The process to build the Type 31e frigates is being restarted due to ‘insufficient compliant bids’ and ‘has not been cancelled’, according to the MoD.

It is understood that none of the bidders were able to meet the £250 million per ship requirement, causing the programme to be restarted putting the original in service date of 2023 for the first ship in question.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman insisted that the project would still be going ahead, hinting that industry will have to refine their bids to meet the price tag:

“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.”

We spoke to a contact in the Ministry of Defence who told us on condition of anonymity:

“The issue here is cost, nothing else. The designs put forward aren’t meeting that requirement from what I’m told. So, the reset button has essentially been pressed in order for the designs put forward to be worked on in the hopes they can be made cheaper while still being credible platforms.

The project hasn’t been cancelled, it’s being effectively restarted with both eyes on cost.”

SNP defence spokesman Stewart McDonald said:

“The MoD has been unable to answer the most basic questions about the cost of this new Type 31e frigates and today they have had to own up to their own chaotic failures.”

Gary Smith, Scottish secretary of the GMB union, said:

“This will come as a real blow to shipbuilding communities in Scotland and across the UK. We are already losing jobs in yards like Rosyth as the carrier work is completed.

This news comes after big cuts to the original Type 26 programme, the broken promise to build a state of the art frigate factory on the Clyde that would have allowed us to compete in global markets for building complex warships, and the decision by the Tories to put the tender for the three support vessels for the carriers out to international tender as opposed to putting the work into UK yards. It is an utter shambles but this is what happens when you have Treasury dominating decisions over sovereign defence capability.”

A spokesman for Cammell Laird, part of one of the bidding teams, said in response to the news:

“Cammell Laird have continued to develop the exciting Leander proposal with BAE Systems for the Royal Navy T 31e frigate competition. We are particularly encouraged by the emerging BAE Systems export prospects in the international market.

The National Shipbuilding Strategy required a new approach from the Ministry of Defence and industry. Cammell Laird remains fully committed to achieving those aims by bringing forward its entrepreneurship and commercial shipyard capabilities.

Cammell Laird will deliver a world-class frigate if we win the T31e competition in due course.”

According to USNI here, an article published Monday by Jane’s stated that at least two of the potential bidders regarded the terms and conditions set by the MoD as unworkable, citing both commercial aspects and intellectual property rights.

“Even if the MoD achieves its stated intention of ‘delivering’ the Type 31e lead ship in 2023, the subsequent sea trials, crew training and work-up could see entry into operational service slipping a year or two.”

What are the options?

Two strong contenders for the Type 31e Frigate programme have emerged, Arrowhead and Leander.

Arrowhead

Arrowhead is expected to sit at 5,700 tonnes and 138.7 metres in length, the ships company is around 100 with space for an embarked military force of 60. Babcock’s Team 31 has selected the proven in-service Iver Huitfeldt frigate design as the baseline for their T31e product.

Leander

Leander is expected to be around 4,000 tonnes and 120 metres in length with a ship’s company of about 120 with space for an embarked military force of 30. The Leander design has evolved from the Khareef class corvettes built by BAE Systems.

Where will they be built?

For Arrowhead, the distributed build and assembly approach would see work going to Appledore in North Devon, Ferguson Marine on the Clyde, Harland and Wolff in Belfast with integration in Rosyth. 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.

For Leander, BAE Systems will 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.

Which design is best?

Leander is smaller and may be less expensive, the platform will utilise systems already in use around the fleet lowering any extra costs associated with new and specialist technologies. However being the smallest of the two, the room for future growth and adaptability may be less than desired, potentially impact any future exports over the decades.

On paper, it would appear that the Arrowhead design is the most capable, but the downside of that could be the cost. Can this design be built in numbers for a maximum price of £250 million? Clearly not. The main downside as far as I can see with Arrowhead is the use of a new radar type and a new Combat Management System at a time when the Royal Navy is moving towards fleet standardisation. Going in another direction would add cost and complexity.

I believe the Arrowhead 140 design to be the better option for the Type 31e Frigate, the option most inline with the build requirements set out by the Ministry of Defence and the option most in line with the National Shipbuilding Strategy, but only if the costs are kept under control which has clearly been a struggle.

194 COMMENTS

  1. I agree the Arrowhead 140 is the best option by a long way, but as said that causes problems with fleet standardisation and possibly cost.

    Surely it doesn’t take a genius to overcome these problems.

    We need to get T31e in service ASAP to ensure it can be positioned for the export market.

  2. Was £250 million ever achievable for a “Frigate” ? Should the MOD just settle for a Corvette ? could we not just build 10 more Rivers ? Personally I’d prefer 5 more Type 26’s.

    • It’s a tough question, because despite the constant doubt expressed by commenters on pages like this, experts at the MoD clearly think it’s doable. We all like to bash government as incompetent and say how we’d do things better (i include myself in that), but it’s safe to assume that at least a fair chunk of the MoD and civil service know what they’re doing. For comparison purposes though, a T23 in 1987 cost £130mn, or around £350mn in today’s money. Granted, the T23 was and still is a world class ASW platform with a well balanced loadout, but it was also conceived as the cheap alternative to more Type 22s.

      Should the navy settle for a corvette? No, because the T31 contest was never for a corvette. A corvette is a short ranged, local defence vessel; a frigate is an ocean-going warship. The RN wants a frigate, and it’s getting a frigate.

      No, we can’t just build more Rivers, because that leaves the fleet short 5 escorts, which the Rivers certainly are not. The T31 only needs a main gun, point defence missiles, and helicopter facilities and they’re just as capable as the GP Type 23s they’re intended to replace. Their role in a shooting war would be playing goalkeeper to the destroyers’ defender: anything the destroyer fails to intercept further out, the T31 serves as the last line of defence for the task force, both physically and with its PDMS.

      Without trying to be rude mate, it doesn’t matter if you’d prefer 5 more T26s. The main reason we have a T31 programme is that there isn’t enough money for 5 more T26s, there was enough for 1. Hence why we’re after 5 cheaper ships. Even if the money existed for 5 more T26, there’d be a huge wait for them, because BAES are already going to be building the first 8 until the 2030s, and then they need to build the T46.

  3. I guess we have to see what the defence review has in store.

    Then we will know what money is in the pot.

    To me, Arrowhead is a clear winner, so we need to add 150 million per unit, to get a ship capable of high end operations world wide.

    The RN simply can’t drop below 19 escorts! If the RN is forced to keep T23’s in service longer, then further expensive refits will be required, a totally avoidable waste of money.

    30 escorts should have been an absolute minimum, yet the RN top brass failed to fight their corner.

    Will they fail to prevent the unthinkable drop below 19 units … Let’s see.

  4. I do recall back in 2010 they said they were going to build the T26 for £250m a warship, then it crept up to £400m and finally some admiral let the cat out of the bag saying it was £1bn a warship.

    It’s almost as if they don’t have a clue what’s going on.

    • When setting cost ceiling in complex procurements you really do need to ensure you empty a number of experts on the market before setting you procurements ( You should also have experts on actual quality delivery in that field as well as procurement experts). Civil service posts do not tend to pay what experts can get elswere.

    • And there lies the problem open cheque book and Mahayana attitude equates to high costs and late deliveries, this needs a commercial approach which the previous naval shipyard. design team companies simply dont have.

  5. Er there is T45 and T23 tied up alongside both being stripped to keep other platforms in service. De facto 17 ships.

    • Riga, if you have 19 units in total, you can expect to have around 13 of them fully operational and deployable.

      The rest are either in refit, or alongside maintenance.

      That’s why 30 ( with suitable personal numbers) should have been the minimum total number.

      • Even less than 13 I’m afraid John. Generally speaking, you operate on the rule of 3: one in refit, one working up get ready to deploy, one deployed. Realistically, from 19 escorts you’d have 6 or 7 deployed during peace time. That usually splits down to 2 destroyers and 4-5 frigates, although it can vary depending on circumstances (like the fact that of 6 destroyers only 4 are really deemed operational, with Daring and Dauntless reduced to harbour queens currently)

      • John Clark. I am not playing fantasy fleets.
        People keep mentioning 19 platforms. There is not. There are only 17.

        Given that you need 3-4 platforms to generate 1, the RN now have around 4 in operation.

        • Interesting, with 7 deployable escorts, its much worse than the rule of thumb I was working too, taking into account refits and alongside maintenance!
          4x active T45
          8x active T23

          I suppose I didn’t factor in personel and maintenance budgets, meaning ships sit alongside waiting for £££.

          The RN really is at the very edge of pointless as a true blue water Navy.

          Can you imagine if the Government applied the same affordability to the NHS and reduced it by a third over the last 15 years!

          There would be riots in the streets. Reduce defence by the same and no one bats an eyelid.

          • It’s down to affordability and it’s hightime defence was made more relevant to the needs of a small island and that posing with ill equipped white elephants in distant oceans was stopped. Consider how much the other Trident white elephants cost. Utterly unsustainable and of no use at all.

    • Riga, stop using bullshit information. They are not been stripped. There is no manpower to run them, simple as.

  6. Arrow head is a proper general purpose frigate and Leander is a corvette. I would rather see four Arrowheads ordered if that’s what it takes to get things moving and provide the best ship or three now and at least three more in a couple of years time but there has to be that commitment otherwise the cost benefits will be lost again, not unusual with our M O D as we know.
    According to M D P briefing notes a lot the navy’s time is going to be spent on very low end police work so maybe another five River 11’s with some guts built in?

  7. Personnally there are a number of options available.

    1 get the 5 warships built at the lowest possible cost, by under equipping them and recycling kit from T23s. They can then be upgraded in the future(hopefully). £250m a ship.

    2 get extra funding to build and equip the ships as effective warships from day one. £400m a ship.

    3 scrap the idea and build a cheap T26 version. The original idea.

    Each proposal has its advantages and disadvantages, although I think option 2 is preferable even if this means cuts elsewhere.

    • All of the above assumes the MOD wishes to meet the 19 destroyer/frigate target.

      They could of course ditch that target and have 14 warship target 6 t45s and 8 t26s.

      That in my opinion would be a disaster for the RN and UK in general given defence commitments

      • I want to think that they won’t let escort numbers drop to 14, because we likely would have no T26 available for other duties when 2 or 3 are sucked up by the carriers. This would potentially leave no TAS in the North Atlantic. Then again, I’m assuming rational thinking…

        • There’s actually some good news. Recently, from various sources that have been speaking about the T31 competition and British shipbuilding in general, there seems to be a genuine desire to increase the fleet size, with the number 24 being bandied around a lot. The consensus seems to be that everyone wants shipbuilding on a sustainable basis, which would mean the T26 and then T46 on the Clyde, with T31 in continuous production elsewhere, and to keep everything going ships would be sold off after 15-20 years instead of egging them on to 30.

          The only roadblock seems to be that it would require a more intelligent approach to funding defence builds, which the Treasury would have to approve. And you know the Treasury…

          • For T46 why don’t we just upgrade the T26 to be a T46? After all this blah about modularity and room for grwoth/future proofing you’d think that we just strap on a new Sampson radar and and load of VLS on it and hey presto! Wouldn’t need to redesign the wheel again then.

  8. This is really very odd, the question is did they get any compliant bid or not, my reading is they had one.

    Unless the MOD don’t have to comply with the same legal framework as the rest of the public sector You just can’t press the restart button on a procurement,unless you get no compliant bids. if you have even one compliant bid the moment you do a reset you are showing bias against the compliant bidder….or you could interpret that the original compliant bidder has an advantage at the restart, depending on who finally wins the procurement, what it means at standstill ( the legal pause between publicly announcing the winner and signing the contract)is that all the other bidders will have due cause to take you to court, in a complex billion pound procurement this will mean a good year and millions spend in court, with a potential ( likely in my mind) outcome of having to pay costs and start the whole thing again…

    If they actually go no compliant bids then they did not do the prep work in understanding what the market could bare before starting the procurement and left the risk of no compliant bid to high, which is a muppet thing to do.

    • Jonathan. The issue is the next phase is competitive design so to have competitive design competition you need to parties, if only one passed they cannot move to the next phase.

      There lots of confusion in the press and miss quotes. Some say there was 1 bid on the money other none all wide of the mark.

      All the MoD have ask is for the bidders to go away an sharpen the pencil imo, which is not abnormal in the commercial world. The bidders will have risk budgets and contingencies as well as some nice to haves in their bids so they will have some room to flex the price.

      • What I suspect is confusing everyone is use of the language “bids” in response to the RFI. The RFI is a Request for Information not a Request for Quote. The specific language from the RFI is an “Industry Market Test”. The following is from page 2 and 3 of the RFI.

        “2. PURPOSE OF RFI
        The MOD is conducting an Industry Market Test for a future T31e Frigate Design and Build project for a minimum of 5 ships at a maximum average price of £250m per ship. The T31e programme is charged to fulfil a number of elements of the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSbS) with UK Prosperity and Exportability being two such key elements.”
        It then goes onto to say:
        “The aim of this RFI, and the returns from Industry, will be used to gain an understanding of what the market can deliver against the target key characteristics, cost and schedule. The MOD is also looking to reduce the management burden typically associated with naval projects and is keen to understand any “best practice” that can be taken from other industries or projects.”

        So the MoD has their responses and they weren’t compliant, or there weren’t enough that were complaint to entertain competition with formal quotations against the RFI. Since the MoD is apparently holding to the $250M target then it needs to re-visit other specifications in the RFI.

        • Now that makes it clear, I can understand what they are now doing, how it was being discribed in the press realeses was really confusing me as it did not correspond with procurement rules.

  9. does anyone else notice a distinct lack of any sort of coverage in the news on this either on tv or newspapers? any sort of news about the royal navy or for that matter the type 26 being selected for Australia’s new frigate and being the preferred ship for the Canadian navy too, no wonder the uneducated and the great unwashed think this country has no real exportable talent, gone are the days of we want 8 and we wont wait! we could do with another Jackie fisher type who bent the mod and parliament to his needs

    • Unfortunately Dean, the great British public, by enlarge, don’t give the RN (or defence in general) a second thought…

      More interested and in the X factor, or similar brain dead tripe….

      • They will give it even less thought if important things like the Type 26 winning against international competition for Australia are hushed up. If it was mentioned more in the media, in a positive light (not nit-picking over minor issues) it would encourage more people to join the undermanned Navy.

  10. Type 31e is a multi purpose design which can be used to assist countries requiring aid as well as a warship. Allocate £1 Billion from the overseas aid budget and the problem is solved!

    Personally, I would be inclined to allocate as much as is needed to build up our military capability to the levels required over the next ten years. Type 31e, Engineers, transport planes and helicopters. You get the idea!
    Meanwhile…
    http://www.janes.com/article/81996/russian-mod-details-second-quarter-military-equipment-deliveries

    • Agree sustaining an expeditionary force and a people hit by natural disasters is not dissimilar that why the military get involved. UK could go further an use the budget for RnD into drone delivery, basic meds which are more resilient to environmental extremes so easier to store for longer, field hospital equipment, I could go on. But you get the idea we basically duel use the budget and invest in the UK tech at the same time, so a winner on 3 fronts.

      • Yes! Yes! And many times yes! I have written before to DFID and suggested they invest some of their budget to build something like a hospital ship x2 and buy U.K. built helicopters etc I equip it and then send this out crewed by navy staff & NHS staff etc on loan but they don’t like to think like that. Why help the U.K. to help other countries with that budget – that is too much like a win win for all and against policy.

        • DRS I totally agree, I have also written on several occasions for the need two hospital ships 500-750 beds, preferably three and how they could be used to assist the NHS as well as working on humanitarian issues. Then if needed they are available to the MoD. I also explained how other countries such as Spain uses International aid and EU funding for there two hospital ships.
          I have also suggested that the Military engineering branches, signals, logistics, mechanics be expanded, they do take three-four years to train. But to pay them they could then be used in government civil projects such as dams, bridges, rail, airport you get the idea. That means a win-win-win the engineers get more experience, government has a pool of highly trained personnel to draw on and the military has increased its supporting manpower at no cost. After all a bulldozer is a bulldozer if its painted yellow or green.
          All I got was a letter thanking me for my ideas and that they will be sent to the relevant departments. In other words nothing.

  11. I smell a rat here the best design is ArrowHead BY FAR. It seems to fit all the needs of the UK. That would break with BAE Sytems who have the upper hand it would be good for the UK for someone else to build uk ships Appledore in North Devon, Ferguson Marine on the Clyde, Harland and Wolff in Belfast with integration in Rosyth. I would say the UK /MOD want BAE sytems to build there stupid design of leander due to using part of the shelf WE NEVER LEARN DO NOT TRUST BAE they will over run the in SERVICE DATE And OVER PRICED and we will not be able to sale them over seas Please stay away from BAE Systems do not give them the contract. LEANDER cannot be updated and isnt anything more that a patrol boat

    • (Chris H) Colin – One small problem with your zealous critique of BAE Systems. They aren’t actually bidding! They are only supporting the Cammell Laird bid with warfighting systems thats all.

      Interesting you list the various shipbuilding assets in the UK (which in your view are mainly Scottish based) and miss out A & P Tyneside and Cammell Laird Merseyside ….

  12. Babcock were holding a second supplier conference on the 13th July. So Babcock are still reaching out to suppliers so could still refine the price further. If they had overpriced the bid they may have scope to bring the cost down by engaging more suppliers.

    https://www.babcockteam31.com/news/

    • I’ll post again here in hopes more see it but Industry responded to a Request for Information, not a Request for Quote. The use of the word “bids” by MoD in their statements (assuming they weren’t misquoted) probably wasn’t helpful and confused everyone because the RFI makes it clear it wasn’t a bidding request. In fact the links on the MoD website linked below specifically state “market testing”. Check bottom of page 2 and top of page 3.

      https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/request-for-information-to-support-type-31e-market-testing

      • Your quite correct, my error using the word bid, it was an RFI which is non binding reach out to the market to see what is available. Done enough in my time…. RFI>RFQ>Contract Negotiation>Contracts.

        I believe the RFQ in this case is paid and will the competitive design phase.

        You always try and have two options going into contract negotiations, or at least make your preferred vendor think they’re not the only option. Not always possible, I certainly would never announce ‘ship will be built on the Clyde’ or ‘UK only competition’, you’ve just lost the upper hand in any negotiation and will pay the price for it.

  13. I would like to see Arrowhead selected, but if licence costs for the hull is an issue then why don’t the MOD simply offer the hull rights of the T45 or T23 for free to each consortia and ask them to reconfigure to modern standards.

    A new fleet of T31 based upon the T23 hull design can’t be that bad surely and I suspect we could even re-use the propellers.

    Key would be a more modern design with far lower crew requirements and improved space management.

    Not sure why this recycling of the base hulls has not been proposed, as at the end of the day its not like a T31 needs to be cutting edge and from an ASW perspective the T23 hull is still very good.

  14. Beginning to believe the best option upgraded River class would be the answer beef up their size and weapons bearing the price restrictions and the Manning shortage probably get about eight for the money want to spend and while there at upgrade the existing rivers

  15. One more T26, find something a lot less complicated than either T31 option (we are heading for the world’s most expensive and yet under equipped OPV’s with the project), and then start to look at something to move Sea Viper on to……..

  16. I’m still hopeful that part of this delay might be to see whether T26 has won just the RAN bid or both the RAN and RCN bid, something that should be known by the end of the year. Once that is known then perhaps the MoD could enter into a new T26 negotiation with BAE. The basic proposition would be … “Right now we (MoD) have a firm order for 3 T26 being built at a fairly slow rate, hence slow revenue booking for you (BAE), and we will most likely then place an order for a second batch of three and we really hope after that our final order for vessels 7 and 8 (but, mumble, mumble, remember T45). If we were to accelerate the build rate for the first 3 currently ordered vessels, something that would accelerate BAE’s revenue recognition and boost its quarterlies and annual results over the next few years, and also place a firm order now (with stage payments of course to reflect actual build progress) for an additional 7 or 8 vessels to take the total committed order size up to 10 or 11 vessels then, in light of the enlarged and accelerated financial package coming from the MoD(*), the solid commitment allowing you to place large firm orders on suppliers and subcontractors to reduce input costs, and the economies of scale and wider base across which to amortise fixed overheads for the T26 product line arising from the RAN (and hopefully RCN) bids, what could you do for us on price?”. I really think that could be a compelling proposition for both parties and given all the benefits might get BAE to sharpen its price a fair bit. There would also be the opportunity to do a bit of FFBNW on some or all of the extra 2 or 3 hulls to keep within budget if required.

    That would admittedly leave the frigate fleet down to at best 11 vs the current 13 but we can’t crew 13 anyway and it’s possible that maybe £250m might still be left over which could, least ambitious, fund extra Rivers to make up numbers for basic low intensity policing roles (and/or buy the 4th Bay back from the RAN if at all possible). Any left over budget might alternatively be used to kick-start work on the next generation MCM mothership to try and get a flexible C3 vessel, maybe something along the lines of BMT’s Venari 85 concept, rather than just building more River B2s.

    (*) At least £1bn of extra money to come from cancelling T31e although that might be presented as radically redefining the program for political reasons, perhaps as the MCM mothership/C3 project.

    • Now you see that would be a sensible thing to do, and when have you ever known a British government make a sensible procurement decision?

    • That would involve the Treasury making bigger annual payments. They do not want to do that. Your idea is dead in the water.

      • Not necessarily because the T31e program was in theory on a fairly accelerated schedule, at least for the early builds, and early stage payments would surely also need to have been negotiated to cover initial setup and design work as well. That early-stage T31e cash flow would be most if not all of what could be used to cover the acceleration of at least the first and maybe the first 2 of the 3 T26 builds.

        You’re probably right that it won’t happen, and maybe BAE couldn’t drive out enough cost to make an affordable proposition anyway, but I do hope that someone somewhere in the MoD is at least exploring the possibility.

        • I share your hope but not your optimism 🙁

          If you just look at this announcement at face value, the MoD have stopped the program that is already running behind schedule and they have blamed the shipbuilders for the stoppage.

          Sounds like British procurement business as usual for a program that was going to rewrite the rule book..

  17. Still think the UK should be able to offer a range of warships to export markets.

    Vosper Thorneycroft were good at this.

    • (Chris H) Mike Saul – I really do share your wishes in this but this is how exports will be won – by bearing down on the costs to make British shipbuilding as efficient and cost effective as global competitors. We have the technology, designs and resources to come up with the best in the world as Type 26 has proved. Its just (as this exercise proves) shipyards need to understand what global competition means and when someone says ‘this is the price’ that is precisely what it means. Its hard graft. And I am glad the MoD is leading this new approach.

      • You should try that next time you go shopping: “my price for that TV is 100 pounds”.

        I suspect the store owner would tell you to FO.

        • (Chris H) Ron5 – Not sure if you arguing against or supporting my comment to be honest! The MOD is not going to a Frigate shop, seeing a rather nice Arrowhead (for example) and saying “We will only pay £250 Mn” is it?

          Try looking at it the other way: You are a shop owner selling TVs OK? A customer comes in and says ” I want 5 sets and I am paying £250 per set what is the best TV I can have?” I doubt any shop owner would then offer said customer a higher let alone lower spec and ask for more money per set. It is called complying with a Tender offer. The customer (or MoD) offers and the shop owner (or shipbuilder) makes their best bid. For which read the best specification for £250 Mn (or less)

          Apparently neither bidding shipbuilder consortia ‘complied’ with the MoDs Tender offer

          • But the MoD didn’t say that.

            It said build a 250 million ship that is at least this big and can do all these things, and design, build and support 5 of them at no more than 250 million each.

            Like me saying to our shopkeeper, I want a 55″ set with 4K definition that supports Netflix for 100 quid.

          • Except the Request for Information isn’t actually a bid request its a market test. This is what everyone seems to have missed. Check bottom of page 2 and top of page 3 for the goal of the RFI which was never to solicit bids in order to award contracts, instead “The aim of this RFI, and the returns from Industry, will be used to gain an understanding of what the market can deliver against the target key characteristics, cost and schedule.”

            https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/request-for-information-to-support-type-31e-market-testing

          • (Chris H) Glass Half Full – Potential suppliers were asked to ‘bid’ their best design against the fixed price of £250 Mn and first in class by 2023. two responded but failed to comply with the terms laid down. The key word in the MoD statement is ‘compliant’ which is why I have despaired somewhat at industry’s reaction…

            ‘Bidding’ does not necessarily mean price especially given this was the MoD seeking the industry’s best efforts within those limits.

    • Agree, we can, with Type 26, Type 31, O.P.V.s and Wyvern submarines. The Royal Navy should order 5 Wyvern submarines to show the Royal Navy has confidence in them, this will increase their export success and will be a valuable, but affordable, addition in their own right. Also agree on British shipbuilding needing modernized to be as efficient and competitive as possible, with modern facilities and state of the art equipment. We have fallen behind our European neighbours in this area and we badly need investment here.

  18. (Chris H) So it was a Tender based on best equipped ship for a fixed price after all. The bidders failed to comply because hat is what ‘insufficient compliant bids’ means.

    Its no good everyone saying ‘Oh it can’t be done’ because that is the basis for the tendering process and the bidders really need to sharpen up both their pencils and reading skills. This is, thankfully, how future naval vessel sourcing will be framed after too many years of random bids becoming poorly managed projects ending up with overpriced and therefore fewer ships. Type 26 being the classic example – a brilliant design which was badly handled under pressure to keep Sturgeon happy. (Now that IS an impossible task). I just hope the Aussies (and maybe Canadian) versions will not prove to be better Type 26 ships at a lower cost…..

    Tantrum over. As you were….

    • No Chris we have been over this already, it was a fixed price tender with a minimum required baseline specification.

      If the tender was best equipped for a fixed price there wouldn’t be a problem.

      These companies are not staffed with idiots incapable of reading a tender document and all that is required is to sharpen some pencils and try a bit harder.

      • (Chris H) Fedaykin – Yes we have had this before and this article reads more like my assessment than yours IMHO. It is self evidently the case that neither (or allegedly all three if you read USNI) bidders were ‘compliant’. That is a key expression in commercial Tender documents and subsequent bids. I bid a few hundred of these winning (and not winning) contracts worth many £ Mns for the 3 companies in which I did European TPL Business Development. But I always ‘complied’. Its like a Letter of Credit – you either do exactly as stated or you don’t get paid. No arguments. Comply with a Tender or you do not win. In this case as no single party won we can assume no one ‘complied’.

        You infer I called these people ‘idiots’. I never did but nice try. Fact is they screwed up and big time. If I had made a non-compliant bid and my employers lost potential business I would be up on a fizzer. With only two (known) bidders the way to win is be smarter than the other and follow the rules. After all each had a 50% chance of success and they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory ….

        Do people really believe our shipyards can compete in heat of exports if they act like this? It is such a damn shame because the industry had a chance to shine and make the case for the FSS ships to be home built (as I believe they should in any case) and I bet you can already see shaking heads in the MoD saying “Told you so”….

        • You are still wrong Chris and I have explained why.

          Get over it

          Industry can’t do the impossible and they certainly can’t magic up a bid that is below cost.

          • (Chris H) fedaykin – Quote:
            “Get over it”
            Who the hell do you think you are lecturing me to stop voicing an opinion? You, like another correspondent here, repeatedly attack the person, misrepresent what is said and infer things as written which have not been and when that fails you try to shut down the argument. Pathetic

            I think your opinions stink and your way of presenting is offensive but I will defend your right to express your opinions as and when you choose. And there is the difference between us

      • (Chris H) Glass Half Full – So this is what is said and I quote from the box marked “6 TOP MESSAGES”:
        1. Deliver 5 ships, with first entry into service from 2023;
        2. Meet the price of £250m per ship, including development costs, risk and profit, whilst
        minimising the GFX burden and cost of ownership to the MOD;
        3. Accept a firm price contract for a first order of five ships;

        The MoD are clearly asking industry to offer the best specification for the (one might say repeatedly stated) price of £250 Mn per ship. I have responded in the private sector (and twice in Government bidding processes) and an ‘RFI Process’ can equally be termed a ‘Tender process’. Either way one is asked to bid (or propose) against a set of criteria and to a timescale. Failure to meet either is termed ‘non compliant’ and it would appear from what the MoD has stated is that this is what has happened. In normal circumstances the best offers / proposals move to a shortened list for B & F offers but here we only have 2 (or is it 3?) anyway.

        Now I should state I do not think this is a calamity or the end of the road per se but I am really sad that industry failed to rise to the challenge. Something it will have to do repeatedly if it wants to win the FSS orders or later ‘Albion’ replacement orders let alone win foreign orders. Price / cost discipline is what this is all about and a timely lesson to UK industry. What I fear is that Type 26 will be seen as the export ‘vehicle’, Type 31 will be seen as too much effort by the MoD (hence my guess about MoD shaking heads and their ‘told you so’ comments) and just order another Type 26 @ £1 Bn rather 5 new Type 31s @ £1.25 Bn. This is also grist to the mill of the settled view in the Civil Service that we should always buy foreign ….

        • Hi Chris H – You are being selective in only quoting from the bullets in the box and as you state the box is titled “6 Top Messages” not 6 Goals or 6 Requirements. The language before and after the box make it clear what the basis is.

          The specific language from the RFI is an “Industry Market Test” in fact the entire RFI is actually titled “Request For Information (RFI) to support Type 31e (T31e) Market Testing”. The following is from page 2 and 3 of the RFI.

          “2. PURPOSE OF RFI
          The MOD is conducting an Industry Market Test for a future T31e Frigate Design and Build project for a minimum of 5 ships at a maximum average price of £250m per ship. The T31e programme is charged to fulfil a number of elements of the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSbS) with UK Prosperity and Exportability being two such key elements.”

          The “6 Top Messages” box with bulleted items is here and then it goes onto to say:

          “The aim of this RFI, and the returns from Industry, will be used to gain an understanding of what the market can deliver against the target key characteristics, cost and schedule. The MOD is also looking to reduce the management burden typically associated with naval projects and is keen to understand any “best practice” that can be taken from other industries or projects.”

          That said I agree that MoD would most likely have wanted to be able to proceed from this stage into a formal negotiation and bidding process but the lack of competition/compliance in the feedback to the RFI forestalls that. However, based on what has been quoted from MoD in their comment on suspension, the three points you list probably will be requirements in the formal process so it looks like MoD will have to amend other aspects contained in the RFI specifications.

          I am disappointed but perhaps not so surprised at the initial response from industry. The MoD is heavily handicapped in negotiations because everyone including Industry knows these frigates have to be built in the UK and so Industry may have specified and priced accordingly rather than creatively to meet the specs. Again perhaps not so surprising in a first formal communication for potential business. In addition from MoD’s perspective this is the first negotiation where a key component of the contract will be helping to enable the NSS goals, not just deliver five warships, so there are much larger issues at play here IMHO.

          I agree with the first three sentences of your last paragraph but the Type 26 can’t be the export vehicle because its unlikely any export hulls get constructed in the UK. It may help other UK suppliers to the T26 programme but not the shipyards.

          The watch words for all should probably be nil desperandum.

  19. I’d just insist on a 5 or 4.5 inch at one end and a hangar at the other. Anything on top of that would be a pleasant surprise. We need something between the 26 and the OPV and as many as we can get.

    • Adding a hanger is one of the things that adds lots of money as the vessel will then require deck handling equipment, appropriate landing lights and electronics. Also fuel handling systems, fire suppression systems that can handle a fire in that part of the vessel and an armoury suitable for the munitions. Plus accommodation for the flight and deck crews.

      All of that has to be designed in and tested. Delete the hanger and lots on money is saved…

  20. The Arrowhead would be best option for the Type31e however fitted with the now standardised RN Radar, Comms etc.

    BAE Systems have enough on their plate in delivery of the Type 26 and sorting out the mess that is the new River Class.

    The requirement must be fixed for the main basic configuration with a fixed price of £250 million per ship.

    Any optional packages need also to be available at a confirmed fixed price over the duration of the build/fit out contract.

  21. At face value yes a helicopter is a massive capability upgrade for a military ship which is one of the reasons why the RN likes to have both a flight deck and hanger on its frontline vessels.

    The catch is adding a flight deck and hanger plus ship integration significantly whacks up the price tag.

  22. Another bleak day for the RN. They are not restarting this program to add funding (otherwise they could have continued as is) but to produce a warship for the original 250m pound price.
    The design will have to be significantly downgraded to meet this price, so we are likely back to the unthinkable, a enhanced OPV / corvette design armed with a pop gun and a hanger (fitted for but not with a helo). Its hard to imagine that this vessel will be a credible ‘low end’ fleet escort (have the speed, range, sensors & weapons) to support a carrier group or even to escort supply ships. Another in a long line of stealth cuts.

    • Unless the budget is increased, that is what can be afforded.

      Or, what do we choose to cut elsewhere to pay for a better spec of ship?

      The RN need numbers.

      I’d rather have a number of low intensity ships than none at all and our T26 and T45 doing these roles.

        • Lol. Wally. Daniele is the Italian for Daniel and I’m very much male. So no I won’t. I’m not getting over anything if you actually read my post I was suggesting others should.

          Never mind eh?

          • Well I’ll be darned. Thought you were a lady all this time. You do know Daniele is a girls name in English?

          • No Ron5. it’s not lol.

            Danielle is the girls name. 2 Ls. Mine is only 1 L.

            You’re forgiven lol

          • And another thing as you’re asking if I know a word is in English.

            I was born here.
            My mother is English.
            My grandparents are English.
            2 great Grand Parents were English.
            1 Great Grand Parent was Scots.
            1 Great Grand Parent was Welsh.

            The only Italian in me is my surname from my Father who is indeed Italian.

            So I hope thst has cleared thst up for the benefit of all, before anyone wonders what the hell is an Italian doing on a UK defence forum.

            I love this country, my country, and I defend its armed forces against defeatist crap from TH Harold and anyone else belittling HM forces.

          • One “l” or two. I think you have a similar problem/nuance with your name as my mum had with hers – “Frances” (girl) or Francis (boy). It used to really annoy her when people got that one wrong.

            With due acknowledgement to your English credentials, one Italian does a great job of following U.K. defence. Gabriele from UKArmedForcesCommentary (http://ukarmedforcescommentary.blogspot.com) writes some very insightful and interesting pieces (to my inexpert eye) on U.K. defence.

            I actually wish that we had more non-trolling foreigners here offering opinions. It’s always interesting to see other people’s views. We have Helions from the USA and I value his posts. I would love to see a few more constructive, informed and sensible people from France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Italy etc contributing as actively and in as engaged a manner as Helions does.

          • (Chris H) Daniele – Just remember when people have to resort to sexist or personally discriminating abuse (like age or ethnicity) they have actually lost both the argument and the plot. You just have to see who is making the rather inane comments on your name and (alleged) sex to prove my point ….

            Personally I couldn’t give a flying one who or what someone is indeed the more the merrier as I debate what they are saying. And equally happy to agree, disagree or both with that person

  23. I’m not a naval expert but looking at type 31 plans and what we get, if they are low intensity police actions and won’t be frontline can any one tell me why we can’t just add a few bits to river class and put savings to an extra t26. RN used to say they never wanted high low mix of ships. Everything had to be full monty

  24. What a sad joke the little Andrew has become. It’s now a laughing stock. And now Mrs May says too much is being spent on submarines. The U.K. is a third rate joke

  25. What a sad joke the once great Andrew has become. A laughing stock. And Mrs May is questioning how much is spent on half a dozen submarines. The failing U.K. is a disgrace.

    • And yet in other post months ago you call for further cuts, saying we are all warmongers and we should disarm. You exchanged cross words with people here pulling you up for your defeatist attitude.
      A bit of a contradiction. I smell deliberate s**t stirring here, no real remorse on your part, by now laughing at something you want removed anyway.

      • The Andrew could be bigger and more effective and useful if it dropped vanity projects like Yrident and white elephant carriers and concentrated on defending these shores and quit posing around the world in an attempt to impress others. I remind you that although you might think so, this is not your website, you don’t moderate it nor do your childish dreams count. Stop lurking around and come up with sensible proposals or piss off.

        • Lol!!!

          Desperate stuff from a clearly rattled gentleman with issues.

          Nope. Of course I don’t moderate it.
          But I call bullshit when the likes of you come on and talk bile I disagree with.

          And i will continue to do so, whether you like it or not.

          I hope I drive you nuts. You deserve it.

          Your turn….

        • A sensible proposal like my reply to Graham above when I suggested maybe a cheap poorly armed T31 should be accepted as all we can afford in that role. Hoes thst for sensible?
          You shit me down with a comment that I should “turn my record over” and that “I should get over it” when in fact I was making a suggestion.
          As you suggested. Sensible proposals….so your problem is?

      • I remind you whose childish dreams are constantly being recorded here that you are not in charge of this site. It’s time the RN dropped the vanity projects, dumped Trident and the white elephant carriers and stopped provoking troubles overseas and concentrated on defending its own shores. I suggest you read my comments young Ms Mandelli and grow up.

      • Grow up. The RN should concentrate on defending our shores and stop trying to impress with vanity projects in distant oceans. Everyone can see how feeble it is in reality. Dump Trident, carriers which aren’t sustainable and nuclear subs and buy in a better conventional defence force. As things stand it is pathetic. A bit like you young lady, trolling a website you think is your own.

        • Are you out again Harold? Watch the heat. it’s bad for your head. I know you prefer never to answer a question but if the R N is so feeble why is rated globally as second only to the U S A ?

          • What a load of rubbish. Do a simple hull count of operational units of the French, Chinese, Japanese, Russian or a few other navies and the truth is apparent. Stop deluding yourself. Face reality.

          • It’s about more than just counting hulls. If that was the only measure of a navy then Hoseasons would probably be one of the most powerful naval forces on the planet. Then again, I wouldn’t want to get in the way of an 8-berth Norfolk canal cruiser crewed by a bunch of teenagers who had just drunk the beer fridge dry.

        • My own??? I barely comment unless I have cause or knowledge to, which is not often.

          You arrogant prick. As I replied above you’ll see I’m very much male.

          Silly Billy.

          • Well, the Italian navy isn’t a bad one. Perhaps support Italy in future then you tosser?

        • There you are. Disarm. And further above calling the Andrew pathetic for too few ships. Case closed.

          • “Trolling?” No Harold ( or is that TH) the only person I am trolling is YOU for outing the nonsense you periodically come out with.

            No attempt by you to deflect back on to me will change that, and your posts above show that quite clearly.

          • (Chris H) Harold – Stick to scrap metal Pal and tell yer Dad Albert to take a bath ….

            You utter and complete cretin ….

  26. At least 4 publications claim they have inside information and all 4 give different reasons for the program stoppage. This article makes 5.

    “my mate at the MoD says he was told that ….” is not proper journalism.

  27. There was once a concept for lightly armed TAS vessels to work in tandem with a FSS vessel which would be home to an ASW helicopter. The concept went know where. With modern weapons such as Sea Ceptor (radar agnostic, soft launch suitable for small vessels) and recycled 4.5′ gun, a flight deck to refuel helicopters, small hanger for possible UAV (scan eagle?) could a cheap ASW vessel be built for £250m? In peace time it would be fine for the basics. In war it supports ASW operations (supporting a type 26?)and is cheap enough to risk in contested littoral zone conducting NGS. I only imagine a River batch 2 equipment fit. Is this practical? Maybe I am just talking out of my arse…

  28. Sack all the the useless overpaid pen pushing staff at the MOD Bobs your uncle millions of pounds become instantly available for Type 31 frigates.

  29. On one side of this we have the requirement, being made up of the specs of the ships and the timescale for delivery. Also on this side we have the fixed price.
    On the other side we have what can be delivered and how quick for that price whilst producing x amount of profit. So at this point its about where the margins are. Could you employ fewer people and build more slowly? (I suspect staff levels are just about as low as they could be already) Could you source the kit (accepting that there will be differences) from elsewhere if it were cheaper? Or do you accept that you have to reduce the bottom line, the profit?
    What this boils down to is either the suppliers make less money or the MoD gets less of a ship. Unless of course you believe that further efficiencies are possible.
    Government spending in areas like these pay for themselves, perhps now might be the time to accept that building British is worth paying more for whilst ensuring that everyone in the supply chain plays fair.
    Alternatively we could decide that the RN is too large already and save money by downsizing and floating less capable ships.
    I’d be very interested to see a breakdown of the costs for building a 31, I suspect I never will. I blithy demand land attack missiles for our ships, but I have no idea how much this costs. Could we buy these from the Americans? Could they fit them? How much would the support costs be. This issue exists for every capability of the ship.
    So, pay up or lower expectations?

      • That would work for patrolling Eastern North Atlantic waters, perhaps put one at Gibraltar.

        What sea state can the Visby’s handle?

    • ” Pay up or lower expectations ”
      Pretty much what I was trying to say in my reply to Graham far above, for which I’m a troll and need to grow up.

      If we only have X amount to spend on an asset cut the cloth accordingly. Or, cut elsewhere to pay for a better ship.

  30. Can I ask those who do not quite understand the requirements requested in this unusual Tender process read this? Especially those who keep on saying “It can’t be done” to which my reply is the obvious that if its impossible why did two (or three) very capable consotia respond with bids? To which point please pay attention the last sentence here:

    “We have always maintained an open mind about the Type 31e, recognising the merits of a cheaper ship procured outside the normal channels with export potential. We also recognise the very tight timeline and rock bottom price is an immense challenge. Despite the concerns, the people who matter in the RN and British industry consider it a credible and attainable proposition and have devoted a great deal of time and effort in the bidding process”

    https://www.savetheroyalnavy.org/royal-navy-type-31e-frigate-programme-suspension-no-cause-for-panic/

    Unfortunately, as this source clarifies a bit, the bids were not ‘compliant’. Again I suggest some individuals need to bone up on what ‘compliance’ means because they clearly do not know. Its why I made my comment about some folks in the bid teams needing to sharpen pencils and their reading skills. Follow the rules and you have a chance ….

    • “Can I ask those who do not quite understand the requirements requested in this unusual Tender process read this?”

      1) Chris you don’t understand the requirements
      2) That is not a source but a slightly optimistic opinion piece on the savetheroyalnavy website

      • (Chris H) Fedaykin – Still trolling and misrepresenting I see…

        1) Its your opinion only whether or not I understand. That does not make it fact.

        2a) Oh dear – If I provide a link to something from which I quote to support my argument that is THE SOURCE of my information. You lecture me about failure to understand and here you are struggling with the Queen’s English

        2b) Whether or not it is ‘optimistic’ is again your opinion. And yet again that does not make it a fact.

        In summary you once again write a post without offering any argument about what was a lengthy and thought out post of mine. Constructive disagreement is clearly beyond you – No you throw together two irrelevant bullet points to look clever

  31. For once the MOD should be applauded for sticking to the brief and holding out for what they want and specified.
    Too many times industry have tried their hand …happy to see some backbone in the tender process from the MOD.
    Limited facts available at the moment…but what’s clear is if it’s not what was asked for its not happening.
    Far too much speculation going round at the moment (including sex changes of regular contributors)
    The one thing that seems to be different this time is that if it’s not 100% the MOD are not accepting it.
    Refreshing change for me.

  32. Bl*ody heck! Can we try and achieve a cheaper MoD? Meanwhile….. Prices on everything go up and up and up and up unless there is a retracement in prices in certain sectors. But that 250 mill for whatever, looks less likely by the day, month and year!

    If the UK yards can achieve shipexitUKMoD (I.E. not dependent wholly on UK taxpayer-funded contracts and MoD contracts, which some or many can go abroad from the MoD and other sectors subservient to eu rules), they could be better off. But they need these contracts to invest.

    Who the heck is Atlas Elektronik U.K. and Thyssenkrup Marine Systems. I know Thyssenkrup Marine Systems as they have the cheek to play in the Fleet Solid Support Ship Contract, as thery are not shy babies like us in the UK! But Atlas Elektronik (spelt wrong). Where is their UK yard/yards?

    • I wouldn’t worry about the German consortium if I were you.

      Thyssenkrup owns Atlas Elektronik and both are major contributors to the German navy’s new F125 frigate. You know, the one that has the distinction of being the very first ship in the German navy ever to fail its sea trials and be refused by the navy. The one that has a permanent list. The one that has a new Atlas Elektronik combat system that doesn’t work.

  33. BAE Avenger- Back in the game! 😉

    If there really is a urgent need for an increase in ASW capabilities then a ASW optimized (as much as £250m will get you) River batch 3 gets my vote. TSA capability. No hanger, just the ability to host and refuel a Merlin and launch UAV (Scan eagle and camcopter etc). 4.5 inch and Torpedo tubes from the type 23, some Sea Cepter and 30mm. Job done. Not the best but if we had the best we would have 13 type 26. Something like Avenger might not be popular but it might be affordable.

    • How do you know Leander is not affordable?

      The MoD isn’t saying all type 31e designs were disqualified only that enough were disqualified to void the competition. Leander might be the one that passed.

      I’m betting that it was. Cammel Laird know a thing or two about building ships. Babcocks not so much, they managed to burn through their first two Type 31 designs (Venator & Arrowhead 120) in the first 4 months of the competition.

      • Ron5 you are of course right. Leander may have been affordable. It is just my personal opinion that the cost savings from a cheaper (maybe cheaper??) Stretched River could be invested in acoustic isolation of the machinery and other measures to make it quiet. I may be wrong but the most useful thing these ships can do in wartime is ASW. AAW is covered (45s and carrier) ASuW is covered (subs and carrier). Other equally critical tasks can be covered by a variety of assets (MPA, Rivers, I can see so much potential for Zephur). But while most of the type 26s are rightly protecting the carriers, who is protecting our sea going trade in real time. Post WW2 the lesson of not having enough ASW escorts had been learnt. Type 31 is an opportunity to increase hull numbers and I would like Type 31 to be a modern day Blackwood ASW frigate. Sorry I have rambled but all talk is about a GP frigate. I’m still not sure what the point of one of those is when the same missions can be achieved by a “second rate” ASW vessel. I stand by to have my foolishness corrected!! 😁

          • I have heard that the Blackwoods were good for there main role of ASW but poorly equipped for anything else. With modern systems like Sea Ceptor and a recycled 4.5 inch gun a type 31(2nd rate ASW version) could handle the various other tasks as well as a GP variant. I’m sure there are many reasons why this is incorrect but I have not heard them… yet.

  34. So I’ll post this one last time on this article with the goal to have a better informed discussion. Industry responded to a Request for Information (RFI) not a Request for Quote (RFQ) no one was tendering quotes, or if they were then they totally ignored what was written in the RFI.

    What I suspect is confusing everyone is use of the language “bids” in response to the RFI. The specific language from the RFI is an “Industry Market Test”. The following is from page 2 and 3 of the RFI which I have linked to on the MoD page below so everyone has the source to review.

    “2. PURPOSE OF RFI
    The MOD is conducting an Industry Market Test for a future T31e Frigate Design and Build project for a minimum of 5 ships at a maximum average price of £250m per ship. The T31e programme is charged to fulfil a number of elements of the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSbS) with UK Prosperity and Exportability being two such key elements.”

    It then goes onto to say:
    “The aim of this RFI, and the returns from Industry, will be used to gain an understanding of what the market can deliver against the target key characteristics, cost and schedule. The MOD is also looking to reduce the management burden typically associated with naval projects and is keen to understand any “best practice” that can be taken from other industries or projects.”

    So the MoD has their responses and they weren’t compliant, or there weren’t enough that were compliant to entertain competition with formal quotations against the specs contained in the RFI. Since the MoD is apparently holding to the $250M target then it needs to re-visit other specifications and/or requirements in the RFI.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/request-for-information-to-support-type-31e-market-testing

    • @glass half full

      You are confused. The RFI was issued and made public a year ago to attract shipbuilders to meet with the MoD to have an open discussion on what they could build for the money.

      That phase has ended and the (unpublished) result of those discussions was put out for shipbuilders to bid for deign contracts i.e. money for the work needed to get to a point where a build contract could be awarded.

      It is these bids for design contracts for a ship spec that we do not know, that have been deemed by the MoD to be insufficiently compliant. The RFI is dead history.

  35. I posted on here months ago that if Arrowhead consortium say they can build the ships to the specified requirement then the MOD should have given them a contract to sign in blood on that date.
    The MOD are now backtracking on promises to grow the surface fleet because of expense. The purchasing of warships should not be down to simply cost. Look what happened to the batch 1 type 42 destroyers when they were sent into combat. 2 ships lost because of scrimping on armaments and ships specification.
    The RN should simply outline a specification. This goes out to tender. Contractors then bid to build the specified warships. The cost agreed is whichever contractor comes back with the best and most balanced design.
    If £250 million is not a viable warships cost then clearly the budget needs to go up. We cannot scrap the type 31 programme unless we are going to be building 5-6 more type 26s? Might be doable if Australia and Canada are buying the design. Fingers crossed for Canada purchasing type 26, it is the best design.

    Perhaps the budget increase for type 31 should come from the DFID budget. We are, after all, sending £13 billion a year of UK taxpayers money abroad for very little UK gain.
    Whilst at it the DFID can also purchase a helicopter disaster relief vessel eg Ocean’s replacement.
    We cannot go down to just 6 type 45s and 8 type 26, frigates. That is a pitifully low force level and will not deter anyone from conventional warfare against the UK. Nor will that force level guarantee our sea lanes of communication and supply against submarine warfare or surface fleet action by the Russian’s.

    • What you are saying is that the approach to building a new frigate as proscribed by the National Shipbuilding Strategy is a pile of steaming manure.

      I agree.

  36. The type 42 were poor designs, they had one weapon system (twin sea dart) and could only engage two targets at any one time.

    They should have had, sea dart sea wolf and a CIWS.

    Men paid with their lives for that failure to equip them properly.

    Post Falklands of course they received two phanlax gun systems it was also proposed to fit a lightweight sea wolf system but that failed due to cost, weight and lack of space on the warships.

      • Nevertheless, bigger warships cost more to build and more to run.

        Which is why many believe the Arrowhead 140 cannot be built for the price and that the Leander can.

        Unfortunately, the MoD & Treasury want Babcocks to win the competition.

        • Not true. A T23 is bigger than a Leander was but cheaper to run.
          Modern systems and equipment make larger warships easier to run with a smaller crew and cheaper to operate.
          Nowadays its the crew that drives the operating cost but there is a cut off where fewer people onboard means giving up on capability.

          • Gunbuster. How much further then could we take automation to reduce crew numbers yet keep capability?

            Or are we there already?

          • The basic minimum numbers on a frigate are governed by the Watch and Station Bill at Action Stations.
            So thats enough people to man the ops room and upperdeck weapons, flight deck crew, Damage control teams first aid party.
            Without knowing how many bums on seats in the Ops room its guesswork. But a small ops room set up of say 6-8 displays and an EW set as per say an LPD needs around 12-15 people. Add in ASW and thats another 3-4 people.
            Flight deck Crew- Merlin 3 crew 10 Maintainers
            Wildcat 2 crew- 8 Maintainers.
            Damage control- 20-25 with two 5 man firefighting teams, comms, Damage Control Officers, First aid, electrical.
            Weapon loaders and operators another 10.
            Bridge Crew 5
            If you added in an embarked forces team of 20-30 that would help as its basic hands on manpower to do all the other jobs at action
            Sundry others to take it to say 90 would be the limit not including the embarked forces .

        • Here’s praying that they do. Leander is too small and cramped for extended deployments , too slow for Task Group Ops has too little space up front for a 5 inch or 4.5 inch gun, let alone a decent number of CAMM. Worst of all it’s hanger is tiny with no room for a Merlin or Wildcat plus UAV. It is a stretched OPV or Corvette at best and it is a credible Frigate that the RN needs.

    • Most semi active homer missiles can only engage targets that are illuminated.
      Even most of the USN Aegis cruisers are limited to engage targets that are illuminated. Yes you can stick missiles in the air but you need the illuminator/tracker to shift targets from one to another for the final interception.
      The shift to active homers (SM6, Ceptor, Viper etc) means you don’t need the illuminator only a data link to pass the future point of interception to the missile in flight.

      T42 was a 1960 design so it does not equate well to modern vessels or the systems on them. Heck T22 B1 and 2 only had seawolf and exocet, hardly a great combo.

      The loss of T42s in the Falklands had little to do with the armament. Yes a CIWS may have helped but hindsight is always 20/20.
      Sheff was radar picketing and at the time the SCOT Satcom was blanking the homing head frequency for Exocet on the EW set. That shortfall was rapidly changed with a Big Red Button to strangle SCOT transmissions when the EW set got a targeting aircraft radar (Cyrano) indication. It made you focus really quickly when the EW set operator blew his whistle , screaming “CYRANO 050 Strangle SCOT…”
      Cov was hit because she sailed in front of the T22 that was about to engage the aircraft and made the GWS 25 trackers break lock. Again hindsight is 20/20…better seamanship and coordination may have saved her.

  37. Personally I think we will end up with Leander. Common combat systems, lessons learned from the Rivers and Khareefs, CL building. All seems to fit for the price.

    The 3 Khareefs cost £520m in today’s money, so £173m each. Stretch to 110m add more survivability, BAE combat systems, small VLS for Sea Ceptor, 76mm gun, CIWS, and some provision for ASM. You would have thought £250m was possible.

    • Khareef armament (per Wiki)

      1 × 76 mm Oto Melara cannon
      2 × 30mm MSI DS30M 30 mm cannon
      12 × MBDA VL Mica SAM
      8 × MM-40 Block III Exocet SSM

      Swapping the SAMs for Sea Ceptor and Exocets for say NSM. I assuming of course that the £173m price each I quote above includes arms.

    • Agree. After converting Amazonas to River 2 BAE will have a solid understanding of the effort and costs required to convert Khareef into Leander.
      My understanding is that the Oto 76mm can provide point AAW defence so I see the basic Type 31 needing only 76mm, 30mm, miniguns and a Wildcat for its primary constabulary and humanitarian role. Embark containerised Sea Ceptor, NSM and UUVs for conflict assignments. Bow sonar would be nice as a standard fit. Aim to build a fleet of 10, all with Wildcat and maybe 5 sets of Sea Ceptor and NSM.

  38. Arrowhead 140 is nothing better than Leander for me.

    – A140 is larger
    — good for future growth margin, but to enable it, future RN needs much more resource than now. I cannot be optimistic here. Leander is lightly armed, and has good (if not large) growth margin.
    — it needs more fuel, more maintenance cost than Leander.
    — But, it can carry more aids/stores, can carry Merlin (even though Merlin itself is not enough).
    –> Good and BAD.

    – A140’s design is owned by OMT
    — T31e for export has two hurdles. One is sever competition, and the second is, it is able to be built in merchant-ship builders (which is a requirement). Getting order is tough, and even if yes, ship could be built in the customer nation, not in UK (= design export).
    — Design export is OK for Leander, but how about A140? OMT may directly do it?
    –> Better for Leander, I think.

    Therefore, if “5 for 1.25B GBP” continues, Leander is nothing bad than A140. If the cost per hull is to “increase” (more money, or hull number reduced to 4), then A140 with more margin becomes more strong for UK, because Leander becomes crowded and not enough growth margin could be a big issue.

    Even so, for export, weak point of A140 remains. I think Babcock must buy design rights of IH-class from OMT.

    But, since I am not that optimistic of export anyway, the weak-point of A140 can be ignored. Therefore, I am happy with both Leander and A140. Good competition by Cammel Laird (not BAE) and Babcock (not Thales).

    • You miss out on several advantages for Arrowhead.
      Increased range.
      Service speed.
      Size.
      These look like pretty huge pluses. Without going into specifics, I’ll rather let you work it out for yourself.
      I’m pretty sure Arrowheads are very much more capable ships and it’s reprehensible if Bae are going to use their monopoly on equipment fit to stymie competition.
      The unstated prerequisite must be and will be to break Bae’s monopoly.
      That it has taken Bae, our only experienced frigate builder, three shots to field a decent candidate shows their utter contempt.
      The ambition of Babcock with Arrowhead shows Bae in a very poor light.
      Even if Arrowhead is equipped with equipment stripped en block off the T23’s it would justify their construction.

      • Thanks. I understand your point

        But, I’m afraid you failed to read many of my original comment.
        – Leander meets required range and speed, yes Arrowhead is faster and longer ranged, but that is not killing (because it is NOT REQUIRED)
        – Size is I already mentioned (increased cargo space), but also Leander meets the requirement. Also, size wastes fuel.
        It is only the difference in stand-point with you and me, I guess.

        You believe in “BAE bad monopoly saga”. It could be true, it could be false.
        – BAE won RAN competition, which means, their high-cost offering meets the additional value they proposed. At least, Australia judged so (not me).
        – Arrowhead 140 built in 250M GBP will never compete with T26 in capability. Far far below.
        I take these two facts very high.

        Note, I am NOT saying BAE is good, just saying not so bad. And, there is no indication Babcock is good. (Do you know also Babcock has its own TOBA?).

        In case you miss-understood my point, I will recall here;

        I like Arrowhead 140. It is a capable ship. But, a 250M GBP T31e requirement can be covered with Leander design = smaller one. Therefure, many of the Arrowhead “good points” are just “non-needed luxury”. At least “no difference”, and the drawback of “not UK-owned design” only remains.

        To make Arrowhead 140 properly armed, I think we need more money, say 350-400M GBP/hull (Note French FTI is spending ~650M GBP ave, or ~470M unit cost to build). Therefore, if T31e program is reformed to be a 4 hull project (312M GBP each) or increased funding with improved requirements, merit of Arrowhead 140 start do dominate, and could cover their inherent drawback (non-UK).

        P.S. Independent point>> I have a fear. Arrowhead 140 (as 250M GBP case) is just a bulky hull with “frigate” looking shape = can never be a proper frigate. But, people will not take care of the capability difference. They will say, “Oh great warship built in such a cheap price. Good!. Then from now on, we only need to pay 250M GBP per hull for all future escorts. We can save Billions of pounds to make NHC more stronger”.

        As I think T26 is much more capable than Arrowhead 140, I think this is a disaster.

      • @4thwatch

        You really must pay attention. It is Babcocks that has run through 3 designs.

        Cammel Laird and Bae have the same design they started the competition with.

        Arrowhead 140 cannot refuel or replenish stores at sea, has a larger crew, is more expensive to run, has a bunch of 2nd rate sensors & systems that have nothing in common with standard RN systems.

        These look like pretty huge minuses. Without going into specifics, I’ll rather let you work it out for yourself.

        • Babcocks is a facilties managment, project managment and repair and servicing business. Would you ask your local garage to design a F1 car?

  39. I am curious as to whether this suggestion has any merit but instead of Type 31 being one of the various ‘Type 26 light’ designs, how about a slightly stretched (stretched a little to create space for Sea Ceptor and the, fitted for but not with, canister launched anti-ship missiles) BMT VENARI-85? There are many comments on this site suggesting a frigate cannot be built for £250 per unit. Perhaps something like a stretched VENARI-85 could? See the technical brief below. https://www.bmtdsl.co.uk/media/6889878/BMT-VENARI-85-Technical-Brief.pdf

    I could not see a stated speed but as long as it is 24 knots and has the 57mm gun (see technical brief) then I think it would meet all of the MOD’s requirements for Type 31. A ship like this would be truly general purpose. The ability to host various unmanned systems could be a huge asset and give the ship a real wartime role. Over time it could replace(or the original 85m version) much of the MCMV and Hydrographic fleet.

    Before putting your caps lock on and telling me I am a fool (which I probably am 🙂 ) please read the technical brief. The link is provided above. I am genuinely curious as to the pros and cons of this idea. I am someone who really cares about UK defence issues and want to learn more from people who have naval and defence industry experience. I, like most of us here, recognise the importance of the Type 31 program and want the best possible outcome. Cheers.

    • One problem is, as you already discovered (“I could not see a stated speed”), that details on this design are very sparse. Maybe I missed them but I couldn’t find specs for other critical data such as crew complement, range or endurance either. This makes me think that this really is a very early design concept. I also worry, given how much BMT talk about shock proofing and signature reduction (which I accept is necessary for the primary MCM role for which it is designed), how much that might load onto the cost. Then again, signature reduction is never a bad thing but I do wonder what the total cost would be.

      Notwithstanding the above caveats about missing design details and costs I do really like the look of Venari 85 or, as you suggest, maybe something like a Venari 90 with an extra 5m stretch mostly behind the main gun for a FFBNNW (“non necessarily with”) Sea Ceptor silo and perhaps the extra hull volume enabling some additional embarked force space as in River B2. To me, and still subject to the caveats, that would have made a very interesting alternative to the River B2s as the next evolution of our OPV fleet and got hulls in the water with the capability to run the production line on for Hunt/Sandown replacement and hydrographic work. WIth a dedicated UAV hangar plus full working deck separate from the flight deck it does seem to offer a lot of flexibility.

      P.S. I have no naval and very little defence industry experience but I’m also very interested in what any of the pros might think of your idea although for me, with the suspension of the C2/T31e program, I would see Venari 85/90 as more of a C3 offering than a C2(light frigate) offering.

      • I have made the assumption that the VENARI-85 would be cheaper than BMT’s other potential candidates such as VENATOR-110. As you point out this could be incorrect. Also there are other areas where an assumption has to be made, from the information in the technical brief, to make the VENARI-85 fit the requirements. Like you said endurance, crew numbers etc. But it does not seem too wild to believe they are in the right ballpark. If the cost of such a vessel is more than the £250m per unit then yep, just another bad idea.

        I cannot back this up but there seems to be a lot of people commenting on various websites who challenge the general usefulness of light frigates. What I find interesting is how close to the type 31 ‘light frigate’ requirements the VENARI-85 is while seeming much more useful. If unmanned is the future then maybe it is worth taking the risk and having a vessel designed for unmanned warfare that still offers all that a light frigate can. Unless it is expensive!

        I liked the original C1,2,3 idea but I believe circumstances have moved us away from that now? The VENARI-85 would have fit with the MHPC idea too but I think with the River batch 2 that is also gone. Ship nomenclature seems like a bit of a minefield but if the capability is there should it matter that VENARI is not a traditional Frigate?

        I am interested as to what the pros think but there must be some people who think along similar lines. I say that because a VENARI-85/90 would be like a more realistic (poor choice of word maybe but I can’t find anything better) version of the dreaded Black Swan concept from a few years back.

        • Although we are both concerned about cost I think we might have slightly different expectations hence levels of concern about it. I’m coming at Verari 85/90 as a the potential C3 vessel(*), maybe a slightly super-C3 vessel, hence I’m working up from an OPV price point and stressing about how much extra the signature and shock reduction is going to add to what should to be the lower rung of the cost ladder whereas you are working down (or at) the T31e/C2 price point of £250m so I suspect price is less likely to derail your ideas.

          On signature reduction, one other use BMT suggest for V85 is towing a TAS in home waters, presumably more effectively than either Leander or Arrowhead 140 could have done due to V85 signature reduction characteristics. That’s actually a use case over and above those that we were likely to get from the T31e bids that we saw and potentially very interesting for home water sanitisation and freeing up a T26 or Astute especially when P-8A is around to actually attack a target if required.

          I think my preferred outcome would still be to see most of the T31e budget used to add a couple more T26, maybe with some cost saving due to BAE sharpening the price on the not-yet-ordered RN T26 off the back of the RAN and possibly RCN deal, and then use whatever T31e budget is left over to build even a single Venari 90 as a first-in-class for MCM replacement, fund a decent sized run-on of that production line as the full Hunt & Sandown replacement program, and maybe at that point start selling off the Rivers (at least 5 x B2s and possibly Clyde still in the picture) in favour of additional V90s to replace them. At that point T26 production might very well be being continued for T45 replacement as well which would all get us to a pretty elegant C1/C3 strategy with the very capable T26 hull in use for all C1 vessels and a V90 hull for all the really quite capable C3 vessels (which could also encompass the hydrographic vessels as well. Some clever thinking on rationalising the RFA tanker/FSS fleet, possibly consolidating around an Aegis hull design and working in Bay/Argus capabilities into the FSS hull, could create a very modern and consolidated fleet going forward, the sort of thing that Pacman27 often expounds.

          Still waiting for some expert input but one problem with this site is that people move on from old articles and hence their comment sections as well. I’m not sure how many people are still reading this stuff here. I sometimes wish they had a real discussion forum on this site.

          (*) but you might be right that with 5 x River B2 now either afloat or in build that ship (C3 candidate) might have sailed – pardon the pun

          • I think you are right, people have moved on. A weekly open discussion page would be great. Somewhere the layman can have there questions answered.

            A T26/V90 fleet mix does sound realistic. The TAS capability on so many vessels would allow the RN to scale up its ASW capabilities relatively quickly to react to a threat.

            A T26 family of vessels for High end AAW and ASW is probably the future. As much as I think it is a good idea to have a family of vessels based on a V85/90 design but each equipped for there particular role (light frigate/ patrol, hydrographic, MCM) I can picture there being a lot of resistance to the idea. I think it would be a brave choice by whoever had to make that decision.

  40. I wonder whether BAE would go in with the arrowhead design and supply the combat weapons systems. Better to have a foot in the door than be locked out.
    Maybe that’s why it’s been restarted and ultimately everyone wins then, BAE loses its monopoly RN gets escorts taxpayers aren’t shafted as badly as normal and buiseness gets its exports
    BAE would probably be more open to that especially as they won the aussie contract and probably the Canadian contract too.

    • BAE go with Arrowhead? An amusing perspective. I have to chuckle. One likely reason for the pause and restart of the project is that Babcock have been asked to verify that their proposal still comes in under £250m when RN standard BAE systems ( and possibly 57mm gun ) are specified for Arrowhead.
      I can’t really see BAE offering Babcock their cheapest price if they get as they must, the business as systems integrator. 🙂

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