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Ron

I do agree that the £250 million is a tight fit however when I look around the South African Valour class based on the MEKO 200 seems to be a reasonable light frigate and came in at approx £143 million. If we can keep that type of costing then we should be able to have 8 such vessels for the £1.25 billion allocated. A useful extra three hulls.

ATH

What exchange rate is that at as even 10 years ago I bet you could not get a German built frigate for that. The other possibility is that excludes all the armaments, which could have been purchased directly by SA.

Iqbal Ahmed

I think shipyards across England should get the frigate work, including any export orders. Scotland is safe in the Union now. The purchase of the frigates should be seen primarily as s way of rejuvenating some of our run down regions and communities around ports and secondarily as ships for the navy. Efficiency be damned.

ATH

How much extra tax are you personally willing to pay to do the T31 in an inefficient way?

Iqbal Ahmed

Better to pay extra to ensure skilled jobs are preserved around the country than pay extra to BAE shareholders for no reason.
If the MOD will be grossly inefficient in procurement, we may as well put that to good use.

ATH

But are you willing to have your personal tax bill increased to pay for inefficient procurement? What’s the question the politicians will have to answer.

Stephen

Don’t give away £billions of Britain’s hard earned money to foreign countries every single year “foreign aid” and we won’t need to increase tax.

clinch

Your question is moot. British shipyard workers pay tax to the British Treasury and spend money in the British economy. Foreign shipyard workers don’t.

Grubbie

Consolidation was a deliberate policy! The only possibile way ahead is horizontal,every European nation has the same problem with critical mass. Some of STRNs commentators have obviously never visited or worked at a British naval shipyard, it has to be seen to be believed.

Ron

The first issue is that I used the cost of the build for four S.African ships with a 2017 conversion rate. Please dont think that I am saying that these ships should be built overseas I’m not all I was doing was pointing out what could be done. Singapore and Algeria have also managed to get a reasonably armed and equiped 3,500 ton light frigates for around the same price range. If other nations can do it why can’t we.
Do I think that these ships should be built in the UK yes there are several yards in England and N.Ireland that could handle these vessels To keep the cost down possibly the first fit electronics such as radar sonar etc could be stripped from the Type 23s
I totally agree that BAE should not get the contract as they have proven to be not cost effective, again I base that on some of the ships that I have seen built for other nations especially Denmark. It would also be good to have a second lead contractor for future development of British shipbuilding and compititon.

ATH

The Rand rate ten years ago was about 11 now 17 plus ten years inflation. So to buy the same ship from Germany or build in the U.K. you will be well over 250M. That’s the problem of the T31. The Navy wants a small warship for large OPV money.

4thwatch

Come, Come, 250m for a large OPV? This sounds like its straight from the Bae office of spin. That’s precisely the offering Bae put forward- a large OPV.

Grubbie

Quick, throw something together in less than a year. Arbitrary cost ceiling of £250 million. Doesn’t sound much like a strategy

Paul

The other extreme is forever amending the specification and deferring the projects so they cost two or three times the original cost estimate. At least this is an attempt to halt that habit that the MOD And others has got in to.

Steve R

Let’s be honest, this is just a good start – announcing five 4000t frigates is the absolute minimum requirement from the Shipbuilding Stragegy – a commitment for 8-10 would have been the brave call! Builders will hardly want to invest heavily in facilities for so few ships, so the first five should represent a ‘Batch 1’ to be followed by a (possibly slightly larger) ‘Batch 2’ . An aggressive export drive will also be welcomed, although in the current market dominated by Germany/China/France who will those customers be?

Ian

It’s a good joined up idea which will fall short because it’s underfunded. RN orders should be the backbone of the plan with enough orders to drive down costs to give exports a chance. Would love exports to thrive but there ‘should’ be enough RN business on a thirty year cycle to have a very capable warship building capability.

ATH

There is sufficient work in the 30 year plan for ONE yard, but without exports there isn’t sufficient for two warship yards unless the Navy gets a lot bigger.

Challenger

Using multiple yards is sustainable if Cammell Laird, Harland & Wolff, Appledore etc remain predominately commercial outfits and keep their hands in repair, off-shore energy or whatever necessary to remain flexible and not become dependent on limited Royal Navy orders for survival.
Perhaps if block building can over 20 or 30 years genuinely offer competition and drive down costs it’ll eventually force BAE to get back into the market and bid for work rather than relying on the Westminster gravy train!

Stephen

Transporting blocks hundreds of miles is not going to drive down costs. It is like they are deliberately making British shipbuilding as cost inefficient and uncompetitive as possible.

Challenger

A section of the new RRS David Attenborough is being built by A&P on the Tyne and then transported to Cammell Laird so it’ll be interesting to see what this indicates in terms of efficiency and price.
To be fair Sir John Parker has advocated the block build approach and is well qualified to comment.
Proof will be in the pudding i guess….

4thwatch

The Navy gets larger if the price comes down. The demand is there.

Stephen

After the Type 26 and Type 31s, which we knew we would get in any case, the fleet solid support ships, and all R.F.A. will be open to foreign competition. So Britain’s national shipbuilding strategy is that many, many Royal Navy ships will be open to foreign competition is it? What a joke.
Canada has also recently released a national shipbuilding strategy, a proper one, where ALL ships for the Navy will be built in Canada.
We want ALL Royal Navy ships to be built in Britain. There are many ships for the R.F.A., some of them large, these will be INVALUABLE for British shipyards and will give them a decent, guaranteed workload. We do not want Royal Navy ships being used to keep foreign shipbuilding going and foreign engineers in jobs.

ATH

If the Tide class had been built in the U.K. It would have massively increased the cost. Would you cut some other part of the military to pay for it? Before you add money to the total mil budget remember that non of the serious political parties in the U.K. are proposing to spend more than 2% GDP on defence.

Challenger

Reading between the lines it seems the hope is that if fixed prices up-front and block building works for the T31 then British shipyards will be better placed to offer a competitive price on things like the fleet solid support ships.
I agree with Stephen though that’s it’s ludicrous to say RFA’s can be built abroad but things like frigates cannot, as if they are somehow optional extra’s and less important just because they are a bit less complex.
If we are going to have a shipbuilding strategy then it should at least be comprehensive and include all requirements.

Michael Watson

I think this is good news for the Royal Navy, there seems to be a new urgency to get the building of new Frigates moving, this is mainly due to the obvious need to provide sufficient modern Frigate fleet/squadron to protect our new QE Aircraft Carriers. However in a time of a major conflict our Frigates and Destroyers will need to do more than just protect our carriers, thou this is a very important task. I think this is a first good step in building up a credible Frigate fleet.

Steve R

The most obvious route is to have Type 31 armed with Sea Ceptor operating close in ‘goalkeeper’ style, giving Type 26 license to roam further afield to keep subs at arms length and Type 45 providing an umbrella over the whole force. Amphibious/replenishment groups also need protecting, so a number of defensively armed frigates is not altogether a bad thing In a fleet scenario. Just means that independent operations may be constrained. However, a ‘cheap and cheerful’ frigate for duties such as shore bombardment (as Type 21 in the Falklands) makes more sense than using an 8,000 ton destroyer (may seem cold blooded, but realistic) Assuming of course, that the ships are fitted with a 5 inch gun.

geoffrey hogg

Are you the ‘mike’ watson who ‘should’ knwow a little about the R.N. ESPECIALLY carriers? – Eagle, etc??!
geoff

Michael Watson

No I am not, have a general interest in the Royal Navy and keen to support

Roger Davies

Shame that Vosper Thornycroft were allowed to be bought out by BAE and then closed down. They were already exporting ships to countries who did not wish to deal with BAE. Their level of fabrication was also far superior to what I have seen produced on the Clyde.

ATH

Just when did Vospers last export a warship bigger than an OPV?

Roger Davies

In 2008/2009 they were building 3 Corvettes for Trinidad and Tobago and also 3 for Oman. They might not have been the largest of ships but at least they were trying .

ATH

These were all part of the River family of ships. After much legal action the Trinidad boats wren sold off to Brazil . PS the second and third Trinidad boats were Glasgow built.

Roger Davies

That all happened after BAE took over VT and before they closed the shipbuilding facility.

Grubbie

Ah, the defence industrial policy report of 2005. What a piece of new Labour genius that was. I just looked it up to refresh my mind and a wave of nostalgia washed over me. Remember such characters as Lord Dryson, Geoff Hoon and Gordon Brown. As well as urging faster consolidation for naval shipbuilding, there are many references to something called the armoured fighting vehicle industry which was already 95% in Baes hands.

David Graham

Roger, Agreed. VT was an excellent company, and was “swept up” due to political expediency.
Another point that needs to be clarified is that many commercial ships in specialised fields are every bit as complex as warships. one can see examples of these built by commercial yards in locations as far apart as Norway, Sweden or Singapore.
There’s far too much hand wringing by UK commentators, suggesting that no one could possibly do this work, with the exception of BAES. Perhaps BAES with its submarine hat on might remember that HMS Resolution [first Polaris boat, and cutting edge at the time] was ordered in the spring of 1963, and was at sea for firing trials in the US in 1967.

SPD67

Yes you have to feel sorry for VT, they have joined the illustrious pantheon of Alvis Military vehicles, Regional Aircraft , Rover Cars, Royal Ordnance Small Arms etc, luckily JLR escaped.

Don

Hopefully this can deliver and ” grow the RN”
All we need now is a crew building strategy!

The Ginge

Well, having left the matter to digest overnight I am still completely of the opinion that the ability of Tory politicians to stand at the dispatch box and downright lie whilst keeping a straight face knows no bounds. Note that now this debacle is called the Type 31e, note the “small e” quite trendy that, looks like “e”-mail cutting edge stuff from 1992.
But in reality what it means is an economy model without the opening windows or aircon which you expect to drive across a desert in 100 degree heat. If you limit your costs to £250m that means for 5 ships you spend £1.25bn. Even at the original cost of the T26 (which everybody agreed was ridiculously undervalued) of £500m that is only 2 1/2 of the 5 ships lost by moving to only producing 8 T26’s. But the reality is that for that price you are going to get a very poorly armed vessel. The cost in these ships are in the sensor and weapons fit.
So what are we looking at
1. Probably the Seaceptors off the T23’s as point defence.
2. Probably the old radar systems as well.
3. Small Wildcat capable deck space and hangar.
4. No hull sonar.
5. No equipment to tow Type 2087 sonar even if not fitted at first so no possibility of upgrading in times of tension.
6. No strike cells or Asroc or Anti Ship Weapons.
So it is going to have no way of tracking a Sub apart from a Wildcat (of which it will have one and that will mean only about 4 to 6hrs coverage per 24hrs a day), no way of defending itself or any other ship apart from torpedoes on the Wildcat. Same for anti ship missiles. As for gunnery in view of the size and cost restrictions we are not getting anything above 76mm.
So really what you are looking at is an upgrade River Class from BAE (Cutlass Proposal) or the Venator from BMT because those are the only designs ready to go. There is not enough work in 5 £250m a pop ships to warrant other yards gearing up to build these things, especially since we want the first one in the water by 2023. Finally someone in the MOD woke up to the fact that the first GP Class T23’s need replacing by then and panicked.
So since they will have limited ability as escorts to shipping with no weapons themselves, don’t we give them a quite engine and hull design and hang the Type 2087 sonar of them ? Then use them as part of the Aircraft Carrier task group so that air defence and helicopters can be provided by the T45’s, ache’s of flight deck on QE/PoW and anti shipping capability (if the right missiles bought) of the F35B’s.
Otherwise we are going to do what we have done with Land Forces. Buy equipment because it was the right price and end up asking it to do things (Ajax for example now being asked to be a mobile 2,000 mile self deployable medium tank when in fact it has tracks instead of wheels and only a 40mm gun and no Anti Tank Missiles.) it can’t. If you are going to buy kit, then buy the right kit and have the purchase task driven not driven by accountants who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

Fedaykin

You won’t see an OTO-76 or a Bofors-57 on this class of vessel especially with the price capped at £250million. Inducting a new gun system with all its associated support costs is a non starter!
It will be one of three options:
1) 5″ MK45 MOD4 refurbished from USN examples as per the Type 26 (best long term affordable choice)
2) 4.5″ MK8 Mod1 taken off Type-23, cheap in the short term but more costly in the long term as it requires maintaining an orphan weapon system
3) DSM30 MK2, also cheap but then regulates the vessel to being a glorified OPV

Grubbie

Refurbished mk 45 for type 26 was I think, 60 million £ or $.How on earth they got that expensive, I have no idea, but that is unaffordable for the type 31.

4thwatch

BAE is a scam, why cant people see this? When they bought British Leyland they couldnt make it work. What design was done was all Honda. BAE had nothing to bring to the party. Of course one could go on about the damage and pain they did to whatever they touched.

Fedaykin

There are some underlying issues that people are missing especially when people name drop other Frigate classes built elsewhere, I note that people keep on bringing up the South African Valour class. Not all ships are built equal and some questions have to be asked.
1) Did the cost include weapons and sensors?
2) What level of survivability was built in? A number of vessels look fighty but actually couldn’t survive a rather mild hit lacking the armour, compartmentation or fire suppression systems that the RN would expect. (Samuel Beckett class a case in point)
3) Beyond a big gun on the front does even have the sensors or fire control systems that the RN would expect for a surface combatant. (Again Samuel Beckett class a case in point)
4) HABATABILITY! This one always gets forgotten.. RN habitability standards are some of the strongest in the world, partially due to regulations but also largely as a retention strategy. Even large foreign vessels that are often praised for excellence like a Flight IIA Arleigh Burke have accommodation that would not meet UK standards. The new QE class is a luxury cruise ship in comparison to the new Ford class, the junior rates messing facilities on HMS Queen Elizabeth are twice the size of those on a US super carrier. Building in the comfort costs money, I know some old sea dogs will mutter about the coddled new Matelots but the RN has no choice if it wants to retain crew.
5) Can the vessel sustain itself away from home for long periods of time, many nations buy very fighty looking ships but they can’t deploy for that long away from their home port.
This is why a stretched OPV starts to become the likely outcome when a hard figure like £250 million is bandied about. Yes you can get a vessel for that money with all sorts of shiny weapons bolted on but for that price it is probably not that survivable and the crew won’t want to be based on it.
Addendum, compare the crew accommodation of a US Arleigh Burke:
http://static4.businessinsider.com/image/503d076eecad044d6d000011-1200/once-aboard-sleeping-assignments-were-provided–the-top-right-bunk-was-mine-dozens-of-enlisted-sailors-sleep-down-here-and-the-nights-were-filled-with-cellphone-alarms.jpg
With that of the Type 45 and you will see the issues that face Type 31e:comment image

Shades

1.) The price of the T26 is heavily inflated by the slow build schedule, because it is essentially bearing all of the overheads of the yards building it. At a rate of around one every 18 months, each ship has to bear 18 months of yard overheads. If one per year were being built, each ship would have to bear only one year’s overheads, saving a chunk. The same factors fed into the hugely inflated cost of the B2 Rivers, which had to cover the Clyde costs for 2+ years.
MOD hopes that T31 will avoid this by: (a) not bearing all of the overheads of any yards, as each of the other yards will continue to do other work; and (b) having a build rate of one per year.
I’m not saying it will work, of course, but these are factors that mean that a straight comparison with the cost per ship of the T31 vs T26 can’t necessarily be taken at face value.
2.) £250m looks really low, though. The MOD tries to give itself a get out in the NSS, by saying that if that price doesn’t work they look at something else. I think that that in fact gives industry a get out, to offer something unacceptable at £250m and dangle something borderline OK at £50-£100m more. No sign of that at the moment, of course; industry (excluding BAE) is making all the right, keen noises, but it’s a big risk to my mind. If that happens, does the MOD blink and does it have any more cash to put in?

Iqbal Ahmed

As I mentioned before, a truely independent and effective RN lobbying site like this needs to concentrate on more than simply arguing for more money for ships and armaments fora more rounded discussion more in tune with the issues that actually concern society.
In light of the arrest of 5 members of the armed forces for engagement in far right terrorism, it would be good to have an article addressing the extent of the problem in the RN and measures taken against such undermining activity within our forces. For example, the English Defence Leagues ‘armed forces division’ page got 14,000 likes and some were from serving and ex members. Also a member of National Action, Seth Foster, apparently got into the army despite his open support of a proscribed group.
Personnel is in many ways more important than the ships in terms of saving our navy and I think some discussion is merited, particularly because I did notice some posting on this site which doesn’t necessarily sit right with a diverse and multicultural Britain that the RN serves ( I can give an example of asked).

Fedaykin

An interesting point to raise but in the end the vast majority of those who post on websites like this (myself included) are armchair admirals who predominantly interested in talking about Warships, their design and deployment.
I have no doubt the person who runs this site would be interested in running an article that covers the issues that concern you but it is not likely to garner as much interest as an article like this where we can all argue about ship design.
That isn’t to say that we are not concerned about these issues.

Silent Majority

Here we go again. I have viewed this site for over a year a now and barely an article goes by without comment from your good self.
I see that often people who may not have seen the pattern of your comments, take them at face value and attempt to engage the points you make, thinking you raise them out of genuine concern, thus feeding the flames.
However, those who have read your comments over any period of time can clearly see that you cherry pick pieces of information, usually expressed as part of the spectrum of a sincere, balanced article, and then use it to smear the RN, the wider military, or even the entire country. For instance, in this example you have again expressed ‘concern’ over a real issue, and used it as a clumsy mechanism to infer that the military is full of far right infiltrators and terrorists, on a popular website, leaning on the open door of ‘modern societal concerns’ and ‘diversity and ‘multiculturalism’ as paltry justification for this slur.
I would venture that your formula is:
1. Express a contrary point to the article as being more important.
2. Display faux concern.
3. Insert an unrelated problem that is being dealt with publicly already, or else how would you know about it?
4. Exaggerate the scale and importance of same and infer it is being ignored.
5. Tenuously connect it to something already universally unacceptable in this country including the RN.
6. End with a faux constructive comment about nebulous future steps, express faux ‘impartiality’ and pretend to care about that which you slur and deride at every opportunity.
7. Wait for next article and repeat.
You clearly have nothing but thinly veiled contempt for this country, and I feel sorry for all those giving their all for their service and their country who will doubtless look at such comments and ask themselves, ‘is it worth it?’ or ‘why do we work to protect such people’. In my opinion most of us are far more worried about the influences of snowflake opinion, pervasive Marxist attitudes at all levels of society, the death of journalism, and the manipulation of public dialogue by entities for their own ends, largely by social media.

Iqbal Ahmed

My posts show I have respect for RN personnel. Throughout my posts, I always advocate for the importance of the safety of RN personnel eg. through caution regarding involvement in high intensity conflicts and sending under equipped/manned ships out to conflict zones. I don’t think that is showing ‘thinly veiled contempt’ for personnel doing a difficult job compared to some of the Hooray Henry types here who seem to think we should involve ourselves in conflicts across the globe.
My point about potential far right infiltration of the RN is that I thought SavetheRoyalNavy was a lobbying site for the Navy. Not a ships enthusiasts hangout, of ‘Armchair Admirals’. This would make the lobbying less than effective as it won’t address non hardware issues plaguing the service.
Far right elements also exist on this site, thus my comcern about such thinking in defence circles. For example, a poster by the name of ‘Cecil Rhodes’ stated in comments on the article The reasons HMS Queen Elizabeth is not nuclear powered:
‘unpatriotic hordes of stateless fifth columnists in our inner cities’.
This is the type of 1950s throwback views which being this site into disrepute with regards to wider societal values. It also besmirched the RN tombs associated with this mentality.

Silent Majority

Here we go again. I have viewed this site for over a year a now and barely an article goes by without comment from your good self.
I see that often people who may not have seen the pattern of your comments, take them at face value and attempt to engage the points you make, thinking you raise them out of genuine concern, thus feeding the flames.
However, those who have read your comments over any period of time can clearly see that you cherry pick pieces of information, usually expressed as part of the spectrum of a sincere, balanced article, and then use it to smear the RN, the wider military, or even the entire country. For instance, in this example you have again expressed ‘concern’ over a real issue, and used it as a clumsy mechanism to infer that the military is full of far right infiltrators and terrorists, on a popular website, leaning on the open door of ‘modern societal concerns’ and ‘diversity and ‘multiculturalism’ as paltry justification for this slur.
I would venture that your formula is:
1. Express a contrary point to the article as being more important.
2. Display faux concern.
3. Insert an unrelated problem that is being dealt with publicly already, or else how would you know about it?
4. Exaggerate the scale and importance of same and infer it is being ignored.
5. Tenuously connect it to something already universally unacceptable in this country including the RN.
6. End with a faux constructive comment about nebulous future steps, express faux ‘impartiality’ and pretend to care about that which you slur and deride at every opportunity.
7. Wait for next article and repeat.
You clearly have nothing but thinly veiled contempt for this country, and I feel sorry for all those giving their all for their service and their country who will doubtless look at such comments and ask themselves, ‘is it worth it?’ or ‘why do we work to protect such people’. In my opinion most of us are far more worried about the influences of snowflake opinion, pervasive Marxist attitudes at all levels of society, the death of journalism, and the manipulation of public dialogue by entities for their own ends, largely by social media.

Shades

Another area of concern for me is the emphasis on using commercial shipbuilding standards as the default position and using naval standards only in exceptional circumstances where absolutely necessary. A real risk here of corner-cutting, I think, as it will be invisible to all but insiders and present no short-term political risk. This could seriously put their survivability at risk and make them potential death traps, as well as increasing through-life maintenance cost and time, reducing availability and money for other things.

Geoffrey Hicking

This really is Fantasy Fleet territory.
5 ships and no more- we can’t afford anything else. We do actually have capable ministers and civil servants. I don’t care the rank of anyone on this site- are they in the MoD? No? Well then. The fleet is the size it is FOR A REASON.
The price will go up. That is the price of good quality kit. No, we cant modify anything else (for pity’s sake, read the Thin Pinstriped Line on this one) to make up for shortfalls in numbers. No we can”t have more money- if anything the budget will have to be cut significantly over the next decade.
The fleet is actually more capable than it has ever been, and pessimists really ought to shut up, The experts have it in hand. Accept it please.

Geoffrey Hicking

That was incredibly arrogant of me and I apologise. I let my own inadequacies and ignorance on the matter get to me.

william.testaert

That Steller désigne looks like a pretty good ship! Aft mission bay, a bit like recent dutch designs, sturdy, well armed…a tue RN type of ship!

Darren

Eyes should be on the real prize for serious UK shipbuilders. The Fleet Solid Support Ships.

David Broome

GBP250M can get the RN a lot of ship and the Type-31e ought to be a contender for the Royal NZ Navy’s ANZAC Frigate replacement in the late 2020’s. If you are in any doubt look at what ST Engineering builds for the Republic of Singapore Navy; the Japanese Navy’s Type-31e-like 30000 tonne Frigates being ordered now at USD443m each; and what DSME has built for the Royal Thai Navy http://navaltoday.com/2017/01/23/south-koreas-dsme-launches-thai-navy-frigate/. If that discipline holds at GBP250M then the Type-31e could become a ‘Leander class’ for the 21st Century. Five hulls now could become 5 + 7 to get the RN back up to 26 surface combatants.