted for RAN consideration ie final 3


Would it be cheaper and more effective to scrap all plans for type 26 and 31, stopping the wastage of millions of pounds worth of design studies etc whilst lining the pockets of BAE Systems and just order 16 x Arleigh Burkes instead and get real value for our money? These vessels are highly capable, we could tap into US traiming and support programs.. Spares and equipment will be easily available for many years to come! It’s about time we got the most bangs for our bucks even if it means buying off the shelf!


Sorry to sound rude but purchasing 16 Arleigh Burkes would be absolute nonsense. These ships are far more expensive than building the T26 in the UK. Not only are they old technology from the 80’s but they require much larger crews to operate them, their weapons systems are mismatched with other RN ships, they would fake far longer to procure as there is no shelf to buy them off of, so they have to be new build, they are far less capable warships than the T26’s, etc. etc. the list goes on, Such an idea is a complete and utter nonstarter. The MOD would be far better of if it bit the bullet and did it’s job by strongly and quickly negotiating a sensible price and agreeing a strong fixed price contract to build say 16 T26’s within a sensible and realistic time frame; Maybe that’s to big an ask for UK government bureaucrats to actually do their jobs without continuous procrastination..


I agree. I have no experience of defence sales on the scale of frigates but I have sold smaller value (a few million quid) items to various countries’ military and to many other industries around the world. In my world a firm commitment to a volume that was interesting to me was always a strong bargaining tool for the buyer to get a better unit price. It has always baffled me why big ticket military procurement couldn’t act more decisively and use bigger volume commitments to get better value, still staging payment of course to spread capital outlay across multiple financial years. It would also be a way for a government that genuinely believed in its defense plans to tie things up with contractual commitments such that future governments couldn’t undo past decisions. That probably saved our second carrier from getting axed.
On the matter of “say 16 T26’s within a sensible and realistic time frame”, and given the sort of time frames that we’re already talking about with the current 8, I wonder whether T45 replacement could be incorporated into the picture.
I have heard rumours that the current T26 design allows for a variation of the forward VLS silos to accommodate an all-MK41 fit which presumably would also imply all-Sylver50/70 if preferred. I have no idea how many MK41 that would provide (48?) but with the Australian bid and the RAN’s likely requirements I’m sure we’ll find out a bit more about the possibility and details of an all-MK41 fit soon enough. That would seem to me to make the T26 with suitable sensor enhancements a pretty interesting platform for T45 replacement when the time comes hence potentially boosting the ability to be able to commit to volume even further or de-risk an initial commitment to 16 if an option existed to use some of the extra 8 as the basis of an AAW variant.


ambuscade was the best ship i ever served on, the harpoon/asroc upgrades should have been done by the R.N. its unfortunate that the south atlantic experience showed structural deficiencies, the fact that they are still used shows the R.N.sold its ferrari and bought an allegro.put phalanx and a ceptor system on themand they’d be serious bits of kit