Earlier this week, I attended the First Sea Lord’s Sea Power conference, a very informative experience that provided updates on the future of the Royal Navy, its people, and, of course, the kit.

After discussing the Type 26 Frigate, the Type 31 Frigate and even Type 83 Destroyer I noticed that no one had mentioned the Type 32 Frigate, so I asked.

A senior defence source told me “We remain committed to Type 32 as part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy and developing this as part of a long-term shipbuilding pipeline in the UK”.

Why did I ask this? Since then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the Type 32 Frigate, whatever form that vessel or programme may take, there has been a great deal of speculation over its future, so I thought it best to get an up-to-date answer.

The Ministry of Defence has previously provided updates on the Type 32 frigate programme, addressing inquiries regarding the in-service date and funding for the new fleet. James Cartlidge, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, stated earlier this year, “The Type 32 project has not yet reached the level of maturity to publish specific In-Service dates. On current plans, the Type 32s are due to enter service in the 2030s.”

Cartlidge added in a written response to a Parliamentary question, “The Type 32 project has not yet reached the level of maturity for full budget allocation. To date, approximately £4 million of concept funding has been spent”.

The UK Government has repeatedly committed to new Type 32 frigates, whether of a new design or a second batch of already-in-build Type 31 Frigates. According to Alex Chalk, then-Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, changes were to be made to make the vessel more affordable.

“There are currently no plans to withdraw the Type 32 Frigate Programme and it remains a key part of the future fleet for the Royal Navy. The Programme is currently in its concept phase and work continues, across a number of defence organisations, to ensure the programme is affordable. Defence Equipment and Support (DES) have been allocated overall funding to develop various concepts on multiple projects. It is therefore difficult to delineate precise costs, but we would estimate that approximately c.£4 million of this funding has been allocated to the T32 programme.”

When I spoke to Chalk in person at the steel cutting for a new Type 26 Frigate, he insisted it remained “overwhelmingly likely” the ships would be built.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_818941)
4 days ago

Good oh.
T31B2 please. KISS.
Maybe the MRSS can do some of the fancy stuff first suggested for T32?

Pongoglo
Pongoglo (@guest_818949)
4 days ago

Agreed but with MK41 fitted in build and possibly a stern ramp launcher retrieval system for a fourth RIB or USC . In addition adding a side door to the mission bay under the flight deck would allow much more flexible use of this space and could be added to the Batch 1’s later indeed but whatever we do must not be at the expense of the MK41. All that said and done I’d be very happy with just 5 more identical Type 31 but fitted from the off with MK41.

Mark P
Mark P (@guest_818970)
4 days ago
Reply to  Pongoglo

Five would be great but I’d be happy to see even three T32/31b2’s with the option for two more. I know they talk about a small crew, possibly only 50? But they need to get on top of recruitment and retainment before they agree on numbers of hulls

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_819053)
4 days ago
Reply to  Pongoglo

Yes, why wait for the T32? A few more extra T31s or the MRP type would allow the RN able to have a bigger presence in the current and evolving choke points, Suez, Gulf, Mallaca Straits, SCS, support the LRGs and CSGs.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_819054)
4 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Weren’t Babcock saying there was export potential for their MRP too? This should be encouraged along with the A140/T31. Even with the B2 Rivers. They’ve done so much in their travels, I’m wondering why there’s no news on new sales/licence builds? There’s lots of competition around but they’ve definitely got the “nautical” runs on the board.

Pongoglo
Pongoglo (@guest_819376)
3 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Agree in full, the great thing about the T31 is it really is a swiss army knife of a ship and this has already been proven by the decision to add MK41 even before the first of type rolls off the line . To my mind 2 x T31 to replace the B2 Rivers in the Indo Pacific, 2 x T31 in the Red Sea/Gulf and 1 x T31 tasked to the Med and along with the current B2 River based out of Gib. This would free up all eight T26 and the T45’s to support the CSG and act… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_820093)
19 hours ago
Reply to  Pongoglo

Those T31’s of yours are going to need stand down and maintenance at some point just saying.

Pacman27
Pacman27 (@guest_818956)
4 days ago

I agree Daniele KISS T26 to T83 – get rid of mission bay and load with better radar Sampson 2? and another 128 VLS in mid section (Mk57 non strike – Mk41 strike can remain at front of ship) – this should be escort duties only. T31 – add further 5 with option to add absalon flex deck back in this batch MRSS Tide Platform – take the best out of Karel Doorman, Enforcer, Ellida and G-LAM designs – all have good bits none have brought it together An MRSS that can launch 4-8 Caimen 60s or CB90s would be… Read more »

Rowan Maguire
Rowan Maguire (@guest_818975)
4 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

Make believe fleets is always a fun game, the problems with what you’ve dreamt up start early though. Although mock ups of VLS laden T-26 derivatives exist and get fawned over endlessly, they are far from a practical design that could be seamlessly built after the final hull leaves the build hall. They will need enlarging both length wise and in width to accommodate the heavier mast, loosing the mission bay entirely to VLS space means they wouldn’t have any small boats or ribs on board and most importantly the T-26 hull (even if enlarged) wouldn’t support the weight of… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_820094)
19 hours ago
Reply to  Rowan Maguire

Also, just going to suggest that if you really wanted to close the English Channel, a Royal Artillery Battery with 32 NSM launchers on trucks running around Dover is probably even more of a threat than a 100t FIAC.

Jim
Jim (@guest_818966)
4 days ago

A year or two ago I would have agreed, now I’m not so sure. With the US being wobbly at best and Russia being resurgent at sea I can see a greater need for lots of medium capability ASW frigates in the North Atlantic as opposed to heavy patrol vessels like the T31 running round the Indo pacific.

For T32 I think we are looking for a T31 with the noise reduction option’s able to operate a towed array, 2 Merlin’s and drones from a rear ramp. Mk41 being nice to have but not essential.

Julian
Julian (@guest_818989)
4 days ago
Reply to  Jim

If there is any, and I’d be surprised it there isn’t, I’d be pretty sure that the latest research will be classified but whenever I hear talk of noise reduction to allow TAS I can’t help thinking “noise cancelling headphones”. Not literally of course but they work by listening to ambient noise and then using the inverse to filter it out of the audio signal that you actually want to listen to. I do wonder whether, with the massive increase in the sophistication of signal processing that is possible now, whether at some point in the not too distant future… Read more »

Gunbuster
Gunbuster (@guest_819078)
4 days ago
Reply to  Julian

The best current ASW sensors are LF Active off things like T23. Massive range and very very good at detecting targets. Self generated noise is always an issue but these things are towed kms behind the vessel usually below a layer.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_818995)
4 days ago
Reply to  Jim

in the end the larger threat is always aircraft over submarines…there are around 50,000 military aircraft in the world 5000ish of those are fighters and 20,000 military rotors….this does not include all the missiles and autonomous aircraft that may be thrown at a ship…the sub sea threat needs to be managed but is less endemic with 450 military subs…around 70% of those are slow electric boats…

The largest number of threats are AAW type.

Jim
Jim (@guest_819016)
4 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The Russian Airforce is a joke. Chinas too far away to pose an air threat to us. SSN’s are the real global threat and power tool, that’s why everyone wants one. It’s the only thing Russia has left that is decent.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster (@guest_819077)
4 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Other way around. ASW in the Pacific…not so much in the Atlantic. ASW in the Atlantic via fixed sensors, Towed Sensors, LF Active, existing ships, subs and aircraft has it pretty much covered. ivan will keep to his bastions in the Kara Sea to protect his Boomers. It hasn’t got enough subs to come out and play seriously with NATO ASW anymore and wont have for many many years if ever.

Jim
Jim (@guest_819140)
4 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Unless the USA leaves NATO, thats why I think we need to drop the info pacific and focus on North Atlantic

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach (@guest_818976)
4 days ago

Bang on Daniele. I wish the Tories had enough nouse to order five batch 2 T31’s NOW. There are votes in it to be cynical. If they win(?) it’s cost them nothing. If they loose it puts Labour up to build them. Either way the RN wins.

Mark P
Mark P (@guest_819008)
4 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

Totally 👍

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach (@guest_819515)
3 days ago
Reply to  Mark P

🙂

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_819962)
1 day ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

I have said this b4 but will repeat it, I do not see anyone committing to a T31b2 or T32 until after the first T31 completes its trials. The simple reason is that neither Babcock or Rosyth have ever built a ship from scratch and it would be unwise to order any more until the prove themselves. It’s not just about the end product either, cost control and timescales for delivery all go together to gain a sound reputation for the future. Proof of the Pudding etc. As for their being votes in it, please don’t make me laugh !… Read more »

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach (@guest_819989)
1 day ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Your probably right on all counts but in our sometimes land of make believe it’s worth saying🙄

Jon
Jon (@guest_820255)
10 minutes ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

What do you think might happen with the build of the first ship that would make any difference as to whether a second batch should be ordered? Cost control, is for a fixed price. By the time Babcock have built five ships, a sixth would go pretty smoothly.

So unless you seriously believe the T31 programme will be cancelled and Babcock won’t build five ships, it makes no difference whether they prove themselves before or after a commitment is made for more.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_818987)
4 days ago

Indeed, the RN needs more hulls that can: 1) cart around a merlin 2) provide some middle of the road…short range AAW area defence ( CAMM) 3) have plenty of guns for close asymmetric attack ( drones of all types) 4) have some from of navel strike…( NSM) 5) have a mission bay. it would be nice to have a 5 inch gun..for NGS, but that’s a second string want… I agree there is a real option for the MRSS to be 6 very decent platforms…after all we don’t need 6 dedicated amphibious vessels all the time and the bays… Read more »

Last edited 4 days ago by Jonathan
Jim
Jim (@guest_819022)
4 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Not sure about middle of the road air defence, with Anti Ship ballistic missiles now I think you either go big or go home on air defence vessels these days.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_819033)
4 days ago
Reply to  Jim

But as we have seen in the Red Sea…if you don’t have a lot of reasonable capabilities…you end up exhausting your exquisite capabilities on dross….and as for the Black Sea….Russia has lost a lot of ships to middle of the range ASMs and airborne drones…because of a lack of good enough air defence….it does not stop you needing exquisite capabilities…for that time your driving your CBG into harms way….but you still need a good number of reasonable air defence capabilities….even more so in a future if cheap swarming drones become the dominant way of defending your littoral. Re the SSN… Read more »

Expat
Expat (@guest_819094)
4 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

We need hulls in the North Sea. Its now out in the open that we have no air defence, and the best we have is at sea and will be needed else where. We’re expanding offshore infrastructure like never before and will do away with portable energy sources that can be shipped easily. So we must have enough hulls to defend our energy infrastructure otherwise our factories will close or limit production due to energy shortages, transportation will become limited. That’s will play havoc with military logistics. So a lot more hulls or we switch tack on energy.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_819203)
4 days ago
Reply to  Expat

Indeed, but that probability needs a different type of hull and capability than a 7000+ ton frigates or destroyers.

when you think about…if as you say we are more dependent on our EEZ infrastructure…and we have an enemy that would attack that infrastructure them we may need to have a greater focus on area denial…subsurface wise that’s probably autonomous systems and smaller electric boats, from an air defence point of view thats an airforce that can fully protect the EEZ….and maybe smaller AAW platforms ( as they will not need to deploy globally).

Expat
Expat (@guest_819388)
3 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Problem is our offshore energy isn’t easy to protect. Our turbines aren’t hardened against EMP for instance or high power microwaves. Wind turbines interfer with shore based radar so we need radar pickets positioned beyond the wind farms. China’s ensuring its got lots of easy to.protect coal fired power stations I’d much rather have on shore generation and access to a portable energy source. We may need accept conflict and net zero aren’t compatible in the near term. I’m OK with that, no point being a champion of net zero when you’re a bombed out waist land. OK that’s a… Read more »

Sonik
Sonik (@guest_819893)
1 day ago
Reply to  Expat

The advantage of diffuse energy sources like wind and solar is that the assets are very dispersed.

Knocking out one or two turbines, or cutting a couple of cables, is a nuisance, but it’s not going to take down the grid.

A bigger attack would leave too much time for response, and would cross the threshold of deniability.

Expat
Expat (@guest_820155)
8 hours ago
Reply to  Sonik

The problem is it is dispersed which means you need a lot of assets to protect them. Also we nay not even know its been attacked, if you damage a blade it wouldn’t be evident untill the damage propergates and nature takes over. And being offshore it difficult to repair. Political class has admitted the onshore infrastructure can’t be defended, and we’re expanding the footprint of infrastructure massively making the problem worse!

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_819018)
4 days ago

M8 I have read and re read the utterances of the Defence secretary “et all” for 2 days, and God Bless George for asking a straight question. The headline number is 28 in the “design, pipeline or in build” doesn’t add up if there is a T32 or T31b2. Short answer is be hopeful but don’t hold your breath ! Because no one has seen a T31 delivered yet and until they do I can’t see any further orders for the 2nd Frigate pipeline. Rosyth and Babcock have never delivered a single ship from scratch. I for the record actually… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_819032)
4 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Evening mate.
All true. I still want more mass though, it is too tempting!

Julian
Julian (@guest_819098)
4 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

“I’d quite happily boot the extra 5 T32/T31b2 into the ditch for 2 extra T26 or even 1 extra SSN(A)”

Along that line of thinking there’s also the option of boosting sub hunting/killing capabilities not by diverting the funds to an extra SSN but rather by adding some SSK to the mix which, due to lower cost, would add more than a single hull. You do of course then add a whole new vessel class to support though so there are probably added logistics costs down the line vs building out the T26 and/or SSN fleet.

klonkie
klonkie (@guest_819031)
4 days ago

Morning DM – enough said, spot on ! Just build the bloody things!

Dern
Dern (@guest_820092)
19 hours ago

No inspiration batch 2.
Only type 32.

Dern
Dern (@guest_820098)
19 hours ago

Jokes aside though, I think if Type 32 ever happens it’ll be an Arrowhead 120, with a 57mm, 8 Mk41 cells (for 16 Sea Ceptor and 4 SSGW), and a Wildcat capable hangar.

I know people here don’t want to hear that, but if Type 32 goes ahead it’ll be very budget, and honestly the only reason why I’m thinking it might get Mk41 is because that might be cheaper with Inspiration and City class ships carrying it than trying to make a bespoke CAMM launcher again.

John Taylor
John Taylor (@guest_818954)
4 days ago

I still think Type 32 was a typo for Type 31 batch 2 but the government are too embarrased to admit it.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_818964)
4 days ago
Reply to  John Taylor

It was a Dorisism.

Words often came out if his mouth that were unconnected with thought or fact.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach (@guest_818977)
4 days ago
Reply to  John Taylor

Never thought of that…🙄. Maybe.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_818996)
4 days ago
Reply to  John Taylor

We all think that.

Old Tony
Old Tony (@guest_819010)
4 days ago
Reply to  John Taylor

I think that Boris was talking about the Type 23. He got all the right numbers, but not necessarily in the right order.

Sonik
Sonik (@guest_819898)
1 day ago
Reply to  John Taylor

Seem to remember from select committee answer that the concept started as T31 B2 but then it was changed to comply with procurement rules.

Because it has to go to tender, although T31 is most likely, technically it could be something else.

Basically it’s called T32 only for the sake of ‘not’ implying that Babcock already got the order.

Last edited 1 day ago by Sonik
Wasp snorter
Wasp snorter (@guest_820042)
22 hours ago
Reply to  John Taylor

That’s what I always thought, batch 2 was muddled to T32. I say that because the politicians who announced it were not ‘details’ people. T32 is another class and Boris or who ever would have been briefed of what role they were needed for, the fact that was never given suggests a speech writer transposed T31 B2 with T32, and it was just then parroted out. RN didn’t rush to correct as it actually gives them more options to meet new requirements, as bottom line is still more frigates, T31 or T32. That mistake if followed through may end up… Read more »

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker (@guest_819007)
4 days ago

There lucky boris didn’t say type 33 one day then there would have needed to be a project started to cover 2 gaffs.
I’m almost sure if meeting minutes ever get released it will show them telling boris he said the 32 instead of 31 and then a long chat about how they will just say it’s an actual new program for sometime when boris isn’t in power. Can’t afford another embarrassment in the press.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_819013)
4 days ago

Type 32 is just and ACME name for the next Frigate. It is irrelevant the designation 32, might mean something from 2500t to 8000t.

The questions to asks should be not if a government is committed to it but when it will arrive and what ship size it will be.

Last edited 4 days ago by AlexS
RB
RB (@guest_819017)
4 days ago

It’s vital that the RN gets class sizes back up to gain economies of scale. The first of class is essentially a prototype and loaded with extra costs as design mistakes are discovered and remedied, and the work-force “learns on the job”. But the real cost of each subsequent unit then reduces rapidly, often by 10% at first, although that declines as the number increase. The last few of the16 T23’s cost about half that of the first few in real terms. It will be crazy if T32 turns out to be anything other than a slightly improved Batch 2… Read more »

Last edited 4 days ago by RB
Brian Dee
Brian Dee (@guest_819037)
4 days ago

It won’t happen.

Darryl2164
Darryl2164 (@guest_819081)
4 days ago

I,ll believe it when orders are placed , but to save money on design and development why not just order a new batch of a mix of t26 & t32 thus saving on first in type delays , testing and costs as well , or is this too simplistic thinking .

Deep32
Deep32 (@guest_819106)
4 days ago

A bit OT, but for all those who get a tad irate about such issues, HMSPWLS was having her Phalanx CIWS refitted yesterday (picture on X @NL).

Pongoglo
Pongoglo (@guest_819300)
3 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

Given the new focus on unmanned surface drones like to see her get her DS30’s too . Both QEC are fitted and wired for 4 x DS30 but currently FFNW . If we cant afford the eight sets they were designed for then I’d be happy with 1 x Port 1 x Starboard as back up to Phalanx as a start . That having been said there is stuff that DS30 30mm can handle that 20mm Phalanx can’t . If it were up to me I’d take them from the B2 Rivers and fit the Rivers with the same Bofors… Read more »