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Interesting that the top speed is quite a bit slower than the reputed top speed of the Tides.


Most such ships in modern navies seem to be capable of at least 20kns. Tankers/AOR/supply ships need to keep up with at least cruise speeds of the average task force. In many cases this is 18kns +. If a support ship can’t keep up, then a warship has to be detached to escort it. This increases the risk to both the task force & the support ship. This is cutting it fine for such a ship. It will be running at max most of the time.


Quite. I crewed on a Port Line refrigerated cargo; she was only 9000 tons 18kn (400 nm per day) twin Doxfords, crew of 60+ 12 passengers. How they made a profit remains a mystery! Teak decks and handrails brass all over the brigde. 1967/68. Rule Britannia! Then the newer ships were 23 knoters.Great potential armed merchant Cruisers. Of course one of their wartime ships was an aircraft carrier the Port…?


I don’t believe for one minute that the Tide speed is “as reputed”.

Mr Froude works better with longer ships. That 19 knots is with all sorts of margins included.


I work with one of the ex-RFA guys who was on the fort Tide class during trials, apparently they outperformed every parameter and requirement in regards to speed and maneuverability.


I can believe that. But you have to remember that this is at start of life. As they get older, they get heavier and they have more auxiliary power demands. That’s before you get to things like sea margins etc. That’s the point – there are so many hidden margins in the requirement that a something like a 19knot end of life speed will probably translate to low 21-22 knots in flat calm, start of life.

Flanders Pigeon murderer

If it’s based on the Tide class it should have roughly the same speed


I think this is the speed they are required to maintain in the contract (i.e. keep up with CSG). They are very similar to Tides (an evolution) and will no doubt perform similarly.


This has the capacity to go so horribly wrong, especially at the Belfast end. All they’ve got to do is recruit and train a workforce.


They already have a workforce around 120


Who haven’t built a ship. Plus 120 is a fraction of the needed numbers. I’m sure work force issues are at of near the top of the MoD’s known risks on this project.


Neither had the Adelaide Australia shipyard built a destroyer (The subs were 25 years ago) until the Navantia and their destroyer design came along- also a prefab modules approach from other yards. Not that there wasnt some issues.

These vessels are lego compared to a modern AAW destroyer build


Navantia is also involved here. They are experienced shipbuilders with runs on the board. The Australian experience may help them here.


AWD didn’t entirely go smoothly, to put it mildly.

There will undoubtedly be issues given the complete lack of experienced shipbuilding project managers and supervisors in Belfast. It’s a very different game from the minor ship repairs they’re doing at the minute.

It is however, the right result. The Serco / Damen one based on Doorman was the wrong ship, the L3/L&T one was a good design, but very risky wrt build. The Team UK was a comedy ship which would have had exactly the same issues in build, given how close to capacity Govan and Rosyth are.


I’m curious, in what way do you consider the Team UK offering to be a comedy ship?


Let’s just say that they were trying to combine incompatible requirements and an inappropriate hullform.


Totally serious question: does the MOD allow Americans to work on building their ships? I wouldn’t mind coming over to Northern Ireland for a couple years. How would someone go about exploring an opportunity like this if it existed?

Last edited 1 year ago by Will

Work visa available for skilled people , for up to 5 years
See a few posts below this for my previous link to the skills categories wanted. Speaking english will be a huge advantage too. Maybe best to get the employer to offer job and sponsor first.


Thanks, Duker.

Supportive Bloke

A massive risk TBH.

However, Belfast is in the EU so Navitalia can be contracted to backfill with no visa issues.


Belfast isnt in EU. Ireland and UK are outside the Schengen visa free travel zone.
However skilled workers have no problem getting work/visa in UK post Brexit. Its the unskilled low wage workers that have restrictions

The EU part for Northern Ireland only covers the movement of goods between the two countries and customs paper work
Unlike many say , including the Republics government, the Good Friday agreement hardly mentions the border and certainly not any customs arrangements

Supportive Bloke

In practical terms Navitalia can fly guys/girls to Dublin without any paperwork.

The guys/girls can be bussed from South to North on a daily basis.

Or as you say they could get visa’s which might be harder than you think TBH. There are sadly few allowed for construction of metal bashing in spite of the huge shortage of skills.

The insanity of the BoE saying the tight labour market is driving inflation / wage growth spiral whilst keeping the doors shut for the immigrants that UK employers need is pretty clear. Yes, the previous totally open nonsense was nonsense at all levels but the present situation is insane as it is choking off growth.


A work visa that has a job attached and sponsored by a company- who can handle all the paperwork too- would be straightforward and could be as long as 5 years
The freedom of movement and work between UK and Ireland is only for Irish citizens not migrants

Theres doesnt seem to be a ‘quota’ like you suggest .
The engineering technician trades ( inc draughtsmen) are certainly on the skill list, as well as sheet and heavy metal trades incl welders.

You should check before doing the ‘remainer moan’

Supportive Bloke

I’m not a remainer moaner.

I run a medium sized construction business these days and the skills shortages in metal trades are accute.


Welcome to what most other countries have as well
Saying they are *keeping doors shut* or there is some sort of quota is a moan when its on the list of approved visa occupations.


Belfast in the EU??
Go back to school


There’s a H&W animation somewhere that shows the final assembly sequence, with the bow section (unsurprisingly) coming from Appledore, the mid section built in Belfast and the stern and accommodation block from Cadiz. So Navantia are doing the difficult bits. Have to remember too that H&W have four sites so they do have a fair size workforce. I’m sure there will be some fun and games but they will get it done.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ben Robins

The workforce goes where the work is as we saw when ship building was in Portsmouth, a large non local work force pitched up in no time at all. Its the way of modern working, workers move around a lot these days in such industries to earn a crust. So if project managed well (and I believe it will be) the Fleet will get these 3 large vessels that NO other European Nation will have making the UK Task Force a top running (we just need the aircraft to fill them Carriers – which should come under the Senior Service control). We will see. That future task force will be impressive to see once it has all its promised units.


“Workers move around a lot these day!”

Yep, freedom of movement is a wonderful thing.


Not quite true. The non-local workforce came largely from 20 miles away – at least at the beginning and was supplemented by some of the existing dockyard outfit trades.

Workers don’t necessarily move around frequently in these sorts of industries – particularly where you’re looking at specialists in their late 20s and 30s with families. It’s done only when necessary – once you leave the industry, you often don’t come back.


We found those that worked in Portsmouth came from the North and Scotland as very few had the trades available in the area anymore. So yes they do move around as they get a support package to aid their employment. If they want the dosh they will go to where the work is. H&W should not have a big issue really.


Then why are they talking about setting up welding academies and apprentices if skilled workers already exist and will flock to where the work is?

Supportive Bloke

CBE – Can’t Be Everywhere

Given the uptick in the number of shipyards operating at once in the UK there are simply not enough bodies to do the work.

So a lot of training is needed.

Trouble is all that training produces is bodies that know how to learn the rest of the trade through experience. And that takes time.


When Portsmouth was set up as a shipbuilding facility in ~2003 it involved the relocation of the VT Woolston shipyard staff (or as many as could be persuaded to cross the cultural divide twixt Southampton and Portsmouth). That provided the core of the workforce – crucially including the project managers and supervisors who actually knew how to schedule and control a shipbuild.

Later when ramping up to do QEC, a fair few came from the remnants of the ersatz Swan Hunter after the LSDA debacle. It’s not the trades that are necessarily the problem – its the design engineering, project management and supervisory teams. They really don’t exist in Belfast and the experienced ones – with families – are not likely to do jobbing contract work.

No amount of apprenticeships and academies fixes that immediate problem.


How did it work out for the new destroyer ship yard Navantia set up for 3 AAW ships in Adelaide Australia ?


It’s fair to say “not particularly well”….

AuditReport_2013-2014_22.pdf (

To be fair to Navantia – not sure they were actually in charge of setting it up.


Fair enough , but DDGs are really hard to build, fit out and commission based on another countrys version. The yard hadnt built any surface warships before as it was a political decision to use Adelaide port rather than the existing naval shipyard at Williamstown Melbourne- apart from supplying hull blocks plus blocks from sites in Spain, Newcastle (AU)

FSS is a new design to UK requirements not an adaptation of a Spanish ship and is a fairly simple type of ship with many commercial based features


Simple it is not.

It’s one of the most technically challenging types of auxiliary.

The same common factors that hurt the AWD programme will apply here. Plus, it’s a new design – only the hullform is based on Tide – which will require a lot of input from the MoD during design phase.

It’s still the right decision but we can expect some slippage and cost escalation on the way.


To be solved by increasing the amount done in Spain?


funny how this has more hanger potential then a t26 with both heli’s having simultaneous deck access unlike t26 where you have to go through main hanger and protrude into the multi mission deck to store 2 Merlins
will be the rn second biggest ships at 216m

Last edited 1 year ago by fvf

helicopters are also used to deliver supplies to warships, either through ‘vertrep’ or landing on deck.


Precisely fvf. For all the so talked T26 “multi mission” that is really a red mark.


There’s this thing called beam. It matters. T26 has 20m of beam, FSS has over 30. A Merlin with storm lashings takes about 8.5m of beam. Then you add working space, including fore and aft access passageways, support space for stowages, modular support kit, ship structure etc etc and it all adds up.


Italians FREMM’s have AW101 + NH90 hangars and a big space in between. T26 is beamer than the FREMMs.


But has different design drivers, no uptakes, boat bays iwo hangar etc. I doubt there’s much space internally for the Bergamini fwd of Flyco. You wouldn’t get your lashing patterns and maintenance gantries in there otherwise.

Last edited 1 year ago by N-a-B

I don’t see the point of putting boats at side of the hangar when they could go in mission bay. This just increase of space for small things at expense of space for big UAV’s / helicopters.
Another equation is in favour of sea things at expense of flying things.


Design is all about trade-offs. The arrangement issues and tradeoffs with T26 were complex. Lots of interaction between hullform, propulsion and operational requirements.


Yes. The Beramini’s have a 76mm gun above the helicopter hangar, which clearly leads to the design choice of two separated bays like the Burkes for US Navy – but their choice seems to be because the missile launchers centered there and a rear quarterdeck ( breaking the long tradition of mostly flush decks for destroyers and frigates)


Better view of MH-60 inside a Burke hangar


A merlin in a hanger doesn’t need storm lashings


What are the two rows of vertical boxes fwd just stbd of centreline. Could they be vertical missile containers


Looks like it could simply be the storage area for shipping containers.

If those containers happened to be pods containing specialist equipment or missiles, well I won’t say if you don’t.

John Charles

Pontoons perhaps? 

NATO pontoon 4200 x 2100 x 750 mm

Second thoughts these appear too wide!

Last edited 1 year ago by John Charles

The last graphic shows you just how big the drydock is at H&W.


Hi. Stupid question from a landlubber but what is the function of the RAS rigs here? I thought these were dry stores ships?


Isn’t it the same process to transfer stores between ships…..rig up lines and winch the stores package across. The fuel is just pumped through hoses rigged up the same way


Correct fuel and stores use the same method to transfer between Ships (RAS means replenishment at sea which covers everything you can image). Done my share all over the World with many different Navies and its the same all over. KISS and it works.


Super duper. Thanks for non condescending answers ??


Positioning of the CIWS looks odd, as though it’s only supposed to counter threats from in front or behind, and not the (much bigger target) sides…


Clear fields of view for at least 180 deg each side ( maybe more from the bow) , so covers the full 360 deg for whole ship..


Did not note the presumed location of the two 30mm ASCG. Possible upgrade to new 40mm mount during first refit?


The CIWS positioning look ok. Maybe just a little more arc for the stern one.
They rotate to each side so you can have 2 channels of fire to each side.


…’Heavy RAS and simultaneous replenishment requirement was removed from original specification as a cost-saving measure.’ Really? Would assume that would be a quite desirable capability in certain scenarios.

Steven Alfred Rake

Yes this is a follows on to the standard text of “fitted for but not with” so we will get a ship that is supposed to replace the Fort Victoria but cannot do what Fort Victoria dose now. There is also the question of time scale 2032 seems a long way off at the moment.
On the whole it is a positive story if only to get HW back up and running again.


Fort Vic can’t put two rigs into QEC either.

The revised requirement means that the FSS can only RAS(S) the forward solid stores point on QEC.

Supportive Bloke

Have you ever been onto a Fort?

The accommodation isn’t really up to much by modern standards.

These are really good vessels and only the US, with its huge budgets, has anything better.

Steven Alfred Rake

I am not saying they will be bad vessels but if we are only to build 3 why not give them the full speck with 4 rigs (not 3) and with the ability to RAS simultaneously as by trying to save money up front we will be losing money in the long run.


It would, just the usual UK build it at absolute minimum cost policy

Supportive Bloke

I’d hardly describe these vessels as ‘absolute minimum anything’

They are massive vessels that are well equipped and will be good to serve on.

Keith Johnson

Half and half the hull made in Spain the top in the UK we are not fools .


Learn to walk before you run Grasshopper. Ship 1 will certainly be primarily Cadiz built. By ship 3 H&W will hopefully be capable of doing the complex outfit and commissioning of the machinery spaces themselves.


Is there enough in the potential pipeline to keep H&W running after 2032? Some amphibious or other RFA replacement? Seems a shame to invest and ramp up only to hit a gap and lose it all again if you can’t..


Yes. MRSS is exactly that potential. There’s also the P2000 replacements that Appledore could gobble up.

Argus is extended, Albion & Bulwark are OOS next decade and the Bays can soldier on. I might want a couple of the MRSS delivered a bit sooner than 2032, but the bulk should be okay into mid-decade. I’m not sure about late decade and 2040s.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jon

“The RAS rigs on the port side will not both align with the rigs fitted on the starboard side of the aircraft carriers (accessed through the two hangar doors) as the Heavy RAS and simultaneous replenishment requirement was removed from the original specification as a cost-saving measure”

How much cost would this of saved: surely speed of replenishment is key to maintaining sortie rate, keeping ships away from threats and all kind of things? Even if this omission saved 20% (and surely it cant of saved that amount) it wouldn’t of been worth it?

Good to see progress being made on these critical vessels.

Last edited 1 year ago by Grant

Think the other way.

With that requirement, “3 SSS” was not able to meet within the £1.6Bn budget. (the reason why it was omitted).

So, there would have been only two SSS. Of course, detailed design, initial costs and (lack of good) training curve means “3 SSS” is a lot cheaper than “1.5 times of the 2 SSS case”. So, it might have save a lot (my enabling the program to be “3 vessels” plan).


How is UK going to man them?

RFA operates
1 Argus 80 RFA + 50 RN (+ flight or medics)
1 Fort Vic. 95 RFA + 24 RNSTS + 15 RN (+ flight)
3 Bays
4 Tides (I’m afraid 1 is on maintenance)

MROSS(1) is coming.
Looks like MHC-OSV is also RFA manned.
3 SSS vessels are ordered.

I understand Argus and Fort Victoria will be gone, when the 3 SSS comes in. It will provide 175 RFA + 24 RNSTS + 65 RN (+ flight etc).

First of all, how are they going to man MROSS(1) and MHC-OSV?

Then, the 3 SSS can be manned how, with only 199 RFA, 24 RNSTS and 65 RN crews are there?


Glad this has gone through- could bring a lot of good for Northern Ireland. Thanks in part to the National Shipbuilding Strategy, putting onus on the government to follow its advice. I’m not aware of a similar National Strategy for other elements of defence and Industry, although someone enlighten me if I’m wrong. Surely this should be a ground-level obligation of the government to produce for all key industries?!
I’m not an expert, but looks like a decent ship, and contractually a good way to go- to get Navantia involved in the development of H&W into hopefully an efficient, high-quality European manufacturer.


The former Shorts aircraft business in Northern Ireland got a big boost of government money to create a new plant to build carbon fibre plane wings for the Canadian Bombardier C series passenger plane- now Airbus A220 range. But in general Treasury is very firm about ‘not choosing winners’ or market distorting subsidies, but out of the EU this has lessened ( you could do it in ‘deprived areas’)


Yeah, I definitely think that the government should be being a lot more intentional about encouraging and developing investment in industry- particualrly in key sectors.
While I don’t doubt that there was a degree of limitation imposed by the EU, I often think that the government used that as a whipping boy far too often to avoid blame for their own decisions. Previous examples include RFA vessel acquisitions: The government blamed the EU regs for forcing them to look abroad for them, but that just wasn’t true.
That said, now we’re out, use any additional freedom to the maximum!


Previous example, singular. Specifically the MARS tanker programme.

Which was a perfectly sensible approach, given :

  1. Most of the available UK manpower was busy on the carrier programme.
  2. UK construction costs – assuming sufficient capacity existed – would have dwarfed the contract with DSME. At a time when money was very scarce.
  3. At the time, policy – developed by the labour administration as part of the Maritime Industrial Strategy – was to concentrate complex warship building on the Clyde and rationalise any excess capacity. Which is the principal reason Portsmouth closed as a build yard.

Correction humbly received, and I’m not questioning whether the choice was the sensible one based upon available resource.
However, I recall at the time government justification for the decision being based upon the claim that EU laws prohibited the exclusion of international bids due to competition- ony “warships” being exempt from that competition clause. That’s not true; the government can claim an exemption on any contract that is critical for national security, not just warships. The government could have chosen to ringfence the MARS for domestic-only bids, but it clearly didn’t suit them to do so- the EU became the scapegoat.
That was the broader point I was tryng to make, even though I messed up some of the detail.


Oh I wouldn’t disagree with the scapegoating part. I think the issue was that HMG didn’t want to point out in public that – in comparison to what they could get from abroad – the cost and timescale to the taxpayer of a UK only option would have been exorbitant, even if it had been deliverable. The line at the time was also that no UK build yards had submitted a bid – which I’m pretty sure was true.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary – Hansard – UK Parliament

One might argue that at the time – outside BAES – there were no yards actually capable of delivering the tankers in the timeframe. While Cammell Lairds were working with Fincantieri and Babcock with Navantia IIRC, the truth was that none of the UK entities could have delivered the ships. The teamings were still essentially an overseas build with a UK customisation package. BAES didn’t bother because they knew they couldn’t compete with that price-wise, even if they’d had the capacity.

The EU thing was a convenient fig-leaf to hide behind.


That’s fair I guess- “our industrial base is shot” isn’t really something the government should be saying- even if it’s true!


UK Treasury knows the price of everything and the value of nothing

Examining their post WWII history, it’s easy to conclude they are not fit for purpose


True, sadly.
I think it’s partly to do with mentality; if you think of the government budget as largely an accountancy exercise (as it would appear HMT does), then you’re jsut gonna try and balance the books and twist departmental balls when the numbers don’t match. But, if you see the budget as a means to invest in domestic capability for future returns (as most other coutnries around the world do, with varying degrees of success), then you have a far more powerful economy. Just depends on the culture and the role of the organisation, and HMT are bean counters all the way…

Flanders Pigeon murderer

Whats going on on the bridge? Looks like the blinds are down.


It is a SPANISH led Consortium. Capito?

bill Douglas

19 Knots is more than plenty. Refueling/storing at speed, zig zagging at night during an exercise is what these ships do. On an ocean passage with the fleet is not a race to the finish.This is the cruising speed.They will have a few knots up their sleeve. I spent a goodly number of years on an RFA bridge/deck on many Atlantic/Med/Far East exercises and these ships will out work anything afloat, of any navy. Merchant Navy officers and men