Shipbuilding in the UK, depending on who you ask, is either at the cusp of a renaissance or doomed. So I asked someone in the know.

Paul Sweeney is a Scottish Labour politician and has been the Member of Parliament for Glasgow North East since 2017. More importantly in this context, he was formerly employed by BAE in Glasgow. Paul has worked with the APPG for Shipbuilding which has begun an inquiry into the Government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy, taking evidence from a range of maritime security stakeholders and industry.

This article forms part of our effort to encourage debate around defence as part of a ‘Views on Defence’ series, a look at the opinions of experts, major political parties and other organisations in the UK in the run up to the Modernising Defence Programme defence review being released.

I messaged Paul to discuss the prospect of yards around the UK beginning steady and sustainable production of new vessels using future programmes as a basis, the hope of new facilities on the Clyde, the build and service prospects of the Type 31e and the prospect of potentially increasing the escort fleet.

“The greatest flaw to have plagued British naval shipbuilding since the 1980s is the issue of small batch classes of escort vessels, especially when subject to competitive tendering. Contrast that with the United States, which has been building the Arleigh Burke class since the 1980s.

In the UK small batch numbers and a lack of certainty over production locations have militated against efficiency curves from long production runs and created feast and famine deadweights on shipyards which bleed skills and knowledge.”

The picture below shows HMS Forth in build at Govan. The vessel which the Royal Navy “did not want or need” was ordered at an inflated price simply to keep the workforce employed between the end of the carrier build and the start of the Type 26 Frigate build, highlighting why small batch ordering is a problem.

Photo by Ian Dick, ‘HMS Forth’ via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Last year, a report backed up this argument up. The report claimed that delays in the construction of the Type 26 Frigate have had a negative impact on the development of the workforce on the Clyde. Titled ‘Restoring the Fleet: Naval Procurement and the National Shipbuilding Strategy’, it states that:

“It is clear to us that the delays in the construction of the Type 26 have had a negative impact on the development of the workforce on the Clyde. Apprenticeships are not being offered at the necessary rate, and those currently undertaking apprenticeships are having their skills training disrupted. Furthermore, workers are being required to move from Scotland to Barrow in order for them to undertake meaningful work.

We welcome the efforts made by the trades unions and BAE to retain the workforce during this period of uncertainty, but remain deeply concerned by warnings that further delay could be catastrophic for the skills base.”

What can be done about this?

Paul pointed out that the aspiration for shipbuilding in the UK according to officials, would be to have two main yards for warships. The first being the Clyde with its Type 26 frigates and an eventual replacement for the Type 45 destroyers. He said:

“The Ministry of Defence want to get to a position where there is a constant rolling production line of Type 26/Type 45 successor and a second production line of Type 31e – building both lines permanently. As older ships leave service or are sold abroad, new vessels enter service.”

The second assembly site, now somewhat up in the air given no contract has yet been awarded, would focus on building Type 31e, from components produced around the UK.

Image of Arrowhead 140 via Babcock, a Type31e candidate.
A BAE concept design for Type 31e.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman recently said regarding Type 31e:

“There have been no changes in our plans to procure a first batch of five new Type 31e frigates to grow our Royal Navy. We still want the first ship delivered by 2023 and are confident that industry will meet the challenge of providing them for the price tag we’ve set. This is an early contract in a wider procurement process, and we will incorporate the lessons learned and begin again as soon as possible so the programme can continue at pace.”

What does this mean for industry and the fleet?

Sweeney pointed out that there is a big opportunity to recapitalise the Clyde and press for the Modern Dock Hall at Scotstoun as part of the Batch 2 contract.

Paul pointed out that BAE had two investment options for its Clyde shipyards. A £100m option for more limited infrastructure improvement, and a larger £200m option to consolidate on one site, the Frigate Factory at Scotstoun. He went on to say that the latter is still possible with Batch 2 Type 26 and Type 45 follow on work.

“There is a big opportunity to recapitalise the Clyde and press for the Modern Dock Hall at Scotstoun as part of the Batch 2 contract.”

He also, very interestingly, added:

“The Royal Navy’s requirement is for a 19 Frigate and Destroyer fleet and indeed the aspiration is to grow it back up towards 24 with the Type 31e. Unfortunately there nothing in the public domain, yet, but take it from me that is the intent from the people who buy ships for the Royal Navy. The Shipbuilding APPG aims to publish its full report in September.”

Referring to the relatively small, batch orders that are a staple of British naval shipbuilding, he said:

“It undermines business cases for investment in world class shipyard infrastructure and plant. This ‘Airbus-style’ vision of the MOD to essentially build Type 26 along with a derivative for Type 45 successor continuously on the Clyde in parallel with a continuous production of Type 31e at another UK shipyard is therefore a potentially revolutionary opportunity for British shipyards to move to the upper quartile of naval shipbuilders globally.”

The Type 23 Frigates have had a lengthy service life.

The National Shipbuilding Strategy made the recommendation that the MoD replace the ships 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.

“This new approach to standardising and rationalising production for the Royal Navy, if formally adopted as policy, will realise huge efficiencies that will be a platform for a globally competitive industry and drive both growth in the Royal Navy fleet and export success, particularly if the Type 31e fleet is first proven with relatively short periods of service with the Royal Navy before being sold on in their prime to overseas navies as newer vessels in the class enter service.”

This would provide a tangible means to meet the aspiration of continuously producing two standard classes of ships for the Royal Navy, allowing for a more sustainable condition for the UK shipbuilding industry.

What about the Fleet Solid Support Ships?

The Government’s procurement plans for up to three new support ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary are facing opposition from defence analysts, Labour, the SNP trade unions and many others.

“This model should be further extended to maintaining big ship construction of vessels with a beam larger than 20m at Rosyth dockyard, by ensuring a continuous production run after the Queen Elizabeth class is complete by building the new Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fleet Solid Support ships and then the successor to the Albion class there”, Sweeney advised.

How the support ships could look.

According to a briefing paper in the House of Commons library released earlier in the month, the programme is currently in the Assessment Phase with the competition expected to be formally launched towards the end of 2018 and a contract signed in 2020. The MoD says the contract will be for two ships with an option for a third.

The briefing paper states:

“The Government intends to compete the contract internationally. Labour, the SNP and the shipbuilding trade unions argue the contract should be restricted to UK shipyards to support the shipbuilding industry, secure jobs and retain skills.

They argue the proposed ships are ‘warships’ and as such, the Government can use the Article 346 exemption to exclude the contract from EU procurement rules on national security grounds.

The Government disagrees, defining warships as ‘destroyers, frigates and aircraft carriers’, and says all other surface vessels should be subject to open competition.”

Lower Block 04, the largest hull section of HMS Queen Elizabeth is attached during the skidding to 01, 02 and 03 sections of HMS Prince of Wales at Rosyth.
Photo Credit John Linton / Aircraft Carrier Alliance

Two major unions, GMB and the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions (CSEU), have published reports outlining why they believe the ships should be classified as warships and why they should be competed domestically. Their arguments can be summarised as:

  • The FSS should be seen as warships. They are armed and take part in counter-piracy and counter-narcotic missions;
  • The Government’s commitment to revitalising domestic naval shipbuilding (as espoused in the National Shipbuilding Strategy) will only be achievable with a steady stream of orders;
  • Building the FSS in the UK will help protect the UK shipbuilding industry, protect jobs and retain skills: GMB estimates up to 6,500 jobs could be created or secured, including 1,805 shipyard jobs;
  • Rosyth shipyard will have a gap between the completion of HMS Prince of Wales (the second aircraft carrier) in 2019 and the expected refit of HMS Queen Elizabeth (the first aircraft carrier) in 2030, and FSS work could keep the shipyard operational in between these dates;
  • The UK will financially benefit from returns to the Treasury in the form of taxes and national insurance contributions and lower welfare payments: GMB estimates £285m of the estimated £1bn contract could be returned to taxpayers this way; CSEU estimates 20% of the contract cost could be returned to the Treasury;
  • The Government should factor in the revenue that could be returned to the Treasury when scoring bids between domestic suppliers and foreign competitors;
  • There isn’t a level playing field as, the CSEU argues, “many foreign yards are either state owned, or receive significant direct or indirect subsidy… UK yards do not benefit in this way and are therefore at an unfair disadvantage.”

The TUC has also assessed the Article 346 exemption argument and argues the Government “has the sole right to determine” what its essential national security interests are. The TUC claims “other European nations have used the exemption to place orders for similar support ships with their own shipyards since the Directive was introduced.”

What is Article 346?

EU law requires most government contracts to be procured via an open, competitive process. The main EU legislation in the defence domain is the Defence and Security Directive 2009/81/EC, transposed into UK law by Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011.13

However, Article 346 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) provides for an exemption to the procurement rules where a country considers it to be necessary for national security reasons: “any Member State may take such measures as it considers necessary for the protection of the essential interests of its security which are connected with the production of or trade in arms, munitions and war material”. Article 346 refers to a list drawn up in 1958 by the Council of Ministers of products to which the provisions

December this year will see the formal issue of documentation inviting bids for the design and build contract and in 2020, the contract for design and build is to be awarded.

Paul also explained that building the new Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fleet Solid Support ships and then the successor to the Albion class in Rosyth would be of huge benefit to UK shipbuilding and allow for at least four primary shipbuilding sites. This would also allow for industry that would become sustainable.

What next?

“This would maintain a competitive full spectrum of naval shipbuilding capability centred on at least four sites in the UK: the Clyde specialising in the most complex capital ships Type 26 and Type 45 successor along with the principal surface ship design engineering centre in the UK, another UK shipyard specialising in the less complex Type 31e vessels, big ship final assembly at Rosyth in collaboration with other UK shipyards and nuclear submarine design and build at Barrow-in-Furness.”

However, Paul also expressed concern at the way large projects like this are funded:

“Underpinning all of this we also need to urgently need to address the absurd Treasury rules on financing large scale capital programmes like Type 26, liberating them from arbitrary in-year spend limits and patiently financing them in the same way commercial shipyards would or how other large public capital projects like Crossrail and HS2 are financed. 

This would be a further revolutionary step in driving efficiency and competitiveness into British naval shipbuilding and also open up opportunities for a renaissance of commercial shipbuilding activity too. We must grasp this vital opportunity to reinvigorate this iconic British industry.”

Rosyth during the build of the two new carriers.

We can only hope that the aspirations laid out by Mr Sweeney, about the new approach that could be taken by the MoD, will lead to the future of British shipbuilding marching towards a steady drumbeat of orders. New thinking is becoming imperative, a fact demonstrated with the recent mismanagement of Type 31e by the Government.

The UK needs a better way to effectively sustain its shipbuilding industry, let’s hope we’re heading in that direction.


  1. He’s dreaming if he thinks the Navy is big enough to support 4 shipyards.

    As for the Treasury signing off on replacing 15 year old ships, forget it.

    • It does seem widely optimistic. One or two yards producing two types of ship between them, launching one per year (not each), then selling them on at 20 to 25 years depending on fleet size. That would actually be a strategy and could work with the political will.

  2. When the Type 23s go out of service i don’t think that they should be sold for scrapping. I think they should be sold fairly cheaply like with Ocean. I would imagine some of the baltic states wouldn’t mind buying up a used, cheap (with still some life in them) but still very capable Anti submarine frigates to help patrol the Baltic. They’d probably have to go through a bit of a refit (new radar, naval gun etc) but would still be worth it. Hell maybe even flog them to South America seeing as Chile already operates 3 of the class.

  3. It’s time the treasury take the nuclear deterrent back out of the MOD pot of money and start using this money to build the FFS ships even at a slightly higher price than possible competitor nations (ie South Korea) in the U.K. plus more Type 26’s and get over the need for low cost Type 31’s.

  4. They should indeed build the enclosed dockhall on the Clyde, and use Rosyth with its large dry dock and gantry crane to assemble the fleet solid support ships and any other large Royal Navy or R.F.A. in future. But Scotland can’t have everything, so the Type 31 must go to an English yard, probably Cammel Lairds on the Mersey being the obvious choice. I don’t mind Scotland getting most Royal Navy ships, but they can’t have every single last one without exception.

    With the Type 26 on the Clyde, F.S.S. ships and future large Royal Navy and R.F.A. ships being assembled at Rosyth with blocks built at various U.K. yards, and Type 31 on the Mersey, (and submarines at Barrow), this will really breathe some much needed life into British shipbuilding with shipyards across the entire country busy with work. This would be just what the doctor ordered.

    If we build our Royal Navy and R.F.A. ships in the U.K. we can sustain a decent sized shipbuilding industry in Britain, an industry in which Britain has a long, proud history. The relatively steady stream of work this will bring should be used to make sure Britain has modern shipbuilding facilities and state of the art equipment, we have really fallen behind our fellow European countries in this area and investment is needed, an investment which will reward us with improved efficiency and competitiveness for British shipbuilding.

  5. Hmm, decent article spoilt by politicking (there are plenty of Tory MP’s against SSS being foreign built).

    The 15 year sell off point is something I agree with and actually think we can do. I have costed all of this and we need a capital budget of £3bn p.a. For us to build the ships we need in the UK.

    We should build 1 complex warship every 2 years and 1 T31 every year.
    We should also build a large scale RFA/Amphib ship every 12-18 months.
    Subs should also be 1 every 2 years (9 SSN + 4 SSBN)

    And most importantly we should have a small vessel build programme pushing out whatever is needed to make all of this work probably 30 vessels per year under 30m length.

    Scheduled properly with tight control exerted, this can all be pulled in for £3bn p.a. For the cost of the assets.

    We then sell them at 40% of new price at 15 year point and replace. It really can be done but will not be easy, the key is that the maintenance costs of the major refit and later life are just sucking the life out of the build budget so its good if we can pull it off

    • Mostly agree but I would make the following changes.
      1. Shift the Nuclear deterrent to a air-launched one. By making a Storm Shadow variant capable of carrying something like the W84 variable yield warhead. Then integrate that variant onto Typhoon and the F35B. To achieve some of the durability of the submarines the squadrons with Nuclear deterrent could be dispersed around the UK and over seas territories like Ascension and Diego Garcia while several are weapons kept aboard each Carrier. This would be far cheaper than building a new class of SSBN.
      2. This would allow BAE to focus on the Astute class and implementing a Flight II variant. Perhaps even integrating something similar to the Virginia Payload Module? Which their US division builds for the Virginia class. At the very least it would allow a expansion in the number SSNs as they are more inexpensive than the projected Dreadnought class and the production line is active. While Storm Shadow is both cheaper and less maintenance intensive than a Trident.
      3. Further this would provide additional reason for another improved batch Typhoon. So more are available for deterrent operations.

      • If you do the above you’ll be making a strategic asset more of a tactical asset. This is because the Trident/SSBN combination is partially self-sufficient. It can operate on its own without any outside help. If you go down the Storm Shadow route you have a problem with range as there is the Nuclear Treaty on cruise missiles limiting their range. This means for a J35B for example you’ll need a massive support footprint of bases, personnel and tankers with perhaps a buddy F35B tanker to get the aircraft to the release point. The Trident equipped sub by comparison could technically if the call was made launch from Faslane and have the missile in the air in minutes. The Trident is a true intercontinental ranged missile so could in theory reach Argentina from Scotland. Then if the sub is deployed to sea it becomes truly stealthy as it could be anywhere, unlike the F35s support which must operate from a runaway that can handle its size. Yes, the F35 could technically operate from austere site like the Harrier, but then it would have to contact the tanker, which risks being detected.
        So for me, even though the cost is prohibitive, the SSBN easily outperforms an aircraft doing a similar mission.

        • I didn’t say it was better. The reasoning is the Dreadnought program IS the black hole on the defense budget. Barring a significant increase in defense spending it will continue to do so. I was suggesting a solution to retain a Nuclear deterrent while also using as many assets already in use and acquired through the normal supply chain.
          As for the longer ranged missions. That is why I mentioned Typhoon. Their are numerous overseas territories or allied bases one could base them from. Which I might add already exist in most cases and would require minimal UK personnel to fuel and arm a Typhoon or F35 for a strike.
          As far as the cruise missile treaty. That is a dead letter and has been since Russia deployed long-ranged cruise missiles to Kaliningrad after the Baltic’s joined NATO. Both the US and Russia have essentially sailed they are going to ignore most of it’s provisions as they view each are going to do it anyway.
          As for yield would a city really care if it got hit by a 150 kiloton or a 400 kiloton? Because either way I am pretty sure everyone’s day in that particular locale has been ruined for the next 30 odd years.
          Not ideal but I see this as a way to make the best out of the money available.

      • VPM aboard a possible if unlikely batch 2 Astute would be desirable. Can anyone tell me if it would be technically and financially feasible for a retrofit in the future?

        An enlarged Batch 3 or 4 typhoon built in a similar way to the USAF F.15E and FA 18E/F superbugs which are approximately one third larger than the c variants of both would be nice but it is in the realms of fantasy fleet stuff.

  6. Under no circumstances should any Royal Navy ship be built anywhere but Britain. To do otherwise would be crass.

  7. (Chris H) So basically this Glasgow politician is dismissing the rest of the UK shipbuilding capabilities and proposing further orders and investment in the Clyde. Not a big surprise there then

    I will happily defend his right to promote his home interests but I also feel offended by this blinkered (if understandable) view. The Clyde has done rather well out of the UK Naval shipbuilding projects to date and to play the victim is frankly a bit rich (and too well worn). While Portsmouth was sacrificed on the altar of devolution and ‘IndyRef#1′ the Clyde was given overpriced patrol boats to keep them busy. And their thanks? Glued in boltheads and other major faults caused by poor workmanship. If they can’t build a set of OPVs right first time what chance high end Type 26 ASW Frigates.

    Some reach to blame the MoD far too easily but the way the Type 31 bidding / RFI process was launched to draw a wider shipbuilding asset base should be applauded but sadly has shown that industry hasn’t woken up and smelled the coffee about the essential focus on costs and therefore price even when its laid out repeatedly in a Government document.

    I do try to keep an open mind on all things but I see nothing in this article, other than the “Bleedin’ Obvious” that we need more orders for more ships and they should all be built in the UK, to alter my thinking we should be building Type 31s outside Scotland. Sadly I fear industry has given the pro-foreign build lobby in the UK Civil Service all the reasons they need to have FSS built in Korea.

    • What do you expect Chris from a Scottish based defence blog.

      Im suprised we haven’t had the usual ships on the Clyde article this week, although this is not far off.

      It’s a sad state of affairs where the best defence blog we have to comment on is so biased towards Scotland.

      Also if the guy who runs this “George” would just put on the front of the leg that this defence blog is Scottish orientated and I’m a unionist anti snp man. Impartial my arse.

      • Sorry last paragraph

        Also if the guy who runs this “George” would just put on the front of the website that this defence blog is Scottish orientated and I’m a unionist anti snp man. It would be a little bit better.

        Impartial my arse.

        Sorry I’m on my holidays.

        Hope you’re well Chris and I apologise if I offended you on our last encounter on here, I know we are both passionate about politics, but I wish you no harm and respect your views even if they are sometime different to mine.

        I wish you a fine summer evening.

        • (Chris H) SoleSurvivor – Water under the bridge mate .. being passionate about our country, how it is defended and by what is a good thing even if sometimes it causes a few sparks. I just try to keep to the issues but not good at it …

          weather has been 31C in Suffolk but just enjoying some rain .. yes really!

  8. Off subject :-Interesting article on Janes website about a possible off the shelve replacement of the Harpoon missle system 🙂

  9. As soon as the government say the t45 replacement will be built on the Clyde the MoD has given up any chance to negotiate a good deal. Look at BAe, 15 years of TOBA delivered over price Rivers yet refuse to invest an additional 100m for the frigate factory. BAe know they have the MoD in their pocket with t26. The t31 is going the right way and yards have to win exports orders for commercial and military ships if we truly want an successful industry that can offer the RN best price, best quality, on time. The UK can compete, the polar research ship win by CL against foreign yards proves this.

    • Why would Bae spend another 100 million of its own money on new facilities based on an order for 3 type 26. Because that’s all it has in the order book right now. Don’t forget a 100 million has already been spent on shipyard upgrades.

      The MoD allows a mere 6% profit to single source contracts. That gives a very tiny incentive for any company to invest.

      As for the Type 31, it’s the MoD that’s stopped the program not the shipyards.

  10. Type 45 over budget and under armed. Astute over budget and late in service. Carriers over budget and more than a few hiccups. River class batch 2 expensive, under armed and the first one returned under warranty. The navy has 2 problems, HM Treasury and BAE systems. I sometimes wonder who controls the naval budget.

    • You have to contrast that with other countries though. USA Zumwalt & LCS development, German listing F-125, Spanish subs delayed & will launch without the final propulsion. I’m sure the list goes on. T45 isn’t really any more lightly armed than FREMM, especially if the FFBNW Mk41 capacity is included. As for carriers, a significant part of the over-budget came from Gordon Brown slowing the build and the to-cat-or-not-to-cat flip flop. As for “more than a few hiccups” please tell me you’re not talking about stuff like the prop misalignment found on the sea trials. It would have been an almost unprecedented event for a first in class of this size and complexity to have not had the level of issues encountered so far.

      I’m not saying HMG or BAE are perfect but I’m really not convinced that, apart from us seeming to have problems with making long term commitments and constantly changing our minds or moving in slow motion, that we are any worse than the vast majority of our peers. Ok, we should aspire to be the best but I would suggest that in that endeavour we are starting from somewhere close to parity with other countries and looking to pull ahead in procurement excellence (although I have little confidence that we will) rather than coming from massively behind.

      • I don’t think saying everyone else is bad so we should just match that. If anyone commenting on this site purchased an item, it was deliver late, you we asked to pay more and it was bad quality you’d complain and demand a refund. Its not just individuals who do this big commercial organisations like airlines, they buy expensive assets much like the MoD, they’d will take the manufacturer to the cleaners if they don’t deliver what was contractually agreed. The trouble is as soon as you have no competition what can you do but accept the crap you’re given, that why eastern Europeans drove around in Ladas and Trabants

        I also don’t buy into the long term commitment argument, very few commercial yards get order runs of 3 or more from a single supplier yet they invest and complete and win more orders.

    • (Chris H) martin – While I am no lover of BAE Clyde being the default shipbuilder of choice in fairness the carriers were only over budget due to a 2 year delay in the process by the then Government which added some £1 Bn. Not sure (once it restarted) they were late on delivery. In fact QE went through builders and sea trials in half the projected time and PoW was in a far more advanced state of build than was QE on float up.

      And again being fair the QEs were no more a BAE ship than an A & P, Babcock or Cammell Laird ship. They are being delivered by a consortium based in Rosyth with the Mod as a partner with defined sub contractors

      As for T45 well they are air Defence ships (with other capabilities) and have all the armament they need.

      • “As for T45 well they are air Defence ships (with other capabilities) and have all the armament they need”.

        Not they don’t with 48 VLS fitted and a possible 64 with the FFBNW nonsense and only 6 built compared with the USN AB class of 90 or 96 silos and 80+ built

        • (Chris H) AC – Ever thought maybe we have a different foreign and military policy to the USA? And the little matter of being 1/6th the size? Type 45s are the air defence and control ship of choice BY the US Navy in the Med and Gulf areas so they are the best at what they do. They are not offensive ships by design but can deliver a big punch with those 48 silos and just need to protect themselves and other vessels with them. That is all.

          The Arleigh Burke is a Jack of all trades but master of none and cannot match the Type 45 radar capabilities or multiple event air control. Neither can it match the Type 23 ASW capabilities (and probably why they are now building a similar Frigate). The US Navy gets over this by having 65 in service (68 built not 80+ by the way) and using them as very capable attack ships.

          The US Navy has the financial resources to put out a very capable and aggressive Navy (who else needs 11 x 100,000 Ton nuclear powered carriers?) but that is their choice as they use military power to intimidate and seek advantage over other countries to further their own policies. We in the UK follow a different policy and why we are the worlds most powerful in soft power. Better have people listen to you than be fearful of you.

          • What happen when they stop listening and realise that our “soft power” means our big stick is a twig.

            Regarding foreign policy I am not sure it is that different and I was not suggesting we should build 80* or (65*) just that 6 with a max of 64 silos is not sufficient.

            * total number on order or planned is 77*

          • (Chris H) AC – You fail to understand what ‘Soft Power’ means then because there is no ‘Big Stick’ needed as you influence by persuasion, strength of argument and the history you bring to the discussions not force of arms or threats. The fact we are rated No 1 means by definition we are already accepted and respected for our views and power to influence.

            If you need a ‘Big Stick’ then that isn’t Soft Power and why the USA is rated so poorly given its size. Again I differentiate between people respecting and listening (as they do to us) and being afraid of or intimidated (as they are by the USA). President Truman defined the USA’s lack of understanding of all this when he intoned the ‘Big Stick’ argument. The USA has never learned since.

          • What utter nonsense.

            Soft power without hard power to back up your argument and persuasion will never work if it did why do we bother having any armed force at all and remember what a potential enemy will say to your face is one thing and what they mean behind closed doors is quite another.

            I want both you cannot have one and hope for the best with the other

          • AC

            You need to go and read the difference between soft and hard power, they are not related. One does not “back up” the other.

            It’s getting tedious the amount of people on here that doesn’t know the difference.

          • Sole survivor

            Thank you but I do I know the difference and know that if cannot back up your “soft power” with anything remotely harder as and when the need arises then you are already out of the fight if that is what you want then stick to the peace at any cost type website

          • No AC you clearly don’t.

            Ok, so the British council funds a classroom in Chile teaching English.

            The same people then go home and listen to the BBC world service for an hour after every lesson.

            Those 30 men and women in that classroom, after spending months with a British teacher, spending months in a British council library, will grow into society with a favourable view of the U.K. they could become politicians or become employed with businesses in positions of power within the country or even elsewhere.

            The local politician also sees this and mentions the U.K. favourably to all other politicians.

            The U.K. then funds an extra diplomat to go to the Chilean embassy to lobby on our behalf and give advise to politicians when needed or asked.

            At what part does a challenger 2 back that up?

            Has the penny now dropped AC?

            Like I said before, go read about our coming first in the soft power index again, and you will find there is not one single mention of the military.

            Soft and hard power isn’t about fighting AC, soft power isn’t appeasement and hard power isn’t D Day. They are both geopolitical methods, if a fight starts then hard power has failed.

            Once more, go and read please.

          • Sole survivor

            Clearly the penny has not dropped yet with you that one or the other on it’s own is irrelevant.

            Please explain how all that you state, wonderful and desirable as it is makes us safer when all of your examples of people in library’s reading about how wonderful GB is and all those listening to the world service tell the same politicians who disagree or do not care about UK plc safety.

            I am sure Vladimir Putin listens to the world service has that stopped him annexing Crimea or carrying out chemical warfare in this country.

            How about Galtieri he listened constantly to the BBC world service did that stop him?

            Ultimately when the shit hits the fan then you need “hard power” please do explain how your soft power works when it clearly does not work at all times.

            As for your utter ridiculous statement that “hard power” is not about fighting well clearly you are an appeaser who has not seen what happens when your appeasing does not work.

          • Soft power is pursuation, getting a country to think on your terms, become friendly, through culture and diplomacy amongst a few other things.

            Hard power is the THREAT of military action to get a country to think on your terms and do as you want. Economic sanctions is hard power, getting a country to join a military alliance with you is hard power.

            If you have to go to war it’s becuse the hard power tactic of coercion has failed.

            Soft and hard power are measures of getting a country to do what you want.

            We could double our navy, army and airforce tomorrow and that would not make our hard power tactic any more useful as we still wouldn’t be a global military superpower.

            The US would not let us unilaterally threaten any country with military action unless it wasn’t in their interests as well.

            Hard power is the tool of the global hegmonon, we used it successfully for centuries until the US took over.

            We use hard power collectively as part of the EU with economic sanctions and militarily through NATO on occasions.

            We used hard lower in the lead up to the Iraq war with the US, even with the US by our side it never worked as we had to go to war.

            Do you get the picture now?

          • Sole survivor

            No and neither have you one without the other does not you need to have both to complement one another

            Iraq 1991 and 2003 “soft power” was used albeit briefly through UN sanctions and negotiations and Saddam ignored it was the use of “hard power” that bought him down.

            EU does not use any “hard power” at all

            North Korea was threatened with utter annihilation by DT that is what brought fat boy to the negotiating table and as things stand it seemed to have worked that is “hard power” at work.

            Remember the Yugoslavian civil war telling Milosevic how naughty he was did not bring him to heel sending in UN peace keepers did not work only when the “hard power” of overwhelming force especially from air power was that brutal civil war and dictator bought to an end and justice prevailed.

            Russia led by Vladimir Putin only respects “hard power”

            Iraq, Libya and Syria whatever viewpoint you take “hard power” had to be used.

            Even further back WW2 it took “hard power” to correct the mess of “soft power” created by Chamberlain.

            Have you got he point yet can you give me any examples where “soft power” has succeeded in preventing war and conflict without the necessary wherewith all to get nasty if and when the need arises.

          • “Iraq 1991 and 2003 “soft power” was used albeit briefly through UN sanctions”

            “EU does not use any “hard power” at all”

            Economic sanctions are hard power you doughnut, c’mon Ffs.

            You clearly don’t know what’s you’re talking about as that blatant mistake just proves it.

            Soft and hard power does not necessarily mean war or preventing war, it’s a measure of how to get relations with countries, how to get them onside.

            We are allies with the majority of nations so where would Hard power be used against Europe or the US for example.

            A lot of geopolitical analysists agree that when you have to wage war to take out a government that’s in power, that is NOT using hard power, as hard power is a way of getting them to do what you want, to be on your side, if the leader and government as been taken out then any tactic soft or hard to get them to see things your way as failed.

            In the 1930’s we were using hard power against Germany because we had bilateral military agreements with Germany’s enemies, that is hard power. We had the largest navy in the world and were building dozens of ships and increasing defence spending all throughout the 30’s to back them alliances up, on top of the soft power we were using in the form of diplomacy.

            And all of that failed because hitler invaded Poland. As soon as that happens there was no use of soft and hard power to get Hitler onside and do what he’s told. We had take the leadership out.

            Yugoslavia was a military intervention to stop atrocities that is not hard power in the sense we are talking about, how many times soft and hard
            Power are ways of persuasion and coercion to gain influence and get a country onside.

            If we military intervene to help an ally or stop an atrocity that’s not gain influence or get them onside for crying out loud.

            You hear the words “soft” “hard” and “power” and you think soft means no military action and hard means military action, it’s a lot more complex than that and you clearly have got the whole concept wrong.

            They’re geopolitical methods of pursuasion and coercion, gaining influence.

            I used the Chile example because like most of the 200 sovereign nations on the planet, we cannot use hard power against them.

            If we look at our supposed enemies, do Libya and Syria vote our way at the UN now, do N Korea? Do we have any influence in those countries, what about Iraq? Do the Iraqi people see us in a great light now, are they actively lobbying their politicians to build more relations with us? Well they have just voted for a pro Iran leader so we know the answer to that one.

            I’ll give you one of the greatest uses of soft power on the planet in history.

            Britain and France.

            You read any book on Anglo French relations and you will see that after every conflict we had with them we hated each other even more, it was only after a cultural exchange of language, food, art etc through the 19th century that Anglophile French politicans and vice versa with us started to build a friendly, lasting relationship, French was started to be taught to the masses and vice versa. Lots of people started living in each others countries.

            Our closest allies, all those relationships were built on soft power.

            Hard power can only be used initially to get a country onside, take the former eastern bloc countries, we used hard power in the form of military protection in NATO and economical through the EU to get them friendly, but that’s where that stops, only soft power will build on those relationships now. If we ever went to war with say Argentina again or anyone for that matter, we would want those counties to back us up through sanctions but they don’t have to, a leader might be sympathetic to them, but if we use soft power to make them even more friendly with us it will help us.

            Now I hope you can see that you can’t just look at conflicts to look at soft and hard power.

            Just because people say we should strengthen our soft power doesn’t mean lower our defences, because like I said from the start they are barely related, if soft power isn’t working with S Africa for example, if they constantly vote against us at the UN, cut back on trade, and they back Spain and Argentina up on Gibraltar’s and the Falklands status what we would do, send the navy to shell Johannesburg, start economic sanctions ourselves.

            Anyway this is the last time I will reply.

            I feel like the ship has sailed and given your massive mistake at the start you haven’t even bothered to use google and read for 20 minutes, which I told you to do initially, that could of saved all this.

        • I don’t why people are so obsessed with the concept of hard power.

          It’s a declining means of pursuasion, threatening countries with war and using economic sanctions barely works anymore.

          N Korea only started playing ball when the US used diplomacy, it’s been using hard power for decades with no success.

          Russia will never play ball being threatened, neither would China.

          Look at Libya and Syria. Afghanistan is turning into a hell hole.

          This is not to say that we should not expand our forces and spend more on defence, I have actively supported that on here for ages.

          But that increase wouldn’t help our hard power tactic as I’ve explained above.

          It would help us better defend ourselves and our allies which is the goal of our armed forces. That is NOT hard power.

          Soft power is a way after Empire to have significant unilateral influence around the globe. And we should be putting in efforts to expand and strengthen it.

          • Sole

            No North Korea only started to play ball when they started to starve outside of the cities and when instead of previous administrations tolerating North Korean provocations (such as launching missiles tests over Japan while also threatening the United States’s sovereign territory of Guam) President Trump outright said the retaliation for a missile landing on Guam would be the extinction of North Korea while also not ruling out a preemptive strike.
            North Korea’s inabilities to feed itself or provide for it’s people is a result of sanctions. Kim Jong Un has had to shoot a record number of Generals because they would have overthrown him and shot his whole family because that is how a dictatorship works. Failure to provide basic necessities results in dissent and failure to contain dissent results in either civil war or a coup. What passes for the moderates in the North Korean establishment have a vested interest in not becoming either the world’s largest sheet of glass or being dragged out of their offices and murdered by starving peasants. Therefore negotiations.
            Negotiations brought to you by the hard power of The United States Armed Forces and the near universal human fear of death. The UN negotiations and attempts by both previous administrations and countries which were soft and appeasing saw North Korea BECOME a Nuclear power.

            Because soft power is not in the end power. It is handing out candy and hoping people will love and listen to you. Did your mother not tell you of the Goose that laid the golden egg and what the farmer did to it? How about a “If you give a mouse a cookie, he wants a glass of milk”? Nations like people are much the same as the farmer or the mouse not a very grateful lot. When you claim soft power will save you from National and Civilizational enemies you at best come across as stupid or weak. At worst you come across as stupid and weak.
            As for Hard Power not being war you have clearly forgotten. ”War is simply the continuation of politics by other means.” -Clausewitz

            Also as for Hard power not having worked for America? Well considering every facet from economic, diplomatic, political who of all participants of WWII has weathered these intervening years since VJ-Day better? Answer well who is still the world’s wealthiest country and the head of multiple military alliances around the world vs which ones kowtow to bureaucrats in Brussels.
            Have a bitch or judgement of the United States? Well to damn bad. When you have power and money sh** happens by default and you have to make a decision. A decisions you will be criticized for no matter what you do. Example: Don’t bomb Assad. You are accused of supporting tyranny and being Putin’s puppet. Bomb him and you are a warmonger bent on world destruction. How about an older one? Example: Don’t bomb Iraq. Get criticized for allowing Saddam to gas his own population. Do it and you get lambasted for destroying Iraq’s ability to feed and power itself. Later amid calls from those same screeching charlatans to do something about the continuing oppression and suffering in Iraq. Do nothing and you hear you are not only allowing a dictator to flourish but he may be developing chemical and Nuclear weapons. Do something invade and attempt to start a democracy you hear from the very same people who complained about you doing nothing that you are now the cause of the chaos.

            You like many in the media are a whiner who complains no matter what the United States does and dispute every act as some Machiavellian conspiracy. Because you lack any concept of personal responsibility and ability to discern your own failings. For instance in your example of the Chilean school house. You seem to think handing out school supplies and supplying an out of work leftist to play schoolteacher will cause Chileans to suddenly pledge undying loyalty and place their national interest second to the UKs. What do yo think they are simple? That they do not see your extra diplomat at the embassy’s ham handed attempts to influence, lobby, and interfere in their country. You must think the people of Chile the dumbest on earth and somehow the UK is a savior from on high to proselytize to the uneducated and unwashed?

          • That’s another classic example of how stupid you are Elliot.

            The US never used hard power to get where it is today you moron, there is one reason and one reason only, the size of its economy. It was always heading towards superpower status regardless of world events or what it did.

            Just like China is now, China isn’t waging war making its economy grow at 6% a year is it.

            You though the US fought it’s way to the top like some brave gunslinger arriving into town 😂 classic elliot.

            What was it I said last week, you never seem to fail to get more silly and deranged in your rants.

            And just so know, I never once said it hadn’t worked for the United States, I have a couple of examples of where it didn’t work, could of said Vietnam, that worked out great didn’t it.

            I have not criticised going to war or defence in anyway in my posts, I agree with military intervention well and truly.

            The problem here is, and it happens quite often, you encounter people so stupid and lacking the necessary brain power to work out that this isn’t some “mad lefty” telling everyone we should disarm and not go to war.

            This is a debate on the role of soft and hard power, both means pursuasion and coercion, both have massive roles in geopolitics.

            Once you fully understand what’s being said Elliot maybe you can engage with me normally and not need to write a sanctimonious rant that barely makes sense.

          • And please stop insulting people’s inteligence trying to justify Iraq and now Libya and Syria.

            Will you f**k off with this tripe that it is about saving the people from a dictator, or helping the people.

            Where is the hard power with China then? Why do we let a hard Islamic absolute monarchy rule a country in the Middle East? Where is the interventions to “help” people in Africa, or in Burma? We have let a nutcase family rule N Korea and starve millions to death. Where are these crusades then to save the people being killed Elliot.

            Seriously f**k off with the can’t do right from doing wrong thing over Iraq.

            I eat stupid pricks like you for breakfast when trying to preach regime change wars and interventions as a crusade for the good of humanity.

            Absolute whopper

  11. I wonder given the RN didn’t want those 5 Amazonas corvettes/ River Batch 2 opvs…

    Had the money for each opv been added to the £250 million budgeted for each T31, would that have been enough to ensures;
    a) both bids came in under the competition target for the T31e
    b) the T31e would be decently armed to fight in high-intensity scenarios…

    • If the MOD had it’s act together those 5 batch two rivers could have been type 31 frigates. BAE already had the Khareef designed being exported for £140 million and stretching it out as with Type 31 Leander design could have been done for £250 million.

      But the RN wanted all the high end frigates it could get and it did not want another platform getting in the way. That’s why those batch 2 rivers don’t have hangars making them little more than useless.

      Meanwhile half of Africa is Swimming over the Med and we have to send HMRC cutters as the RN only has billion pound guided missiles destroyers.

      • We know the bacKground to River 2; that the MOD contract with BAE committed to an annual spend regardless of any ships being built
        In all probability BAE believed, pre the NSBSS and the MOD issuing the competitve RFI that their stretched Khareef or River 2 was a shoe in for Type 31. I suspect that in order to make the best of a bad situation they, the RN and the MOD all agreed to spend money on combat hardening of the R2 hull in expectation of ot being the basis for Type 31, Leander.

        Courtesy of Keith Campbell writing in Thinkdefence here is a list of ‘warship’ enhancements to Amazonas to produce River 2.

        “Watertight integrity modifications (also described as improved watertight integrity)
        Fire safety modifications
        Enhanced firefighting facilities
        Automatic emergency lights
        Flight Deck Officer position
        Domestic refrigeration modifications
        Sewage treatment plant modifications
        Ballast water modifications
        Merlin helicopter operation (ie strengthening the flight deck to be able to land a Merlin helicopter on it)
        Helicopter in-flight refuelling
        Helicopter refuelling modifications
        Changes to ship’s minimum operating temperature
        Davit modifications
        Force protection weapons modifications (replacing 2×25 mm with 2×7.62 mm Mk 44 Gatling guns)
        Installation of WECDIS/WAIS (WECDIS stands for Warship Electronic Chart Display and Information System; WAIS might stand for Wide Area Information System. This seems to be an improved version of the system fitted to HMS Clyde.)
        Install Combat Management System (CMS), and the new RN standard BAES “Shared Infrastructure” which will equip the RN’s entire surface fleet over the next nine/ten years (this integrates ship sensor, weapons and management systems using a common console system).
        Military communications modifications
        Magazine protection (if my memory serves me correctly, this involves the fitting of Kevlar armour)
        Radio equipment room modifications
        Change lighting and domestic power voltage from 115 v to 230 v
        Codification of equipment
        Provision of life saving equipment
        Replace navigation radars (fit the Kelvin Hughes Sharpeye)
        Install military GPS
        Install flight deck landing grid
        Fuel efficiency monitoring
        Provide emergency communication equipment
        Machinery space walkway
        The Ministry of Defence and BAES also report that the R2s will have increased stowage space.”
        So add a hull stretch, a hangar and a 57mm and you have your basic Type 31, probably comfortably within the £250m cost target.

        • WAIS is the Warship Automatic Identification System. All ships over 300 tons have to have AIS which reports their identification, position, course and speed. So WAIS helps with collision avoidance and greatly simplifies the compilation of the surface picture.

  12. Very good article, however on ship building strategy I would deny the point or need for two frigates assembly lines.

    Invest heavily in one very high end assembly yard for frigates (scotson) and one for larger ship like rosyth, nationalise both facilities, then use competitive tendering and possibly even a mix of foreign yards for blocks from across the rest of the country. Aim to knock out one frigate style vessel per year and a larger vessel every 2/3 years.

    • (Chris H) I got as far as ‘nationalse’ and realised anything I say would be wasted … Especially as you seem to think anything nationalised understands ‘competitive tendering’

      • There is no point in having a private company, especially BAE when you only have a sole source provider.

        Nationalised industry’s can be done very well, Asia and in particular Singapore manages it quite well.

        Let’s be honest since BAE took over ship building in the UK it has been a disaster.

        What you have now is an effectively nationalised industry that you have to pay a private premium to for zero benefit.

        • You really, really need to go research how badly the UK shipyards did when they were last nationalized.

          Nationalization has never solved any productivity issues anywhere and at any time.

        • Where does the huge subsidies come from for a nationalised shipbuilding industry?

          The taxpayer i.e even less for the Mod and by extension the RN.

          The main problem and maybe the only problem lies in the fact that BAE systems has it’s fingers in so many pies making it effectively a one stop monopoly.

          • The Bae warship UK monopoly was deliberately created by a Labour government under the Labour chief of defence procurement Grayson.

            He wished to replicate the situation in France & Italy where one company got enough business to invest in productivity improvements instead of keeping multiple companies just alive on a trickle of orders.

          • Did it work in Italy or France, I keep hearing they continue to be subsidised, so perhaps not.

            You could argue that commercial yards like CL are actually more efficient after all they beat off competition from around the world to build the polar research ship, Italy’s Fincantieri withdrew but other competitors were from Korea, Singapore where yards are subsidised.

            CL has had to slug it out and win orders by being more efficient they have been forced to invest. Is there the same incentive if your guaranteed the next order?

    • I understand what you are saying Martin it would make sense to have 2 modern shipyards, one for frigates/destroyers and the other for large ships (carriers, tankers, etc.), but if they build the enclosed dock hall on the Clyde, and they should, the other shipyard invested in cannot be Rosyth, also in Scotland, it is at the stage where Scottish shipbuilding gets absolutely everything and English shipbuilding gets absolutely nothing. The other yard to be invested in has to be an English yard, probably Cammel Lairds.

      • Yet some how we can build all the fighter jets and submarines in England. More English nationalism on UK? (Little England) Defence journal is it.

        • (Chris H) Martin – Thank you for clarifying you are a full on Socialist (hence ‘nationalise it’) duly signed up to the SNP for whom these discussions are always an excuse for racist and dumb abuse towards ‘Little England’. Some of us are frankly very tired of Sturgeon’s continual whingeing and interfering in matters that are not devolved. She is nothing more than a Chief Executive of a not very big Regional Authority. And she can’t even manage to do that well.

          Let me just remind you Soft Lad that it is ‘Little England’ that funds your £15 Bn a year fiscal deficit (along with Wales’ £14 Bn and NI’s £9 Bn) and provides the second highest Barnett Formula to the SNP to mismanage its economy. Higher taxes anybody? Quite why just 8% of the UK population justifies this no one ever says let alone explain why this small population should build every Naval ship ordered by the MoD. And now you want Typhoon and submarines?

          Jog on Soft Lad and as you Jocks say “Bile yer heed”

  13. What the UK lacks is any real long term strategy and the politucal will to spend money to achieve it. It wouldn’t be prohibitively expensive to agree to order in larger batches and give industry some security. However until politicians extend their horizons beyond the short term political cycle and change their attitude to money. Money is a useful servant but a terrible master. And at present money is the master and the treasury is too much in control. Hence all areas of UK public services are blighted by a short term financial dogma which is not doing any of us any good.

  14. Whilst the poor budgeting resulting in slow builds and even slower design phases has led to this mess, as has the reality that we as a country are in pretty poor health financially and whilst our income (gdp) is one of the highest, our net public income is very low. As we as a country are not willing to accept that and our policiticans are unwilling to tell us, short term decisions have been made to cut public expenditure on the quiet, such as the delays on the build / design phases of ships. The public debt won’t be solved in any of our life times and so this mess will just continue. The uncertainty over brexit is certainly not helping with that.

    this isn’t rocket science, if you get a car on finance (announce but not place the money), you pay way more over the duration and ultimately own the car way later but you can say you have a car (announce bee ship) earlier.

    My guess is we will see Australia build their t26 way faster and cheaper (even considering they are buying the plans) than us, simply because they have the money and so place a solid and firm order for the full batch and let the ship builders build as fast as is econical to do so.

      • that would be a political bomb. If they cut aid and don’t invest it all in the nhs the papers would have a field day. In peace times and a era after 2 messy wars, military spending is just not on the public’s interest list.

  15. I agree with every word Paul Sweeney says. It’s time we got strategic. Long term planning and commitments gives Gov less short term room for maneuver but very much greater long term value for money. HMG has seen potential benefits of this re it’s 10 year NHS plan, we should do the same for ship building.

  16. The U.K. should also get back into commercial shipbuilding like France, Germany and Italy so we are not reliant solely on the Navy. We should start bidding for cruise ships, that’s what other European countries do, perhaps Cammel Lairds could do this. Also we should build a new Royal Yacht Britannia to give British shipbuilding a boost, and also be a visible sign of modern Britain and modern British shipbuilding.

    • mind the pun but that ship has sailed. It would require a huge public investment to get ship building back into this country to any scale and even with the investment there is no guarantee that it would be profitable without government subsidies, which we can’t currently afford as a country.

      The question I would like to ask is why do we need to build war ships domestically? The era of being able to mass produce in the event of a war are long gone due to technological complexity and cross country supply chains.

        • and what is the issue with that? We buy pretty mucj everything that flies from US, ajax from Spain, guns from Germany.

          Ok there is a risk of software backdoors but are we realistically going to go to war with China?

          • not to mention that the weapon systems and radars would be British and so any backdoor would be limited usefulness. They could also be fitted here like they did with the tides.

          • So you cannot differentiate buying weapons from our allies from buying from our adversaries?

            If you’d been around, the RAF would have been flying Messerschmitts during the Battle of Britain and Fokkers during WW1.

          • Yes let’s give a few billion more to a nation that is as close to practising mercantilism against the west as you can get and still pretend to espouse free trade. in fact one thing trump has right is that China has been manipulating free trade (by the use of currency deflation and other tools such as governed control of cheap labour and corporations, state sponsored steeling of research etc) to economically weaken the west and strength its own reserves. China very much recognises money is power and it can easily be transferred to hard or soft power to use against potential enemies ( that’s us) as needed.

            We need to keep our nations money in our nation as much as possible, BAE may cost more but it pays tax, it pays its workers who pay tax, buy houses spend in shops and make us wealthier.

            Any government spend should first be assessed on how much wealth will leave the country and which nation it’s going to. I’m not adverse to the private sector providing services when it can do it cost effectively or other nations if needed. but I apsolutly object to national wealth being spent in a way that strengthens competitors when it could be spent within our own economy.

          • We need to keep our nations money in our nation as much as possible, BAE may cost more but it pays tax, it pays its workers who pay tax, buy houses spend in shops and make us wealthier.

            It pay workers who buy Samsung TVs, Bosch fridges and BMW’s. Even the shop workers by Chinese, Korean, German Japanese. The Plasters, Electricians who work on your house buy VW or Renault vans. Even the workers at HMRC buy foreign.

            Why is everyone so concerned about where the government spend your money, yet your own money you will happily hand it to an overseas company. Most will say theirs no choice but I’m sure some who post on here are old enough to been able to make the choice when its was there but they didn’t. Why because foreign was better.

            I’m no fan of buying foreign warships or any military equipment, but certainly don’t see why we shouldn’t demand value for money and excellent quality. After all that what we demand as individuals.

          • Whilst I am not suggesting China is the only option, the giving money to an opponent is rubbish and US practices are equally messed up, just look at the mess that is latam and many other countries caused by US interference. As it stands China is also an ally, I don’t remember any declaration of war or suddenly all the Chinese built goods vanishing from our shops or the debt we owe them being called in. I’m partially playing devils advocate here, but only partially.

            Ideally keeping money domestic is the best option but you have to balance that with the need for capability. If you build domestic, you have to accept less capability and numbers, can’t have it both ways.

          • We don’t buy it. Our eu loving civil servants, vested interests and politicians buy it. Why do you have to accept less capability and numbers if built in this Country? How did this Country get into the past recession, which she is still trying to recover from in many areas?

          • To expat. Because as individuals, we do not have our own tax-raising powers and tax clawback. Even when we buy Chinese good, in which some are fooled into thinking they are still UK manufactured brands, the UK government receives certain tax in those goods from individuals buying them. The paymaster general (the UK with her treasury etc) can get clawback from workers and firms that can amount to over 40%. Plus, a catalyst to energising a sector that has so much potential. Renault vans are made in Luton.

          • As said before. We don’t buy out of choice from them. Others our doing this in our name even though we do not agree. An army general said that these competitions do not give value or what the army needs, we need to manufacture more here, but why is this happening. It’s sad to say, but I don’t believe certain individuals and bodies in power or near the decision makers along with their vested interests, always make decisions that are best in the UK’s interests.

      • Far from it, that ship has not sailed, only for the un-ambitious that may be the case. What has mass production have to do with this? Someone told me years ago that Cammell Laird would never build a ship again. I watched a live launch of a 150 million pound complex non-grey hulled ship a couple of weeks ago. While Babcock in Rosyth is a facility created by the Royal Navy it does have huge potential for the larger type of ship build, but there are other areas that have the ambition and potential and have the large holes in the ground in which large investment is not needed (I guess load outs too on floating dry docks is another otion). But it is not just cruise ships, but other present and future type ships fully manned, semi-autonomous or fully autonomous type shi[ps that this Country could well be involved in design engineering and build in. This is not a 1 or 2,3-year game, but over a longer period and carries on. New technologies come into play in which yes, other countries can obtain, but can level the field for the UK. Cammel Laird has won a 1.5 million pound contract to work on electron beam welding in shipbuilding which could change the outlook even more, let alone snake arm robotics from firs like OC robotics, 3d printing, and of course the digital shipyard. If this Country is ambitious and tries to not be mostly/wholly dependent on MoD orders, we will have a viable bigger Uk shipbuilding sector. The ship has not sailed.

      • Just to add Steve. This from a few years ago in the Telegraph: ” Today the company looks abroad for its megaships, though a Cunard spokesman did concede: “If all things were equal and British yards were able to meet our specifications, we would consider them.”

        The problem is there aren’t any British commercial shipbuilding yards left capable of handling such a job”. Not yet

        The whole article:

  17. We must remember that T45 has only become a specialist AAW ship because their was no budget to outfit it fully. I am not sure from where this idea that it is ‘thrashy’ destroyer came. It seems some are intent are rewriting history to meet the current situation. An IEP ship should be quieter than a mechanical ship; how BAE managed to make it noisy is a mystery. Never mind how T45 generates less electric than the seemingly more robust conventional Horizons. T45 was designed to be a replacement for T42; the latter used to do very well in ASW exercises on a regular basis. Lastly we mustn’t confuse Sea Viper and T45. The former is a world class system, the latter isn’t a world class example of ship building.

    • 1. The Royal navy specification for the Type 45 did not require any sound proofing. It’s very expensive so Bae didn’t design or build any in.

      2. Yes, an IEP ship could in theory be quieter because of the absence of a man gearbox and a hard connection between engines & propeller, but that quietness doesn’t come by magic. It has to be designed and built into the ship. See 1. above.

      3. You are misinformed, the Type 45 generates an order of magnitude more electricity that the French & Italian Horizons.

      4. The Type 42’s were not an ASW platform. They detected no Argentinian submarines in the Falklands war.

      5. Sea Viper is a missile and cannot do anything with the Type 45 radars, launchers and systems.

      6. In NATO exercises the Type 45 has performed extremely well. Better than the US Arleigh Burkes in some situations.

      • Oh dear……

        1) The RN originally set for a like for like replacement of T42. You perhaps need to go to read about the history of RN escorts post WW2. How improving technology meant the RN could do away with the specialist escort types to GP types whose main had a single main role but also had capabilities in other areas. So just as Leander, T22, and T23 all have/had anit-air capabilities the Type 42 went to sea with a sonar set, shipborne torpedoes, etc. T42 wasn’t as quiet as Leander but it is question whether it was any more noise than T22 which went to sea without rafted diesels despite its ASW role. T42 crews even won competiotns for ASW work. With shrinking hull numbers the RN would have liked a full cream escort capable of helping the ASW workload but as I said this was deleted.
        Just as the Horizons, De Zeven Provinciën and Sachsen classes, or say the RAN Hobarts. So go read how the specialised T41, T61, and T12 all got rolled up into the Type 12 (M) Leander class GP frigate. And how the need for a cheaper more numerous AAW ship lead to T42 being built; heck that the project was given a T designation should tell you all you need to know.

        2) As I said there was no money to outfit T45 fully. So no rafting and no ASW sonar. But even without rafting due to the absence of props and gearboxes should have been quieter than it is. It just isn’t noisy, it is very noisy. One of the initial design criteria was that T45 be quieter than T42. Even if it wasn’t to be fitted with ASW equipment that would have been desirous.

        3) I would go count the mega-watts again if I were you.

        4) See 1. Are you really going to use “They detected no Argentinian submarines in the Falklands war.” as a metric? Really? The main RN ASW escorts didn’t detect many Argentine submarines either if you want to split hairs. Killed and deafened lots of whales though probably…..

        5) Sea Viper is a guided weapon system not just the missile. It is the name the RN gave Principal Anti Air Missile System. The missile used by SeaViper is Aster launched from a Slyver VLS, The RN system uses the SAMPSON and S1850M radars As I said it is a world class system.

        6) The Type 45 still isn’t a world class design despite your comparison to out performing Burkes.

    • Ummm the type 45 was designed from the bottom up as an air defence destroyer to replace the type 42 another dedicated air defence destroyer. The RN has followed the same pattern of specialist ships since treaty cruisers went out of fashion.

      Most air defence ships make useless ASW assets, as making a hull quite is an expensive luxury in an AAW ship that really need fast acceleration so they can react quickly to threats, making them generally noisy in hull form, propulsion and behaviour.

      Even the burkes ( which are very expensive attempts to do it all) are a bit compromised when compared to very specialist ships.

    • As a platform T45 is perfectly suited to operate Sea Viper, an extremely potent missile.

      However the missiles aren’t self aware. They are guided on target by the systems and software installed on those platforms. To suggest T45 is anything other than one of, if not the best area air defence platform in operation is foolish. As is suggesting T45 was intended as anything other than an out and out air defence destroyer.

      • The T45 is currently a terrible AAW platform. The one thing you need for even a basic platform is 100% certainty that the systems will work when called on. The power problems and the various other issues means, that this is just not there. Hopefully this will get resolved, but until then any task force effectively has no viable air defence and would be extremely vulnerable.

        Wars aren’t fought on paper with paper capabilities, they are fought in the moment

          • there has been constant stories of them being towed back to port and not always power related. When you only have 6 of them. which means maybe 3 are available at any one time, even minor breakdowns would result in a serious capability gap in the event of a conflict where one was needed.

          • (Chris H) Steve – Just because a warship has a tug fore and aft does not mean it is ‘under tow’. A ship loses its ability to steer as speed reduces. Or do you believe everything the numpty main stream media idiots write (as they did recently) using ‘White Van Man’ as their technical source?

  18. Jonathan

    If the T26 is the best ASW frigate in the world, adding the best radar and AAW suite will then make it the best warship in the world.

    I see no logical reason why the T26 cannot be the UK’s Arleigh Burke, but do it better.

    Clearly they would have a specific role in a task group, but actually from a build perspective it offers the RN so many more options that I think it is wasteful not to.

    13 T26 Global Combat ships (AAW and ASW) would allow us to invest £6bn in T31.

    The huitfeldt class btw are an accomplished AAW platform in their own right as well, so I really think we can have a much larger fleet that is more capable using 2 hull types.

    We need to get the drumbeat right 1 T26 every 2 years and a T31 each year.

    Assume the T26 costs £1bn each = £13bn or 500m each year over 25 years
    Assume the T31 costs £400m each = £10bn or 400m each year over 25 years

    we need to invest £1bn pa from our £40bn pa MOD budget to get our surface combat fleet up and running and sustainable.

    The same for the Subs (9+4) = £1bn pa to build or £25bn over 25 years.
    Leaving 400m pa for all RFA/Amphibs – let say 1 each year.
    200m pa for the small boat fleet.
    200m pa for missiles and weapons.
    And lastly 200m each year if we want to build a carrier every 25 years (5bn each)

    Definitely doable for £3bn pa to have a true shipbuilding plan. The above is build only not including first 10 years support costs.

    If we then continue with this model

    Annual build Programme £3bn
    Annual Support = £3bn
    Infra and Basing =£1bn
    Personnel & Welfare = £3bn
    Other items = £1bn

    The RN need an annual budget of £11-12bn pa.

    I suspect the RAF need circa £12-15bn pa and the same for the Army.
    Add in the MOD and we really need a budget closer to £45-50bn pa.

    Either way its a big increase that is required, if we are really serious about be a “world player” – whatever that means these days

  19. (Chris H) In regard to what the UK as a whole has ‘available to spend’ we should never lose sight of the fact that a Coalition and two Tory Governments have had the major task of keeping public services going, repair infrastructure and yes buy new military equipment while removing what was a £145 Bn current account deficit in one year. We are now in practical terms in a balanced economy for the first time in since 2002. All that borrowing costs us interest and last year our interest bill was some £46 Bn a year. A bit more (2.5%) in GDP terms than we spend on defence and some 3 times what we spend on Foreign Aid. So can we please stop the ‘kill Foreign Aid’ comments and take a serious look at what is the ‘Elephant in the room’?

    To put that in context that is in ONE year:
    13 x QE carriers
    460 x F-35B aircraft
    46 x Type 26 Frigates
    184 x Type 31 Frigates
    500 Typhoon Tranche 3 aircraft
    383 Poseidon aircraft
    306 Tide Class tankers
    etc etc etc …

    People demand more money be spent on this and that pet project but forget what that costs if we have to borrow it. Its why I applaud the MoD’s current focus on delivering Type 31 @ £250 Mn a ship. Thankfully we have at least (nearly) stopped borrowing more but we still have that mountain of debt and interest to fund and while we do we will have less ‘available to spend’ as a nation. Running a nett trade deficit (especially so with the EU @ £70 Bn a year) is also impacting on our borrowing as we have to fund the foreign exchange. Thankfully we will at least have £13 Bn a year not going to the EU (and no they don’t spend their money here they spend OUR money here for their benefit).

    For the record I have not inferred any blame on any political party on the numbers. They are what they are and I just simply note the cost implications thereof ….

  20. The Danish Absalon support ships would cost about £230 million today sans systems. That is the same hull as the Babcock offering but with only two engines. Even with hand me down weapons it would be a squeeze on £250 million per hull budget. An additional T26 would make more sense.

    The thing is with the aid money is that we have to borrow it. It isn’t like we really have to spend. Never mind the interest. One of the best things we could do with our EU Danegeld is us to pay down our debt. We have been a going concern for 1000 years, a decade or two attacking national debt won’t harm us.

  21. If Gavin Williamson MP had made these remarks rather than Paul Sweeney a lot of people commenting here would have been joyously celebrating his genius

    • (Chris H) Porky – No they wouldn’t because no matter who says the words it is politically biased and reflects the pressure Labour are under in Scotland from the SNP. No UK Minister would offer a solution that effectively closes off naval shipbuilding outside Scotland …

  22. (Chris H) – Of some relevance to the ‘Foreign Built’ debate is this concise comment from ‘NavyLookout’ twitter feed:

    “DSME South Korea lost money on the Tide class, underestimated how complex it was, went bankrupt during construction, was baled out by state subsidies, made mistakes and delivered lead ship nearly a year late”

    Anyone suggesting British shipyards face fair competition need to wind their necks in ….

    • So the South Korean government has paid towards us getting the capability we need, this is actually a positive. If they had been built in the UK, and the UK government had to bail out the manufacturer, it would have resulted in capability cuts to pay for it. It’s not like every single British built vessel hasn’t come in way over budget.

      • (Chris H) Steve – So the Korean Government subsidies allowed this yard to undercut other bids to retain jobs and skills in Korea and stay in business. Now that I can understand even if it distorts fair competition but what I can’t understand is why you think this is a really good idea (for Korea) but its not a good idea for the UK Government to do the same for UK jobs – And you make the assumption that it would have to ‘subsidise’ anything. But the simple act of placing the work in the UK creates and maintains high skills job, improves the supply chain and recycles money back around the UK economy. Which the Korean subsidies simply do not do in fact it is this unfair competition that has slaughtered our domestic industry.

  23. One of the biggest issues all of the complex, multi-year programmes face is the constant fiddling from MoD and their political masters, who are constantly changed and reflect various different ideas and agendas.

    Once a decision is made and a price has been agreed, the money needs to be forwarded in the agreed installments.

    No changes should be made, unless a problem occurs. There must be NO changes like the no cat&trap/yes to cat&trap/ no cat&trap debacle. Utter lunacy.

    There was terrible meddling in the T45. Meddling in the T26 and T31 (remembering that the T31 s all a political meddling after the T26 order was made).

    Then we must not forget Ajax, chinook, Watchkeeper ……….. the lust goes on.

    We need simple solutions:

    1. Clyde build the T26 – GET IT SORTED AND STARTED
    2. Rosyth consortium to build the T31
    3. CL to build the three FSS ships

    Agree a payment plan for each so all know where they stand so they can invest and train.

    Set a final design brief for each team to plan and build – DONT CHANGE THE DESIGN

    Reduce RAF bases further: 1x Transport super base (Brize Norton), 1x F35 base, 3x Typhoon, 1 Helicopter Base (Combine with AAC), 1x Training.

    RN bases are already streamlined.

    Reduce Army bases. (There is still room to reorganise basing to make logical sense based on Army 2020 lines).

    We need to cut our cloth accordingly – contract but gain specialism through sharing good practice. This is easier if there are bigger bases but more centralised core abilities.

    Concentrate on being the best we can, not to spread ourself too thin.

    Increase spending to 2.5% and take the CASND out of the defence budget other than the crewing and feeding.

    • I suspect the big issue is that tech evolves and so do threats, it’s too tempting to adjust the spec to meet these. The t26 design started over a decade ago, and just look at your mobile phone and compare to what you had back then to see the change.

    • (Chris H) Rob Collinson – I admire your logical thinking and the rationale for it. You also naile well the obvious fact that ‘change = Cost’. However you do seem, with respect, to have created a Scottish favouring solution looking for a problem. You say:
      T26 to The Clyde – Yes well it already is
      T31 to Rosyth – Apart from a consortium (which included all of the UK shipbuilders) the carriers were the first complex ships built there. Belfast has built more carriers alone.
      FSS to Cammell Laird – for just 2 ships.

      So you want to put 5 4,000 Ton frigates into a large specially adapted dry dock in Rosyth in addition to the 8 Type 26 in Glasgow with modules from Devon but put 2 35,000 Ton ships into a smaller yard in England?

      Forgive me but given the amount of work The Clyde and Rosyth has been given and The Clyde will have for the next 20 years I think we should give other shipyards the more complex ships and spread the capability. Follow the logistics geography and you put the 35,000 ton FSS ships in Rosyth with modules from A & P Tyneside and the Type 31s to Cammell Laird with modules from Babcock Devon and Belfast. That splits two projects into two different Babcock yards but Appledore are quite capable of doing either. However if commercial politics get in the way then they work on FSS and haul modules from one end and the wrong side of the country to the other…. adds to cost and price but keeps people in work and I have no problem with that as long as its a British yard.

      You forgot to mention the ‘Albion’ replacement / additional ships that will need starting after the 2 (or 3) FSS ships and there is very good argument to be made for using the basic FSS hull and design but with reduced superstructure, flat stern deck and a stern well deck to deliver a 35,000 Ton Albion II. Both FSS and Albion have design speeds of 18 knots. There is already an FSS design in place for a large vehicle deck with access from a (non submersible) stern door which could be used either as a Helo hangar or tracked / wheeled vehicle storage area or indeed both. That could mean 2 + 1 FSS plus 2 ‘Albion II’ and work for two yards for at least 10 years in a yard already skilled to assemble large modules. Unless of course the idiots in Whitehall sell the Goliath crane for £20 on eBay either by incompetence or deliberate action.

  24. p.s. considering the size, I will never believe that the original plan wasn’t for cat/trap and this wasn’t cut initially for cost reasons and then the whole double decision came later.

  25. I think the studies from turning the tide GMB and the CSEU give the 285 million pounds returned as a figure from the people employed and not the firms and other sources which could amount to far more than this. Worth reading.

  26. How much did the last recession and banking crisis cost this Country? No more pre-2007 thoughts on buying from abroad, and please have longer memories that can go back to this recent past. Did Naval shipbuilding ever cost this country dear or steel making, but who were bailed out? The pre-2007 model was for the financial banking sector to make us the money and for nearly everyone else to work in the public sector, it seemed.

  27. You either build two RN ships a year at a regularly scheduled build commissioning rate for 15 years service, or you build one RN ship each year at a regularly scheduled build commissioning rate for 30 years service. This would eventually result in 30 RN warships in service.

    Quote: “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.”??????

    Building one ship a year according to that previous quote would reduce the number of RN hulls in service to only 15 ships!!! Not to mention the fact that when RN ships are sold to foreign navies, that the buyer gets an almost buckshee free warship at the British taxpayer’s expense! So the cost-benefit ratio is going to be worse if we sell them every 15 years as opposed to selling them every 25-30years!

    Nonsense, the number of Russian and Chinese hulls have increased, furthermore, war comes about when there is an imbalance between competitive forces. The temptation to do the Ukraine thing, or send tanks across the border against a satellite county on the Black sea only becomes tempting when the calculation between losses and gains becomes desirable.

    Therefore, the number of RN hulls needs to increase in order to reduce the imbalance in the number of Russian boats and ships facing our direction.

    A reminder of why we need more warships (and jets) to reduce the temptation to do the wrong thing, is as follows: –
    ” Bosnia (1992 – 2007)
    ” 2004 unrest in Kosovo,
    ” 2004 Georgia, Adjara crisis
    ” 2006 Georgia, Kodori crisis
    ” 2007-present Civil war in Ingushetia – Chechnya
    ” 2008 unrest in Kosovo
    ” 2008 Russia-Georgia war August 2008
    ” 2009-present Insurgency in the North Caucasus
    ” 2011-2013 North Kosovo crisis
    ” Syria (2012)
    ” 2013-present Euromaidan and pro-Russian conflict in Ukraine
    ” 2014 Crimean crisis
    ” 2014-present War in Donbass


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here