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Paul Humphries

This all feels very depressing.


It is. I pretend I am Italian or Korean these days and read about their navies. 🙂

The RN is broken. 🙁


They might be superior in surface combatants wise, but compared to those the RN does have the vastly superior QEs and the nuclear submarines which is very much a game changer.

Hans Hermann Völckers

And the British Empire too?


RN is far more focussed on Nato than the far away ‘commonwealth’

Rob Collinson

A fantastic article.. Well done.


Rather annoying that the destroyers have had pip done more or less at the end of there career’s our politicians have a lot to answer for, Because they have let our defense as a whole end up being a national disgrace, ever since the Berlin wall came down our armed forces have become nothing but a token gesture, too much of it will have to do, while billions are spent elsewhere on stupid things like a train set that will what save 20 minutes on a journey what a waste….


The T45 destroyers are nowhere near the end of life. The first one won’t leave service until the mid late 30’s at the earliest and probably much later than that.


As ATH states, there will be plenty of T45 life left. I doubt the first 83 will arrive until the back end of the 30s.

HS2 is actually worthwhile. Not because it takes 20mins off a journey, but because of the extra capacity it gives to the overall network. For that reason alone its worth doing.


If the existing network was in a good state of repair, resilient and providing a reliable service I would totally agree with you because enhancing our infrastructure to remain competitive is crucial. However, given the state of the Railways in the UK, which predates lockdown I cannot help think we should have first addressed the shortcomings in what we already have. Sadly being old enough to remember how awful the nationalised railway system was I don’t believe that is the answer.
HS2 will just become another but enormously expensive part of a failing railway network.


Hi N-a-b
Big announcement today… Thursday
Big bits of HS2 being scraped or postponed…. Our government know how to spunk billions on things and then not finish them… Ajax and Crossrail spring to mind


Ajax and Crossrail are not the best examples. They may be late but will both be finished as planned.
I suspect the delay to HS2 is as much about paying off Tories in the north midlands as it is about saving money of reducing cash demand.

Supportive Bloke

Great article.

Underlines why ordering T32 (T31B2) promptly is essential to prevent the T45’s being worn out through overuse as the T23’s were.

Having a brand second string of frigates takes pressure off the very precious high performance T26’s vessels on the front line.

Given the glacial rate of T26 build the T32 might actually still take pressure off the T23’s never mind preventing the T31’s from being worn out in short order.

However, you read the build Gantt chart it: everything is still suffering from decades of lack of frigate building.

It is all very well producing Power Points and Gantt charts that show greater ‘efficiently’ by using fewer hulls more intensively. But you then hit increasing statisical reliability issues that no amount of fancy footwork will get around.


Not entirely sure how a T31B2 which is incapable of force AD would be an adequate substitute for a T45.

There’s two issues here. The first is that SoS has given an edict to all the TLB-holders to increase the availability of their assets. That is a direct result of 17 years hiatus in frigate building, leading to an ever-ageing frigate force all trying to access a limited support infrastructure for non-fleet time support. That infrastructure has limited capacity which means that the emergent work takes longer, which means that more ships are unavailable. All of which was one major factor behind the end of the T26 game of chicken, when it became clear that further delay in T26 would collapse fleet numbers for precisely that reason. That’s been compounded with the T45 issues – most of which are now less to do with PIP and EIP than the assumed maintenance cycle and the associated spares support – which has been inadequate to put it mildly.

The second issue is the pace of build, which is driven by two things – residual adherence to the complex warship ToBA, which basically means that BAES limits its workforce on the Clyde to a level that can meet the drumbeat, which is in turn driven by both funding level in the EP and fabrication capacity (limited) at Govan.

However, the thing that is missing from all this is the design capability, which is why just knocking out some more T31s would be a major mistake. You end up building what is essentially a 20 year old design – chosen as a compromise to get a cheaper frigate into the programme – while not having designed a new ship since the late noughties / early teens. That is simply asking to repeat the issue experienced with the T26 design. If you talk to BAES or Babcocks privately, you’ll find that corporately they’re terrified of “new design” because they see it as “risky” (precisely because of the T26 experience). Which is essentially learning precisely the wrong lessons.


This is why sitting on the concept phase of the T32s for an extra year is a terrible idea. If it comes out of concept in Q2 2024 it won’t be possible for Babcock to build a new design as an immediate follow on from the Type 31. It’s probably that there will be no choice other than building a T31B2 or delaying using an interim TOBA ship while the design work is completed.


Babcock haven’t delivered a ship yet.

There won’t be an “interim TOBA ship” because to the best of my knowledge the TOBA became defunct when T26 B1 was let.

There’s nothing wrong with slipping the concept phase for a year to get it right. What you then need to do is make sure the basic design phase – and approvals – are executed as they should be.


The reason TOBA was put in place was to keep the shipyard going during a dry spell so as not to lose skills. That same imperative is there in Rosyth and I use it as a shorthand even if there is no actual TOBA.

You say there’s nothing wrong with slipping the concept phase to get it right, and I’d agree, but there’s no evidence that’s what’s happening. The official excuse is that they have a dependency on the installation of the CMS in the Type 31s and want to see how that goes. I don’t get that, and I’m not sure I believe a word of it. Perhaps you can explain how that can affect the concept requirements so radically that it’s necessary to pause the process.

Surely the concept would be better released and the basic design worked on, which gives us better a chance to get that right. If there’s been a concept assumption which is shown to be flawed by the T31 fit out, any reworking can be done at worst to the same timescale as it would be with a deliberate slippage. If there’s no flawed concept assumption, we’ve gained the year.

I believe it’s the usual prevarication that unless you can absolutely prove you need to spend money, you aren’t allowed to, even if it’s the sensible thing to do.


The reason TOBA was put in place was to keep the shipyard going during a dry spell so as not to lose skills. That same imperative is there in Rosyth and I use it as a shorthand even if there is no actual TOBA.

You say there’s nothing wrong with slipping the concept phase to get it right, and I’d agree. There’s no evidence that’s what’s happening. The official reason is that they have a dependency on the installation of the CMS in the Type 31s and want to see how that goes. I don’t understand that. How might that affect the concept requirements so radically that it’s necessary to pause the process?

Surely the concept would be better released and the basic design worked on, which gives us better a chance to get the right. If a concept assumption is shown to be flawed by the T31 fit out, any reworking can be done at worst to the same timescale as it would be with a deliberate slippage. If there’s no flawed concept assumption, we’ve gained the year.

I believe the delay is because unless it can be proven money needs to be immediately spent, it’s disallowed, irrespective of whether it’s the sensible thing to do.


I think the delay is more about not actually knowing what they want T32 to be and how they want to operate it. It is quite easy to say GP frigate. It is quite different to visualise what that actually means in terms of ship capabilities and systems. Saying something is modular and capable of operating “uncrewed” does not make it so.


As you have said elsewhere, before HMT allows the money to be allocated the RN needs to come up with a very strong case for why a task needs doing and why the proposed solution is the best VFM.
I think part of the problem is the ideas were given a public class designation much sooner than would normally be the case. Is was do to BJ’s need for a good PR story. The RN gave him that, possibly in the hope it guaranteed money. Now BJ is gone all bet are off and the normal rules apply.


I would be very surprised at that approach by HMT. Once a cabinet decision is made to approve a major capital purchase of say ships or tanks or planes , then thats it done. The yearly funding required would be itemised out as part of the cabinet paper approval.
eg from the 2022 forward Equipment plan
‘Over the ten years from 22/23 we plan to spend £242 billion on equipment procurement and support, compared to £238 billion planned in last year’s update. ”
You seem to be of the view that Treasury has a veto when it might say you dont have the money etc

For instance
“. Unlike other projects in the Equipment Plan, the financial risk to the Dreadnought programme is partly carried by HM Treasury through a contingency facility established at the 2015 Spending Review, which allocated £10 billion for contingency on top of the £31 billion programme expected to be funded in the Defence budget. The contingency is available to ensure that the programme can be delivered to schedule, by allowing for changes in the spending profile or total funding without resorting to cutting spend in the wider Defence programme.”

“The cabinet is the higher power not HMT and for the navy the various Integrated Reviews decide which projects are progressed
“Navy continues to benefit from the significant investment in the shipbuilding pipeline as a result of decisions outlined within the Integrated Review. This strategic and long-term investment remains on track and will increase the capability and size of the Royal Navy’s surface fleet, including procurement of three Fleet Solid Support Ships, a Multi-Role Ocean Surveillance Capability, Multi-Role Support Ships and Type 26, Type 31 and Type 32 frigates.”

Future cabinet decisions may cancel or reduce numbers but they too are based on overspending or a new series of priorities

As an eye opener for our ‘big gun’ enthusiast, this is what 5 only 5in guns plus ammunition handling will cost
‘BAE Systems, Inc. has received a $219 million (GBP181 million) contract to equip the Royal Navy’s Type 26 frigates with five Mk 45 Maritime Indirect Fire Systems (MIFS). The system combines the 5-inch, 62-caliber Mk 45 Mod 4A naval gun system with a fully automated Ammunition Handling System (AHS).”
That will certainly include sustainment costs after the capital purchase cost but its the thick end of £30 million for each gun

Last edited 11 months ago by Duker

You’ve got it backwards.

What ATH and I are referring to is HMT approval to proceed through the various gates – Initial Gate to enter Assessment Phase and Main Gate for approval for manufacture. Inclusion of a project in the long-term Equipment Programme does not mean it has passed Main Gate. Which means it doesn’t necessarily have HMT approval.

Certain programmes – like Dreadnought – attract national strategic decisions and dedicated cabinet approval. Most others only require cabinet office approval.


Perhaps, but the Admiral giving testimony to the select committee said there was a wait on the T31 CMS installation next year. I admit that TACTICOS was an unusual choice for T31 and it’s an open question if T32 needs to return to BAES, but isn’t that too in depth for a concept phase?

Once the operating concept has been understood (as best it can be for a GP frigate/mothership for which flexibility must be a primary consideration and for which it’s expected to be operational until 2060) and the capability bucket list worked out, I’d argue we should be bringing in industry without delay to help refine the requirements against the expected scenarios. Isn’t the creation of a detailed exquisite requirements definition against which companies must bid the wrong method for a second-level frigate, and hasn’t that already be shown in the discussion of too-high expected prices?

I’m only spitballing though. I’m not sure I understand the LRG operating concept as a whole, and targetting the Type 32 to be an integral part of it has to pull it in a very different direction to the Type 83.


Tex was hardly likely to say that “we haven’t figured out the actual requirement in detail yet for this conceptual modular frigate”. So he baffled the assorted chimps with bullsh1t – which frankly, isn’t difficult.

This isn’t about detailed exquisite requirements. It’s actually about the real KPRs for what they want the ship to do – which, given that offboard systems / uncrewed stuff and modularity are involved, needs some thought.

You only have to look at the shrieking and chimpery on here about the T31 weapons fit to understand that getting it “wrong” early might not be the best policy. That said, the T31 requirement had nothing to do with operations or capability and everything to do with available off the shelf and can be portrayed as being <£250M.

Which is why for something where you do want to consider ops and capability, plus the buzz word bingo about modularity / offboard systems, you need to think hard about what that means.

Last edited 11 months ago by N-a-B
Supportive Bloke

I’d say the first line of this is the real reason.

The contact for T32/T31B2 will be let once RN eyes are on a pretty finished T31.

I can’t understand what the CMS issue, that others allude to, is as TACTICOSS has been integrated with NS100, Mk42, 40mm, 57mm and Phalanx before so the software modules exist. Sure it needs deconflicting etc

Supportive Bloke

Yes, you expressed by concern.

Although a straight order of one or two more T31 would cover that?


I agree, but I’m in favour of continual GP frigate production at Rosyth with early sales. Without that commitment, if we buy two more T31s there will be no T32s.


What would you use to pay for early sale a replacement of T31’s? The is no indication the HMG is going to substantially increase RN funding.


It wouldn’t need a substantial increase and could be made self-financing. However, it would need the Treasury to agree that audited financial benefits to the exchequer from the method (including export sales revenue) can flow directly back to the MoD. In exchange the country becomes richer, RDEL is exchanged for CDEL and the country is better defended.

The Treasury won’t play ball of its own volition because they are addicted to stasis. It would need ministerial direction from a Chancellor who wants the headlines. So I’d make sure the decision/announcement could happen in the run up to the next General Election.


I think he means additional hulls for second line tasking keeping T45 next to the wall ready for the occasional cruise with the duty carrier.

Last edited 11 months ago by X
Supportive Bloke

“ Not entirely sure how a T31B2 which is incapable of force AD would be an adequate substitute for a T45.”

That misconstrues my comment.

What I was trying to express was that T45 would be worked to death as a GP warship if there was nothing else quickly.

Then the same fate befalls T26.

I don’t see the issue with T31 as it is a perfectly adequate GP vessel.

I do take your point on refurb capacity: particularly people capacity in various yards. The numbers down South were allowed to wither post QEC.


I knew what you meant.

Supportive Bloke


Although I wasn’t suggesting keeping T45 at the wall as that isn’t the best for a ship or crewing either but keeping a reasonably balanced tempo.


Four active frigates does not sound like a reason to be content. Under the circumstances, all things concidered etc should not be reasons to accept such a low figure. We need to be more critical of our politicians whatever their flavour and certainly not grant them get out of jail free cards based on our voting habits. Delcaring the navy saved sounds like expedient reasoning, much akin to excusing the current state of dilapidation because the shower on the other side of the house would only make it worse is no basis for progress.

You had me twitching a bit at the mention of Gantt charts. Spot on. The Gantt chart says that eradicating all the rabbits from the grounds of Imjin will take one month. No one thought to factor in the life cycle of a rabbit and therefore the unlikelyhood of ever getting rid of all the rabbits, but the chart says 1month………

Supportive Bloke

Everything crossed for that to be the case.

Relatively small amounts of money would green light a lot of essential kit and design work to get moving.


Ah “Fortran – an ancient programming language”

Damn I’m ancient 🙂


An oldie but goodie. And one that ‘IT world’ is still struggling to replace.

Supportive Bloke

I still get colleagues ringing/emailing me to ask how to do things in Fortran and Cobal.

There is a lot of it about and less and less people who can remember it or do anything with it.

I’m not sure why you would need to change stable engine management code? I understand why Paxman Valentinas are yesterdays news.


I have never understood the ire COBOL garners. In business you spend most of your time processing lists of stuff and carrying out quite fixed processes. There is no better tool than COBOL. Yes it is a verbose. But it isn’t that bad. Surely it is an advantage that you basically can read what is happening from the listing?

In another life many eons ago my section head was made redundant at the same time a manger whose skills set was more modern ie PC based. My old boss thanks to COBOL was never out of work. Ended up earning twice as much for half the time in work. He was drowning in work. The PC chap struggled. He even worked in a warehouse for a while.


I was an ‘obsolete’ mainframe (assembler, COBOL) programmer when I started working in 1979 and continued to be one until I retired as a consultant in 2020.

If COBOL is still in use and it is, it is not obsolete and it behooves TPTB to have trained staff to maintain these systems. They of course will not and will need to raid retirement homes (the running joke in the late 1990s when Y2K fixes were all the rage) for support staff.

Supportive Bloke

Quite – sorry spell checker mangled COBOL above. I’m not really aware of anyone training loads of COBOL fluent staff: unless you know otherwise?


There are still classes. I told a summer intern once that knowing COBOL would differentiate him from the other interviewees for that first job. He called me a year later to tell me I was right and that he was hired specifically because he was the only mainframe literate candidate.


You can still get modern COBOL compilers for Windows, Mac, Linux, BSD, Unix etc. Fortran still shows up all over the place if you look under the skin. I must be getting old.


Depressing Paul Humphries, it is. More so is the fact that we cannot even fully man 13 frigates!!


People are the biggest challenge for all the services. They need to work out how they need to change their offering to become an attractive choice for todays 18-25 year olds. And yes it is the services that will need to change, calling young people “snowflakes” and telling them to “man up” won’t help, in fact it will hinder.


I have a son in Royal Marines and other family members in the RN and to attract people you need to improve pay at entry level, provide decent living and training accommodation ashore and give people time at home. The bean counter mentality of having just enough manpower puts pressure on existing personnel to deploy too regularly, which impacts on retention. The end result is even more pressure on those that remain and eventually not enough personnel.
The real decline started with the disastrous 2010 defence review and the loss of 5000 personnel from the RN. I cannot express my contempt on here properly for those two Eton clowns who have caused 20 years worth of damage to the Armed forces.




Yes. Government isn’t business. Something the government doesn’t seem to grasp.

Poor grasp of defence goes way further back than 20 years. I would say all the way to fallout from Suez.

We put too much faith in America. Hindsight suggests to me that as soon as we had enough ‘A-bombs’ we should have left Europe to the Europeans and returned to the White Commonwealth for a global maritime alliance. But we are where we are. The nature of war and warfare is changing. We need politicians who can steer us around conflict; that is our best hope.


The problem of manning levels in the UK armed forces is really an issue of declining birthrates of -0.49% per annum. This problem is one that plagues all developed economies, even the Chinese have hit that wall and are starting to see negative annual birthrates.

Russia for example is having problems fielding an army in the Ukraine as we speak. The USA is also having problems with recruiting for their armed forces.

The problem is not new and not only confined to the armed forces. In the UK the NHS started in the 1950s recruiting staff from the former colonies and continues to do so to this day. Tech companies also have been doing so since the 1990s, In the USA called H2 visa system.

The answer to the declining population and thus manning of industry in advanced economies really lie in automation and immigration. In the case of the UK armed forces, the RN in my view is best suited to utilize both these approaches to solving it’s manning problems.

Wanting to be a global power with a large fleet all over the global is readily solved by recruiting graduates from the former “brown” and “black” colonies in Africa and Asia, on the lines of the UK army Gurkha recruiting model ( modalities can be worked out). Note that unemployment is high in many of these countries and you have a large talent pool of English speaking educated technical people who could be recruited and given service contracts not as rich as UK citizens (reduce burden on HMT), but with promise of good end of service packages depending on Length of service, with UK residence and citizenship for those who sign up and are retained for say 10 plus years.

I know there are many in the forum who are loathed to recruit non Anglo-Saxon or Celtic origin people but note that in the old Empire days a major part of the Empire forces were “brown” and “black” citizens of the Empire. Example the largest element of the Empire army was the Indian army.

So for the navy recruiting a sprinkling of UK officers among Commonwealth recruits on ships such as the OPVs, supply ships and the GP Frigates that would be built to patrol large areas of the world could be manned by these recruits while the majority of UK citizenry personnel could be concentrated in the CSGs and the submarine fleet.

Just an idea for folks to mull over.


The Empire was mostly gone by 70s . the only remaining non british unit is the Ghurkas.
Its said that Britain itself its 5 mill born outside Europe and 2.25 mill born in Europe.

The manpower numbers arent really a problem as the population has increased to 68 mil from 55 mill in 1970 ( plus a lot of older Britons retired to warmer Med countries)

Recruitment has been outsourced like many other functions and thats the problem


For the RN specifically, Africa is not a good option. Most of Africa is land centric. Better to look at the Indo-Pacific where a large number of nations are island based & very maritime in nature. Philippines has the world’s highest number of (civilian) maritime workers. Top 5 worldwide sees Russia coming in number 5. Everyone else is from Asia (Philippines, Indonesia, India, China).

Bloke down the pub

The addition of SeaCeptor to the T45s still seems like a long way off.


Next refit cycle is when I would guess. I doubt the engineering work is yet done to integrate the system’s hardware and software. When it is I doubt there will be a desire to take ships out of the fleet just to fit Sea Ceptor. Once the re powers are done I can see the T45’s working very hard to reduce the pressure on the remaining T23’s in non ASW tasking.


Summer 2026 to Winter 2032 to install it on all 6 ships according to that article from this site. That was announced in Summer 2021 so 1 ship done (if it goes to plan) 5 years after that, and only 11 years to finish them all…


Pathetic. We need to spend 3% GDP on defence.


That looks like one refit cycle to fit out the whole fleet which sounds about right.

Supportive Bloke

Exactly my point above


The Mk 8 Mod 1 gun needs to go for a Leonardo 76mm design. And the Sovraponte variant will fit amidships replacing Phalanx and the hangar roof. T45 needs firepower for missile defence. EW is fantastic and works very well. But it isn’t enough.

comment image


Any reason for not going for the 56mm and 49mm combination that are being fitted on the T32?


I think he posted that image because that antenna means with guided rounds in OTO 76mm.

I never understood why the top of the line RN AAW asset have a gun that can’t do much for that mission…it is silly risking a T45 do some naval bombardment.

Also i don’t see radar directors in T31 so i think that frigate guns are more for gunboat mission than anti-aircraft/anti-missile

The time to buy the OTO 76mm would have been 70’s and put them in all Type 21 at least. That way there would not be so many sailors deaths because of RN missile fetish.


The 56mm has guided rounds too, has anti-air capabilities like the 40mm, and is the gun of choice for the new USN Constellation class frigates.

The T31 is equipped with the Thales NS110 radar which feeds into the CMS to provide radar guided gun control for the 56mm and 40mm guns.

Last edited 11 months ago by Sean

There are no operational guided rounds for 57mm and those that are near will be for anti-fast boat and not anti missile.

USN do not use 57mm gun for anti missile, but they have SPY planar radars covering 360º which means it can track permanently the enemy missile

NS110 cannot track permanently the enemy missile, it rotates at 60rpm at most. It means that an important part of a subsonic missile flight 300m/s is not tracked and only guessed. The missile can fly 150m for example and there is no way to know where is it until acquired again.


Tracking is not ‘missed’ with rotating *search* antenna. Unless its doing corkscrews and the lambada the predicted path is fairly straight forward.
Anyway the tracking radar for the missile or CIWS stays in constant target lock, so refuting your concept its is ‘looking the other way’ which is volume search only

The missile design doesnt want to break up with huge stresses on airframe towards the end of flight with major course changes.
A cruise missile wants to keep just above the waves , not into the drink.


Tracking is temporarily guessed with a rotating search antenna. In past was not even possible.

It is just enough a small change of speed and deviation, no wacky maneuvers needed 5m off for example an the gun rounds go to useless atmosphere.

There is no tracking radar in T31 that is my point, so unless the EO head can keep tracking, difficult in bad weather there is no way to know what the missile did between each rotation.
I bet also the system is made for the gun to fire a burst after each radar target reacquiring.


T31 needs the X band NS50 added to it as a secondary radar. It’s supposed to get a stop & stare feature in future allowing it to be used as a dedicated fire control radar if required while also being a general backup to the NS110.


That’s the STRALES version in the picture, with inbuilt radar for DART guided ammunition. Leonardo also now supports certain other non integrated radars for DART (with supposedly more to come) for 76mm SR guns. All 76mm SR (120 RPM) & upgraded compacts (100 RPM) can handle Leonardo’s big gun version equivalent of Bofors 3P ammo (plus Volcano at 40km range).

Sorry this is in response to X.

Last edited 11 months ago by D J

No prob DJ it was helpful.


Is Diamond a bit of a lemon, or just unlucky? She has the normal T45 problems, then I think the bad luck of some kind of shaft/screw damage in 2017. On CSG 21 I think she had a gas turbine pop, then other various issues. and now persistent issues in 2022?

Given the crew issues for 12 frigates, is there some plan to increase the baseline budget for more crew if we built the mythical 5 extra T32’s, or could they scrape crew together from the Rivers/elsewhere?

Craig Lewell

The 5 Type 31’s require fewer crew to operate (circa 100 per ship) than the 5 Type 23 GP (circa 180 per ship) and it’s envisioned that 3 of the B2 Rivers will replace the B1’s in UK water freeing up crew. With the Mine countermeasure fleet going autonomous, there maybe crew savings there as well.


If as seams likely most if not all of the T31’s are double crewed to enable continuous deployed service more people will be needed rather than less.


THIS ^^^^^


Extra crew isn’t just a money thing. The RN needs to find a way to attract and retain quality young people from todays generation. This will probably mean significant changes to what it means to be a RN sailor.


of the just over 30k trained RN/RM personnel as of last year ( and excluding the roughly 5K in RM) my guess is that 65% never or almost never go to sea.

this is a bit older (2017) numbers in each RN ‘branch’ and specialisation etc

Some may find useful details , there was 270 medical officers, 80 nursing officers and 100 other medical such as dentists plus 840 medical ratings

There was 6380 engineer ratings both sub and surface and 2790 Air engineer ratings plus 1500 engineer officers all types.
There was a column ( in red ) showing deficit below authorised for each specialisation


The experiences of the past ten years is that the RN specifies two basic aspects of ship design that need correction in future builds.
First they under power our ships. This has been most obvious in the Daring class Destroyers.
Second they build our ships with too light gauge steel. I am not a marine engineer but we need to build better. Steel is cheap. Repairs expensive. Our ships operate in the North Atlantic and Far North. These are two of the most rigourous Ocean environments on the planet.


The T45 was not underpowered, it did not work the way it was supposed to.


Under-powered? That’ll be the ship that exceeded its design speed by 3 kts on acceptance trials then?

Too light a gauge steel? Do tell. You do realise that the ships being discussed were designed in the 1980s and are being operated way beyond their design life? Or that using “heavier gauge” steel might just have one or two other teensy-weensy little consequences?

Strangely, ships designed to modern naval Class (like T45, QEC and T26) tend to consider these factors.


It was the ship that generated less ‘power’ than the conventional Horizons it was based upon. How did that happen then?


Both types have 2 gas turbine engines in the 20-22MW class. One is RR with Westinghouse recuperators/intercoolers while the Italians /French use GE LM2500


Go away.


I have some history


I am saying that because increasingly one sees the stress on the hulls of the Type 23s but even the River 2s.


Stress identifiable by what exactly?


this is Tamar hull- while being fitted out



Gavin Gordon

On B2s, the only thing puzzling me is why Trent’s alongside in Gib.


It’s supposed to be a drive line problem.


I can’t believe that the RN accepted a frigate design with an expected 18-year lifespan. That’s unconscionable. Major surface warships should be designed to a 30-year lifespan.


18 years is a good idea tbh, now ship building is steady, replaceing ships at around 15 years old will SAVE a lot of money, the word no-one wants to hear is obsolesence , it costs so much in man hours/money to replace parts, thousands of items, millions in money.
you can normally get to 15 years but after that the costs skyrocket.


That was the mindset at the time. They were expected to lead a hard life deployed mainly in the North Atlantic and be ready for replacement before 20 years old. Same with the T42s and even the T22s would not have lasted much longer. There is some logic in it as on balance probably better to build new and have a high tempo shipbuilding programme rather than spend a fortune maintaining and constantly refitting outdated old ships with little life left in them.

Supportive Bloke

Blame Sir John Nott – he wanted cheap, cheap, cheap.

He still can’t understand the use of an aircraft carrier.

He is an idiot and I’ve met him and spoken to him at length.


The RN didn’t just accept it, they – and the MoD – argued for it. The rationale for it was that the Leander class modernisations (Ikara, Exocet, GWS25, Sonar 2031) had proven so expensive that they would never again conduct major capability upgrades like that. Instead, they would design ships with limited through-life growth margins, that would have one major refit at mid-life and then be disposed of after 18 years.

Unfortunately, they had forgotten the difficult bit which happens when you ask the Treasury for the money for a new ship. There will be three big questions :

Do you need the capability that particular ship/class provides?If the answer to the first question is yes, is it technically possible to run the existing ships on for a longer period?If it is technically possible, is the capital cost to do so less than a new ship?The answer to all three questions is generally “yes”, unless you are convincingly able to caveat that answer with the need for an increase in capability beyond that extant, which either adds sufficient technical risk and/or cost that a new ship makes sense. But it is very hard work, particularly when there is a limited actual threat and other needs on the purse. I have heard people making spend to save cases for over twenty years and it is really hard to make it stick. Only when there is truly no alternative does HMT budge.

There is a difficult trade-off between ship – and more precisely – class life, obsolescence, design and build capacity. The T23s had a 12-13 year build period, which meant that St Albans commissioned only five years before Norfolk should have decommissioned. Arguably that build run was too long because it contributed to the gap in design activity, which led inexorably to the T26 shenanigans. Personally, I’ve always favoured smaller classes of ship with a mid-20s lifespan. Gives you flexibility in that you’re not trying to replace double-figures of ships in one go, you can standardise equipment items (and ILS) over a couple of classes and you don’t end up asking for big wedges infrequently.

You also have the inestimable advantage of retaining design skills.

Last edited 11 months ago by N-a-B

That all came from Nott and his army acolytes too. He stopped the T42 mid life update ( for fairly new ships) and said no more ordered after the 7 still building and stopped the follow-on destroyer design process – which led to the long pause till T45 and its issues.
Over and over you can see its the tory party who have this destructive streak, no surprise then in the House of lords the Defence spokesman for labour is a former Admiral while the Tories had previously an antique dealer ( Howe) and currently a Scottish solicitor (Goldie)


Ah yes, the inestimable Alan West. A man who denies ever knowing the carriers were being designed for STOVL while 1SL. His credibility post Corporate is somewhat damaged.

The reason the T42s stopped was down to two factors. Firstly, GWS30 had severe limitations against emerging threats – and secondly, the decision was made to build more T22s (with the slightly more relevant TA sonar and GWS25), including the batch 3s.

Do remind me again which party prevented the FSC proceeding beyond initial gate in 2000, again in 2003 and yet again in 2006. While also cutting T45 numbers from 12 to 6.

If we’re talking credibility, you may also wish to examine which party combined the role of SoS Defence with SoS for Scotland. Remember Swiss Toni?


And Classic Outboard (AN/SSQ-108(V))

comment image


Only 1 T22 was announced by Nott in his piece de resistance ( the post Falklands orders for B3 was replace sinkings )

To be fair he did have an ear for the silent service:

our nuclear propelled attack submarines (SSNs), soon to be equipped with the anti-surface-ship guided missile Sub-Harpoon. ‘There are 12 at present in service, and the fleet will build up further to 17. An order worth £177 million is now being placed for the next Trafalgar-class boat [maybe Torbay] to be built by Vickers (Barrow). We intend also to proceed with the new class of diesel-powered submarines (SSKs)

The Way Forward a pdf


What has that go to do with anything?

Though Not Always Boring is right about the need for ships with TAs and super duper Sea Wolf the reason for the B2 was Classic Outboard. It was why they were stretched the B1 was too short for the “interferometer”. At the time it was a wizard piece of kit.


The T45 was cut to 8 and the RN ‘chose’ instead of spending the money for the last 2 ( when they were £650 mill each build cost according to NAO) to stay at 6 and spend to progress what would become the T26 .

The 2010 election and the Tory merry go round, reprising Nott, stopped that for 5 years.
Sure West wasnt perfect …even Fisher got things right ….and wrong… but its the complete incompetence of the Tories from the PM down ( excepting Boris) to the various former antique dealers and such they have in positions of responsibility.

The GWS 30 or Sea dart was supposed to have an upgrade for the T42 midlife. Nott stopped ALL that. Eventually the T45 had the extra 3D search radar on the main mast but not the better version of Sea Dart

You would think stopping T42 build at 14 might be a good idea so that a poor hull structure design didnt continue to be built. If the follow on design and development went ahead instead.

In hindsight stopping builds makes sense for below adequate designs like T42 and T45 , but why again….. and again kill the the next design/develop program.

Last edited 11 months ago by Duker

You can keep believing that nonsense if you like. Those who were there know otherwise.

It’s a bit like your risible contention that 65% of RN trades don’t go to sea. You’ve never actually set foot on one of His Maj’s grey war canoes, or dealt with the people who crew them, have you?

ETA – The Sea Dart upgrade you refer to didn’t address the fundamental flaws of the system. Which is why – short of a fusing update and from memory an upgrade to the trackers – it didn’t go further.

Last edited 11 months ago by N-a-B
Supportive Bloke

You are right – Sea Dart’s limitations were well known.

Part of the issue was the handling mechanism which the whole ship was built round.

So RN were stuck with those missile dimensions which in turn constrained the development pathway.

The reality was that if you started with a clean sheet of paper post Corporate you wouldn’t have built a missile system that way at all. Everything from radar to computer to missiles wasn’t optimal and the next problem is that T42 was built specifically around that system.

By that stage it was pretty clear that VLS was the way to go.

So building more T42’s wasn’t very sensible or very useful.

That said Sea Dart did have a quieter upgrade pathway that did address a lot of its perceived short comings (MOD2) which then ultimately included improved fuzing (MOD3). The Sea Dart system that went out of service was far removed from that of Corporate.


Really ?

A more radical development known as Sea Dart Mark 2 (GWS 31) was cancelled in 1981 Defence Review but incremental improvements were made over its lifetime. The most significant development came with the Mod 2 (1989) version which focused on the radars and guidance software. This almost doubled the range, enabled more than two targets to be engaged simultaneously, improve clutter discrimination, allowed re-targeting during flight and the ability to fire on crossing targets.”

Yes I know my limitations on the sea numbers but those who should know add nothing of value ( like many tourists they visit but dont absorb anything)

The Commons library gave the RN staffing in detail in 2017- linked in earlier comment- and with 6380 engineer ratings in that year, something is very wrong if the they couldnt put 10 ships or less at sea at the time without ‘staffing problems’. 10% of that number might be enough ?

A T45 destroyer engineering staff only 82, T23 is 76 and includes engineer officers ( 5 or 4)

heres the proof – dont bother with your whataboutisms
Complements of Royal Navy Type 45 destroyers and Type 23 frigates by branch and rank

There was 280 medical officers – essentially doctors as other specialisations are separate ( plus medical ratings) maybe they only go to sea once or twice in their naval career if that As the manning of the T45 and T23 doesnt require an actual doctor at all. Sure plenty to do at bases but there should a basic requirement for a few months at sea


Yes, really.

The improvements referred to did not address the fundamental limitation of the GWS30 system (which by the way is why what became PAAMS/Sea Viper was being developed). While this is a fairly good website, quoting articles from it, does not necessarily make it true.

Now, wrt to manpower, part of the reason for the relatively high number of med staff is the need to retain a surgical capability for real wars. Funnily enough that doesn’t really get exercised on deployments on ships – which is why many of those med staff are deployed in the NHS as part of Defence Medical Services. It’s also why the RN (and other services) are able to respond in a war with forward medical units which save lives. You can’t outsource that kind of support – can’t see the junior doctors and consultants from the NHS going south on Corporate or supporting Herrick can you?

On the engineering front – the “shortages” are known as pinch-points because they tend to be based on experience and qualification to fill a particular role on the ship. Gaining that experience – and retaining the people who hold it – is a non-trivial task, which is not simply a matter of numbers in a table.


Absolutely. I was only putting numbers on it to see what it turned out like . fisrts estimates you might say in your line of work
Having medical manning is fine, but just proves my point about many never or rarely go to sea, and thats maybe for good reasons. However not all medical doctors are trained for trauma ( that a war would bring) unless they work in a inner London ED!
The engineering is more problematic. I was surprised how just having say 5 or 6 escorts at sea ( at once) just needs 400-500 engineering in total. The carriers and the OPV and a few other things adds to that.
The detailed breakdown separates out submarine and air manning. Air especially, helicopters and planes fly all the time not just at sea so thats excluded.
One thing I cant consider because of my lack of actual experience is the ship manning is divided by rank, so its an issue if you dont have the right number of CPO for example.


Lots of different types of trauma. RTA, penetrating weapon, barometric can be experienced across the UK. All different responses required – it ain’t all about GSW and stabby-stabby…..

Engineering is hard. Supervisory engineering is even harder. Those PO/CPO posts are pinch points for a reason and it isn’t the 2010 manpower reduction – although that obviously didn’t help. Growing those people requires experiential base – which in some cases was hard to get in the noughties – and by definition a seniority structure requires a wide base and a narrow peak.

Thing is that what you don’t see are the number of shore-based billets that also require that same experiential base. Pretty much every single equipment project team (acquisition and support) in DE&S Abbeywood requires a number of PO/CPO who understand how to look after the equipment, schedule updates, supervise maintenance policy and publications, supervise the repair loop, oversee the defect plot. Thats for equipment items ranging from pumps, to life-saving kit to communications consoles to gun mounts etc etc etc. Literally dozens of project teams. That’s before you get to the COM/waterfront teams at the three main naval bases who provide second line engineering support, look after fleet time maintenance periods and conduct engineering governance across the relevant squadrons. Same applies to submarines (except the number qualified is much smaller) and aviation (ditto). There are also safety certification issues. It’s a bit like being pregnant – you either are, or are not competent to execute the role you’re in. You really can’t blag it or pretend in this day and age. Not done the required courses? Not got the required experiential base? Do not pass go, do not collect £200. The DMR will shut you down in a heartbeat.

So it really isn’t just a question of adding up numbers of ships, their schemes of complement and multiplying the two. You should also note that some units (Kipion ships and some submarines) have multiple crews. There are also a number of shore establishments (training and operational) that have their own engineering staff as well.

The other thing to consider is that this limited number of people are also in the same age bracket that tend to have young families, for which some sort of predictable medium-term plot is essential. If you’re in a pinch point trade and just happen to have the right quals in a very limited number of people, there’s a significant risk that you get gangplank to gangplank deployments (ie you finish a deployment, get a couple of weeks at home and then you’re off to another ship on another deployment) – which is not conducive to a family life – particularly when your skills are readily transferable and in demand by civilian employers who can offer you both stability and potentially a better wage..

At this point, you often get folk (generally never-served) who blether on that “that’s what they signed up for”. Which is obviously very brave and helpful of those people, but in chocolate fireguard territory in terms of addressing the issue.

This is all a result of policies enacted by governments of all shades – and the RN itself – that tried to ignore the fact that without the right people to operate it, the best kit in the world is nothing but an expensive liability. People fall under resource budgets, which are unpopular (compared to capital budgets) because they don’t have a tangible accounting value, which is why the RDEL budgets are always a tasty target for the finance managers in all organisations.


Any contribution that claims BJ was a total incompetent idiot needs to be automatically ignored. History will have a hard time picking between him and LT as the worst PM of the early 21st century.


Really? You’re forgetting Tony Blair who with his cronies falsified intelligence to drag the U.K. into an illegal war in Iraq. The PM that had an open door immigration policy which was deliberately hidden from the public and who also wanted to take us into the Euro – thank god Brown stopped that one. As a consequence of his Iraq and immigration policies he fuelled the explosion in conspiracy theorists in the U.K.

Overall Blair has done more damage than any other PM.

Truss simply managed an unprecedented amount of damage in
in a spectacular short time.


For the RN, he seemed to be able to push some things to happen. The other stuff is for others to decide. Anyway history is best done from the long view


So which Labour government has not resulted in the RN being smaller and less capable? 1966 review under Healey cut the Navy, not least cancellation of the CVA-01 fleet carrier. 1975 review under Mason cut the Navy again by ~20 ships and initiated the rundown of the amphibious capability. 13 years of Labour government under Blair and Brown (particularly the infamous 2003 White Paper) resulted in escort numbers cut from 35 to 23 and SSNs from 12 to 7, despite the fact that SDR 1998 called for 32 escorts and 10 SSNs. Not to mention a bonfire of minor war vessels, Sea Harrier FA2s scrapped, Invincible decommissioned 7 years early, the list goes on and on. Labour is not the ‘friend of the forces’, whatever they may try to claim when in opposition.


The end of the Cold war was a ‘tipping point’ and it changed every thing…. from 1989 such as the 94 and 98 White Papers

Do tell what was the global change that Nott (81) and the 2010 defence cuts were based on ?
And you seem to have ignored the elephant in the room. 1957


Likewise, what were the global changes that resulted in the 1975 and 2003 cuts? The Sandys review was the same as all the others, i.e. a Treasury-led response to the fact that there is a mismatch between the UK’s military ambitions and its willingness/ability to fund it. Both parties are culpable. I never argued that the Tories have not cut defence and the RN in particular, I drew attention to the fact that Labour’s record when in office is no better.

Take 2010, had Brown remained in office there would undoubtedly have been another review. Given the state of the economy that equates to another round of cuts. You can go round in circles arguing about how deep they would have been and the form they might have taken, but we all know that the defence budget is an easy target when the Treasury wants to cut expenditure.


Well if you really want to know what drove the 1981 and 2010, there is a common factor in both. The previous government – guess which – had spunked all the money. What was Liam Byrne’s strapline?

Its also worth pointing out that Robertsons SDR98 was one of the better reviews in terms of rigour and analysis. There was a teensy weensy little problem with it though. The one-eyed porridge-wog financial genius refused to fund it.

David Graham

Couldn’t agree more. His disdain for the armed forces as no more than a drain on resources to fund his favourite social welfare projects was well known.


Disdain ?
They who was the financial genius who replaced him who cut the defence replacement budget to the bone and wrecked the future planning and development as a result.
Guess what the main story in this article is about. Its an appalling story in maintenance, refit and delay


Thats laughable …the old cupboard is bare argument. Doesnt wash these days as the government accounting required before elections will reveal the true state of the books. The GFC caused the deficit like every other country but thats what deficits are for …recessions.
The fact was the Tories wanted to cut all expenditure as the austerity clique was in control and believed the government should be much smaller and tax cuts for the companies and upper middle class


So Denis didn’t call in the IMF, Liam Byrne didn’t leave a note to the incoming Chief Secretary to HMT saying “I’m sorry, there is no more money”, Gordon Brown did fully fund the 98 SDSR and you really think that the 2010 coalition actually executed “austerity”?



Its a basic axiom of government spending is thats its ‘year by year’, or what householders would call –Spend it all

if you dont spend it theres a good chance it wont be in the next year budget

Surely you are aware say the RN isnt supposed to be saving money as unused cash or putting some aside for rainy days or the next government.

Those comments are just the sort of thing that are provided for tabloids to have fun with. Not a place to get real world information


Er. None of the comments in my post above pertain to annual budgetting or spend. It is a reflection of Labour “financial competence”.

Supportive Bloke

Invincible hadn’t been serviceable for ages by then. She was sat on rotten row, sans gearbox and just about everything else that could be stripped.

FA2’s decision was based around funding Tier1 on F35B – ultimately the right decision seen in present perspective. FA2’s needed a lot of money spent on them as there was no real commonality with the main branch of Harrier II.

The mistake was chopping GR7/9’s so continuity was lost with deck crew.

The rest of what you say it true.


I was referring to Invincible being decommissioned at short notice (all of 2 months!) in August 2005 only ~18 months on from a major refit that was meant to keep her in service until 2012. By 2009/10 she was little more than a rotting shell for sure and could never have been returned to service.

It is true that the FA2s needed a lot of money spending on them but post 2006 we had no naval fighter and the limited number of GR9s that were operational ended up mainly in Afghanistan. It was at this point (early 2007) that the capability holiday re. fixed-wing naval aviation actually began I think, 4 years before the 2010/11 debacle.


Wiki is not necessarily a good source of information. The CVS were always operated on a cycle of two in commission, one at “extended readiness” and it was her turn to go into the ER level. QEC at the time were supposed to be entering service ~2012, so she was never likely to have re-emerged, which is why her combat systems and comms were not to the same standard as R06 and R07. That “major refit” from memory was actually a Dockyard Availability Maintenance Period (DAMP), rather than a ten year refit for further operations.

It’s another reason why she was also heavily STOROBed.


My information is not from Wiki. Invincible was definitely not due to go into ER in August 2005. Illustrious was the only CVS in service at the time as Ark Royal was at ER and not due to return to the fleet until late 2006/early 2007. So the cycle of 2 in commission and 1 at ER was broken by the early decommissioning of Invincible as a cost-saving measure.

As for the QE class, the timescale was completely up the air at this time and no one had any realistic idea of when (or even if) the ships and jets would enter service. We did not even have a mature design until late 2006. ‘Supposed to be ~2012’ according to SDR 1998, but by 2005 it was patently obvious that this date was completely unrealistic.


Rejoin the fleet not the feet!


A great read to catch up on current events. Definitely feels like a transition period as t23 comes to end of a good service life.


It would take the government an extra £20bn per year for a decade to get us back on track.

And that isn’t going to happen. Sadly.

There is no plan. No clear cut direction.


Good article,many excellent and informed comments…One time greatest navy in the world reduced to less than 20 escorts which are mostly worn out,undergunned undermanned or don’t work properly or any combination…What do we reckon to put it right? Escort hulls to 30 minimum,10,000 new sailors,£150 bn extra over next 5 years (just RN,excluding Dreadnought) and buy the best kit off the shelf if needed for speed and economy.Pipe dream as we wait for MOD to eventually think that 9 or 10 frigates is plenty…

Oliver Gilkes

Scandalous. Ill advised parsimony. Bad design decisions. Ridiculous political aspirations.


Ask about chilean navy T-23…send your T-23 to Talcahuano…cheaper and better…


I hope the government (treasury) realise that limited number of escorts means they’re more heavily used and therefore don’t last as long and therefore will need replacing sooner. The limited quantity of type 26s planned will mean they’re used heavily.

Thomas Killeen

Excellent article on the status of the fleet. Alot of insightful comments here. After many years watching the general decline of warship numbers and capability while it would be great to see things moving faster at least they are heading in the right direction. To have Type 45 properly armed with the additional Sea Ceptor silo plus NSM plus the PIP coming to fruition finally will deliver the ships potential. Coupled with the upgraded type 23s and two new class of frigates in construction things look alot better than they did 10 years ago. Perhaps an armament upgrade to the batch 2 River class vessels would affordably enhance the fleets potential as well. I ll just comment on surface warships as per this article. As we say in Ireland it could be WORSE! WE now have 4 lightly armed OPVs with zero sub surface capacity, no missles armament and no aviation ability at all. … we will however buy you loads of Gunness when if you save us from the Russians!!!!

Last edited 11 months ago by Thomas Killeen

The Russians never will be coming for Ireland, just like it didnt happen in Cold War and the others in WW2. Doesnt justify Ukraine but the Russians are more concerned with their own borders ( and the Russians who live beyond them) just like the Irish and their ‘border’
Trump openly said the US wanted Greenland for themselves for strategic reasons when Ireland was a better option!


I would humbly suggest your biggest worry is your government in Dublin.


They are no better or worse than any other democracy right now, about average for Irish governments, there’s no votes in defence so the level of interest is pretty low.


We are talking about Ireland not here. And they are worse. If you live in Ireland and think not you need to wake up.


I do actually, do you? And yes compared to the clown show of the U.K. for the last 6+ years or the insanity of the US, Ireland comes out ahead.

Last edited 11 months ago by Mark

I am seem to be better informed on what is going on in Ireland than you are on what is happening in the UK.


After Irelands 2020 election it took 6 months – yes really- to come up with a new government…. a revolving door system not so different from the UKs
Sinn Fein has been getting more popular , that will be fun too see how that works


Their government is in Brussels not Dublin…

Last edited 11 months ago by Sean

We have what the voters are interested enough in supporting, defence spending has never been a vote winner in Ireland, so gets zero attention, it’s basically been that way since the founding of the state. And after the debacle of attempts to get the AC and NS to play nice with Eithne, pretty much everyone is slow to try again.


Wonder if Norway/Sweden/Denmark/Iceland can be persuaded reactivate a few Vikings to shake things up a bit?


What navy?

Harry Bentley

In the near future If things do hot up with Russia or China, perhaps the UK should look to buying or leasing from the U.S. Navy. It’s been done before! Interim solution to a depleted surface fleet!


If things hot hot with Russia or China do you honestly think the US will have ships to spare? Please try and stick to sensible suggestions.


The West is running out of escorts and submarines.

US ships are very manpower intensive too. We don’t have the bodies to crew what we have.


Clearly you’ve not been paying attention to the Russian Navy’s laughable performance in the Ukraine War…

Last edited 11 months ago by Sean
Supportive Bloke

Russia’s navy would be target practice for RAF and RN from day one.

I doubt the Russian surface fleet would last a day TBH.


looking at the RN history of the first few years of WW2 , you would say the same
Litany of major and minor sinkings …many of which shouldnt have happened.
I could talk about some of the Falklands sinkings too…that shouldnt have happened.
US navy has had major issues with collisions… grounding …fires.

Yet here we are


If it hotted up with the Russian navy..Russia would not have a navy left…they are pretty much running nothing but soviet built or designed ships.

Supportive Bloke

An extended submarine service?


From what I have read the Russian submarine service is focused on a bastion once they have used their cruise missiles I’m not sure how much they will actually contribute. From what I have read Russia is not that convinced of its nuclear boats ability to survive in the face of western ASW capabilities and would not risk what it essentially the most effective bit of its navy. although even its newest SSGNs are essentially Cold War designs from the 1980s..and the last SSN built was 17 years ago….and apparently a complete piece a crap that’s had a catalogue of failures and accidents ( it was leased to India and they have just given it back after another bit went wrong and killed someone).


last SSN was 17 years ago ?
not so.
First of class unit launched in 2010
around 5 in service and another 4 under construction ?

Design of follow on class Laika underway

India had an old Charlie class back around 1990, which was returned but had newer Akula type from 2011 , and replaced recently by different Akula after 10 year lease was up

So all your claims are goobleygook. It took me 2 min to check

Last edited 11 months ago by Duker

Ummm sorry mate but the the Yasen is an SSGN not an SSN the last SSN built by Russia was Nerpa…launched in 2006…a project 971 sub….so yes the last SSN was built 17 years ago…. The Nerpa was the ten year lease vessel….(names INS Chakra in Indian service) ans it was infact a total piece of shit…it had massive levels of faults, from low grade steel, to failing it’s dive tests a number of times…it’s fire system failed and killed 20+ people…it then suffered failures of propulsion system and finally an explosion that killed a member of the crew..India sent it back early as it was literally almost impossible to keep operational and a danger to the crew.
As for the Yasen, which is an SSGN…just saying that again…was designed in the mid 1980s and the build was started in 1993…it was commissioned 20 years later in 2013…every present Russian nuclear sub was actually designed in the 1980s.
it’s new SSBNs that it’s building were also designed in the 1980s with the first one started in 1996 and commissioned 16 years later.
as for Laika…’s not anything…ist at the same point as SSNR….but the difference is that the Russian has not designed a new front line nuclear boat since the 1980s….the UK and US have been designing and building new boats the entire time


The yasen class is an SSGN not an’s also a 1980s design. The akula built for the India navy ( the 10 year lease) was the last SSN was launched 17 years ago but had so many issues it took around 5 years to commission from launch ( it failed all its dive tests) it then proceed to have constant failures and the Indian navy eventually gave it back early after an explosion and an inability to keep it running due to how poorly it was build.

every Russia sub build or building is actual a 1980s design ( their SSGN, SSBNs etc). They have not designed a new sub since the 1980s..they are all USSR projects. As for Laika…do you think that’s anything other than a pipe dream…they latterly have not designed a completely new front line nuclear boat in almost 40 years.


So is Virginia class when it has VLS , just like Yansen class ( with 4 multi missile silos )

You are being precious about a distinction that no longer exists
How many cruise missiles does a Virginia class have?

I said the Charlie was returned only a few years service back in the 90s
Strange then that the Akula was kept for 10 years and its seems that they have signed a deal to have another Akula to replace it… just a week back.

When was the Virginia class designed …. yes the mid 1990s

Do tell us about the Astute class delays over the last 20 years !

But like any on going production class some aspects are changed or redeveloped over the period
You seem confused over modern consumer goods from cars to fridges to electronics, which are disposable or built under planned obsolescence ( especially the parts buyers see), serious weapons systems like nuclear submarines and their core hull and structure arent changed on the need to be fashionable


I’m not being precious…the Yansen is an SSGN it’s a huge great big 13,000 ton SSGN….not an SSN..sorry if you missed that in your 2 min research, I know Wikipedia does not call it an SSGN, just all the more serous papers about Russias submarine force…

As I noted the Akula was given back early, that’s on record….it’s also on record the number of failures around that SSN, including bad quality steel, failing it’s dive tests and need years of extra work before it could be commissioned…India struggling to keep it in service due to propulsion system issues, the explosion, the accident with the fire suppression system malfunction….

As for the Virginia class..the study into the requirement was started in 1991..the design was a late 1990s design..finished in I think 1998…but then had further work…the design of the Yasen was started in the mid 1970s and finished in 1985……the Akula was again a 1970s design finished in the early 1980s…so a whole different generation.

as for for why we change nuclear submarine designs it’s because we improve them and make them better after each new design….if the core design and structure of our submarines does not change then we could have saved a fortune and just kept building valiant class SSNs as according to you they would be as close to affective as an Astute…or just maybe every generation is better and that an astute that was designed in 1997 is a far better and more deadly opponent that a vessel designed in 1977.

As for astute delays……the design was started in 1997 with the first boat laid down in 2001 and 5 launched by 2021…yasen class design started in 1977 first laid down in 1993 and only launched by 2021…

anyway have a nice day.


You are multi-mistaken
It was the Charlie that was given back early and thats was in the 90s.
I gave a link to the new deal done for a different Akula to replace the one they have had under the previous 10 year lease
two consecutive 10 year leases for Akula doesnt sound like returning early ( likely for major refit, which all subs require). I can see you have just read misleading headlines without deeper knowledge or adding up what 10 years means
perhaps you have never even had a car lease which requires the vehicle to be returned when times up ?

The Yansen isnt a huge SSGN at all, its surface displ is just a bit more than the Astute 8600 t vs 7600t

Maybe you are confused over the previous Oscar class submarines which were much bigger

Indeed the USN is copying the russians idea of an multi missile wide vertical launch tubes in the centre of the hull, rather than a few in the bow. Virginias are more a closer match in size to the yansens


Sorry you are mistaken they gave the Akula back early because of an explosion and critical issues with the propulsion..the yansen is an SSGN. Anyway Ta ta and have fun trolling.


Really feels like not much has changed over the last 20-30 years, then, if you needed an active fleet of frigates and destroyers of 18 hulls the old adage was of ‘3 for 1’ still rings true, One hull on active duty, one in refit and one working-up. No point in trying to get away with less when you don’t have the refit capability!


So many things are coming home to roost at present
Closing Portland and Chatham and others… Portsmouth being turned into a leisure complex…navy airforce and army training facilities closed for housing..
Hospitals getting shut and A&E’s closing then wondering why people sit in ambulances for hours…. Labour and Conservatives are both as bad


Back in the early 90s schools were being closed because we didn’t have the numbers. Now all of a sudden the system cannot cope.

What changed?


I’m going to have to take you up on the A+E closures..the ED closures were all related to safety issue..small A+E departments are not great from a safety point of view. Your better off being carted around for longer to get to a larger ED…in emergency medicine practice matters and staff in small EDs don’t get the practice…If you think even in a 100k per year ED you don’t see a lot of conditions turn up…if your in a small 50k a year footfall you may not see something for years…..your slower to react..miss it and a kid dies.

The people sitting in ambulances has nothing to do with ED capacity and everything to do with social care and domiciliary care….everything is a pathway and if people are not leaving the end of the pathway ( discharged home with dom care or into a nursing home) then hospital beds are full of people who cannot leave and EDs become full of patients waiting for beds. So our EDs are full and ambulance sitting outside because we don’t pay above minimum wage for the people who look after old frail people in their own home…classic for a pennies worth of tar planning


The other part of the equation is time. Carting you around to a super efficient top of the line E&A doesn’t help if you only had 5 minutes to live. Time waits for no-one. For the want of a shoe a horse was lost …. Etc


True but if you take most counties you are generally within 30mins drive of an ED…what is very important is that for a cat 1-2 call call the ambulance arrives in time to get you to definite care…the problems come when the ED you get taken to does not provide definitive care at the correct level and you need shipping off again…alway better to go strait to a larger centre that has the expertise, that’s true for trauma, vascular, neuro, stroke cardiac, sepsis…I’ve seen a fair number of people die or suffer long term for being delivered to an ED that could not effectively manage that problem for lack of expertise….

Michael Dawes

Thought Argyll had PU and LIFEX so not just HMS Richmond ?

Michael Dawes



I still can’t get over the MoD destroying our hydrographic capability.

I am expecting two A-boats to go to Oz………..What a waste.


The opposite , they will get 3 US boats interim and longer term they will final assembly part build of the follow on Astutes newer design , could be 5 of those.


Well, we will find out very shortly what the score regarding AUS is. Have to say that I would be totally amazed if we sold 2 boats to AUS!!
Can see 1 or 2 being forward deployed to AUS after a while, much like our T23 is in the Gulf, and as with them, rotate crews around. If nothing else it saves on transit times/core life, but we shall see.


Australian papers have already ‘leaked’ the announceables, which is what I have said.
Albanese, Sunak and Biden are going to be together in San Diego ( naval Base) very soon – so thats the background optics taken care off.
In a way thats the only way they can work it, just the longer term UK-Australia build in country which is many many years away ( the never never as Australians might put it) and a Virginia or 3 from 2030 more locked in.
Lookout will no doubt cover it in more detail than the outlines I mentioned

Pity the Suffren type was ruled out for political reasons ( as they have spent A$800 mill on the SSK version design) and its low grade uranium and more production ready features made it better for shorterm after 2030 and the long term.

Back in the early 60s RAAF chose the USN Vigilante A-5 as its Canberra replacement- an in service plane but it was changed to the in development F-111.
RAF should have plumped for a UK built developed land version ( with better british engines) of the Vigilante too instead of the heavier TSR2. Certainly they were going to use North American avionics ( but built by Elliot)

Last edited 11 months ago by Duker

I thought the low grade core was a key issue…France is just able to manage its own refuelling so would not be able to refuel Australian boats…and they are not doing anything like that on Australian real estate…


I dont think France ‘ is barely able to manage ‘ at all.
Its a feature of the LEU that its refuelled more often – could be every 5-6 years – and the hulls have special hatches that are normally bolted shut and opened for the refuelling operation. Its a much quicker process as they dont combine with a life extension refit etc
The use of low grade enrichment also means the rods used are more available, we are comparing 20% to 90% or higher .
France of course is massive in the nuclear power area which also uses LEU ( but less than 5%) but the refuel rods come from the same plant ?


Would that be the Viggie that turned out to be incapable of conducting the strike mission it was designed for and as a result was converted into a recce bird?

Whatever gets announced wrt AUKUS, its credibility depends on generating a credible governance and operating authority in Australia. They’re currently the best part of a decade away from that.


Not ‘incapable’ , just the Navy was shorted out of the deck launched long range nuclear bomber business when the SSBN came along at the same time. Smaller nuclear bombs also made even the diminutive Skyhawk a nuclear bomber too. I understand that the rear ejection had some problems , but could be overcome ( every aircraft of that era had serious issues when they were pushing the boundaries at what now would be breakneck development speed)
The RAF would have wanted the bomb bay to open in normal fashion, and I think the wing spar- fuselage bulkheads were far enough apart to allow that. ( or made not so deep as they were forward of the engines? ) The recon version carried a large under fuselage fairing camera package which extended up into belly

Last edited 11 months ago by Duker

Yes incapable.

“had some problems but could be overcome”…..

Yeah right. You’ll also find that long-ranged deck-launched nuclear bombers persisted until the mid 90s. The VA squadrons were all integrated into SIOP until their demise.

Last edited 11 months ago by N-a-B

I should have been more precise, “strategic bomber mission” ended with the Vigilante being converted to reconn, replaced by the other strategic mission, the ballistic missile subs ( first sea launch 1960).
Previous to A5 there was Douglas A3D ( bigger than Vigilante) and before that A2J ( and an interim use of carrier launched P2V Neptunes ).
Tommy Thomason’s excellent book Strike from the Sea ( he worked at BuAir) says the weapons qualification for the internal delivery wasnt a problem they did the external stores delivery as well. Those were Mk27, Mk28 and they were working on Mk43 weapon when the mission was cancelled in 63. The did high altitude supersonic internal delivery’s too.
he says the accuracy issues came from the Bomb director set electronics not the method of delivery. he gives finer details of the testing

They had the attack squadrons nuclear capable from the 50s ( Skyraider !) to the 90s as you mentioned

Interesting that SSBN 598 George Washington did 55 patrols in its 21 yr boomer career before unloading its missiles ( SALT) and doing a few more as SSN !

Last edited 11 months ago by Duker

They wouldn’t be sold. It would be similar to the arrangement India and Russia had. It would be a ‘lease’ with a large number of submarine personnel going with them.


If that is the case(!!!!) would appear to leave us well short of units, as can’t see Triumph going much past 2025/26 if at all. Would be a very counter productive move imo. But then again I – we don’t get a say in such matters!????
We shall soon discover the ins and Outs of the matter. You never know @Duker may well be on the right track.


We are short of everything. Nobody in the MoD(N) is going to say no.

We need all our boats in the Atlantic.

The government think supporting US pivot to the Pacific is of greater importance. We do have a moral obligation to defend Australia. But…….


There is NO use of UK existing submarines at all. Thats where the Americans come in. They have so many and 2 shipyards the gap is easier to fill , and as X said a sort of lease as the US will want them back ( midlife?)
The future build including final assembly in Australia , but decades away, will be the new UK SSN not yet designed – but related to Astute ( so as to not take 20 yrs dithering over concepts)


The Americans are struggling to build hulls too.


Maybe. But they have been incrementing the industrial base for subs for 5 years or so now . The struggle is the increase

2.3 hulls per year isnt to bad That would allow say 2 for delivery lease back to Australia over the next 10 years out of 23 ?


Very informative article.
The published plan is to have a CSG and 2LSGs. How is this remotely possible with just 7 available escorts(assuming the current situation is fairly typical)? The arrival of T31 won’t improve matters much as they are intended to be forward based, replacing the B2Rivers. Isn’t the reality that we have only enough escorts to protect a single task group? Things get even more difficult if both QE and POW are operational at the same time. In theory, we might have 4 separate groups to escort.
Since large additional funding is unlikely, and given the manpower problems, is it time to look again at whether current amphibious capability using LPDs is worth retaining? If seaborne assault is now seen as too risky and should be replaced by helicopter/ tilt rotor delivery from greater distance, POW could serve ( as planned for a time) as the launch vessel. Bulwark and Albion could be scrapped and the crews, one full, one admittedly skeleton, redeployed.


It’s all fantasy isn’t it. If the balloon went up we would be even more dependent on a stretched USN.


Absolutely right. The USN is beginning to resemble the RN in many respects, just a somewhat larger version. I hope the adults in the room in the UK, if there are any, are paying attention. You chaps had better prepare to go your own way in the near future more than you have at any point since Suez in 1956.


It is rather worrying. For me the biggest indicator that the USN was losing its way until recently the lack of any real replacement for Harpoon. Now they are playing catchup when the Russians, Chineses, and Indians have already moved on. How Zumwalt and LCS came to be is still a mystery I find totally baffling. That the US can’t produce a replacement for AB or Tico is staggering. How many T055’s have the PLAN got in the water now? And all that along with the UK basically removing itself from maritime power game. If the West is to remain a cogent power bloc it will need a navy. To be honest I am expecting once the Dems and the Deep State have been shovelled out of the way for the ‘new Republicans’ to basically pull the plug on Europe.


The ‘new’ republicans are a minority of minority, fed by a certain low audience ( 2 or 3%) news network…. who behind the scenes they call them morons.
That cant work out well.
No more than the brief reign of Corbin and his supporters were also like a skyrocket, all fizz and sparks then bang…nothing


Here’s some advice, Duker. Learn more about US culture and politics before you weigh in with a gratuitous elitist smear of Trump supporters. Thanks.


If both QE and PoW CSGs are deployed simultaneously then they would undoubtedly include escorts from other NATO members. This occurred in CSG 21 and our escorts often operate as part of US and French CSGs.


If both QE & POW were deployed simultaneously, there is not enough fighter’s available to make it worthwhile (other than one as an ASW carrier & RN doesn’t have enough Merlin’s to make that work). Adding traps would’ve given the option of French fighters, even if only in the light AA role. Rule of three indicates this might have been a good idea.

Supportive Bloke

In reality T31 will be required to do escort duties as the general threat level has risen.

Just as GP23’s used to do.

T31 will have IShM as well as Sea Ceptor and so is a useful escort platform. Please don’t start on the ASW drum as that is what T23/6 + Merlin is the very best combo out there for.

B2 can continue to do the forward deployed thing.


I agree that T 31 will probably have to operate as an escort at times but the clear commitment to long term forward basing beyond the gulf seems to go further than the T23 deployments to date. So at best no net increase in ready availability. I see little point in replacing a B2 with a T31. The B2s are sufficient for a simple patrol role. But that remains the plan which I think is crazy, given the overall escort numbers.

Supportive Bloke

The question is what do you want if you go to war?


– T31 which is reasonably well armed now with NSM as well as everything else and very well armed if Mk41 is added and is a big survivable comfortable platform; or

– do you want to go to war in an OPV – say RiverB2 – which would be a floating coffin in a hot war?

Given the financial pickle defence is in, with a thin fleet, there is one clear winner to that debate.

Hence why I’m saying more T31/2 and less Rivers makes sense even if it means using T31 for constabulary stuff as you can always re task a warship: you cannot create one overnight.


We are already in an information war with Russia and China, who are trying to destabilise the world order. It’s the job of the military to support stabilisation and not only through deterrence. Making friends and being there for neutral countries is an important part of soft power and counteracting the information war. Which is how you avoid a hot war in the first place.

The Navy is limited by overall crew numbers and you can get more than double the number of sea days out of a B2 than a T31 for the same crew. Just look where Spey has visted so far this year, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, all countries in the immediate Chinese sphere, whether for or against, including one or two who would not be able/willing to receive a warship.

Calling the OPVs floating coffins is pure polemic. If the info war turns into a hot war, of course you don’t use OPVs for a frigate’s job, any more than you’d go up against a carrier group in a GP frigate. You’d still need OPVs for constabulary duties (those don’t go away) and visits to neutral countries would arguably be even more important. Rivers can also quietly gather intel and convey small numbers of marines, rangers or SF over long distances.

The solution isn’t to replace B2s with T31s. It’s to single crew the GP frigates and put them where they’ll do the most good, which mostly isn’t where the OPVs are. It’s in the Gulf, it’s with the two LRGs, it’s resuming Atlantic patrols. And if there’s some overlap by basing one in Singapore, it doesn’t mean that the two OPVs tasked with covering the whole of the Indo-Pacific will be suddenly underworked.


We are already in an information war with Russia and China, who are trying to destabilise the world order. 

Which is?


Might is right. Its always been the world order. That way when our side decides to be mighty against some other country theres no need to pretend whos got the higher ground.




Yes , Oh


Oh, there is plenty of work, til the sh*t hits the fan. Then they become a liability. A liability others have to risk lives for.


Not sure why people keep banging on about fleet size. Every navy in developed countries has downsized its fleet size. Why should the U.K. be different? What is this banging on for? The French or any country in Europe don’t have bigger fleets, no country in Asia has a bigger fleet, if you exclude fishing boats and WW2 relics, enough with this nonsense.


They remember the days of the Cold War , Nott , 1980s and the RN with 50 strong fleet of destroyers and frigates… but dont consider that Defence was above 4% of GDP ( it had been 6% in the 70s)
They dont remember the tax rates: basic rate 33% ( now 20%) and top rate 60% or higher. And the NHS was 6% of GDP not the 11-12% it is now.


You forgot one other thing. The number of ships is a lagging indicator. Ships purchased 30 years before when spending was higher can hang around, hence the Soviet ships in Russia’s fleet which they couldn’t build right now. In 1970 to 1985 UK spend held pretty steady at 4.5-5.5% GDP. It dropped from around 5.5% in 1985 to about 2.5% in 2000.

We’ve still been losing ships because thirty years ago, when the Type 23s and Trafalgars were built, spend was over 3% (we still had Swiftsures). If we can get it back up over 2.5%, we stand a chance of getting direct replacement numbers in the Type 83s.


Obviously you have not been keeping up. There is currently a massive up arming in Asia/Pacific well before the Ukraine conflict was a twinkle in Putin’s eye. Australia is going for more SSN’s than UK has & has already ordered more T26 than UK has ordered. Japan is going for carriers again (& ordered F35B plus JSM). They have expanded their submarine fleet & signed up to Tempest. S. Korea is building more submarines, looking at aircraft carriers & are an armoured vehicle powerhouse. Singapore, as always, small but technologically up there. India is well – India. But they have SSN’s, aircraft carriers & nukes. Even Indonesia is looking to build a couple of AAW frigates (A140 AAW version). If you think China doesn’t have a bigger fleet, you are trolling.


The Royal Flotilla instead of the Royal Navy. I am not intending to insult in saying that. Its just very, very sad.


Not enough numbers. Period.


Is not the Treasury fault, just accept the general economic decline of UK.

The House of Commons public accounts committee found the MoD “continually fails to learn from its mistakes” despite having overseen many expensive failures.

And the limited fund available is then mismanaged, over-optimistic in cost estimates, under-estimated in technical difficulties, unrealistic planning.

Acquisition programs are then penny-pinched, micro-managed and often spread over a decade or more to try and make the books balance.

Nimrod AEW, Ajax AFV, E-3D/E-7, everything is FBNW

Other countries have expensive failures too, US LCS class, Australia Collins class, India aircraft carriers.


UK economy is 2nd largest in Europe after Germany….and 15% larger than France’s which was for a long time bigger
Other measures like UK proportion in employment is 74% compared to Frances 67%

That wouldnt have happened if there was an overall decline Taking out last 3 years which were a roller coaster

Winston White

We need to cancel altogether the Indo-Pacific tilt, the Chinese and Russians will be coming towards us soon, through their Northern Sea Route. We should be working with our allies in the Atlantic, relieving as soon as possible the Americans where we can, so they can concentrate on the Pacific. We need to focus what we have and be strong somewhere, not weak everywhere.



But the government will spend money on the Army instead of the RN and RAF. We need now that 9th T26 and the RAF need MPA and Wedgetail.

We need to move away from Gulf LNG.

Defence thoughts

The Straits of Malacca must not be left vulnerable. We have vital interests there.


Can you expound why or are you just repeating what you have read?

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The Russians ‘arent coming’ no more than they were in 1949- 89.
Remember they stopped at the Elbe in 1945 and the last time they went as far as Paris was to defeat Napoleon in a coalition , and they went home again like the other powers did.
Consider that the French and the Germans actually went as far as Moscow, but thoe times have changed


Just so we’re clear. The ENTIRE ROYAL NAVY has exactly seven (7) active major surface warships other than HMS Queen Elizabeth and a handful of amphibious and auxiliary vessels. If the average UK citizen and their political “leaders” are okay with that, well….good luck.