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Bigmac

Seems the other end of the coin is the need for sailors to man the ships regardless if it’s Type 26 or 31. Boosting total numbers of staff must go hand in hand with any increase in ships.

Ronald Lockley

What I would like to see is a 3,000 ton 95 meter corvette, armed with a 76 mm gun two automatic 20-30 mm and two mini guns, along side this should be 16 Sea Ceptor and 8 Harpoons. A complement of 90 plus 30. A Lynx Wild Cat plus two 2 vertical UAV should also be carried. But the most important thing is the numbers. We still have overseas territory’s in strategic locations that need protected so with a 28 knot 4,000 mile range they can be deployed in numbers making the overall cost per unit cheaper plus there would be less requirement for the deployment of the high cost units going to areas for ‘anti drug patrols’. With a mission bay to include anti mine ROVs and two large RIBs a complete overhaul of the RN emphasis could be carried out .
Falkland Islands and Gib and the new base in Bahrain could have three each, this would give any carrier task group a force multiplier. A further ten could be built fore home waters replacing the OPV’s which would be sold off or sent to the Caribbean for anti drug patrols. This leaves then the high cost units to do what they are designed to do, With a amphibious force and two carriers the six type 45’s and 8 type 26’s combined with the Astute subs would give the RN well balanced and good power projection if needed.
Ideally I would like three more ships based on the type 45 with the removal of the helicopter hanger replace with a second VLS unit with 48 positions, one allocated to each of the carriers as a constant and one to the amphibious force. By doing this as the carrier stands down for refit the complete task group stands down for refit.

Another excellent article by the author of this website and I agree with the comments above. As a (very poor) amateur sailor and Hampshire born and bred I have pottered about Portsmouth for most of my life and from a lay perspective there are usually more historic vessels in HM Dockyard than current RN ships – including the layups and those waiting for disposal. It’s not only depressing to see but it’s worrying that a maritime mercantile economy such as ours couldn’t even manage defence for the necessary convoys needed to sustain us should there ever be a blockade let alone fight a serious naval engagement. Given the current state of World politics it cannot be too much of a imagined leap to see a situation where a major sea power could put the squeeze on the UK by using its submarine forces to threaten our livelihood.
I despair of our politicians who seem to live in a fantasy world where they repeat the mantra of 2% GDP on Defence spending and talk about Type 26 as if they are in the water already and keep banging on about our “Global Reach” whilst Type 45’s are tied up in harbour or suffering power failures. The RFA too, is overworked – often in roles they were never designed for – and all the time Type 23’s are pushed beyond their limits.
I draw no party political distinction, they are all equally obsessed with the Defence = Jobs = Votes equation rather than Defence = Security. That is why we are in this mess. We require a minimum of 2 carriers with 40 Frigates/Destroyers plus a credible OPV/MCM fleet to defend our Islands ad here’s a novel thought, how about some new conventional submarines to add a new dimension to home water defence. The sight of civilian crewed Border Force Cutters operating in the Mediterranean on refugee duties should be enough to worry us. Where is the RN Mediterranean Fleet? Where is the Gibraltar guard ship?
Austerity? The navy has faced that before but always with a maintained credible force. Time for a new naval mind set but alas I don’t see much hope of that in the foreseeable future.

Michael Watson

Another excellent article by the author of this website. There is a few points I would like to make. 1) Royal Navy to consider increasing the life of the Type 26 & Type 31 hulls by a extra 5 or 10 years. Yes this will add some cost but in the long term will give the Royal Navy more flexibility, especially with the general lay back attitude towards building new Frigates and low priority given. 2) I think it is important that the Royal Navy clearly decides what is requires from Type 31 and how it will fit into the fleet. 3) UK needs to have the capacity to build two frigates at the same time.

4thwatch

We need a Navy Law to enshrine in statute a realistic Navy (with appropriate manning levels) to defend the realm and commercial interests that the politicians and Treasury cant sabotage at their leisure.

Leading Seaman Phil Mycock

20 or so corvettes at 150 million a piece would be a sound idea, like the first poster said have them to those requirements and they’d be pretty useful, but then again the government won’t do such a common sense thing they’d rather blow billions on just 8 ships with nothing else smaller to offer

David Stephen

I think that there is a great oportunity here to address many of the navys requirments. What we should do is combine the light frigate program with the MCM requirment and procure 16 Corvettes in 2 different batches. The first batch of 8 would replace and increase the number of general purpose warships, giving 6 AAW, 8 ASW, and 8 GP. The vessels should be about 3500t with all desiel propulsion, capable of around 25 knots and with a range of at least 5000nm. Equipment fit for the batch 1 ships would comprise a 57mm gun, 24 Sea Ceptor, Artisan 3D radar, 8 cell MK41 vls (for ASROC) type 2050 sonar (5 recovered from Type 23s + 3 new), hanger for 1 Wildcat, phallax 20mm on hanger roof, and a couple of GPMGs and decoys. Try to keep crew to 75 + 25 and carry a couple of RHIBs. The second batch of 8 ships would have a different equipment fit with the hull mounted sonar replaced by those from the Hunts/Sandowns. They would also carry the VDS recovered from the Hunts/Sandowns. The batch 2s would not require the MK41 vls and could possibly do without Phallax as well. These ships would replace the 5 GP Type 23s and the 12 MCM ships (17-16). Most of the equipment could be recovered from the 5 GP Type 23s and the Hunt & Sandown classes. This would give 6 AAW, 8 ASW, 8 GP, 8 MCM. 14 high end gold plated ships backed by 16 robust corvettes and 6 OPvs. The bulk of our standing tasks could be covered by the lesser ships, with only Kippion and APS really requiring a Destroyer/Frigate. This would leave the bulk of the main escort fleet ready for deployment with the capital ships. As the stern design of both batches would be the same, then the batch 1s would be FFBNW Captas 2.

Michael Watson

David I think what you have suggested would go along way to sort the Navy Frigate problems, the only thing I would say your suggested speed of 25 knots, could be 30 knots which would be better for escort duties. Question is will the powers at be listen and act ?

4thwatch

Problem. For anti submarine work Diesel at 25kn wont cut the mustard. You have to be able to catch up after your hunt. You need 30kn+.

4thwatch

I desperately hope Sir John Parker can succeed. with a workable NSS. The stakes couldn’t be higher. The rewards can also be huge if we can regain a viable export market in supplying vessels to our friends and allies.
I think I am correct in saying that in some ways this situation had developed pre WW1 when Vickers had come to dominate the market and the Admiralty decided to set up shop on its own account to force down the price of RN warships.

David Stephen

The 8 cell Mk41 vls (ASROC) should mean that the diesels can get you close enough to engage, or the Wildcat can do so. I know its not ideal but if we try for 30 knots or fancy propulsion it might push the cost beyond our ability to fund 16 ships and I think numbers at this point are very important. It may be the case that for ASW escort work then scaring the enemy sub off enough to break contact can be considered a success as it preserves the ships being escorted. All things considered as long as we don’t put WR-21s in them we will be fine.

Long Dong John

Good idea David but maybe shoot for 24, 8 that can do ASW/MCM, 8 AAW and 8 GP the more they build the cheaper they become but then again the government doesn’t think like that, if they built them in 2 or 3 different yards at once the whole class could be built in 6 to 10 years

D Evans

1. Anything that continues to break the reliance upon BAE has to be welcomed.
2. Max is correct in stating the need for the RN to have 2 carriers with 40 Frigates/Destroyers plus a credible OPV/MCM fleet, with the addition of a decent number of suitably equipped submarines. However manpower needs to keep pace – no point in having the jettys of Pompey and Guzz (and or Gib’, Bahrain – etc) full of kit which doesn’t go to sea.
3. Agree that the spec’ for these new ships might need some rethinking in terms of speed (thanks 4th Watch) – as 30knts is probably the minimum when it comes to “sprinting” which in the 1980’s we seemed to spend quite a lot of time doing. The need to build in significant levels of reliability is also key, witness the T45 saga.
4. Bottom line is the world is less stable, with splintered threats (unlike the 1980’s when the Russians were the only threat), across all geographies, having RN assets stationed in key locations worldwide to reduce locals chancing their arm, knowing the RN wont reach them for 3 or more weeks seems to me to be the sensible way forward.

Michael Watson

Does any one know the top speed of our new Queen Elizabeth Carrier?
I am asking this question in relation to the debate about the sort of speed our new Frigates should be capable of.

Anonymous

Michael, apparently the top speed of the new carriers is 28knts.

Michael Watson

Thank you, surely you can not have any of the RN Frigates slower than our new Aircraft Carrier s ,if anything they should be faster.

Anonymous

In the missile age it is more important for a stable platform rather than speed which could be seen as a luxury. However, if it is a gunnery duel then the extra burst could be useful.

4thwatch

The RN deems it acceptable to underpower its warships. The USA and Japanese reckon otherwise. The RN is wrong.

4thwatch

My latest read on the type 26 is:
There will be 8 not 13 as originally planned.
The build start is 1st April 2017 not 2014.
The ‘demonstration phase’ is costing at least 1.4bn GBP. This discounts the other Job Creation Schemes: viz 3 River OPV’s.
The cost per unit is undetermined.
This is a Shambles of epic proportions I therefore suggest they have a Class name of Reefs and other Marine Hazards. HMS Shambles, HMS Eddystone, HMS Brambles, etc!

The Ginge

Seriously everybody I cannot even see how the treasury is going to fund 40 Destroyers/Frigates as outlined in the comments above. That really is Fantasy Island stuff. Just sit and think about that.
At the moment you have 6 T45’s with 191 Crew = 1146, plus T23 x 13 x 185 = 2405 for a Total of 3551. Your fictional 40 Destroyer/Frigate mix even allowing for modern lean manning would come in at 100 Crew per Ship. As the T45’s are going to be around for a few years yet, that leaves 34 split 8 T26ASW and 26 T31. So that is T45’s = 1146, T26 8 x 125 = 1000, T31 26 x 100 = 2,600. In total that is 4746 crew or an extra 2341 Rating of all classes including some quite specialist areas such as Engineering that the RN are finding it difficult to recruit and makes no allowance for the extra Trainers, HR Staff etc etc that would be needed. This gives you a huge problem, the “huge” increase of all of 400 Staff announced in SDR2015 but seriously over 2,000 extra Sailors.
Secondly the cost. If we work on loosing 5 T26GP’s at £750m each that is a saving of £3.75bn. To build 26 T31’s that works out at £144m each. There is no way you are building even a Frigate that can defend itself from the Air and Launch some kind of Anti-Ship/Land Attack Weapon, plus accommodate a Helicopter and be in the 4,000 ton range with a speed of say 28knts. If you take the MOD’s ludicrously optimistic £250m each figure you get to £6.5bn or £2.75bn more. Where is that coming from ?
Now these are very loose publically available and I am sure the T31 costs will head north of £250m, but you just cannot find an extra £2.75bn purchase cost and double your operating costs overnight. I will post in a minute what I think is possible under the T31/T26/T45/River OPV mix that the RN will end up with.

Anonymous

In many cases your point is valid and I do agree that 26 type 31’s is wishful but 15 should be possible. Your calculations does show a weakness in the UK shipbuilding industry especially when it comes to cost.
However let me use some of your figures and flip the argument.
How is 15 possible? It was planned originally to have 13 type 26 frigates at as you say 750 mill £ per unit, we are now expected to have 8 of these vessels with a crew of 118 plus 85 marines. I would imagine that you would agree that the MEKO 200 or possibly the SIGMA designs are useful at a cost of 250mil £ approx. per unit depending on outfit would give three such vessels for one T26. I am not saying to purchase this type of vessel but to build a UK equivalent.
Cost could be further reduced by removing some equipment as needed from the T23 and Sandown’s as although the hull and machinery will not be fit for purpose computers, radars and weapon outfits will continue to undergo refit and upgrades until they are disposed of. The important thing here is to have a parallel construction program thereby ordering material in larger quantities.
As for manning that could be an issue but again let me use your figures you have the manning numbers for the T23’s at 2405 plus the 5×118 that would have been needed for the 5 T26’s that are not being built this gives a total of 2405+590=2995 that would be available for 13T26’s. As a mix of 8 T26’s need 1000 plus 15 T31 would need 1500 that gives a total manning of 2500 leaving 495 as replacements.
As a MEKO 200 can take the following MICA Surface to Air missiles the Sea Ceptor (CAMM) VLS say 16 missiles should not be a problem, Harpoon x 8, 1x 76mm+ 2x 30 mm, 1x CIWS, 1x Wildcat and some Anti Mine ROV kit should make a useful large corvette small frigate for distant stations and a force multiplier. The Sea Ceptor associated equipment, 30mm guns CIWS would come from the T23s and Sandown’s at decommissioning.
So for the same price as 14 T26’s you can have 8 T26 + 15 T31’s and possibly sales to other countries that cannot afford the high end equipment.

The Ginge

OK after my comment above about a 40 Frigate/Destroyer Navy being un-achievable, I am prepared to through in my views.
Firstly there must be the overriding thought of COST. it is not acceptable as the article makes clear that UK Shipyards can not produce cost effective ships for less than £750m a pop. Secondly we have to look at the strategic needs placed on the RN and finally what ships they have and how they can be deployed.
1. Capital Ship Escort.
2. Freedom of the Seas Exercise
3. Independent Operations in High threat Environment. Including Landing Gun Support etc.
4. Anti Smuggling/Piracy Duties.
5. Standing Duties.
6. HADR.
7. UK Home waters Defense/Patrol/Fisheries etc.
8. Mine Clearance as part of 2 & 7.
If you look at these they do neatly fall in to 2 areas of definition. 1 through 3 require high end Ships that not only can defend themselves but other Vessels. 4 through 7 are are more “Emergency Responders Law Enforcement” requiring lower armed vessels.
So we then look at what the RN are likely to have available to them to answer those Strategic requirement.
1 6 T45’s providing 2 available per year Air Defence Destroys for Strategic point 1.
2. 8 ASW Frigates either T23 or T26 to provide 3 per year Ships covering 1 (2 ships covering Pow/QE) (1 ship covering ARG or point 2 & 3).
3, 5 T23 GP Ships to provide 2 per year for 2, 3 and at the moment 4, 5, 6 & 7.
4. 3 Rivers Part of 7.
5. 13 Mine Clearance Vessels
Going forward we are going to get 6 OPV Rivers with with the 3 Batch 1 Rivers (Tyne/Severn/Mersey) , plus at least 5 T31’s and possibly more. We will get 8 T26’s on a direct replacement Basis for the T23 ASW Frigates. Plus the 6 Upgraded T45’s.
So my views are
1. Retiring Batch 1 Rivers is a mistake. That is 3 OPV’s that have shown even without a flight deck they are very useful and are quite new. They need the ability to launch and recover a Small Surveillance Drones to provide some air coverage. It should also be investigated with the large open rear deck area to place MLRS launchers and containerized Mk41 launches in 2 x 20ft Containers on them with a datalink to a bigger ship standing 200/300 miles away. An MLRS launcher paired with a Laser designating Drone could provide up to 70mile inland guided rocket support for Royal Marine Landings close to shore without risking large fleet escorts to supply shore gunfire support. A close in Goal keeper Air Defence weapon being mounted on the Bow should also be looked at. This could be spread across the whole River Class OPV fleet with a flight deck (including Clyde) to provide them with a high end fighting role if needed.
2. Batch 3 Rivers should be built with Movable Aircraft Hangers and a light Helicopter flight based in a Wasp Sized Aircraft Created with Cameras/Spotlight/light armament. By 2025 we should have 3 Batch 1’s, Clyde, 3 Batch 2’s and 2 Batch 3’s Giving a total 9 Rivers. These should be worked on to provide cover for strategic items 4 through 7 and at a push item 3. With OPV’s based in Falklands, Gibraltar, Caribbean, Oman/Bahrain with flown in revolving crews. The remaining 2 Batch 2 or 3 Rivers should revolve to supply back up as and when the 4 forward deployed units need deep maintenance and the 3 Batch 1’s should be retained for UK EEZ operations and the escort working with P8’s of Foreign Military Shipping. Again having a £1bn Frigate/Destroyer permanently on station in Portsmouth is not cost efficient. The Rivers are already operating 300 days a year around the UK, upgrade the Radar and provide short range missile capacity and they can provide the UK Coverage.
Basically the Rivers are 2,000 ton Corvetts and need to be armed. In essence the RN needs to accept that these ships can be useful and need to equipment them properly by thinking outside the box. Everybody else puts a lot more on Ships of this size. The cost per River in operational terms is £10m per anum and the extra 3 should be financed, it will not break the bank. The quid pro quo is that the RN need to be guaranteed that River upgrades do not cancel T31/T26 numbers.
3. T45’s as is to cover items 1 & 2.
4. T26 ASW’s as designed to cover 1 & 2 & 3.
5. T31’s. These have to be able to operate and help meaningfully in high end operations under 1, 2 or 3. There main job is going to be 2 & 3 but should be able to provide layers in 1. Thus as outlined above by contributors they need, Mk41 Strike Cells. We can piggy back then on US developments such as Asroc and Harpoon Replacement. They need a hanger to operate Wildcat or Merlin and Drones, they need to provide limited Area Air Defence to protect themselves, act as Escort ships for Lesser amphibs such a Point Ro-Ro and commercial Shipping or protect 2 or 3 Mine Hunters in an area, they will be Diesel Driven with the ability to keep up with the Aircraft Carriers etc. We should use equipment of the T23 GP Frigates on the first 5. The Crew must be 75 + 25 so that 10 T31’s at 750 Crew is the equivalent of 5 T23 GP’s in Crew costs.
Overall they need to come in price wise at £250m each. Then for the programmed T26GP’s at £500m each giving you £2.5bn to play with you can get 10 T31’s. But an off the Shelf design, they are out there. Guarantee the Clyde Yards with the T26/T45 Replacement and any other Large RN Vessel Replacement, put the T31 build out to competitive tender. We must drive down the cost otherwise we just will not have them. With modern equipment it should be able to provide a 50% availability rate, thus providing 5 Escort ships and well equipped Frigate we just don’t have at the moment.
6. Finally this takes us out to the 2030 era and replacement of the 13 Hunt/Sandowns. These are small ships in the 500 to 800 ton range and we can look at River Replacements. As long as the of ship remote equipment has been developed they should be purchased at £75m at todays money. It should be on a like for like replacement basis with the aim to have 13 more OPV size vessels which can defend themselves whilst launching Mine Hunting Equipment. The Bow Sonars etc can be taken from the MSN fleet with as much other equipment as possible, These vessels need to be able to operate independently and operate remote armed airborne drones for self protection. Thus providing another 13 Armed Corvetts. Crew size of 30 max. Ability to deploy swiftly at 20 to 25knts to overcome the problems in the Falklands War.
Thus by the late 2030’s the RN could stand at
6 T45.
8 T26
10 T31
9 River OPV
13 River OPV Mine Hunting Variant.
Not a bad mix at that point. But the RN and MOD need to embrace the Rivers, drive down the cost of the T31 without getting all fancy on us and use the T26/T45 for what they are Capital Ship Escorts and politicians need to enshrine in law that the UK will field X number of Destroyers, X Number of High end ASW Frigates, X Number of Missile Armed Frigates, X Number of Oceanic Patrol Vessels, X Number of Mine Hunters so that the RN does not get screwed over by Admirals planning on Jam tomorrow planning from the MOD & the Treasury.
Please discuss.

Anonymous

Your comments on the OPV’s makes sense especially when you see what BAE has done with the 90m OPV and redesigned them into the Khareef class for Oman. Three of which cost 400 mil £ including training.

Michael Watson

I think your idea of a mix of 18 frigates and 6 destroyers by 2030 seem much more likely than a mix of 40 however that is assuming the UK economy continues to grow at a reasonable pace over that period of time to have reasonable chance of happening.
My main concern is with the Type 31, yes there is a need to drive down costs of building and fitting out a ship, however care must be taken not to end up with a completely compromised frigate. Question is does the Type 31 have a general array of weapons so that it can engage in many situations or does it specialize for example aircraft/missile defence and be able to defend other ships, than anti submarine work it has a basic capability? Than there is the engines and hull , these need to be robust and reliable.
I think the Type 31 is more of a challenge to get right than the Type 26.
With the rise of the Russian & Chinese Navies, which may increase the risk of ship to ship engagements.
I am wondering as part of types of weapons available to engage other ships, is it time for the RN to consider bring back ship launched torpedoes fit for the 21st century or not ?

Anonymous

My thoughts on the Royal Navy are almost the same.
What are the roles it performs, what are the roles we would like it to perform, how many ships are required to fulfil each role and how many ships are required to sustain each role so that ships/crews can recover and do normal stuff like be with their families. The following are the roles I believe the Royal Navy should perform.
1. Nuclear Deterrent
2. RFTG – the main non nuclear power projection
3. TF 151 – Indian Ocean Patrol
4. TF 150 – anti piracy Patrol
5. Falkland Island Patrol
6. West Indies Station – anti drug patrol
7. Gibraltar Patrol
8. Cypress Station
9. Nato Standing Force 1 (NATOSF2 would be left to another country to lead)
10. UK (last but not least)
Forces required – 3 vessels are used to maintain 1 role to as above allow maintenance etc.
SSBN – 4 (Vanguard and its Successor)
SSN – 10 (Astute)
Carrier – 2
Type 45 – 6
Type 26 – 8 + 2
Type 31 – 12
River Batch 1 – 3 + Clyde
River Batch 2 – 3
The Nuclear Deterrent is fairly well defined already – SSBN but I would pair it with 1 SSN and a Type 26 to act as sweeper. This Type 26 is the only vessel without rotation for a whole year as its duty is well defined and close to UK waters. So 4 x SSBN and 4 x SSN in total assigned.
RFTG – Carrier/SSN/2 x Type 45/2 x Type 26 (3 x Astute/4 x Type 45/4 x Type 26 rotation)
TF 151 – Type 31 (+2)
TF 150 – Type 31 (+2)
Falklands Patrol – Type 31 (+2)
West Indies – River Batch 2 (+2)
Gibraltar – HMS Clyde
Cypress – Type 31 (+2)
Nato Standing Force 1 – Type 26 (+2)
UK – River Batch 1 (+2)
The RFTG can of course be augmented by another RFTG in an emergency from the rotational forces thus providing the UK with 2 very powerful groups to project influence. I would add 1 more role with the last 3 Astute that being a single sub on patrol anywhere or nowhere – a very powerful consideration for any adversary. Sounds a bit tough as 4 more Astute (which ain’t cheap) are needed and 2 more Type 26 on top of the 8 ordered.
Lastly how would a Type 31 be configured? It must have some self defence, a helicopter and UAV plus RIB, a good main Gun and remote weapons and a reasonable sonar and torpedoes for self defence.
Some food for thought

Ronald Lockley

I agree with your dispositions in principle however what is not taken into account is the Amphibious force and its escorts. This would need at least 1 SSN, 1 Type 45 and 2 type 26’s or a good equivalent. Although the Amphibious group would have the distant Carrier Battle Group as escort it would still need a close support group.
As for the type 31 it does need to have a useful weapons outfit. After researching weights and dimensions it would be possible to have a 76 mm gun, 1x CIWS, two 20mm/30mm guns, 1 wildcat, 16 sea captor VLSAM and 8 harpoons or equivalents on a 3,500 ton 28 knt vessel.

Chris

My thoughts were slightly fantasy as the UK probably won’t increase the Astute beyond 7 and the River Batch 1 is slated for withdrawal augmented by an extra 2 Batch 2 or 3 (if so named) ships giving a total of 6. The reality is always how much money is available and how much political will exists for any increase.
So more realistically then the fleet may look like:
Carrier – 2
SSBN – 4
SSN – 7
Type 45 – 6
Type 26 – 8
Type 31 – 15 as quoted but probably less
River (2/3) – 5 + HMS Clyde
1. Carrier task group – Carrier/SSN/Type 45 2/Type 26 2 (3 SSN/4 Type45/4 Type 26 for rotation)
2. Nuclear Deterrent – SSBN/SSN to guard the SSBN/Type 26 to sweep ingress and egress + P8 support – rotation with 3 SSBN/3 SSN/the type 26 assigned rotates with the Type 26 assigned to NATO Group 1 year on year
3. NATO force 1 – Type 26 (the med NATO force 2 could be led by France)
4 Falklands – Type 31 (+2)
5. West Indies – River Batch 2 (+2)
6. TF 150 – Type 31 (+2)
7. TF 151 – Type 31 (+2)
8. Cypress – Type 31 (+2)
9. Gibraltar – HMS Clyde (+2 Batch 3 Rivers)
10. UK – Type 31 (+2)
If any Amphibious operation were to be mounted the escorts for the group would come out of the Carrier group rotational units (say 2 Type 45 and 2 Type 26 and an SSN to protect the Amphibious units). In a major emergency the 2nd Carrier group would still have enough escorts (the final 2 Type 45/Type26) and a further SSN would have to be activated. 10 Type 31 would still be in the UK during such an emergency.
Thus you would have 2 Carrier Groups each protected by 2 Type 45/2 Type 26 and an SSN. The Amphibious Group would also be protected by 2 Type 45/2 Type 26 and an SSN. Further SSN could be pulled from deterrent duty to form a Hunter Killer group. There would be a time limit on such an operation however.
So onto Type 31 fit out – 76mm Main Gun (A) 2 x 35 mm Millennium guns (B/C) – Quad packed CAMM (48 rounds) Harpoon or RBS15 MK4/Naval Strike x 4/8, Sonar and at least 2 ship torpedo Tubes, RIB x 2 UAV x 2, Wildcat with Torp & SSM. As per previous posts costs would have to be controlled to get a good GP warship with lean manning but one that can cover a whole range of roles.

Anonymous

I am assuming the type 31 is intended for 2nd line duties. However 2nd line means it may spend most of its time acting independently. This is the problem.
The type 23 seems to be doing these things quite satisfactorily.
It therefore needs to have a capability at least as good as the type 23 GP. IMHO you take the Type 26 hull cut tonnage by roughly 30% and try to give it type 23 capabilities. There are those that can arrive at this compromise more skillfully than me.

Max Chris Hedges Bingham

The most recent posts seem to be leaning towards the “Black Swan” concept which would provide up to 40 multipurpose hulls for all needs using bolt on or containerised kit.
The RAF Tornado aircraft are still doing sterling work after 40+ years in service so building long life hulls that can be adapted, refitted and up-armed seems to be a tried and tested system. Of course BAEs wouldn’t like it……

Seymour Butts

Don’t want to end up like a type 21 when it first came into service, SeaCat and 4.5 as its only weapons, 4.5, a Phalanx on top of the hangar, and multi VLS would suffice for a decent fighting unit

drtimmorgan

We seem to keep learning lessons, forgetting them, and having to re-learn them expensively. A survey of post-WW2 experience suggests the following:
– Number of hulls matters. Even the best frigate can only be in one place at once. At any one time, only 1 in 3 ships can be on patrol.
– We haven’t decided whether we want a global presence or not. This would require at least 40 ships capable of extended autonomous operation. If we want this, we have to be prepared to pay for it. This is a strategy decision.
– Tendencies to excessive specialisation have almost always been a handicap. We tried this with AS, Air Defence and Aircraft Direction ships and it didn’t work.
– A standardised hull design makes sense – the “legend” here is the Type 12, where the same hull and machinery was used for the Whitby, Rothesay and Leander types, plus healthy numbers exported. This approach minimised design and unit build costs and produced savings through commonality of spares, training and maintenance.
– We need to design a common hull & propulsion system capable of multiple purposes.
– Export capability is important. If foreign customers don’t see value-for-money in our designs, is the RN getting value for money either? France and Spain seem to do this better than we do. Why?
– We still haven’t solved the propulsion issue. Gas turbines create vulnerabilities, diesel is too slow, and IFEP has its own shortcomings. It’s almost a pity we dropped steam turbines!
– We assume too easily that the need for an ICBM deterrent is carved in stone. With conventional defence cut too far, this can create a grave imbalance. The FT recently likened the UK replacing Trident to a man in a tatty suit flashing a Rolex. Would any UK government really trade Manchester for Murmansk? I doubt it.

Ivan Zelenka

There are a lot of good ideas amongst the comments on this article.
Does anyone in a relevant position actually read these comments, or are we simply stating our views to make us feel better.
Sadly neither the genera public, nor anyone in government appears to be looking at spending on our services (eps. the RN) as anything but a way to generally provide the basic’s.
The public are extremely naïve about our services. With all the media hype they have a confused and usually overinflated view of our capabilities. If an issue occurred, say China’s South China Sea causing the USA to focus away from Europe, the public would expect our services to be able to deal with any Russian opportunism.
Can 8xT26 and 6x D46 and some T31’s do anything to curb Russian thought’s.
More to the point, what would be up against if we were dealing with Russia by ourselves?
A reasonable assumption is that if our US college’s where otherwise engaged, a Russian adventure to the West would involve their naval forces. Their forces do not match the NATO forces, even without the US, but saturation fast AS missile attacks from the Russians can be guaranteed
Their objective is simple, cause ship casualties where counties only have small numbers of warships and those counties will want to pull out of the hostilities. Divide and… etc.
One opportunity we have at this very time is the T26/T31 frigates.
The T31’s need not be a whole new designed vessel; a better option would be to use the same hull as the T26 and simply put less equipment on it, and even less ammunition (missile rounds are not cheap).
So long as the time consuming wiring is in place, massive savings can be made by adding only one flavor of offensive weapon to each vessel – anti sub equipment or air defense.
The only thing not to leave out would be the main gun and 2x CIWS.
The reason this would be beneficial is a simple one of numbers and maintenance.
– Numbers are important to ensure the cost per hull is reduced (the more you make the cheaper they become (to a point – can an accountant please calculate the number of hulls that is the most cost effective to build?)
– The T26 fleet could be maintained more cost effectively (instead of multiple types of spares).
– The lighter armed versions would be excellent training vessels for up and coming officers.
– Crewing for the light version would be very low due to less systems to run.
The best reason is political: come a materializing crisis, the previously omitted offensive systems could be attached in a short time. Cost effectively providing a larger pool of useful vessels.
It takes too long to build a warship – and production lines can not be easily/cheaply restarted for just a few (D46) – our only option is to have the vessels (light version) ready with min. crew for when the call comes.
Russia will not be a problem as long as the US forces are relevant and in Europe.
I’m sure no one but us is interested, so it’s back to my taxi driving.

chis73

Could a possible solution be a crash-build programme of a batch of new Type 23 GP frigates – say to the modernized standard with Artisan radar & Sea Ceptor. The design work is done; the supply-lines for the weapons systems & electronics are reasonably fresh due to the mid-life upgrade. The new-builds could eventually get Type 2087 sonar as a hand-me-down mid-life upgrade. Only major weapon that may immediately need replacing is the 4.5″ gun (this could be replaced by a BAe 5″ – though I would love it if the French 100mm CADAM II was also available – I’ve always it was a good match for a GP frigate). Keeps the yards on the Clyde employed in the short-term. The Type 23 propulsion system is still pretty good and reliable. Type 31 to follow-on in due course (rather than attempting to rush it, and ending up with a new Type 21). Type 26 to carry on when it’s ready

Jamie100

Most of the comments are wishful thinking, to get more than 30 ships is highly unlikely let alone 40. Realistically (My opinion) the best option for the future of the royal navy (by 2030) would be to have the current 6 T45 as well as 6 T26 which would have a primary role of defending the carriers. By cutting the T26 to 6 hulls would save enough money to potentially fund more T31. The 6 T45 and 6 T26 would only be tasked with protecting the carriers, using the 1/3’s rule there would always be 4 in active service, 4 in training and 4 in maintenance. That means a carrier group would always be available 365 days a year and the escorts required would not be under constant strain if they had more than one task. In an emergency situation 8 of the total 12 escorts could be used to form two carrier groups with support from T31 if absolutely necessary.
The T31 would have the ability to cover all the roles required of a royal navy surface combat ship. The money saved from cutting the T26 from 8 to 6, as well as using off the shelf parts and using an extended version of the river class patrol ship to around 120m would hopefully allow the cost of the T31 to remain below £400million.
The T31 could have an armament of:
-Main gun (76mm up to 5inch depending on cost)
-36 Sea ceptor VLS missiles
-16 strike length VLS (8 LRASM/ 8 ARSOC)
-Various small arms currently used on OPV’s
-Sea spear (Littoral missions)
The sonar, radar and sensors could all be off the shelf parts from any ship using them in the RN.
The T31 would be able to defend itself from key threats whilst also retaining a powerful offensive capability, It would essentially be a modern type 23.
Royal navy 2030:
6x T45 (Carrier defence only)
6x T26 (Carrier defence only)
10x T31 (General purpose)
8-10x OPV (Anti drugs, counter piracy etc)
The OPV’s would relieve strain on the T31 so it can carry out more high threat mission in greater numbers whilst the dedicated carrier escorts means that the RN will always be able to use their primary asset, the aircraft carriers.
This is in my opinion the best option for the RN because lets be honest the chances of having 40 major surface combatants are ridiculously unlikely. The future of the royal navy will be 2 carrier groups, some patrol ships for anti drugs/ piracy/ fishery protection and if we’re lucky some frigates that are well armed enough to perform every role in between.