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Even in the age of sail the Royal Navy has always had a problem with shoddy workmanship and corruption in the ship yards. This reminds me of the robber bolts, the copper fixing bolts for the copper sheathing to the wooden hulls. Workmen used to saw the middle bit out to sell and only put the heads of the bolts in.
This put the ships and crew at risk as the copper sheets would fall of and then depending on where the ships would be operation the hull would be attacked by the Toledo worm (I think that’s how it is spelt).
The issue with the electrical panels is a problem but an accidental one but the issue with the bolts should be treated as either corruption or treason with criminal charges brought against the persons or company.
In general this, along with the problems of the Type 45’s and the Astute s highlights why it is imperative that the UK has more than one supplier of warship to the RN, it also highlights the issue on the need for a constant build program of say two ships per year of the batch orders such as frigates and destroyers and one per year for the OPVs, assault ships, this would give two possibly three ship yards work, increase competition and put into place some redundancy. That would mean three ship yards two working on the frigate destroyer programs and one which could be an combined effort for the specialised one of vessels. Also it gives the possibility of ‘real’ punishment, so for example if a company needs to be punished then they could miss one year orders as it would go to the second ship builder, that would or could mean the loss of a billion pound contract. That hurts.


Used to be the case but the problem is that when there’s not enough work to go around, the losing shipyard goes bankrupt so there’s one less yard for the next competition. Go on for long enough and only one yard is left standing.


Wow – most expensive OPV, and most lightly armed.

Paul Courtenay

This is the alarming part! Why are these vessels so lightly armed? Let’s be honest here, HMS Forth is something of a joke as Falklands Hardship, she certainly wouldn’t be able to deter any hostile actions


Probably just meant to be sunk so as to give an excuse to nuke the Argies


I have a plaque of the last day of issue of rum 31st July 1970 H.M.S. Forth Singapore. I would like very much to give it to the ships company.If the lads want it I will post it, or get my Son to deliver it on board. he is a Marine Engineer in the dockyard.

Jamie Philpot

Hi Roy I’m a weapons engineer on board that would be greatly appreciated we would love to stick it up in our mess!


Ah,someone in a position to comment!Perhaps you might like to anonymously give us your opinion,a few inevitable teething problems,or shoddy workmanship?Based on what l have seen in BAE pompey dockyard,I’m guessing the latter.Perhaps the engineering is fine.


The paradox of BAES. They make the best ships and boats in the world (e.g. Daring-class, Astute-class) but it’s an excruciating and expensive journey to get there.


The French are selling four Gowind OPVs to the Argies at the price of £66m per unit. It is stealth and can drop off commandos. How is the River class better than that and how does it justify a £114m price tag?


The money was paid to BAe to keep their shipyards open and the workforce in practice whilst the government decided on the details of the T26. The Ships produced were just a byproduct of this deal. The “price tag” is not representative of what it would cost on built more of these ships under normal commercial conditions.


It doesn’t seem as if anything about them is under normal commercial conditions. Trinidad had bought the first three and cancelled, turn around to Brazil and they were sold at a net loss of £20m. The government is willing to spend £348m for three more and the shoddy work is already apparent. BAe is milking the taxpayer and everyone wonders why the RN can’t afford its ships.


So why didn’t we order 10?The cost should have been the same.

Bloke down the pub

The days of ‘Clyde Built’ being a term for excellence sadly over.
I take it Forth will be known as Huey, Dewey, and Louie ?


Come off it,it’s shameful. It was an extremely leisurely build of a tried and tested design,if those bolts were not important,they wouldn’t be there.There is no excuse for this sort of bodgeing.Look deeper and over time much more of this sort of thing will be discovered hidden in the depths of the engine room ,behind panels and under a thick coat of paint.
I’ve worked in or visited several UK and foreign shipyards,there is a shocking difference in efficiency and Lurssens in particular has a much more convincing approach to quality.
I’m not an electrician,but I find it hard to understand a warship (in particular,the type 45)can suffer a total electrical blackout ,having not even taken any enermy fire.How can it be that there is no redundancy?


The RN needs to get its own naval architect and design department back in action.


Seems like the SDA (Submarine Development Agency) could be usefully copied for the remainder of the Fleet (Warship Development Agency -anyone).
In the line of business I was in, we had our own in house Development unit and hired skills from outside as appropriate.
If you dont have a controlling unit in house you tend to have no clue what is achievable and instead will be told what is achievable at what cost by the contractor; who will overcharge for his work- aka BAE. ‘Design and Build’ invariably led to overpricing. Custodians of the taxpayers money need to learn this.


Ah but then ‘investors’ might not make as much money, can’t have that now can we


Why isn’t an opv being stationed in Gibraltar.
Surely with people smugglers operating in the med , charity run ships falsely staging rescues of immigrants and incursions into terroritorial waters by the Spanish, it is a sensible move

T Adams

We should not be expressing surprise! Poor and cheap workmanship is not new but in these days of ‘quality and standards’ one hoped it would be minimised. We the tax payer should be outraged that these so called ‘leading and hi-tech’ industries and are allowed to behave like this. I agree with Ron’s comment regarding ‘punishment of these companies’ …of course after they have corrected the faults to the specification required…at their expense.


If the MANAGERS – CEO’s etc were actually brought to task for these egregious lapses in quality- that happen on THEIR watch…we might see some improvement. The Chinese actually jail and sometimes execute their ‘job creators’ for corruption and stealing from the public purse…


I am intrigued to know how these stick on boltheads were discovered. If they were well stuck on they should not have been spotted for years. It’s a dreadful indicator of overall build quality,let’s hope the navy are going over this no expense spared Labour party bribe with a fine tooth comb.

Iqbal Ahmed

Due to straitened finances, a strategy of fewer but better equipped, upgraded and better maintained ships is better than larger numbers of lightly armed ships, apparently held together in parts by glue. If the situation is this bad for smaller and less complicated systems in OPVs, what about larger classes and submarine maintenance?

Our naval strategy needs to align to resources available and not the other way around for the sake of political expediency. It just isn’t worth the lives of our sailors/submariners.


That’s right another Lord Haw Haw broadcast.


How is he Lord Haw Haw for pointing out uncomfortable truths? Hardly something Lord Haw Haw did. But if it suits you….etc.


What truths would that be Don? I suggest you review his past commentaries.
When does he ever get a “thumps up” on anything.
He is exceedingly ant-British.


Although the likelihood of the glued bolts is simply poor workmanship, I would be keen to have the whole crew tap the heads of all critical bolts with hammers.
The outside bolts are more exposed to the elements and movement from general working, so will soon be seen to fail. But any bolts in the engine room that are holding up critical sections (shaft housing, shaft brakes etc.) may be a good idea to give them a light tap.
Have to say, I like the new Batch 2’s. I know they have no hangar and a light main gun, but they have an excellent potential to move Marines or special forces around and fulfil their assigned duties.
The cost is due to BAE keeping on staff at the yard so this is not a good measuring stick and the lack of heavy weaponry is simply due to their role. But that said… they are really great ships with a lot of other functionality of a normal light warship (ballistic protection, heavy duty bulkheads, stabilisers, good living accommodation etc).
One of the best roles they can attain is to provide the RN with the excellent new talent it deserves from those ratings that will serve on these super ships. What a fun way to train for the T31e, T26 and T45’s. Although I’d have more fun staying with the Batch 2’s


Amateurs,any bodger worth his salt would have stuck the heads back on with something like sikaflex,able to absorb vibrations and shock!


Yep, as said it’s still worth giving the critical bolts a tap (or two) to see if others are bodged intentionally.
As the glued bolts are spread here and there, I’m sure it’s just some team leader who realised the extra work/time penalty involved in redoing broken bolts… and whipped out the Gorilla glue… got to laugh!


If I may I would like to continue with my comments on this type of vessel.
HMS Forth is an OPV with no form of use in a real war, or real deterrence in peace, in reality it is nothing more than an armed coast guard cutter and in comparison to some of the worlds armed coast guard cutters not a very good one either.
On its 2,000 tons you get a 30 mm gun and a flight deck. The Dutch build the SIGMA 10514 patrol/corvettes on 2,300 tons with a 76mm, a couple of smaller guns, 12 SAMs, 8 SSMs, a couple of torpedo tubes and a helicopter hanger for Wildcat or similar size plus space for some Marines, 28 knots and 21 days endurance. Even the smaller SIGMA 9813 is a much more capable patrol ship on 2,000 tons than the Batch 2s, but it still has anti air, surface to surface and anti sub capabilities plus its helicopter hanger, marines, 28 knots, 21 days endurance and a crew similar to the Batch 2s. It looks like the price is also similar.
I am not saying that the missile suite should be fitted to any possible future RN OPV of the SIGMA 9813 type, but at least they could be equipped for.
So what is the problem, why don’t we build such vessels, we seem to go from the advanced T45 and T26 to nothing; and we don’t have enough of the advanced ships to do what is needed. Having a billion pound T45 on anti-piracy/anti-drug patrols is a ludicrous waste of a high end asset. Yes I understand that the SIGMA has a larger crew than the batch 2 OPVs but the simple question is are we building a fleet of ships for deterrence and if need be war or are we just building for the sake of it, which ship would you rather command if having to escort potential enemy ships through your waters, or go after pirates and drug smugglers. Which one gives the impression of don’t mess around I mean business a Batch 2 OPV or a British equivalent to the SIGMA class vessels of a similar tonnage.
If we are incapable due to BaE dominance in the shipbuilding field then why don’t we just by a design and build it ourselves, we are surly capable to do the alterations that we require.
So here is an idea for thought, rather than building 5 or more T31s why not build 4 plus 8 x 9813 equivalents, that way we can have 4 x 1+2 squadrons, one always in refit. The high end assets can then be left to do the job that they are intended for escorting the carriers and assault ships. The OPVs plus the Scottish Fisheries vessels, Revenue Cutters could then be formed into a revamped Coast Guard service and taken out of the RN budget. Again this would leave the RN to do the job that it is intended for patrol the worlds oceans and go into harms way if needed. Before someone uses the cost argument, yes the front end would be more costly, but in the long run you save money by not running the legs of the limited resources we have and you would need only half of the DDGs and FFGs available at any one time as there will only be one QE in commission at one time and one LPD. When it comes to crew numbers if we do not build enough combat capable ships then the high end units needs to be used more often so from the six T45 four will always be manned, the same with the T26 approx 6 will need to be manned as for the T31 4 will be manned each with two crews giving a requirement of 3844 crew members. With an increase up front cost of building the SIGMA type vessel plus the T31 as I suggested the crew requirement for the T45, T26, T31 and Txx would be 2926 again this is two crews per ship in active. This is a saving of 918 crew members per year or £27,540,000 per year in salaries or 688 million over a 25 year life span of the ships, this is the cost to build two ships. This does not include the savings made by running the high end assets ragged. Also think what it would mean for the carrier battlegroup, they could be escorted properly with two T45s and 4 T26s with 1 T45 and 2 T26s for the Amphib group.


The River OPV’s are still eminently suitable vessels for the role they will be used in.
Under-armed or not, they are a reality so it is best to deal in reality rather.


An entirely reasonable, well-thought out argument which is why it’s sure to be ignored by our ‘betters’!


Quite frankly the Clyde has had quality issues for years. I have no idea why the Government or whoever seems to think they should show them any kind of loyalty with these contracts, when they ultimately end up in dry dock at Portsmouth for repair.
Of course commissioning deals with significant issues before acceptance but quality of build such as those bolt heads is unacceptable & highlight a lack of localised management, period.
BAES should now be seen to shake the tree big time North of the border before real questions start being asked!!!