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Andrew Insley

I think that this article gets all the key points. I believe that the RN has been burnt by the T45 which whilst very capable (yet unproven) in their primary role as a AAW frigate, they are very expensive and complicated which has led to issues around availability. The RN effectively put all of their eggs in a few very expensive baskets. This leaves the Fleet stretched and unable to fulfil all of their tasks. We then have utilised these Ships to conduct mostly maritime security type roles that could have been undertaken by much simpler and cheaper Corvette/OPV type vessels.

Simon

The only way the T31e is a Corvette is if the cheaper of the BAE designs were to be adopted, which looks highly unlikely. The Vanator proposal quotes endurance of 7000nm. It’s a Leander with a hangar or a broadbeam T21.

Iqbal Ahmed

The Type 31e is a child of austerity. It’s capabilities reduced due to fiscal considerations. I really hope it is t deployed to high intensity theatres of any potential future conflicts. It better fits a post Brexit patrol and policing role.

Shades

Fitting CAMMs would make a big difference to T31e. With its 25km range CAMMS can provide basic group air defence, giving T31e an escort capability and potentially even a role in a carrier task group. It would also, of course, make it much less vulnerable (and less of a liability) passing through high AShM risk areas, e.g. Bab-el-Mendeb.
Of course, building it to a baseline commercial standard and thereby limiting its survivability if hit, undercuts its credibility as a fighting ship.

David Stephen

Only the Babcock design is to comercial standards. The Venator 110 has high end survivability built in. Fitting Sea Ceptor is a no brainer, without at least that it will be of little use in actual combat.

Paul

I think Shades was referring to the outline requirements for the T31e as part of the National Ship Building Strategy. Myself I like the look and spec of the Spartan design.

Shades

Yes, I was referring to the outline requirements. Since Babcock and BMT have teamed up, I’m very interested see what their design submission will actually be.
Re Spartan, it would be good to have a 3rd horse in the race, but there’s no sign yet – that I’ve seen at least – that Stellar have managed to get any tie up with a shipyard, so not sure where that leaves their bid.

4thwatch

I agree the Stellar Spartan looks the best offering. Wont be chosen unless RN builds it itself.

XYZ

Sea Ceptor is not required by the specification. All the ship need have is provision for a single phalanx. Sea Ceptor is part of the nice to have list.
The specification does put an ABSOLUTE price limit of £250m on the ship.

Andrew Insley

Any hit by a modern torpedo, missile or bomb is going to destroy any warship’s fighting capability out whether it is a T45 or a OPV, so where does survivability come into it. With regards to SAMs like CAMMs they are complete waste of cash as they will never be more than a point defence system.

Shades

Not sure that’s true, if you consider HMS Glamorgan.
I don’t know what the price of CAMMs is relative to other systems but would have thought the main cost would be in the guidance and controls rather than the range, which is what would give it ability to provide defence for escorted ships.

Andrew Insley

I said modern! Glamorgan was hit with a glancing blow by a Exocet 36 years ago!

Shades

Unfortunately, I can’t think of any more recent examples of a ship built to naval standards hit by a torpedo, missile or bomb, but would welcome one!
As to glancing blow, that was because of the Glamorgan’s evasive manouvre specifically intended to help his ship survive the impact, assisted by its in-built survivability.
I would concede though that Glamorgan didn’t play much more of a role in combat after it was hit.

Shades

Come to think of it, though, the size of the warhead would be what would affect survival after a hit, rather than modernity of guidance/control systems etc. So I think Glamorgan is still a relevant example, other than in re hypersonic missiles, of course!

Grubbie

Glamorgan was pretty close to sinking and might as well have sunk,as she became a liabilty rather than an asset.
Survival of the crew is another matter.

Knotty Ash

Shades & Grubbie. I was on Plymouth when we were hit on 8th June 1982. The next day we sailed to the TEZ for Repairs/Patching up by Stena Seaspread. We were joined at Stena Seaspread days later after Glamorgan was hit on 12th June. Plymouth was back on the gun-line after repairs on the 14th June and stood down once the surrender was announced the same day.
My point being that Glamorgan arrived for repairs a day or so prior to the surrender so I fail to see how she could have been much more use prior to the actual surrender. However if I was ex-Glamorgan I would take offence at your statement ‘liability rather than an asset’. Remember that the aim of a warship is to Float, Fight & manoeuvre in that order and Glamorgan was still fit to carry out all 3 of these tasks even after taking the hit.
Sorry for going quite a way off topic but I feel I should defend my comrades.
Al the best

Shades

No offence intended from me; utmost respect to you and your comrades. I don’t think you’re off topic either for what it’s worth.

Grubbie

I recommend reading Ordeal by Exocet by Ian Inskip.
Glamorgan’s main weapons system was useless regardless of combat damage.

Knotty Ash

Good Morning Grubbie. To be honest it’s one of the many books that I have not read concerning the conflict. So does it suggest that she lost her capability to use ALL of her weapon systems – Exocet, 2 x 4.5 guns, Sea Slug, Seacat & 20mm close range armaments?
I was a Bunting Tosser so very much non technical but I’m still pretty confident in saying that at least one of those systems would have been available even in the immediate aftermath of the attack & after repairs at Stena Seaspread I would have expected the vast majority of her weapons systems to be back in use. It matters not, we sailed home in Company with her until we reached Gib where we let off steam!! (we had no deaths on board) whereas Glamorgan continued home to Pompey. I will order Ian’s book and have a read, been meaning to for sometime so thanks for the reminder.
@Shades – thanks for your comment yesterday.
@everyone – enjoy your Friday & weekend

UKExpat

Well said! People should at least do some credible research before making derogatory comments.

David Stephen

What about the crew? Survivability doesnt just mean the ship can take a het and keep fighting, it means it can take a hit and not sink with all hands. And Sea Ceptor is not a point defence system it has a range of at least 25km maybe more.

Bigmac

I hope the UK continues with Type 31e project. There is a certain quality in quantity. Personally, I would love to see Britain build 5 more Type 45’s, at least 13 Type 26’s and at least 13 Type 31e’s. Hopefully there will be an export market for the 31e’s. Lastly the RN must increase staffing, an issue shared by many NATO navies including the US Navy.

Grubbie

Global,this seems to be where the problems begin .Why do we suddenly need all this range?The majority of the ships in the Falklands task force had far less range.

JME

What about building a stretched T23 with modern equipment and calling it a frigate?

For St George

JME that is exactly what I was thinking. Type 26 should be re classified as a general purpose frigate with its mission bays and versatile MK 41 missile silos.
Type 31 should really be a Type 23 batch 2, an out and out sub hunter.

JME

I don’t know why we are trying to reinvent the wheel. T23 is a proven warship/Sub hunter and we already have the designs for it. Surely that’s low risk and cheaper than building one from scratch? Especially if it’s for exports as well it would look better if we could say ‘over 30 years of operational experience on this but now it’s been modernised.”
It would be the same as saying I’ve been happy with my old reliable Ford Focus but now I’d like a newer one please with better engines and Bluetooth. Also I’d better future proof it so make it an estate.

Rick

How about classifying the surface fleet as follows ?:
Type 42 – Cruisers
Type 26 – Destroyers
Type 31 – Frigates
OPV – Corvettes

Phil Brown

T26 would make a better cruiser (as in autonomous ops). With mk41 loaded with ssm; aam 7,000 nm range, good at asw could look after itself better. But I’m not sure RN needs such a capability.
Edit + mission bay

Rick

Correction Type 45 not Type 42

Andy

Maybe we could or should change the system to a degree and just cal the T26 a destroyer

Clare

The government should prioritise defence instead of sending aid to despots in corrupt countries

Rick

I think the Navy should have retained warship classifications along WW2 lines. Is the Type 42 Daring Class in the tonnage range of a WW2 Dido light cruiser? I believe the new Type 26 is a smaller ship than the Daring Class, hence call it a destroyer. Surface fleet as follows: 6 Type 42 Cruisers, 10 Type 26 destroyers, 12 Type 21 frigates and 6 OPV Corvettes. Surface fleet looks more respectable configured like this.

Steve

err correction Type-45 please. Know your Royal Navy!

4thwatch

Type 31e rather than Type 21, the Vosper frigate of the 70’s.

phil

Surely the batch 2 River class OPVs are corvettes in everything but name. Built for low intensity constabulary operations they only need a decent-ranged UAV system to perform pretty much all the roles that T21 and T22 frigates performed for years in the Caribbean and elsewhere at a fraction of the cost. We are becoming obsessed with building over sized over complex £500m plus weapons platforms. Are all the T45 still in port or have we managed to get one the Solent yet?

XYZ

One is in the Med for a few months then it goes on to the Gulf.

4thwatch

So we should be looking at FFS La Fayette?

Peter Marsh

If the Batch 2 OPV’s are to be re-classified as a Corvette then surely their armaments would have to be scaled up to meet that change? No existing OPV could be rated as a small class warship like a Corvette in their current form. The OPV class sits underneath a Sloop-of-War which in turn is under a Corvette.
Batch 2 armaments:
1 × 30 mm cannon
2 × Miniguns
2 × General purpose machine guns

Jim Cunningham

Sloop may be the most appropriate term for Type 31e given the general understanding of the term Corvette in European usage being mostly short ranged, lower endurance and reduced weapon capacity. The most important detail for Type 31e however is whether it is a fighting ship or not. Type 45 and Type 23/26 contribute to the AAW and ASW battle, Type 31e is unlikely too. There is definitely a need for an economical grey hulled, white ensign toting global patrol ship which will free up FF/DD capacity but we can’t expect it to be a fighting ship if were only paying for an enhanced OPV.

Pacman27

I think you may have just hit the nail on the head – if T26 is called the Global Combat Ships why can’t the T31 be called the Global Patrol Ship.
For me I think its a Frigate and the T26 is a destroyer – but totally renaming both changes the dynamic totally and is probably more accurate at this point.
To formalise it all the T45 would also become a Global Combat Ship and we accept 2 classes (old and new) going forward.

4thwatch

In today’s environment any warship of whatever size needs a valid ASW or AAW system or they wont be around for long. In reality the type 45’s, and 26’s are both cruisers in the old sense in that they can operate independently over considerable distances. The role of escorts has now passed to helicopters and increasingly to drones.
The type 31 is becoming muddled IMHO. What to call it is largely besides the point but it needs fully comprehensive point defence which if it has its a light frigate or if it doesn’t its a corvette-OPV. Hard to define at this point in time.

Pacman27

The T26 is a destroyer in all but name – give it a Sampson or CEAFAR radar and it will be better than T45 in every aspect.
T31 is a frigate – it is so similar in size and weight to the T23 but modern in its design, so all good as far as I can see. But we do want to make sure it meets military survivability criteria as a minimum (in fact Michael Fallon has committed in writing as DefSec for no repeat of Snatch Land rover), so not sure how the RN can specify something that does not meet this requirement.
I do wonder though why we can’t use all the knowledge gained in the 20 year development of T26 to inform the hull form and design of the T31 – seems to me to be a major issue with waste. We have a world class hull – why can’t we shorten it (accepting some loss in performance) for the T31 – after all I don’t think any frigate really needs a chinook capable deck, its just over specification.
As for being hit by torpedoes etc. There are some good videos showing old warships being hit multiple times by Harpoon etc and taking a real hammering before sinking (USN seem to do this a lot), so not convince a hit is terminal unless you are very unlucky.

Grubbie

Look on YouTube to see modern torpedoes explode underneath a ship and snap it in two.Look at Coventry,Sheffield,Nottingham (Just one class)plus dozens of other combat and non combat damage over the past 40 year’s or so to see how small a hit has to be to sink or take out of action a ship for more than a year.

Donald_of_Tokyo

1: A 250M GBP ship will never be a credible frigate (FREMM and T26 is 600-1000M GBP or so), nor proper-light frigate (FTI is 450-600M GBP). We have to note Floreal-class, with 2%/yr inflation corrected, is 200M GBP ave.
Floreal is “Surveillance Frigate”. But, it is NOT an escort.
2: I like to call T31e a Corvette. RN re-defined its meaning in WW2. Also, corvette as a flower-class in WW2 and as a Khareef class now is very different meaning. Why not redefine once more NOW? Using the name “corvette” (or sloop) for a Floreal-like surveillance frigate = T31e in RN is not bad. This will make it clear that T31e is NOT an escort.
Note, anyway T31e has a strict cost-cap of 250M GBP average, which is less than half of that of FTI, and therefore will never be able to be a credible escort. Such optimism in cost, we see many times, T45 (it was said to be 350M GBP unit cost, I remember) and T26 (also 350M or so), and see what happened. Such optimism make big hurt in RN planning and must not be repeated.

Grubbie

Its not optimism,its flat out lying. The admirals know perfectly well from previous experience that fleet carriers are unsustainable for the Royal Navy.

4thwatch

The Carriers are affordable when you increase the defence budget to appropriate levels, which is a manifest possibility. Present levels are historically low levels.

Grubbie

You would have to triple the RN budget to come anywhere near a viable structure once you start talking carrier battle groups.

4thwatch

“Triple the RN budget”. Show me how you worked that out, because I’ll bet you have just pulled that figure out of the air. Intention is for one carrier group to be active at a time.
You also forget the F35’s can be used for UK air defense when carrier not at sea. Carriers are a win win especially as they have mean level of manning. When the Invincibles and Harriers were scrapped the RN was the ultimate toothless tiger.

Grubbie

The rule of 3 was just wished away with some talk of”new technology “There are not enough escorts,never mind something for attrition. No one has come up with a plausible mission that’s worth risking them.There is insufficient manpower.

4thwatch

The manpower issue is partially solved by borrowing some of the aircrew off the RAF. How this works in practice is anyone’s guess, but if the 617 squadron pilots come they will also come with their groundcrew surely. Qnlz class have same ship crew as an Invincible. So in themselves the 2 new carriers don’t put an undue strain on manpower, compared to 3 Invincibles they are very manpower efficient.
My belief is because they are big everyone if getting unnecessarily critical of these fine vessels.
The topic we are on is whether the type 31e will provide an answer to carrier task group escort shortage. The answer is Yes because they free up high capability escorts which otherwise would be plodding about on anti piracy duty etc in various oceans far from home.

Grubbie

In the absence of a proper war ,you might as well send high capacity escorts on anti piracy patrols,etc.Much better than trying to hide them round the back of pompey dockyard because they are unsevicable or lack sufficient crew.The same thing dosnt work in reverse,with low end ships with no clear defined mission and a random cost ceiling.

Peter Marsh

http://uk.businessinsider.com/the-decline-of-the-uk-armed-forces-in-charts-2015-2
https://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/past_spending
We need to at least double it to 4% to be credible. It was 5.1% in 1985 and that was the last time it had risen. Ideally it needs to float at 6% and be protected from cuts.

Peter Marsh

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-31750929
A history of defence spending in the UK

Harry

It depends on the design we use. If we use the Venator 110 then I would agree that it is a corvette. However, if we go for something like the Sparton then it would definitely be a frigate. Its to early to say with mo selected design.

Donald_of_Tokyo

“What design?” is very minor issue. Strict limitation in cost governs the design.
T31e cost is right in the middle of large-corvette or smaller-light frigate. Rumanian navy is paying similar cost for Sigma 10514 class. German corvette’s cost is not much different from T31e.
T31 cost is “only twice larger” than Netherland’s Holland-class OPV.
(I think T31 cost is “only 10-20% larger” than Floreal-class Surveillance Frigate, although inflation correction is rather difficult here).
FTI cost is “more than twice larger” than T31e.
T26 cost is “4 times larger” than T31e.
These are the fact.
Among many things not determined on T31e, the cost is one of the few “strictly defined” ones. I’m not saying it is good, but T31 project stresses a lot on it.
By the way, did Spartan bid to T31e? No info on it.
What is known is there are Babcock/BMT team and Camel Laired/BAES team.

Callum Manning

Nothing yet from Stellar Systems, which is a shame, because Spartan and Arrowhead from Babcock are the only two that look “right” as credible warships. Leander looks like an armed yacht, and the Venator has a barn for a superstructure with the bridge in the wrong place, and looks about as intimidating as my left foot.
I believe every major yard has declared for one side or the other now, so unless Stellar join up with an existing team and get their design built instead (I wish), thats the end of Spartan I’m afraid

Paul

Arrowhead is based on a Coastguard cutter design and is not a frontline warship design. Babcock CEO saud so at DSCI last year.

Callum Manning

I can’t see why there are so many people kicking up a fuss about the classification. The French Floreal-class are classified as frigates when their entire armament is a 100mm gun, a couple of Exocets and 20mms, and decoy launchers, all because it has a 10,000nmi range.
As far as outfitting goes, I think our best bet is to look at the Russian Admiral Grigorovich-class, which were built as a cheaper option to the Adm. Gorshkovs (sound familiar? Its not just the RN compromising). The Grigs are the same sort of size as a theoretical T31 (125m, 4000t), and have a 100mm gun, 8 strike length VLS, 32 air defence VLS, a pair of CIWS, 4 torpedo tubes and an ASW rocket launcher. They also have facilities for an embarked ASW helicopter. They have stocks for 30 days, but only 4850nmi range, which is a bit low for what the RN wants, and I can’t find any source that says they have sonar for ASW.
So a T31 version might look something like: new standard 5″ gun, a single 8-cell Mk41 launcher supplemented by 24-36 Sea Ceptors, a Phalanx gun, probably a couple of DS30s and miniguns for junk busting (which can be looted straight from T23s), and facilities for a Merlin. Discount the torpedoes and rocket launcher, they’re listed on the specification but the RN seems to be abandoning shipboard tubes with the T26 and there isn’t the money to develop or introduce a new rocket/mortar system, so the Merlin (and hopefully a future Spearfish ASROC for both new frigates) will have to do. Similiarly, a towed array would be fantastic for North Atlantic patrols but its an expensive option the T31 can live without as long as it gets a decent hull sonar and is carrying a Merlin (a lot of capability is going to depend on the helo). Range bumped up to 6500nmi and stocks for a month at sea, and we have a pretty well rounded frigate. Provide space for something like a cannister launched Harpoon replacement for ASuW in the future, and the Mk41 can be packed with Tomahawks or (fingers crossed) ASROC.
Any disagreement, or shall we all head over to Whitehall and get things moving on this?

Grubbie

Mk 45 gun alone is£60milllion,reconditioned!
How are you intending to pay for the mk 41 launcher and something to put in it?

Callum Manning

Less than £60mn actually. The contract for the design and manufacture of the first 3 guns for the Type 26, plus a land based training setup and ammunition, was £183mn. Later contracts, without the additional costs and with the benefit of bulk buying, will be a fair bit lower.
Same logic with the rest of the equipment. Buying in bulk and maintaining commonality across the fleet will reduce both purchasing and running costs

4thwatch

How about putting on a 76mm gun forward and a marinised MLRS on the stern. They should be thinking out of the box with the type31e.

4thwatch

Yes good plan. But make it look like a proper RN Frigate not a yacht or a wonky billards table. We don’t want to be the laughing stock of the world.

Lardybloke

Just a small observation. This may have been raised as I have not yet read all the comments.
Some of the designs, like Venator 110 and Arrowhead for example, have mission bay systems included. For a smaller affordable frigate than the Type 26, especially if it is to be exported to others with budgetary constraints yet need frigate size and capabilities, is mission bay architecture necessary fir the Type 31e?

Grubbie

The RN like to be fashionable

Callum Manning

To the best of my knowledge, a mission bay is basically just a big space where different modules can be fitted. It’s not an expensive option, but it offers lots of potential for the future, which makes it a very good thing to have. The overall hull of the ship is, relatively speaking, cheap. It’s what goes inside all that space that drives the price up

UKExpat

At 3 / 4,000 tons the Type F31Frigate is clearly far to heavy to be classified as a corvette within the current perceived range of warship types, the only reason a politician would suggest such a change would be for crude “Spin Doctoring” purposes.
Surely a more logical and acceptable classification change might be to upgrade the Type 45 Destroyers and Type 26 Frigates, at 7,000 to 8,000+ tons, to Light Cruisers and down grade the Type 31Frigates to Light Frigates. It might well placate both inflated egos and the want to be “Spin Doctors”

Callum Manning

A surprising amount of people are suggesting “upgrading” the rankings on our current escorts as a solution, which is in no way logical or useful.
In RN parlance, destroyers are bigger AAW escorts and frigates are smaller ASW and GP ships. Turning the T45s into cruisers (light cruiser is no longer a designation, and the RN never really distinguished between them, cruisers were all just Cxx) and the T26 into destroyers does nothing but alter an established system. Where’s the logic?
Tonnage is no longer the sole deciding factor in classifying warships. Role is just as if not more influential in that regard. A corvette is a smaller vessel designed for short range defence of a local area. It may be very heavily armed for its size, but it’s the range and intended role that defines it. Frigates and destroyers are (to use the WWII phrasing) fleet escorts, with the range and speed to stay with the aircraft carriers on global deployments. Cruisers in the modern sense are big, heavily armed command platforms, like the Kirovs or the original Invincible design

Jassy spik

It’s a waste of money, and just a poor excuse and attempt by the government too blind us, by building 5 useless ships for the simple purpose of numbers of ships the Royal Navy doesn’t want or need.. that’s not including the funding in RnD of the design.. The Royal Navy needs real fighting ships. 16-20 Type 26’s and another 10 Type 45’s with upgrades power generators of course and fully armed..

Callum Manning

Meanwhile in the real world, the RN is trying to find realistic solutions instead of coming up with unrealistic figures for dream fleets.
The RN NEEDS a cheap, versatile platform to relieve the stress on an overburdened fleet. Sending out our tiny fleet of specialised T45s and T26s to do general purpose duties is wasteful overkill, and putting undue mileage on hulls we need to last for a while.
The aim of the T31 is to try and produce a modern T21. Now the T21 was heavily flawed I admit, but the main issue was that the civilian designers didn’t leave enough margin for upgrades, something which has been included in the T31 spec. If we can get 8 or so T31s with nothing but a 5″ gun, Sea Ceptor, a CIWS, a helo hangar, and deck space for upgrades, the RN will be in a far better place than it would be with just 5 GP T26s (which would’ve been practically the same as the ASW ships but without a towed array. Massive expense for a ship meant for tasks like the Armilla patrol and not the nuclear deterrent escort

Chris Paris

Why not a batch 3 river class then, increase the Hull by a few meters add a Merlin sized hanger to one side. The increased hull would improve the speed and performance of the hull and allow for a towed array sonar at the stern. The mission bay as described is not actually necessary in any case the hanger can add up to an enclosed working space when not required by the helo.

bigmac

Another issue is having sufficient to service the fleet they have.

4thwatch

Can we have some interesting names for the vessels? Why not start with British naval Heros?

Andy

The Governments, Labour and Tories need to be taken to task regarding cutting defence at every opportunity.
Defence spending needs doubling, probably more, Army recruitment needs addressing, RAF maintenance needs addresses urgently, and a plan for building more larger ships needs to be made
The NHS needs stripping back, broken up and sold off. It doesn’t matter how much money you throw at the NHS, it;s fundamentally broken. It’s broken because it’s a beached whale. And the money we throw at it are like buckets of water.
Welfare also needs stripping back for the same reasons. Far too generous. So generous that you can actually make a life and live on it in perpetuity.
The government has the money, and quite frankly I’m sick of them pretending we’re broke, and we can’t afford anything.

Humpty Dumpty

Problems with the Type 31:
– No bow sonar (originally planned, then removed presumably to come in on budget)
– No SSTD (or else fit the Krait Defence System)
– No CIWS (my preference would be the Oerlikon Millennium Gun)
– A 76mm gun would be better than a 57mm gun (my preference would be an OTO Melara 76mm with DART and PFF ammo to take out anti-ship missiles and VULCANO to take out fast attack craft)
– All guns should be deck penetrating to allow for fast auto-reloading (essential if up against loads of fast attack craft with anti-ship missiles and torpedoes; to deal with torpedoes fit Scutter and/or anti-torpedo torpedoes like SeaSpider, MU90 Hard Kill or SSTD CAT)
– No DS30Ms (the more layers of defence against fast attack craft the better especially in the Persian Gulf)
– Griffin missiles to take out fast attack craft
– Fit APKWS rockets to the Wildcat since LMM won’t be available for some time
– No Mk41 VLS for quad-packed CAMMs (at least 48)
– No anti-ship missiles (for the Persian Gulf my preference would be RBS-15 Mk3/Mk4; it also doubles as a land-attack missile)
– An armed USV firing armour-piercing rounds to take out fast attack craft