The intention to increase the number of Royal Navy warships has been expressed by a Minister of State for Defence this week.

Former First Sea Lord, Lord West of Spithead, asked during a debate in the House of Lords this week:

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government when the number of Royal Navy frigates in commission will rise above the present total of 13; and whether that number will drop below 13 at any stage in the next ten years.”

Baroness Goldie, Minister of State for Defence, replied: “The Government remains committed to a surface fleet of at least 19 Frigates and Destroyers, and the Royal Navy will have the ships required to fulfil their Defence and Policy commitments.

The intent remains to grow the Destroyer and Frigate force by the 2030s, and the Type 31 Frigates will provide the opportunity to do this.

It is not uncommon to have planned, temporary, small fluctuations in overall numbers during the transition from any class of ship or submarine to another.”

The National Shipbuilding Strategy made the recommendation that the MoD replace the Type 31 Frigates once they reach their first refit period, rather than extending their time in service thorough costly refits, meaning that Type 31es could be sold while still relatively new and replaced with more modern incrementally upgraded examples all while clawing back some of the money used to build them with overseas sales.

The idea behind this being that ships have a 15 year life span, rather than the 30 or so they usually would, meaning they are sold on at mid-life refit time. Doing this would maintain relatively constant production of the Type 31e, similar to the Arleigh Burke class in the United States which has now been in build for decades with each batch being superior to the last.

Could this lead to more operational and active vessels? Only time will tell.

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maurice10

The strategy will depend on a number of factors, climate change (disaster relief), global trade and protection of trade routes, plus reacting to military threats. The current plans will I’m sure will need to be reviewed, to lift the frigate/destroyer fleet to around 25 ships, to seriously address future commitments.

Mark B

Reducing the fleet numbers and/or effectiveness might be deemed political suicide for a prime minister trying to project a stronger Britain post Brexit. Indeed if he were able to upgrade (and add to) what we have and fly the flag around the world for a modest increase in funding it might return the conservative party to their role as a safe pair of hands when it comes to defence.
The Government need to demonstrate a genuine committent to defence. It should be efficient, effective and potent.

Lee1

The trouble is Dominic Cummings (Who lets face it is practically in charge of the country right now) Wants to decrease defence spending and project more soft power. (Whatever he actually means by that)

Mark B

First I’ve heard of this. I heard he was targeting the procurement function to make sure we are buying what we need, at the right price and from the right supplier. Perhaps he considers the UK should be investing in future tech and not obsessing about the number of ships.

Lee1

He should not be publicly speaking about anything to be honest. He is an unelected adviser. (With potential links to Russia…). Yet he appears to be practically running the Government.

https://www.ft.com/content/07143b64-3948-11ea-a6d3-9a26f8c3cba4

Mark B

Nonsense Lee. He is admittedly breaking convention but Boris who is elected owns the responsibility. It’s the people behind the scenes who do the work. The politicians take the credit or get it in the neck. Sometimes we need some new ideas lets wait and see what they are and then judge.

Herodotus

Yes, I absolutely agree with that sentiment. Exceeding his status by some margin….time Boris told him to shut up!

ChariotRider

Hi Lee1, For those who do not have FT access here is a report on Reddit; https://www.savetheroyalnavy.org/new-engines-for-the-royal-navys-type-23-frigates/ It does appear that Dominic Cummings as potential links with Russian intelligence although they are second or third hand. Of course, this is only what is in the public domain, but the article also suggests that some sensitive stuff is kept away from him. From that I would infer that either he has not gone through appropriate additional vetting or he has and risks have been identified limiting his access. Interesting to say the least. Surprised that some hack has not followed this… Read more »

ChariotRider
andy reeves

i hope the procurers aren’t the same bunch who have*****d up every other plan since the 1920’s

andy reeves

soft power/ ridiculous phrase. utter tosh. no such thing, some spotty nae’r do well in a dusty office in the bowels of Westminster stumbled on it and a halfwit civil service paper pusher sent it to his boss who, well did the same.

Lee1

That halfwit is in charge of our country!

4thwatch

Not sure the alternatives were any better at all.

andy reeves

getting hit with a pillow is soft power.

Mr Bell

Agree, no one respects the rubbish concept of soft power. What is respected is parking a carrier battle group of any hostile nations coastline and saying in a loud voice. “Calm down, behave, or this is what it means to mess with the UK”

Lee1

Soft power is of use but is used to prevent wars and conflict from surfacing. The problem is that it is not going to stop every war and every conflict. So if you ignore the military then you are buggered when the next Hitler comes along… You need both and we have both. We have always used soft power for as long as I can think of. But we have always had the military to back it up when it does not work.

Andy P

Walk softly but carry a big stick.

andy

on paper it sounds all fine and dandy but in practice,as we all know,things will change and mod money will have to be spent elsewhere due to some snowflake idiot wanting more help here and there,rather than on defence..

Lee1

Yep everyone outside of defence is an idiot snowflake…

I mean the elderly, the mentally ill etc should simply be left to die in favour of a new Frigate…

The actual issue is that far too much spending was promised and so now they have to actually determine what they spend the money on rather than promising it to everyone all at once.

The Artist Formerly known as Los Pollos Chicken

Lee sorry man where you getting this the elderly and mentally ill should be left to die in favour of more defence spending malarkey? I’m pretty sure elderly people and those who’s marbles have jammed don’t just die willy nilly . I mean come on even before our generous welfare state the overwhelming majority of those category’s didn’t die otherwise Charles Dickens would have completely rethought his fantastical best of times worst of times literary genius . Infact I’d wager if you were able to go back pre welfare state and tell the good folks that in 21st century Britain… Read more »

Lee1

Perhaps you should extricate yourself from the bubble you live in and go out into the world. We have schools that are massively underfunded, Hospital A&E units unable to function properly. People having to use food banks etc. Mental health care severely underfunded and elderly being shoved in homes unfit for keeping humans. To suggest all of our poor are fat slobs that spend all day on ipads is ludicrous and shows how detached from reality you are. Charles Dickens died at age 58. He was particularly old as the average life expectancy was 40! People with mental health issues… Read more »

Mark B

Lee/Artist – Can we agree that the NHS should work properly, there should be properly funded care for the elderly, we should adequately defend the country and it shouldn’t bankrupt the country. Not sure what the exact cost would be but provided they are all run efficiently it is possible and we should perhaps strive for that.

expat

I agree NHS should be run properly, its ok to say defence should not waist money but if you were to point to poor health service management and waist you be proverbially shot!

Mark B

Consider me dead. Don’t get me wrong I’m a great believer in the NHS I just think it could be better and I think most of the staff think that too. In fact I’m having difficulty thinking of anyone who doesn’t think that.

Andy P

The NHS is being asked to do a lot of stuff it wasn’t set up for. I’m not going to take a side but things like fertility treatment, cosmetic surgery and gender reassignment were not what the NHS was for.

Just thought I’d toss it in to the debate, like I say, I’ll not be taking a side on the rights or wrongs of it.

(Need a stirring emoji)

Mark B

lol. We have gone off topic a little. Suffice it to say you have to draw a line at some point. Personally I would like to see the NHS doing the major stuff well and the less important stuff not at all than attempt to do everything badly. That philosophy carries through to defence.

HF

yes it was for all those things – just not at the beginning

expat

Lee whilst I don’t agree with TAFKALPC comment I do believe many of us are breaking our social contract when it comes to health. I’d included myself in that as I should exercise more a shed a few pounds and eat better. Diseases brought about through bad life style choices are on the increase and we all feel we have the right to be fixed by the NHS, that’s a cost that could be avoided. Something 4 million people have diabetes mostly preventable type 2 and we spend a staggering 25k minute on treating it!!! . There’s people in our… Read more »

Lee1

Absolutely. I totally agree. However that is not all people. there are many people that are ill for reasons not to do with their lifestyle or are simply too poor to eat properly. Mental health is another issue. It is poorly handled and underfunded. Schools are also vastly underfunded. I am a school governor of a school and we just can not afford to hire the teachers we need or provide all the equipment we need. The school does its best with what it has but it is not enough. Now I would love to see money thrown at schools,… Read more »

expat

I think we both agree waste is a major issue. Not convinced the being poorer is a direct contributor to diet, my family were poor, but the Sunday lunch left overs provided lunch for 2-3 days after, the bones were cooked up and cheap veggies added to make a healthy broth, couple of slices of bread and it was a good lunch. That’s just one example but people wasted less back then. Even now I have stock from the Christmas Turkey frozen to make soup :). My Nephew complains he’s never got no money but buy takeaways most nights, I… Read more »

Airborne

Rather than seeing what los pollos directly said and reacting, it’s rather easy to see his meaning that the so called “poor”with today’s living standards far outstrip previous generations level of poverty. You say food banks, yes they exist and are used but it’s a fact that if something is there, and you want to use it, then you will make sure you qualify. The vast majority of people have to live within their means, and chicken was saying that the modern safety net of the welfare state is mostly effective and in most cases ensure those people using it… Read more »

Lee1

It is easy to look at people that claim they are poor and yet sit there watching TV all day. However my wife as a teacher in a very deprived area of the UK sees the real poor, the ones that are not shown on TV entertainment shows. The ones that are working 3 or 4 jobs and still barely have enough to feed themselves after they have fed their children. The ones that are screwed by every section of society. She has children that have no shoes and sometimes can not get to school at all because they have… Read more »

Airborne

And that was a rant may I say! You talk like I’m some rose tinted spectacled clown with no experience of life! I won’t go into specifics as my own experiences are my own. I’m ex mil, currently working private sector overseas, I have 2 daughters, one a copper and one a teacher, and my wife is ex NHS and now works in a University, and therefore understand and have direct experience of waste and incompetence in Government sector organizations, and let me assure you, the NHS is well funded, but again the first priority is to spend its billions… Read more »

Lee1

The poverty is different today. People in poverty many years back were generally helping each other at least to some degree. People in poverty now often have no one to help and in fact a lot of people trying to do harm. However I agree that in lots of cases poverty today is not as bad as it has been in the past. But in one of the richest countries on earth, should we have such poverty? Should we have schools that have to scrounge money off parents just to keep their buildings open? Should we have old people in… Read more »

Lee1

Oh and I totally agree with you that most political parties promise money for votes. Labour clearly promised even more that the conservatives!

Andy Goward

No need to get touchy. We all have elderly parents, friends or relatives.

Paul H

I sense an agenda.

Gavin Gordon

Us elderly don’t require folk to rush to our defence quite as often as is assumed. Been there, done that – view it all with jaded amusement sums up our attidude as often as not. Agree that the lazy ‘idiot snowflake’ catchall is tiresome and non-indicative, but please don’t conflate the size of the surface fleet with the need to protect us weaklings.
Regards

Mr Bell

Rubbish, uk is a low tax burden haven for the rich, famous, international billionaires etc and no tax tech companies. If tax loopholes closed, tax avoidance pursued and the gig and cash in hand economy sorted then HMG would have 10s of billions a year more. The uk has one of the lowest tax burdens of any developed nation. Loads of rich people are happy to drive around in their luxury cars, have 4 holidays a year, send their kids to private schools whilst contributing less than 20% of their income to society. Then everyone moans when roads are knackered,… Read more »

jiminnorfolk

Absolutely right Andy.
We’ve heard it all before. If we are to be “Global Britain” words will have to change into reality. I wait with little excitement.

ChariotRider

We’ll know how serious they are about setting up a steady drumbeat when and if a second batch of T31’s are ordered and also what fitout that batch recieves.

Nevertheless, I am encouraged that the statements about increasing the fleet size have been consistant if vague for the past 3 or 4 years. Those statements have also been backed up with orders for the T26 and T31, but the rate of build still leaves too much room for concern and doubt.

As the article says, “Only time will tell.”

Ian

If HMG order another 5 Type 31 (cheaper than Type 26 ) would they start a second production site or stick them in the Clyde again ?

ChariotRider

Hi Ian, Good question and one that is not easy to answer. I would suggest that it would depend on the political situation with regards to a Scottish Independence Referrendum at the time the order is placed and also on the ship building capacity in the rest of the UK. I noted recently that there are moves to reopen the Appledore Yard in Devon, which if successful could signal a turning point for ship building south of the boarder. Appledore is too small to build a T31 but it could build ship blocks and would represent the regeneration of ship… Read more »

Paul Bestwick

Type 31 is being built at Rosyth and not on the Clyde.

Joe16

I’d like to see a second production site regardless of the political situation in Scotland, but ultimately it’s important to keep each site running consistently and at capacity, long term. If that means other sites block building for the more complex assembly at ROsyth, I’m OK with that. It gives those other sites a steady run of work, around which they can get work on new RFA vessels and commercial contracts. Navy work for the yards is certainly a raison d’etre in and of itself, but the yards shouldn’t consider it the sum of what they should aspire to. That… Read more »

Andy

There are two production lines being built at Rosyth.

Paul.P

So one for 57mm ‘patrol’ frigates and one for 5in GP escorts? Sound ok to me.

Dan

“It is not uncommon to have planned, temporary, small fluctuations in overall numbers..”

Meaning that the government may be planning to retire some of the Type 23 ships before their replacements are operational?

rfn_weston

That is exactly what it means

Levi Goldsteinberg

Likely. And I bet Albion and Bulwark will be retired before their replacements are ready or even selected.

If I were in the MoD I’d use the same hull design on the FSS and the new LPDs for maximum cost efficiency

Paul.P

Exactly. Getting the budget back into control by selling QE isn’t going to fly. Too much political capital invested. That leaves the selling of Albion and Bulwark option…again.
It’s my betting that what you say about using the same hull design for FSS and new LPDs is the reason the FSS project is being reviewed. Also, designate them as warships and they have to be built in the UK. Solves a lot of problems.

Mark

By the time the FSS is back on tender the UK will be outside the EU so can keep it in the UK if the political choice is made.

Paul.P

Indeed. Notwithstanding EU rules the MOD have had their own policy of opening RFA builds to competition. If they are designated warships they can’t have them built in S.Korea; hoist by their own petard!

Paul.P

Yep. In my view this is the real reason we are recommissioning the batch 1 Rivers, so that the Batch 2s can take on some duties which would otherwise be done by the T23’s we will sell off. The post Brexit fisheries argument is a red herring….get it 🙂

ChariotRider

Reading between the lines I think that some of the older T23 hulls are looking rather too expensive to update. It should be remembered that the T23 were specifically designed for an 18 year serivce life, suggesting that their hulls may be showing signs of fatigue. As such I am not be surprised that there are significant technical challenges to upgrading these ships even if they do not require significant repairs I would expect strengthening work to extent their hull lives.

Paul T

ChariotRider – Your points have already been (are being) addressed with the T23 LIFEX Programme.As you say they were built to have an expected lifespan of around 18 years but circumstances changed and they had the potential to serve nearly twice as long.There are obviously limitations to the Budget available but so far most of the T23’s have been completed or are in the process of refit.Id stick my neck out and say the T23 will probably end up being one of the best Warships the RN has ever had,if not the best.Gunbuster has commented on the state of their… Read more »

ChariotRider

Hi Paul T, My points were based around the LIFEX Programme which I should have made clear. As I understand there is a degree of flexibility built into the LIFEX programme. Firstly, as I am sure you are aware there are two standards of refit, the high end (and younger) ASW vessels will get new engines to contribute to their continued in role effectiveness. The General Purpose (GP) ships are unlikely now to get the new engines and will be replaced by the T31’s on a one for one basis in a few years time. Secondly, each ship is given… Read more »

Mark B

I assume that if the T31 first batch prove to be good ships then in theory it might be best to dump the problematic T23s and order another couple of T31 batches?

ChariotRider

It might be. If the T23’s really are in a poor condition then replacement may be the most cost effective option. Also, the T31’s are bigger and, given the current fit, have smaller crews so potentially more comfortable and less demanding on an over stretched pool of personnel. Hopefully the T31’s are designed to a 30 year life with a mid-life refit, so whether we keep them or sell on after 15 years there should be some significant potential left in them. If we get a reasonable construction drumbeat we can either chose to maintain a given fleet size of… Read more »

Paul T

In an ideal world the T23 LIFEX Programme would not have been necessary, but as we are all aware procrastination and delays with the T26/GCS meant that was the only option.Going forward the regeneration of the Frigate Fleet is now being addressed but the problem is the T26 and T31′ Ships cannot be built quick enough.My priority if extra funding was to be made available would be to speed up the build rate, especially with regards to the T26,then hope to increase the Fleet with further orders.

Steve R

The slow build rate is less to do with how quickly they can be made, and a lot more related to HMG spreading the cost out over multiple budget years.

The first Type 26 could be completed in 2 years or less, with each subsequent ship built becoming faster and cheaper to build. If money were there to build the ships at the pace they can be built you would probably find the final T26 being built in a little over a year.

ChariotRider

Yup, couldn’t agree more, however, given where we are I am beginning to think that the full LIFEX is not looking as cost effective as first impressions suggested.

Much now depends on whether Babcock can bring the T31’s forward in good time and whether we can find the funds to build a couple more.

We’ll see.

Paul T

If LIFEX does work out to about £35 million per hull and it extends the life of a T23 by 7-10 years id say that seems good value.HMS Richmond is an interesting case,being the first to trial the new Engine Upgrades,could that be one of the reasons for the sedate build time on HMS Glasgow,in that they need to prove that everything works as planned before the point comes where its too late to enable changes and modifications for a First of class ?.

Paul42

The Lifex refit plans for all the Type 23s were costed and agreed sometime ago with vessels fully expected to go through their allotted refits as planned. Those expected to continue into service into the 2030s are having the new engines installed. There will be 3 Types of Frigate in service as we move forward. The Type31e has demonstrated that a decent sized ship can be built for a reasonable price with Babcock fully expecting to build more than 5. Problem comes with puny armament! Address that and we’re in business!

Meirion X

Most of the Type 23 GPs have already had LIFEX, 1 in the worst state Iron Duke is midway through LIFEX, just one more to go.

Paul T

Correct,and think it was said that Iron Duke was probably in the worst material state of all the T23″s.

ChariotRider

Hi Meirion X

Yes I am aware, but the GP frigates may not get the engine upgrade if the T31’s are brought into service without any further delay – although that is a big caveat!

The issue is potentially with ASW frigates and the engine upgrades being applied to vessels that might be in poor condition and with may be 15 years to go in service.

Paul.P

I’ll put money on Brazil buying several of the lifexed T23s with new engines.

Martin

They want more ships but won’t increase the Budget.

Levi Goldsteinberg

They may yet. There’s plenty of talk about needing to make the country stronger and to be useful to other countries. They also insist there is plenty of fiscal headroom. Time, the SDSR 2020 and the next budget will tell

John Clark

Absolutely Levi, lets see if the 2020 SDSR is a ‘proper’ review, based on projected needs, or just another, “here’s the bag of beans, cut your cloth to fit” approach we usually have. Whats needed is 3% GDP on defence, ring fenced and protected. Most importantly spent wisely! In an ideal world, the Navy needs 40 frigates and destroyers in my opinion: 12 x T45 (probably 6 T26 based ships) 16 x T26 12 x T31 That would allow a capable working fleet of 28-30, with forward basing of assets east of Suez and enough for local deployments (SSBN delousing… Read more »

Levi Goldsteinberg

I’d caution against playing fantasy fleets, that just seems out of the question unfortunately. At least building those bases and LSSs Gavin Williamson was on about would be a good start. Reviving British shipbuilding by pumping out T31s, thereby building up our escort numbers would be even better. Having some degree of foresight and intelligence when it comes to planning and executing procurement would be the icing on the cake. If I can inject some fantasy, a new class of SSK for the GIUK gap and SCS wouldn’t go amiss. Nor would taking the armament of our ships seriously as… Read more »

Darren

The conservative number comes in as forty Destroyers and Frigates, for a maritime Country like the UK. It’s not asking for much.

Paul T

Darren – 40 Escorts would be great but like Steve I can’t see that happening,25+ is to me what the RN should be aiming for.Id also like the idea of a future SSK design to be considered but I’d guess the RN might disagree.

Andy P

Paul T, you probably know but SSK’s are a lot more capable now and for a lot of what we use the SSN’s for would be perfectly fine. A shallow draft would would have a lot of advantages.

Steve R

I agree. A class of, say, 6 SSK would be relatively cheap compared to nuclear but highly capable and effective. The only downside I can think of is range but we could base 1 or 2 permanently in HMS Juffair to give reach east of Suez.

This should be in addition to our SSNs, not to replace them.

donald_of_tokyo

Adding SSK with sacrificing what?

Paul T

Donald – adding SSK but complimenting the huge budget required to build and operate SSN,all providing their is sufficient funding to do so.If the current trend is looking at getting value for money out of platforms there are a lot of tasks that an SSK could do to free up the SSN in their specialities.

donald_of_tokyo

So you mean cutting a SSN (or two) to buy ~4 (or 8) SSKs?

Note capable SSK, such as Japanese Soryu class is 500M GBP per hull. RAN’s new SSK is much more expensive.

Paul T

No current SSN’s would need to be cut,the option of looking at SSK would only be worth it if there is (very big if) a substantial increase in Defense spending.

andy reeves

the Collins and gotlands are superior to astute. in many PROVEN ways cheaper by miles,quieter, more easily crewed and stealthier.

andy reeves

astute(the one that costs more than a t 45) slow, none have reached the proposed speed expectations, rusting and leaking, unpopular with their crews.

andy reeves

nothing i’d wonder if there is a possibility to convert the decommissioned submarines at devonport, rosyth to conventional boats especially as they’re already built

Steve R

That is effectively doubling the surface fleet, which would be lovely but not going to happen.

I’d be happy with a slightly more modest increase.

– 6 x Type 45 (production line is closed)
– 10 x Type 26
– 10 x Type 31e

Increases the surface escort fleet from 19 to 26 and wouldnt break the bank. We should then start planning for Type 4X destroyer and set a minimum of 10 for the class. Or for any frigate and destroyer class.

John Clark

I agree that a return to 25/26 is the most likely outcome, but I arrived at 40 by working out what’s actually needed with the now very likely clean break BREXIT. 40 would (if crewing and maintenance / spares is also taken seriously) allow a forward 28 to 30 fleet of escorts. This would give the RN a global footprint and allow forward basing of assets. As Darren said, for an important nation like Great Britain, 40 escorts is not over the top, it’s the foundation of a global navy and sends a strong message to future trading partners and… Read more »

Steve R

I agree with you in principle but as I said, doubling the Royal Navy just isn’t on the cards and won’t be unless we either 1) face an existential threat such as another Cold War, or 2) the UK economy somehow doubles over the next few years. 25/26 escorts still represents a potent increase in our navy and allows us to have a more global presence whilst still having protection for our carriers. While 40 would be wonderful it’s not realistic. Priority should be to grow the fleet out to around 25 frigates and destroyers, then up arm them with… Read more »

Ian

HS2 has a large budget , that would meet most of the spending wanted on this site

Andy P

I broadly welcome this, if you take it at face value then we’re looking at an increase in the FF/DD fleet although I suspect it will pretty much be Type 31’s rather than the Guccier stuff. Still, a step in the right direction. We just need to build up the SSN (or even SSK) fleet.

Gavin Gordon

Unless, worldwide, we all calm down and shake hands we are going to have to think seriously about submarine numbers, as well. In the short term, getting Audacious out of Barrow would be a nice start.

Steve Taylor

It will never happen.

Helions

Ever being the out of the box heretic, might I suggest a course of action where the RN retires the 4 worst condition GP T23’s and immediately applies the projected saving to speed up production and heavily up-arm the first 4 T31’s to a much higher standard of capability than originally planned? Keeping the ASW centric hulls (even at a high cost) will preserve that capability and the up armed T31’s would replace the GP capability within a few years..

Awaiting “outrageous slings and arrows”

Cheers!

Jonathan

Maybe not retire straight away, but I don’t thing spending on refits for these hulls is a good use of taxpayers money.

Retire them off as soon as they can’t be kept running and spend the money that was going on refits to speeding up the 31s procurement.

Helions

One at a time starting this year and applying the saving sequentially to each of the first 4 T31s. Since they are “designed for but not fitted with” no real structural modification would have to be done for the design to receive upgrades during the building process.

Cheers

andy reeves

keep the 23’s going until the yards run out of duct tape! then replace them one for one with incoming t 26 and t 31’s

ChariotRider

Hi Helions, Have a look at my comments above – we are on the same page on this mate 🙂 Although I think an up armed additional 1 or 2 added on to the end of the production run is more likely given the MoD’s cash flow issues. The ealier build T31’s could be upgraded or sold on at mid-life. If sold on then replacement T31’s built to a higher fit out spec would allow an enlarged fleet of improving capability. I like the T31 class because its big and cheep enough for us to rebuild our ship building industry… Read more »

Andy P

CR, this is my hope for the Type 31 program too, large platforms with lots of space to upgrade. If we can export these vessels then larger numbers should make spares cheaper, especially if Dominic has his way (if you excuse the expression) with MOD procurement.

The platform is big enough that if we wanted to stick with the one hull it could evolve into different specialisations if required. I get the ‘mix and match’ preference by governments but I’d rather have dedicated hulls, or at least crews.

Helions

“Air is free and steel is cheap”!

Cheers

ChariotRider

Precisely, and the penny pinching numpties may have finally understood that! The RN has got some pretty big assets in recent years. Astute class way bigger than previous UK subs, T45 big, T26 big, T31 big for their role and oh yeh the even the River b2 are pretty big… It’s only decades to learn the lesson. The numpties I am referring to are those with more influence than their knowledge and understanding justify. In simple terms it came down to the cost per ton ratio. I heard it used on more than one occassion by people who should have… Read more »

donald_of_tokyo

“Air is free and steel is cheap”, only if people do not attempt to fill it. In this policy, River B2 armed with only a single 30 mm gun is ideal. No hangar, no uparm is needed. No. The idea did not worked with T26. Large hull for mission bay and Chinook looks like filled with something expensive. They well follow the “price per tonnage” curve. To make this sentence work, we shall never think of up-arming T31e. A 57mm gun, 2 40 mm gun, a Wildcat and 12 or 24 CAMM. That’s it. No hull sonar, no SSM, no… Read more »

andy reeves

same to b 2 rivers re designate as corvettes and ‘gun em up)

RobW

https://twitter.com/DefenceInsight/status/1219939495816069122

This is a really good graphic showing escort numbers given planned build rates over the next 20 years. Lets hope B2 T31e gets ordered soon.

Daniele Mandelli

Very good.

Thanks.

WeeWill

Made the mistake of being optimistic. Watched the infographic. Mistake rectified.

ChariotRider

Hi RobW, Just goes to show that the build rate of the T26 is way too slow. I you factor in that the later T23’s to go out of service will be the ASW there will clear be a significant gap between the last of the T23 and the last of the T26’s coming into service – that could be a serious ASW capability gap to come in the mid 2030’s… Either the T26 programme needs to be accelerated or as I state above a couple of extra T31’s with a improved ASW capabilities would be need to at least… Read more »

Pete

If crew numbers are low then surely it would make sense to decommission a GP23 earlier, transfer harpoon and crew to one of the tied up T45 and get it back into operational service and avoid the T23 maintenance

ChariotRider

Hi Pete, Possibly, but the T45 currently tied up has had significant power issues and is part way through the rather drawn out Power Improvement Programme. Also, the T45 do not have the same ASW capability that the ASW T23’s do. Even without the upgrades the T23’s are pretty capable ASW platforms, with the upgrades they are reportedly amongst the best equipped in the world. I am concerned that any drop in frigate numbers, and it looks like we will see a significant drop in numbers in the mid 2030’s, will be in our ASW specialist units as the GP… Read more »

Pete

Accept timing on power upgrades may mean waiting a couple of years but it was one of the five general purpose (GP) 23’s i was referring to. Keep the ASW versions but surely a T45 with harpoon and its AAW capability is more powerful than the GP T23.

4thwatch

You can’t look at the Surface Fleet in isolation. If and when all the Astutes are at sea the ASW situation may be quite good. If and when!

ChariotRider

Hi 4thwatch,

I wasn’t. But a reduction is surface ASW capability represents an overall drop our ASW capability, with the SSN fleet being so reduced even with all 7 in service the most that will be at 1st degree readiness would be 4 which would be quite an achievement for the navy.

andy reeves

the only way the U.K ASW capability will be improved is with more ssk submarines doing what the frigates were designed to do.

donald_of_tokyo

– The 1st T31 will be handed over to RN on 2024, after hitting the water in 2023 (both a optimistic, I’m afraid, though). Also, the first T26 will be “handed over” to RN on 2025. No, it will not commission until 2027. But, a full crew is needed when (actually, even before) “hand over”. As RN crews only ~12 escorts now, to “accept” (be handed over) them, at least 2 “active” T23 GP must be decommissioned by 2025, to man, 2 T31 (~100 each) and 1 T26 (~150). Therefore, HMS Argyll (2023) and Lancaster (2024) must go, on schedule.… Read more »

Meirion X

It is more likely that the earlier T23 ASWs which had been problematic (HMS Westminster), will be decommissioned before 2025.

andy reeves

i’d like to see retiring t 23’s offered to commonwealth nations such as south Africa(for full basing rights at simonstown,Canada, Australia (in exchange for its retiring Collins class submarines,new Zealand, Jamaica(so we don’t have to send ships there in case it gets windy!)

andy reeves

and on that day BAE will unveil its first flying pig!

MadMatt

Well then they need to get on with it and stop just talking about it. Actions speak louder than vague words. No more waffle, endless delays etc. Oh and whilst the are at it stop the procurement bemoth messing things up.

andy reeves

again

andy reeves

proof is in the eating, but fingers crossed all the same.

Ron5

Many would argue replacing Type 23’s with Type 31’s is a major decrease in capacity regardless of hull numbers.

WeeWill

If it’s the GP T23s, is it?

WeeWill

Sorry, read capacity as capability.

Ron5

I meant capability. And yes, GPs are more capable.

Pete

Even if first batch of t31 could drop 1x40mm mount and replace with 16 x canister mounted SeaSpear that would be a significant capability upgrade at a very low Capex outlay for UK technology!

Deal with ING swarms at range and on blind side of tankers.

Deal with frigates and corvettes at range

Support special ops ashore

Take out tactical targets ashore and at range.

P

Harold

Oh Lord, it’s all such a worry!

James

And I’m intending to retire a millionaire at 50.
I don’t know how, but the intent is there.

Steve

Soft power is the ultimate in get out of jail free cards, especially if they can put it into the defence budget. Soft power is entirely unmeasurable and completely subjective and so you can easily say anything is soft power. For example the BBC is shown globally and gives an image of the country, is that soft power.

ChariotRider

Simple answer is yes and during WW2 the BBC got up to some quite interesting stuff beyond broadcasting. Whilst a lot of soft power is subjective there are things you can do to measure aspects of your soft power projection the obvious being monitoring how many people watch and listen to the BBC for example. Monitoring online chatter is another – cyber is another soft power capability although I would suggest it can cross over into hard power as I would say it did when the NHS systems were brought down by a hack a few years ago. A soft… Read more »

Andy P

Great post CR.

ChariotRider

Thanks Andy 🙂

andy reeves

soft power/ another stupid political soundbite thought up by some spotty bored ex graduate in a dusty office in the bowels of the M.O.D.

Lee H

Morning all As always it seems to come down to numbers – e only feel comfortable if we have certain numbers of x or y and that they are armed with this or that. Currently we have 13 frigates and 6 destroyers declared on various tables, charts, official written answers etc. In reality with two frigates and a destroyer tied up at Pompey we have 11 and 5 platforms declared to the Fleet Commander and maybe the ability to man 9 and 3 respectively. So first off let’s not kid ourselves with the reality of what we currently have. The… Read more »

Frank62

Sounds like the usual HMG double-speak spin. Hardly any cast iron planning to increase the escort force, just vague promises(probably empty) & the, “It is not uncommon to have planned, temporary, small fluctuations in overall numbers”, could allow for falling below the minimum 13 FFGs or 19DDG/FFGs at least temporarily.

Simon m

I still can’t see how paying £250m for a vessel which we will likely get £40m for (on past record) is going to allow another £250 million vessel to be bought? & How that works out better than overhauling & upgrading T31 a very maintenance light & easily upgradable vessel with low running costs? Plus surely it will mean it is even more unlikely that money is spent on weapons and instead on a straight replacement. If the upgrade cost less than £250 – 40m then your paying for the extra capability rather than to just go back to square… Read more »

Paul T

Simon – my 2 pence worth -: It depends on if the T31 can be built for £250 million per Ship (I still have doubts) Then its resale value after 15 years is impossible to say,if they are lets just say built to a price it may be the right time to move them on before refits/upgrades become really expensive.If you have a steady stream of orders it keeps the Shipyards busy and any improvements can just be gradually fed into the builds as they progress,keeping costs low.

Mr Bell

Why wait until 2030? We need those ships now. Anyone else think the cuts have gone so deep and so far that the UK armed forces are in a very perilous and worrying position now. No atritional reserve, inadequate armaments, so great kit but not enough of it, capability gaps caused by Cam Osbourne cuts. Very worrying.
Get the type 31 in serial batch production 5 in service before 2028 and another 5, ideally optimised for surface strike, in service by 2030/2031.

Ron

When I think about it I would trust HM Treasury about the same as a cobra, no I trust the cobra actually more as I know what it will do. The type 23 were designed for 18 years of service, they will start to come out of service after giving 30 years of hard work. So will we start to replace the T31s after 10-15 years somehow I will believe it when I see it. Possibly I will not live that long. Do we need more surface ships, yes, possibly the T31 design could be used and built in a… Read more »

andy reeves

lol BEST JOKE OF THE WEEK!!! THE Clyde will STILL be building the first t 26!

Ron

Well good news on the T31 front, Thales have just been given the contract for the electronic, radar communication and combat control centres for the five T31s. It looks like they are secured.