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Jim Hedges

Great news!


Construction to start in 2025…..those ships are needed ASAP. If the FIRE on RFA Victoria had been any worse CSG 21 would not have happened unless we relied on Allies to provide the support.


You can’t start construction until you have a design ready for production.

What has been produced is a contract level design, matured sufficiently to allow cost-estimating and risk-reduction. That design now has to go through Class and Authority approvals – a major hoopla in itself – followed by placing orders for long-lead items, development of detailed design and then production design, plus development of a detailed build schedule, work packages, materials orders etc.

Vastly more difficult will be the recruitment of the right people. The usual “graduates and apprentices” blurb has been rolled out. What they actually need is a lot of mid-career people with real experience in building ships. Some of that knowledge will be transferred from Navantia, but you’re still reliant on people wanting to relocate to Belfast.

Still, good news – and the right result technically. At least the design has always been based around the requirement, as opposed to converting a totally different design (KarelDoorman) or bodging a RoPax commercial hullform to try and meet this requirement, while aiming at MRSS (the Team UK option).

Phillip Johnson

The workforce will the issue.
If it is anything like he Australian AWD, build, the Spanish will jump into the block build if Belfast comes up short for people.


That had been leaked then denied, so no surprise. I’d rather the first one had been started asap in Spain, but I suppose that would have been too politically unpopular, and I imagine there’s a lot of work to do to get Belfast up to snuff before construction begins. Not least in recruitment and training. I just looked up the Methil site, and I was suprised how big it was and that it already has over 300 workers. That’s mad. It seems like they only bought it yesterday.

It’s going to be difficult to maintain big ship orders at H&W. Can we really support shipbuilding at Govan, Rosyth, Belfast, and Birkenhead? It makes me wonder what’s in store for Lairds. MROSS 2? After FSS, Appledore could get the P2000 replacements or some Border Force cutter work and keep the work going.

The important thing is, the absurd competition is finally done.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jon
Just Me

Based on the Tide hull and machinery – big savings to the RFA – a smart solution from the only viable bidder.


Yep, I like that consistency between the two replenishers. The consortia aside, the vessels themselves should be fine.

Hamish Everett

How come they’re building they sold the first 2 fort class to Egypt if the replacements won’t start building till 2025


Because the old Forts were totally incapable of supporting UK CSG operations. Not capable of RASing safely alongside and aviation facilities not certified for any current UK helicopters.


I really hope, by the main contract, Babcock and Cammel Laired (at least) gets some level of big-block build work share. Rapidly establishing some ship build industry in Belfast, while leaving these two shipbuilders capable of building “large, merchant-ship-like vessels” is some mad idea, UK cannot afford, I’m afraid.


Babcock has not yet built a single ship in Rosyth. Certainly not a large merchant-ship-like one either. They have enough on their hands with building T31 (their first shipbuild) in any case.

Lairds ought to be worried, although I suspect MROSS will be heading their way.



As I understand the T31 build work will end around 2027, can Babcock provide some blocks for FSSS hull 2 and 3?

I do not have much hope on T32, and I’m afraid Babcock will starve for work around 2027 onward…

After building 5 T31 (their first shipbuild), Babcock will be well trained, and shall be capable of “ship building”? I understand T31 is more similar to merchant ship hull than T26/T45s, so might be so-so trained to join FSSS build?

If Cammel Laired can get MROSS, it will be enough for them for 4-5 years, I agree. But, will the 2nd-MROSS be really funded? I’m not yet sure…


T32 will be ordered, if the MOD is short on funds they can sell on the T31s as nearly new as the whole point is to keep a constant drum beat of orders.
BAE will likely win the T45 replacement when the final T26 is delivered.
For the investment going into H&W it sounds like the long term plan will be to build the large RFA hulls there going forward.


Umm, I cannot be so optimistic.

Selling 10-years old T31? Then, for “T33” RN need to sell the T32s? Not likely to happen, I’m afraid.

I think Rosyth needs continuous ship building orders, until 2055 or more, when T31 will finally be replaced. That is why I am proposing to “share” FSSS work with Rosyth, to keep it active until 2030 or 31 (to save the day), and then RN can order T32, or MRSS, or … what else?

If MRSS and Tide replacement go to H&W, Rosyth and Cammel Laired will be shut down, because of lack of order, I’m afraid (or vice versa).

End result of “competition” is always “bunkrapts” of failed yards and monopoly. To avoid it, HMG needs some sort of balance. In Japan, FFK prime contractor was won by MHI, but still the Mitsui yard had some share of orders. No always the best approach, but worth considering also in UK, I think.


There is nothing wrong with selling ships young. There is a school of thought that it would be better to just to continue to build warships without all this batch business. And then sell ships off young. It is seen as a way of preserving skills.


The concept has a small problem. Every time you want to build a new ship you have to go to the Treasury. They have three questions you must answer before they even think about going forward :

  1. Do you need the capability? The answer “I need a new ship because I’ve got one now and because Russians….” will not fly – or float. The conversation ends.
  2. Can you make the existing ship last longer and how much will it cost to do so? The answer to that is almost invariably “yes and less” unless there is a significant safety impact. At which point the conversation ends.
  3. Will selling a 10 year old ship and buying a new one cost more or less than extending the 10 year old ship? The answer is almost invariably “more”. Again the conversation ends.

The T23 was supposed to be a single refit, non-capability upgrade 18 year life vessel. Not quite the ten year throwaway but not a milloin miles away either.

One of the reasons T22/23(R), FSC, GCS, T26 took so long to get on contract was simply the answers to the questions above. It changed when it became clear that extending the T23 beyond their current projected lives would see costs spiral and availability fall off a cliff.


It wouldn’t work with how things are done that is obvious.

And just because I mention something it doesn’t necessarily mean I am for it or indeed against it.

Last edited 1 year ago by X

It’s necessary to be assertive.

Do you need the capability? The question of whether we need capability right now is the wrong question when it’s clear the ship won’t be in service right now. The question should be will we need the capability ten years from now? However, this is not a capability. It’s a platform and part of a system of systems that will house capability that we will purchase at the time guaranteeing that it’s needed at the time. So by definition, yes, it will be needed.

Can you make the existing ship last longer and how much will it cost to do so? The current ship doesn’t conform to doctrine. We are fighting a grey zone war of persistent engagement and need platforms that conform to the Integrated Operating Concept. Given that they will become increasingly useless, extending the life of the current platform would be fiscally irresponsible, and I’m surprised to hear you suggest it. I refuse to waste taxpayers money that way.

Will selling a 10 year old ship and buying a new one cost more or less than extending the 10 year old ship? Of course it’s cheaper to buy a new one. You need to factor in the decreased cost of maintenance over the following ten years, including equipment refurbishment and time lost in dock, then there’s the reduced cost of operation because the new ship requires fewer people, has more efficient engines and is optimised to run on net-zero synthetic fuel, contributing to the MOD’s commitment to sustainability, very expensive to duplicate on the old ships. Then there are the payments to Babcock if we are in breach of TOBA, the loss of exports to the UK economy — I’m sure you’ve noticed that we only sell new ships abroad when we are committing to buying them ourselves, and the largest contribution of all being the extra that BAE will charge for the Type 83s if we let them return to being a natural monopoly. In fact it’s so much cheaper to replace the ships that if we can’t sell them, we should be giving them away.

Any accountant will tell you that when asked “does it cost more or less” the answer is whatever you want it to be.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jon

Ho ho ho.

I have a bridge for sale that you may be interested in.

Supportive Bloke

And they landed on the wrong end of the costs spiral?

That is pretty clear from the costs of the LIFEX compared to the T31 project.

OK, there was New Sonar, Artisan and Ceptor so the numbers are not so simple.

Supportive Bloke

It is also a way of having something to rapidly sell.

Most other navies don’t understand long term planning having relied on the UK downsizing its navy and picking up the excellent ships we decommission.

Also if the thing is built and costs 50-60% of new there is little point in trying to build it at home. Risks massive: savings hardly worth thinking about. This is particularly true with T31 type ships.


To be honest the T32 is more a replacement for a lot of small ships. The RN is going to need something to move around it’s agnostic capabilities. So I do think these will be ordered, simply because all those autonomous mine warfare systems become useless without a boat to carry them.

what the compromise will be is around cost and capability of the T32.

If we are lucky it will effectively be a batch 2 T31 with specific adaptations for the systems the RN needs carting around.

At worst I suspect someone will dust off something like the blackswan sloop concept….a very cheap 2000-4000ton commercial standard vessel, with at the most basic self defence and the ability to act as the hub for these systems.


More likely the Mine Warfare support ship(s) will be purely commercial designs or even secondhand ships. The T32 will be more combat focused to work in support of the littoral groups.


I don’t think we will bet both, the point of the T32 was that we get them from the reduction in smaller hulls.


I was giving my thoughts on potential outcomes and having a discussion it’s called freedom of speech and thought, just as everyone else has…and the type 32 is actually part of a wider planned reduction in smaller hulls and development of platform agnostic systems, it was in a load of press releases.

anyway back to you deplatforming and anti freedom of thought rant…if you don’t want to read options don’t read comments sections, if you do don’t be a bully and let people have their say without making nasty comments.

James Fennell

Babcock can’t afford to tie up the big dry dock at Rosyth – it is the only one in the UK able to maintain the two carriers. The smaller Rosyth drydock is also fully booked dismantling SSNs. Cammell Laird have the current MOD contract to maintain and refit the RFA fleet, and a sub-contract with MOD for the PIP for Type 45. They are likely to get MROSS 2 as well, given their experience with SDA. MRSS is coming down the line, a contract for 6 large (20k ton) LPD type vessels, which will probably need more than one yard to complete, and the Point Class replacement contract could potentially involve 4-more UK built vessels. Babcock and BAe will fight for T32 and T83, and BAe has the prospect of participation in AUKUS submarines and potentially more SSN(R) for the RN, as well as T45 upgrade work at Scotstoun, Portsmouth and Govan. Babcock will sustain and refit the T31s at Devonport alongside the T23s as they are withdrawn. Add to that export work on T31 and T26 and other vessels and the order book is healthy for the moment.


All your list (other than “unlikely export”) will not keep ALL the yards for 35 years cycle. This is the main point.

Also, Points are very cheap merchant vessel. It cannot be built in many yards, because it must be cheap. If it become expensive, numbers built will be small.

I agree those work will keep these yards for a decade. And, end. This is my point.

Merchant vessel? Export sales? No. Look at foreign yards. They are very very efficient. Building many inefficient small yards with slow build rate means no hope for export.

In short, my concern is, this plan is unsustainable.


Wow – 8 ships in 2 days – can’t wait for those type 32s tomorrow!


But, but that is a sensible decision!!!!!. Decent design by BMT. Navanita are capable. The only problem is H&W. But well what a surprise.


I’m getting a little optimistic about H&W consortium; they seem to be pretty good at winning bids. They’ve been gaining a lot of fabrication orders in Scotland and are expanding there, Appledore has had ship refurbishment orders, and now they’ve landed a big one which should transform the Belfast shipyard. The biggest red flag for them as a fabricator was they had issues delivering for an offshore windfarm. Let’s see if they can deliver on shipbuilding.


We shall see how it works.


I think you have a friend.


I know. I can’t be bothered to email the site owner again. It is sad really.


H&W in Belfasts problem will be getting experienced mid carrier people to move there and lead teams in all departments. If you were late 20’s mid 30’s with or about to get a family would you take them to Belfast? Would your partner be equally keen to move?

Supportive Bloke

Housing is relatively cheap.

Wages will be pretty good.

With the recessionary mess, accelerated courtesy of Mad Vlad, a stable job with lower outgoing might be attractive?


There are no stable jobs in shipbuilding. Which is why people who leave rarely come back.

Supportive Bloke

Unless HMG embrace the Parker plan fully and then it gets very stable?


I’m afraid SJPs “plan” wasn’t really a plan. Lots of lovely aspirational stuff, no commitment.

The single most important part of the plan – a long-term ring-fenced capital budget – was quietly given a stiff ignoring while everyone blathered on about 30-year pipelines, distributed build, digital twins and so-forth.

Look at what happened to Portsmouth. Shipbuilding re-started (after a 40 year gap) in the early noughties as part of a plan for “Ship Co” as it was known then as part of Paul Draysons masterplan (aka BVT). Closed ten years later.

Supportive Bloke

Well we had Brownian notion of money.

Trouble is that when it came to money it was distributed away from defence.

Sure he signed off QEC – thankfully otherwise all UK shipbuilding would have died. But it is was the never ending delays to T26 that killed any need for BVT who would have been perfectly capable of T31 style work or modules for Solid Support or indeed the B2 Rivers


The real delays to T26 came after the 2010 election when the Tory defence cuts came through and the Labour signed T26 design development contract was put on back burner – using the useful idiot approach of “looking at cheaper design”. Lo and behold just before the 2015 election the original design course was suddenly back on track , yet 4 years wasted.
The T45 was under construction from 2003(Daring) to 2010( Duncan) and the T26 original design contract in 2009 could have seen the first steel cut in 2011-12 . Instead it became River OPVs B2 ( which were originally VT work at Southampton and then Portsmouth, but became a filler for BAE on the Clyde)
All because of the stupid ‘pause’ after 2010.
True the RN was forced to drop the 7-8th T45 in order to get T26 underway during Browns time. They ended up with neither under a wasted decade as only very soon the first T26 ‘in the water’

Last edited 1 year ago by Duker

The internet still isn’t knowledge. Your fictional pause remains just that.

T26 was nowhere near ready for steel cutting in 2011. That was about when the major arrangement change – nothing to do with cost or capability – occurred. By which time BAES had spent all the £165m assessment phase funds (what the internet has told you was a design contract). It was also the start of the game of chicken……


The actual contract , like many things these days, was published on the internet.
Government bodies internet sources arent to be compared to facebook and twitter


And the deliverables from that contract?

It was for what was known as the Assessment Phase, the objective of which was to develop the requirement and associated design to the point where a robust cost-estimate/price can be developed for a Main Gate decision to move into what’s known as Demonstration and Manufacture. Or detail design and build.

That didn’t happen. Not because “Tories” initiated alternative designs, but because the arrangement needed to change and BAES had spent all the money. That led to the game of chicken, which resulted in the delay and was not resolved until the £800-odd million contract for detailed design and long lead items was let in 2014/15.


BVT died because VT decided to exercise their option to exit the business. They went into training and service provision and were eventually taken over by Babcock.

Portsmouth shutting was nothing to do with T26. The “plan” – courtesy of that nice Lord Drayson and his Rand consultant Hans Pung was always to rationalise shipbuilding post-QEC. That was part of the rationale behind the ToBA.

The choice was made partly because Portsmouth had an “unusual and more expensive” launch method but mainly because noone in BAES or HMG wanted to be the ones who ended shipbuilding on the Clyde. Strangely, the Clyde now uses that very launch method…..

What is different now is that we’ve decided to increase capacity.


Anyone else think the timing is odd for these 2 contracts? Either Wallace:
1) knows he’s getting a decent budget and is going ahead as a result of being told, or
2) knows he’s getting a real-terms cut so is signing contracts which’ll create a black hole and force Hunt to stump up more cash

In both cases a great deal of work is in UK so no issue with weak £


The £ is not weak, It’s risen to $1.19. Stop talking the UK Economy down without checking your facts OK ?

Andrew Deacon

$1.19 is stilll week compared to 1.34 at start of year and $1.45 plus prior to the brexit referendum, try working in industry and see how much it puts up your costs


Oh, OK, I assume you know exactly what industry I work in ? or was that comment just aimed a bit recklessly? I follow the charts and exchange rates including Gold, Silver and many others, have done for 50 years, your assumption is way off target.


But let’s face it, $1.19 is p**s poor.

Andrew Deacon

You should know how historically low $1.19 is then !


And prior to the GFC it was $1.60 plus and even close to $2 for a time. The falling trend began before Brexit

Andrew Deacon

In my working life I’ve seen it as high as 2.2x and low as 1.03, it clearly was held down prior to the referendum due to uncertainty and fell after the result, a lot of other reasons have come into play lately including the disastrous results of trussenomics luckily the adults are back in charge but I think it’s fair to say 3% of gdp on defence is pie in the sky now and all those shiny new f35’s are coming with a heftier price tag


Wallace can’t comitt multi billion pound contracts on his delegated authority.
It would be a Cabinet final signoff and even then Treasury will still hold the purse strings tight and cause expensive delays …like they always do


Who gives a damn as to where these desperately needed ships are built, or has everyone forgotten their purpose in life, if they ever are commissioned. Defence of the Realm is the priority and spending millions of Pounds to re-vitalise a failed British ship-building industry in order to provide a few thousand jobs for a few years is just another admission of failure. Also, at the moment, the skilled people who will/might build these ships do not exist. For that matter, bearing in mind the manning problems the RFA is currently experiencing neither do their crews. I do seriously wonder if politicians and voters are more of a threat to this countries security than the Chinese the Russians and the USA put together!


Very smart decision! I always felt that the design and logistical similarities to the Tide class would sway the decision. Finally some logical thought from MoD/RN!


19kts feels slow for this day and age. This is a good result for Northern Irish shipbuilding. BMT has fielded some great designs over the last couple of contracts so looks like the best outcome of the two options.


is it really 19 kts? what speed was the whole csg21 moving at? what is the average speed in formation for tide class tankers, type 45 and 23 , as well as the aircraft carrier?


It’s not the average speed that maters, it’s the max continuous cruise speed. If the supply ship can’t keep up you need to detach an escort to look after it. The Tides can keep up they are apparently very quick for their size.


If the Tide class officially only does 20 knots, as claimed on Wikipedia, maybe 19 knots is a guesstimate, as FSS is based on the Tide class. It seems likely that this is the usual obfuscation of capabilities in both ships’ cases.


“something” teen Kts for fuel efficiency. I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong but I think every ship in the current CSG can go 20kts+ at top speed


The main thing is for the support ships to be able to keep up with the aircraft carrier / LHD or equivalent. You don’t need to be able to keep up with the destroyers/ frigates. If you can’t keep up, you quickly become either a liability or the whole task force is forced to slow down to your speed. Even HMNZS Aotearoa can do 20 knots.

Supportive Bloke

That was the other problem with Ocean once you have got past the, cheapo build, falling to bits mechanicals, not really to survivability standards.

She was dead slow and could never have been part of a CSG.

Much better off getting rid of the rubbish/marginally useful and replacing with some proper platforms.


US amphibs are designed to be able to travel 500 miles in a day. Given their distribution it means the US can get something somewhere in a few days.

What we need is a class of fast large LPD to follow the QE’s about.


I am very glad to see that these sizable and capable ships will be built for the Royal Navy. A hangar large enough for two Merlins is a seriously big facility for any vessel that is not an aircraft carrier. Otherwise I see a Phalanx CIWS on the bow and that’s a good thing, but I hope the FSS—and indeed, the entire RN—will be seriously upgunned in light of the emergent threats from missile and drone swarm attacks. I wouldn’t think the FSS would generate enough electrical power for Dragonfire, but I’d like to see some miniguns in various places along with another Phalanx mounted aft and a RAM launcher amidships if nothing else.

Last edited 1 year ago by Will

No way will it get a RAM launcher. With Sea Ceptor in service there is not reason to introduce another completely different missile for short range defence.


CAMM is also twice the range. RAM is purely a point defence missile. CAMM is a point defence / short range area defence missile.

Supportive Bloke

I agree.

Ceptor is much more capable but actually cheaper, per unit, as well as in wide service so the inventory and maintenance training costs are well understood and partially covered.

What would be sensible would be do a 6 / 12 or 18 shot Ceptor pack / container to be available for RFA linked to the CMS.

Ceptor is also sealed in the container in dry gas so it is maintenance free.

That provides wide area defence just by lots of ships having that, very good, system.


The old forts were going to have seawolf at one point, there was an Idea that the T23s would be cheap tugs for a tail without organic air defence and the forts would provide this.

Come forward to the 21c I don’t think it would be a bad idea to lever Ceptor, especially as these are going to be really high value and as you say Ceptor is really low cost. 12 cells would give these ships a lot of protection and really add to a task groups air defence.


comment image


I suggested RAM because it is a cheap, “bolt on” weapon that requires little alteration in any of the ship’s structure or systems. Obviously it would be great to have a small Sea Ceptor battery on board, and I quite agree that this would be a very useful force multiplier for the fleet at sea as well as giving individual FSS ships a fighting chance to defend themselves.

However, as noted below in the discussion about ships having the capability to operate multiple Merlin helos but there being no Merlins to operate, the RN has a bad habit of fielding hollowed out vessels that are underequipped. Therefore I thought that RAM would be a more realistic option, being that it is cheaper and there is an abundance of RAM launchers available in the US.

Supportive Bloke

“ The hangars will have the capacity for two Merlin helicopters”

Where do these extra Merlin’s come from?

Are they Schrödinger’s Merlins?


Aye you may have something. There are both one and two merlins deployed in the hanger as long as you don’t open the hanger and look. So deployed capability is doubled if it is never observed…or used..that’s just brilliant. So if we just dug a big whole, stuck the whole navy in it put a lid on and never peeked we would have twice as many escorts etc….Brilliant, just brilliant you should have five circles of lace mate.??

Last edited 1 year ago by Jonathan

FWIW Fort II could carry 5 cabs.

Last edited 1 year ago by X

only 3 merlins though

Supportive Bloke

My slightly tongue in cheek point was there aren’t that many Merlin’s around in total.

Getting the Merlin’s that are earmarked for AEW back for other duties is something if a priority?

Hence the push on drones for that work.


It was a good point well made.

Fresh cabs should have been purchased for Crowsnest. I know all about the modularity rhubarb. But no new cabs. Enough to have 2 flights at sea if the balloon goes up.

Just Me

The RN doesn’t want any more Merlins – ever.




I think you’ll find they’re 845 cabs for HDS/Vertrep.


Yes. Just as the US carrier groups push their CVW helicopter squadrons out to their support ships and escorts


No. They don’t.




Does anyone know if the gantry cranes at H&W are currently in a serviceable condition, and indeed would expected to be used in final assembly? I wonder what their projected life is, being that there are 48 and 53 years old.


19 knots maximum speed!! What the heck is going on? Speed, movement and distance are all that matters in an age when Royal Navy warships and auxiliaries are insufficiently armed to defend themselves.


Most warships travel at that speed or just under.

Maximum speed is only used for short bursts

Armchair Admiral

Just so, and making them go just a few knots faster would probably mean doubling the engine power.
Basing the hull design on the Tides was probably the only way to go, as designing another hull would mean more model tests and so on to ensure the ships can RAS with the carriers properly (hydrodynamic interaction), whereas they have done all that already.


I believe HMNZ Aotearoa AOR was originally listed at 18 knots by design but actually reached 20 knots in service. If the design has never been built before, you are better off listing what you are certain to be able to deliver, rather than what you think you can achieve. Avoids the lawyers & all that.


Ships grow in weight through life, which sits them deeper in the water, increasing resistance and increasing the power required for a given speed. Most ships are specified for a deep end of life condition, so usually have a couple of knots in hand at start of life.


Designing another hullform is actually not a particular drama. People misunderstand the difference between a hullform and a hull design. The hullform is essentially the shape. The hull design is a combination of the shape, the weight distribution, the internal arrangement, all of which affect the structural arrangement, which is what is actually built an dwhich is represented in the various shell expansion drawings, plating drawings, structural section drawings etc etc. These change as the dimensions of the ship, its internal arrangement and weight distribution change and are actually where the effort goes. As FSS will be a completely different ship to Tide internally, the shape is almost irrelevant.

Model experiments will be required (they’re part of the contract), not least because the ships will have different loading conditions and the RAS points (and hence alignments) are different. But they too are not a particularly expensive element.

I’d anticipate that the explosive safety case documentation alone will cost more than a hullform design and associated model test.


For some they really are making the most of a full new design for the hull form ( and the internals to go with it). Although it seems to have some characteristics of BAE Type 32 ‘concept’- who may have licensed it so they can blow away Babcocks chances of getting the T31 made into a T32
This NG FDI frigate Amiral Ronarc’h


Ships do not transit above cruise speed, unless there is a very good reason. Full ahead is only used for short periods and for specific reasons. Warships will transit using their diesels and not their high output gas turbines ( or a low output gas turbine for a COGOG ship, although there are not many of those).

One reason is range and fuel cost are massively increased ( it’s not a liner increase) especially when ships switch in their gas-turbines. second reason is ships and boats bash themselves to bits at high speed, Third reason is equipment failures, stressing that which you depend on for no reason is stupid,( although you don’t want to go below 60% output all the time as that also has issues) fourth reason is personal, being in a boat or ship at high speed in moderate to high seas states is tiring, another is safety, transiting busy shipping lanes at 30 knots is not as safe as transiting at reasonable cruising speed, finally emissions and environmental regulations make a significant impact, the fast you go the more emissions you produce and many shipping lanes have restrictions for environmental and safety reasons.

finally there are lots of other complications such as:

hull form has an impact on what is a ships service or cruise speed. With some hull-forms simply having to operate at lower speeds.

load and therefor draft.

sea state



So all this means your average bulk carrier will be cruising at 14 knots and these ships are more bulk carrier than anything else.


Let’s be honest they only need to match the cruising speed of whatever they are replenishing. Warships do not transit at full ahead with most cruise speeds actually being well below 19knots (a type 23 cruise speed is 15knots).

The only exception to this are nuclear powered boats which can charge around transiting at full ahead until they break something ( that is why SSNs and Electric subs should not be considered as similar platforms)..

Supportive Bloke

Charging around fast uses up reactor life.

They are sealed for life reactors with a 25 year span.

So the drumbeat had better be constant or they will need a lot of PP9’s….


True SB true, but if they really need a fast transit they can do a bit more charging around that a surface vessel burning fuel through a gas turbine and get the shit kicked out of it from high sea states.

Fat Bloke on Tour

19 knots service speed — what is the installed motive power?
Looking at 20MW — Q+D analysis?

22 knots in the frame — looking at 30MW motive?
Going rate for a Channel Ferry.
Catalogue engineering?

What is the full load displacement / draught of these ships?
They are not working to the same scale as the new Tide class?

Barrie Robinson

Again government giving out contracts to foreign governments no wonder we’re in a mess we need to provide and teach young men and women the skills of building ships


You didn’t bother actually reading the article then?


The work share is petty much all U.K. with an investment of a foreign builders expertise. I’m an avid buy British. But I’m not against foreign firms investing in the U.K. and updating our industries.


I didn’t know Northern Ireland had a government.


The Westminster Secretary of Sate for NI does when the SF and DU arent on speaking terms


Good news!
I think the challenge will be getting the workforce culturally onboard with modern design practices, etc. and I think that will require both carrot and stick. Doesn’t matter if you’ve worked int he yards for 20+ years, if you can’t conform to the new QAQC and HSE standards then you’re gone. Tough.
I know that might sound like a whole bunch of wihy washy nonsense, but the UK oil and gas industry has been doing this since Piper Alpha, and there aren’t many low incident, safer places to work than the North Sea sector in what is globally a risky industry with a history of poor outcomes from lax quality control.

Supportive Bloke

It isn’t nonsense.

Nasty accidents are nasty to deal with.

However, where it gets toxic is using semi skilled people to backfill and then efficiency drops like a stone under the dead weight of H&S + people who don’t understand the basics + people who can’t read drawings + people who start guessing or worse improvising because ‘they know better’ or ‘that was what we were told to do last time’.

Then it is kindergarten management time.

The middle managers and QA then get a massive headache trying to control very stubborn people who are not really capable of change. But you can’t get rid of them because you can’t recruit anyone who can vaguely do the job.

Following process is a mindset. A mindset that free flow education with no real consequences and milk bottle top unfailable qualifications does zero to instil.

I wish H&W the best of luck.


Agree very much, the semi skilled or semi qualified that are then inducted into a culture of “just do it that way” or “get it done” can be really difficult to manage, especially when you then bring in very skilled and qualified people who know what they are talking about and the get very significant resistance when they try and bring in evidence based quality and safety systems.

Ive seen this when investigating a lot of catastrophe safety system failures. The problem is with the people who don’t know what they don’t know but have “just been doing it for ages” it’s all lovely for them until it all goes to shit and you get dead people.

Even the best systems fail if people subvert them due to ignorance or false beliefs (culture trumps everything)


I wish H&W the best of luck.” Likewise, would be great to see a success story on this!
It’s a hard one to do right, but I think it’s doable. As you say, having no consequences is poison to high standards, as is not treating and educating your work force right.
Hopefully, H&W will jump at the opportunity and get the right people in to set the structure and culture well.
I have to say, I think the European industries do this far better than the UK as a whole (glad that Navantia are on board), and I don’t frankly think that all the talk of “bonfires of red tape and regulation” are helpful. This is NOT an anti-Brexit thing at all, but if the government thinks that slashing our (currently) high BS-EN standards to make it easier for our industries to churn out goods is the way forward, then we’ve failed. We have a high-cost workforce, we need to produce high-value products to cover those costs. That can only be guaranteed by keeping the standards high, and that’s been proven over and over again. If the government actually wants to help, they can provide financial/tax/information support to companies to allow them to update to the latest manufacturing techniques; educate their work forces; improve processes and systems and stuff like that. They could also properly up-man whichever government department is responsible for new trade deals and get some good ones, rather than the pish we’ve so far achieved. But I digress…


There isn’t really an existing workforce to get onside. Vastly more difficult will be getting new people into Belfast in the design and technical offices (currently <20), plus production planning (virtually nil), as well as all the relevant trades.

Navantia work to high QA standards as well – I’ve seen them.


Oh, I hadn’t realised how far H&W’s capabilities had shrunk!
sounds like Navantia might be taking a bigger lead in the first few years at least, if they can get some of their main guys over to set things up and running.
I can understand the problem with moving long-term positions in from elsewhere in the UK- it would frankly take one hell of a sweetener to persuade me to move to a position in Belfast. I guess, in the long run, the intention is to get local people in, but that’ll take 5-10 years to begin filling just the more junior/mid poisitons I’d imagine.
Good to know about Navantia, it makes sense that they would be- hopefully they can create the right culture that allows the processes and procedures to stick and be applied properly. To be fair, if they do it right, then BAE, CL and the others might start getting worried about their guys getting poached!


Could be using a yard like Cammell Laird as well was Appledore for some of the major ship blocks which just need a large dock like Belfast to join together and complete the fitting out
This part of a QEC

Fat Bloke on Tour

£1.6bill for three ships — someone is having a giraffe.

Build strategy straight out the duffer’s guide to gynaecology playbook – painting the hall through the letterbox.

We need product engineering not project engineering.
Selling young is one way to do it — export strategy by the back door.

It would appear that UK PLC see’s the real money in “through-life integrated support packages” not building things — shame.


Based on the way previous orders were costed where we knew the actual build price ( UK orders for P-8 where the US Navy gives actual contract award amount for yearly production), construction costs might actually be closer to 1/3 of the ‘project price’

Fat Bloke on Tour

What is it with the MOD and their roll up of costs into one big number?

Surely it would be more transparent to give the build cost and highlight the annual running costs separately.

Are they trying to willie wave regarding the amount they are seemingly spending or are they trying to muddy the waters regarding value for money?

£150mill for a souped-up cargo ship is good money for someone in the value chain — not sure if it is good value for the general public.


Any thoughts on names. Nice to see a return of the “Re” class. Regent, Resource, Reliant, replenish and redouble are all options. A couple of new names amongst that list.


Yes. Lots of RFA history with those names.


Whilst I welcome the design being based on the tide class I do think we need all non complex warships to be built in Cammel Laird

We really don’t have enough orders for a 4th shipyard and this undermines the overall strategy

With Scotland wrapping up the high end warfare ship orders CL are perfectly placed to build and maintain the RFA fleet. Assuming the large ship fleet is maintained around its current size that could be 1 ship every 2 years indefinitely. It would also allow CL to invest in its facilities and perhaps a dry dock for the QEC.

I have nothing against HW. But CL have made a real go of it and have managed to survive. Surely this should be rewarded


It’s all down to politics isn’t it. The conservatives screwed the DUP over massively (although the DUP should have known better). This is about the UK government showing commitment to NI in the long term. I doubt they will win any follow on orders once labour take charge so all a big waste of money as H&W will never win commercial shop building work.


The fleet support ships (FSS) arent ‘warships’. And at 216m and around 30,000 plus tons is too big for the actual warship yards current construction facilities ( but might do modules)
The Cammell Laird yard most recent warship work apart from some large modules for the carriers was the hull sections for Astutes 4-7


But CL have the dry docks and workforce and already do maintenance on the large ship fleet. I seems to me that with a requirement for dry docking for QEC plus up to 20 large multi role and amphibious ships we should have a strategy that gives us flexibility, CL offer that.

additionally, HMG have a requirement for circa 2.5k smaller vessels of all sorts, surely this should go to Appledore or used as filler for the 3 main yards.

I am not really seeing this joined up thinking yet out of the NSS.

I do think the UK can support , maybe 5 yards but it has to be sustainable.

30 year plan

BAES Barrow: £80bn 14 x subs 10 ssn 4 ssn.
BAES Glasgow: £20bn 15 x C1 Global Combat Ship (T26/T83)
BAES Glasgow: £7.5bn 15 x C3 class ship (corvette)
Babcock Rosyth: £10bn 15 x C2 Global Mission Ships (T31/T32)
Babcock Rosyth: £7.5bn 15 x C3 class ship (corvette)
CL/ HW: £10bn 15 x large surface fleet (support/amphib)
CL/ HW: £10bn c.2500 small vessels (maintain current fleet size).

The above is not fantasy fleets it is a realistic plan of 3 main ships p.a. over 30 years that creates a full fleet replenishment (exc.Carriers) that gives us an 89 ship RN/RFA force costing £150bn or £5bn p.a.

this or a similar plan needs to be costed and the money committed to ensure we can see this through, but in all cases we need to stop thinking we can continue doing this on the cheap. The nuclear fleet alone is at least 50% of the RN budget.

Similar plans for the RAF, Army and space force need creating as I suspect we are looking at £20bn pa on equipment plans alone.

Fat Bloke on Tour

If your only customer is the MOD / RN then that tells the world one big message — you are not very good.

The costs you quote are absurd to everyone apart from the UK MIC and their lackeys in the MOD / RN.

Shipbuilding — it is a case of export or live in mediocrity.


The quoted costs are in keeping with published costs from the MOD, albeit I have gone a bit on the high side to stop people having a go about pricing being too low. The UK costs are for build plus first 10 years support I believe.

Fat Bloke on Tour

Thanks for the reply — I do appreciate that you can only work with the figures that are in circulation.

My original point still stands — why not split the build and support costs?

As for naval shipbuilding in the UK — if all you are good for is MOD / RN orders that can’t go elsewhere then you have a credibility gap.

A) How many countries have a front rank warship building capability? B) How many countries have a navy?

B is much bigger than A and if we are ging to build warships then we need to get credible and good or we should get out of the business.

Export or starve is one way to look at the issue.

I see no ships only hardships

Apart from the fact QEC doesn’t fit in 5 dock!


Apart from the fact it does, according to NavyLookouts article on dry dock options for QEC. The main issue is site security and personnel accommodations. Don’t get me wrong it clearly is not the best option, that would be a new drydock in Portsmouth.

Just Me

If you care to peruse the blueprints, you will find they very much designed as ‘warships’.

I see no ships only hardships

CL lost 60m on the SDA, it was only their new owners Peel that saved them going under by covering the losses don’t forget. As for “investing in a dry dock for QEC” are you seriously thinking they are going to build a new dry dock, (theres nowhere to build that in the yard or nearby? or are you saying they should try and increase their biggest drydock no. 5, there’s a slight issue of huge cost, an adjacent priory and grave yard, too narrow a gate, heavy silting entrance, draft problems….the list is endless. And how do they survive without 5 dock for the 2 years it would take to dig out a bigger dock even if it was possible, which its not? Its simply not feasible.