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Very well covered. I have always thought that these ships are doing good work for a very reasonable cost. Even if one or two T31’s are deployed to the Indian and Pacific I can see a case for keeping the B2’s there as well.
Unfortunately I suspect this article will attract the attention of the narrow minded “B2’s are useless”, “Anything less than a T45” is a national embarrassment” and “These don’t scare China” crowd.


We should be adding a 5 inch gun, 32 camms, 16 strike length mk41s, a towed array and 8 deck mounded heavyweight ASMs…. sod its let’s add 2 5inch guns.


Very droll.


Jonathan…. You missed Cats & Traps


I was going to suggest we put them on the T26 and T31 to differentiate between a patrol vessel and a full fat escort.


Surely the full fat escort would have twin reactors?

David Barry

They use warp.


No we should put nuclear missiles on it. For crying out loud, what’s the use golden weapons on a ship of that scale? Why


The urge to overdo the armament is strong

Suuportive Bloke

Or is it more nuanced than that?

Is it more about not allowing power/influence vacuums to be created?

UK pulled out of carrier operations and China stepped into the gap. India also increased her grandstanding on the subject. Since QEC’s are in the water and operating things have gone a little quieter on the Indian / Chinese aircraft carrier front. The fact we got QEC’s in the water and working so much faster than they have in spite of various pretensions of theirs and the alleged lack of UK heavy industry / shipbuilding has put some punctuation into the narrative.

The way I see it is if RN withdraws from an area or shows little interest then a vacuum is formed. Thus allowing the Chinese/Iranian/Russians (substitute any known troublemakers) to worm their way in there. If there is only one party interested in the area it can then become lost to our influence. Influence being incremental, disaster relief -> small base -> belt and road -> and before you know it a fully fledged naval base with runway appears?

For this role, a B2 is fine as, it is a place marker. However, unsophisticated regimes may well look at the size of the warship as a marker for the extent of interest and regional power.

So the B2’s fill, for now, a vital role. In an increasingly contested and messy world order.

But is that at persistent role or solely a place holder role?

I would argue the latter.

I do have a few problems with B2’s:-

1) they cannot pretend to be any kind of a warship in contested environments; so
2) if an area’s threat environment warms up substantially they would have to be swapped out – with what? ;and
3) whilst B2’s are cheap to run they do still consume something like 60%* of the resources, of running a T31. B2’s are therefore using quite a lot of ‘warship’ budget to provide no offensive capability to a very thin surface fleet.**

Which does, logically, bring me round to the point of view that we would be better off with more T31/32’s when B1’s retire even if they routinely carry less ordinance provided the systems PODs exist and are regularly tested.

Therefore, B2’s in their present role really belong, financially, on the books of FCO / DIFID as they are a presence -> diplomacy -> disaster relief.

Anyway that is my penny worth on the subject.

*I have inferred this from the crew size etc as I don’t think this is published data. Happy for someone to put me straight on that.

**In many respects things like the Bay’s were better for presence as they were better for disaster relief, physically bigger and mounted the same deterrent armament or actually 2x…..


Really good points on the need to very carefully monitor the risks around where the B2 operates. My concern would be the HMG just push the risk a little to far and you end up with deaths ( I do think not fitting them with anything bigger than a 30mm reduces the risk and may counter intuitively keep them safer…as soon as larger cal gun is added I think HMG would just be willing to push the risk of the deployment up more).

Moving forward you could see future T32s taking the role especially if it’s very much a blank canvas affair for adding capability as needed ( PODs and autonomous vehicles) .

It’s also a very good point around the Bays being a better presence than even a full Escort in some cases ( like the North Atlantic deployment) If its all about lugging lots of stuff around and having big fight deck then a bay is better.

I suspect at some point the B2s will start to be sold off/retired without replacements as the T32s get built ( they are not going to increase escort numbers without something being removed).


While I actually think the B2’s are useful, they could have been so much better without breaking the bank. Fit a 40mm & you have something that has AA ability & at least airburst ability ashore (without the cost of a 57/76mm). Built with a proper hangar & air weapons magazine & you have the option of an armed naval helicopter, with possibly sonar, torpedoes & air launched AShM. Or not, as deemed necessary. I don’t mind FFBNW if the fitting is simple. Helicopters are not even fixed. You can fly a medium helicopter (inside a C17) anywhere in the world in 24 hours, including the crew, spares & weapons required.


Without a full set of ESM and countermeasures plus the crew to operate them and do long term defensive watches adding to the B2’s weapons systems archives nothing. They still wouldn’t be fit for service in contested areas. Keep them simple and cheap to operate OPV’s.


Yes indeed it’s always best to ensure your constabulary vessels look and act like constabulary vessels and not warships.


A good point and very true, and yet just about everyone else’s “constabulary vessels” including the ones in the pictures in this article, those of most European navies and the US Coast Guard cutters have either a 57mm or the ubiquitous OTO 76mm. So what is every one else and their dog doing wrong ? Are we that clever, or is it just that we are really broke and need to do things on the cheap, or at least spend what we have on the bigger ships???


Which are the ones, when you refer to “most europeans coastguards…have 57mm or 76mm deck guns.”

Picture is French Coastguard or Maritime Gendarmarie


Right, Coastguard, River class are not coast guard vessels though. Dutch, Danish, Spanish, Italian equivalents to River B2 do actually have a 57 or 76. US Coast Guard is a very different service, their biggest “cutters” being light frigates, and they have moved from the 76 on older vessels to the 57 on newer designs.


Dutch coastguard dont even seem to have any light weaponary at all
Denmark doesnt have ‘a coastguard’, but the Naval Home Guard is only small patrol boats. Same goes for Spain which has a number of maritime agencies.
Italy’s Corps of the Port Captaincies doesnt have medium weapons at all either. this is their newish 3600 t vessel

Its clear you have just made it all up


What did he make up? He pointed out that the B2 River’s are naval OPV’s and not Coastguard cutters. They are comparable to say the Holland class which have a hangared helicopter and a heavier armament. You seem to be having a go at him for something he didn’t say.


That European coast guards
yet just about everyone else’s “constabulary vessels” including the ones in the pictures in this article, those of most European navies and the US Coast Guard cutters have either a 57mm or the ubiquitous OTO 76mm”

…”Dutch, Danish, Spanish, Italian equivalents to River B2 do actually have a 57 or 76.[mm guns]”

Suuportive Bloke

I do agree with you on this point.

The larger crew is there for a reason.

The lack of a full defensive aids suite would make the use of a B2 in contested areas horribly dangerous.


No one yet knows what the rolls and capabilities of the T32 are going to be. The program (if it survives the recession) is still in public an almost total black hole.


True but if I was speculating I would bet on them replacing all the small hull capabilities into a single larger hull that is capability agnostic.

Suuportive Bloke

If T32 is not ordered then ship building drum beat fails.

T32 as in T31 B2 is pretty good red meat for the Tory Party – growing the frigate fleet also has cross party support – so a decently armed T32 and up arming T31 with Mk41 would not break the bank and would keep to a commitment to rowing the navy as well as giving it some decent teeth.


If Rosyth gets the solid support ship it won’t be in any way short or work. Winning that contract would put them in poll position for the following order for Bay/Albion replacements that’s work though the mid/late 30’s. A good strong drum beat.


I bet the running cost are way less than 60% of a T31. The weapons, sensors, countermeasures and other systems of an escort cost a lot of money in maintenance and up grades.
As to the first part of your contribution I think you need to consider the actions of the USN in the area. They are and will remain a much bigger influence than the RN.

Suuportive Bloke

Crew costs are a very large part of the running costs of a ship.

I do agree that USN activities are a strong influence. UK has slightly different flavour of following to USA so some countries that don’t like the USA get on with UK better.

William Pellas

The Batch 2 OPV’s really are fairly sizable ships considering their intended role. I don’t know how much additional topside weight could be added without compromising the vessels’ basic design, but I would think you could add a good deal of firepower to them fairly cheaply. I am thinking about a super rapid fire 57mm gun to replace the puny 30mm peashooter, along with a RAM or Phalanx mount (probably Phalanx). Assuming the ships could make it to port in time to receive them in the event of the outbreak of war, my guess is that you could probably also find some space to put four NSM’s or Harpoons on board somewhere and you’re basically up to patrol corvette status. Still nothing great, but enough to give them some chance rather than no chance.

Beyond this, however, is the inescapable fact that Britain simply must build a considerably larger Royal Navy if London is truly serious about “continuing to play an outsized role in world affairs”. The minimum size of the surface fleet should be 32 major combatants plus OPVs and RFA, along with at least 8 SSGNs in the submarine force. I would also like to see some high end SSGK’s (ideally 6) be added to patrol home waters and the North Sea – GIUK regions in order to free up the nuclear “boats” for operations further afield. Do that, and the UK is back in the game with enough assets for meaningful presence East of Suez.. Falling short of that means that HMG is not truly committed to doing what it takes.

Last edited 1 year ago by William Pellas
Just Me

The design is built to carry up to 1 x 76mm gun and 2 x 30mm guns.
fitting the 57mm Mk110 as is going on the T31 would give them a credible anti surface/,anti air punch and a self defence capability against low end ASMs


At £630m I think that these ships represent dreadful value for money. Their inability to permanently embark a helicopter due to not having a hangar severely constrains their ability to perform the constabulary or humanitarian mission.

In terms of constabulary, they can’t see over the horizon which shrinks the zone of control over which they can exert influence. For humanitarian missions then, as described, they can only deliver aid to the dockside. A civilian support ship could do that just as effectively.

We should have built 4 of these ships or an alternative design for the same money but put a hangar on them. We could have perhaps built 4 Holland class under licence but without the weaponry.

We have them now unfortunately but they are consuming operating costs and crews at a time when we are retiring useful ships such as MCM’S, Echo class and Wave class. In fact, we used the Wave’s for constabulary and humanitarian missions in the Caribbean before they were mothballed as their hangared helicopter meant they can do the job far more effectively than a River.

I’d sell the B1 River’s, bring the B2 River’s back to UK waters patrols and use the operating cost savings to keep some of our useful ships in service (be that MCM’s, Wave’s or Echo’s)

Last edited 1 year ago by Sunmack

As you should know these ships didn’t really cost anything like £630m. Most of the cost was for keeping the yards open and preparing them for T26 build. If there hadn’t been a multi year standoff between the RN, MoD, Treasury and BAe over the design and costs of the T26 these ships or something similar could have been built at a normal cost in an other yard. A hangar would be useful but mostly it would be empty as we don’t have the helicopters or for that mater crews to routinely assign a helicopter to each B2. In time they will get drones to do most of the work of a patrol helicopter.

Last edited 1 year ago by ATH

In time I might get muscles and be Mr Universe and these ships might get drones and be of use for constabulary missions (though drones are still no use for humanitarian missions). Until then I remain a puny bloke and these ships remain next to useless.

I don’t know why folks are so confident about future capability upgrades to the River’s and T31’s when our history is precisely the opposite with capabilities being stripped from ships over time. Fir example, very few T23’s carry SSM’s now when they all carried them initially and it’s been reported a few times on here that the T45’s sonars are no longer in use.

The B2 River’s cost £630m for which we could have had 4 Hollands built under licence at Glasgow to preserve jobs.

In terms of helicopter availability, we found a helicopter for the Wave that went to the Caribbean and we’ve recently a decommissioned helicopter carrying T23. I would have also looked at the practicality of navalising some Army Air Corps Wildcats with a search radar (the weapons are not required). Apparently the AAC finds the Wildcat of little practical use as it’s too small.

Anyway, we are where we are. That’s all history and we now have them. These useless ships are now consuming operating costs and crews that could be used to preserve useful capabilities. So sell the B1 River’s, bring the B2’s other than Medway back home and preserve some of the far more useful capabilities that are being lost such as the MCM’s, Wave’s and Echo’s.


And what’s so important about a hangar for a OPV? The rest of the phibs – Albions and Bays dont have an organic hangar.


And they are much worse for not having one.

I the case of an OPV the advantage of a hangar is that a helicopter can greatly help in the ships patrol mission by building a bigger picture of what’s around the ship. Helicopters are also very useful for disaster relief work.
It the case of the B2’s a hangar wouldn’t be a bad thing but it wouldn’t often be used foe a helicopter as the RN doesn’t have the airframes or people to put one on each ship. Hopefully in the next 5 years the B2’s will get drones to do the recon part of the job.


Hangars are very useful things. They are a large weatherproof open space out of the sun (right now it’s winter in the South Pacific). Great for detainees, crew BBQ & entertainment, stores, RM troops, makeshift gym etc. It is even rumoured that it can fit a helicopter.


I think the opposite.

Even when disbanding HMS Echo, RN kept operation not only the 5 River B2. Even the 3 River B1, who have just lost the fisherly patrol tasks, was kept operational. It is clear that RN thinks they need OPVs.

On the other hand, I myself was proposing to build a longer (100-105 m) version of River B2 (or B3), something like Al Khareef class corvette, as lightly armed as current River B2. Three or four of them might have been better.

But, it does not mean River B2 is useless. I agree it is very useful ships. Just saying there might have been another options.

Last edited 1 year ago by donald_of_tokyo

Any link to the ‘RN lost fishery patrol tasks’ claim ?


Twitter isnt the best place to find all the details

DEFRAs Marine Mangement organisation seems to be the actual body who handles this
As well they seem to have inshore and offshore ( deep sea) fisheries management, and they have their own vessels as well as aerial operations as well for policing
No a word in their ‘communications’ over the last 18 months about a new contractor replacing the RN


The Navy Lookout comment seems to have come from the Minister for Armed forces reply to a House of Commons committee questioning

The dates match

‘Indeed, the Batch 1 offshore patrol vessels, one of which is engaged in this task, were until Q4 last year on contract to Defra to provide counter-illegal fishing activity, which Defra has now contracted out.’


Is this is short-sighted mispending by Defra or have all the B1 Rivers been retasked for other reasons?


Its seems that they now have a 24hr ‘intelligence centre’ which monitors the locations from satellite data of all fishing vessels over 12m long in the UK EEZ

There appears to be some vessels ? operated in MMO name ( by whom we dont know) to make physical checks based on the intel
there are limitations of this ‘intel approach’
of course the Coastguard Agency has its own ships and helicopters ‘under contract’
The UK currently has the ability to request data on EU fishing vessels to support enforcement efforts. It does not currently have access to a comprehensive feed of all data covering volumes of fish caught in the UK Exclusive Economic Zone by EU registered fishing vessels.

Who knows what happens for waters of UK dependencies and other territories like Falklands
The picture is Ocean Osprey a sea going tug ( and part time fisheries enforcement ?)


They are very useful, but on these deployments it’s important that they are kept in benign waters, when used properly they are great ways to improve our nations soft power, constabulary work across the ocean’s is very important and really appreciated by many nations, where big warships “May” be seen in a slightly different way.


Great work at low-level relationship building – re-establishing those links and bringing a Royal Navy presence back to the region after a long absence.

It needs to be seen as preliminary and transitional though. I assume the plan is to forward deploy the T31’s once they commission.

I can see the 3 older River’s withdrawn around 2030, with Trent, Tamar and Spey brought back to The UK and replaced by the T31’s in the Mediterranean and Far East (as well as The Persian Gulf).

The South Atlantic and West Indies don’t warrant frigates….although something bigger with more facilities for HADR would be great supplement Medway if the money was ever found.


With the RN no longer doing the deep sea fisheries protection roll I’m not sure ships as big as the B2’s are needed for U.K. coastal work. They could go home or if it’s thought advantageous to keep the one in the Med/West Africa and two in the Pacific new U.K. waters PV’s of say 1,000t could be built.


 RN no longer doing the deep sea fisheries protection roll 

When did that happen?


I believe I read on this site that the Department of Rural affairs had chosen to contract out fisheries protection work to save money.



Thank you.


No one seems to have told the Royal navy

‘With a small headquarters staff based at Portsmouth Naval Base, the OPS is made up of four River-class offshore patrol vessels and one helicopter.

This small but dedicated team patrols 80,000 square miles of sea, upholding international law, treaties and agreements and protecting the UK’s precious fishing rights.

The Overseas Patrol Squadron also has a secondary role in conducting inspections of all fishing vessels in UK waters and acting as an arbitrator between rival vessels when disputes arise.


Four? B1s + Forth? Could this number four be a hangover from the old Fisheries Protection Squad of three B1s and Clyde, or are the eight Rivers, somehow divided into two squadrons?

Last edited 1 year ago by Jon

FPS is the oldest in RN.

I was surprised to be told they weren’t doing it. I was even more surprised something so historic passed me by.


I think it’s just a case of people the website not being rapidly updated.

Donald of Tokyo kindly posted this link


I agree. We’d be better off keeping the B2 Rivers doing what they are doing and supplementing them with T31s, rather than replacing them.

I suspect even smaller ships could replace the B1s: something like a 400 ton 58m Cape class patrol boat. You could get four for around £140m, or three more-deluxe patrol ships for similar money, like the 500 ton Israeli 62m OPV, 32+ knots, with a small helicopter deck, fitted with (for a change), etc. These could still easily handle fisheries protection work within the EEZ along with all the other UK waters requirements.

This seems far more efficient than using £750m worth of T31 to do the job of the three B2s that would otherwise be brought back to UK waters.


I’d like to have some discussion on the former HMS Clyde, and it’s activity in the Middle East.


I suspect you would do better to look for a blog/website that specialises in Middle East navies rather than here that concentrates on the RN.

Barry Larking

‘These ships may, however, significantly contribute to the RN’s future effectiveness by rekindling a network of relationships which includes other militaries, diplomats, friends and partners in the region.’

This cannot be underestimated. Well done to all concerned.

Bob Hawkes

Perhaps they could pop down to NZ some time….


Little big ships doing a great job for UK and others.


Great article!
Showing the flag and deepening relationships is priceless. You invest the time early and it pays off in the long term when you need it.

As far as capability is concerned, equip them with 2 Schiebel Camcopter S-100s for OTH duties and maybe add a pack (or two) of Martlet missiles attached to the 30mm gun for just-in-case close-in work, and you’ll be fine. Maybe down the road replace that mount with a single 40mm as installed on the T-31 and find somewhere for 4 lightweight anti-ship missiles.


Do all of that and you get a number of problems.

  1. Operating costs are much high due to the bigger crew needed to operate and maintain these weapons systems.
  2. The ships would start to look like “Light Frigates” with the risk of political pressure to use them like that sort of ship. But without all the defensive systems of a frigate they would be very vulnerable in combat.

Far better to keep them as “cheap” to operate pure OPV’s for use in low risk areas.

Armchair Admiral

You have to wonder why they are equipped with CMS1 command and control system.
It obviously enables in the future a better (or perhaps read “more integrated”) weapons system fit, despite as I have read on a previous OPV thread, the 30mm is not tied into it (why??).
When carrying out exercises with other, perhaps larger ships, does the CMS add-value in these situations, garnering info and providing the OPV crew with more fighty information? Presumably it has the ability to provide training scenarios…missile attacks and so on, so the command crew can keep up their warfighting skills.
Heavyweight drones, to do recon and deliver aid will either come along/be fitted when needed.

Suuportive Bloke

The CMS used is more to do with cross training commonality.

This way everything except T31 uses various flavours of the same CMS.

It is certainly perfectly possible to tie the 30mm to the CMS as it is to add PODS to it.

At the end of the day it is to keep the OPV’s as OPV’s and not as light frigates with light costs. If everything becomes frigate flavoured then expect running costs to match.

Suuportive Bloke

And then you start to wonder why they were built to the higher damage control standards and have a full CMS fitted?

There is a bit of thought process missing in this conversation and I am not sure what it is/was.

It could have been that given the problems that RN was having progressing T26 B2 was being thought of a the T31 of the future and hence the OTT level of some of it for OPV? Pure speculation on my part.


River B2 OPV’s CMS1 is very simple version, as I understand. Also, CMS1 is by its nature a “scalable” one, so it is no surprise. Actually, also notable is that HMS Clyde also had a CMS, very simple one.

I “guess” having a CMS might be related to information sharing, for the decision making of the Captain, but not much on its fighting capability.

  • No additional crew needed to add Martlet to the 30mm mount.
  • Small detachment (possibly 4) needed for the UAVs, but well worth the increase in ISR.
  • A future change of the 30mm to 40mm requires no increase in crew as the 40mm is automated and controlled from the CMS.

One of the lessons to be learned from combat in the Black Sea is that even small craft are going to be attacked by aircraft and/or UAVs, so ALL naval craft need a form of basic MANPADS/Mistral or something able to provide a modicum of air defense, plus a basic ECM/Chaff/flare system, otherwise the ship will not last very long.


The with a pure OPV it’s important that they don’t work in contested areas. If they find themselves in an area with a deteriorating situation they need to leave asap. Adding low end air defence just runs the risk of them being left in an exposed situation to long.

Suuportive Bloke

Yes, I have totally come round to this point of view.

John Hartley

Well, I am glad the RN is being creative in using these OPV to provide a presence in the Pacific. However, I do think a light frigate would be a better choice. The RN used to have T21 & before that the Rothesay, Tribal or Salisbury class frigates. It does not need to be a battleship, but something a bit more tooled up than an OPV, would be better defence diplomacy. I think the new Brazilian Tamandare class would be ideal for the RN. It is a diesel powered version of the Meko A-100. The image I am looking at seems to have 57mm gun, SeaCeptor, 4x anti ship missiles, a 40mm gun above the hangar. A flight deck for a medium helicopter. 107m long, 3455 tons. £ of these to replace the batch one Rivers, would be my choice.

John Hartley

Should be 3 of these, not £ of these. Finger slipped, while typing.


Why not the T31? Specification is very similar, simply T31 is just a bit larger (actually, 50% larger than required).

Actually, Brazilian Tamandare class nearly meets the T31 RFI requirements (just not the length).


Larger than required?


T31 is much larger than required. See T31 RFI.

“120m long hull, for efficient helicopter operation, with good endurance”, was the requirement. It was originally meant to be 4000+ t size, as was the Leander design, MEKO A200 design, and the original Arrowhead 120 (not 140) design.

Selected design of Arrowhead 140 is significantly larger than required.


My recollection is the RFI set a number of minimum thresholds in various areas but it was always expected that proposed solutions would exceed theses minimums in various areas.
The 3 final proposals were very different in their strengths and weaknesses. The RN went for the big ship with a very long range, very good crew accommodation and the potential for significant upgrade. This came at the cost of an in someways weaker armament package, no sonar and very limited “multi mission bay”. The final choice can be debated but the RN did have 3 very different ships to choose between all of the costing about the same.


In the end the economics of a larger hull works out better.I did once read a really good academic paper on the economics of escorts hull sizes. Basically it evidenced that the European model of creating smaller escorts ( under 5000 tons) was in-fact more costly if you looked at the though life economics around refits and adding extra capability though out the life.

The conclusion as anything less than 5000 tons was in the end wasting money for lack of initial capital investment.

John Hartley

That may be true for front line, top tier, full warfighting ships, but I doubt it is true for lower tier, second line vessels. Full fat warfighting ships need mid life upgrades in weapons & sensors, but lower tier vessels do not.


Interesting point, and probably true for a full-fat frigate. Let’s see how the French FDI goes on, aiming at full-fat-level escort packed in a 4600t hull.

By the way, T31 RFI was for “a heavy-corvette-level-armed light frigate”. Armaments and tasks required there was well covered by heavy corvettes like, Al Khareef class, Gowind-2500 class, and Damen 10514 class light-frigates/heavy-corvettes, all within 2500-3000t FLD size.

So, original T31 aim for a 4000+ t hull is already very large. May be “large enough”, even at the though life economics.

But, anyway we have Arrowhead 140, a full-fat sized frigate hull with a heavy-corvette-level-armament. Very unique ship, she is.

Last edited 1 year ago by donald_of_tokyo

The FDI will probably work at its proposed size, the question is what compromises have to be made to achieve it.
The FDI definitely has a shorter range and endurance and given its slightly bigger normal crew probably worse crew accommodation.
Warships like most things are a series of compromises between what you feel you absolutely need and what is just very nice to have and of course how much you are willing to spend. With it extensive combat systems and likely most complex packaging the FDI is much more expensive than the T31.


Yet they chose a hull capable of keeping pace with a carrier group.

Further if these hulls are to operate on the other size of the world size counts for all manner of reasons from range to stores.

I think you are putting too much emphasis on size.

Last edited 1 year ago by X

Thanks. In this case I’m not talking about size.

John Hartley-san’s comment above looked for Brazilian Tamandare class for RN. And my comment is,

“With a requirement set very similar (except for length) to the Brazilian Tamandare class, RN adopted T31. So, for the tasks John-san is proposing, T31 matches perfectly.”

This is my point here. When someone wants a light frigate to send something a bit better equipped than the River B2 OPVs, that is exactly the T31 for RN. They look a large combatants, but is actually a “light frigate” in its requirement.

PS In the past comments, when I’m talking about size, it is when people claims “T31 is under-armed compared to its size”. Physically it is true, but the reasoning is vice-versa. It is simply that, “T31 is over-sized compared to its required armament”.

Last edited 1 year ago by donald_of_tokyo
Armchair Admiral

To my mind the large size is a massive bonus for all the various reasons stated in this and previous posts.
The thing is, if, when it finally comes into service, it has a decent 36 Ceptor silo…will this change it into a full fat frigate? Or is it simply that it will have no sonar and no anti ship missiles? (Like the Rest of our ships, barring a few outdated Harpoon and then not on all vessels).
As for a “large corvette” keeping up with a carrier group, who would not want a T31 nearby with its modern AESA radar, long range CIWS and Sea Ceptor missiles as a goalkeeper.
Certainly drone boats towing a thin-line sonar would look after the anti-sub issue, when required, and if desperate the Harpoons could be bolted on.


No objection.


Certainly drone boats towing a thin-line sonar would look after the anti-sub issue, when required

How big are these drone boats?


The latest Harpoon variants are almost an entirely new weapon. They are cheap, plentiful, and easily integrated into the RN and RAF’s existing delivery platforms. Why everyone here and elsewhere drones on and on while wringing their hands and worrying that “we have to develop a new AShM” is completely beyond me. What do Brits and the RN have against buying a couple hundred Harpoons for relative peanuts and having done with it?


You mention size three times.

There is no fixed global nomenclature for the different size of ‘combat ship’. One country’s frigate is another country’s destroyer. There is no scale of armament.

As often there the hull and range (reach) are being ignored. There would have been little point in the RN buying the Leander proposal as it doesn’t fit in with the service’s global objectives.

You are using you own terms of reference to argue points with others.


No, you are totally missing my point. Sorry.

1: Original point.

John Hartley-san claimed RN needs a heavy corvette.

I said, there is no need for such ship because T31 is exactly the ship mentioned by him.

End. Nothing else.

2: Then, you misunderstand my point, and our long-lasting “T31 size discussion” comes again. (no problem, this is a forum).

T31 was intended to be 4000t class ship, and happened to be 6500t ship. Until here, it is just a FACT.

Judging if selecting large hull was good or bad, is NOT my point. It is RN selection, they preferred it. Just it. I personally think no problem. If it was 4000t hull, good. Selected T31 is 6500t hull, good.

3: All my point is, claiming that “T31 is too less armed as a 6500t frigate” is totally ignoring the history up to here, and thus pointless (although understandable).

If you want full fat frigates, there were many options:
A: just order more T26
B: just order T31 with more capable equipment

In the real T31 program, RN did go NEITHER way.
What they did was
C: Required a 120m hull, heavy-corvette (or even less) armed ship, and called it “a GP-frigate”.

The reason is very clear. There was not enough money to go with options-A and B.

I hope now my point is clear.

Last edited 1 year ago by donald_of_tokyo

Ok Don. No problem. 🙂

Suuportive Bloke

Again, we seem to be conflating larger with being more expensive?

Cost is, in this T31 case, driven down by using a well understood parent design that has been successfully executed at reasonable costs prior to the T31 order.

Also this T31 design, in service elsewhere, has the capacity to be very heavily up armed into a serious combatant carrying a big load out of missiles. Whereas I don’t really see that for the other Corvette+ designs which were not, in any case, cheaper.

The T31 has very long legs and good accommodation/social standards which are super important on long deployments or to retain the hard working & valuable crews.


No objection, totally agree. Please also refer to my reply to X-san.

By the way, only one clear thing being “larger is expensive” is fuel and maintenance cost.

I totally agree large hull is more cheaper to be uparmed. So, when uparming take place in future, the cost will “pay” for the increased fuel and maintenance cost”.

On the range/endurance, the other two proposals, Leander and MEKO A200 BOTH met the requirement so it is not an issue.

(Note, I am not proposing for “heavy-corvette for RN”. If you read my comment, you can easily see it is not me).


PS I would like to express my deep condolence for the death of Queen. Very very admirable monarch.

Last edited 1 year ago by donald_of_tokyo

Leander and MEK A200 may have met the paper requirement.

But whomever wrote that in Main Building hadn’t give reality a thought.


This could be what they need


I think we are seeing the way the MoD(N) are going with the MCM cock-up. That is capabilities ‘fitted for but not with a hull’.

I was looking at the Italian navy’s future MCM capability proposals the other day. They are going to be building two varieties. One for coastal and harbour work, and an ocean going variety to go with their task groups.


HM Queen Elizabeth II is very much missed. The photo shows quite clearly how beautiful she was. This retired SNCO openly admits to filling up with tears every time I’m reminded of her passing.


Why you think Leander and MEKO A200 cannot meet the requirement?

Here is the RNZN frigate TaKaha. 3600t FLD, 118m long, 6000 nm range at 18 knots, endurance 30+ days, with 180 crew. Has a 127 mm gun, 20 CAMM, a Phalanx CIWS, 1 SH-2G helicopter, Hull sonar, 2 AS-torpedo, 3 RHIBs and other MGs, with 3D radar, good EO sensors and ESM, decoy launchers as well as SeaSentor torpedo decoy system (full).

Last edited 1 year ago by donald_of_tokyo

We are discussing size. Would you rather be at sea in a 6500 tonne ship with good freeboard or one 2000 tonnes lighter? The RN aspires to be a global navy and has a carrier. It isn’t always about weapons. Hulls are important. Something that is hardly considered here.


I still do not understand your point.

A 4000t hull is something similar in size to T23. French FDI is 4600t. They are good ocean going escorts.

Of course, larger hull is better for sea keeping. But, if only merit, why not T23 made to be 8000t in 1990s, nor T45 20000t hull in 2000s? More importantly, why a brand new FDI is 4600t? French navy even terminated FREMM building and went with FDI.

Larger hull surely needs larger engines, consumes more fuel, requires more maintenance, and be with larger radar cross section/underwater noise. Just physics.

Large hulls has BOTH good and bad. It is just a matter of balance. Leander and MEKO A200 has no problem as T31. Actually, I strongly think it is simply because it was of Babcock, Arrowhead 140 was selected for T31. Not a bad thing, if UK intends to stand up “second escort builder”, it is the only feasible choice.

If Babcock was teaming up with German design to propose MEKO A200 as a T31 proposal, I think it would have won the bid. Requirement is requirement. Shall not be considered lightly. RN agreed 4000t hull is enough there.

Actually, fuel cost was a big issue in the past, resulted in reduced sea-going days in RN.

PS “Would you rather be at sea in a 6500 tonne ship with good freeboard or one 2000 tonnes lighter?”. When fuel cost matter, you CANNOT be at sea with a larger hull, because there is not enough fuel. This could be one answer.

Last edited 1 year ago by donald_of_tokyo

I think I will leave it.

Thank you for your time.

Supportive Bloke

In terms of persistent operations T31 wins hands down for the size and stability of the platform.

You do get to a point, with every platform, that in higher sea states the combat output is degraded because of ships motion and other effects. This can be as simple as it being a real time consuming bind to go between decks or because (as in the recent T23 sub hunting doc) weather tightness fails. Other things start to happen with certain sensors and gradually, or not so gradually, offensive capability degrades.

The Atlantic isn’t the best place to be in a small(er) ship when it gets rough. Crews can’t sleep as well. That too degrades the effectiveness of a ship. The mechanical and human have to work optimally.

Bigger hulls with more freeboard are generally better for all those reasons and more.


Agreed, and I will add that although the RAN and RZAN modified MEKO’s are good little ships, they are overcrowded and have really been modified even beyond what could realistically have been expected when they were first built. Hats off to both services for the creative engineering, don’t get me wrong, but there wasn’t enough tonnage allowance and hull space in the basic design to begin with. I don’t think they had to be hugely bigger than they were, but another 40 feet and 750 tons would have done wonders for them.

Having said that, a MEKO sized light frigate with a heavy SSM battery and an Atlantic bow would be perfect for RN “home fleet” duties. I have long advocated for a flotilla composed of, say 8 ships like this and maybe 6 SSGK’s which would largely relieve the “blue water” and nuclear component of the RN for duties much further afield. Together with the RAF, I think this would be a sufficient force to keep tabs on Ivan while still being potent enough to be integrated into the blue water half of the fleet if and when necessary (the blue water component could of course go the other way as needed as well).


(deleted, for double post…)? sometime showing up??


RNZN MEKO200 frigate Te Mana and Te Kaha, has a range of 6000nm at 18kt, 30+ days endurance, with much better armament than T31, with 180 crew packed in a 118 m long 3600t FLD hull.

Note; 6000nm range and 18knots is similar to T23’s 7600 nm 15 kts

Leander and/or MEKO A-200 proposal should be able the handle the T31-required light armament easily in a 4000+t hull with no problem, I guess?

Last edited 1 year ago by donald_of_tokyo
John Hartley

To all the comments above. If the RN had only one frigate (HM Treasury dream), then picking a 6500 ton ship makes sense. If you have 15-20 (hopefully), then having 3 smaller 3500 ton ships gives you options. You send the right size frigate to that particular job.

Michael BB

I now live in the Philippines, it nice to see the RN flying the flag in the region on a permanent basis.
I believe the region is wakening to the threat of China to their way of life and economies.
Due to a number of factors the Chinese economy is in trouble, this could lead China to take actions to alleviate these problems and distract its population.

Militarily these OPVs are trip wires for any aggression in the region.
This is a good policy for the next five years, with the way things are shaping up a bigger presence will be needed.
This should be in the shape of a surface unit based in Singapore and a submarine based in Australia as part of the AUKUAS deal.
All being well the reliability of the QE class will be much improved, we (and maybe the French) should then integrate our carrier task group deployment with the Americans.
A CSG21 on a regular basis, this would give the Allies 13 or 14 aircraft carriers to deploy worldwide, and the RN could more regularly deploy to the Pacific.


IMO, the Royal Navy should invest in Light frigates, Corvettes and OPV’s for Presence missions, Diplomacy and showing the flag. I think light frigates like the USCG’s National Security cutter, which can be upgunned to light frigate standard. For Corvettes, I would look to the SIGMA corvettes for Homeland defense.


USCG Legend class cutter is no light frigate its just under the displacement of T31


They based one of the competitors for the Constellation class on the Legend, so certainly full frigate size by some definitions. However the size of frigates and corvettes is increasing as is the boundary between them. Pohjanmaa corvette is 3800 tons, not much below 4500 ton Legends and equivalent to say the Anzac.

Maybe at some point we’ll be calling the Type 31 a light frigate.


The Huntington Ignalls Pascagoula shipyard proposed FFX was started from the ‘Legend’ Cutter , but they never revealed much of their final design spec. personally it was my choice as the production facility existed which had the hull production and extensive ship systems already in production and mostly from US suppliers
However even the Italian Freem design chosen has had to be extensively changed and grown in size , now 7900 T displ , up from 6700T. So the USCG design would have grown too.
This was the most information in public domain , a computer graphic.


Agreed re: the Legend class cutter. This design has “general purpose frigate” written all over it. I’m honestly not sure why someone didn’t buy it right off the shelf.


One difference with the Italian FREMM base was it was the ASW version. This is a seriously good ASW frigate.

Matt Smith

There is a shadow war going on in the Pacific Region. China is using investment, artificial islands and low level assets such as paramilitary fishing fleets. It’s being fought below the threshold of full scale conflict, but it’s being fought.

My view is that we need to think carefully of our contribution, one false step or incident could be used as an excuse to escalate and the RN could be on the wrong side of the argument.

The B2s are IMO the perfect RN platform to contribute to fighting the Shadow War. I would be questioning what a T31 can give that isn’t just a fantasy of having real war fighting combat ships in the region when they are not. They will also, but more limited in their movements both physically (their sizes prohibits it) and politically (as they are being called warships).

Better IMO to keep the B2s there maybe supplemented by a RFA, and focus scarce resources to ensuring regular CSG and SSN visits.


As much as I love the Rivers, and I agree they do an excellent job, the Type 31s will provide a significant boost in capability if added to the forward-based fleet of B2s.

As well as being great for the sort of Gulf work Montrose and Lancaster are currently tasked with, I think the Type 31 could be tweaked to become very useful with the LRG, based out of Oman. Its size will allow it abilities that the Rivers simply can’t. For example, you can’t operate a system like the Manta XLUUV with thin line sonar from a River. Larger UAVs, like the under-development 3 ton Leonardo, will also be difficult to base permanently on a River without a telescopic hangar upgrade. I believe the Type 31 will very much have its place.


T31? A hangar and range.

I find it amusing that any other time on this blog ‘aircraft’ are seen as the panacea to all our maritime problems. Yet all of a sudden with B2 River no helicopter isn’t a problem.


Aircraft being shoe horned on ships of all types has happened since …well, since there have been planes.
I would think you are the only one who sees it differently over the last 100 years


Again you seem to be off on one of your must post something to score points even if the post is non-german. You aren’t being clever.

For the hard of thinking.

B2 has no hangar. So no helicopter. Drones only go somewhere to plugging that gap.

The  Iver Huitfeldt has a hangar. A big one. And a big flight deck. So a helicopter can be carried.

I can’t be arsed to go into why helicopters are important.

Mike BB

I live in the Philippines, and agree with what you say about a shadow war.
If China were to make the West Philippine sea( what they call the South China Sea here) a Chinese lake ,the costs of goods would increase.
One way or another China wants to break out of the first island chain, it needs to do so it can have unimpaired access to the Pacific.
This would be a disaster for the trade of the free world.
That would be on the wrong side of the argument.
They have tried and failed in Sri Lanka, now they are looking to influence The Solomons.


The middle of that sea may have the deepest water around, so not being able to get its subs into the Pacific undetected, I imagine that’s where their second-strike SSBNs hang out. Not surprising they are a little protective (aka paranoid).

By the way, Wikipedia has the cost of Jin class SSBNs at $750 million per sub. Vanguards, built a decade earlier, cost £3.75 bn each. And how much will Dreadnoughts be? Let’s hope that means the Jins aren’t very good.


From where do most of your goods come?

I am reminded of that sketch about Australian defence where the RAN’s is to secure the sea lanes of communication from Chinese aggression so ‘goods’ can reach Oz. That then rose the question of from where most of Oz’s ‘goods’ come………


Alright, but this ignores the real issue, which is: what is Australia in the first place, and what does it wish to be going forward? Or if you like: what does it mean to be an Australian (or part of the broader Anglosphere) in the first place? And regardless of what it means, is that worth fighting for in order to preserve it?

If most Australians are just fine and groovy with surrendering to Chinese regional if not global hegemony, wonderful. Just roll over on your backs and show Beijing your belly and that’s that. If on the other hand there is something about being Australian / Anglo / Euro that is worth preserving, then it’s time to swallow hard, spend some money and some effort, and get busy. One or the other.


Yep. 🙂


The quickest way to defend Australia is for the country to adopt a Swiss model: give Australians rifles.

Last edited 1 year ago by X

Having nuclear submarines makes more sense, as Im sure you are tongue in cheek


I would have both.

Have a think.

Mike BB

It seems to me there’s a trend moving away from a dependency on Chinese products.


There is. And hopefully we will be at the forefront.


Not an earth shattering revelation, but Intrigued by photograph of RN rating rendering salute at USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl. Apparently close in form to US salute. Does this mean RN prefers our custom? ???? Have been exposed to RAF and British Army styles in a previous life and realize there are relatively subtle differences in form between them.


There’s all sorts of mythology. The one I heard was that the Royal Navy salutes palm down to hide their dirty hands, whereas the Army doesn’t get its hands dirty in the first place (just repeating what I heard). Americans copied the Navy.


In days of sail , sailors would use tar and pitch to seal the timbers, so the ‘hide the dirty hands’ has some creedence

David Barry

There is an error in the article which is quite significant. Sri Lanka was arm twisted into allowing a Chinese military ship into Hambantota, just last month.


To some extent off-topic, but hope and presume HMS Medway (and attached RFA, if applicable) are prepared for increased tasking, given Hurricane Fiona’s swath through the Carribean.


Turks and Caicos Islands already targeted, Bermuda in Fiona’s gun sight on Thurs./Fri. Potentially bad news.