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Its good theres additional competition, though my preference would still be the arrowhead 140 as i really think this contract should not be awarded to BAE.

One thing that really worries me is that the arrowhead 140 information on the babcock website has been totally removed, its as though they never proposed the arrowhead 140, or that they sought to use the Danish design as a starting point. All that is on babcocks website now is the original 120 version, which will be less capable.

Has babcock offered any explanation of why the 140 has been purged from the website? and does it mean their proposal has changed?


Arrowhead 140 for me, as well. It has a proven basic design (which Leander is not – inserting a huge hull plug into an existing corvette design changes everything and creates a new ship). The 140 is 1000 tonnes lighter than the Iver Huitfeldt, but that’s because of changes like removing the large Mk 41 VLS and the aft-mast volume search radar. But it does mean that the 140 retains impressive growth margins and, as a result, could be viewed as the C2 component of the original S2C2 program that gave birth to Type 26. 140 also has much better range and endurance figures than Leander.

Basically, other than politics and corruption, I can’t see why 140 shouldn’t get it. There is the sticky problem of intellectual property rights – BAES own the rights to the new common Shared Infrastructure computing system that the RN wants to implement across all current and future platforms. It seems highly likely this is one of the reasons the original bidding process failed: the Arrowhead 140 team were offering a Thales designed combat management system instead of the Shared Infrastructure. The RN will not want a unique CMS on a single class of five vessels, and I suspect that the cost of licensing the system from BAES (who would probably charge the earth for it, given it’s their competitors buying it) is what caused the Arrowhead team to claim they couldn’t come in under the cost ceiling for the project.

This Meko-A200 variant is fascinating, but I wonder about the water jets. Is that system cheap enough to be included in the Type 31 bid or will it be deleted to meet the program’s cost? What effect does water jet propulsion have on endurance?


I’ve been wondering if the CMS will fall under the umbrella of government furnished equipment. Have the winning bidder construct their design, then have BAE fit them out with combat systems and GFE (either in situ or in Portsmouth).

I could see BAE going for that, it’s the same arrangement that happens with RFA ships. It’s also similar to the arrangement they have with Cammel Laird for their bid already. Take the Arrowhead 140, build it in Rosyth, have BAE come along stick a Type 26 mast and their combat system in it. They already have a presence in Rosyth as part of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, shouldn’t present too much trouble.

He said hopefully…


Arrowhead 140 is still with Babcock, ThalesUK, BMT_Global, OMT, Harland_Wolff and Ferguson Marine.


Wrt the difference in displacement between the IH and the A140, i suspect that the 5700 metric tonne number that Babcock lists , is standard displacement whereas the IHs 6645 tonnes is Full Load. With their standard displacement being a tad over 6000 tonnes, the difference is probably more reasonable ~300 tonnes. It would still give the A140 a longer range and more speed though…..almost certainly more than 30kts.


That’s a good point about displacement. It’s easier to find enough deleted components to make up to 300 tonnes than it is 1000! (To make up that much difference, you’d probably have to ditch an engine!) 300 tonnes could include the deleted 76mm gun from B position, plus below deck magazine, the aft mast with the volume search radar, the Harpoon missiles and possibly various sundry other less obvious systems above and below decks, right down the to consoles in the control room. Plus, there’s the berth space and stores for the crew who would have maintained/operated these systems, and it would be the difference in weight between a Mk 41 VLS and a Sea Ceptor VLS, with the latter coming in at significantly less!

The great advantage of the 140 is, therefore, the option for the RN to put all of these things (or their equivalent) back in the future, upgrading some of the Type 31s into more powerful frigates to meet future threats. I don’t see that happening with the Leander. I look at the Leander and see a basic hull form that’s been pretty well maxed out already, just by having that hull plug installed. To get more out of it, you need to reshape the hull, which means a brand new design, of course!

The value of the greater size, endurance and end-of-life carrying capacity of the 140 should certainly not be underestimated. Look at the Type 45s. They were supposed to have scads of room for all the crew they’d ever need, and still be able to carry a decent sized EMF. And yet they are bulging at the seams, with additional crew (whether mission specialists or in training) dossing down in odd corners instead of taking up residence in spare quarters. The same will happen with the Type 26, especially with that multi-mission space, and no matter what design is chosen for Type 31, the same will happen there, too. I’d be very surprised if the Queen Elizabeth isn’t currently having a few extra permanent berths squeezed in here and there, based on what they’ve learned from the sea trials.


There are a number of items missing from the A140 as against the IH frigate. Two of the VLS systems are missing (MK 56 vls), the big heavy radars are missing (SMART-L & APAR), one of the main guns (B position) is missing along with it’s below deck magazine, half the SSM (16 down to 8) & who knows what else. The A140 is seriously stripped down to meet the T31 competition, while being modernised & updated to latest UK & NATO standards. However, Babcock has stated that provision has been made to allow reinstatement. ie they are happy to provide a very much GP T31 5,700t right though to a full spec AW frigate around 6,700t or anything in between. Just bring your chequebook.

It does show however how far the UK can go with the design if it ever wants to spend the money. The other 2 designs, while meeting the spec, are already pretty much at their limits. You want more, then start again. Pollies it seems, are very adverse to capital expenditure, but are quite happy to spend more on an upgrade than what it will cost to build new. Point being, just build the A140 hull. The rest will take care of itself over time.


I really hope BAE/Cammell Laird Leander design wins the bid. I like the design a lot.

Also, UK do not have a luxury to “grow” second warship builder in its small market.

What if Babcock wins the bid? I think it is very difficult for them to keep the pace. Even if they grow up their labor force, without additional order they will be laid-off, and the technology/skill will be lost soon. It will be a huge waist of money. Also, its design is OMT (Danish), if Arrowhead 140. Its CMS is Thales. In both sense, there is no smell of “UK warship builder”. Are UK really investing on such things?

Why not directly order FTI to Naval, or Arrowhead 140 to OMT, PPA to Fincantieri, or even FFX to Korea, just requiring them to use the UK shipyards?


I have to disagree with you on that. Lets look at the next 20 years of building programmes.

BAE and the Clyde are sorted. For the next two decades, they have T26 frigates and the next class of destroyers. There’s almost no doubt about that, as BAE will always be our No.1 supplier of first rate warships.

That leaves the Type 31 build until at least 2027, and hopefully beyond if a second batch or export orders are found. The entire MCMV and survey fleet is also due for replacement, with the Hunts, Sandowns, and Echos all replaced by a common hull, so that’s around 15 more ships. The Albion class retire sometime after 2030 I believe, so that’s another 2 big ships to build. Then there’s the RFA, with the contract already out for the MARS tankers. Argus is going in 2024, and Diligence has already gone, and while a replacement, if any, has not been decided on yet, the MoD is actively considering how best to retain their capabilities.

There is so much margin for a second ship builder in the UK. Babcock is already our second biggest supplier, it makes sense to support them


I also hope the Leander wins, it will be good to see Royal Navy ships (or any ships for that matter) being built in England again, Scotland can’t have everything. Rosyth should get the 3 solid support ships. Certainly we don’t want the German company winning, they shouldn’t even have been allowed to bid, this is supposed to be about supporting British shipbuilding.


Worth remembering it’s not a German company bidding, it’s the British subsidiary of Atlas Elektronik, which is already supplying the RN with USVs and various other bits of high end kit. They’d be using Scottish and NIrish yards, so the work would still be done here.

I agree with your logic regarding the support ships though. If Babcock wins and the frigates are assembled at Rosyth, the support ships go to Cammel Laird, and vice versa if BAE and CL win.


Quite frankly on the current direction of travel I don’t think its a great idea to give any work to NI or Scottish yards. There simply has to be the retention of shipbuilding in England.


Given that Appledore has already closed, the only major English yard left is Cammel Laird (not counting the submarine yard at Barrow, which will be safe for decades to come at least).

However, if we start acting like Scotland is going to leave the UK, it just increases the chances they will. The shipbuilding industry on the Clyde, which is one of Scotland’s largest employers if I’m not mistaken, holds a lot of weight when it comes to Independence talks, because it’s entirely dependent on the UK and it’s already been confirmed that if Scotland were independent, most of those thousands of workers would be unemployed.


Appledore is not already closed, but I think could do well not being involved in all of this, if it does not need to, or rather totally reliant on it.


The closure has been announced for March 2019, which given that you they’re not taking any more orders is the same as being closed now.

Appledore closed because Babcock hadn’t found any more orders. They REALLY needed the T31 contract, unfortunately it just came along too late. I’m confused why you think a struggling yard would’ve been better not getting work?

Glass Half Full

Well the first observation to make would be that Cammell Laird are not BAE and so they would be a “second warship builder”, although it wouldn’t surprise me in such a scenario if BAE then bought Cammell Laird in time to become the monopoly supplier again.

The second observation is that competition is a key principle behind the National Ship Building Strategy with a goal to deliver best value and mitigate the expense of new ships, either to reduce overall costs or enable an increase in ships.

The third was already made by Callum. There are plenty of RN and RFA ships to build provided they are built at a sensible even tempo.


I understand your point. What I fear is;

1: escort ship builder’s monopoly is common in France, Italy and Spain. Surely, even with monopoly, a ship builder can be efficient and competitive.

I personally think MOD/RN shall “work hard”. Understand how to properly specify the requirement, how to fight against the BAE’s cost estimation, and how to controle the “additional requirement lists” to be added.

2: competition works only if there are more than three good candidates. Competition means the T31 bid “can” go to BAE (if not, it is just yet another “monopoly” = T31e by Babcock). It also means the “two other ship builders” who lost the bid must survive for the next turn, so that “competitive” approach can be sustained.

Is this possible?

3: All the ships (other than T26/T31) to be built for RN/RFA are NOT escorts = not a “complex ship”. I have no objection UK can support another ship builders or two for “non-complex” ship bulding. The ship builder shall survive by building them, or ferries and civilian research ships, PSVs or boader force cutters, when they lose the RN/RFA bid.

But, in this case, “the grown up skill to build complex ship” will be completely lost. Isn’t this just a pure “waste of money”? This is my point.

Glass Half Full

Responding to your points:

1. A monopoly could be efficient but there is no incentive to be competitive as they are a monopoly and there is no automatic corrective process if they are inefficient. In addition companies have a fiduciary responsibility to maximise returns to shareholders which puts them in conflict with minimizing cost to the customer, i.e. MoD. As a monopoly the company has the whip hand in any negotiation, hence BAES TOBA and no frigate factory having been built.

2. The survive-ability of suppliers/dockyards cannot just be tied to MoD contracts, otherwise we get vulnerable yards like Appledore, or more egregiously the TOBA agreement with BAES. This is why the NSS is intended to reinforce and augment commercial marine manufacturing capabilities. Companies have to be able to lose competitions and do better than just survive.

Remember also that the goal of the NSS is to help support export business – commercial or military – by enabling the yards to become more competitive by WW standards and that doesn’t just mean lowest cost bids. We should also recognise that the NSS is a long term strategy that’s going to take many years to achieve its goals.

3. The QE carrier build shows that “complex” shipbuilding skills exist across multiple yards. Personally I believe it is a stunning example of how multiple companies and locations have worked together, with PoW showing further improvements over the QE build. I think you’d need to define what you believe to be complex skills that would be lost by building other smaller ships. As I see it high quality and efficient manufacturing skills are desirable for any marine manufacturing, e.g. oil/gas rigs and wind turbines as well as commercial and naval ships.


Thanks, GHF-san

1. I have no objection about the merit of competition. My point is, will competition really work, and is it sustainabe?

Also, many other navies are going on with monopoly ship builder, controling their cost. Why not MOD/RN do it? They just lack such capability or lack such will ?

2 and 3: I do not think all shipbuilder can build escorts.

At least in Japan, we have only two escort builders. Other ship builders are working on merchant ships, Coast Guard Cutters, or LPDs and AORs, and NOT escorts. They say special skill is needed for escorts. The same works for France.
Why this differs only in UK?

As I do not work for UK shipbuilging industry and thus I do not know the reality. So, your assesment might be right. But, it contradicts with the original statement when BAE and Babcock got their TOBA for escort ship building and escort maintenance, respectively.

By the way, Ron-san has pointed out another very important point. Can Babcock export Danish designed frigate? And, can Atlas UK export German designed frigate?

Glass Half Full

1. I’m not so sure other navies’ monopoly shipbuilders are controlling their costs as much as it might seem. I suspect they are getting significant subsidies, particularly in main land Europe and South Korea.

I will concede though that competition doesn’t guarantee low costs. The US LCS program and the Strike Fighter competition that resulted in the F-35 show that; although in the case of the US its partly because of congress using military contracts as job programs. We will see how well competition works for the UK’s NSS but IMHO it would be a mistake not to try.

2. and 3. I agree that not all shipbuilders may have the skills and trades in situ to build escorts but I don’t accept that there needs to be some special breed of shipbuilder to build escorts. Certainly as far as the UK is concerned, the QE program seems to have demonstrated that all those shipbuilders that weren’t BAES certainly had the skills and capability.

I would argue that the TOBA actually demonstrates the opposite of your point. The agreement with BAES was made because there was no alternative individual company or consortia at the time set up to produce what became T26. Also because BAES didn’t and still doesn’t have a commercial marine business, so it is wholly dependent on naval ships production. If there isn’t any production then BAES would have let the skilled work force go.

Which brings up the final point that BAES, because it seems unable or unwilling to win contracts to build and export naval ships from the UK has been in a position of making what seems to be take-it-or-leave it pricing to the MoD. I am hoping the BAES success licensing T26 build to Australia and Canada will result in better/lower pricing on the remaining five T26 for the UK, because if BAES didn’t have the UK order to start with they would never have been in position to win in Australia and Canada, so some benefit should accrue back to MoD for that.

The TOBA for Babcock doesn’t seem to be the same as that for BAES. The latter guaranteed payments with or without ships being produced. The former seems to a long term support contract specifically designed to deliver cost savings shared by Babcock and MoD. Very different.


Thanks again GHS-san

I guess we just differ in “risk” assessment.

1: On the monopoly builder cost controle, yes, for example France is subsiding it strongly by government strongly pushing export (see Egypt getting FREMM out of production line for their own navy, MN! ). The build cost for MN is high but those for export is low. I guess the former includes the design+investment, while the latter is “just to keep the labour force alive” (= equivalent to TOBA). Very clever way. (Only guess, though)

Anyway their government is “working hard” for it. Does UK/HMG doing the same? I’m afraid they are just leaving it “go for competition, at your own risk”.

2-3: Our assesment differs so conclusion differs (You think UK ship builder with CVF experience is “special”, I am not that confident). No problem here.

On the TOBA, interesting assesment. I see no indication that Babock TOBA differs in any sense to BAES’s. BOTH are “designed to deliver cost savings shared by industry and MoD”. Reflecting lessons learned from SSN production line. Keeping labor forces is much cheaper than rebuilding it from zero, again and again.

Note that the only reason BAES’s TOBA was executed to build River B2 is HMG/MOD/RN lack of risk assessment for shortage of yearly budget. Not much related to BAE.

Glass Half Full

Hey Donald-san, I think we will have to agree to disagree on this, but I’ll give it one last go in explaining my position 🙂

1. The UK government will lobby hard for foreign sales but I am fairly confident they will draw the line at subsidies as a standard practice. The BAES TOBA is after all a subsidy in all but name but I don’t think anyone wants to see a repeat of that … well except possibly BAES.

2. and 3. Perhaps I didn’t communicate well. I’m not saying the QE shipyards were “special”, only that they have the skills from commercial and support/repair work that appear to have been at least adequate and seem to have actually been better than that. I haven’t heard any stories of shenanigans like glued on bolt heads that the BAES “specialist” warship manufacturer managed to not only include in the OPV build but which also escaped detection by their QA procedure, the latter being perhaps more egregious even than the former, since BAES presumably knew they were not employing skilled/experienced workers. We’ll have to see how PoW turns out but QE seems to have been remarkably free of issues for such a complex ship.

Characterizing BAES TOBA as a cost savings method is an extremely generous perspective IMHO, given the direct result of extraordinarily expensive OPVs. Had BAES generated foreign sales or a commercial marine business then TOBA wouldn’t have been necessary to retain skilled workers. The reason the Batch 2’s were built was because otherwise MoD would have had to make payments under TOBA anyway and would have had nothing to show for it otherwise. However, the reason there was nothing to build (in addition to BAES lack of diversification outside MOD/RN sales) was the delays in committing to T26 which seems to be a politics/MoD/RN owned problem.


The problem is, if you take an 18 month build and spread it over 3 years to try to spread the cost, It actually involves much greater end cost. Air is free and steel is cheap but skilled labour over double the time is bloody expensive!



This is why I do not like T31e program.

T31e costs 1.5B GBP (1.25 build +0.25 others, ref: Equipment-Plan 2018), and I guess this is equivalent to two T26s cost in current framework.

But, as you said, the build rate is slow, and there are plenty of “idle time” especially in the later phase of the program, when learning curve grows. Therefore, adding 2 more will not cost 1.5B GBP, I guess, and might save 230M GBP (equivalent to 1 year TOBA) or even more.

Yes, “commitment to 19 escorts” saga will go away, but 6 T45 and 10 T26 is not bad, I think.

Also, with this 230M left, we can
– extend River B1 life as EEZ patrol ships (~10M per hull)
– uparm River B2 (~40M per hull, say, with a hangar and gun/CIWS) to cover APT-S, (most of the) FRE, and Med (relieve Echo/Enterprise) (and call them “Corvettes”)

Buy, yes, in reality T31e is going on and we need to find the best way to make it work.


I think an estimate in 2007 cost with the South African A-200 ships in inflation and conversation in pounds is needed here! Along with size (battle and seaworthiness which can keep costs down) etc.

Phillip Johnson

Cost figures don’t mean much unless they come with a clear definition of what those costs include. For example with or without weapons, with or without a contribution to design costs, with or without logistics support.


Yes. Cost in the UK nearly always mean the lot including weapons, unlike say the US as an example, where weapons are not included.


This is a good idea in principle – building a ship that is not too big, complicated or over-engineered like all other ships recently, should help to keep costs somewhat down. More programmes like this would be needed if the current massive decline of the navy were to be slowed or paused. Let’s see if the programme lasts though, Admirals tend to favour expensive, unreliable toys over cheap reliable systems.


The problem then becomes where do we find the crews to man them?


The T31 is meant to have crew around half the size of a T23 (80-100 vs 185+). That will help significantly, although it does nothing to sort out the shortage of specialists the fleet is suffering from. It also doesn’t take into account that there are already several ships tied up with no crews, thus they can’t just be transferred over to the new ships.

Kevin Hastie

By the time they select the design, Corbyn will be in power and the whole thing will be cancelled


Yes Kevin, if people think Jeremy Corbyn is the man to promote and defend the interests of the Royal Navy they are badly mistaken.


And how has the current lot and the coalition done then?
I know Corbin is a headcase, but this lot is absolutely terrible too.

Kevin Hastie

True, the armed services as a whole have suffered terribly under the Tories. Collectively Westminster are too obsessed about foreign aid to promote our own interests.


We want them to cruise about the place and not cost more than £250million, keep it simple.


Although I find it good that three proposals are going forward to the design stage I question the reality of it. If I remember correctly the Type 31e was meant to be a low cost general purpose frigate in the 250 million range with additional government expenditure on outfitting, weapons etc. This vessel was meant to be aimed at the international market in two different ways, new build and vessels that would have served 10-15 years in the RN. Those (used frigates) sold to friendly nations would be then replaced by new build for the RN.
Again if my memory serves me correctly when the Type 26 was being developed there was to be two types of this vessel, the Global Combat Ship, all singing and dancing, which we are getting and a General Purpose Frigate in the 250-350 million range; basically a light weight Type 26.
If we look at the first scenario would we be able to build new Arrowhead 140s as they are based on the Danish Iver Huitfeldt class or the Atlas Elektronik UK / Thyssenkrup Marine Systems bid based on the MEKO 200 for international customers. If thought about it would be the same as Australia selling to international clients their version of the Type 26. I don’t think that will be possible due to patents, license etc. So if we went down that route the reasoning behind the Type 31 meets a major hurdle, the UK will need to own the license for either of those designs. Or are we going to sell used frigates only?
The second issue is with the Type 26 GPF what happened to the designs that were paid for by the UK tax payer, or did BAE never complete them.
Government equipment that could be used in the new Type 31e would be the type 2050 active bow mounted sonar, 4.5 in Mk 8 gun, Artisan radar, Sea Ceptor VLS, 30 mm DS30M, countermeasures and some other bits and pieces from the T23s. If they leave space for containerised towed array and 16 Mk41 VLS then whatever the outcome it could be a good little frigate.
What I don’t want to see is a stretched OPV such as the Leander, there will be no growth margin in the ship which would limit its future build out.


I agree to your concern about exporting forign-designed frigate to be UK-built. It is very unlikely, without paying a lot for design patent in the T31e contract.

One small thing. I personally think Leander is OK. Yes it is with smaller growth margin, but I think it will be built with many FFBNW or FTR (*1), and also it has so-so large mission bays, which for me is a growth margin itself (for exmaple, we can ban one of the RHIB alcoves and add VLS later).

Also, RN has so many growth margines fleet-wide.
– 2 CVFs hangar are not filled.
– six T45 have many FFBNW options left.
– eight T26 have many growth margins left.
– P-8A number are so low, that there are plenty of “growth margine” on its fleet. In principle, UK shall double the number to make it efficient fleet, I think.

Thus, for me, small shortage of growth margin in T31e is not a big issue.

*1: Leander has many FFBNW/FTR. Mk.41 VLS, SSMs, hull-mounted sonar, ship torpedo defence system, CAPTAS sonar, better ESM/ECM, increasing CAMM number. I think these equipments will not be included in the 1.25B GBP purchace cost. All can be added to the current hull, later when money is available.


The money is not going to become available. Even if there is a war, the money will go where its relevant and this will probably be the army and RAF.
You just can’t go around procuring equipment like this,you need a viable strategy.


Please please could you use English! FFBNW? FTR? CAMM? CAPTAS? What do you mean?



FFBNW = Fitted for But Not With = RN language, used for a space left for future additional weapons, frequently used in RN.
FTR = Fit to Recieve = RN language, used for a space left for additional weapons, more direct/easily/well-prepared than “FFBNW”, recently frequently used. (ref. T31e RFI document).

These are special acronym words used in RN documents. RN uses many. I agree it is not good…

CAMM = name of the missile used in Sea Ceptor system (See MBDA website) (*MBDA is a missle production company)
CAPTAS = name of the towed active/passive sonar system, marketed by Thales. CAPTAS-4 is Sonar 2087 in RN. (* Thales is a big defense company)

These are the name of the products. The same to Typhoon, F35B Lightning (fighters), Sea Venom (anti-ship missile), Apache, Merlin, Wildcat, Chinook (helicopters), AMRAAM, ASRAAM, Mateor (air-to-air missles), Boxer, Ajax, Challenger (armoured vehicles), or even Queen Elizabeth or Prince of Whales (name of large aircraft carriers of RN).


I used to work for the Ministry of Defence and the Royal New Zealand Navy and I used to get encourage all staff to explain what they meant. In New Zealand we actually had actually had a plain English campaign which put a stop to lot of acronyms. Thanks for the explanations, your points are actually very good. New Zealand is facing an issue with both our frigates aging. We were originally going to follow the Australian lead but I cannot see us having enough money for the Type 26 so I would guess the Type 31 might be on the list now.


Thanks. I am actually following Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) for 20 years. I became a fan of it, even before looking into Royal Navy (RN).

Next year, HMNZS Te Kaha frigate will come back to New Zealand after modernization. Its size, capability, range and deployment cycle is very similar to those expected for T31e. Thus it will be very important to look after her in view of T31e, as well.

Compared to T31e, Te Kaha in 2019 (and Te Mana in 2020) will have
– [equivalent] 12 (or 24?) CAMM, a CIWS, SH2G helo (roughly equivalent to Wildcat), SMART-S Mk.2 radar, modern chaff/flare launcher,
– [more] Sea Sentor ship torpede defence system, anti-sub torpedo, a hull mounted sonar (all are Fit To Recieve in T31e case), 5inch gun, 27knot top speed with slightly longer range,
– [less] but lacks missiona bay, electric drive option, and has larger amount of crew.

Particularly of interest is how the CAMM will be arranged. It is the first time CAMM with “mushroom” canister is mounted on a ship without reusing Sea Wolf old silo.

Looking forward to see it.


Sadly the Te Kaha and Te Mana are not ships that I would want to go to war in. They are fitted for but not with a lot of equipment. The sonars capability is very poor. Due to lack of funding they won’t be getting anything like the equipment that you list. Sad as we have brilliant crew let down by lack of political will. There is still no decision on their replacement which is now becoming urgent.



According to NZ MOD webpage, TeKaha and TeMana
– will get CAMM, modern chaff/flare ADS103, Sea Sentor torpedo defense system, IR sensor and SMART-S Mk2 3D radar
– and will retain, hull sonar (Spherion-B, not high spec as you said), CIWS, 5inch gun, 2x 12.7mm mini-typhoon, anti-sub torpedo tubes, and SH2G with Penguin ASM.
– it is 3600t FLD, 117m long and 14.8m wide, 27knot top speed, 7000nm range.

Very similar to T31e. And thus is worth looking at.




I am very aware of that page, please don’t believe all the spin. I am afraid life on the front line in the navy is slightly different. There are lot of things that go on that you are not going to know about. I would imagine the same is true in the Royal Navy but I am not there so I can’t comment. But I am here!



Anyway, all the items listed up there is “clearly visible from out side”. So we will know it next year.

Items not visible is difficult to assess. (~10 years ago, when Te Kaha visited Yokosuka, I talked with NZ sailer, and asked if SH2G is carrying sonobuoy. Even though it was listed as capable of at that time, their answer was “no”). So I realized RNZN frigate is not thinking a lot of ASW = not good at ASW, anyhow. Te Kaha / Te Mana is a typical GP frigate = similarity with T31 is very high.


As you are not in New Zealand and obviously don’t have links to the navy I would like to end end this conversation. I don’t think it will serve any useful purpose.

Phillip Johnson

Given NZ’s location and its current 2 frigate and 2 OPV configuration, would NZ not be better off to go for 3 of the best frigates you can afford.
Which would inevitable be something like the T31 or the Meko A200?


The offshore patrol boats , Wellington and Otago are built to commercial standards a bit like HMS Ocean was. Essentially they are just coastguard vessels. I can’t see the political commitment to purchasing and then equipping warships. The only reason we got Te Mana and Te Kaha is because we were locked into the Australian program. The Labour government of the time did try to get out of it and managed to cancel 1 frigate we luckily got the other 2. I personally think if the Type 31 works replacing the current ships with them would be good. I certainly can’t see the funding for Type 26’s and the politicians will not make the same ‘mistake’ of locking into an Australian program.

Phillip Johnson

3 useable ships to a common design would be a good out come for NZ.
One look at the OPV’s tells you they are transverse framed and therefore commercial std. Should get some interesting cracking after about 20yrs service.
Wouldn’t be surprised if they also had a steel firemain/salt water service rather than copper nickel iron.. Lowest tender also has a price.


They were definitely built to cost and you are probably right after 20 years not much use. Don’t even start getting into the story of Canterbury, designed for operation in the North Sea and totally unsuitable the sea conditions over here. I remember talking to Grant Howard before he died, he was the foremost historian for the Navy. He described the Protector fleet as a pile of junk not fit to be called warships!


The only thing the Kiwi ANZAC’s are Fitted for but not with are Harpoon. All the rest of said equipment in the upgrades is fitted.

Not sure where you get your info from…

Last edited 3 years ago by Nighthawk.NZ

Design work on the GPF was never undertaken, studies and CGI only.

Your points about the government furnished equipment is a good one. When 4.5 inch guns that have been recently modernised are available for free there is zero chance of 57mm Bofors, 76mm Oto Melara or 5 inch US or Oto guns being on T31. All would add millions on an already tight cost envelope. Everyone who says 4.5inch will be obsolete seem to be ignoring the fact that it will remain on T45 for their service lives. As long as it has point detonation and airburst it will be fine (although a GPS course correction round would not cost that much to develop and fit if required using an existing solution).
Even ASM’s aren’t desperately crucial until a replacement for Harpoon is procured as Sea Venom is far more useful and more likely to see use due to ROE.
Couple that with Artisan, Sea Ceptor and the mission bay and it’s not bad. We’d all have liked to have seen 13 T26, but T31 will deliver a useful capability. If it ever got upgraded with a towed array (maybe not the full Sonar 2087 but one of Thales other CAPTAS products) it could even increase our current capability.

The only things missing for me at present are torpedo tubes. Surely there are plenty in storage or coming off the T23? Were there none removed from T42 and T22 before scrapping? Or have the RN really decided that its not worth the candle. From the T26 fitout it would appear so.

Glass Half Full

I agree with most of these points.

Many are keen to see 5″ guns on ships but these are not cheap. We know what three gun systems plus the training system cost for the first T26 build – $245M. This does apparently include ammunition as well but still, presuming the training system is effectively another gun, then on average ~$50-60m per gun system is not going to find its way onto a Type 31. If the 4.5″ come at nominal cost then it seems to make much more sense to fit than any alternative, especially if one considers that NGFS may become increasingly risky for any ship due to the proliferation of shore based ASM with far greater range than the gun.

I also think there is way too much focus on an urgent need for ASM. The 2020’s into 2030’s will have at least LRASM, JSM and probably Perseus as far better options with far greater flexibility and cross platform use than a short term decision for interim use. It also seems like Captas 1 or 2, especially in the relatively recent compact containerized forms, would provide a flexible capability to be fitted when appropriate for the ships specific mission and removed when not relevant.

Maybe torpedo tubes with lightweight torpedoes are considered redundant against subs that can launch outside ship launched torpedo range? Better to launch from Merlin or Wildcat with far greater reach?


@Glass Half Full, it seems that Perseus is getting the go ahead, a Government Select Committee report published today confirmed the future investment into an Anglo-French developed Future Cruise Missile/Anti-Ship Missile in conjunction with MBDA for deep strike capabilities. The funding has been approved for further development beyond 2020 and for implementation into the fleet by 2030.

Glass Half Full

Thanks for the update. Perseus seems to have a lot going for it from a UK perspective in my view. Aside from its performance capabilities, I value the efficiency of common usage across the planned air, surface ship and submarine tube launch, with ship and land attack roles.

A potential downside is that it may not fit the internal bay of the F35 (A or B), something that other solutions such as LRASM/JSM may be capable of, at least for F35A. But with its long range it could be under wing fired from well below the radar horizon and targeted by a second fully stealth F35B closer in to the target.

Also worth considering that if a significant difference in costs exists then this might support a two tier capability of say LRASM/JSM + Perseus or even 3-tier if SPEAR 3 makes it to a quad packed VLS cell solution in addition to air launch.


Totally agree on the 4.5″ over the cost of the 5″. The 4.5″ gun although relatively short ranged is still very useful as it’s multi-purpose and the rounds are cheap. If only we still had the Royal Ordanance Factories I’m certain the costs would be cheaper for not only the rounds but also gun system itself.

The Torpedo tubes on a ship would be better utilised with an anti torpedo torpedo system such as ATLAS ELEKTRONIK SeaSpider, which is a rocket propelled torpedo designed to counter any type of torpedo in deep or littoral waters.


I agree with you that ATTs are a must have. Subsurface threats can only increase with subsurface drones. On the subjct of which, I am a supporter of surface ship launched speafish.

Glass Half Full

I don’t see any reason why a license to build for export wouldn’t be available for the Arrowhead 140. OMT haven’t been successful to date in licensing their design to another country, perhaps in part because there is no OMT shipyard to provide support if needed for the country doing the build. The Odense shipyard that did the assembly for the Danes closed and the Danish Navy also made a significant contribution to fitting out IIRC. If Babcock are successful in winning new exports then OMT would get their financial return and in any event could still tender in their own right. MEKO might have more issues regarding licensing for export build due to German domestic shipyard competition.


It depends on the terms of the contract. It is not unknown for a contract to allow for exports of licenced built military equipment provided the government of the design owner agrees with the sale. What is much less common is for resale of licenses (designs) as it’s too easy for the designers & their governments to loose control. ie in relation to the Arrowhead 140, it would be quite common for a contract to allow for export of additional built ships, provided Denmark agrees with the sales on political grounds. Sometimes contracts will include a pre-approved list. The difficulty comes if UK wants to directly allow Arrowhead 140 to be built in a non UK yard, especially if that foreign yard wants also to be allowed to export. If for example, HHI wanted to utilise A140 for the US frigate competition, it would be better as a new consortium similar to the Team 31, keeping all governments onside rather than attempting a US-UK deal. This is the one area of T31 acquisition that the UK MOD may have to give ground on. Two of the 3 designs are not controlled by Britain.

As to Australia selling its version of the T26 to other countries, this would not actually be very difficult as BAE Australia is the builder & the prime. BAE owns several shipyards in Australia as well as missile manufacturing amongst other things. While the Australian T26 is using an American CMS, swapping to SAAB 9LV is not hard if required & the radar is Australian. Finding someone who would want & can afford to buy them is another matter. Canada though is a different situation. BAE is neither the builder nor the prime or even consortium lead there. UK political ok is quite likely still required for either country.


Found this on the Valour.

In 2004, the project officer Rear Admiral (J.G.) Johnny Kamerman explained that the ships’ design features incorporated stealth characteristics that gave the Valour-class very low radar, acoustic, and magnetic signatures.

Was wondering is the bit on magnetic signature correct and if it is sufficient enough for a mine clearance role (coupled with autonomous vehicles). The South African’s are adding a bow thruster to there’s when in for refit I believe for port docking but it would be of value in manoeuvring in a mine warfare role also.


The overwhelming factor in all of South Africa’s procurement in this time period was the retirement funds of senior ANC politicians.These ships have been alongside for most of the time because the money for fuel has vanished.

Captain Nemo

The Type 31 programme should look to replace the Hunt and Sandown classes, then it could roll through that budget too (iirc there’s £1bn earmarked) and you might end up with a class of eight or nine ships; this approach would go some way to producing crews, It could then roll through the survey ships and the Rivers and we’d have some sort of drumbeat production at last.
In such a situation it might also be acceptable to go with the ‘small’ option of a Leander type vessel which would give a step up in patrol capabilities without giving politicians the impression they’re buying a high end warship and trying to use it as such.
Then we can get back to the job of wanting more Type 26.


Just to point out, thats a net loss of 9-10 hulls (11-12 if you include the Echo class, which will likely be replaced by a common hull). Even if those ships are now multipurpose, you’re faced with the issue that you’ve got less than half as many ships to fulfill both escort and MCM roles.

The current MMCM joint programme with France should remain largely separate from the T31 programme. 5 frigates and 13 minehunters offers far more capability than 8-9 frigates with MCM capability. Potentially, exchanging 2-3 minesweepers for another 1-2 frigates would be a good option, as the frigate could act as mothership, escort, and minehunter itself in support of other MCMVs.


The First Sea Lord spoke of delivering capabilities but not necessarily ships. Coupled to his ambition to deliver Autonomous mine warfare for home waters as quickly as possible , and the cancellation of the refit and early retirement of some of the mine warfare ships I think the current Hunt/Sandown numbers could be under consideration for further reductions.
However I hope that if this happened any reduction in Hunt/Sandown numbers would be offset be an increase in T31 numbers on a one for one ratio with the mine warfare capabilities being delivered by Autonomous vehicles on the T31.
I do think that even with Autonomous mine warfare vehicles there will still be a need and role for Hunt/Sandown ships.

Captain Nemo

Hello Callum, I’d agree but you’re presuming that Hunt and Sandown would be replaced on a like for like basis, whereas recent procurement history shows anything but. My argument would be that combining the two programmes would make an initial eight or nine hulls feasible and see a commitment to a decades worth of production rather than seeing it stall at the fifth hull, hopefully kickstarting the national shipbuilding strategy. Thereafter you’d hope to see efficiencies that would make replacement of the Echo’s and Rivers with T31 a viable proposition, factor in the inevitable cut and you might end up with a dozen vessels in Royal Navy hands.
I’d expect that when we get through the Type 26 programme we’d go straight into production of the Type 45 replacement and I’d hope we’d see an increase in numbers over the six, having five perceived high end warships on the books at that point would hamper the argument for additional capability unless the Type 31 was viewed simply as a workhorse and sometimes war horse which is probably a fair assessment of what it is best suited for.
We need to identify and avoid any potential for the continuation of this downward spiral and try to think ahead of the treasury to maintain numbers and increase capability, so from my perspective we’re weighing a dozen or so T31 and additional AAW destroyers against five T31 and who knows what. Regards, Nemo.


Over time I would be in favour of replacing Rivers with T31 but not the survey vessels.

A good post on mine warfare.

Trevor Hollingsbee

Ferguson and H& W are obviously in the running for political reasons. Ferguson , which has no record of warship building , is though in deep financial trouble, and I suspect HMG , particularly in view of the experience of DSME building the Tide class , would be reluctant to see the company
Involved with the project.


I am having a problem that I hope someone can explain to me, the issue is as follows.
The T31 is a light frigate concept with no or limited ASW capability. It appears that it could have a bow mounted sonar but nothing else. The T26 on the other hand is a large ASW frigate, yet the cost of this vessel appears to be about £800 million. The T45 is about £1 billion. I can understand in some ways the cost of the T45 as it is outfitted with advanced sensors and the Sea Viper system (Sampson Radar, Aster15/30s) this is an expensive system. However the T26 is equipped only with Artisan the hull mounted sonar appears to come from the T23 the towed array is a new model. So why is the T26 so expensive? if it were lower in cost then there would be no need for the T31 as the T26 in the ASW or GP role could be affordable.