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Boris could do far worse than announce orders for 3 FSS, 10 Type 31s and increase the Type 26 order by 2 all built in the north of the UK. A very useful repost to Labour in the forthcoming election (BREXIT referendum 2) and all to be paid for later.
An order placed for Spanish built vessels would be an act of political suicide and something I believe would be totally wrong. Not primarily because of Spain’s behaviour towards Gibraltar but because it will provide UK shipyards with the steady drumbeat of construction, which is required to enable its modernisation into a more competitive industry.

Stephen G.

Totally agree. 10 x Type 31 for Rosyth and 3 x F.S.S.S. & 2 x F.L.S.S. for Cammell Lairds then everyone is happy. The government will be able to make great propaganda value of supporting British industry if they do.


Are you going to spend the money to upgrade Cammell Lairds to build a vessel this size? That’s not going to be cheap.


Perhaps Cammell Laird should buy H&W. Build the 3 x F.S.S. at H&W (using CL staff to boost the H&W numbers) & shift H&W A140 block allocation to C.L.’s existing yard. Would of course require UK to garantee build in UK.


That’s the point. We need upgraded shipyards. This will not happen without belief from the UK government!


Fantasy fleet building time… wheres the money and manpower coming from and what do you expect cut from budget to acccomadate this?


The FSS ships are replacements for existing ships and RFA manned. So crewing them would not be a problem.


But doubling the order of the Type 31 when we can’t even afford to equip the 5 we have properly is fantasy fleet building.


not necessarily, ordering these today would send a strong message of support to the industry.
the fact each ship operates with 50-60% of the crew of a T23 means crewing should not be too much of an issue.
Lastly, this is not going to happen soon adding another 5 to the order they wouldn’t come on stream until 2025 at the earliest.

They are long lead items and we need to decide what type of navy we want
also the Navy has been reduced below it viable size (that is by the Defence committees statement not mine) so some re-introduction of capability is required if we are to get to the optimal size


Join the discussion…The problem with that idea is that we do not have the capacity build that many ships during the same period in the UK anymore. Costs are higher as the article explains and to be frank, BAE’s build quality record is not great. An order with Navantia may go some way to stop the incursions into Gibraltar waters, Navantia may even be persuaded to take up ownership of a British yard such as Appledore to open up the UK market.


Gibarltar? Is a colony with no water but the bay accordingly to the Utrech treaty. Don’t see Spain treating it bad at all, but in any case how will you behave with that sort of spanish tax heaven/back yard in Plymouth? Let’s be honest here.
Having said that, the rock is just material for bad news papers and short minded people, should not be an obstacle for big deals between Spain and UK.

Geoffrey Montegriffo

Continúa y sigue masturbando a tus burros


If the RN escort force is to grow as set out in recent statements the cheapest and least demanding in manpower would be another 5 Type 31s built within the timeframe of the Type 26 programme. The capicity is available and would break the BAe monopoly in the UK.
Sadly BMT for me have backed the wrong yard with the FSS


I wouldn’t be surprised if BMT was brought into the British Consortium if the BC won the bid on the basis of brining in the adapted Tide class being transformed into FSS. However, the statements around cost and quality have not been challenged by anyone so I would hope that 3 high quality and proven ships prove better than 2 unknown quality and unproven ships even though they would be built in Spain. Bear in mind that the BMT designed Tide class were built in South Korea by DSME.


BMT probably have a contract to work exclusively with Navitina . Plus the contract will be awarded for a design and cost proposal. You can’t radically change that after award.


A Navantia designed and built frigate may well have sunk because of poor quality construction so comments about build quality are difficult to use in this matter. It would also seem there have been problems with the BMT designed Tides and I remember people saying how much better the quality of these ships would because they were being built in Korea. Unfortunately unless we see the detailed proposals from each bidder it is difficult to assess the pros and cons.


Just read up on the Norwegian frigate sinking.
Interesting, Thank you.


Maybe, maybe not. The fact that the frigate was pushed onto rocks in the immediate aftermath is probably going to have had more to do with it sinking than the build quality, the Norwegian report does smell of CYA’ing. Time will tell I guess, that and the legal arguments when it gets to a court somewhere.


It was poorly constructed. The ship was deliberately grounded in desperate attempt to prevent sinking in the first place. Warnings about its poor construction quality where leaked shortly after it sank, no pun intended.


I liked that FSS ship with the bridge forward, what’s the advantage of a bridge at the rear or is there one?, you would think a bridge forward would be better for visibility ect. I like the bridge forward like fort Victoria has its far better I hope we choose that design.


I will say at the outset that I have always prefered the *look* of stores ships with the Bridge forward, however the bridge aft design does offer many advantages.

With the Bridge aft all accomodation and funnel uptakes are included in one block sited over the engineroom instead of seperate blocks fore and aft thus simplifying design and construction, in addition merchant ship constructiin regulations do not allow crew accomodation to be placed over ammunition holds (without gaining exemptions)

The issue of visibility with the bridge aft is much reduced with modern designs (from the Wave Class AOs onwards) as they use much slimmer RAS posts/masts instead of the gantrys seen on older ships.

For the Bridge team an aft sited bridge enables operations on deck and ships alongside to be monitored from the bridge centreline (an important consideration when ypu will regularly have ships steaming within 40m of your ships side!) and in addition (although this may be personal preference) an aft Bridge is easier to navigate from as it gives you a sense of the ship turning and of its rate of turn a feeling that is greatly reduced with Bridges placed on or about the pivot point.


Navantia should only be allowed a look in at the contract if Spain Finally and Unequivocally agrees to respect Gibraltar’s status without interference and allows its people a permanently open border with Spain. Then we could be friendly and do business as Nato partners.I still wouldnt give them the contract because the UK needs to build its own ships and provide work for our own people.


Open the border? Hahaha funny its you who are not in schenngen and leaving the EU. Borthers will apply as anynother foreign country. Even more as being a tax heaven colony.


Why should Spain accept an Open Border with Gibraltar?


The Spanish are surely decent people and want to trade as sensible people do. UK has Fish and Shellfish to sell and we eat their Fruit and Veg. Simple and Gibraltar is part of UK and we are all happy to some extent.


Before the politics gets involved the ships need to be assessed. The big problem comes if BMT are right and the “Team U.K.” ship design is poor.
Would it be sensible to build 2 poor ships in the U.K. for the same money as 3 good ships from Spain? This is a politicians worst nightmare, choosing between a popular decision that they know will produce a weak outcome and an unpopular one which they know is better.
Hopefully BMT are wrong about the final U.K. offering.


I share these reservations. Good post.
The best choice is not necessarily the most popular choice.


Good comment, from what I understand, the British Consortium is a new design at a very basic level whereas the BMT design is based on a ship already in service with all the problems ironed out. I wonder if the design could also be adapted and used as a common hull and basis for a new hospital ship?


Your understanding is awry. The FSS design is very different from the in-service Tide, in hullform (which is relatively low-risk) and in machinery plant and systems – which is where risk and cost lie. That’s not the fault of BMT, rather the MoD requirement.

BMT are being a little disingenuous as well. They were actually a founding member of the Team UK consortium prior to competition start, but exited about a year ago, allegedly somewhat acrimoniously.

I suspect you’ll find the new BMT concept Ellida is their stab at a hospital ship. If only there was a requirement……


I can see the Ellida is an MRSS design so yes, could probably be adapted to be a hospital ship if the requirement came up. It was me thinking that an existing design would be better being adapted rather than a new one that isn’t in the water yet. I’m not sure why BMT left the British Consortium unless it an argument over the accepted design not being BMT’s or because they wouldn’t get as much money out of the consortium as they would being in partnership with Navantia.




I think we need to be very careful with this decision, as many of you know I am a supporter of the Karel Doorman JLSS of the Dutch Navy and believe we should start building a fleet of 8 of these to replace the bays, Waves, Forts, Albion’s and Argus classes.

We don’t really have a need to do a large scale amphibious landing from 2 hulls – its impractical and the ships would be sunk in a contested environment, It would be much better having 10 Absalon class vessels with CB90s and 4 FLOFLO’s with S2S connectors to deliver the same capability across a wider head and de-risk the situation, but that won’t happen either.

I do feel we just can’t afford dedicated support ships any more, especially if this costs us combatants and it is not that long ago that there was discussions around losing the Albion class and Argus, which spend a lot of time tied up due to their specialist nature and high running costs.

A multi-purpose joint logistics amphibious support ship is the way to go and by getting 8 we increase capability and avoid tying up.

There is no real rush on this, but I don’t want these ships built outside of the UK and like others we should be building them in Rosyth and the T31’s in CL.

8 ships with 1 every 2 years gives the yards 16-18 years worth of work at which point the Tides will be up for replacing (potentially – subject to power sources etc).

It is a compromise, but the KD class offer everything we need and much more, put them together and we increase our capability massively for very little loss of specialised ability.

Some key points

ability to hanger 2 chinooks or 6 Merlins with full aviation facilities
2000m Lane meters
8000 m3 of fuel
1000 m3 of helicopter fuel
450 m3 of potable water
400 tonnes of ammunition and other supplies.
2 landing craft (we could make it more I suspect.
Rear steel beach (no well dock)

What else do we really need? and what will a SSS Give us that this doesn’t given the spec

Gavin Gordon

Like others I have faith in BMT designs. However, whether they partner with Navantia or not the prime requirement would be significant offsets as part of the construction, not just fitting out, as is the case in Australia.
I do not say this from a purely chauvanistic viewpoint, though there is an element of that naturally, but due to what I believe is probably the underlying reason our naval forces in the round are being modernised and indeed increased in capabilty – actual or potential. Namely, any last vestige of what could possibly be conceived as a post cold war peace dividend has well and truely had all the pips squeezed out of it. For a 1st (or nigh 1st) world power to operate for any sustained length of time during a serious conflict, it cannot rely on awaiting another country getting round to fabricating it’s wartime equipment as part of a mainly commercial accomodation – with the partial exception of the United States, and that perhaps only for the time being.
‘Bringing Shipbuilding Home’ must thus not represent just a political soundbite but a realisation by the UK’s leaders (! – forgive me) and Treasury that there is no longer a secure alternative.


Couldn’t agree more Gavin

Part of our survival capability is our ability to regenerate not just basic items but also our warfighting capability as we suffer losses.

We need an integrated strategy that goes from raw materials to finished product, for those areas critical to our survival.

A. Smith

I’ve been saying for a long time that these should be based on the Tide class hull so I’m pleased to hear this news but want to see these built in Britain and creating British jobs. A well planned drum beat of ships being built, upgraded, maintained, scrapped & recycled is possible.

Mike O

I am just throwing this out there but do these ships need to be new build? Could a conversion of second vessels work? I don’t have an opinion on this I am just curious.


Conversions not possible. The requirement (particularly that to support QEC) is so specialist that there are no ships anywhere near suitable.


“The BMT design is evolved from the Tide class replenishment tankers but with a refined hull form” ! So why can it only manage 18 knots full speed? The aircraft carrier it will be supporting world wide, the carriers oil tanker, and all the protecting frigates and destroyers can manage anywhere between 26 to 32 knots. This low top speed surely puts the Spanish proposal in the rubbish bin.


The required sustained speed for FSS is actually higher than that for Tide. One reason why the Tide design needs to be significantly modified to get anywhere near the requirement.

The maximum speeds you quote for other ships are just that, maxima. They’ll drain their bunkers in hours. The speed to specify for support shipping is that which the group can sustain.




Navantia are a Spanish state owned, fully subsisdised firm. This arrangement partnership is yet a again, humiliating the UK (who is the paymaster) in making it the junior partner to a senior one who dictates, as with the expensive Tide ships.

BMT say they considered joining the British consortium but they would have derived a very limited work share and they considered the design proposal under development to be be weak. Could this actually mean: BMT did not like the fact they could not cream as much from this project, so got personal and decided the UK consortium design was weak. The Tides were based on a Norwegian tanker design, and what really constitutes a major success? This very website said about how much more in cost the shipbuild part was for these Tide tanker ships, not 452 million pounds but 550 million pounds just for the hull builds. It seems like BMT are a UK government favoured UK firm, but this firm would rather see UK content reduced so for them to have a higher workshare percentage, but what does that mean? Will BMT model the plan the construction/integration and trials phases? But even so, this tails off during construction and in many cases, simulation technology in project and production, planning and control minimize shipbuild modeling in production simulation. BMT feel they can yet again jump into bed with a foreign competitor for their own gain at the expense of the larger UK picture of an industry that has the potential to grow and be a little more significant in the future?

The problem with this false competition is that another element has been brought into the equation, that of design, so if a UK shipyard sides with the wrong design, it loses? The French are are using an Italian design to build FSS types ship in their own Country without the internationally competition excuse being used.

The Cantabria class Combat Support Ships for the Spanish and Australian Navies cost 238 euro or 300 million dollars in 2005 and are in fact oil tankers just as the Tide ships and also the RFA Wave class ships.
Navantia has a few yards and the Australian ships had parts made at the two locations as with the Juan Carlos I Carrier. Note, the ships were dynamically launched from an inclined building berth, not from the Cadiz building dock as shown here. The cost of the Australian ships is anywhere between $1 billion -$2 billion dollars (Aus Dollars, I assume)
The UK has just recently built 2 giant super aircraft carriers which Spain has never done. Who has the kudos?
Lets compare to the RFA Wave tankers to the Cantabria tankers. The Waves were ordered in 1997 for around 97 million pounds a piece in which the pound was worth around 2.260.80 euro. Displacement: 31,500 tonnes approx
Length: 196.5 m (644 ft 8 in)
Beam: 28.25 m (92 ft 8 in)
Draft: 9.97 m (32 ft 9 in)
Displacement: 31,500 tonnes, 25,500 metric (what ever that is) HP, 20 knots, range 10,000 nuatical miles at 15 knots. Capacity:
16,000 m3 of liquids (of which 3,000 m3 aviation fuel & 380 m3 fresh water)
125 tonnes of lubricating oil
500 m3 of solids
150 tonnes of fresh food in eight 20 ft refrigerated container units.

The Cantabria: 19.500 tons Displacement: 19,500 tons
Length: 174.0 m (570.9 ft)
Beam: 23 m (75 ft)
Draught: 8 m (26 ft) Range: 6,000 nmi (11,000 km; 6,900 mi)
Capacity: 8,920 m3 (315,000 cu ft) of ship fuel
1,585 m3 (56,000 cu ft) of JP-5
215 m3 (7,600 cu ft) of fresh water
280 tons of ammunition
470 tons of general cargo

The Cantabria ships do not compare well. The pound has been too high for so many years and does no good for us except for mainly importers years ago until now. May it continue to go down. It is currently at 1.13 Euros to the Pound.
The Porto Real Cadiz yard had not built a ship for many years.
How did Navantia fund this Cadiz facility?
No UK yard has been given the chance to match this, that’s the point.

So as I said before, evolved from another Country’s tanker design which BMT want a huge share in, even though they are not building them!

Why not? If this is what these ships are about the automated system is even more suitable for ships like these to be more efficient and have less cost, If material movements is there main game?

Yes and that shipyard has al the potential to be back in the game, it was only it’s foreign owners that were in trouble which led to this disaster. The Type 31 (e) bid from Babcock Harland and Wolff has won. So possibly this yard yard that could win other work that can lead to many more jobs will become viable again. The Cadiz yard had not built ships for 30 years prior to building Cantabria in 2005-2008.

So again the UK is the junior partner in a big important UK project which is disgusting and should lead to a government being thrown out of office! Lets look at the figures here. £400m with a possible tax back of up to and above 40%, but much UK content here could well be foreign sourced too, like Steel Plate, section and pipes. Lets say 40% back from 400 which is £160m, but £600m for the hull build (I assume) will be net, 600m for just hull build in the UK would be counted as gross! £600m with most material coming from the UK (as the UK government should be buying this also, rather than the contractor who want to profit at the Tax payer expense could be £240m which is more than one hull build alone. Equipment fit out will take place where? With the customization work, this comes to 400 million pounds?! If much happens in Spain does some of this 400 million pounds find it’s way into the Spanish economy too?

The 3 ships could be built in Spain for 120 million pounds for each three ships after a modest 40% tax claw back. So Spain can do a shipbuild for 120 million pounds for 2 ships. So 2 ships before tax for 240 million pounds. Use the currency fluctuations and play about with, if our currency was the same in 1997 as it is now etc. Are we saying these Spanish Government owned shipyards can build each of these 3 ships after tax for 120 million quid or 60% cheaper? Cammell Laird has just built a very complex ship (Albeit less in tonnage and a few years ago) for around 150 million pounds before tax (I assume). The Waves were designed and built with UK content for arund 100 million pounds each when ordered in 1997, but take 40% back and the Spanish ships cannot compete even with the currency rate at that time, let a lone now.

Where is the proof in this idea that build British get two, build abroad get three. I knew this and probably wrote on this very site that this would be used as a tactic, used by certain interests in the UK. Is there any facts with figures in this UK industry damaging lie? Why are we assuming that if built in the UK only two ships would be afforded?

The Navantia/BMT FSS package does not look like a credible solution for a stable UK shipbuilding sector and looks like it will cost far more to build in Spain, I cannot see that there are any merits of over seas bids.

He will considered something else too as this is foolish and will hurt an industry that has potential to grow in this Country. The more I look at the Navantia/BMT package the more it looks less credible when the bigger picture is taken into consideration. This does not happen in Germany, Italy, France Netherlands and indeed, Spain. If Shipbuilding is coming home to the UK, the most meaningful tonnage for ships, sponsered by the UK taxpayer, is the Fleet Solid Support Ships!

Simon m

What’s happened to the bigger design with Iron beach for contribution to amphibious warfare? With the idea to strengthen the CSGs capability in that area? This design looks good but if this is the typical design then a bit of a stealth cut.

Until all designs are out I reserve judgement, but the idea of building these in Spain is a little difficult one to justify seeing as Spanish workers will likely to be paid similarly to UK workers & we get tax back from the uk workforce not only income tax, but VAT on the goods they buy with their wages. Plus if there are people out of work we have to pay out benefits their NHS care (without NI contribution) and the list goes on.

I saw an interview with the executive of Supacat he states the problem is quite simple foreign governments subsidise their manufacturers and the UK doesn’t. This means their products are already artificially low.

This is then compounded by the Government not recognising that if a British company has something fit to export & meet uk requirements that the possible benefit to uk economy is not even taken into account.

The contract for the tides was just about ok due to the fact uk yards were busy on the aircraft carriers. Plus Asian workers are likely to be paid significantly less.

With ships such as Argus and diligence possibly HMS Scott (which seems to have silently sidelined) needing replacement are we going to give these contracts to Spain as well? With a weaker pound and brexit it’s not whether this contract is the right selection, it is would the strategy be correct? Even if it’s “more expensive” in the short term.

The hull made in Spain not in the UK. We are fools .