The Ministry of Defence have confirmed that of the 12 Type 23 frigates in service in the Royal Navy, 8 are operationally available.

The information came to light via a Parliamentary question.

Tobias Ellwood, Member of Parliment for Bournemouth East Commons, asked via a Parliamentary written question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will publish details of (a) the Type 23 Frigates in service in the Royal Navy and (b) the current status of those frigates in relation to (i) operational availability, (ii) training and (iii) maintenance.”

Jeremy Quin, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, responded:

“As of 31 August 2021, of the 12 Type 23 frigates in service in the Royal Navy, eight are operationally available.”

Hold on, weren’t there 13 Type 23 Frigates?

Recently, we reported that the long laid-up Type 23 Frigate HMS Monmouth had left the fleet leaving the Royal Navy with 12 frigates.

Frigate HMS Monmouth cut from Royal Navy fleet

By the end of 2020 the ship was reported to have been stripped of weapons and sensors and laid up. In March this year it was announced that Monmouth as well as sister ship Montrose would be decommissioned earlier than planned as part of the Ministry of Defence’s Integrated Review.

“The Royal Navy will focus investment on improving the sustainability, lethality and availability of the fleet and delivering a more modern, high tech and automated Navy. To enable this, the Royal Navy will retire legacy capabilities including two of our oldest T23 frigates.”

We reported at the time that two of the oldest Type 23 Frigates were to be retired earlier than previously planned in order to fund other projects.

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Paul42
Paul42
14 days ago

Interesting use of the word ‘legacy’? The Type 23s are the only Frigates the RN possesses and will continue to be so for at least 3-4 years and considerably better armed than the new ‘Modern ‘Type 31. Decommissioning Montrose and Monmouth early is a mistake that coukd comeback and bite the UK bean counters in the backside. Montrose is one of those eight currently operational, and Monmouth’s Lifex would have included new engines giving us very useful and badly needed asset whilst awaiting the newer vessels currently being built at snails pace. Despite the addition of the carriers, overall the… Read more »

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
14 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

Legacy means that they don’t have all of the latest and greatest kit fitted. That said Montrose has everything fitted (and then some!) bar a tail and the DG upgrade but she has been running non-stop since her 2017 refit and has been delivering Operational Capability at nearly 100% with Operational Availability at around 80 % which is streets ahead of her sister ships. The 20% ish non availability is her time alongside for Maintenance periods. At these times she remains Operationally Capable but not available because she has kit under repair. Again its a bit misleading because given 12-24-48… Read more »

Paul42
Paul42
14 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Like you say, everything fitted and then some, hardly legacy! So Montrose might need a refit, her operational availability speaks for itself, that refit would be worth every last penny!

John Rampton
John Rampton
13 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

Problem is the basic shape of the T23. Essentially they are ’80s designs and and light up on any radar or other sensor like a Christmas tree. Props are noisy too. No stealth capability at all.

Paul42
Paul42
13 days ago
Reply to  John Rampton

The Type 23 is a very highly rated,ASW Frigate, so although the design is getting on a bit its still a good ship.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
13 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

Tail and Merlin equipped units are by far and away the best Surface ASW assets anywhere in the world.
Even non-tail T23 using active sets are pretty good.

During ASW exercises T23s turn on an underwater transponder known affectionately as the lepers bell. Its there for Sub safety because on a number of occasions allied subs have had near misses with T23s because the Sub couldn’t passively detect them. The T23 in the Patrol Quiet or Ultra Quiet state with the tail out running on electric drive is a hole in the ocean.

David
David
13 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Hi Gunbuster, always love your insight.

Will the Type 26s also be able to operate the same ‘hole in the ocean’ as the Type 23s? Will they be better ASW platforms than the T23 or merely the same? I would hope with the significant unit cost and advances in technology they would be better but us laymen have no idea. We have exposure to only that which we read in the media.

Thank you

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
12 days ago
Reply to  David

T26 will be better. As tech moved on from T22 to T23, T23 will be in the shadow of T26. Lots of quietening tech from sub programmes now goes into surface ASW units.
Double isolation rafting, Hull to machinery isolation, better equipment design…

Add to that the latest sonar equipment and it will be a superb ASW unit.

Hugh Jarce
Hugh Jarce
9 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

“Tail and Merlin equipped units are by far and away the best Surface ASW assets anywhere in the world.”

And you know this how?
Until we’re involved in a war with Russia or China there’s no way of knowing how well ASW Type 23s (or Type 26s) will or won’t perform.

“on a number of occasions allied subs have had near misses with T23s because the Sub couldn’t passively detect them.”

Sources?

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
7 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Jarce

Let’s just say I have been there, done that and got numerous T shirts…
Be they for TAPs in the Gap or else where where we tracked a number of subs and they where not all Russian… To numerous CASEX exercises where the Lepers Bell is mandated in use to avoid the issues described. If it wasn’t needed then we wouldn’t turn it on to help the sub out.

Hugh Jarce
Hugh Jarce
2 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

“Let’s just say I have been there, done that and got numerous T shirts…” Bully for you. And how much action have you seen in actual wars against Russia and China? The answer to that would be none at all. “To numerous CASEX exercises where the Lepers Bell is mandated in use to avoid the issues described.” Using an underwater transponder to prevent collisions in peacetime is one thing. Using it in wartime would be suicidal. Plus using it in exercises makes for totally unrealistic conditions. And you’re claiming that subs can’t detect Type 23s. Maybe not easily or at… Read more »

Last edited 2 days ago by Hugh Jarce
Meirion x
Meirion x
7 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Jarce

“Until we’re involved in a war with Russia
or China there’s no way of knowing how well ASW Type 23s (or Type 26s) will or won’t perform.”

The same applies to Russian and Chinese vessels performance in a war with the West.

They certainly didn’t do well when put to test by the Israeli’s and the Iraq wars!

Last edited 7 days ago by Meirion x
Hugh Jarce
Hugh Jarce
2 days ago
Reply to  Meirion x

“The same applies to Russian and Chinese vessels performance in a war with the West.” Obviously, that goes without saying. But the West doesn’t have air-launched or ship-launched missiles that outrange DF-26 and Kinzhal. The West doesn’t have ship-launched anti-ship missiles that outrange Kalibr, Oniks and YJ-18. The West doesn’t have anti-sub missiles that outrange the Russian Type 65 torpedo. No Western warships or subs have anti-torpedo torpedoes. No Western subs have IDAS missiles. If a carrier group is staying out of the range of DF-26 or Kinzhal, then no carrier aircraft have the range to reach land. (This applies… Read more »

Hugh Jarce
Hugh Jarce
12 hours ago
Reply to  Hugh Jarce

I wrote: “No Western subs have IDAS missiles.”

Correction, German Type 212 subs do. I should have written “IDAS missiles aren’t widespread on Western subs.”

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
13 days ago
Reply to  John Rampton

You after a bite?

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
13 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

No might about it.
A lot of the mandatory Lloyd’s dry Dock work items wkll be due.
I was on her last week and will be again this week for a natter with some mates and to do some maintenance.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
23 hours ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

You have zero real world experience and it shows to a glaringly obvious degree.
The total premise of your argument that the RN wouldn’t last against Russia or China is it appears, built on something you read, in a paper that somebody wrote and posted in Wiki.

WIKI!

When you have some real world experience come back and we can discuss it, spin some dits about sitting in the GIUK gap in Harry Roughers doing TAPS and argue about it being your round and that you should drink beer not Vodka.

Steve M
Steve M
14 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

The trouble is realistically if you want1ship deployed/operational you need 3 ships of type (1 active, 1 post deployment /refit, 1 refit/pre-deploy / FOST) that rule in idela world would apply to all types, when CSG gets back you can almost guarantee that all those vessle will be alonside for prob 6 months and as PoW is working up she will not be fully Operational and i boubt we could sortie 2 x T45’s &T23’s for long deployment untill next year. This is not dig at RN as i know they don’t decide how many boats they have and are… Read more »

Last edited 14 days ago by Steve M
Gunbuster
Gunbuster
13 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

After a 9 month deployment we had 3 weeks leave, 4 weeks maintenance FTSP, couple of weeks work up and then away for 3 months.
Nobody ever spends 6months getting over a deployment.

The idea of 3 year deployments in theater gets rid of the need for multiple ships always prepping or recovering. You just Rip and swap the crews out.

Last edited 13 days ago by Gunbuster
Hugh Jarce
Hugh Jarce
9 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

“That said Montrose has everything fitted (and then some!)…” And then some? If Wikipedia is correct then HMS Montrose has none of the following: – Hull sonar – Towed array sonar – IDS300 floating decoys – MASS decoys – A state-of-the-art EW system – CEC (Cooperative Engagement Capability) – Anti-torpedo torpedoes (e.g. SSTD CAT, Sea Spider, MU90 Hard Kill, Tork) – Depth charges (e.g. Kingfisher) – Long-range anti-sub missiles (that outrange any enemy torpedoes) – Long-range SAMs (CAMM is ridiculously short ranged and even Aster 30 lacks range to keep enemy aircraft at arm’s length) – A decent CIWS like… Read more »

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
7 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Jarce

Wow… Did you get a set of top trumps for your birthday? Please thank your mummy!

Rule 1 Never beleive Wiki.
Rule 2 Never beleive Wiki
Other good things to do…
Join up and spend 30 plus years as a weapon engineer.
Actually go onboard the vessel within the past week where you could confirm what’s fitted.
Know what you are talking about… You don’t…

Hugh Jarce
Hugh Jarce
2 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

“Wow… Did you get a set of top trumps for your birthday? Please thank your mummy!” What an idiotic, puerile comment. Grow up. “Rule 1 Never beleive Wiki. Rule 2 Never beleive Wiki” *believe And why’s that exactly? “Other good things to do… Join up and spend 30 plus years as a weapon engineer.” And what will that achieve? Type 23s (like all RN ships) seriously lack offensive and defensive capability. Seems to me you know I’m right, but it hurts your pride to admit it, so you lash out instead. The RN is utterly unfit for purpose uness we’re… Read more »

Last edited 2 days ago by Hugh Jarce
Gunbuster
Gunbuster
6 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Jarce

Ok… point by point because I am bored and its my lunch time… Hull Sonar- 2050 Towed array- None Its a GP T23 without a tail DLF 3 is fitted below the bridge wings , 2 canisters per side. I have exchanged them when they have become lifex on Montrose. MASS decoys- Not in UK Service but Sea Gnat is with Chaff, IR and active rounds. A state-of-the-art EW system- Errr… its pretty much state of the art and it has a number of special fit add-ons CEC- Not in UK service. The need for it is diminished with the UK… Read more »

Hugh Jarce
Hugh Jarce
2 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

“Ok… point by point because I am bored and its my lunch time…” Not too bored to post a long comment though, eh? “Hull Sonar- 2050” Source? https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/our-organisation/the-fighting-arms/surface-fleet/frigates/type-23/hms-montrose simply states “She is equipped with sonar to detect submarines…” but doesn’t specify the type of sonar. “Towed array- None Its a GP T23 without a tail” So not a dedicated ASW Type 23 then. You wrote “Montrose has everything fitted (and then some!)”, except it doesn’t have a towed array sonar, so no it doesn’t have EVERYTHING fitted. And there are plenty of other things that Montrose doesn’t have. “DLF 3… Read more »

Last edited 2 days ago by Hugh Jarce
Gunbuster
Gunbuster
23 hours ago
Reply to  Hugh Jarce

So no a T23 doesn’t have everything fitted… But it does have everything fitted that a T23 should have fitted and then some. In your top trumps list of nice to haves you would need something the size of a modern day Kirov to fit it onto. So please let me know what, besides top trumps and wiki is your experience with weapon systems and fighting a Warship? How many sea drafts did you serve on a T23? For that matter any other RN warships… when was the last time if any that you set foot on a T23? For… Read more »

Hugh Jarce
Hugh Jarce
13 hours ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

“So no a T23 doesn’t have everything fitted…” I know it doesn’t, so why did you say the Montrose does? “But it does have everything fitted that a T23 should have fitted…” What Type 23s need, and what ANY surface ship needs, is the ability to be effective and survivable. GP Type 23s are only good for missions that involve a low-to-medium level of risk, so escorting commercial vessels in the Persian Gulf for example. In some respects GP T23s are better than T31s, in other respects worse. The ideal vessel for the Persian Gulf mission would take the best… Read more »

Last edited 13 hours ago by Hugh Jarce
Mike
Mike
13 days ago

The small size of the armed forces continues to astonish me

Tommo
Tommo
13 days ago
Reply to  Mike

Mothballing would have been more appropriate for Montrose and Monmouth rather than up the trott and stripped bare plus that fact that manpower over the last 30 yes has shrunk from 90 thousand down by 2 thirds to 30 thousand and you have Draftie juggling personnel to sea or shore either extending sea drafts or shorterning shore time the 23s have shown their worth a ship is as good as the crew therefore increase recruiting keep the manpower in an upward curve not a downhill slide.

David Steeper
David Steeper
13 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

Including reserves 90k to 40k and rising.

Tommo
Tommo
13 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

I’m not one to find fault with the RNR but here’s a little dit 4 jar rate reservist were drafted on board they were all MWs ( mine warfare) I haven’t the faintest what Centurian was thinking putting them on HMS Invincible still haven’t found out why LOA perhaps ?

andy reeves
andy reeves
11 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

if so many Nepalese try for the British army why not see what the reaction would be for the navy?

Ron
Ron
13 days ago

What a mess, this state of affairs has come about for two reasons, 1. block building and then nothing, 2. the follow on T26 being delayed. This then had a knock on effect of the T23s needing more and more time in repair costing more money. Meaning less money for new ships. Someone called this the ‘ Law of diminishing return’ We need to rethink our building programs, possibly revert to the methods used 100 years ago for battleships/cruisers. One type being built in a group of four, the follow on type being designed and a third type being in… Read more »

eclipse
eclipse
13 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Doing it your way would also be unaffordable for our budget. It might be, actually definitely, more bang for the buck but it would also be a for a buck when we only have 50 cents. The Royal Navy is consistently underfunded which means it needs to wait for the next annual funding cycle to pay for something that was meant to have been paid for this year and in reason should have been paid five years ago. This is why we end up with the silly and even dangerous result that we retire ships before we have replacements and… Read more »

Andy P
Andy P
13 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Its not just about the number of frigates and destroyers though Ron, for starters we need to crew them and those crew need to have done all the courses etc so the older ones that are ‘reserve’ will need to be maintained and the gear kept updated etc even if they’re not being used. That sounds expensive to me and you’d be relying on reserves (either voluntary or compulsory) to crew them, personally I would resent the crap out of it if I was ‘invited back’.

Ron
Ron
13 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

In many ways I agree, to rebuild the fleet we need the men and women to man the ships. Here is the issue if you don’t have enough ships then the manning issue becomes a problem. The crews need to spend more time on deployment. The crew does not have the best kit to play with. Aspects for climbing the ladder is reduced. People leave because there is no future prospect. Now go the other way, more ships means people want tostay or join, better future aspects, more up to date equipment, more overseas deployemnts but reduced time away from… Read more »

Andy P
Andy P
13 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Mate, it all cost money and like yourself (as previously discussed) I was in the Reserves when they had the Rivers and I had a great time, I loved my weekends and 2 weeks away. I’m not convinced that the current ‘crews’ would be up for the scrubbing out etc before handing the ship back to the ship-keepers. As for the “preparing for war….” stuff, people have a habit of finding excuses to go to war, usually a bunch of bollox but sometimes for something more tangible. It ain’t gonna stop. To look at it another way if THEY have… Read more »

Hugh Jarce
Hugh Jarce
9 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Yep, totally agree. Everything takes far too long to design & build. This applies to ships, subs, aircraft, tanks, missiles, you name it. We need a far better system.

Airborne
Airborne
13 days ago

8 seems pretty good to me.

Steve
Steve
13 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

It’s better than I expected, but I do wonder if it’s anywhere near enough. In the lessons learnt from Falklands, it was identified that the anti sub net was too thin and didn’t stretch out far enough, resulting in tbe failure to track the Argentinean sub. That was with more frigates than the 8. As such in a real war situation, do we realistically have enough escorts to protect any task force including supply ships, I suspect the answer is a no, since I doubt sonar tech has jumped forward significantly Vs sub anti tracking tech and considering the Argentinean… Read more »

Airborne
Airborne
13 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Its never enough, but Gunbuster does give some excellent in depth subject matter knowledge on this, and to him, the situation isnt as dire as may seem. Cheers.

The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken
The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken
13 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Why wouldn’t all 8 have tails? The RN planned to order 16 sets of sonar 2087 with 12 sets for full sea based use. Has that changed ?

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🇬🇧

Virtual Image
Virtual Image
13 days ago

It should be noted that a significant amount of kit fitted to T23’s are being redirected to T26 in lieu of buying new kit for the T26. This will leave the capability of the T23 extremely compromised and less effective.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
13 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Surface sets such as 184 where pretty much standard in the Falklands with a few 2016 sets. No tails where deployed. Compared to today’s sets such as 2050 2150 or 2087 it is like comparing Sea Cat Missiles to Sea Viper.

Modern active sets have a huge detection range compared to old sets. LF tails and passive detection is even more advanced. Add to that the quieting on current surface ASW assets and the use of Helos and the ASW advances are significant.

Steve
Steve
13 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

All fair but also subs have improved a lot since then. The subs used by Argentina during the war were built in 1945 and managed to avoid detection. It’s always going to be a case of cat and mouse with each side developing constantly

David Steeper
David Steeper
13 days ago
Reply to  Steve

They also had for the time modern German boats. Lot of BS has come out from Argentine vets post war about what they coulda woulda shoulda and in the case of Invincible didda. Can’t comment on all the claims but all those I’ve seen were shown to be fertiliser.

Trevor G
Trevor G
13 days ago

Is there anybody at the MoD who is tasked with carrying out risk assessments on the now pervasive practice of retiring legacy assets before (and sometimes years before) the much vaunted hi tech replacements are available?

STEVE
STEVE
13 days ago

All we hear at the moment is when ships aircraft are going out of service and new ships will take years to come on line and new aircraft tempest not due until 2030. A reduction in service men[ army] now the minesweepers have a out of service date how can we be a global force with this going on, No wonder we have to keep in with the US, if it was not for Labour we would,not have these carriers now . its a wonder we need a secretary of Defense or the MOD all we have is now is… Read more »

The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken
The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken
13 days ago
Reply to  STEVE

Who spends more on defence than HM? I can only count about 4-5 nations maybe but not a lot and I’m pretty sure 195 countries in the world so the U.K. is in the top 10 rankings of the premier league .

North Korea has a very big army though lots of tanks lots of 1950’s tech 👍🏻😉

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🇬🇧

David Steeper
David Steeper
13 days ago
Reply to  STEVE

India sent Mig21’s into air combat against F16A’s in their recent row with Pakistan. What would happen if 10 of either came up against an F35B ?

Last edited 13 days ago by David Steeper
Meirion x
Meirion x
9 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

The Indian’s may of being trying to use up their old kit like Mig 21’s?

David Steeper
David Steeper
9 days ago
Reply to  Meirion x

And the pilots of them ?

Barry Hooper
Barry Hooper
13 days ago

Why do our mod payoff ships before they replace them, surely that’s utter stupidity.Then our navy struggles for ships ,it makes me wonder if the people who make the decisions are members of the KGB.

Donaldson
Donaldson
13 days ago

Out of interest, Does anyone know the magazine capacity on T23/T45 for 4.5inch shells?

David
David
13 days ago
Reply to  Donaldson

I read once before it was 700 rounds but I could be mistaken.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
12 days ago
Reply to  Donaldson

Yes… And I am not telling because the figure is in the armament warrant and its a classified document

Its more than 200 and less than 1000 and the capacity on each class is different.

Matt C
Matt C
13 days ago

Gapping capability did succeed in delivering results further down the line in the case of Harrier/F-35 and Ark Royal/Queen Elizabeth. “Doing without today” may be unpalatable now as it always is, in all areas not just defence, but in the long-term usually pays off, provided the saved funds are then spent wisely.