Have you wondered how many days the Type 23 Frigate fleet spent at sea over the last few years?

The information below comes from a response to a written Parliamentary question.

“The normal operating cycle of every ship involves them entering different readiness levels depending on their programmes, periods of refit and Departmental planning requirements”, said Jeremy Quin, the Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence.

“In addition, these figures represent days at sea, and it should be noted that, while deployed away from the UK, ships will spend both days at sea and alongside in ports around the world.”

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Peter Elliott

Could the article be updated with the 2019 figures…?

David Barry

It would be good to see a list of the current fleet:
Full modernisation?
Part modded?
Which have a tail?

And, whisper it quietly, it seems the Scots stepped up to the plate in 2018 😉

Glass Half Full

Lancaster with no days at sea for three years, surely that can’t all be the life extension refit?
On a wider not compare what we have with these 13 ships against the 13 (of two different types) that they will be replaced by.


Lanc was alongside laid up before her refit.


Was that a crewing issue?



Effectively, a T45 and T23 have been laid up due to crewing issues over the past few years. With the T23 fleet, this has moved between ships as they’ve gone into refit: Lancaster -> Portland -> Iron Duke -> Monmouth.

Lanc has now re-joined the fleet, with Portland out of the shed, Iron Duke in the early stages of her refit and Monmouth getting ready to go in.

Official word is that the crewing issues have been resolved.



The first sea lord announced towards the end of last year that the crewing issues were now over. I suspect those figures won’t jump up for 2020.


There will be some other excuse, like the T45s being re-engined


Crewing issues were entirely self made though. Money saving exercise

Meirion X

It will been Senseless to refit Monmouth, at this late stage in her life. Less then a decade before retirement!
Just keep her maintained and seaworthy. Use the savings to uparm T31!

Paul T

Logically yes the money could be better used elsewhere,but while Monmouth is still on the RN’s books having been LIFEXED can be justified,plus it increases the chance of a sale to a friendly partner on its retirement.


Why we are spending so much on refiting the type 23s is beyond me, do they really need new engines! couldnt we have just patched them up for a few years. On the other hand it’s good and needed work for the yard, would it cost much more to fit the 23s mushroom farms onto the type 31s? 32 VLS is needed.

Paul T

Cam – At the end of the day there surely was no other option,the T23 replacement has taken far too long to start production,if these Frigates were not to be LIFEXED should they have been retired then sold or scrapped with nothing to replace them ? .The added benefits of the Refit work is that Sea Ceptor has been bought into service,and the New Engine arrangement that will go into some of them will go towards preventing any future issues on the Type 26 when they come ( finally) into service.

Steve H

Paul, this is what happens when the fleet has been poorly managed for decades….. What really infuriates me the most is the fact that the process of concept, design, development, costing and rubber stamping a project takes so bloody long in this Country.
The QE Class Carriers, the Astute Class, the Dreadnoughts, the Type 45’s, The Type 26’s, the Type 31’s, the OPV’s, the new RFA ships, the refit of the older hulls in the fleet etc etc…. and this is just the chuffing Royal Navy FFS!!!!!

Meirion X

The T23 mushroom farms, are originally Sea Wolf hot launch silos. They have be adapted to launch Sea Ceptor.
They look as they are really welded in. So will require a lot of cutting and welding to remove. So another refit with all costs associated would be required.
Might as well start afresh with a new type of silo designed to launch Sea Ceptor!

Paul T

Meirion – The benefits of Sea Ceptor I was inplying were the introduction of a completely new Weapons System and the lessons that would be learned,im aware there is absolutely no reason to transfer any VLS from T23 to T26/31..

Meirion X

I do agree Paul. I was replying to Cam, no worries!


Lancaster was laid up at Porrsmouth stripped of weapons prior to being towed to Devonport in late 2016/early 2017 and entered refit. Iron Duke was then laid up at Portsmouth and was towed to Devonport last year I think, and now in refit. Portland was disarmed and laid up at Devonport around Jume 2017 and now in refit. Richmond has now completed her refit including new engines.

Meirion X

Any news of St. Albans? She was laid up last year, maybe waiting for LIFEX? Also Portland was fitted with a new sonar.



Lancaster is now now active and undergoing at-sea training following reift/crewing issues.


These numbers complete a worrying picture when aggregated with yesterdays T45 numbers.

The fleet activity has been clearly cut back since the end of 2016


HMS KENT spent most of 2019 at sea data needs to be updated !!!


An average of 2.9 frigates at sea during any one day, surprisingly slow number.

I am wondering if days restocking / days ashore during port visits are being taken out of the number and it is purely days at sea.


The average for the destroyers for 2019 was 1.4, so assuming 2019 for frigates was similar to 2018 that means on any one day of the year we had 4.3 escorts at sea. Considering how wide the deployments are around the world, that seems kinda low compared to the 19 potential.

Max Jones

I don’t believe this includes port figures. There is also usually one or two vessels kept in the UK for escort/interdiction through the channel and national security. Point is that it doesn’t really accurately depict the number of escorts major surface combatants available to the Royal Navy overall. For example, if we send a frigate to the Middle East and, over the course of a month, it spends 14 days at sea and 14 days in port where it is supplying or its troops are conducting other working port or at the local naval base, that doesn’t mean that asset… Read more »


Man power limit is surely there.

“19 escort with 80 sea-going days each” is equivalent to “16 escort with 95 days”, or even “14 escorts with 110 days each”.

RN is not operating “19 escorts” for more than half a decade. I am not sure why RN is ordering five T31, while keeping at least 1 T45 in extended readiness for lack of crew.

Glass Half Full

The manning requirements on the T26 and especially the T31 are significantly lower than T23, with T31 at perhaps 50% of the T23’s complement. So as T23 leave service raw headcount requirement falls, although there’s clearly still a requirement to have the right trades with the appropriate experience.


Yes. But. With manning in short, even with T26 (~150 crew) and T31 (~100 crew) coming, man power cannot be cut = payment level is the same as of now. With huge automation, the cost of automation will significantly increase. (because these new ships needs equipment doing something a crew is doing in T23. Note, T26/T31 is significantly larger than T23, which means ship maintenance load will increase.) When we say, “automation saves cost”, it means “saving from man power reduction exceeds the increase of cost by automation-equipment support”. In T26/31 this is not the case, because the man power… Read more »


All so true. Trying to do too much without resources. The best kept secret from the Parliament, Media & Public. If this was a ‘civilian’ entreprise it would have gone bust and the management would have been deemed in capable by the shareholders who are told what goes on in the company. RN shareholders, tax payers, are not allowed to know because service people cannot speak out. Can’t think of any senior officer being fired, perhaps they never make mistakes?

Glass Half Full

Sorry Donald not sure I understand the arguments you’re making. With 8x T26 (~150 crew), 5x T31 (~100 crew) and 13x T23 (~185 crew), 13x T26/T31 would require ~1700 crew while 13x T23 would require ~2400, so the new frigates would only require ~2/3 the crew for the same number of ships to be manned. Obviously these are all approximations, would depend on what systems are embarked on ships and requires the availability of all necessary trades with appropriate experience. However, T31 might be significantly lower than ~100 crew. Alternatively, ~1700 crew today might only enable 9x T23 to be… Read more »


Thanks, Glass Half Full-san On crew number, yes, that is my argument. However, T31 crew size will be 100 or more. Current number of ~90 does NOT include helicopter flight (while the ~185 number for T23 does). On the operation cost other than man-power cost, a ship with automation surely be higher than a ship without. To be operated with less crew while complying similar level of damage control, to start with, you need, e.g. a fire sensor (with double back up), fire-fighting sprinkler with more than double back up, and even automated door. Of course these assets needs maintenance,… Read more »

Glass Half Full

Donald, we are probably going to have to agree to disagree regarding T31. However, I am not disagreeing with your point that “Cost reduction in automation ONLY comes from manpower reduction. All other aspects requires more money.” I am stating that we know T31 is a low CapEx frigate, with it already including its automation CapEx costs, and that it will be a low cost ship to operate, i.e. low OpEx (crew), low VoyEx (fuel) and low maintenance costs. These were all very explicit design requirements, with OMT leveraging experience from Maersk to achieve this. I suggest that if the… Read more »


This table is the rationale for the Batch 2 Rivers.
5 more rows forward based at HMS Forth at sea levels of availability.


The figures are misleading when taken in isolation with no understanding of notice for sea. Removing the vessels in refit who’s availability is greater than 48hrs notice for sea, include 30 days leave for the crew and one possibly two 4 week maintenance periods its not bad. Vessels alongside in maintenance or with crews on leave usually remain at 48hrs notice for sea. Occasionally if there is a big job such as an engine change it may go to72 or 96 hrs. So whilst not being at sea they are doing things that improve availability and readiness. If push comes… Read more »




To those of you complaining about the numbers of days at sea. 7 of the T23 listed above spent in excess of 100 days at sea during 2018 and some much more. I suspect this is a fair reflection of the 2019 figures as well. When you add T45 to the mix, more than half the RN escorts spend c.100 days at sea each year. From a manpower perspective that figure does not include days away from home port but alongside somewhere else which would make the figure much greater. The RN has to balance unit availability for contingent operations… Read more »

Steve H

To the casual reader, these figures will look absolutely shocking…. you’ll get the “Why’s, what’s, Where’s, when’s and how’s” questions about the management of the Fleet.
if you actually look at those figures in that way it seems almost unbelievable that a Country as important, powerful, wealthy and influential as Great Britain has such a poor turnout from its Navy.
There’ll be the usual excuses from the M.O.D which will satisfy most people but for the more interested folk such as ourselves, they’ll have to do better than that.
Rule Brittannia!! 🇬🇧🇬🇧✌️✌️