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Peter

This article, while interesting, doesn’t address some key questions:
Why does it take the UK so long to build new frigates? From laying down to commissioning a Japanese Mogami class vessel takes 3 years. Recent Arleigh Burke destroyers in the US Navy take 4 years from laying down to commissioning.
To what extent does this extended build time add to costs?
What would it take to debottleneck the UK frigate construction process and build ships faster?

Deep32

Simple Peter, in a nutshell,

A-more money.
B-more warship orders

N-a-B

More people.
Better facilities (ie with more room).
Because the UK T26 programme in particular is phased to balance manpower capacity on the Clyde with what can be supported long term. There are also real physical limitations on how many blocks of frigate you can actually fit into the Govan yard at one time as well.

It’s also worth pointing out that while the USN and JMSDF commissioning dates are mentioned, that doesn’t necessarily put them “in-service”. The graphic above seems to represent completion of Pt IV trials for the T26. In other words, all systems tested trialled and accepted, ship ready for OST, so you’re not comparing like with like.

Supportive Bloke

As we have discussed on here a few times the original BAE offer to build more hulls was both faster and cheaper.

The program was deliberately stretched out both for cash and workflow reasons to sensibly avoid stop start on the assumption that T45 Replacement would follow on from T26 directly.

Sunmack

I agree.

The T31’s are inferior in every respect to the T23’s they’ll replace. A smaller gun so unable to undertake NGS. Only 40% of the SAM load out. No SSM’S. No sonar or torpedo tubes. They are the world’s largest OPV’s.

I keep hearing them mentioned as being useful in the Gulf but that would be a shameful risk.

The Iranians have mines, submarines and mini submarines none of which a T31 could detect or engage. Iran has SSM equipped warships which the T31 would need to withdraw from in any confrontation as they have no anti-ship missiles. And Iran has large numbers of air and land based anti-ship missiles that would quickly overwhelm the 12 SAM’s on the T31. The last place a T31 should be is the Gulf.

Sunmack

Replied to the wrong comment. Apologies

Trevor H

The T23s with sonar are being replaced with T26s. They are an improvement. The T31s are replacing what are general purpose ships.
This is well known.

Sunmack

Not true. The 5 Type 26 frigates being replaced by the Type 31’s all have a hull sonar. The Type 31 hasno hull sonar

Meirion X

The 5 Type 23 frigates being replaced by T31’s, have got hull sonar Type 2050.
A recently LIFEX T23 frigate HMS Portland has had a new Type 2150 hull sonar fitted. She is to trial new sonar for future T26 frigates this year.
So there is already a spare T2050 sonar available in store.
The T31’s are to replace the 5 T23 general propose frigates. T31 frigates could be given the old Type 2050 sonar from retired T23’s.

Last edited 25 days ago by Meirion X
Meirion X

Yes, the new T26 frigates wlll have a new hull sonar, Type 2150. It is to be trialed on HMS Portland this year.

Aaron

Ships do not need full weapon loadouts for wars that crop up once a generation. If any nation attacks a British ship they will have a fleet yo intend with, plus possibly NATO plus the backup of nuclear weapons. Every ship in the waters fly the flag, you attack it at your peril.

Sunmack

The last time a British warship was in combat was on 12 years ago off Libya.
Only last year a US warship had to use it’s SAM’S to defend itself against SSM’s twice off Yemen.

Josh

Hi Sunmack, I wont say why or how I know that didn’t happen. But the incident you describe involving a US warship did not happen. Not trying to be argumentative or anything.

ANDREW JOHN WILDE

I presume that you are a supporter of the new motto for the Royal Navy. “fitted for but not with” Why carry weapons at all. Just show your enemy rows and rows of storehouses and magazines which ,of course are full to the roof with every available goodie needed for war, or not. Call it a conventional deterrent. An alternate motto might be “why kill one British sailor when you can sink a ship-full”.

BB85

They could easily be upgraded to carry 64 CAAM and 16 NSM. Torpedoes will launched from a Merlin/Wildcat or UAV away from the ship. NGS is possible with the hull but an expensive addition. The range of the 4.5 inch gun is not far enough to avoid land launched ASM even against jihadists these days so we are better without it.

Sunmack

Hoe can torpedoes be launched against a submarine when neither the T31 or the Wildcat has any submarine detection sonar? How would they know where it was?

Sonik

Doesn’t RN Wildcat have dipping sonar? The South Korean ones certainty do so it’s already integrated.

Last edited 28 days ago by Ben Robins
donald_of_tokyo

RN Wildcat does NOT carry a dipping sonar.

South Korean Wildcat does, but it is suffering from shortened flight hours (dipping sonar system is heavy), so carrying it is “good” only if the Wildcat is really tasked for ASW.

In UK, I understand Wildcat are used as a torpedo carrier in ASW operation, under the guidance of ship’s sonar, but not used as a ASW sensor.

Sonik

Thanks – I found this when I checked. They also deleted MADL from Wildcat which was a bit short sighted.

So it seems T31 with Wildcat will be without any ASW capability at all. The hanger is big enough for Merlin, but there are not enough of them to go round.

Sonik

Yeah, it’s been mentioned before, by people far more knowledgeable than myself, that ship launched torpedoes are pointless anyway – if you get close enough to use them you are dead already! And if weather is too rough to put up the Heli, tracking ships gets impossible for submarines due to surface noise. So no problem relying on Heli/UAV for ASW.

Like you say NGS is also pretty pointless, but instead the fast firing 57mm on T31 adds close in defence against swarming/saturation attacks etc. and options for pre-frag and smart munitions. That’s a new capability that will be very useful in the Gulf

Last edited 28 days ago by Ben Robins
X

I don’t see the T31 as a frigate. It is a barely a sloop. There are better armed OPV’s out on the oggin.

Trevor H

Don’t be silly they are 6000 tonnes

Jack65

6000 tonnes maybe, but heavily underarmed There are much smaller vessels with a much better armament out there. As for withdrawing Montrose early – big mistake. She is no doubt earmarked for sale to Brazil complete with Sea Ceptor creating an export market for it along with second hand Type 23s…….

Sonik

Brasil are building their own frigates based on MEKO. But they will be fitted with Artisan and Sea Ceptor so UK PLC is not doing so badly out of it.

Last edited 30 days ago by Ben Robins
AlexS

I think the Sea Ceptor of Brazilian frigates will be the CAMM-ER with commercial name Aspide NG. If these rumors are truth would be assembled by MBDA Italy, obviously with components of from several places.

Sonik

Thanks, yeah I think most MBDA stuff is multinational, so whoever does final assembly, include parts from all over. It’s the one field where we don’t seem to see too many arguments over workshare!

It was Artisan that really caught my eye – Brasil acquired a set with Ocean/Atlantico so they must have been impressed with it.

Cam

Erm that size doesn’t make it a frigate Trevor H, it’s about weapons fit ect.

X

Don’t be silly? Really? Do you have any understanding of the usage of the terms of the frigates and destroyers? Do you know there is no set definition? And it changes from country to country? And from era to era? You don’t do you? You don’t have a blessed clue do you really? Don’t be silly. Take heed Not So Clever Trevor, before you commit to comment next time think, is it better I stay silent and for others to think I am an idiot, or comment and prove them right? You prat.

Trevor H

I am being clever. Very. The ship can be up armed, because it’s big enough. Its weapons are what it needs for what it is intended.

RichardIC

Take heed sir, lest the people of this place take ye for a varlet and an idiot and pour scorn upon thy visage. Think ye most careful before ye commit to comment.

Last edited 1 month ago by RichardIC
Stephen Ball

Type 31-32 is 10 type 31, can still see RN building 6-8 fibreglass mine warfare. Be it 2031 for requirement’s.

The type 31 works for the role it’s needed extra vessels.

Trevor H

When people play the Fool then it should be pointed out.

Supportive Bloke

Precisely.

it is big enough and has the power to be upgraded fast.

The CMS used has had plenty of goodies integrated with it for other people. So bolt onsite will be quite east.

If you look at the design it is based on you can see what can easily be added to it.

I would agree with the corvette/sloop negativity if there was not such a clear upgrade path.

RichardIC

If there’s no set definition why are you boring on about it?

borg

We need Ron 5 back here………… !!!!!

Deep32

Absolutely, he does make the odd appearance over on UKDJ though!!!

borg

Don’t really look in there that often, it’d bit Clicky to be honest.

Cam

UKDJ suck, getting banned for an opinion!.,.

Challenger

The cruiser, destroyer, frigate, corvette and sloop labels have become so blurred over time to become virtually academic.

I can’t disagree on the T31 spec as built – but once in service there remains the possibility of relatively quick/easy additions such as additional Sea Ceptor, a bow mounted sonar (if the propulsion isn’t so noisy as to make it redundant) and box launched AShM being fitted.

I think there is quite a bit of merit in getting a good and flexible 6,000 ton design into the water at a fixed low price to boost numbers with the possibility of making improvements at a later date – if of course additions were actually pursued.

Cam

It’ll cost loads to add extra cells In future for sea Ceptor so we should do it now whilst building, we need 32 minimum to replace the 23s fit.

Challenger

They may yet get 24 cells during construction which isn’t great but neither is it terrible for the sort of secondary roles they are expected to undertake.

T31 is incredibly modular with dozens of options and spare space for export customers so i can’t imagine added more Sea Ceptor cells or box launched AShM’s would cost the earth.

Sonik

What I find strange is that IIRC the control cabinets for Ceptor can each accommodate 8 cells.

So the original proposed 24 cells for T31 made sense, as would 16 cells. But the choice of 12 cells perhaps shows just how close to the bone the spec has been trimmed to keep in budget.

But as you say it’s a sensible compromise, because it’s not too difficult to add more Cells later.

The catchphrase in tech industry is ‘modular and scalable’, which sounds a lot more impressive than FFBNW, perhaps RN need to brush up on their marketing skills!

donald_of_tokyo

Sorry for late comment.

Sea Ceptor Lamch Management System can handle 12 CAMM, at least the one used in ExLS is stated as such. See LM ExLS brochure.

So, T31’s Sea Ceptor is simply using 1 LMS and 2 data link antenna. This is my understanding.

Sonik

Ok thanks, I think there must be more than one possible control solution in that case. But that makes sense for T31 with 12 CAMM.

Last edited 27 days ago by Ben Robins
john

That sounds alot like the power generation problems we had on the type 45 after continualy cutting out because at -10% reduction in PG due to warmer climates.

If they navy actually went ahead and just spent the money now it would have a better outcome and less downtime in the future, when they inevitably have to retrofit them in guz or pompy.

When i left, if memory serves correct, pretty much all Type 45’s where in pompy laid up awaiting thier PIP. of which i was apart of the team helping generate the package

donald_of_tokyo

I understand “GP frigate” naming is invented when T81 Tribal class was renamed from Sloop to Frigate. So, yes T31 is a sloop which is equivalent to a GP frigate. This is my understanding.

Cam

Even the type 23 “GP” frigates have a better weapons load out. GP shouldn’t mean under armed..,

donald_of_tokyo

No objection. I am not saying lightly armed T31 is good. Just saying GP frigate “looks” equivalent to “Sloop” in RN, and as such, “sloop” vs “frigate” argument is not important here.

Up-arming a sloop (=GP frigate) to full-fat frigate level has nothing wrong (if the cost enables it). But, as T21 was also as armed as a typical corvette of the day, T31 (which is armed as a typical corvette of the day) is “a typical GP frigate” for me.

The only issue is, do RN need GP frigate (cheap but in number) or full-fat frigate only (powerful but with less number).

Sonik

I think RN need both – cheap GP frigate in number, to add mass and deal with routine patrol, presence etc. And full-fat T23/T26/T45 for ASW patrol and actual war fighting.

T31 is optimised for asymmetric threats like fast boat swarm, suicide boat, piracy, drug busting etc. Hence fast firing guns, multiple boat bays and 360° EO for close-in SA. Plenty of this type of threat and tasking for RN.

I think T31 is also good in CTG because it adds unique close-in surface defence, useful in confined waters, harbours e.g. USS Cole type situation.

In CTG, limited armament on T31 isn’t a problem, because ASW/AAD is covered by others. After all the carriers and RFAs are less armed still than T31.

Last edited 27 days ago by Ben Robins
Trevor H

They are ‘platforms’. Someone needs to come up with a fancy name for a ‘platform’.

Trevor H

PS
Its like people calling a Typhoon or Tempest or F35 a ‘Fighter’ !!

Duker

Heres it explained as originally intended
Type 1X were Anti-Submarine (ASW) Frigates (when the numbers ran out in the 1960s, ASW Frigates continued as the Type 2X series).
Type 4X were Anti-Aircraft (AAW) Frigates (this later evolved into the “Destroyer” Type series).
Type 6X were Aircraft-Direction (ADW) Frigates.
Type 8X were Multi-Role ships. An Admiralty Fleet Order defined these ships as “Destroyers” if they could achieve “fleet speed” or as “Sloops” if they could not.[1]

So the Type8X ships included the Tribals and the Bristol large destroyer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_system_of_the_Royal_Navy

Derek

In the great age of sail the definition of Sloop, Frigate etc was all about gun numbers but then the gun numbers determined the number of gun decks – e.g. size. A ‘First Rate’ ship of the line would have 60+ cannon. A ship with 3 gun decks but with only 10 guns (the rest ‘fitted for but not with’) did not exist. If it had 10 guns on one deck it was a Sloop – and what’s more, it was the size expected of a sloop because of only having the one gun deck.

As I think Nelson said …. ‘Why have empty gun decks FFS!” – or something like that.

Rob

What is the likelihood of the Royal Navy having 24 frigates/destroyers by 2035, if ever? Will the reduction to 16 by 2023 not become the ‘new normal’?

John Hartley

I would like to put right the mistake of the Blair/Brown years & go to 8 Destroyers, when we replace the T45s in the 2030s. So 24 -8 = 16 Frigates.

X

The big mistake was, with hindsight, was T45 not replacing both T42 and T23. By now we would have 12 hulls in the water.

The original number of T45 was to be 12; a basic 1 for 1 replacement for T42. But when T42 was built there was talk of 24-ish being built to a B3-like design!

Last edited 1 month ago by X
Meirion X

The T45 could Not replaced the T23 which is an anti-sub frigate. T45 has too deep a stern for ASW tasks.
T26 has also a shallow stern for ASW tasks.
Yes most likely the T42!

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
Duker

That doesnt make any sense. Back when the T22 and T42 were being built around the same time the reasons for the different hulls was up front not at the rear.
T42 needed a fuller hull forward to accommodate the Sea Dart magazine below the water line, while the T22 had finer lines forward for seakeeping chasing submarines.
Nowdays everything is bigger and wider as the naval architects work from the best prismatic coefficient to provide better damaged condition stability and more stable sea platform with a lot more weight higher up and the bonus of better accommodation even with the smaller crew now needed.
Once the Royal Corps of naval Constructors designed a boat to RN requirements , now its the ship builder who designs to a captive client and who can see most of the cost goes in propulsion, electronics, weapons systems and a bigger boat gives them a larger share of the pie and provides many benefits

Sonik

Fair points re stability and damage control, but I think in fairness the main driver towards larger ships (and indeed also land vehicles) is growth margin, demanded by the client. RN learned this lesson the hard way e.g. County Class built around the primary weapon and therefore impossible to upgrade.

Bigger hull itself is not significant extra cost (Vs weapons, sensors etc.) but obviously it does increase the cost of propulsion like you say. This is very significant for T26 with expensive CODLOG but for T31 with basic CODAD it’s evidently possible to build a relatively cheap, large ship. And huge empty merchant ships like tankers or bulkers are even cheaper still

I guess you could say size is not everything it’s what you do with it!

Last edited 27 days ago by Ben Robins
Meirion X

If you take a look at the T26 stern, it is long and shallow, just deep enough to store the TAS equipment, cable drum. The engines are positioned in midship at max beem. The bow end, forward of the bridge, is not that particular long, compared to the T22,B3.
Yes the T42 did have a particularly lot of forward area of hull. And a deep stern to counter balance the long bow.

Last edited 27 days ago by Meirion X
Duker

Could be . Yet both have a helicpter deck at the rear to allow same helicopter weight.
The rear cut away around the propellers is primarily for their efficiency and the operation of rudders.
The buoyancy I would have thought is supported by the whole length of the vessel.

Cam

So the PM was only 25 years off when we will have 24 frigates and destroyers….

Challenger

The likely truth of the matter is the previously touted goal of building 5 additional T32 frigates to increase the fleet to 24 eventually got lost in translation and resulted in Boris mentioning ’24 frigates’ by 2030 because the end of the decade is an attractive and easily understandable target to talk up. I wouldn’t try and read too much in to it!

All of this serves as a useful example though of the problems in boom and bust cycles of shipbuilding, not having a steady drumbeat of construction and retiring vessels after flogging them to death without direct replacement.

As the article states under current planning we’re realistically not going to see 24 frigates and destroyers until the mid 2030’s. With the money and the will that could easily be accelerated but then what happens once we have a glut of vessels constructed in a flurry that won’t need to be replaced for 10 or 20 years?

A continuous procurement cycle is needed – but whilst it can be broken quite easily through penny pitching or simple apathy it takes many years and a great deal of effort to reestablish.

Supportive Bloke

Hull life 25 years
number in service 24
Therefore build rate 1 per year

Only question is what is the designed hull life of the T31?

No harm in launching T31/32 at that rate over a ten year window with T45 up for replacement following on from T26.

Agrred we would be better with 8 T45 replacements as six is marginally too few.

Teves

Think you will see the T31/32 being run ragged with dual crews over 15 years then replaced with new hulls and sell off the second hand ones. Based on 325 day availability they talk about. Would make sense with one major refit in the middle.

Supportive Bloke

As N-a-B has commented before, class rules require a 6 yearly recertification of the hull.

Sonik

That fits with a 10 ship/10 year cycle for T31/T32 – flog them on with a couple of years left on the MOT avoiding an expensive drydock just before sale.

Last edited 28 days ago by Ben Robins
Sonik

My thought is to increase T4x fleet more quickly by starting replacement a few years before T45 OSD, a couple of new ships in service to boost overall fleet to 8, before carrying on with one-to-one replacement. Not looking very likely on current estimates but I guess T45 OSD could get extended, since they have been sat around quite a bit and are getting new engines.

Duker

Lost in translation…..?
At the PM level the public statements they make are based on written data from the ministries, who then go through the PMs media team to condense it and turn it into ‘Boris Speak’
Theres a high chance the misinformation is deliberate after all thats one of the major skills of being a PM or anyone at the very top level to be able to absorb written information quickly and and speak accurately on the topic at hand. Its not flawless but discrepancies can be minor. Getting the future force size way out is typical political puffery

David Barry

I like you!

He is either inept, incompetent or downright purveyor of sophistry on an epic scale… or all three.

PeterS

I think you are too charitable to Boris. Confusion between frigates and escorts may be pardonable. Promising 24 by 2030 is not. Stephen Lovegrove made very clear that the plan was to start construction on Type 32 towards the end of the decade. No chance of 24 by 2030. Either Boris didn’t know, in which case he’s incompetent, or he did know and he lied.

Andrew

I despair at the state the RN has been allowed to get itself into. We really ought to be looking at a fleet of 40 escort ships – I believe this is about what we had when Blair got into power. 24 (in over a decades time) is certainly better than 19 but I’m not going to celebrate anytime soon.

Sonik

I don’t think it’s just a raw numbers game what matters is how many ships can be deployed, you have to consider capability, material condition, availability, crewing etc.

By the end of the decade the entire escort fleet will have been built or re-fitted in the previous 10 years, including brand new engines on every single ship.

New T26 and T31 require much smaller crews which should solve current manpower issues, also forward basing, modern reliable ships with better accomodation and facilities all helping with recruitment and retention.

All adds up to much better availability for deployment for the whole escort fleet. So maybe not quite back to late 90s levels but a huge improvement none the less.

Last edited 29 days ago by Ben Robins
Grant

Would it not be beneficial to increase the pace of T26 build? Surely within that timescale it would be possible to up the number to 10. 10 fully armed T26s with a full weapons fit and a mission bay full of UUVs surely would be a much better use of resources (Although not as headline grabbing) as 5 more Type 31/32s?

3 to support CSG, 2 to support LSG, 1/2 TAPS, 1 working in an allied task force, rest in maintenance and training.

What will 10 T31/32s be doing? A couple in the gulf, one in the med…. why do we need 10?

Sunmack

The T26 order and build timescale and the T31 has nothing to do with what the Navy needs but is about creating and sustaining jobs. Politicians know how they treat the Navy doesn’t matter a damn with voters but creating jobs does.
What you’re proposing is fewer better armed warships but they don’t create as many jobs as more hulls with less weapons and sadly that’s all politicians care about.

Grant

Yep I guess thats the unfortunate truth…

Sonik

While jobs are undoubtedly a factor I don’t think it’s entirely fair to say that’s all that matters. The stated goal since NSS is to make UK shipbuilding more sustainable and competitive, and it’s heading in the right direction.

T26 has been sold to Canada and Australia – ok they are building their own hulls – but UK will supply a lot of the expensive bits like GTs, gearboxes and electric motors. Babcock are building a frigate factory, off their own back. If they can deliver on T31, I wouldn’t be surprised if they get some export orders.

The benefit to RN is that they get cheaper ships, so they can buy more of them. And the high end stuff like motors are available from UK suppliers when they need them. Maintaining such sovereign industrial capacity is important to national security.

Last edited 30 days ago by Ben Robins
Paul.P

Type 32 mission bays and remote submersibles will help us replace the Hunts and Sandowns and increase our sub surface capabilities while being full fat frigates in their own right.

Grant

If anything is actually brought to put in them. The MCMV ships dont need to be replaced by frigates….

Supportive Bloke

T45, T26, T31 all have mission bays and the RFA can do the same with ISO’s etc.

donald_of_tokyo

Written answer says: “On current plans, the average delivery rate for vessel acceptance from the Contractor of Type-26 batch 1 is one ship every 18 months” (Jeremy Quin, 21 Jan 2021).

Also it was officially announced (I lost the reference) that, T26-hull2 build will start 24 months after that of T26-hull1 (actually, it happened), and hull3 will start 18 months later. So, at least in T26-batch1, its intention is to build them in 18-month drumbeat.

By the way, it is “acceptance from the Contractor”. It understand it means “handed over to RN” or “delivery”, not “commission” nor “in service”. T26-hull1 delivery is planned in 2025. This means T26-hull2 will be delivered late-2026/early-2027, and T26-hull3 in 2028.

Similarly, T31-hull1 will be “delivered” in 2025, and the 5th hull in 2028-29 (officially annouced, I lost the reference though).

So, at least based on these annoucements, the chart shown in this article looks “default/planned”, and not “too optimistic”. (Of course, “default/planned” is rather “optimistic” these days, because many procurement delays, and rarely advanced in schedule).

EDIT: By the way, this means on 2028, there will be 6 T45, 3 T26, 5 T31 and 8 T23ASW = 22 escorts flying white ensign, although only 19 is “commissioned”. Interesting.

Last edited 1 month ago by donald_of_tokyo
Sonik

So if T32 build proceeds, directly after T31, from 2028 onwards, BoJo announced figure, of 24 escorts by 2030, is actually about right?

Just not all in commission by then.

Last edited 29 days ago by Ben Robins
Andy

Would it make sense for one of the to-be retired T23’s to be retained as a training ship to replace HMS Bristol?

Regarding the 24 escort goal, there was talk of a second batch of T31’s, maybe we will get an extra 5 to increase the fleet short term while the T32 is being designed, then once these start to enter service the older T31’s could be sold off. IIRC the NSS called for a steady order of new ships and selling them young (when they still have value, unlike the current worn-out T23’s) to maintain the industry.

Sonik

My reading is that T32 most likely will just be a second batch of T31, perhaps with a few minor changes.

The T32 designation was used because technically, it’s an open competition, so HMG needed to avoid the appearance that Babcock will get the order by default.

In reality, it’s unlikely that BAE, or anyone else, will come up with anything better/cheaper than Type 31.

Thats if anyone besides Babcock can even be bothered to look at it, since the likely outcome is fairly obvious, to all potential bidders.

Supportive Bloke

Well BAE didn’t bid for T31 due to ‘capacity’ issues.

There was always a degree of openness about the possibility of a second batch of T31.

Sonik

Good points.

IMO there is no obvious benefit to introducing a third new frigate type, along with the associated training, support and supply chain issues, so Babcock/A140 has to be the front runner for T32.

Ultimately it could come down to how well Babcock deliver on the first batch. Since there is still plenty of time, it may be sensible for MOD to take T32 competition a bit slowly to see how the initial T31 deliveries go, which of course also motivates Babcock to get it right first time.

Meirion X

And T23 with CODLOG drive as well.
So Rolls Royce and GE involvement.

Last edited 27 days ago by Meirion X
donald_of_tokyo

Small correction. BAE did, actually.

But you are correct that the main player was always Cammel Laired. Leander project was originally a CL project with BAES support, but at the last moment, the main bidder became BAES (I understand MOD required so).

But this does not mean Leander hull were proposed to be built in Clyde. Just BAE taking the hat as the main contractor. So, yes, BAES regecting building Leander at Clyde for “capacity issue” is correct.

Sonik

You are right BAE fronted Leander bid because CL had insufficient financial backing for size of contract. MOD got stung when Swan Hunter collapsed during Bay class build, so they now have minimum financial requirement for bid qualification

Effectively this means in UK, only BAE and Babcock are sufficient size to bid directly for RN build contracts. Others can of course still work as subcontractors under BAE/Babcock umbrella.

Essentially it’s become a duopoly but that has worked quite well for many years with Boeing/Airbus, at least it did until recently.

Last edited 27 days ago by Ben Robins
Challenger

Going by the chart in the article the RN have played the game pretty well in sacrificing Monmouth which by all accounts is in a terrible condition, Montrose which will be flogged to death during her 3 year Gulf stint as well as Argyll on her planned OSD in exchange for keeping the 10 other younger T23’s that will have all gone through LIFEX until 2026 at the earliest.

Not bad going considering the sort of cuts that were rumoured.

Sonik

I agree. While none of it is ideal, out of the 3 services RN seem to be doing pretty well at making the best out of a bad job.

Duker

How come the US can put a ship in mothballs or beside a dock for 18 months or longer and bring it back OK
For Britain anything that hasnt been to sea for 12 months becomes ‘terrible condition’

Sonik

Last year RN told the defence select committee that after SDSR2010 they cut routine maintenance & spares holding too far, resulting in decline to overall fleet condition and many parts being ‘borrowed’ off inactive ships to fix other ships in active service.

Maintenance budget has since been increased but I guess they are still playing catch-up.

Meirion X

Ships stored in longoons, away from high tides, like in Plymouth!

criss whicker

just out of interest, i thought a frigate factory building two at a time was constructed,
or do i have this wrong,

Cam

It’s almost done, in Rosyth. But maybe Babcock knew something we all didn’t When building it, type 32, meaning 10 frigates being built there.

criss whicker

Thanks

rec

BAE wanted a frigate factory on the Clyde but MOD wouldnt fund it. But it would make sense to have a second T26 production line, maybe possible if T45 replacement is based on T26

Supportive Bloke

What the MOD wanted and got was competition.

If they donated a frigate factory to BAE then BAE would have had them over a barrel shaped frigate factory!

As it is Babcock decided that a big shed made commercial sense to them.

I build big sheds as part of the day job and believe me they are not that expensive to build. The efficiency/quality gain will be huge. So, for me, Babcock took this seriously.

If I was guessing as to what is going on here MOD told Babcock, ‘get the first T31’s built on time and on budget and we will order 5 more’. That might even be contractual.

So I am **guessing** that Babcock are building hulls 1&2 at close to zero margin earning OK on hulls 3-5 and making cream on hulls 6-10. That would be a normal commercial strategy **if** you had certainty on hulls 6-10 coming your way.

Trevor H

Yes.
But also if Babcock and the Mod want and hope to sell export then They will want the space. I believe, but honestly I am happy to be corrected, that the Shipbuilding Strategy was to intent or suggest that as 5 ships were brought into service ether the 6th would go to export or go to the RN and the first one sold off second hand.

Indeed such latter ship would go to another dockyard and be refurbished before selling on, thus making money and employment.

What is important for our industry is that we export and as such the T31 is a very important project. Selling nearly new second hand is still a very good business and gives a pretty good security of supply to a buyer!

Supportive Bloke

The problem with selling second hand is that the UK flooded the market with second hand frigates from the late ‘70’s onwards. This killed new orders.

Equally as N-a-B pointed out you don’t get that much for a second hand frigate.

Don’t get e wrong I’d love to see us exporting warships to friendly powers. But hopefully not selling them to unfriendlies like we did we T42…..and that was the problem with desperately exporting to anyone anywhere to keep yards working.

Sonik

The problem in the 80’s and 90’s there was a huge pile of surplus equipment worldwide leftover from the cold war. Same thing happened to Challenger 2, no export orders due to tons of decent second hand Leo and Abrams being available for buttons.

Cold war surplus is now obsolete and/or life expired, so there may now be a more reasonable market, with better pricing, for say 10 year old vessels? What else is available on the world market? T23 will be scrap by the time RN finish with it! I would imagine similar situation for other European navies.

I think that’s what NSS was suggesting, buy new after about 10 years instead of costly refits, which also enables to sell on while the hulls are still worth something.

Last edited 30 days ago by Ben Robins
Cam

What happened to all the chally 1s and centurions? We had thousands of the blooody things. I did year Jordan’s upgrading their chally 1s with new turrets, and there’s still Centurion’s serving globally! But what happened to the bulk of them?

Sonik

IDK about Centurion but I think all the C1s got scrapped. Possibly unable to export due to DU ammo? BAE made a special tungsten APFSDS for Oman’s C2 at great expense, but that was much later and I guess Oman could afford it. Not sure what rounds the Jordanians use – maybe they have a different gun.

Last edited 28 days ago by Ben Robins
Cam

Thanks

Cam

And some of those frigates are still sailing the oceans…

Supportive Bloke

Yes, they are: just about floating.

I would not like to be in one of them, other than perhaps the T22 or T23 anywhere shooty.

Most of them were retired due to the survivability criteria bought in post ‘82.

Things like Leanders or T21 are death traps in modern terms.

Sonik

That was kinda my point above.

I doubt many green and brown navies care much about survivability, but there must be tons of cold war ships still in service, that are barely sustainable by now.

At the same time we have local arms races going on in APAC, ME, and to a lesser extent, South America. So those regions need to update their fleets, but the supply of second hand ships is much tighter now vs 20-30 years ago.

Sonik

My suspicion is that the hope is to build – operate – sell T31 on a continuous 10 year cycle. The benefit to RN is a new, modern fleet with low maintenance and no refit costs.

Car manufacturers do this with leasing – cars are leased for 2-3 years before feeding back into dealers as approved used cars, giving manufacturer access to a much wider target market. Japan does same, exporting nearly-new cars to Australia & NZ, wiping out local production in the process. For naval ships the cycle is a bit longer, but the principal is the same.

A 10yo T31 could be sold on pretty cheap, and replaced without RN taking much of a hit (Vs refit & upgrade costs). Such cheap, modern, well looked after vessels will be attractive to a very wide range of international buyers, Vs alternatives of something more sophisticated but old and outdated, or new and much more expensive. Nothing smacks of value like a nearly-new frigate!

The positioning of T31 as a lightly armed, oversized corvette, is actually an advantage in this respect – buyers have options to buy a basic, modern, easy to operate ship very cheap if that’s all they can afford, or can up-arm as budget alows and still get excellent value Vs a new vessel.

Last edited 29 days ago by Ben Robins
Duker

exporting nearly-new cars to Australia & NZ, wiping out local production in the process”
Not nearly new , most are 5-7 years old where they run up against the Japanese major road worthyness tests and lose value quickly in Japan. The local production for Australia was wiped when tariffs were dropped

Sonik

Ah ok – thanks for clarification, I had thought it was 3 years. You don’t see any old cars at all in Japan apart from a few classics. The strict tests are a deliberate policy to support new car production by making old cars uneconomic to keep. I think Germany does something similar but their old cars go to Russia and the Baltics

So I think the basic point I was trying to make re T31 second-hand exports still stands.

Last edited 27 days ago by Ben Robins
Duker

Now the UK has to sell off or scarp immediately any old but still usable Defence equipment as the Treasury will still levy a capital charge, at what are now seen as high rates of interest.
Its like those treadmills they let lab mice use.

Sonik

Thanks, that’s interesting. Sounds like another thing like scrapping UOR equipment instead of keeping it in mothballs. In theory it’s based on sound financial management but from a pragmatic standpoint it creates perverse incentives that result in bonkers decisions and a lot of waste. To be fair I have seen plenty similar in industry – disposal of perfectly useable, useful kit for pure accounting reasons. I’m no socialist but it does make me chuckle this obsession that business does everything better so government should follow. HMG seem to adopt all the worst bits!

Last edited 26 days ago by Ben Robins
Sonik

I agree, but I doubt Babcock have anything contractual (yet), more likely they are taking a punt with break-even being the worst possible outcome.

T32 was designated as such to avoid appearance that Babcock will get the order by default – HMG pretty much said that – but everybody knows that the most likely outcome for T32 is a second batch of T31.

Competition does seem to be working, the balancing act for MOD is keeping BAE honest while retaining the high end design skills.

IMO one other to watch at the moment is Infrastrata. They have now acquired four yards at fire-sale prices, strategy is to be well diversified with energy industry, commercial shipping, as well as bidding for defence contracts. All underpinned by a lucrative gas storage project, that looks like a license to print money. The CEO is ex RN and was involved with reviving cold yards in Australia.

Bit of an outsider but overall looking well positioned to be highly competitive as a subcontractor or perhaps build smaller vessels on their own. Can only be positive for MOD to have more options.

Don

Agree Infrastrata H&W are one to watch.
They have been investing in enhancing their facilities and they are targeting a whole range of markets.

Last edited 30 days ago by Don
Sonik

As I see it the advantage Infrastrata can offer to MOD procurement is in their diversification.

By having several alternative, commercial, sources of revenue, it alows Infrastrata to maintain a skills base and significant facilities, without being totally dependent on MOD work. Just the kind of thing NSS is supposed to achieve.

It’s early days but I hope they are successful.

The Snowman

Agreed. If HMG wants a multi-role T32 quickly and cheaply, then look no further than the Absalon on which the T31 is based.

Glass Half Full

Not that its worth obsessing over, but the following is one way to interpret 24 using the latest NL estimated timeline graphic above.

Assuming hulls in the water, as distinct from fully commissioned, then one way we might get there is with 6x T45, 4x T26 commissioned plus 1x in trials and workup, 5x T31 commissioned (or 4x commissioned plus 1x in trials and workup to be conservative), then 6x T23 still within their current OSD, plus Westminster and Northumberland kept operational beyond current OSD by 2 years, until the first and second T32 are at least in the water. Of course another way would simply be a slightly earlier build of T32 for 2x hulls in the water by 2030 and no OSD extension for the T23s.

One reason for extending the two T23s, or having a slightly earlier T32 build, might be wanting to ramp up our ASW focused fleet numbers, given escalating Russian submarine ops and 2x T26 allocated to the CSG. The assumption here being that the T32 is more like a French FTI or Italian PPA Full, clearly not T26 class ASW but still capable.

Sjb1968

Given the U.K. has built just 6 destroyers since the start of the century if we wish to avoid another cliff edge of orders in a around 15 years or so we really need to be patient and let the on average 1 ship a year entering the fleet build the numbers back up. We can mitigate this by extending the lives of existing ships, which in part is already being done but our current predicament will only be revisited at some stage in the future if we try and remedy the situation too quickly. Some foreign orders could help this situation by allowing the build tempo to be increased but I am afraid 24 escorts requires a steady drumbeat of new build ships even when allowing for the delivery of other types of vessels.

Ian

If foreign powers want ships , when they look around they see the Germans French Italians and Spanish building and selling ships
And we are taking years to get our new ships in the water
It takes us to long to build and we pay to much….. we need to pull our finger out…
Sorry Ian

James Fennell

Isn’t there a simple answer? Accellerate build times. This problem can be solved with money. LIFEX refits can be offset by giving BAe and Babcock more money to deliver faster. This also saves costs down the line, as unit costs will fall. Wallace says he will announce a 30 year pipeline for government procured shipping in the Autumn, so they will have the confidence to invest in capacity. BAe can build their frigate factory, and other yards invest more.Type 26, 31, 32, 46 etc.not to mention dreadnought and SSN(X) to build along with, new undersea surveillance and solid support ships, Echo survey. Wave tankers, P2000 coastal, River batch 1 and the amphib/logistics lleet will all need to be replaced in that timeframe, not to mention the unmanned systems needed to support these new ships. .https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/uk-set-for-shipbuilding-strategy-refresh

Last edited 30 days ago by James Fennell
Sonik

T31 & T32 deliveries could be much more condensed than first appears.

Babcock are saying that the first T31 will be in the water by 2023, but MOD have an ISD of 2027. But HMG are also saying that the 5th T31 will be delivered off contract in 2028, just one year after the first one is in service. So the bottleneck appears to be for RN getting T31 from delivery into service rather than manufacture. It’s a new design with Tacticos, NS110, Bofors 57, etc so this is probably a sensible timetable.

If – and it’s a big if – Babcock are able to keep to the timeline, they could start producing T32 well before the end of the decade, and perhaps have two or three delivered by 2030. This obviously depends on MOD getting T32 contracted, but if T31 procurement is anything to go by they have plenty time.

It’s not inconceivable, that RN will speed up delivery to ISD, once the training requirements and kinks are ironed out with the first one or two vessels. The issue then will be crewing, but early transition to T31 is advantageous due to small headcount, and additional personnel will presumably become available from the proposed MCMV retirements.

Steve

So two options, either Boris lied (shocker, he would never do that surely) or there is some double counting / reclassification of ships going on. I suspect the former.

Sonik

It’s at least possible, looking at all the dates announced, that the difference is between delivered ships Vs ships actually in commission.

As per my post above – before I noticed donald_of_tokyo came up with more or less the same conclusion!

Wether that still counts as lying or not is a matter of opinion!

Mike Barter

This article shows how short sighted the decision to close the ship building hall in Portsmouth.

Bob

Is it any wonder the navy has a problem with recruitment?
Who in their right minds would want to send their sons and daughters to sea with the RN as planned?
Every class of surface ship is under armed to some degree and our AShS capability is practically non existent.

ANDREW JOHN WILDE

Can someone please tell me what statement has been issued by H.M.Government to confirm plans for the building of the Type 32 frigate upon completion of the five Type 31,s.