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borg

Could always buy a few 901’s from China !

X

Yes………if we bought enough we could deploy the carriers at a decent tempo.
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My favourite though is the Lewis and Clark class………..
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Last edited 4 months ago by X
Joe Porter

Is it not the Type 83 that is coming down the line?

Tim Hirst

So if the plan is to provide a steady stream of work choices will have to be made about what order the bigger projects are to be done in. That will likely mean some of the existing types will need to be run for longer than currently planed and also some capability gaps may be inevitable.
It will end up as a compromise between economic and military priorities.

Nothing new then!

DJE

Given that Team UK’s dockyards are already full and therefore their workers are already fully employed for the next 20 years or so, then Team Resolute’s plan to reinvigorate H&W and Appledore, thus increasing overall capacity, capability and skill base, must surely have a big advantage. Besides, BAE aren’t called ‘Big And Expensive’ for nothing.

Tim Hirst

Big call to bet a vital piece of defence equipment on a very small company with a yard that hasn’t built a ship in decades. If your happy with a Spanish Main contractor with a British fig leaf then maybe, but it’s still a big call.

Bob

On the other hand, with “Wee Jimmy” pushing so hard for independence might it not be sensible to establish shipbuilding options in other UK locations?

Meirion X

Cammell Laird do have the potential to expand.

Sonik

What’s interesting is that Navantia have plenty proven experience in heading local-build projects with RAN. And some Infratrata personnel have previously been involved in those RAN projects too, which also involved restarting cold yards. FSS may require a slightly different commercial structure but the management experience in putting these kind of international partnerships together is certainly there.

Last edited 4 months ago by Ben Robins
Phillip Johnson

I will take exception with the statement that Navantia ‘have plenty of experience heading local build projects with the RAN’. The early days of the AWD project were a nightmare because they assumed that Australian workers would operate to Spanish trade and drawing practices. The build of the other project, the LHD’s in Australia was limited to adding the superstructure which was heavily worked over locally to fit the Australian combat system.
Navantia are a competent shipbuilder in Spain, they may have gone on from there but someone better make sure.

Sonik

Point taken, of course BAE are now working with RAN too which adds another dimension. No doubt discussions will be had with the RAN about their experiences.

What’s interesting for me is that HMG seems keen to keep open the idea of an international partnership for FSS, despite the obvious challenges that may bring. Maybe it’s just to keep other bidders honest, but then it’s been announced that social value etc. will also be important.

Duker

Navantia were also the lead on the Spanish submarine S-80 ( Plus) class, first of which. Isaac Peral has just been launched in its Cartagena shipyard. Those even with short memories will recall, when almost near completion of the hull, a major weight imbalance was discovered in the design and an additional section of hull ( 10m ‘plus’) was required to provide more buoyancy.

Spoz

True, but returning that Project to an upright keel to get the ships delivered was also down to Navantia’s expertise. They will have learned from that experience, which was their first real overseas build.

Sjb1968

Team Resolute will have to train and recruit very much like Team U.K. or are they going to build most of the ships in Spain and then bring their workforce over to give a semblance of local build.

A long term build programme should allow recruitment and training. The social value section, which has been prevalent in construction and other sectors for a good number of years makes this an interesting competition.

Ironically, as many commentators have said the snails pace delivery of the Type 26 suggests there is latent capacity already, which could with further training and recruitment be readily expanded to deliver ships quicker and more efficiently.

Whilst I would love to see as many yards as possible open it is more important for the long term health of this industry that it becomes as efficient as possible and competitive in global terms. This may attract orders, increase employment, skills retention and also keep costs down for the RN.

I live in hope.

Sonik

Someone on here suggested a while back that perhaps HMG/MOD were looking to get an ‘Auxiliary Factory’ going, with a slow, sustainable continuous pipeline similar to Clyde (T26/T83) and Rosyth (T31/T32).

With FSS & MRSS now in the offing, total 9 ships, that’s well over a decade of work, by which time the Waves and then Tides should be coming up for replacement.

Not sure if that’s a plan or just speculation, but given the geography, facilities and capabilities, some combination of H&W (Belfast and Devon) and CL (Merseyside) could be workable, while ticking all the boxes on skills base, regional development etc.

Last edited 4 months ago by Ben Robins
N-a-B

You don’t build ships in factories, despite what the internet might say…..

However, your overall point on potential build pipeline is well made. Just leaves the question of where the people come from…..

Sonik

Thanks.

I may be missinformed but I was thinking in terms of both people and facilities with my suggestion.

CL is still a relatively active yard with a large local population to recruit from but would be constrained by the size of the site, facilities and access for large vessels like FSS/MRSS

Appledore is obviously not suitable for large vessels but has a history of specialist skills, particularly complex fabrication. The yard wasn’t long shut so skills base may still be relatively warm e.g. I heard some workers are commuting from North Devon to Plymouth, so may happily return to Appledore if there was a reasonable horizon of work there.

Belfast is probably the most run down in terms of skills, but it has the large docks, cranes and plenty of space. It’s under common ownership with Appledore which allows sharing of overheads and personnel. It’s also not far at all from Merseyside, both in terms of moving blocks and/or workers if required. I guess it depends how creative the respective managements are prepared to be, but I think both are keen enough for the work they will do what’s necessary to get a slice.

Design and engineering…doesnt need to be co-located with the yard, or even the same company, in these days of digital workflow collaboration and file sharing.

All speculation of course but I guess you can see my thinking.

Last edited 4 months ago by Ben Robins
Glass Half Full

You make good points. We might also add that MOD would probably very much like the option of a viable yard that can dry dock the carriers in future, as an option or instead of Rosyth. Belfast fits that req., while other options such as building a suitable dock in Portsmouth would be a significant cost.

Another benefit is that CL and H&W are both working to grow commercial yard business. The MOD really need yards that are far less dependent on RN/RFA build and support work.

Sonik

Yes agree with that – and the more commercially focused yards like CL and H&W should be well placed to build RFAs that are more like commercial vessels in their design.

As I see it the main issue besides capacity is financial strength, because the usual two prime contractors (Babcock & BAE) have decided to bid together for FSS, as too have RR, who could perhaps be the other contender large enough to head the contract as a full risk sharing partner with DES.

So MOD/DES have the problem of either finding an alternative way to financially qualify the (smaller) outsiders, or be left without any real competition in the bidding.

Glass Half Full

Yes financial strength is another good point. I assume that’s why MOD seemed to require BAES take the lead when they were tendering Leander, instead of using CL as the lead. Perhaps the contract will be placed with Navantia with firm requirements for at least two of the three vessels to be fully built in the UK, i.e. modules and assembly. Or Navantia provide a bond to underwrite H&W/Infrastrata which seems less likely unless Navantia take majority ownership. Infrastrata do claim that they are also working with Navantia across defence, wind and cruise, so the relationship may be more than just the one project.

Infrastrata seem to be making reasonable progress. They have picked up four yards for pennies on the pound for their H&W business. Belfast is up to ~200 employees/contractors, they are gradually reactivating Belfast and Appledore and seem focused on financial discipline. All that said still a lot to prove.

DJE

From what I remember of the original brief from Team Resolute, the first platform would more than likely be built in a Spanish shipyard but the key workers from H&W and Appledore involved. That platform would then be fitted out in the UK and those experienced workers would be used to get H&W and Appledore up and running. The Spanish shipyard would effectively be a school for UK ship builders. The second and third hulls would then be built in H&W and Appledore adding greatly to the UK capability as well as spreading the load of the NSBS. Keeping the vast majority of our shipbuilding knowledge and capability centred around CL and Rosyth is not good sense, especially given the SNP’s desire to break up the UK.

Sonik

That is how I remember it too, Navantia spokesperson rather clumsily said they understood that “participation by the ‘english’ yards will be key”. But it does leave the question of what’s really in it for Navantia.

Essentially they would be helping to redevelop stagnant UK yards that could subsequently become an international competitor, so you would think that they would want to maintain some degree of overall control.

That said, there are some good examples of very successful European collaboration e.g. Eurofighter, Airbus, MBDA, but these were driven by need to compete with USA and required cooperation and agreement at inter-government level.

Last edited 4 months ago by Ben Robins
Callum

Does anyone know what supplies come in at ~5 tonnes that would specifically require the Heavy RAS rig?

From the sound of it, the HRAS was simply to send double loads over to speed up the process. Obviously a loss, but if it doesn’t prevent anything then it’s likely an acceptable one.

Tim Hirst

Boxed F35 engines and boxed heavy anti ship/ land attack missiles are often quoted as the big loads.

Callum

An F-35 engine has a dry weight of only 1.7 tonnes, and Tomahawk weighs even less, so neither is going to require the 5 tonne rig to move.

N-a-B

The boxes they come in weigh quite a bit more than that for good reason…..

X
Last edited 4 months ago by X
Sunmack

Sadly the F35 isn’t going to be fitted with any heavy anti-ship or land attack missiles.

X

Why are we buying it then? 😉

Sunmack

Why do we buy 2,000 ton River class with no hanger?

Why do we buy T31 with no sonar or SSM’s?

Why do we buy T45 with no land attack missiles, no TBMD capability, no Co-operative Engagement Capability, a basic sonar and obsolete SSM’s if any?

Why do we buy Wildcat’s with no data link or ASW detection gear?

We do these things for 2 reasons:

1) Because we waste defence procurement spend on the wrong things (£1bn on Nimrod AEW, £3.2bn on Nimrod MR4, £250m to put right T45 engines because we fitted a technically risky engine design in them to support British industry).

2) Politicians of both parties want to undertake continuous military action over the last two decades on peacetime defence budgets.

The results are capability gaps and FFBNW which are not seen to the same extent in any other major navy.

These are the same reasons we’re buying F35’s and not fitting them with stand off anti-ship and land attack missiles (Spear 3 doesn’t have the range to count as a stand-off system)

Last edited 4 months ago by Sunmack
X

Yes. Hence the 😉

We won’t have 5 years or so to rearm like we did in 1930’s. Our assets need to arrive rapidly at a point of crisis with not just ‘information systems’ but hard kill capability in depth too.

Darren

Yes, but the proper real rearming was only around 3 years before 1939. War was thought to come in around 1942-44.

Meirion X

The T45 gas turbines were Not tested with the intercooler onshore, properly. Not because the wrong engine make!

Last edited 4 months ago by Meirion X
Sonik

I think you are right, my understanding is the Pyestock test facilities got shut down and WR21 was ‘tested’ mostly using CFD and computer models. We see how well that worked out.

But RR are now investing heavily in a whole bunch of new test & development facilities both in the UK and elsewhere, so hopefully it won’t happen again.

Last edited 4 months ago by Ben Robins
Meirion X

I agree!

Duker

The R part of WR21 worked out fine, the Rolls Royce RB211-535/Trent 700 derivative marine gas turbine.( viz MT30)
It was the W part of the name or Westinghouse Electric ( now Northrop Grumman), Sunnyvale CA who both ‘Prime’ contractor and who did the intercoolers and heat recovery system and such that was the problem.

Meirion X

If the MoD chooses the latest Harpoon as ASM, it can be launched by the F-35. Maybe by helo as well.

Taiwan has used its F-16’s to carry Harpoon.

Meirion X

It is the Merlin that is the RN’s principle ASW helo! Wildcat is the anti-surface helo.

Meirion X

The T45 is a specialist AAW vessel, which will require a full load of SAM.

The T45 with the upgraded diesel gens, will have enough energy to switch off the GTs and use its motors on low speed to do some ASW tasks.

Last edited 4 months ago by Meirion X
Tim Hirst

Except the hull makes so much noise (shape, and non rafted machinery) that it would’t be much use for ASW. The way to add ASW capabilities to the T45 would be to buy more Merlin.

Meirion X

You wrong again! The River Class does Need a hangar, as No helo is permanently attach to this type of vessel.

Last edited 4 months ago by Meirion X
Meirion X

I meant Not a hangar.

Tim Hirst

The F35 will likely be with us in 2050. Who knows what weapons will be integrated over the life of the program.

X

And what if the crisis comes next year? It is like buying a rifle and saying we will get around to developing ammunition at some point in the future. F35b should have entered service with a medium air-to-air capability (at least), PGM, and seeing as it a maritime asset a large AShM. That that is all cloudy isn’t much comfort now.

N-a-B

It already has a medium range air to air and PGM capability. AIM120 is already integrated, PWIV is integrated and Meteor is in the plan.

It’s also fair to say that if the need is great enough, you throw money at it and do it in short order….

X

I think the aeroplane entered service first and AIM followed on. Admittedly only a few months later but still after.

NSM isn’t integrated as yet. As I said all a bit cloudy.

No it isn’t fair to say throwing money will cure the problem. We don’t have the time to do that now. However much money the US DoD throws at the problem it can’t pull a few months of time out of a ready use locker when the crisis is already underway.

Glass Half Full

It will be JSM not NSM integrated on F-35. Norway and Australia are paying for it and Japan is an additional customer. Current timeline is for the integration on F-35 to be done by 2024; internal and external wing carry for F-35A and external wing carry only for F-35B. Norway were planning to have JSM by 2023, Japan is reported to be taking deliveries of JSM this year, so the gating factor will be the integration software support linked below.
Edit: Corrected link, will need to scroll down to Lockheed under Navy section https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Contracts/Contract/Article/2591938/

Last edited 4 months ago by Glass Half Full
James Fennell

It speeds up replenishment – so less time in vulnerable rassing.

Gavin Gordon

a) not surprised after Fort Vic fire, b) the lift rig capacity seemed an issue with the recent Ellidia proposal

Gavin Gordon

Regardless of this particular competition per se, one cannot help feeling that letting the significant potential of H&W deteriorate further would seem unwise. Especially in light of increasing national and international uncertainties.

Tim Hirst

Who is going to invest in it that has the financial robustness to take on a big contract with penalty clauses? A £50m overrun on a contract would bankrupt the current owner.

Gavin Gordon

Just one of the issues, Tim. Not a rebuttal.

Sonik

A very valid point, let’s not forget that NI prosperity is by itself still a key goal for overall UK stability, something that HMG will likely take into account in their future decisions. It certainly seems to me that the various noises coming out of government seem slanted to ensure Team Resolute are at the very least not excluded from bidding.

DJE

If Belfast becomes a Freeport then that would surely be another benefit of H&W getting the build via vastly reduced costs.

Mike

Lairds could surely do with some more work, they had to let some staff go the other month.

It’s just a shame that none of our yards have the space, investments or costs to compete with the yards in Asia for big commercial jobs

N-a-B

It’ll get worse for them before it gets better. Only revenue earning work for Lairds is units for BAES at Barrow and the T45 PIP. Probably supports a couple of hundred bods.

Mike

Agreed. I had hoped that they would get the contract for the new Mersey Ferry, but that looks like it has been cancelled due to covid impacting on Merseytravel finances

N-a-B

It’s all very well to talk about lack of urgency, but it’s not as if there are designs waiting to be plucked off the shelf. There aren’t. From the previous competition, there’s the BMT concept left. “Team UK” didn’t actually have a design and the other UK design looks to have disappeared with the “UK build” stipulation.

Whatever is chosen will have to be designed, assessed, priced up and bid, largely from scratch. Which takes time. Then you have to do the Class approvals, detailed design, production design etc before you can start building. The one saving grace there is that it may allow the UK yards some time to recruit, although that costs money that doesn’t arrive until the fabrication is proceeding.

Reducing the rig capacity is unlikely to have any major effect on cost or internal arrangements. Most of that will be driven by volumetric requirements of loads, rather than weight. If you’ve ever seen a Merlin rotor blade box, it’s huge.

ETA – your “Team UK” line up may not be entirely accurate either.

Last edited 4 months ago by N-a-B
X

If we were to buy in from abroad any design take your fancy?

N-a-B

There aren’t any. Lewis & Clark is legislatively outdated and has a couple of features that prevent her working with QEC.

Everything else is either some form of AOR, or optimised for carrying lots of troops and vehicles (Doorman, Maud).

X

One of the reasons why I asked is that there seems to be scant alternatives, if any, out there and the UK will need to start with a fresh sheet.

Grant

Cantabria? Appreciate it smaller but the Aussies have brought it tto..l

N-a-B

Nowhere near the requirement. It’s an AOR.

Tim Hirst

So are you saying that in service fully through FOST for the first in class is unlikely before the mid 2030’s?

N-a-B

Nope. Late 20s for FoC – assuming the build capacity can be found. That’s the limiting factor.

In essence the three ship programme is trying to build 75% of the QEC, with about a quarter of the budget, in a bit less time, with two of the facilities that did most of the QEC work no longer available.

That’s a challenge.

Tim Hirst

So does that make it a choice between trying to rapidly add build capacity (and run the risk of their not being ongoing work for it) and accepting a delay to the in service date?

N-a-B

Not sure it’s a choice. The build capacity is limited by availability of suitably skilled people. As an example, when they start build for these ships it will have been over 10 years since – for example – the Portsmouth facility closed. Where are those people now? Some will have retired, some will be working elsewhere in the shipbuilding industry, most will have other jobs doing other things. Are they going to come back to shipbuilding?

I reference Portsmouth – one could say the same about Appledore, although that facility is too constrained to build usefully big blocks – and certainly couldn’t build the whole ship.

It is people who are the limit here – and you can’t just send people on a course!

sisyphus

for expedience sake, N-a-B, if RFA Fort Victoria is doing the job now and meets the requirments, what are the issues with just copying that design? As STRN notes in the article, it is welcome news that there is a commitment to three vessels (at least for now, or until the next ‘review’) but another two years before the ‘contract is awarded’, I understand two years until contstruction starts, but two f*****g more years until contract is awarded … I fear I wont see this ship in the water.

N-a-B

A number of reasons.

Fort Vic is only doing the job now because it’s the only ship we own that comes remotely close. It does not and cannot meet the actual requirement for solid stores stowage – particularly munitions. The “old” Forts would have been no better.

There are also a number of features on the ship that are no longer allowable in a new-build – some environmental, some safety and some sustainability. IMO and Class don’t just let you build any old thing.

You’re also assuming that the production information (as opposed to the support information) for two ships built thirty years ago still exists. Given that the lead yard ceased to exist as an entity in 1994, that’s unlikely to say the least.

Last edited 4 months ago by N-a-B
sisyphus

I understand, N-a-B,and thank you for the prompt reply. I realised it would be a sub optimal solution, when I asked, but a further ‘two years’ before ‘contract is awarded’ is lunacy.

N-a-B

Actually, it’s still pretty racy. That two years is required to qualify bidders (you don’t want the likes of Fergies entering!), conduct the outline design stages, assess feasibility, price them, do cost trade-offs etc – and that’s each bidder.

Then MoD have to assess the tenders for risk and technical quality. Then you have to negotiate the contract (not a couple of days over a beer).

John Spellar and all the other “its a warship and must be built in the UK” mob are directly responsible for the existing delay. Don’t forget, he keeps complaining in Parliament that the contract hasn’t been let – not understanding that there isn’t a design against which to let a contract.

We’re about to find out what his shenanigans have cost us.

Sonik

I find it strange that these things are bid as a complete design and build contract. To me it’s impossible to properly compare value like for like for different designs. Apples and Oranges.

Wouldn’t it be better to compete the outline design first, against a standardised cost/value model. Then have potential builders bid against the winning design concept, or parts thereof?

As was done for the carriers, it seemed to work pretty well for that, aside from government interference.

Sonik

I’m no expert on ship design but I do well understand the very significant benefits of commonality and standardisation when supporting large, dispersed systems – i.e. the RFA as a whole.

So I like the look of BMT Aegir for FSS. The degree of commonality with Tide class would be beneficial to the RFA on many levels, crew training, spares, support etc. Add in Ellida based solution for MRSS and the advantage goes even further.

N-a-B

Except that AEGIR/TIDE are tankers. So completely different in terms of electrical load, configuration, internal systems etc etc.

Sonik

My bad for poor wording…I meant the BMT FSS concept, which seems to share some features with the Aegir/Tide – but you are right it’s not the same ship.

Actually it’s been suggested maybe BMT/Navantia are being deliberately vague about the concept to avoid giving ideas to the competition. The model presented at DESI was rather block like and lacking in detail. But they are keen to emphasize commonality with Tides, presumably for propulsion and a few other systems.

X

Perhaps the ammunition needs its own ship?
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Tim Hirst

Even if the Fort Vic design was to meet modern standards (which odds on it won’t) you would still have to process a detailed construction plan. The one used in the late 80’s is probably long gone. Also most if not all of the machinery and fittings used will be long out of production. Incorporating modern equivalents is not a quick job.
Unless you plan to pick a build group and just pay whatever they ask even getting one costed bid for a Fort Vic would take over a year.

Tim Hirst

So your saying we will need to make choices about which order projects go in the ship build que and find ways to live with the consequences of these trained manpower induce choices?

borg

My Son has a few mates in the Crating Business, very interesting to hear the extent they go too to make sure everything remains damage free. Very Expensive too.

DJE

BMT have the Ellida concept design, an adapted Tide Class in the HNoMS Maud as well as a couple of MRSS designs. I think they do a lot more than people realise.

Sonik

I agree, they produce some very interesting concepts.

Two things that I think differentiate BMT from the ‘usual suspects’:

1) They are active in commercial work outside the government sector, also public/private type partnerships in several countries.

2) In their Naval Architecture practice they are actively pursuing international clients, as reflected in their many hybrid concepts aimed at smaller Navies.

Both factors enable them to think outside the box of MoD traditional procurement.

Challenger

Pleased it’s finally been restarted and that they seem to routinely mentioning 3 vessels rather than 2 with the option for a 3rd. I’m sure an argument could be made for only strictly needing 2 to ensure continuous carrier group support but an extra platform is always a good thing.

Perhaps by the 2030’s if we have 3 in service 1 can be forward deployed East of Suez to support one of the littoral groups and other assets all year round in the way the Fort’s did with Op Kipion in The Gulf until recently.

X

We need a better solution to the ‘depot ship’ problem than having complex auxiliaries secured alongside the wall. All I can think of is building modules to fit into container bays.

Sonik

I wondered if the thinking is 3x FSS + Fort Vic = 4x Tide. Albeit that Fort Vic is a little different and will be out of service much sooner.

More than two FSS are required IMO because they also need to be available to support a strike/amphib group besides the CSG. RN seem keen to demonstrate they can deploy both at the same time, which is key for the ‘conventional deterrent’ principle.

I think a big problem with RFA currently is that some of their more outdated vessels were built for a different time and are just not sustainable in the current environment. FSS will need to be efficient and reliable in terms of crewing and systems so they can be kept active as much as possible.

Last edited 4 months ago by Ben Robins
Nick B

Why could’t fast freighters be fitted with chinook-capable landing pads and used instead? The considerable money saved could be spent on more escorts or improving the lethality of the ones we’ve got. This whole concept of bespoke solid stores ships harks from a time before heavy lift helos were available. It’s outdated and unimaginative, in my opinion.