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The biggest problem for the UK are the politicos. Generally these are unversed in the complex world of defence and tech and are supported in their meanderings by the hopelessly inflexible treasury. We also need an industrial policy. We could take a leaf from the French and indeed most other countries who dont sell off anything of use to our future beyond the next election ahead. The NSSBP or whatever is the first such plan since since the ’60s and deserves to be followed through on in other fields.
So yes the Type 32 is a necessary step in developing a plan for the future of Naval Shipbuilding in the UK.


“The NSSBP or whatever is the first such plan since since the ’60s and deserves to be followed through on in other fields.”

Except it isn’t. You might wish to look up the 2006 Maritime Industrial Strategy, developed by that nice Lord Drayson and his tame (and comically named) Rand consultant Hans Pung. Which led directly to the BAES ToBA among other things……


Maybe a solution would be, if far from ideal, to have them as smaller sloops that would be a combination of both the future MCMVs and the Type 32s? The Type 32 is meant to in part fulfill the same role anyway, so having a number (there are supposed to be upto 4 MCMVs as part of procurement plans, hopefully a combination would mean more) of light frigates/corvette/sloops in one class should lessen costs in development and such. It wouldn’t increase the RN’s fleet numbers after all the other MCMVs are decommissioned, but would increase capabilities.

Last edited 1 year ago by HMS_Yankee

Building more T31s is clearly the best way to stop the bleeding. A second batch of 5 would go a long way towards curing what ails the RN. From there a small frigate or heavy corvette (updated “Black Swan Sloop of War” concept) should be built to flesh out the numbers in the surface fleet.


I’d lay decent money that the reason there is uncertainty about it is simply because the requirement is uncertain – as demonstrated by the article and some of the posts. What that means is that when the high-level long term budgets are being set, the risk provision assigned to that uncertainty is high and therefore the ship becomes “unaffordable” – although what that actually means is that the programme will not fit below an assumed budget line over the assumed years of the programme.

In practice what that means is that the RN has been told to get a better grip on the requirement and the ship stays in concept phase until it does.

You only have to look at some of the points made above to understand that no-one really has a grip on what it should be.

  1. A follow-on T31 order. Perfectly feasible, but in effect buying an already 20 year old design which will have limited flexibility to adapt to future demands of weapon systems and indeed energy supplies. And it upsets the armchair admirals.
  2. “Black Swan” sloops. Put forward by people who do not seem to understand that the “Black Swan” concept was simply a position paper generated by a bunch of dabbers with a bit of support from NDP or possibly Dstl. You only have to look at the “Detailed Specification” here : ARCHIVED – Annex A to JCN 1/12, Future ‘Black Swan’ Class Sloop-of-War: Group System – ARCHIVED – NOT REPLACED ( to understand the level of detail derived. It was not real then and it is not real now.
  3. Adaptable Strike Frigates. A BAES concept derived in-house, based on public speculation on what T32 might actually be. Nothing more, nothing less and certainly not – as yet – a design.

The truth is, no-one is yet sure what is required. The uncrewed lobby are hard over that T32 will be stuffed full of uncrewed vehicles that will allow it to be flexible, cheap, lean-manned and all sorts of other magical things. However, the actual use and associated limitations of real uncrewed systems are as yet unproven. As are some of the more aspirational things that Navy X and NCHQ want to do. No harm in trying them – quite the opposite – but basing future platforms on the assumption (as opposed to evidence) that these will work seamlessly is asking for trouble. As LCS demonstrated in spades.

Ask yourself the question why Patrick Blackett is still sitting in 2 basin in Portsmouth and has not put to sea since the delivery voyage. Magical thinking once again.

Then there’s the timeline. It does not take five years to build a surface combatant-style ship – at least not for a competent shipyard. The reason we’re currently taking this long in the UK is because one shipyard is currently constrained in throughput – manpower, process and capacity – and the other is learning how to build ships from scratch.

The Scottish shipbuilding lobby will wail and gnash their teeth, but that’s what they do from opening their eyes every morning anyway – so best to ignore them. Someone is continually briefing the Times stable at the minute – and that someone most likely has an agenda.

This is a calm-down dear moment. Absolutely the worst thing that the RN could do would be push ahead regardless with an unclear, unbounded requirement, “just to get some ships”. Because here’s the thing – there’s a bunch of people in the MoD who are paid to test the validity of requirements and when you take a submission to the IAC you had better have them weighed off. They don’t take kindly to logic that says “need another ship because numbers”.

Paul Bestwick

Regarding the 20 year old design, how old is the T-26 design we appear to be building for at least the next 10 years. A period that will coincide with when these ships are supposed to be built.


About ten years younger than the Iver Huitfeld and at least specifically designed for the job. As opposed to being bought because Babcock followed DShips preference.


It’s a NEW design exactly fir RN requirements.
‘Based on’ doesn’t mean it’s 20 years old.

Anyway it’s the weapons sytems that count rather than the CAD-CAM meta files


Not according to the CAD files I’ve got….

As for the weapons systems, ha ha ha ha ha.


The Danish Navy’s Iver Huitfeldt (IH) class frigates are the parent design for the Arrowhead-140 product from which Type 31 is derived. Scantling plans (framing and dimensions) and Piping & Instrumentation Diagrams (P&IDs), compartment arrangements and the original 3D CAD model were all used as the starting point. The IH were based on the Absalon class, a design that dates from the late 1990s, conforming to Det Norske Veritas (DNV) ship rules.

Type 31 is designed to modern and more stringent Lloyd’s Register Naval Ship Rules, NATO ANEP-77 Naval Ship Code and the UK DEFSTAN 02-900 General Naval Standard.”

The improvements include increased compartmentalisation and watertight subdivision which are a vital aid to stability and recoverability in the event of sustaining damage. Greater redundancy – ie duplication of systems to provide backup and reversionary modes. Blast protection in the form of composite armour to protect vital areas of the ship. Enhanced shock resilience to ensure critical systems remains working in the event of the ship being hit….. etc

Theres also a long list of RN software and sensor systems being used, the key ingredient for what ever gun-missile-chopper which is added.

As I said updated to RNs own requirements. The hull form from decades back is unimportatnt in this context


My dear chap. For the umpteenth time, the internet is not knowledge.

Look up IACS. Then look up the Naval Ship Code and indeed DS02-900.

What the internet hasn’t told you is that what you think are fundamental changes are in fact detail or indeed changes in interpretation of standards. They do not actually alter the design in any meaningful way. It is still the same hullform, scantlings and primary compartmentation of the parent.

You still don’t understand this stuff.


Are you saying Navy lookout is printing garbage ?

if you read the link they explain it and include the provisios you mention…. ‘hullform, scantlings and primary compartmentation of the parent’

Froude and son was testing hull forms for the RN Haslar since 1860s .
Some science based engineering is timeless and a decade or two back is nothing when the current requirements are the same – especially as the years and $$$ spent in doing it from scratch is no real advance.
Aviation is full of old plane designs which have been updated where it counts , think B737 over 50 years ago, A320 over 40 years ago, 777 30 yrs ago.
Lots of major systems are newer , but the wing shapes and fuselages are timeless


Navy Lookout prints what its contacts tell them. Those contacts tend to put something of a spin on what they say.

Incidentally – the actual reference to hullforms, scantlings and primary compartmentation is to using it as a start point. If you understand what they’ve done, you also understand that it hasn’t actually changed in any meaningful way. It’s all detail changes – the fundamentals of the design are unaltered.

Testing hullforms is also not the same as designing hullforms – and more pertinently, being truly able to arrange your ship in a manner that suits its use – as opposed to being constrained by the envelope. Hullform design does not take years nor significant expense. Unless of course you don’t know what you’re doing……

John Charles

A little harsh of N-a-B, however the information in that article came direct from Babcock and needs to be interpreted in that context.

You can download the original paper here


Good luck trying to get people on here to accept that you actually need to justify that a class has a high priority need to fulfil and does it in a VFM way. There is a Hugh crowd the thinks the First Sea Lord should just order extra T31 a “threaten to resign” if he doesn’t get his way. Some of the people have a weak grip on reality.


And actually why not build another batch of T31. If the key issue and constraint is numbers of deployable escorts and there is a fixed budget then buying the most cost effective design is logical. Sometimes you can overthink yourself into a hole and all in all defence procurement has some great examples of that.


Maybe, but to get them funded it needs to be shown that there is a roll for them and they are the best way to meet it.


Ah , the old treasury mantra of zero based funding …..because that way has worked before and ‘less is more’ is the catchcry for the time and money wasters in the financial bureaucracy


Well the problem with that and military spending is that actually there is very little role for most things until you need them. A good portion of military spending is related to perceived risk not role. After all if we are looking at actual role, all we really need is a few patrol craft for constabulary work, and maybe a couple of large auxiliary vessels for disaster relief. There is no real role for the CASD, most of the world is very happy without it…most of the world don’t have strike carriers or SSNs…go down the what is their role and actually in regards to the military we could say well very little let’s get rid if it…unfortunately when you need it you needed it…so it’s not really a question of role but management of risk.

As for why we need the extra 5 hulls…before the 2010 slash and burn we need savings over everything…it had always been clear that our minimum risk threshold was for 24 escorts….so actually that’s’s not about’s about risk threshold…”role” is a trap for the military, almost everything should be described and evaluated on risk.


And before 2010, our minimum risk threshold was 32 (1994) or was it 35 (1990) or was it about 40 (1987) or 55 (1982)? Such a puzzle.

What you’re actually describing is the “requirement” – which is set by national policy. Our national policy requirement is to maintain a minimum credible nuclear deterrent, which multiple operational analyses and cost-benefit studies have determined is best delivered by a number of submarines providing CASD, which also requires MCM capability and ASW capability.

Our national policy is also to be able to contribute significant maritime power able to conduct a scale of interventions, either alone, as part of a coalition or as part of NATO. Which means we need Carrier Strike, some form of amphibious force and associated escort and support shipping.

Our national policy also requires conduct of presence and constabulary operations worldwide, which is why we have (currently) longer ranged patrol ships and idc T31.

Were our national policy to be limited to for example, defence of the UK EEZ, we’d probably only have OPVs, MCM and some SSK.


yes it is set by policy but the policy is fundamentally set by the perception of risk to the national interest and how much we wish to spend mitigating that risk vs that risk.

pre the fall of the USSR the risk perception was of an immediate existential threat to our nation..with a very specific navel threat.

going back to the early 70s, 60s and 50s we had unstable post imperial well as the soviet risk.

1982 is a very classic example of this, the 1981 white paper was effectively the death sentence for the RN being a global blue water navy…as the risk perception had moved from managing the risks of the post imperial decline to the the risk of the soviet navy in the North Atlantic. But the actualisation of one of those post imperial risks…the invasion of the falklands totally changed the perception of risk and the RN was maintained as a global blue water navy.

So generally from 1990 onward our escort numbers and the shape of the navy responded to an ever reducing national risk…as well as each escort becoming more capable ( in the 50s we had air direction frigates, that need was lost with increase capabilities in escorts. Will anyone argue that that at Type 26 is anything other that a far better AAW asset than 50,a dedicated AAW asset like the T42).

The issue with our present escort numbers is from around 2000, the risk perception changed to an ever increasing risk, Russia was playing the imperial game, China was winning a mercantile war with the west. Then we had the 2010 economic crash…the 2010 defence review happened not as a response to increased military risk but to as an economic tool. The reduction to 19 hulls was a policy not based on amelioration of the risk, but on financial savings, that’s why they navy made it very very clear 24 was the number of hulls needed to manage all the risks.

CASD is national policy not because we feel we need to have a capability to destroy another nation. It’s because we have a perception of a risk that our nation may be the victim of nuclear blackmail or attack. It’s a risk mitigation nothing more nothing less. Most nations in the west have chosen US promise of protection as their mitigation.

As for the T31, I don’t disagree the argument around needing them for some form of constabulary role is weak…constabulary roles require no more than minimum armament 30mm, and the tools ribs, boarders, rotor. The T31 was all about escort hull numbers not being adequately sustained for the risk and therefore the roles the RN has as part of policy. The T32 just re-enforces that 24 was the number of escort hulls needed.

not to get into is the whole are the T31 adequate escorts discussion ( I would always want to see our warships as well equipped as they could be) ….but the simple fact is they are escorts, a 6000 tonne hull but to RN standards with a significant gun armament and AAW capability is an escort and not a constabulary ship. We may have under armed them due to treasury decisions but that’s a different question. But for most of the 20c the RN was very happy with a large mix of different hulls and levels of capabilities….and was happy to have a lot of frigates that had far less self defence capability than a T31, SeaCat was after all nothing more than a missile analogue of a 40mm and than an a few light guns was pretty much it for a lot of frigates ( if the Type 31 gets 32 CAMM with is 57mm, 40mm, 40mm gun fit it’s got a lot more self protection that a lot of frigates on the worlds oceans and a hell of a lot more that the ships in 1982).

The reality is that the perception of risk around both Russia and China has massively increased ( to the point you could say that a military conflict within a decade with one or both is likely). I’m hoping policy responds to that and we see an up arming of our presents escort fleet ( especially around surface strike) as well as a plan to return to what was by any standard always an admitted minimum need to manage the risk, 24 escort hulls.

But if we wishes we could step away and reduce those risks in other ways…becoming a less active nation…which would mean we needed less of a navy. Personally I think that would significantly increase other risks and we would need a massive change in foreign policy, which would be foolish as we have world wide in built risks ( our territories) as well as a set of risks built up from our historical foreign policy and the risk of a uni polar world in which China was the power is not a great thought. Also I don’t think the risk from Russia would go away even if we walked away from the international stage and became neutral ( even Sweden now thinks that’s a bad idea).

But the idea that each warship needs to evidence its role to the treasury is bonkers, which is what I was responding to from the poster above. The risk should be assessed, policy should be agreed and show how we manage that risk at a high level, the RN should then plan the type of hulls it needs…on the risks it’s asked to manage via the policy …it should be risk and service lead, not treasury lead…unfortunately in a lot of cases the treasury seem to be the main drivers of the risk assessment, policy writing and then a veto on decide how it’s implemented.


The people tasked with controlling the money will always be in charge. The U.K. system puts HMT in charge of every departments spending as a way of controlling total government spending.


Unfortunately very true, does not make it the best way to do it though especially with the treasury focus on in year spend over any form of longer term fiscal strategy…..since we now have a separate monetary policy, which is really the only way to get the treasury to have a strategic view it’s become myopic in its purpose and vision.


Nope. You still don’t get how it works. The “risk” part of which you speak is not Treasury driven. It is campaign level operational analysis – including some quite surprising and innovative threats. None of which are produced or overseen by HMT.


But fundamentally who in the end sets the annual budget of the MOD ?, The MOD and RN do not set the budget the treasury does. So yes at an operational level the RN will analysis and manage the risk. But over laying that the final arbiter of how much resource the RN has to manage those operational risks is the treasury.

Supportive Bloke

The security review will set out the threats.

RN has to plan to deal with those relevant to it from its budget(s).

It is up to RN how it spends its allocated budget. Sure it is tested by HMT but HMT don’t control it beyond making sure things stack up.

Where it gets a bit greyer is with things like QEC and Subs where the budgets are not run through MOD.

Whilst I will moan about HMT the issue is more the Treasury accounting rules than about the micro management.


Im not in any way saying the treasury micro manage, but in the end the treasury set fiscal policy, fiscal policy tells the RN what resource it has in any given year. Therefore fundamental the treasury set the pace of how well the RN can manage its risks.

People profoundly underestimate how impactful fiscal policy is on risk management across the public sector especially in areas that have fluctuations in risk and risks that may never be realised.


The budgets for QEC and SDA are run through MoD and always have been.

Supportive Bloke

They go/went through but they have a different process. Major Projects Authority?


Not quite. The MPA is an assurance function with the power to query. It doesn’t control the budgets.


The Integrated Review was supposed to be an assessment of risk. But it tried to cover everything with little sense of priorities apart from Russia being the biggest threat, a judgement that was then almost lost sight of. As a result, the subsequent Defence Command Paper lacked focus and coherence.
There was obviously an ambition to do more- littoral support groups,tilt to the Pacific- but no real sense of what is needed most.
The locked in commitment to 2 aircraft carriers has cost @£16b. But these will deliver only a token capability unless large additional funds are spent on more aircraft. And this token capability will need a large part of the surface fleet to protect it.
We have forward based the originally unwanted B2s at a low operational cost. The published plan is to replace or augment these with the T31. Why? If the B2s are up to the task over the next few years, why replace them? This plan means that the T31 s will generally not be available for escort duties ( their armament fit makes them unsuitable anyway). So we will have at best 6 AAW and 8 ASW platforms to escort both CSG and LSGs.
The biggest threat, nuclear and conventional, is indeed Russia. So we need CASD, enough ASW capability to counter their submarine fleet and the means of protecting undersea assets. Everything else is a matter of choice. First steps have already been taken to protect undersea cables. To counter the submarine threat, any new ship should prioritise ASW.

Supportive Bloke

In that I think you are correct.

Overthinking is a big risk: sometimes keep moving is a better business decision.

Everyone agrees the surface fleet is too small.

If the remaining 17 platforms are thrashed to death, as is the risk if numbers don’t grow soon, then very expensive platforms like T26 & T45 will need to be replaced earlier due to simple wear and tear.

So it is actually a spend to save moment.

T31 is adaptable enough to cover off a wide range of roles the only one it can’t do is NGFS as it has a 57mm.


Indeed sometimes perfection is the enemy of enough.


I’m not sure we can actually make a case for significantly increased numbers at this point. “Everyone knows” we need more ships is not a million miles from “everyone knows we need more tanks and infantry”. But I’m not entirely sure what all these tanks and infantry are supposed to do.

To the numbers game, what is actually required is a significant uplift in the maintenance and ILS budgets, such that the ships we do have are properly supported. Half the ships in non-fleet time are there because there are insufficient crew/spares/refit staff/cash to meet the support requirements.

Supportive Bloke

Oh, I think the 24 surface fleet number has broad cross party support and MOD buy in.

Whilst the crew / spares thing will take a while to fix. the fix is permeating through the works.

I do think the real argument for going to a surface fleet if 24 is that it spares the very expensive top end ships (T26 & T45) hull life and it is probably a lot cheaper than accelerating their demise and building new high end escorts.

That is a financial argument that almost certainly stacks up.

Last edited 1 year ago by Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke

The other point which is not getting any air time is that the B2 Rivers are not that big and don’t have the crew facilities, like a really good gym, and social spaces that the larger types have built in.

So the reasoning behind T32 and T31 replacing Rivers overseas has a lot to do with crew retention: which is relevant to the equation as well.


I agree this is a calm-down-dear moment; at least let’s wait until the end of the concept phase before rending our clothes and wailing over the grave of the T32. Concept first, preliminary design after, prolonged competition next, cancellation after that. We have to garner as many bidders’ computer-generated pictures as we can. And we are losing out to the Russians on the number of exhibition scale models crafted per year.

However… this bunch of people in the MOD who test the validity of requirements, did they all take the month off before the Ajax contract went through? The argument “we need ships because numbers” is exactly the logic behind the T31, or we’d have 10 T26s on order and no T31s at all. The Navy demanded more hulls, and the Treasury saw less up-front spend and thought, why not? I’m starting to think that’s exactly the level of the Treasury’s validation. The requirements for the T31 were far less rigorous than for previous projects and the details were, to a large extent, filled in by the bidders. Result, all looking good so far. Ajax requirements were detailed by the Army beyond reason. Result, best not to dwell. Any bets on whether that’s going to swing back in Ajax favour?

As a trainee armchair admiral, I think a spirally upgraded T31 B2 seems perfectly good, depending on what comes out of Concept, and far from upsetting. Of course everything has limits on adaptation, but the GP Type 31 is more adapatable than most. Its mum is AAW and its gran just took a job in ASW; I’m sure it can do a bit of drone hauling. I also don’t see energy as an issue. The MTU 8000 series can produce a fair bit more oomph than the M71. The four Series 2000 engines, which I’m guessing are there for hotel power, could similarly substitute in a more powerful version if necessary, couldn’t they? If I’m wrong on that (as I have been on many other things), I’d be curious to know why.


I must be missing something. There is a requirement for Ajax -armoured reconnaissance. That the solution has issues is a different thing, some of which accrue from clagging secondary and tertiary requirements onto it.

There isn’t really that same clarity with T32. The T31 was hung on numbers, but at least traceable to the “GP” capability. I was considering a post on how T31 came about, but it would actually be an essay, going back to 1996 and I’m not sure I can be fussed.

Incidentally, just because a ship has an SM2 capability or a sister is subsequently called an ASW ship does not make it so.


Yes, I suppose there is still a question mark over whether more GP frigates are operationally needed or affordable, and that’s a different question as to whether we need to build more ships to keep up industry capability and provide some level of competition to BAES. Squaring the circle is why Parker wanted the GP flogged off and replaced mid-life.

You have me fascinated now as to the hidden history behind the Type 31. I hope you can be fussed.


There is a requirement for formation reconnaissance not a 40 ton tracked vehicle.

If you expect precision from others be precise yourself.


The very point I was making….

Supportive Bloke

Very nicely expressed as always


Another big issue I see on the table of the article is,

If the original plan goes ahead, there are no escorts to build after 2040, until T31 and T26 replacement which will come around 2055.

That huge “gap” will dry out BOTH Babcock Rosyth and BAES Clyde on 2040. Big disaster.

I’m afraid “5 T31 by 2025” and “T83 by 2038” plans are just running into bigger problem, which cannot be solved. Slowing down the plan now, by ~10 years, looks very logical.


Thanks for laying out how the evaluation and review process for NAO works, it wasn’t something that I was familiar with. Based upon that, it does seem to be a bit of a storm in a tea cup. That said, the vocab and rhetoric used by NAO seems to be a bit sensational- is that by intent? I can’t help feeling it adds a lot of negative pressure on things that doesn’t need to be there. I work in projects, of a reasonable size, and I can fully appreciate that you need to have sufficient clarity on scope and spec in order to say that the costs are sufficiently accurate- until then the project remains “unaffordable” due to the risks to cost. But we have a different framework to describing that, to make it a distinct situation to a project that is genuinely unaffordable once scope and spec have been properly clarified. Just seems a bit unecessary, but maybe that’s just me.
I agree that there isn’t enough clarity on what is required from T32 to justify commitment at this point in time- aside from it being desirable for maintaining sovereign capability (not enoguh on its own, obviously). Expanding the fleet is also a reasonable goal (assuming there’ll be enough sailors to crew the vessels), but that rests on what roles are gapped/strained with our current structure. But obviously needs to be expanded with the right set of functions.
Do you reckon it’s not worth building T32 as “B2 T31s” then? It’ll obviously be a boon for our shipbuilding design to go for something new (like T26 has been), but I thought it might still have some legs. I was thinking of an order to maintain shipbuilding, but potentially selling B1 T31s to allies and not increasing the fleet size. I remember it being talked about at one point, but don’t know how realistic that is.


The NAO has absolutely no approval function in any of this. It is purely an auditing body.

The idea of selling off ships early and building more to keep a shipbuilding industry going is fine in theory. Unfortunately for its supporters, there’s this thing called reality.

In order for the idea to work, a number of things have to align.

  1. You have to have customers for your cast-offs and those customers must be prepared to pay a price that makes the sell/”build new” trade-off work. Ships that suit the RN tend to be big and fairly complex, which means their customers have to have a requirement for similar ships. That limits the customer base straight away. Within that subset of customers, you also tend to find that they have their own shipbuilding industries that they’d like to protect / grow, so buying second-hand ships is probably out for them – and certainly not at the sort of price point we’d need. The RN (and the USN and the Dutch) managed to offload a number of DD/FF post-cold war, but you have to remember that these were essentially replacing WW2/1950s hand me downs in 2nd and 3rd tier navies and that the sellers were perfectly happy to get rid of them at knock down prices to get them off the books.
  2. When you go to the IAC with your wacky idea to sell newish ships and replace them with new builds, you’ll have to answer three questions –

(a) Do you need to build new ships now or can you run them on for longer?
(b) Do you need any new money to make this work?
(c) What quantifiable benefit do I get for this extra dosh?

The answer to (a) is by definition “no – I can run them for longer”. At this point, unless the answer to (b) is “no – or at least not very much at all” you are already on a sticky wicket – and the answer to that depends on 1 above, which as discussed doesn’t usually recoup much money for HMT. Given that this means you need to make a lot of quantifiable benefit to answer (c), you can begin to see the flaw in the plan.


We’ve discussed this before and anybody who thinks the answer to question a) is “no by definition” shouldn’t be allowed within a hundred miles of that room.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jon

No. It’s perfectly logical. The proposition is that we take ships halfway through their design lives and sell them on. The term “halfway through their lives” by definition means that they don’t have to be replaced at this point.

As a taxpayer, I’d expect someone to ask those difficult questions. That we may not like the answers is a different problem. There’s a finite capital budget and priority calls have to be made. It is no different whatsoever to any capital investment business case made in industry.


Maximum designed life isn’t necessarily most economic life. Nobody bats an eyelid if a car fleet manager replaces cars before they are on their last legs. It’s accepted that it’s beneficial to do so. Standard practice. Why then shouldn’t the question at least be examined with regards to ship fleet management?

The problem is the question as posed begs the question. It contains the inherent assumption that if you can keep running the ship for the full design life it’s best to do so, but that’s what you in the room arguing against. If you accept the premise by accepting the question, you can’t discuss the very reason you are there. The question must be rejected for the absurdity it is.

An answer might be, “we aren’t here to discuss what we could do, but what we should do: what is best for the country. So can we look at the detailed figures in the package provided?”

Last edited 1 year ago by Jon

Can you name a western navy that doesn’t run it ships for their maximum design life? I can’t.
Why do you think they are all wrong and you are right?


The US. There’s 24 LCSs scheduled for early decommissioning this very year. And how many OHP frigates did they give away? But we aren’t other countries and just because another country does or doesn’t do it should have no bearing. Italy, Spain even the Netherlands, all have a strong commercial shipbuilding sector, which changes the equation. France and Germany both have a far stronger naval export record than we do. If we want to keep the security of shipbuilding skills in the UK it has to be supported by naval sales and this could be a valid way to achieve it.

I think the question should be examined. Why ask an expert like Sir John Parker to create a detailed review of National Shipbuilding and reject one of his recommendations without even testing its validity?


The LCS’s are a failed experiment, the OHP’s were part of the “Peace Dividend” and not replaced. We like the rest of the world don’t have tax payers money to wast on not getting the full value out of ships. The industry will need to size its escort building capacity to support a fleet of between 20 and 25 ships with a 30/35 year life.


Resize itself how? Even if we allow Rosyth, H&W and Appledore to go to the wall, how will get from where we are to where you want us to be? The contracts for the frigates are a done deal.

The National Shipbuilding Plan has us filling for a few years in the latter half of the 2030s with OPVs and possibly an Ice-Patrol ship, then we start building Frigates again in 2043. With the current delays and T83s built at the T26 B2 rate, I’d expect the last T83 to be finished about 2042 anyway, so I think that would be fine, but it would mean the new frigates come into service in about 2050, 22 years after HMS Glasgow, so there would be early selling.

It’s worth looking at some of the alternatives if more money doesn’t arrive, because none of them are very palatable. Ask yourself which wastes the least money on a lifetime cost basis; it all comes out of our taxes.

1/ We can build at an economic rate without early selling, risk running out of work and, as Donald pointed out, likely let our shipyards die. We can always buy subsequently from abroad.

2/ We can build at an economic rate without early selling, let our shipyards all but die, but revive them again after a decade or so. This is Denmark’s “solution” and they are about to put in 40bn Kroner (about £4.75bn) to kickstart their industry again. We did this with submarines and found it extremely difficult and not to our taste.

3/ We can build at a slow uneconomic rate. The second Osbourn solution. It costs us 50% on top directly and we have to engage in the Lifex of old ships when the new ones don’t turn up for a decade or more. It could be managed better than it has been with the T26, but it’s always going to be expensive. Without early selling, the stretching of the destroyer build might be kept down to something similar to the T26 B1 with an OPV filler like last time. Of course they’ll then want to build fewer than six, unit costs go up further and the Navy shrinks some more. The alternative is stretching six cheaper Type 4Xs instead, which might come in at under £1.5bn a piece.

4/ We can build at an economic rate with early selling and just keep building. We’d probably pay a similar amount to option 3 (the 6 ship version) because larger batch sizes reduce the unit costs as does continuous production, but we’d end up with 50% or 60% more ships than we can afford to operate and have the opportunity to sell them to recoup some of the money. We can try to sell the new ones, but as N-a-B pointed out, people who can afford our ships new typically want to build them for themselves, maybe some Middle-Eastern country if we get lucky. We can sell them second hand, and we get the advantage of reduced operating & maintenance costs and also higher availability over keeping the old ones for thirty-plus years. My preferred solution short of getting in more money. It’s in agreement with the National Shipbuilding Strategy and I think it’s the best way to kickstart UK-built exports.

5/ We can enter a partnership with someone else; they build stuff for us that we can’t and in exchange we build ships of equal value for them. This one is really hard to arrange. Perhaps Poland can build us next-gen tanks in the 2040s and we can sell them more ships. I wouldn’t mind this solution either but it’s politically very difficult for both countries.

6/ We return to escort building by a monopoly supplier who can charge what it wants and whose skills are allowed to atrophy because why invest when you are a monopoly? Which is where we were eight years ago and we didn’t like that one either. This seems to be your preferred solution, allowing industry to contract and throwing away the Shipbuilding Strategy. But we’d still either have to entertain early selling to get into the right rhythm, or crash in the 2040s and build inefficiently in the 2050s, which will be far more expensive than early sales. By the time we’d right-sized on escort builds it probably wouldn’t be the right size anymore and there’d be carriers to think about.

7/ Find a new naval requirement in the 2040s, possibly autonomous to keep operating costs down.

8/ Stick our collective head in a bucket and sing Jerusalem very loudly until the problem goes away.

I’m sure there are others but they are all a bit naff.


You know they are not getting rid of the LCS, right? They are, at least in part, replacing 9 Freedom class ships with 6 new ones, because it’s cheaper than fixing the old ones. They did the maths and decided opening up the side of a ship to replace some guts, having it out of service for many months was more expensive than keeping the production line going and just decommisioning the older ones.

Whether the description of what they avoided reminds you of anything that happened recently in the UK when our ships had propulsion problems is neither here nor there. There can be multiple reasons to replace ships before their time with ships of the same class or a brand new class.

Whether the LCS was itself seen as a replacement for the OHP is debateable, and I’ll not argue the point. The Constellation frigate is certainly seen as a part replacement for the LCS.


As ATH notes, they’re getting rid of the LCS because they didn’t exactly work as a concept or indeed in practice. The OHP were chinned off (as were our T22) to reduce fleet costs, not with any expectation of revenue or replacement.

The fundamental problem of finding customers for cast-offs remains. As does the capital drain required to build new ships.

One might question whether SJP is in fact as expert as painted. The proposition of selling on ships was presented without any expose of the potential market, or price. As was the idea that distributed build was more efficient – as opposed to an expediency measure for QEC.

His major conclusion – that there should be a ring-fenced capital budget – remains unimplemented.


Yes. The ring-fenced budget would have been nice. But given all the reviews and re-reviews, I’m not sure it would have stood up to events.

Wasn’t the distributed build supposed to prop up all the shipyards to maintain shipbuilding capacity rather than be cheap and efficient? It’s been a while since I read it.

Maybe there’s a reason market exposure isn’t dwelt on.

If we build 60% more ships for the same money as a slow build, and have even a chance of getting some of that money back, it’s better than having no chance as you would have with the slow build. It also encourages the shipyards to be more efficient, increasing the possibility of exports. If neither happens you’ve still lost nothing over the slow build solution. What market exposure?

They cost around the same amount so the capital drain will be the similar too. What about annual spend, well if we are talking about the same spend over the same timeframes…

There are no guarantees and it hasn’t quite worked this way for the two T26 batches as there was a one year Covid delay in the first batch that wasn’t fully paid for and probably won’t be recovered. Nevertheless it’s indicative.

T26, batch 1. £3.9 bn, built over 11.5 years, 2017 to 2028.
T26, batch 2. £4.2 bn built over 10.5 years. 2023 to 2033.

Using T26 costs and T82 ship numbers/timings as illustrative.

  • Six ships would take 17 years with the T1 build rate, maybe £7.5bn. We get the ships in 17 years, say 2032 to 2049.
  • Ten ships would take 18 years with the T2 build rate, maybe £8bn, also taking us out to 2049, but we get the first 6 ships in 12 years, say 2031 to 2042, saving on 5 years of T45 Lifex.

If you discount the 2017 to 2023 inflation at 20%, the fast build is much cheaper than the slow build, even including the extra ships, but T26-B2 doesn’t have an expensive lead ship with all manner of set up costs and has been bolstered by foreign sales, so it probably works out well enough that it’s worth working the numbers properly.


I don’t know why I said T82 instead of 83. Too many numbers.


Errr. Without the ring-fenced budget, the whole pretty 30-yr plan is just powerpoint.

You’re also assuming that extra ships for the same amount of money would be the preferred choice. Not so. If you’re suggesting that the number of ship to meet the requirement can be met with a smaller budget, then there will be a queue of other worthy causes round the block. New helicopters/MRSS/fixed-wing aircraft/MPA and that’s before the Crabs and the Brown jobs add their list.

Not entirely sure where the T45 Lifex has come from either.


Absolutely, the RN has no call on a fixed amount of the budget. Everything in defence (bar trident) is competition with everything else for funding.


Thats ridiculous. There should be a baseline funding.
You couldnt even run a school on the methods you suggest


Why wouldn’t extra ships for the same money not be a preferred option? What’s not to like? The extras are for selling (or mothballing or using for spare parts). Nobody’s suggesting the Navy operates all ten ships at once. They don’t have to work them up or even accept them if they don’t want to.

If the Navy doesn’t want them and nor does the MOD, I’ll happily flog off £4bn worth of free ships and keep the money myself!

A slow build of the Type 83 means there won’t be enough destroyers unless the Type 45s are extended to the end of the 2040s. I imagine 15 years extention of the OOS date would require Lifex.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jon
Supportive Bloke

Just because everyone does that doesn’t mean it is the correct or best solution.

There is also a point beyond which they are not very saleable at a decent ticket price.

Supportive Bloke

A very well reasoned response.

As we have seen with T23 LIFEX is super expensive and keeping an elderly platform running isn’t the best for equipment upgrades or crew.

There is also the issue of are RN better off with newer large flexible designs that are more appropriate to current needs.

At one level trying to second guess the future for 25-30yr design lives has inherent limitations.

So you end up with The Big Upgradable Ship like QEC and to a certain extent T31.

Somewhere in the lifecycle cost graph there is a cross over with running/refit/upgrade/crew retention costs with maintenance. That is a totally rational argument susceptible to a spreadsheet of the sort HMT/MOD can perfectly well understand.

T23 went beyond those parameters and that wasn’t clever. OK there was the absurd MOD/RN/BAE game of chicken which meant that plurality became important.


I fully appreciate the difficulties, I don’t mean to make light of them- it’s a hard sell in more ways than one!
I’d imagine that there may be some more interested takers in the Baltics given the current climate, potentially Ukraine (may be a bit too big, and they’d certainly need up-arming to operate in the Black Sea facing the Russian fleet), might NZ be interested in one or two? But the price would certainly need to be right for everyone.
But either way, whatever the solution is, the idea of putting all that investment into the shipyards and then not keeping them busy will not be good for anyone.
As you originally said though, sounds like this is just an update on the progress of the T32 design, rather than a final judgement on its viability- so nothing to worry about as long as the RN does things properly.


Poland is getting new build T31s of its own. It would seem that other nations would prefer that route as they get the customisable parts they want and a 30 year life rather than 15 years
After all the new price is super competitive to start with and designed to RN standards still means something


Maybe, although I must admit I still think there’s mileage in it; just because the RN would get rid of them in 30 years doesn’t mean that another nation would- especially if they just needed it for sailing around the Baltic or Black Sea a bit.
£250M built in the UK, maybe £200M built in Poland (I don’t think Lithuania or Estonia have shipyards suitable). Plus all the extra gear they may want (AShMs, maybe some level of ASW, bigger AAW fitout) £80-100M. That’s ~£300M. For a second hand T31, we may sell for between £125-150M, that’s a £50-75M saving per vessel. I could see countries going for that.


The blocks for the Iver Huitfeldt class were built in Estonia and Lithuania and shipped to Denmark for assembly and fit, so they may well have the shipyards since they already built the parent design.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jon

A long range 6000 ton frigate for small coast lines on the baltic countries like Estonia and Lithuania ?
Doesnt add up as their existing navy is small 500 t minelayers


To show the flag in US and participate in NATO exercises.

Rob Young

I would hope it will go ahead and not just be a further example of broken promises/short sighted economics. The RN is too small across the board; whether modified T31 or T32 more hulls are needed. The T32 programme was, frankly, a poor minimum in relation to defending the UK.

Paul Humphries

Surely any further 31s would come down in unit cost. Furnish them with 23 used kit too and that comes in at below half the price of a 32. Easy way out of this, at least financially.

Paul Humphries

Then buy more armour with the savings, which is probably where the next review is going.


Let the Germans defend Central Europe. They have spent enough time relying on others and getting their defence on the cheap. Our needs should be properly protecting our offshore infrastructure and the northern flank. That means we need more ASW assets and the ability to deploy more forces to the north.


And also to Australia, assuming that the UK is truly serious about AUKUS.

David Steeper

Australia is 7,448kms from China. The UK is 7,779 kms from China.
So presumably Australia can only demonstrate it’s seriousness by deploying forces to the UK to defend us against China.


One shares the same ocean . The other is the far end of the largest continent ..Europe- Asia

Geography is everything my friend. That’s why Ireland has practically non existent armed forces compared to say Denmark.


Didn’t you read last years Integrated Review? Tanks are obsolete don’t know know…. (That document aged well didn’t it!!!)


Didnt mention ‘tanks’ , except the think tank variety

Maybe I don’t look at the right “annex”


What “T23 used kit”?

DNA combat mgmt system? Oops, the ships are designed for Tacticos.
4.5″ gun? Redesign gunring, magazine, explosives safety case etc.
Sonar? Going on T26.
Radar? Does it integrate with Tacticos?
Outfit UAT RESM? Does that fit – and integrate with Tacticos?

That’s before we get to whether those items are actually supportable for a further 25+ years…..

Or are you thinking life-expired Gas Turbines on a diesel-only ship? Gearboxes with input speeds in the thousands of rpm for diesels with output speeds in the hundreds?


There has to be a couple of GPMGs that could be swapped over.

Supportive Bloke

Now your talking!



Nah a Mk38 25mm MG stabilised and EO directed mount

This what they look now with all the bells and whistles

USS Oscar Austin

Last edited 1 year ago by Duker

The most sensible thing to do to ‘add mass’ would be to build more T26s which will actually be capable of escorting an LSG / CSG and which will get cheaper because the R&D will be amortised over more hulls. If not that then a few more T31s. Spending R&D money on another class creates cost (and risk) and long term prevents training commonality and spares commonality etc.


What if we did both? 4 more T31s at £250 million. So £1billion. To make 9 T31s in total. Plus an extra T26 at £840 million (current batch 2 pricing).

This would in the end give a fleet of 24 escorts: 6 x T45 + 9 x T26 + 9x T31 for £1.84 billion (although I know there would need to be more gov supplied kit added to the 4 extra T31s to make them that price). And the cost spread out possibly longer than with T32, and the work spread across 2 yards.

Compare this to 5 T32s for £2.5 billion (albeit with inflation factored in) with currently unknown R&D costs and any other overruns from a novel design.

I know building another T26 could impact the beginning of T83 construction, but there appears to be a bit of a gap in the projections there anyway. Plus, you’re not telling me that the contract for T83 will actually be signed on the current timeline and with no delays…


I guess it’s a question of what does the T31s or T32s do? They can do Armilla patrol / patrols in the Gulf, but what else. T26 can patrol the GIUK gap, can escort CSG and LSG and other NATO members CSGs. The big risk remains Russian Submarines, and therefore ASW platforms are more useful.

That said what you are saying is reasonable. Maybe 3 T32s and 2 T26s


It is clear no one actually knows what is wanted of the proposed T32. Is it a General purpose frigate or something a bit more specialist? However what is really needed is numbers so they can be deployed to the hot spots. A second hull long term based in the Gulf (the MCM vessels are going so their presence needs replacing as they carry out general patrols as well). So ordering batch 2 of the T31 with perhaps some added kit such as ASW outfit and more hard hitting missiles would be the better option. A T31 has a much smaller crew need than a T23 so as they so then 2 new vessels can be crewed. Lets not forget that the RN has the highest separation figures equal to 2 years in 3 when the RAF has 4 months in 3 years, a bit leveling up needed then we as taxpayers may actually start to get some value for money too. The RN is still the top dog this side of the pond and often shows the US how is should be done. Lets hope Whitehall wakes up to their primary job – keeping us safe.


“On 29th January 2023, MP Kevan Jones asked a Parliamentary question”

News so hot, it’s from the future!


I am stunned anyone is surprised that Sunak is unwilling to properly fund defence.

Paul Bestwick

Let’s see what happens in the revision of the intergrated review. France putting up its defence budget by 30% will not have gone unnoticed and we have to keep up with the Bonapartes.


There are ways out of this that makes T32 possible.

make T26 the GCS it was always meant to be and replace T45 with this platform. Currently priced at £840m a copy this would come down even further.

The ASG is the way to go but needs to leverage the T31 investment and remain around £300-350m per copy. Possibly even adding a flex deck back into the design as per Absalon.

remove the need for chinook deck as it’s never used and space can go to a bigger mission bay.

we also need to consider the replacement for the MCM and Rivers and also the P2000s which are part of the mix.

its always a balance but 15no.T26 [C1: with upgraded AAW/ASW], 10no.T31 [C2: A140] 10no.T32’s [C3: ASG’s] and 25no.Blackett class X ships [P4X] would give a balance we have not had in years.

add in 15no. MRSS and we have a modern and capable RN. Spread over 25 years this is hardly fantasy fleet stuff and keeps the navy at a similar size as today, but far more capable and flexible.

Target drumbeat needs to be 3 surface ships per year and 1 sub every 2 years.

Paul Bestwick

Sorry do you really want to go down the path the Australians are in trying to in turning the T-26 into an all rounder? To do that properly the ship needs to bigger to take the big radar weights high in the ship. To go as big as needed to do AAW and ASuW I believe goes above the growth margins of the T-26. I expect the T-83 will be North of 10k tons and maybe significantly more if they go with two banks of Aster as opposed to the one on T-45.


Yeah but the Australians are weirdly trying to add a load extra weight to the smallest (ASW) baseline design of the three Type-26 hull form variants of increasing displacement that were designed (ASW, AAW and GP), the designs vary in displacement by nearly 2,000 tonnes!

Last edited 1 year ago by Watcherzero

Which magical hull form variants might these be?


The RN didn’t just withdraw the T32 from the 10 year equipment plan but also the MRSS. It is obvious that MRSS in some form will go ahead to replace platforms that will be time expired by the end of the decade. So it seems likely that the withdrawal means only that more detailed and better costed versions are being prepared.
It is a bit surprising that judging only from public statements. the RN does not seem to have a very clear idea of what it wants from the T32.


The RN is still at the stage of working out what it wants from the T32.
The odd bit is that these studies have a ship class number attached. For that you can thank BJ and his “team”. The number is just PR until a roll and a way to fulfil it have been approved.


I always thought that BAE would some way ensure a developed T32 based on T31 would be drowned at birth (of the concept)

There is no way BAE and it friends in MoD would allow a second warship builder to prosper in UK and interrupt the usual 10 year study-delay-procrastination cycles.
No siree


All political parties are only concerned about the short term 5 years they can’t think beyond that, if they are not going to gain any political points for something they decide while in power they are not bothered. Look at Challenger2 its over 20 years since they had a major upgrade now it’s fell behind its competitors. They would rather waste 50 billion on a train than the defence of the country. They need to seriously look at Russia that there is since mad men about.


That’s why our political system is not fit for purpose in the 21st century. It needs a radical overhaul to ensure long term planning is the foundation. The system belongs in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was useless by the mid 20th.

Supportive Bloke

I struggle with the logic expressed here

T31 has
-broken the BAE monopoly
-driven fast shipbuilding
-driven cheap shipbuilding
-enabled the fleet not to shrink
-shown the art of the possible
-shown NSBS is valid
-forced BAE to have a covered hall for efficiency

“ If the RN must be forced to choose between T31 and the Type 83 destroyer / ‘Future Anti-Air Warfare capability’ then T83 has to be the priority.”

Why? This ignores the issue of gapping production with skills and cost fade.

It also ignores the massive upgrade that T45 is getting to its radar, systems and missiles. Nobody is really saying T45 is obsolete, worn out, end of life yet?

Personally I’d rather see 3-5 more T31 procured, maybe with Mk41 VLS fitted but 8 canister launched would still be decent.

A class of 8 T31 would make sense in terms of training & commonality.


But then, I’m afraid BAES Clyde will be closed, Leaving Babcock Rosyth as a sole monopoly ship builder? As there is Rosyth, BAE can (happily) close Rosyth because the “UK capability to build escorts” will not disappear.

Supportive Bloke


T32 does not displace T83….

T32 ensure that T45 hull lives are not used up on constabulary duties.

T32 is potentially really quite cheap if it is anything like T31 IRL.

T32 program probably costs the same as 1-2 x T83 as it smells very expensive.

Last edited 1 year ago by Supportive Bloke

Because I think T32 will displace T83….

What ship will BAE Clyde build after 2036, when the last T26 gets delivered?


T83 program is already in very big danger of inefficiency.

The 1st T83 shall be delivered “2-3 years after the last T26” = around 2039. The last T83 shall be delivered to RN “2-3 years before the first T26-replacement” = 2026 + 30 years life minimum (likely 35 years) gives 2056 (or 2061). So, the last T83 shall be delivered on 2054 (2059).

So, T83 program shall cover delivery dates from 2039-2054 (or 2059). 15 (or 20) years for 5 ships delivery (after the 1st ship). If T83 is a fleet ot 6, it means 3 years drumbeat. Very inefficient. This is the default plan, as can be easily foreseen. (Better with 8 ships, for ~2 years drumbeat).

If there are any money, numbers of T83 must be increased. Another option is to increase 1 or 2 T26 to save the day (cheaper, ~£0.8-1.6B in 2023 cost), or yet another “5 OPVs” (which is inefficient).

In short, already BAES Clyde is nearly facing a gap. Prioritizing T32 over T83 will steal even more money and increase the gap.

This is my concern. Prioritizing T83 over T32 is very logical, I think.


Given the modern ship blocks building process, I dont know that that would be the case.
For faster production the same block for different ships is built some times in parallel, slightly staggered.

Build the blocks in series instead , especially at one yard like BAE uses and you could have 2.5 years each to give a 15 year period for 6 ships.

Already they are allowing for the T31 to have ‘technology inserts’ through their life, so that the ‘last 2’ of a 6 ship class build with have the updated tech when completed rather than the tech insert that will happen for the T31 ( to keep changes during build minimal)


They are planning to replace T26s early, with new frigates being built from the early 2040s. Whether that actually happens is open, but they are not planning a 3 year frequency for T83.


Just saying a 15 year build time for 6 ships is ‘possible’

Japan has 20 subs in service and has a continuous build process from 2 shipyards. Each class is an upgrade based on the previous class , but internal improvements happen more often

UK could have continous build if it committed to 20 plus destroyers and frigates . Also the T31 is ‘light’ enough in weapons systems to replace OPV, so it could be 25 surface combatants


Really?? In 2045, T26-hull1 has spent only 17-18 years from “being accepted into service, and 20 years from “being delivered to RN”. Decommissioning T26 with 20 years old? Never seen such argument, though? And, never believe it.

Note that T23 was to be decommissioned by 18 years old. What we see they are used until 36 years old. They can “say” anything. But, it does not come to reality, the disasterus 15-years gap will be reality.


Built from 2043, first steel cut and all that, not operational from. If the first ship is operational in 2050, that would be fast. That’s still 22 years after Glasgow is operational. That’s what the National Shipbuilding plan implies, athough it doesn’t go into the 2050s so it could easily be a year or two longer.

If you want to shout about the problem, that’s fair enough as long as you recognise there’s already a plan that avoids it. I understand that it’ll be novel. New things can happen.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jon

Don’t confuse the Type 31 programme with the T31 design. Lets check those claims.

T31 has :

-broken the BAE monopoly. No – breaking the BAES monopoly was a conscious HMG decision based on the extended game of chicken on T26, not the actual T31 design.

-driven fast shipbuilding. Yet to be proven – and actually no faster than T22/T42 which were significantly more complex ships. Some T23s were built in three and a bit years.

-driven cheap shipbuilding. Believe it when we see it delivered.

-enabled the fleet not to shrink. True

-shown the art of the possible. I’d suggest it shows the art of the desperate – “we’ve prevaricated so long in the game of chicken that our T23s are literally becoming uncertifiable. What’s the cheapest flavour of the month we can get off the shelf?” Bear in mind it could have been a Khareef-a-like, or indeed a MEKO.

-shown NSBS is valid. Again, tbc. The NSBS proselytised distributed build (which was arrant nonsense for smallish ships required to be cheap) and long-term ring-fenced capital budgets. None of that on T31 – to the surprise of no-one.

-forced BAE to have a covered hall for efficiency. They had a number of covered halls. They demolished one in Scotstoun because they didn’t want to do slipway launches again (and in fairness it was too small) and have three in Govan – although these again are too small. They’re doing that to get the batch 2 T26, not because of T31. Govan’s bigger problem is lack of space between the various fab sheds and the river.

As a stop-gap, time-critical solution to the hole the RN, BAES and the MoD had dug for themselves, the T31 design is probably the best they could have hoped for (jury still out). That doesn’t mean its the right answer for a follow-on class, simply because no-one has really worked out what they want it to do yet.

Type 83 has to be the priority. Not least because the Air/ASMD threat tends to be the one that evolves most rapidly and consequently threatens the performance validity of (very expensive) combat systems. Daring will be 30 by 2038, which is about when we need the first T83 to come in. Which probably means cutting steel in 2032/33. Which means the competition – and there should probably be one – needs to be within about the next 5 years. It’ll take a couple of years to conduct the post contract design assurance and detail activities, so need contract award circa 2029/2030.

Supportive Bloke

A beautiful analysis: very well and clearly expressed.

Always a pleasure to debate with someone who does facts so well.


Agree the Type 83 needs to be a priority, but that does not exclude or remove the need to increase hull numbers.

We the UK may struggle to design and procure two whole new escorts types ( Type 32 and Type 82) ready for building in the early 2030s. But we do have the industrial capacity, to build two escort types at the same time so running a second batch of type 31s is not mutually exclusive with developing and then building the T83.

So to not design and build the T82 and say go for a second batch of T31 would simply be a fiscal decision over effectively managing the risk of an unstable world and the need for at least 24 escorts. Yes 6 Type T83s will protect major assets in the case of a peer war, but let’s be honest they are going to spend most of their time stapled to a carrier, Amphibious groups or possibly if it’s required proving the key piece of a UK integrated air defence if there is a European war. The T26 although not as restricted in numbers are still again going to be stapled to the RNs larger warships most of the time. They will be to few to be a global presence for all the other Types of navel requirements that may need the RN. say evacuating personal from a third world nation suffering a civil war, meaningfully protecting shipping lanes from non peer state actors. So there is a need for a general purpose frigate in some form of numbers ( be that 10 or some number less than 10).

so we almost have four states:

1) Preferred outcome : the RN designs it’s T82, builds 6 and also designs it’s perfect GP frigate for the Mid 21c and gets a fleet of 24 ( which is what the RN leadership have always said they want).
2) sub optimal outcome the design and build the T82 as priority, build 6 and instead of designing an optimal GP frigate, build 5 more T31…still get the top end AAW needed and 24 hulls..the GP frigate is just a bit sub optimal…let’s be honest the RN until that last few of decades happily ran a lot of escorts more sub optimal than the T31 is likely to be and in some cases really poor escorts, especially from a self defence point of view.
3) unacceptable outcome. The RN designs and builds the T82 but does not design or even build anymore GP frigates…the very high end capabilities is maintained, but the escort fleet numbers is effectively only able to escort the carrier and Amphibious groups….
3) catastrophic outcome: the RN designs the T32 and build 5 and gaps the design of the T82, making the T45s work on until they are in their 4th decade. Numbers remain but the ability to deploy an effective AAW screen to high end assets is lost just at the point their is a major war.

Personally I think either state 1 or 2 is a win for the nation and the RN, 3 would mean the RN is not able to fully manage all the risks we are asking it to and therefore there is opportunity for a risk to be realised…say Iran does something we don’t like or we cannot ensure the RN are where they need to be. 4 is a disaster waiting for a major war to realise the risk and the RN ends up losing big.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jonathan

What’s up with Type “82”


Dyslexia…’s a bitch for transposing numbers, words, letters and numbers


Ok, in a topic with T32 can lead to a mess of confusion.


It’s a mess of confusion all the time to be honest..the world is full of acronyms and things with numeral identifiers… being dyslexic can lead to some funny old conversations.

Phillip Johnson

Add a couple of T26’s and a couple of T31’s would be the most sensible way to go. It always fascinates me the way the MOD keeps building up capabilities they then cannot sustain. Compare that with the USN and the Burke class, ‘same’ hull since 1990.


An approach which has left them trying to shoehorn stuff into a hull that is at or beyond it’s margins. An approach which has also left them struggling to design new ships (see LCS, DDG1000 and FFGX for details) because they have no-one left who’s actually done it for real. Which engenders a – completely irrational – fear of new designs, because they are perceived as “risky”.

They’re only risky if either :

  1. You allow your hullform design to be driven to extremes by specific parts of the requirement (see DDG 1000 and T26 for details)
  2. You don’t really know what you’re doing (because you haven’t done enough) and don’t know how to prioritise features.

Hullform design is not simple – but it’s not massively difficult either. Where things tend to go wrong is when :

  1. The hullform is developed independently from the rest of the design (arrangement, structures, stability), usually by a cast of thousands, as opposed to a small team that knows what they’re doing.
  2. There are too many large teams thrashing around in isolation and the decision-making becomes process-led (see T26 for details).

Good points .
The modern approach is to use a concept called ‘model based engineering’ where there is a single full digital computer design used by everyone- even once its in service where there might be fixes and upgrades where individual ships begin to vary.
Some design teams can only access or change ‘layers’ but conflicts are immediately obvious ( using 3D)


F8cking hell. Have you been on a course??!!

Hilarious. How much effort do you think it takes to produce a Product Definition Model – which is partly what you’re referring to? That is exactly the approach followed by T26.

The extension to individual ships is what’s referred to as digital twins. You can do all sorts with them once in service. Perfectly valid

What it doesn’t do is give you the intelligence and understanding to get the principal characteristics right. There’s a reason T26 took so long in design and over detailing stuff is a huge part of it. How do you think they spent £165M on T26 design nd still needed another £800m plus? Cast of thousands playing CAD games, rather than making decisions.

ETA : I’m well aware the £800m figure included long lead equipment purchases, primarily gearboxes and one or two other things. But north of three figure millions were spent in finishing the design.

Last edited 1 year ago by N-a-B

Type-31 program cost is 2B GBP. Why it is stated 1.35Bn here? NAO report was wrong? It clearly stated 2Bn. ????


I may be down to what each number includes. Things like a training system with simulation, spare parts, ammunition and the cost of the design competition/bid analysis/contract negotiation.


Yes. Many ingredients in the stew as well actual production cost

P-8 program was headlined as a US$3.87 bill/£3 bill program. yet the US navy publishes its yearly P-8 production buys ( which included UK and others as foreign military sales) at around $125-135 mill each -averaged over an order for 12-14 planes at a time
9x say $135 mill is around $1.2 bill.
included in UK cost is a large new hangar at Lossiemouth and a multi-year service and upgrade cost done by Boeing, plus simulators plus intial spares , weapons ( they use US torpedo) and training . Theres roughly $2.5 bill multi year costs outside the ‘fly away price’


You mean the T26 contract does NOT include “training system with simulation, spare parts, ammunition and the cost of the design competition/bid analysis/contract negotiation”?

BAES as a prime is doing bid analysis/contract negotiation by their own. Of course, Babcock, as well.


Well the BAE 2nd tranche for 5 T26 at £4.2 bill almost certainly includes much much more than the ‘build price’ of an existing design
They could be £500 mill ships, on average, to build ?
The Type 45 *headline price* – which included development of new radars and missiles as well as clean sheet development costs was £6.5 bill for 6 back around 2008.
Yet the NAO in its audit said the last 2 built ‘cost’ £650 mill each.

Last edited 1 year ago by Duker

Of course it’ll be cancelled. The government have over a decade of showing they don’t give a damn about the countries defences being fit for purpose. People have been hung for treason who have done less damage to the country than these waste of skin.


Honestly, I’m dead set against the cancellation of T32- for all of the reasons stated above. However, I do appreciate the funding challenges also highlighted. In addition, we’re talking about finding the crews for an additional 5 warships, when we’re struggling to fully crew the ones we have. I do find myself wondering where the Navy would get them from, even with the ~8 years they have between now and when the first crew are going to start getting involved with the first ship of the type.
I know that it was a suggestion of the NSBS, and has been talked about here. But, if the funds are unmanageable, then I think the solution is to sell the T31s to offset the cost of the T32s and replace one for one. Not the hoped for increase in the fleet, but also not the return to feast and famine procurement. The only challenge would be finding a buyer, but I can imagine there’d be some likely interest from NZ and some of the South American countries who’ve previously bought British ships. Ukraine would also be a solid option- they’re already buying our minesweepers and an up-armed T31 would be a pretty formidable vessel for the Black Sea (assuming that Russia has been kicked out of Crimea). 

Anders Anderson

The Royal Navy have been circumventing the procurement process for years, demonstrating toxic entreeism in a desperate attempt to stay big enough to be relevant on the global political stage. It’s about time they were brought to heel and this is the first positive indication we’ve seen from the Ministry that they won’t accept NHQ shenanigans any longer.


When you’ve finished looking up big words in the dictionary, you may wish to consider looking up at what point what you refer to as NHQ got a speaking part in procurement decisions. Hint – it’s VERY recent.

Anders Anderson

Thanks for your comment N-a-B. Navy Headquarters will certainly have a part to play in setting requirements, and Type 26 and Type 31 are over-running costs significantly because the platforms were made to look more affordable, with the overarching idea that its politically difficult to cancel platforms with significant sunk cost. Its a top down problem.


You see, here’s the thing. NCHQ – specifically the Develop part which tries to set the requirement – didn’t exist when T26 (and it’s many forerunners) were having their requirements derived. Nor does NCHQ have any say in the derivation of programme costs – that happens in DE&S at the Bristol end of the M4. That’s the fatal flaw in your logic.

Anders Anderson

Derivation of programme costs, no, you’re right. But NCHQ as the capability sponsor instructs DE&S on the detail of what to cost.

While the delivery team reports back twice a year through Programme Cost Reviews, the capability they’re delivering can’t change without a Review Note and agreed by the Requirements Oversight Committee. Medium term capability increments are agreed at Main Gate Business Case / Full Business Case and last for a number of years (not sure what this is for a big ship programme? 5-10 years I guess). This is the only other way to add or remove capability from a programme.

So big Navy, NCHQ, have had a hand in all of this. T26 and T31 both showed entreeism with NCHQ cutting capability from each platform to demonstrate (false) affordability instead of reducing the number of vessels. Once the hulls are built, it is much easier to go back to centre on your knees, asking for more money to make the expensive water displacement devices into deployable capability.

DE&S are not faultless, but they are probably blameless.


Is the underlying reason to divert funds to additional submarines?


There is no spare capacity. And the completion of Dreadnought is many years into the future.


Unfortunately true…those years lost before the order for the Astute class after that last Trafalgar was launched equated to 10 years lost production…which was effectively 3 lost boats…we had the industrial capacity to maintain a fleet of 10 SSNs and 4 ballistic missile subs if we had kept building….10 years lost production has left the fleet at a max of 7 for a generation at least.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jonathan

T32 is pie in the sky always has been. Better to get aboard the Italian DDX program to replace Daring and forget this T32 nonsense.


Ah yes . Theres always a hobby horse that will solve everything


Why not post up some specs, ignore the current financial situation, and then go on to display an infantile MSM fed understanding of the world as you always do instead of this infantile trolling?


I wonder what people think about the French Marine Nationale’s rapid construction of the FDI frigates -well armed and on time for delivery- ?
Granted there are not enough of them IMHO but it is surely a step in the right NATO direction?


Nice ships, much more capable than the T31. But so they should be at the price. They are full combat ships, T31 is a mid level ship.


I wouldnt say rapid either , considering its an established naval yard
FDI 1st steel cut Oct 2019 ,floated out Nov 22, delivery is supposed to be 2024 and final delivery of 5 is 2030
First steel for T31 Venturer was cut Sept 21 and 5 in service supposedly at least ‘before’ 2030

Last edited 1 year ago by Duker
David Steeper

Sorry ATH reply meant for Turenne
FDI 16 SAM, 8SSM 1 Helo and a 1x76mm gun. £380m each
Type 31 16 SAM. 8SSM. 1 Helo. 1x57mm and 2x40mm guns. £268M each

Last edited 1 year ago by David Steeper
Supportive Bloke

Well adding a 24 slot VLS is about £25m and I’m not seeing the advantage of the 76mm over the 57mm – for NGS you need something bigger.

The T31 platform isn’t any less capable TBH.

We simply don’t know the final weapons load out on T31. And that may well be changed straight after handover from contractor to RN.


It was a very detailed consideration of the main gun choice for T31 design process. Which is why the USN also chose 57mm for its new FFG

Bigger isnt best , especially when its weight of fire on target in shortest time that makes a difference


While 76mm is a bit light for NGS, it is at least capable of doing some form of it (& can fire quite a few shells fairly quickly). Volcano also gives guided ranges out to 40km if you want. 57mm is incapable of doing any serious damage ashore except to troops in the open. Canadian live fire tests also showed the 57mm a waste of time if used against larger ships in a surface engagement. So best to avoid a punch up with Chinese Coastguard.


Since when Type 31 have 16 SAM and 8 SSM? i only see 12 SAM. FDI have also sonar and proper rada and Aster 30 capability.


> FDI 16 SAM, 8SSM 1 Helo and a 1x76mm gun. £380m each
> Type 31 16 SAM. 8SSM. 1 Helo. 1x57mm and 2x40mm guns. £268M each

From where such number came?

FDI has 16 SAM, 8 SSM, 1 Helo, 1x 76mm gun, CAPTAS4-CI, hull sonar, but costing £3.3Bn for 5 ships (=£660M average. Unit cost may be much cheaper than this number, around £400M).

T31 has 12 SAM, no SSM, 1 Helo, 1x 57 mm, 2x 40 mm guns, only STDS, and costing only £2Bn for 5 ships (=£400M average. Unit cost may be much cheaper, around £300M)

As such, “FDIs are full combat ships, T31 are a mid level ship”. Different class, I agree.

Supportive Bloke

MOD / RN did announce purchasing multiple sets of AShM with a land attack mode?

So it isn’t stretching things too far to suggest they might be attached to whichever T45 and T31 are in harms way?

As there are likely to be 2-3/6 T45 deployable at any one time and 2 T31…..this does make sense?


Thanks, but I remember the contract announcement said, “for T23 and T45”. No plan at this moment to equip T31 with NSM (which I really will be happy to see).

David Steeper

We could have a very boring debate about what is included in ship cost. I choose to use the same definition. Build cost for both. I got the £268m from a tweet by Navy Lookout a few days ago. It’s hardly a secret that Type 31 will be armed with NSM taken from Type 23 as they replace them. See Navy Lookout ‘Royal Navy to buy the Naval Strike Missile’ 23 November 2022. On SAM you are correct I should have written 12 or 24.


So, as you stated by yourself, the SSM cost is NOT included in T31 cost, while it is included in FDI, I understand?

Wasp snorter

For me, and I know little, I would scrap T32 and instead have one extra T26 to make 9 with a proviso to BAE that the extra ship can be delivered in the same timeframe as the recently signed batch of 5, so simply make that a batch of 6. Then extend T31 with another batch of 3. This batch of 3 maybe has a different spec for a specified requirement but it is still a T31. It’s only adding 4 ships overall but keeps the cost and complication away from trying to get a new class and selling a new class idea with a new seemingly novel requirement. Instead it’s just about numbers and continuing to keep the industrial base alive. An extra single T26 would be big news, such is the state of the threadbare RN.

John Jones

While Labour can just snipe from the sidelines, the government has to balance defence requirements against the economy.
Wuhan ‘flu cost us immensely. National Debt increased from around £850bn to £2.5tn and that has to be paid down as interest is a major burden of waste.
Coupled to all of this we must replace the arms that we are giving Ukraine.
We must be ready to counter any attack from Russia whether that is to our undersea infrastructure or over land.

John Hartley

One more T26 to cover the gap to T83 is one option. Another 2 or 3 T31 is also an option. Funding permitting, as always.

Just Me

Unmanned is the future!

that’s like the unmanned RN sweepers that don’t really work?

Very Concerned

If this cancellation came about from a strategic re-evaluation of our defence needs, it would make sense. But this is not the case. If cancelled, it will be for financial reasons and actually will cost significantly more over the decades to come. Multi-ship procurement saves a lot of money – a huge amount – as does consistency of ordering. Having gaps in production of vessels means significantly increased costs in future (training, buying in skills, new investment required, lack of export orders). Bear in mind that the Treasury will get a significant part of the £2.5bn back as tax receipts – probably £1bn or 40% plus not paying unemployment benefit to thousands of people. So the net cost to the government is a bit over half. And a mothballed/ closed shipyard can’t compete for any business which denies us export order potential (whether this particular ship or another) and raises the cost of other ships. Hence the T83 programme will probably cost an extra 10-20% (my estimate) due to the reduced capacity in British shipbuilding. That then means in five years time there will be a post on this website saying the same things about T83 – in doubt because we can’t afford it in the short term. And this doesn’t even begin to discuss government’s first priority to defend its citizens.
The bottom line is – provided it’s the right ship – as a country we can’t afford not to continue with this programme.

John Charles

I wonder about the significance of the Multi-Role Support Ships plans also being withdrawn.
Perhaps overlapping capabilities/requirements of Type 32, MRSS and the proposed Logistics Support Vessels are causing a rethink.  


While I agree with your sentiments, the tax returns isnt as much as you think it might be.

The Treasury itself is the final payer for VAT, its rebated for earlier companies in the production chain.
All the armament productioncomes from overseas, Bofors. The propulsion and generators engines , although owned by RR is MTU plant in Germany
Warship Integrated Navigation and Bridge System is from Raytheon Anschütz
The gearboxes/powr transmission will come from David Brown Santaslo , Finnish company ( but some sections could be made in Britain in the former DB plants)


Disappointing to see the usually excellent NavyLookout publish a story based on rumours and conjecture.

January 26th: Alex Chalk, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, issued the following statement:
“There are currently no plans to withdraw the Type 32 Frigate Programme and it remains a key part of the future fleet for the Royal Navy. The Programme is currently in its concept phase and work continues, across a number of defence organisations, to ensure the programme is affordable.”

So everybody can stop panicking now.

Commonwealth Loyalist

Sean I hope you are right, and I am sure Navy Lookout is only trying to protect the Royal Navy. UK is certainly stepping up to the plate so far in Ukraine. With Germany and now France comitting to greatly increase defense expenditure one would hope UK is not willing to be left behind and keep spending nearly all its prodigious taxes on unsuccessful social programmes that create anti-employment incentives and reduce productivity not to mention GDP per capita, which is now way down the scale of countries with which it would want to be compared such as Ireland, Germany, Finland, Canada etc.

It is not many decades since Britain went from being the world’s biggest shipbuilder to having no clue how to build a canoe. Hopefully the process should be reversible.




navy Lookout had the ‘official line’ as you mention

But this part wasnt rumour
“official line is rather undermined by the NAO report that stated in November Navy Command withdrew its plans for Type 32 frigates and Multi-Role Support Ships (MRSS) in the summer “because of concerns about unaffordability”

NAO is National Audit office referring to the Navy Command, the NAO looks at the defence equipment plans of course and it seems the 2022 equipment plan had T32 and MRSS but the next plan doesnt

So your claim isnt valid that ‘its rumours and conjecture’


No freaking money mate!
300 billion on fuel subsidies, 200 billion on NHS, and 50 billion on Covid.
Plus Brexit FUBAR.
So stop moaning.
Who gives a toss about T32? Why does RN need so many ships anyway for patrolling up and down the Solent?

Last edited 1 year ago by Boris
Keith Dockrell

One day the UK will find itself getting absolutely hammered in a war it is embarrassingly under equipped to fight


Perhaps a major issue is that ships need to be fully armed now, not later. Already the interim Anti-ship Missile had been revived and both Type 26 and 31 desperately need more and more effective weapons (Mk 41 VLS for Type 32, and a hull sonar and VTOL drone, FCASW for Type 26 as well as ASW drones and lasers. The CVs need drones and more F-35s and probably a new AEW solution and better self-defence capabilities like Dragonfire. SSN(X) needs to come sooner rather than later and in larger numbers, along with XLUUVs. Spending to bring them all up to standard along with Type 45 would eat up the Type 32 budget without an uplift.

John S C Lewis

I would be happy with another batch of Type 31s: we need hulls in the water, and they are a good a solution, if a little under-gunned.


Can’t help thinking we should do what the US does with the Arleigh Burkes, namely just keep building T31s and T26s on a steady drumbeat and incrementally improve their design/fit-out.


That wasnt their 20 year plan as it was supposed to replaced by new design a decade back.
As well the funding/ actual ships authorised is decided by the elected congress not the Treasury bureaucrats. And they know how much each ship or block buy of ships costs.
We know more about say F-35B or P-8 unit costs ( incl RAF buys) from the US contracts numbers released each year than from the MoD


In the current climate T31 will need to be upgraded considerably – we don’t need patrol frigates now. That means Mk 41 VLS, CIWS, hull sonar, better radar and defensive aids, as well as a range of modular capabilities like UAS, towed arrays, torpedos, UUVs. If it ever gets built T32 will need same. All of this means £££


UK doesn’t face the Russians alone. They have quite a small surface fleet remember and in European waters face the combined forces of NATO. That’s probably why none of your ideas seem to be taken up for the T31 under construction beyond the fitted for but not with we have seen.
That was also how the T26 began for at least least for 1st 8 builds


3 sets of variables:

  1. MOD / RN requirements with respect to fleet size and tasking
  2. National Ship Building Strategy and desire to keep yards working and get out of the boom and bust cycle that screws us over again, and again…
  3. The Treasury / HMG ability to fund appropriately?

Perhaps the answer is some stop gap programmes to keep the yards in work?

  1. 4 more T26 derived GP Carrier escorts – more Mk41 VLS cells, cheaper version of Thales towed array, more AAW capability – keeps the yard working while T83 is designed. Cost kept down by adding MOTS kit to the existing T26 design
  2. A few more T31… the slow build option many have already mentioned
  3. The “Minor Warship flotilla” – 2 converted merchant hulls as MCM mother ships does not constitute a robust or deployable capability – but a small(er) T32 as perhaps envisaged by the BMT Venari 85 design can replace Sandowns, Hunts, Rivers (1 and 2) and Enterprise and Echo… a lot of potential for a standard hull to replace lots of different types, while keeping a steady drumbeat of construction….???