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Very interesting piece, and great to see some pics. But how frustrating to find that at least seven years will pass before “Glasgow” will commission.


Are these timelines due to the:

1) Actual requirement to built a first of class ship?
2) Politicians stringing out the build period of ships to keep the yards busy because we don’t build ships in sufficient numbers to ensure they have a continuous flow of work?
3) Politicians stringing out the build period to spread cost over a longer period even though this increases the total cost?
4) A combination of the above?


Search me … I’ll go with 4)


Primarily 2 through 4.

Balance of shipyard labour – avoiding peaks and troughs and EP cash profiles.

The last 18 months will primarily be Part IV trials, where ship is essentially functional, but going through machinery and weapon trials for acceptance and certification.

Rob Collinson

I really well written statement, which many have been looking forward to for some months, since the lockdown started.

Lets try to keep pictures coming on the key developments highlighted above.

|Keep working hard and above all – STAY SAFE


Stealthy Design, Very impressive.


Definitely a stealthy design the Enemy wont be able to see it. It will still be in the shed!

The really stupid thing is to GO Slow on first in class. Its counter intuitive because people will say you need to find ways to do it more efficiently in first of class therefore go slow.
Wrong. It may indeed take longer as evidenced by the Queen Elizabeth vs Prince of Wales but dont encourage it or it will take longer still.
The danger is the longer you drag this class out the chances are the T23’s will be long gone and the fleet escorts will have gone down to about 11!
The danger is that our adversaries wont wait for us to catch up.
The other danger is that the Australians and Canadians loose faith in the UK as a reliable partner and cut their orders or take over the lead in the project.
If you go slow you are by default pushing the whole project backwards but if you start fast you are by enabling the program to complete in a decent time frame and may be able to pull it forwards.
This whole project reeks of being hobbled by the MOD. I think they want to cut the order in half or kill it stone dead.
We need an in house design agency or Take Over BMT. We need to be a lot more pushy and demanding to get things done and dont allow Navantia space to mess with UK FSS. Take over BMT in the national interest.


Just out of curiosity – at how fast of a rate could we build these ships at if we decided we wanted them yesterday – and the political will and extra funding was there to allow the fastest possible production rate? Would be interesting to know how fast these are being built compared to how fast they could be built.


Its not just money and will, it’s people and facilities.

Tyne-built T23 were going from first steel cut to launch in just over two years, with delivery eighteen months later. Now they’re about half the weight (but not work content) than a T26. On the other hand, the yard was building three simultaneously as well as RFA Fort George and RRS James Clark Ross.

But that was a yard with space to have two on the berth side by side, whereas Govan is too cramped for that.

You could build them to print elsewhere, but that needs a yard set up to be able to do that, which we don’t currently have, primarily because we don’t have enough of the right people – particularly on design engineering and project mgmt and control.

You should be able to get a T26 handed over (ie prior to acceptance trials) within about four and a bit years on average from first steel cut to sail away if you threw manpower at it.


I smell Wartime production in your post Charlie ?? Seems like this is something missing these days…in war you have to expect losses (just look at the Falklands and that wasnt even a fight that threatened the UK directly and 2 Brand new Destroyers + 2 Frigates were sunk) USN Admiral Zumwalt was 100% right with having a core of high end ships with a bulk load of cheap, easily produced low end ships.


Totally agree with Sam, we have lots critical mass 19 frigates and Destroyers is two fue when you take refitting and repair into the equation. The R.N. is to small by a third. Budget cuts and treasury demands for cost savings in all departments, saw the navy swing to it’s smallest size in modern history. Having a split force of high end and low end vessels is a way to save but you still need enough high end ships to do the job with a refit rota in mind. 12 T26s and 8 T45s would have been the right balance I feel. But all 3 services are in the same boat so to speak.


Better to follow the US approach to the AB frigate, build continuously at an appropriate rate and evolve the design (air defence variant etc) instead of rushing to complete a batch and then wonder what next. IMO. More stability, sustainable employment, and should result in lower unit costs.


And complete inability to design a new warship, witness comedy LCS, DDG1000 programmes. Direct result of not exercising design skills for thirty years, meaning you have to go to Fincantieri to get your design for FFG(X).


As opposed to going to Denmark for the Type 31’s?


To a degree yes. That decision was largely a result of politics in NCHQ and DE&S, with a little help from a large defence contractor.

The effect will be seen when it comes time to design a T45 replacement, sometime in the 30s. By that time, those who worked on the early stage design of T26 in 2009-12 will have twenty years since they last did that. The seniors will have retired, the juniors will be in senior positions, with only one design under their belts.

These skills are perishable, they need exercising every five years or so, even if the eventual ship never makes it to contract. People think designing a ship is expensive – it is when you go all the way to detail design with offices stuffed with design engineers and draughtsmen. It’s not when you’re talking about a relatively small number of people doing the important front end design. The “why” the ship is how it is can only be learned through exercising those skills and it’s by far the most important part.

Some of the emerging issues with Hunter will be as a result of taking an existing design and asking it to do something else – in this case carry a more powerful radar requiring more ship service power and solving a stability issue. Which seems to be increasing displacement. What they’ll probably find is that fixing those problems causes others elsewhere as the weight creeps up, the bunkerage needs to be increased, changing the stability characteristics again and at some point, they’ll discover that the parameters of the existing design might actually be limiting them. The after hullform and L/D ratio are two that spring to mind and probably freeboard at some point.

You always have to understand what you’re trying to achieve before leaping down a design path that might have unexpected constraints that end up biting.

Last edited 3 years ago by N-a-B

Did you read the issues about Australian Type 26 N-a-B?

It seems to be going for over 10000t instead of 8800t if there is no change. It seems that have been related to changes also in British version.

Phillip Johnson

It is difficult to know what is going on with the Hunter. The RAN only gets a new ‘frigate/destroyer’ design ever 20 years or so there is a natural tendency to go for everything possible, which was the case for the Hobart/F105 class and the source of endless trouble.
Normally the options are sorted out in the spec writing process prior to tenders being called but the start up of the new frigate process was a political mess so options are probably being sorted now.
The proposed CEA-FAR(3) tower is BIG repeat BIG. If they intend to build it in steel they would likely have to reinforce the structure under and around it right down to the keel.
Something will probably give like building the tower in aluminium like on the ANZAC Frigates.


> These skills are perishable, they need exercising every five years or so, even if the eventual ship never makes it to contract. … talking about a relatively small number of people doing the important front end design. The “why” the ship is how it is can only be learned through exercising those skills and it’s by far the most important part.

Very interesting.

I remined

  • BMT’s Venator 110 concept, evolving nicely, until the total cost for T31 is as low as 1.25 (or 1.5 then) B GBP. Does their work level meets the level you describe? If so, UK just need to continue such “concept study” on and on?

If not

  • T31 program saw initial designing phase contracted to three bidders, BAES (Leander), Babcock (Arrowhead 140) and TKMS/Atlas-UK (MEKO-A200). It was with 5M GBP each, as I understand. These works must be more advanced (= in detail) than what was done by BMT on Venetor 110, but not a true detailed design now undergoing on Arrowhead 140. How about this level.

I guess you are talking about the latter? In that case, BAES engineer had a (good) chance to design an elongated Khareef design (which is surely complicated and difficult than “just simply plugging in a hull in the middle).

I just wanted to know what level = amount of money RN must spend on it, in coming decades until T45-replacement materializes.


Venator was originally aimed at a slightly different target – the old “C3” ship back in the day and when the GP light frigate started being whispered about, evolved in line with that. The team that produced Venator was led by one of BMT chief engineers and a small team, but didn’t get much beyond a concept design.

Arrowhead started off as one thing (Arrowhead 120 based on the USCG cutter Babcocks were supporting on) and then became something very different (Arrowhead 140) when Babcocks hooked up with OMT to acquire the Huitfeld design. Again, the initial strategy was executed by a very small team and was more graphic design than design at that point.

Khareef/Leander was always going to struggle to transition from a relatively short-ranged missile battery to something much longer legged for the RN. Classic case of knowing what you’re aiming for before and why you pick a basis ship. BAES problem was that the only things they had to hand were Khareef (VT origin) or the old F2000 (Yarrow origin) design that was the Brunei fiasco.

When it became clear that a certain part of the MoD wanted a ship with decent growth margins, the existing off the shelf stuff (Venator/ Arrowhead 120/Khareef) had to be canned as they were in the wrong place design-wise and with insufficient time to restart from scratch. Which is why OMT were hauled in by Babcock in a masterstroke by the way. Atlas’ Sigma was in a better place size-wise but utterly hamstrung by lack of a credible build strategy.

Conducting a design exercise to tender / contract level design probably needs about £2M/team per exercise – you can obviously spend more over a longer period. In the great scheme of things it’s peanuts, but the benefits – providing it’s done properly can be significant.


Thanks a lot N-a-B-san, for very detailed information and suggestion.

1. On my original question (how to train the designing team in UK)

As I understand, you mean the “up to £5M/team” design phase of T31 provided BAES (Leander) and TKMS/Atlas-UK (MEKO200) teams with good experience, and was not so bad thing. As “£5M” is not huge cost, I hope RN can continue this activity, say, every 10 years at least.

2. A comment on Venator 110 (not 90)

Checking back the brochures, it was originally a 117m ling, 16m a beam, 3200t hull (around 2013 brochure) and evolved into a 18m beam, 4000t hull (2016 brochure). I liked the design, beause it was of pure British design, with clearly written rationale/policy (e.g. Johnson and Wakeling 2017 and Kimber and Thorne 2013). I hope it be realized as T31, but it didn’t (may be because of too high risk = cost, for a completely new design?).

# Among the (remaining) 3 candidates (Leander, A140, MEKO-A200), I was pushing Leander, simply because it was of British design. But, Khareef is not a good design to start with, I agree. Leander could be a candidate, only if the T31 program went on with the lowest requirement level listed in the original T31RFI, and of course with very limited margin.

3. >a certain part of the MoD wanted a ship with decent growth margins

Just a personal comment, but, UK-MOD has many margins left already; CVF itself, T45, T26, number of F35, P-8 and P-7, all are with “large margin to be filled in future”, requireing huge amount of money to be filled “when budget gets relaxed in future”. Adding margin to T31 is not easy to understand for me. But, this is just a personal impression…

Last edited 3 years ago by donald_of_tokyo

N-a-B out of interest what would be your solution to the current issue of 20 plus years between warship designs and expensive, drawn out build programs of fewer and fewer vessels?

If we accept that dramatic increases in the number of units and speed of procurement are off the table would an evolutionary approach with partial refreshes to bring the previous version up-to date (say after every 4 vessels built) be a better way forwards?

It would surely offer some degree of design work and continuity of skills if not quite as much as starting from scratch? Would it also spread some of the procurement costs out rather than bringing large numbers of new systems into service at the same time?


Speed of procurement is something that can be fixed.

Classes of 4-6 ships, new design for each doing different things, every 6-8 years. Use common systems and equipment items to keep ILS costs down.


Different things? Could you clarify ‘different things’?


ASW class.

AAW class.

GP class.

Rinse, repeat.


Thank you.


3 classes of 6 ships spaced 8 years apart would lead to an escort fleet of 18 ships renewed every 24 years and enough work to justify investment in one efficient yard. Sounds perfect but can the MoD/Treasury handle an industrial monopoly?


Great article, I still think we need a properly funded shipbuilding strategy. I would like to see a faster build rate and 9 instead of 8 , with a commitment for a T45 replacement based on T26. Then Bae’s frigate factory would be viable.


Whereas BAE will tow T26 hull to Scotstoun after launch for two years fitting out Fincantieri with the new USN FFG FREMM will launch 90% complete, targeting 96% , only reason not 100% is mast will be too high to fit under bridges on St Lawrence Seaway, mast will be installed on East coast shipyard.

Fincantieri say fitting out after structure complete much more expensive in labour and effort.


That’s misunderstanding what “fitting out” actually means. Those T26 will be at similar levels of completion to FFG(X). What the two years at Scotstoun are for is for inspection, test, set to work and commissioning of systems, which is the hardest part and trickiest trade-off in timing.


Thanks, much appreciate your taking the time to correct my misunderstandings with your wealth of experiance in the industry.


Why does your plan require the type type 45 replacement be based on the type 26? Why is it a good idea to so limit the design of an AA destroyer by basing it on an (by then) old ASW frigate design? Are you under the misapprehension that it will somehow save money?

Meirion X

A Type 45 replacement will highly likely be a bigger hull, to accommodate advances in tech like laser guns, and perfected rail guns. New types of warpons will require greater energy generation and storage capacity.

Last edited 3 years ago by Meirion X

Yea and make sure it has a squash court, swimming pool and three funnels. Why not?


Between Wars 1 and 2 we still had enough Hulls in the Sea to manage an effective defence of not only our World Wide trade but our World Wide Interest’s too. This latest period has been Unbelievably neglected , in my view.


To be fair; that was when the British Empire was still very much a thing. It’s not quite fair to compare the situation as the largest political entity in the world, spanning a more hostile globe, to the current situation.

Indeed; I’m not sure one can say the RN hasn’t been neglected, but I don’t think quite upto what you are implying.


We are an island Nation who’s vast majority of trade arrives via the Sea, that hasn’t changed. I hope you are right.


We need 10 of these ships! And why do we keep building ships with very little War fighting offensive capability….Land atack capability should be a must on these ships! We don’t have enough submarines to keep that role to them!


Also what’s the deal with the double bridge on the the type 26 and type 45? To willy wave from the outside bridge?

Last edited 3 years ago by Cam

Not heard about the recent warship collisions then? Featuring the US & Norwegian Navies?




Double bridge?


I assumed he meant double height as labelled in one of the construction photos. They’re not but they do have big windows and I can only think of one reason for bigger windows.


nope, I meant how you have an outside walkway infront of the bridge And why it’s on the 45and 26.


They are surprisingly big windows in T45.


The T45’s bridge windows are huge. I think I have probably spent more time in a T45 than whomever down voted me. Hey ho.


Hello X, Personally I never got anywhere near your T45 but a big old part of me is very envious. Wish we had your Weaponry a few decades back. oh and have an Upvote.


The down voting here is stupid. But the site owners are happy about it.


Yes, It looks that way, maybe the good people who manage this site might come to a similar conclusion.


My theory about big windows is that in model form it makes them seem a lot smaller than they are and therefore easier to sell to the portals of power.
Imagine trying to sell them a 10000 ton frigate. Whatever next?


Yeah, you know how you can walk I front of the bridge windows? Just wondered why that feature is there on the 45 and now 26.


Oh I see. Bridge wings and getting out into the elements never harms!

I hadn’t ever given any thought. The bridge windows in both are very large, keeping them clean easily might have been a consideration.


Bridge wings crucial for serials like berthing, RAS, boat ops etc. Also good place to mount decoys, small calibre guns etc. All of which need access for operation, reload etc.

The walkway in front of the bridge is purely so you can maintain and repair if necessary things like wiper motors, blades, sprays etc. If you need to do those things, it’s generally at sea when things are going to rats.


Ah thanks mate, I just wondered why the yanks ect don’t have them.


Just like to say, I like this site, shame it doesn’t have that many articles. Getting turned off the UKDJ site as it has started to get political lately.