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Hopefully the final design has a large hangar for multiple helicopters

Captain Nemo

They found my Christmas list and are building four to replace the Wave’s too while they’re passing?

Definitely suspended the tender, or the just the decision due to Purdah?

Maybe we’ve finally got a plan and this is part of it.


Just a left field thought….

Given that the Type 31 is to be based on the Iver Huitfeld derived Babcock design…
Should the RN look at a derivative of the Type 31 as a sold-support ship: bearing in mind the Iver Huitfeld was derived from the Absalon sold-support ship?…

Shared commonality with the Type 31’s would reduce build costs and all for conversion/ up-arming them, as the Absalon’s are if required in an emergency.
The design also potentially fills the role of the Litoral Strike Ships too.

Captain Nemo

You’re possibly confusing your Iver’s with your Karel’s.

Karel Doorman support ship would be a closer approximation by size.

Regards, nemo


Nope just checked, the Iver Huitfeld’s were derived from the Absalon class hybrid support and combat vessel. The capacity of a hybrid of this type is certainly far smaller than a pure support vessel, but you gain in its flexibility and not placing all your solid support into a single vessel.


The Absalon is a support ship, not a solid support ship design, only one word out, but it’s a word that changes the definition totally. They are the spiritual successors to the WW2 era APD classes the USN mass produced, designed for raiding and so that the escorts for amphibious assaults had something useful to do once they had escorted the main force to the beachhead. Advance apologies for supplying sub-standard reference material but here is Wikipedia’s entry: however Friedman’s US Destroyers has much more detail in a more reputable format.

The RN’s FSS competition is looking for the modern incarnation of the old school ammunition transports – cargo ships – and frigate hulls are somewhat specialised and do not make for good cargo ships. Also, and I really can’t emphasise this enough the Type 31s and the FSS are suppose to be in different parts of the battle-space doing different jobs simultaneously: Type 31s are escorting the big ships – either carriers or ‘phibs – or patrolling in front of them while the FSS is supposed to be replenishing the carriers and then – and this is the important bit – TURNING AROUND AND SAILING TO THE REAR AREAS TO PICK UP THE NEXT LOAD OF SUPPLIES to bring forward for the next replenishment so the carriers et al can keep on operating, we are discussing RFAs here, so you can’t merge them into the one hull. There is a lot to admire about the APD/Absalon concept, and there are in fact shades of it in the LCS, but it’s a nice to have, not a need to have, especially if having it means you can’t have the ships you do need (FSS).

TLDL: The FSS is not and should not be a littoral combatant because it’s not a combatant.



Sounds like a T31 Absalon style derivative may be a nice fit for the Litoral Strike Ship instead.


Still would be to small. LSS will probably require 3-4 times the size of a Type 31 as a minimum. A merchant conversion will be much easier, cheaper and more effective ag that role.


I guess it depends on what they want the LSS to do (and two Defence Secs later it is probably a bit of a rudderless project waiting for an SDR to chop it anyway), if it’s a mea culpa that there are not enough Bays around and it needs to: mothership Minehunters, costal and/or riverine forces; carry out traditional amphibious duties; support humanitarian operations; carry a RAS rig as a Christmas present for Pacman and John; train helicopter pilots and/or act as a makeshift hospital ship, then yes, it’s too small. If OTOH it’s a raiding platform for RM, SAS/SBS and any other TLAs that need a lift to be based out of then the Absalon is probably a pretty good starting point – it’s in the same family tree (albeit barely) as the RN’s newest type, a fellow NATO member has used it operationally and with troop lift of 200 plus their vehicles and a degree of flexibility built in as to how that space can be used when 200 troops plus their vehicles are not on board… could do worse.


Well, effectively a LSS is supposed to be a UK version of MV Ocean Trader, which doesnt do any of those fancy ad ons you mention, and that displaces 20,000 tonnes for 200 pax. Once you start wanting large helicopter landing areas, storage for vehicles, etc the size needed goes up dramatically. The Prevail Partners MRV (suggested as a potential candidate for LSS) has a DWT of 7,000t. That means it can carry the equivalent of an entire absalon in weight in its hold, so yes I fail to see why youd want an Absalon for this. It’d be more expensive, much less capable in its role, and the only dubious pro is that the hull would be broadly similar to a type 31.


Well to be fair, with the exception of the RAS rig from Pacman’s JLSS none of the equipment for those roles is fitted for simultaneous use, its just space you fit out as required (I know this is an oversimplification). Which is the heart of the problem with all these multirole ship concepts – when it’s doing one job it can’t do the others (or can’t be doing them well enough). As I say, I can’t see LSS happening, but a design study or two won’t hurt.

Getting back to the topic at hand, the FSS, the American solution is too big (and needs too many crew), but this is the kind of thing FSS needs to be Sean, with a Burke for scale:comment image


It’s also built from scratch and too expensive for us and doesnt have enough helicopter landing space for what we want.

Thing is LSS isnt multirole, at least no more than a bay is.


A Type 31 displaces about 6,000t…. the FSS is planned to be slightly larger than the 37,000t Tides… unless you can use TARDIS technology you wont be able to use a Type31 hull.


Does not have to be TARDIS technology, Star Fleet replicators would also allow for the lower volume hull.


It isn’t purdah.

Before people start crayoning about Karel Doormans (or Ellida) for that matter, it’s important to understand the requirement. Which is to support a big deck carrier. Which requires a lot of varied ammunition. As does the rest of the carrier group, which requires different ammo. As does any RM force. That means a significant amount of ammo storage – and if you know anything about ammo you know that different types require different stowage arrangements, orientations and so-forth. That’s before you get to the victualing stores, air stores, naval stores etc.

It’s very different to something designed to support a couple of Dutch DD/FF and an LPD.

MoD may well regret this. The international yards will be reluctant to come back and there is not enough capacity in the UK to build them at the same time as T26/T31.


Maybe Cammell Laird will get an excuse to brush the rust off Inchgreen.


To what possible purpose? There are no fabrication facilities there. It’s a big hole in the ground that hasn’t been used to dock a ship in ages.


Their bid to support HMS Queen Elizabeth failed, in part because their biggest dry dock is a shell. There’s 50 years of carrier maintenance work ahead and they’ve been looking for an excuse to get the place going. Otherwise when PoW gets dry docked they’ll lose out to Rosyth again.


Putting £50M (at least whats required to turn it into a fabrication facility), in now, in Porridge-wog central in order to win a couple of dozen dockings does not a business case make. They’d be better off expanding their existing big dock in Birkenhead. Only needs 15m lengthening.


Yes. I agree it seems that way.

And yet, they reportedly bid for the QE work at Inchgreen. Somehow it was in their business plan. That means there will have been other work in their minds. I understand that a production facility is different, but if they don’t kickstart it off a production run of two or three ships, why keep it?


Prime riverside property……….rarely loses value.

Stephen G.

There is capacity to build these ships at Cammell Lairds on the Mersey, with the Type 26 being built on the Clyde and the Type 31 at Rosyth, these ships would be extremely welcome at Cammel Lairds.


Not as much as you’d think. They have no panel line and their sheds are full of bits of Dreadnought.

Stephen G.

A & P Tyne could supply a few blocks like they did with the R.R.S. Sir David Attenborough if needs be, it would also be an invaluable opportunity to modernize and upgrade the shipyard, which could, and should, have a future building for the R.N./R.F.A.


Hebburn (or Palmers yard as we used to call it) hasn’t built a ship since BP Achiever in the 80s. However, it is the only significantly underused facility in the UK right now – a panel line was put in for the QEC block builds – but is short of people. It could well have a part to play, but would struggle to be a real build yard, sadly.

To turn it into a build yard would need major investment. The cranage is limited (80te max from memory), but more importantly, getting decent size units from the build hall and into the dock would be very tricky. The flightdeck blocks built for QE were outloaded onto barges on a newly reinforced quayside.

Stephen G.

You are misunderstanding me, I am saying A and P Tyne could supply a few blocks to Cammell Lairds if needs be for the soild support ships like they did with the Attenborough, but in the long term Cammel Lairds on the Mersey should be invested in, that was the golden opportunity to upgrade the shipyard I was talking of, I should have worded it more clearly.

If any English yard is to be upgraded and invested in, it is clearly Cammel Lairds (and that comes from a Tynesider). C.L.s should be used to build these solid support ships and other similar ships in the future.


It’s the obvious choice. But needs investment.

Stephen G.

Agreed. I think the Clyde, Rosyth and Cammell Lairds on the Mersey all have a future building surface ships for the R.N. and R.F.A. These 3 shipyards should be invested in so we have modern, World class facilities in which to build our ships for the Royal Navy and R.F.A.


Not so sure about the Araldite mafia on the Clyde. Turning Rosyth (and/or Laird’s) into proper shipyards will leave Govan at a disadvantage.

Got a lot of ground to cover to make up for the B2 Rivers.

Steve Taylor

Thank you Not A Boffin.


I kinda get it but not really.
Given the size of the QEs wouldn’t they have significant storage themselves? How did we do it in the past ie the days of Eagle and Ark R09?
Have munitions become that much more sophisticated? And if so are we trying to do too much on one platform, could the victualling be delivered by a cheap and cheerful converter merchantman and FSS concentrates on the sensitive stores?


Munitions are vastly more complex compared to 1950s iron bombs. A PWIV as an example comprises three different components, all in different boxes and with different HC categories. ASRAAM comes in a single large box, AIM120 comes in a different box. Storm shadow comes in a huge box. Sea Ceptor, Stingray, 4.5″, 5″ all come in their own ULS. So do Phalanx ammo, DS30, 50cal, pyros etc. A ships list of explosives can include literally three dozen different types.

QEC HMWHS also means that stowage density is further reduced compared to last century, which means that while the carriers have big mags, they don’t stow as much as the older ships – for very good reasons.

There is no such thing as a cheap and cheerful merchantman and certainly not one that contains holds, internal and external cargo handling of the required types.

Solid stores replenishment ships are complex and difficult, which is one reason why there are so few of them worldwide.


Spot on.

The bulk ammunition stowage’s on Support Ships must comply with the requirements of what was first BR 862 then JSP 862 and is now back to being BR 862 again. If you want an insight on the safety requirements, design complexities and regulations involved with ammunition stowage do a google search for JSP 862 its available online.

Orientation of munitions is not just a 2 dimensional task,ie facing port/ stbd or bow/stern. You also need a stowage plan that covers any munitions stowed above and below the magazine you are working in. You cannot have Shape Charge warheads facing rocket motors or other warheads. You need to factor in mitigation barriers that separate High Explosive 1.1 or 1.2 ammo from other 1.1 and 1.2 stores to limit the chance of sympathetic detonations should an accident or battle damage occur. Either physical purpose built water barriers are used or 1.4s pallets of Small arms ammo as it does not sympathetically detonate.

The safety systems are large and complex with usually triple redundancy on electrical, firefighting and vent systems which does not make them cheap to install. Explosive proof lights, double pole switches, cable in conduit, earthing everything to avoid electrical potential differences across joints that may cause a spark , conductive decks ( Removes static build up), spray systems , auto start fire pumps with normal and alternative power supplies and sometimes a manual rigged emergency power supply , independent fire fighting water supply tanks with a separate HP air pressurising system, blow off plates and vent routes….it goes on and on and hence the cost goes up and up.


N-a-B I take your points but there is enough capacity and skillbase to buiild T26, T31 and FSS ships. The problem is the MoD have given the smallest hull to the largest yard (ie Rosyth) which precludes the FSS being built at Cammell Laird unless they are less than the 280 x 42 Metres available in No 5 Dock. CL are capable of building a complex ship as demonstrated by the ‘Attenborough’.
Frankly I am not too fussed if foreign yards stay clear. Its about time we looked after our own yards and got them up to speed and efficiency rather than give £ Bns of hard earned taxpayer money to foreign economies.


As part of the skillbase you refer to, I’d disagree. The T26 programme is hoovering up people left, right and centre. T31 is going to do the same. Supporting QEC is proving taxing for the resources in Portsmouth. That’s before we get to project Napier which will eat up even more in BAE, BMT and CL. Technical resource to design, specify, project manage and build FSS is going to have to come from other sources – which was the basis of one of the foreign bidders.

That’s just what you’d call the technical/design office manpower, before we even get to the various trades.

As far as yards go. Rosyth is not (currently) the biggest yard. It’s not actually a shipyard – until the rumoured investment goes in – it’s a dockyard. Just doing T31e while that infrastructure investment goes in will be a significant challenge over the next four years.

FSS is going to be much smaller than 280m x 42m – and Lairds wouldn’t build in that dock anyway, they’d build on the berth in an extrusion style as the yard was designed to do, where the limit is actually the shed door height and the length of berth to high water. They have indeed built a complex ship in SDA, but when you talk to them, it’s been far from easy and very late – which also means they’ll not have made much (if any) money on it.

None of which means the UK can’t do it. But it does mean that the UK can’t do it in the required timeframe – which has implications for operational capability.

Stephen G.

Cammell Lairds would indeed build in blocks in the undercover build hall, then assemble the blocks on the slipway. With Type 26 on keeping the Clyde busy, and Type 31 keeping Rosyth busy, the obvious place to build these solid support ships is Cammel Lairds on the Mersey.

All of these shipyards should be invested in and upgraded to our Royal Navy and R.F.A. have modern, state of the art facilities in which to build their ships. This will also make British shipbuilding more efficient, competitive and productive.


Maybe now the notorious EU procurement rules have become less of an issue


That’s what I thought. It’s EU law that requires non-warship work to be tendered. If we did leave the EU that law no longer applies.

However, we have to he careful about using the defence budget as a job creation budget. If building the ships in the UK is more expensive that overseas then that means less money for other important equipment.

Simon m

I would say yes in some ways – but I still think that the tax that the work generates and then what the workforce spends which generates VAT, then NI contributions.
Never mind if they weren’t employed they maybe claiming benefits. Plus then other benefits such as apprenticeships and maintenance of skills for another project.


It’s not the EU procurement rules, it’s the UK government’s interpretation of them that is at fault. As others have previously pointed out, other countries like France have a policy of building their ships domestically, even non-combatant vessels.


Exactly Dan. The government has been hiding behind EU procurement ‘rules’ that need not apply to these ships. It is government dogma, not the EU, that caused this tender to be put out internationally.


It’s not dogma. It’s a practical appreciation of what the actual technical and physical capacity is in the UK. It is also well worth noting that we have RFA as UK merchant flagged asset, which has significant operational advantages. That does make it difficult to classify RFA ships as warships – howevermuch some would wish otherwise.


Thinking logically, why would the UK Government consider building these vessels anywhere but in the UK? The men and women in grey suits may have proved the purchase of the Korean built ‘Tide Class’ ships as prudent, and cost-efficient, but it denied UK yards of work. Without maintaining UK excellence in shipbuilding it will be lost for good, and if there is no current capacity for building such ships in the UK, then we should build one that can. That is precisely what other countries would do, yet here in the UK, it appears easier to award the work to countries that have capacity? Without the ability to construct our own naval vessels we would be at the mercy of international capacity and monopolistic pricing. The notion that these RFA vessels aren’t strictly warships, is nonsense, and should not be Jermain to where these ships are built, such logic defies business sense and denies the continuum of the industry.


When the Tides were built the UK yards were full of the various sections of QE/PW.
As it was during the financial crisis the Koreans who are experts at merchant tankers were willing to offer a very good price.
So to have had the class UK built would have cost a lot more money and resulted in much later delivery.


Not a reason to let work go. The financial benefits medium – longterm would have proved extremely valuable to the UK. No matter how stretched the MOD budget is or the economic stability of the country, you always build naval ships at home. At the height of WW2 we still managed to build our warships. As I said previously, the grey-suited brigade will always give a good case for expedient purchasing, but not at the UK’s expense. Your assumption that the ‘Tides’ would be delivered late has no foundation, it’s simply a perception. We must remember all these vessels are the property of the UK, and under no circumstances should ship work go elsewhere.


I’m afraid his assumption that the Tides would have been delivered late has every foundation.

Referring back to WW2 is a spurious comparison. In a war you can – and must – spend what you have to spend to survive. That’s not the case in normal jogging.

Don’t forget that when the Tide’s were going through the procurement process, the Chancellor was the halfwit Brown, who was funding two land campaigns – well above budgeted scale – on the same overall budget. There was no money, which is why the procurement for the tankers was continually stopped and started. From memory, it was only on the third go that they actually got to contract. As part of those negotiations, the Koreans were actually asked to slow down their planned delivery rate, as the RFA could not accept them quickly enough! In the event, some of the assumptions the Koreans made (eg they were bidding for commercial tankers with some military features) came back to bite them on the @rse, which is why the early ships were actually delivered late. However, we still ended up with all four ships in UK waters in well under 5 years from keel laying of the first.

The previous UK built tankers (Wave) took over five years for just two ships – when there was much less demand on UK yards, compared to the period in question. As noted above, most UK facilities were busy with QNLZ/PoW (and later the B2Rivers), plus allocated for T26 as the T23 got older and older, when the Tide contract was let. That programme had already been deferred longer than necessary which resulted in Leafs and Rovers running on (and costing money) much longer than they should have.

Whether we like it or not, current UK shipbuilding capacity is limited – and highly fragmented, which makes it difficult to build efficiently and cost-effectively. I would be delighted if the NSBS mandated that all government owned vessels be built onshore – but to do that properly we’d need to create at least one proper shipyard – as opposed to the mish-mash of remaining facilities we have now.

If the rumour mill is to be believed, Babcock will put £50M into Rosyth to turn it into a shipyard, which will be good. However, that will eventually be bad news for the Araldite mafia on the Clyde. If Cammell Laird managed to get sufficient investment to upgrade the Birkenhead yard, that will give two decent facilities – and such a policy would then be feasible.


Your response is both erudite and correct on many fronts. However, I don’t want to allow the facts to blind the goal of bringing the UK shipbuilding back from the brink. The RN’s future is clear and that will require a considerable amount of extended operations in all parts of the globe. That will require an increase in all aspects of the fleet, and could result in a significant change in MOD strategy? Currently, the UK budget is reasonably proportioned across all three services, however, a post-Brexit Britain may have to spend a disproportional percentage of defence, on the navy at the expense of the other two?

As you pointed out the then incumbent Chancellor was focused on land operations, and that lead to some stagnation in budget spending elsewhere. That is not where we are today and the land and air components have a clear plan going forward (Boxer, Ajax, F35). Sadly the same can not be said for the RN and the extraordinarily long time it will take to get Type 26 /31’s on operations. This should be a concern to all naval planers. With that in mind, creating a balanced and workable shipbuilding network across the country should be a priority, and that could include the construction of new yards if necessary.

The only possible way to boost the number of hulls in service is to either build or refurbish shipyards to enable a step up in Type 26/31 production. This in combination with a curtailment of Type 23 upgrading (where possible) could be a wiser method of spending. I believe a focused shipbuilding plan for the RN and all that entails for the rest of UK military spending, is the best way forward.

If as I believe, and stated at the time of, ‘build or not build the carrier’s’ debates and how without them, we would be hard-pressed to monitor the increased risk of trade routes being monopolized by superpowers. Now, thank God the ships are built and we are in a better position to be seen and vigilant. The issue of free passage is a real concern and the current RN strength to implement a truly global navy is in doubt, based on current shipbuilding timelines? That is why we need to bolster UK shipbuilding so we can create a greater spread of experience, to ensure we never have to call on other nations to build our warships, whatever the class and that includes RFA too!


A nice idea – but sadly the money is not there – and is unlikely to arrive. I’d say the RN has a clear equipment plan going forward – probably in much better shape than Percy Pongo – but you only have to look at how much money the submarine enterprise is hoovering up to understand that shipbuilding funds are going to be limited whether we like it or not.

T26 build schedule is in part limited by spend profile, whereas T31 is at least trying to go quickly. You can’t take T23 out of service without a catastrophic hit on DD/FF numbers in the short to medium term – particularly while T45 project napier is ongoing.

Reality is a hard place.


Disposition of funds is the job of the MOD, and as I mentioned there may be a change of emphasis whether they like it or not. The threat to trade routes is real and growing at a worrying pace. I’m not talking necessarily about blockade…..well not initially. The harassment of shipping, especially from the East would place a strain on free movement. Currently, any Antipidaean or Western warship that enters the SCS is monitored by the Chinese Navy, and on occasions, challenged in what are international waters. The 31’s will be good ships but it would be far better for RN 26’s to operate alongside Australian 26’s.

I don’t always agree with the cost argument as that is dependant on World events. I fear the Far Eastern tensions won’t wait for the RN’s Type 26 build schedule, and alternative plans would be wise. That brings me back to my previous point, if current capacity is poor we need to revisit our strategic shipbuilding plans, and become creative, without the halter of costs being so revered.

P.S. Today the SNP has stated it wants Trident out, and another independent vote, even if it means forming alliances with like-minded parties in the rest of the UK. If that ever does come to pass, new English shipyards or the reopening of old yards will be unavoidable, as the MOD removes the current planned new ships from Scotland?


“Disposition of funds is the job of the MOD, and as I mentioned there may be a change of emphasis whether they like it or not.”

If only that were the case. The MoD get the funds the Treasury allocates – which is almost never the same as what the MoD asks for. The bit of SJPs interim review (and the original) that people skated over – or didn’t haul aboard – was that the capital budgets need to be ring-fenced. That has not happened – and probably won’t – Treasury habits die hard.

What that means is that were the MoD to decide to reprioritise funds it would first have to up the trained strength of the RN by several thousand (a non-trivial and time-consuming process) and bear the brunt of sustained political campaigns to “save the 17th Foot & Mouth Regt” – before they’d even begun to think about shipbuilding.

If – and it’s a big if – Wee Jimmy Krankie and her mates get their Indy vote, then that’s a different conversation, which will start with replacing the CASD facilities. If there’s any money left after that – another big if – then you can talk about force enhancement, but not before.


Replacing the CASD facilities. Replicating Faslane would be relatively simple, for example the SSN jetty designed to support the Astute class could be towed to a new location [say Devonport], and a new submarine synchro lift also built elsewhere [This would be a major civil engineering project in itself, as amongst other things it has to be earthquake proof].

However, replicating Coulport is another matter altogether, as anyone who has ever been there knows. Along with that are several floating facilities plus the jetty at Glen Mallan, itself subject currently of an extensive up grade. I have a civil engineer friend who worked on the original development of Coulport who calculates that the cost of such a project now would be astronomical. Then there is the matter of planning permission, and where does one envisage it would be located? Fortunately when the Polaris agreement was entered into the government owned much of the land in which the facility is presently located. No easy answers there, I’m afraid.


That’s the problem. Spot on.


If SNP do get their wish for an independent Scotland, could the Faslane facility be part of a negotiation with Sturgeon et al, ie remain a rUK sovereign base a la Cyprus, if the current plan for ships to be built on the Clyde/Roysth continue? Perhaps a lease for the duration of the Dreadnought Class (50 years?) by which time manned subs may well be a thing of the past and we have moved onto other forms of MAD.

(though the SNP hypocrisy of demanding to leave one union of over 300 years, with all its shared blood, sweat and tears, to immediately try and join another union, which is more like a social experiment in a United Sates of Europe, led by bureaucrats, is beyond me )

John Clark

You make excellent bullet points N-a-B.

As discussed elsewhere, without a significant uplift in spending, the only option left open ( keeping within present budgets) is re allocation of personal numbers from the Royal Marines.

This looks to be the plan, as the Royal Marines are ‘modernised’ (or cut) into a small unit raiding force.

Once brigade level amphibious assault has been formally removed from the Royal Marines, it will pave the way to get rid of Albion and Bulwark and allow the Corps to reduced to 4000 ish.

The combined savings would allow a second batch of T31’s and additional Sailors, while keeping within budget.

If the above doesn’t happen, I will eat my hat.

Unfortunately many in the upper echelons of the Royal Navy, view the Royal Marines as a target.

Captain Nemo

I think that’s the plan too, problem being that you could really do with Albion and Bulwark placeholding to make the case for an LHD replacement which would benefit both the marines and carrier strike, Albion class and Canberra class share the same manning requirements I would observe.
There’s also the issue of the navy unilaterally depriving UK ORBAT of a light infantry brigade in order to solve its own problems, what stresses will future commando force place on the army if it can’t deploy as a brigade?

Captain Nemo

What would you say is its plan?
NSS suggested that the navy give some indication to industry of its wants and desires to set them both on the same page, but I’m not convinced that they will or can to any degree of trust.
There is a line drawn on destroyer/frigate numbers but that’s treasury defined and basically a bare minimum to show willing. From what I can tell carrier regeneration is prioritised as it lends ally credibility with everything else quietly collapsing within the budget and now despite repeated reassurances on Albion and friend the marines are making a high profile show of slimmed down tier 2 littoral ops.
If there is a plan could they let us in on it?
My observation would be that the navy will simply be used as a mallet and I don’t think that’s a good look.
Regards, Nemo


It is also rumoured that Babcock may also be close to a agreeing a T31 derivative for at least 2 export customers. If that happens even less capacity will be available. The builds may happen in part abroad but it will be Babcock people overseeing it. If the choice for experienced engineers and ship builders is the Northwest of England / Rosysth or a sunny dockyard abroad where you are tax free, where are they going to go? Abroad and you start getting a skill loss in the UK again.

Stephen G.

I think we will definitely get some export orders for the Type 31.


Build a hangar capable of housing a Chinook and develop folding rotors. That would negate any need for stores handling systems. I doubt the RFA would care if its an RN Merlin or an RAF Chinook but if we are to ramp up stores unit sizes and weights then there is only one helicopter choice. We can spare a few to rotate on this work. F-35 Engines can then be carried on the FSS rather than take up space in a QE hangar.
It still beggars belief that the MoD gave the smaller hulled T31 contract to Rosyth when the FSS cannot be built at Cammell Lairds. The FSS should have been commissioned in Rosyth right after the PoW was flooded up and the same hull design used for the next larger ship contracts. That would have left Cammell Laird to build T31 a task for which it is eminently suited.

Unless of course the cunning plan is to further placate the whingeing Sturgeon by giving Rosyth both T31 AND FSS. Don’t laugh it may just come to pass. They really are that stupid.


Oddly, 40 or so years on and the Chinook has never been navalised, now that the Osprey is being refined for COD use I suspect the Chinook never will be.

Simon m

I guess you are correct but there is a lot of life left for Chinook and from a UK perspective a Marinised version would be very useful. I wonder if Australia, RoK, Japan and others now bolstering and building their amphibious capability and all CH47 operators could be a catalyst for this to be reality? Surely it couldn’t be that expensive it just needs some gov to gov discussions and talking to Boeing.


Depends to a degree on the USMC and Sikorsky (it’s probably safe to say the main reason the Chinook was never navalised was that is was a US Army airframe and the USMC already had the Sea Knight), and their progress with the King Stallion.


Who says the FSS can’t be built at CL? It’s certainly better able to build it than Rosyth is at the minute.

The RAS system are not a problem, whereas getting an airworthy folding-head Chinook would require huge amount of money.

Stephen G.

N-a-B is correct, Cammel Lairds is perfectly able to build these solid support ships. It is the obvious place in fact, Rosyth can’t have Type 31 and s.s.s. It would also spread the work around Britain with Glasgow working on the Type 26, Rosyth on the Type 31, C.L.s on the Mersey working on the solid support ships and Barrow on the submarines.


The safety implications for the VERTREP of complex explosive stores is huge. It is not like shifting a pallet of 105 ashore for Royal as an under slung load.
Most missiles have handling sensors on them If they get bumped , dropped even a short distance or are mishandled the weapon becomes U/S.
The risk is to great for a weapon being involved in a helo/crash fire where the weapon may detonate when exposed to heat in less than a minute so it is not a viable solution. You would not believe the justification and sign offs needed and from how far up the food chain you need to go, to Vertrep a complex weapon.


What transfer rate would you envisage obtaining when using a Chinook for VERTREP?

Whatever it is it wont be quick enough.

Why waste £000s per hour on airframe hours when you can do it quicker and much cheaper using a heavy jackstay rig?


The yards in Scotland are rubbing their hands in glee thinking they will get the business.
Yet, these are the same muppets who want independence from the UK!
If they think going it alone with the EU will still guarantee them UK business, they can think again.

Dave Wolfy

Defence spending is as much about job creation as about spending on military capability, where else would the public allow so little effect for so much cost?
That same public shows little interest in squaddies deployed with inadequate kit.

Captain Nemo

I don’t think that’s fair on them, the public do care about the lives of servicemen, but only on the day. Their presumption up to that point was that as a first world country with our history the services must be well trained and well equipped and probably huge and that’s as much thought as most of them give it. Therein lies the problem, or one of the problems, they don’t have an interest and you can’t really blame them for that, I show no interest in the NHS but I’ll probably get really interested on the day I’m hit by a car.

John Clark

Unfortunately Captain, the political classes don’t, so they simply won’t invest the required amount … I would suggest 3% GDP ringfenced would be sensible, affordable and sustainable for the UK.

The public, by enlarge don’t think about, or particularly care about defence in general … But if the sitting Government of the day reduced the NHS funding by a third, there would be riots!

Defence is underfunded by appropriately a third in my estimation, yet no one seems to give a rats arse about it…

As to building these ships in the UK, as opposed to abroad, I see the larger economic case for waving the flag and building them here ….

But, let’s focus in specifically on the impact on the defence budget if we could.

Would any of the economic benefits of UK construction directly influence the defence budget?

I doubt it, they would simply cost substantially more per unit and take more defence money from the pot.

The wider economic benefits simply wouldn’t trickle down to defence unfortunately.

So I say, build them abroad, at best possible price, to make our precious defence money go as far as possible.

I’ll guarantee the RFA and RN couldn’t care a less we’re they are built, they just want them asap!

Job creation and economic effects are a problem for The Department for Trade and Industry, not defence.

Captain Nemo

You do know I’m not a real captain.
The problem is the political sides passing each other somewhere along the way and creating an unholy mess in the middle, you’ve got a history of socialist spending on public services coupled with a cross party libertarian outlook, there’s a quote somewhere about Margaret Thatcher’s legacy being Tony Blair.
No party dares to suggest increasing general taxation now, so you’ve got a public that want Denmark’s public services without forking over half their income like Danes do.

The continual bleating about Education and the NHS drives me nuts, we already spend more on education than pretty much any country you’d care to name, but nobody is willing to entertain the possibility that the system is broken, or that the teachers are bad, or that their kid is an idiot. The NHS is a chasm, you’d could sit on the edge and throw money into that until the end of time and never see any of it again.

Departments should get some sort of tax refund to encourage inward investment:
Dear HMRC I have made a ship, here are the receipts (sorry, got beans on them).

John Clark

“You do know I’m not a real captain” I find that statement deeply alarming considering you have a nuclear submarine, your crew should be told at once!

You are spot on re public spending Captain…

A typical Labour bleat

“It takes a staggering 9 months to have a baby due to NHS cuts” blah, blah blah….

An enormous amount of money is already spent on the NHS, the Tories have committed to an additional 20 billion, but Labour still bleat on about an NHS in crisis!

You could double the NHS budget and people will still winge!

As for education, well, from what I have seen its the last bastion of left wing unions.

It’s virtually impossible to sack a teacher, no matter how crap they are, without the unions bringing everyone out on strike..


The stupid procurement policy that the UK government followed because of eu rules and thought was good in terms of face price, that was actually far more expensive but was said and used as an excuse on value for money, which to most people means price/cost, not design. British BMT started weighing in for their state owned subsidised Navantia mates and getting personal by saying that on the design side of things, the UK design was inferior. So the UK consortia bid on the ship build is separate to a design by BMT ( a UK design house) or who ever else who in the design (competition) is made by?! Surely BMT must bid themselves on the design against foreign competition if it is better? I thinkpeople know what I am saying. Of course I do not want good UK Naval Architecture design firms undermind and hurt, the same as I do not want good UK shipbuild firms hurt by this policy.


I really hope Navantia are sent packing. The Spanish are not due a penny of the UK tax payers hard earned funds. Indeed there is a pattern to Spanish investment in the UK. Using money they dont have, their State have promoted buying into key sectors of the UK economy and we shouldn’t allow them any foothold at all in a revitalised UK Shipbuilding industry.
Unfortunately BMT have fallen for it, but its their decision of course and they must live with the consequences.


Is the UK treasury good value for the UK taxpayer? In regards to shipbuilding, NO!