The Ministry of Defence is looking at the size and composition of frigate fleet as part of the Modernising Defence Programme, hinting that there could be more than 5 Type 31e frigates with some even having ASW capabilities.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said at a Defence Select Committee meeting, when asked about any intention on expanding the number of Type 31e Frigates to be built:

“We’re looking at that as part of the Modernising Defence Programme. If there’s opportunities going forward to expand on that [the fleet size] we’d look at that as part of the Modernising Defence Programme.”

Plans to acquire a new class of “more affordable” Type 31 Frigate were announced as part of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

It is understood that the Type 26 Frigate will primarily support carrier task group operations while the Type 31 is to be deployed for a range of less high-tempo operations.

The original planning assumption for the Royal Navy was for thirteen Type 26 Frigates (eight Anti-Submarine Warfare and five General Purpose variants), replacing the Type 23 frigate fleet like-for-like. However, it was later announced during the November 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review by then Prime minister David Cameron that only the eight anti-submarine warfare Type 26 frigates would be ordered. The funding for the remaining five general purpose Type 26 frigates is instead to be spent on developing a new class of lighter and more affordable general purpose frigates.

This general purpose frigate has been designated the Type 31 frigate.

Babcock and BMT recently signed a cooperation agreement which could see the Type 31e Frigate built in Rosyth, Scotland and Appledore, Devon if their bid is successful.

Babcocks ‘Arrowhead’ design for the Type 31e programme.

Recently it was reported that Babcock International was keen to challenge BAE Systems dominance and is interested in bidding for the £2Bn Type 31e contract. We understand that Rosyth in Scotland and Appledore in Devon are the preferred build and assembly locations for the joint bid.

Babcock were originally offering the ‘Arrowhead 120 while BMT were offering the Venator 110, the companies now say that they will be exploring both available designs to determine the best possible option. The companies say that arrangement draws on the combined strengths of Babcock and BMT and will deliver ‘innovative, capable, affordable and flexible customer solutions, within a fast changing and increasingly demanding environment’.

Babcock say that the Arrowhead design lends itself equally to either a single build strategy, or a cross–site build strategy bringing together modules – an approach used for aircraft carrier assembly at Rosyth.

BAE Systems also announced it would partner with Cammell Laird, who would ‘Prime, build and assemble’ the vessels at their Merseyside facility while the Clyde will focus on the Type 26 Frigates.Cammell Laird would be main contractor with BAE providing design and combat systems.

A BAE concept design for Type 31e.

BAE say the move will allow them to ‘appropriately support the National Shipbuilding Strategy’ whilst ensuring the delivery of the five Offshore Patrol Vessels and the first three City class Type 26 frigates currently on contract, ‘to time, budget and to the highest quality standards.’

The option to build the Type 31e frigates in blocks reflects how the biggest ship ever built for the Royal Navy, HMS Queen Elizabeth, was constructed. The aircraft carrier was built in blocks by over 10,000 people in six main British cities.

Tony Douglas, the Chief Executive Officer of DE&S, said,

“The Type 31e programme will drive the change that is needed through the entire system, because we have set tough time and cost constraints.

The collective challenge for DE&S and industry is to deliver Type 31e in a different, more innovative way than has gone before. I want this to be a transformation in the way we do business – not just in ships and acquisition but across the entire defence equipment and support portfolio.”

95 COMMENTS

  1. Where does he mention ASW capabilities in his quotation? Hopefully there was more not stated in the article.
    If true, I wonder if they are designing a quiet ship or if they will just bolt on sonar.
    I see us getting 8 T31. But the big question is, will they then drop the numbers of T26????

      • If the RN only builds 6 T26, then its availability rate for CSG ASW escort will be too low. They would HAVE to include ASW capable T31’s in the mix which might be why they’re bring adding the capability to the T31 mix… Pity.

        Cheers!

          • I’m sure the type 26’s will achieve the planned numbers, as the carrier groups will need their support; especially if both carriers are deployed simultaneously. As for more 31’s that will depend on ‘Global Britain’ and what trade/military compacts are established. Another advantage of additional 31’s would be the opportunity to permanently station RN vessels abroad.

    • stuff the scottish yards, the rate at which they get ships built is far too slow 1 for 1 replacements for the type 23 must come with a time expectation, when awarding contracts.

    • All the new platforms coming on line are lean manned so more can be crewed from the same number of sailors.
      Money is my concern, what do we loose in return or are they getting extra funds?

      • No they cant be manned.
        The RN has a massive short fall in Engineers. You can have all the TAS Apes, Dabbers, Buntings and Loggies you want but without the engineers the ships don’t move and they cant fight.

    • I suspect in the long term mine operations will be seen as one on the mission modules that can be accomodated aboard the T31 as needed. This will allow them to wind down the dedicated mine-hunters and sweepers, saving money and freeing up personnel to crew the T31s.
      If that is the case, they’ll need to up the T31 order numbers.

    • If they stopped doing the stupid SJW recruitment campaigns they could get the men and i feel the military budgets gonna get a big boost next year

  2. Money can always be found when the government need it.
    £34 billion EU exit bill Vs £250 million frigate, I know which one I support and advocate.
    Sailors is a problem the MOD just needs to improve pay, conditions and terms of service so that the armed forces are more appealing as a career and lifestyle option.

    • (Chris H) Mr J Bell – the £34 Bn EU exit bill is a cost we have elected to pay to rightly honour commitments given by earlier Governments plus the costs of UK personnel pensions of 20+ years. So it isn’t a one off payment of £34 Bn. Had we remained in the EU we would have paid £26 Bn over the remaining two years to the end of the EU spending round and then £13 Bn+ a year forever after ….

      Having said that as the EU keeps saying ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’ and if we get no trade deal then everything goes back to zero and we pay nothing. Not that I want that as a Free Trade Deal benefits all parties.

    • A truly credible fleet but only if the RN can get a grip on manning issues though. I know its getting better (and is still way better than the army) but theres still some ways to go yet.

        • This is just a fantasy of mine but id really like to see manning levels where we can rotate crews through the escort fleet like they do for HMS Protector and the Echo Class – could lead to longer/more permanent overseas deployments.

          • They are doing this on the MCMVs and it has been looked at for T23s especially if they foreign port a T23 in the Mid East which has been under serious consideration

    • Yes, but do 8 Type 31 become harder to fund if better ASW capability and hull becomes a primary requirement? The Khareef derived Leander has electric drive. Does the Babcock Arrowhead?

  3. I am sorry to say I don’t read it like that. Sounds like only 6 T26 will eventually be ordered with the 2 plus one spare 2087 sonar kits transferred to an ASW version of T31. If the T26 are going to be just for carrier strike, then like the T45, only 6 will be needed (as perceived by the MoD).

    • Don’t agree only 6 will be needed, you don’t need AAW destroyers to support the CASD, but you do need ASW frigates.

      • So if someone fires a salvo of AShMs at your task force, you don’t think you need a dedicated air defence destroyer to protect your multi billion pound carrier and the thousands of sailors aboard?

        Every aspect of a carrier group is vital, you miss out on a single part and you’re risking lives and assets unnecessarily.

    • We have 11 sets of sonar 2087. There will be 8 Type 26s built for a few reasons. Type 31 won’t go to the Clyde yards so cutting 2 Type 26s would be politically unacceptable. Also type 31 will not be a good platform to host a TAS, not for £250 million at least. If they are quiet enough to make proper use of a hull mounted sonar (2050) we will have done well. 8 ASW hulls is the requirement set by the RN to cover carrier escort and support CASD so 8 ASW hulls we will get. It makes way more sense to build type 26 hulls 7&8, than try to make Type 31 essentially a two batch programme, with 5 GP & 2/3 ASW. That would be like putting lipstick on a pig. Type 31 should be a Patrol frigate that can contribute to an amphibious Operation by providing NGFS (5 inch gun) or littoral ASW (sonar 2050 & Wildcat) or protect an RFA from air or surface attack (Artisan, Sea Ceptor & deck launched ASMs.

  4. A few more t45s and t26s wouldn’t go a miss either, and submarines and auxiliaries ocean replacement, but realistically I can see the t26 order being reduced again for more asw t31s, we really need to get the balance of quantity and quality right and I don’t think it is and will be.

      • Agreed Chris but it would be good to see them fitted with Mk41 VLS. Daring has been in service since 2010 and there is still no sign of she – or her sisters – ever being fitted with them. We design fantastic ships and then woefully under arm them – it’s a shame to see such potential lost in the Type 45.

        To answer my own question in part, I had read elsewhere that the money intended for the Mk41 is now being used to fund the propulsion issues. Does anyone know if this is true?

        • The most pressing issue in the short run should be to fit them all permanently with Harpoon instead of swapping around 4 out of the 6. But yes in the future Mk41 would be nice along with LRASM or NSM so Harpoon can be withdrawn.

    • The RN will not get any more Type 45’s that boat has sailed. What you might find is that if Australia pick the Type 26 and build it with the CEAFAR. Then the next batch of RN Type 26 come with enhanced Air warfare capabilities, As such they might be able to assist more in the air defence of the CBG than at present.

      • The UK would be doing itself no favors cutting T26 numbers as they try for export orders because each cut is going to skyrocket the per unit cost and that will not play well in the export arena…

        Cheers

      • Yes we are woefully low on AAW capabilities, an AAW based on the t26 would be worth looking into but none of this is going to happen but we could go on and on about what the forces need but we need to be realistic I suppose!

    • There will be 8 Type 26 built. The schedule can’t possibly be slowed any further and we won’t need AAW hulls until almost 2040. What will they be building in the decade long gap?

  5. With the development of the unmanned mine clearance capability, containerised and deployed from a mission bay, could the type 31 fleet be increased to cover off the MCM and maybe even hydrographic fleet. They really would be general purpose and would allow phase out of 14 smaller specialist vessels and reuse of crew.

  6. the… ” At least 5 Type 31’s ” comment disappeared a couple of years ago…… looks like someone might have just remembered It……….

  7. Mmm… to be honest, personally, I’d rather build more OPVs, stop the T26 at 8, no T31 and build one more Astute instead.

    • Interesting idea. I could imagine a River 2 variant which had 57mm, a few Sea Ceptor launchers and maybe a containerised towed sonar or UAV. And maybe another variant with the crane replaced with a hangar. More OPVs would kind of be in the direction of the Black Swan sloop lf war concept that was mooted a while back, sort of Black Swan squadrons.

    • OPVs that do nothing to address the shortage of escorts the fleet already faces. Honestly, we’d be better with the opposite: if T31 does come to £250mn as planned, you could get one frigate for the price of two River B2s. In an ideal world, instead of buying 5 new OPVs we’d have gotten 2 more frigates and several lower end OPVs (there is absolutely no need for an OPV to be manufactured to military standards, nor have the quality of sensor suite that the River B2s have, its just gold plating), but hey ho.
      Extra hunter killers would be great, but its unlikely to ever happen. The most practical solution to the lack of attack subs would be bringing back diesel-electric boats. We sold all of our remaining ones to Canada in the 90’s and they’re still in service. Even a small fleet of just 4-5 DE boats would relieve pressure on the nuclear fleet, and could perform home duties like guarding the deterrent where their limited range is less of an issue.

      • It would be way cheaper and easier to crew another SSN than a class of 4/5 SSKs. Astute number 8 would cost just over a billion and require 98 crew. A fleet of 4/5 SSKs would cost over 2 billion (unless we can do it cheaper than Japan, Germany or Sweden) and require some 200+ crew. There would also need to be a new training pipeline set up and spares and maintenance arranged. That’s before we even consider the many shortcomings of SSKs, like range and endurance. If you can afford them you build SSNs every time.

    • We need something capable of NGFS as with only 6 AAW & 8 ASW they won’t be doing it and neither will a River with a pop gun. Totally agree on an eighth Astute but stop River Batch 2 at 5 and retain Clyde for FIGS.

      • Crisply put. The Type 31 core gun requirement can be met by a 57mm which BAE are on record as saying that would be their preferred choice. Babcock I would guess would propose the OTO 76mm. We all would like the Mk 45 5in but at probably £30-40m a pop and given that there are no plans to replace the Mk 8 on Type 45 I see transferring the Mk8s across from the Type 23s as a good option.

  8. ‘The aircraft carrier was built in blocks by over 10,000 people in six main British cities’ – as I remember the tory lie was that they were being ordered to keep Gordon Brown’s constituents happy. I also remember Cameron claiming credit for various ship orders when they had been ordered long before he was in office.

    • The ships may have been ordered before Cameron came to office, however the contracts were only signed at the very end of Labours term of office so it was subsequent governments had to pay the bill.The plan was after all to have the 2 aircraft carriers fully operational years ago

  9. Cost of one T 26 equals 4/5 T 31’s and crewing is respectively suggested as being approximately 120 and 90 to 100 against 180 for a T 23. So…960 people required for eight T 26’s leaving sufficient crew members for 12 to 15 T 31’s. Now, there’s a thought!

    • No…Naval manning does not work like that.
      The RN has a shortage of engineers. It doesn’t matter if you have an abundance of chefs, loggies, dabbers or Tas Apes they cannot maintain or fix a vessel or keep the systems working.

  10. T31 doesn’t even exist as a design yet.

    If we need more frigates, build more T26. We don’t have to build all of them in Scotland.

    Let BMT/Babcock produce designs for LPD’s/LPH’s which we don’t yet need.

  11. 8 (preferably 10) T31’s plus the 5 River 2’s would allow much greater operational flexibility for the RN.

  12. You are forgetting OMT the people that designed & built the Absalon support ship are now teamed up/partnered with Babcock/BMT.

    http://www.janes.com/article/79077/babcock-brings-omt-into-the-fold-for-type-31e-bid

    I like the idea of the Type 31e frigate being a multi-role/flexible support ship than a general purpose vessel. If they went with the flexible support route they can adapt the design to suit whatever role they require (Stanflex modules or UK Equivalent). The addition of a “Flex Deck” will be a bonus if added to the design.

    The modular approach will allow a 24 hour adaption/conversion process which will be a massive (but temporary) boost to the Royal Navy, Royal Marines & the RFA. With the loss HMS Ocean, RFA Diligence & other vessels. The potential of the type 31 becoming a Absalon type vessel is a no brainer.

    The graphic/specs given by the MOD show that the Absalon class excels the design requirements:

    https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/-/media/royal-navy-responsive/documents/events/20170901-t31e-launch-folder-line-diagram-v4-1.pdf?la=en-gb

    The potential applications of a Type 31 built similar to a Absalon type vessel could complement other vessels fleet wide.

    * The Absalon class costs £242 million at a displacement of 4,500 – 6,600 tonnes (almost double for some proposed type 31 designs).

    * The “Flex Deck” has the ability to complement an additional 200-300 troops (compared to the additional 40 personnel proposed by the MOD) or up to 55 vehicles (or 7 MBT) which would enhance the flexibility & reach of the Royal Marines.

    * The flex deck conversion into a military hospital ship will complement RFA Argus as a casualty receiving ship.

    *The flex deck will be ideal for humanitarian crisis as the flex deck can accommodate large numbers of ISO containers.

    * The Modular approach will allow 24 hour conversion process to turn from a patrol/(GP) frigate to a heavier ASW platform (complete with 2087 towed sonar array and torpedo’s).

    * The ability of converting the ship from a mine layer (200-300 sea mines) into a capable mine hunting vessel with enough flex deck space to accommodate numerous Unmanned Mine Sweeping System adding the role of a mothership.

    * The hangar capacity of two medium helicopters (instead of a single light helicopter as was proposed by the MOD).

    With the potential of this design I hope the navy and its designers incorporate the same noise reduction technology that is being applied to the type 26. The Construction of the ships will be similar to the carriers outlined in NSS the commonality and interchangeability of parts will add to the long term reduction in costs.

  13. The manning/womaning?? Of the fleet must be solved. Tax free incentives for longer service and maybe a golden handshake as well at the end. We’re probably talking £20k pp perhaps £100m every 10 years and that’s just for the RN.
    We have to attract more young people into the armed forces, some more skilled than others as the equipment used becomes more highly sophisticated. More money is not the sole answer but it is the main one.

    • Better pay, and also better advertising on tv e.g. scenes of ships battling through stormy seas, jets, helicopters, macho young men shooting guns, ribs doing jumps over waves, etc. one after the other, this is what will attract young men who are in their late teens/early 20s into the Navy.

    • Its all been tried. The people the MOD is aiming at for bonus payments ( I was one of them) are savvy , intelligent , have a stable family with kids and are generally switched on.
      I was offered a cash bonus. Once it was taxed at 40%, divided by the years of service I would have to commit to do to avoid paying it all back then it worked out at around 2k a year. 2k a year for 5 years of which you will spend at least 60% of that time separated from your family doing probably 2 peoples jobs, burning your self out trying to keep gear working when no support is available.
      Or you can work as a civvy doing 9-5 or become an expat and work tax free for more money and none of the hassle.
      Guess what a lot of RN engineers opt for…

  14. Has there been any research into what is causing people to leave the service? Do we know if it is money as the main driver or are there other more key factors, increased money may not actually solve the problem.

    • Its Pay, Conditions of service, the new pension scheme, the manning black hole, under manning, branch changes, pay 2000 legacy issues, the OM branch legacy debacle, the list goes on and on…

      • The big reduction in numbers after 2010 meant fewer opportunities for promotion also. Someone should do some creative thinking in order to attract and keep engineers.

  15. I think the ‘Made in the Royal Navy’ ads were excellent. The recent documentary on the QE was very good as well. Too many 15 year olds on board for my liking. God, some of them looked so young!

  16. The Navy definitely needs enlarged, up the defence budget from 2% to 3%.

    Spend the money on more Type 31s and Astutes, this is where we need increased numbers. A few more o.p.v.s wouldn’t go amiss either.

    I think it would be best for Cammel Laird to build the Type 31s and Rosyth, with their gantry crane and large dry dock, should be given the solid support ships.

    It made (some) sense to build the aircraft carriers in blocks from all over the country as they were so large, that should be kept to a minimum on the Type 31s to keep the costs down.

  17. Pay has nothing to do with it, successive governments cut our armed forces meaning those left deploy more resulting in burn out/ low morale and civvie life then starting to look better. Now armed forces facing more monetery cuts because they are an easy target when an axe is to fall. Heaven forbid MP’s gold plated pensions/perks and pay should ever be touched. No party has our armed forces best interest at heart, not one of them.

    • Pay has everything to do with it. You pay peanuts you get monkeys.
      Engineers are not monkeys and know know what they are worth in Civvy street and they can see the MOD does not give a toss about them . The pension is no longer what it was, Terms and conditions are a joke, MQs…thats a whole other article just there…, separation from families, burn out…
      All reasons why they are leaving and not getting recruited.

      • one of the biggest problems with the civil service in general, including the armed forces, is that the final salary pension scheme is massively undervalued with people preferring £1 today than £3 at pension age (with today’s low interest rates this is a realistic comparision). This is something that people only really realise at pension age, but not sure how to fix it.

        There was some research a few years back looking at NHS nurses pay vs private nurses and nhs actually paid more once the pension was taken into account and yet they are perceived to be paid less.

        Either way some independent research into why people leave the service early and what the most cost efficient changes are that could be made to combat this. My assumption is paying them more might not be it and might not even be in the top 5, but it’s just an assumption.

        • The armed forces pay review body report 2017 lists the bigest reasons for leaving the service and what the biggest gripes are. Pay, Seperation, breaking of the RN rules on Sep Service, working hours, pension.
          60% of RN staff are not happy with pay, pension, allowances. I know matelots like to drip but a 60% pissed off level is outrageous.
          Regarding naval manning from Oct 17. After this time they changed the way the figures are published ( Hid them?) As you can see Engineers have a big short fall.

          https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/659123/20171106_-_FINAL_-_RN_RM_Monthly_Situation_Report__rounded_.pdf

          The loss of engineers is down from a high of 17% 3 years ago to around 8% now …but the people leaving are experienced NCOs with no replacements. Another possible reason why the figures look better than they are is the use of foreign exchange navy jobs. The exchange is only one way with US Coastguard and French Diesel engineers working in the RN to help cover the gaps and funnily enough no RN staff going the other way…

  18. Meanwhile Janes is reporting this:
    UK parliamentarian proposes putting retired Type 23 frigates in ASW reserve
    A UK member of parliament, Mark Francois, has proposed that the Royal Navy’s Type 23 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigates be placed in a war reserve when they are retired, instead of being sold or scrapped.

    The proposal was made to Secretary of Defence Gavin Williamson during a 22 May defence committee inquiry on US, NATO, and UK defence relations.

    While describing the new Type 26 ASW frigate as “a highly capable ship” and “world class”, Francois said that “there will only be eight, and no one ship, however capable, can be in more than one place at one time”. He added that the Type 31 would be a light frigate without an ASW capability as it would not have a sonar in its currently envisaged configuration.

    http://www.janes.com/article/80272/uk-parliamentarian-proposes-putting-retired-type-23-frigates-in-asw-reserve

  19. I’ll believe it when I see it. The problem of lack of available surface fleet is just the tip of the iceberg

  20. The War Reserve idea is utter nonsense, at least as far as the highly complex warships today.

    The cost of keeping some T23’s in a preserved state would be steep, plus, they would require refit and upgrades and training a whole crew …. Who aren’t available to crew them anyway!

    The T23 has given exceptional service to the RN, a great design … But they have had their day and need to be replaced by the proposed T26/31 mix asap.

    • We have a war reserve in all but name now because we cannot man up a T45 or a T23 so they sit alongside as “harbor training vessels”…Whats the difference?

      • I would say the difference is one is “supposedly” in commission, while the other would be locked down, filled with humming dehumidifiers.

        • to me it should be done. In a retracted war situation, it would be way faster to get them out of mothball and train a crew up than to build new ships. they are competent sub hunters today and likely to stay that for decades in the future, at least as 2nd line of defence role.

          However it can’t happen, as they are stripping the current ships of their weapons and sonar and a mothballed ship without them is close useless.

          • What good would they do? We are stripping all the weapons and sensors off them for types 26 & 31.

        • The harbour training ships are not going to go to sea anytime soon. They get STOROB’d blind. Their machinery is in need of an overhaul/refit which has been defered to save money. They would be better off closed off and dehumidified . Although they did the same with Albion when Bulwark was Fleet Amphib and she ended up being robbed and it cost a fortune to bring her back on line to take over from bulwark.

          • Pretty sure that will be true of Lancaster but I am more hopeful in regard to Dauntless as there should be no need with project Napier and the relatively young age of the ship. Also plenty of new parts where acquired as part of the PIP.

  21. Money is short. It will not change. We cannot afford everything. So, the question must be what is the minimum we MUST have to achieve the desired effect. To deploy one carrier, one LPD, two Bays, two tankers, one dry stores ship and a small number of MCMVs you probably need a minimum of two T45s and four T26s. To generate that number, the current planned number of hulls is probably enough. Then we have to accept that while we are doing that we cannot do anything else. This is all assuming of course a deployment on our own without allies. Persistent presence in other parts of the world is effectively a flag waving exercise with a bit of surveillance thrown in, something a capable OPV can do. Put a 57mm gun on them, remove the crane and build a small hangar and permanently embark a Wildcat with Sea Venom and you’ve cracked it. Any spare money going should be spent on more Astutes, even one more would make a huge difference. These, and the carriers are the only units that can really alter the course of a campaign at or from the sea, until it’s time to put the marines ashore. Anything else is an enabler not an effector.

    • Interesting. On the OPV evolution will the next gen mothership + USV MCM concept be mature enough to be what is procured to replace the RN’s Hunt & Sandown? If yes then I wonder whether any more investment in OPVs should wait until Hunt/Sandown replacement is in detailed planning in case the most cost-effective way to boost OPV numbers is to run an extra ship or two onto whatever is built for that.

      I have absolutely no idea of cost and how expensive all the MCM features might make it but from a basic OPV perspective the BMT Venari 85 design (https://www.bmtdsl.co.uk/media/6889878/BMT-VENARI-85-Technical-Brief.pdf), assuming its range and open sea capabilities are acceptable, seems as if it would be pretty capable in an OPV flag waving & surveillance role, at least so long as investment was made in suitable drone technology to populate its UAV hangar with something that could give it good surveillance reach and just possibly also a modest over-the-horizon precision strike capability (e.g. Schiebel S-100 Camcopter has been demonstrated with two LMM but admittedly it’s not clear it has enough payload to carry both LMM and a sophisticated sensor package at the same time).

      • Julian, the Venari concept for me is the answer to all my prayers in terms of the concept that I have outlined. Either that or modify the existing OPVs to look as close to it as possible. You don’t need T31. They’ll talk and talk about it. It’ll become an excuse for doing nothing. And if it does materialise, the admirals will ensure it ends up being almost as expensive as a T26 and we’ll only end up having three at most. Waste of money. Might as well have another T26, or worse, we’ll end up ordering fewer T26 and have an additional T31 instead! It’s a red herring. It confuses the debate. People get so worked up about it. Limit the surface fleet to what is absolutely necessary and build another Astute!

        • I disagree. We need a GP hull to compliment types 45 & 26. We don’t however need any more than 6 and they don’t need to be very fancy. Leander looks perfect. Hull mounted sonar & Wildcat for ASW, Artisan & Sea Ceptor for AAW, deck launched ASMs for ASuW and a 5 inch gun for NGFS. They will be good for ATPN & ATPS or FRE or NATO Task Forces 150/151 or part of a RN Task Force.
          Not sure about Venari or any other MCMV concepts. If it’s all stand off capability in the future then why bother with dedicated ships. Bin all Hunt and Sandown class and build no replacements. Use the crew for extra Frigates and put the MCM kit in the giant mission bay. A hull like Venari offers nothing if the kit is all out with the hull. It can’t fight and River class OPVs can cover the Patrol requirement well enough.

          • It would be good to see the River class taking over the constabulary roles in Carribbean, Falklands, East Africa. Freeing type 31 to build defence relationships in gulf and far east (OPVs don’t have the cache to do Def England). In turn leaving type 26 and 45 to focus on carrier strike/amphibious, casd launch/recovery with Poseidon, contributions and leadership to NATO standing maritime groups. We must remember NATO is likely to significantly flesh out carrier strike in event high end fight.

          • “Not sure about Venari or any other MCMV concepts. If it’s all stand off capability in the future then why bother with dedicated ships.”

            It might all be marketing hype to create a perception that their solution is needed when it isn’t really, I have no expertise to judge that, but BMT’s attempt to answer your question is contained in that V85 technical brief that I linked to. The document spends almost as much time discussing mine warfare tactics than it does V85 details. There is lots of stuff in there about the different tactics and scenarios. Channel Standoff in particular, which BMT claim is likely to be required due to range limitations of UxVs and not wanting to deploy them at over-the-horizon distances from the mothership, creates issues such as maneuvering (turning) circles, position keeping and, although not full magnetic signal avoidance, still some measure of signal management.

            As I said, I have no ability to judge the validity of the stuff in the BMT document but I found it an interesting read.

  22. more ships , of course yes, but faster than they are being produced, its just too slow. if the battleship dreadnought was built at portsmouth within a year, BAE, the clyde et al should be told in no uncertain terms that the out put from their yards, is not good enough and that time in production could be a point in the awarding of future contracts. if the mighty ‘dread’ was built in a year then the clyde should be able to produce at least two ships per year.

    • It’s not BAE responsible for the glacial build schedule it’s the MoD. BAE could have the first Type 26 finished by 2024 and the 8th by 2030ish but the MoD has decided that’s not needed (can’t be afforded). We need a frigate delivered every year from 2023 through 2035. It looks like the current plan is 5 Type 31s delivered in 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026 and 2027. Then Type 26 delivered in 2028 through 2035 when we get the 8th hull.

    • Andy, it’s not a case of can’t! HMG are deliberately slowing the build rate to save short term money, hence also ordering in small batches. But all this means we pay far more in the long run. Bae could ramp up T26 with a bit of notice, and this should be the case. Japan have just finished designing their new frigate and expect delivery early 2020’s. With the current threat levels we need to match this build rate. 2025 is a joke especially as most of the kit on board is already proven on other platforms.

    • It’s all about sustainability as well as coat control within year. Yes I’m sure we could throw money to get the BAE workforce and infrastructure up to building two frigates a year, but after we have built all 8 26s and 6 31s in 7 years but what are they doing for the following 15-20 years unit the navy needs a new frigate. They will be being made redundant, the skills lost and the yards closed. The work has to feed to the yards so they are always building complex ships at a sustainable rate, you can’t just turn complex skills and knowledge based systems on and off….

  23. BMT/Babcock have brought in OMT who designed & built the Absalon class frigate/support ship.
    If the type 31 they propose is anything like the Absalon the versatility and export potential could be a big selling point.

    A graphic released by the Royal Navy stressed modular adaptability and flexible construction of the design for export opportunities. Core requirements of the Type 31e frigate include 76mm or larger calibre gun, point defence systems, hangar and a flight deck for Wildcat or ten tonne helicopter operated by a crew of around 100 with space for 40 more personnel.

    If the BMT/Babcock Type 31 design were modified to something similar to a Absalon (or licence built variant). The ship will be able to complement or replace several older ship classes in the RN/RFA fleet.

    * The type 31 has a £250 million per ship for 5 ships. The Absalon was built for £242 million per ship at nearly double the displacement of all the proposed designs.
    * Fitting the Type 31 with enough interior space (fitted but not with) using a StanFlex module approach will future proof the ship.
    * Two medium helicopter hangar capacity compared to the one light helicopter
    * A Flex Deck allows the ship to convert from a ASW ship (in a 24 hour period) to either a:
    # Hospital ship
    # Humanitarian Aid transport (ISO containers)
    # Vehicle/Personnel transport (300 troops or 55 vehicles or 7 MBT)
    # Mine layer (200+ mines) or Mine sweeper (making the ship a “mothership” to unmanned platforms).

    http://www.janes.com/article/79077/babcock-brings-omt-into-the-fold-for-type-31e-bid

    https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/-/media/royal-navy-responsive/documents/events/20170901-t31e-launch-folder-line-diagram-v4-1.pdf?la=en-gb

  24. Reported in the Plymouth Herald that the retention of 1000 Royal Marines and the Albion and Bulwark are to be retained at the expense of 3 Royal Navy frigates which are to be mothballed!!

    • Main gate for T31 is Q4 this year. Construction is due to start early 2019. If they build a first batch of 3 promptly ( and if the retired frigates are GP) there need be no loss of ships or capability. Have all the T23 got 997 radar? If not then mothball 3 that don’t and build new ships.

  25. Having listened to the select committee on NATO, all the defence Secretary repeated was 7 Astute, 8 T26 and 9 Poseidon. He seemed to be emphasizing change of priorities and not increased funding.

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