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Type 26:Britain’s New Frigate

March 29, 2010

Time is running out to find a Type 22 and Type 23 frigate (left to right) replacement for the British Royal Navy.

 From the UK Ministry of Defence comes this:

The MOD has signed a contract for the Assessment Phase of the Royal Navy’s next generation of warships – the Type 26 combat ship.
 
A team led by BAE Systems Surface Ships, working with the MOD, will consider design proposals for the Type 26 combat ship, named in recognition of its planned multiple roles.
The Type 26 will replace the Type 22 and 23 frigates, which are to begin leaving service at the end of the decade. The ship will provide support for land operations as well as undertaking other key tasks such as anti-submarine warfare…

The key design aims for the Type 26 are for a ship that is:
• Versatile – able to undertake a number of roles;
• Flexible – to adapt to the changing needs of defence;
• Affordable – both in build and support through its service life;
• Exportable – designed with the international market in mind.

*****

Defense Industry Daily provides further details:

Type 26 is actually the 1st of 2 classes of ships to be built under the Royal Navy’s Future Surface Combatant program. The first ships of the Type 26 class are due to enter service in the early 2020s, and by the 2030s around half of frontline Royal Navy personnel are expected to operate on a either a Type 26 or the the 2nd FSC variant.

The Type 26 appears to be the high end of the Navy’s escort forces along with the Type 45 AAW destroyers. These vessels are especially geared for surface strike and anti-submarine warfare, as noted by the MoD post above.  Think Defence posts some observations on the armament:

A quick look at the artists impressions shows 3 Phalanx, a 155mm main gun, Harpoon, large hangar and flight deck with a vertical launch cell installation after of the main gun.

It appears they will be very similar to the preceding Type 23 Duke class, with some notable differences:

At present, there is no real design or equipment set for the Type 26, though DESi 2009 did feature some initial models that included an aft “mission bay” for swappable payloads. Key design criteria include multi-role versatility, flexibility in adapting to future needs, affordability in both construction and through-life support costs, and exportability.

Modular payloads apparently being the future of such large, multimission frigates, which New Wars has dubbed “sloops“. In many respects, it reminds us of the American LCS program, suffering through enormous cost overruns. Here is DID again on the perceived price of the vessels:

Initial reports indicate an imagined cost of about GBP 400 million per ship (about $600 million USD), but the Royal Navy is no better than the American Navy at shipbuilding cost estimates.

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My observations:

This is an understandable followup to the Type 23, and since it basically keeps the Type 45 hull (apparently), is at least a proven, uncomplicated design. After very expensive programs such as the Astute subs, new carriers, and the Darings, more large multimission ships will dig deep into the Royal Navy’s budget. As Save the Royal Navy points out:

These latest orders may prove be not worth the paper they are written on because none of the political parties have the courage to ‘ring-fence’ defence spending…

I question whether the Type 22, Type 23 replacement should be a like-vessel or something more radical. Consider the caliber of enemies the RN frigates are having to face, such as pirates, drugs and arms smugglers, and these increasingly numerous compared to the over-stretched and shrinking fleet. Lewis Page at The Register points out the problems of using high end warships against low tech enemies:

Everyday tasks for navies today include such things as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (“HA/DR”, as it is apparently known in the US Navy) or “maritime domain awareness and interdiction operations” – that is, detecting and stopping such activities as piracy and smuggling of weapons, drugs, sanctions-busting cargoes etc.

But normal warships are ill-suited for such jobs, being designed for high-intensity warfare against high tech enemies. They can make a useful effort at disaster relief, and a less useful one against pirates or blockade-runners, but they are so expensive and thus so scarce it’s difficult to get much done with them.

If the planners were to skip the Type 26 altogether and proceed directly to the lower end version of the Future Surface Combatant design, they might possess a vessel more relevant for future threats. Rather than hundreds of millions, vessels costing in the tens of million pounds seem the right answer for today’s threats. Most importantly, you could build a whole squadron of such vessels for the price of a single Type 26.

A small cadre of very high end warships, the Type 45, perhaps updated with Exocet, Harpoons, or ideally Tomahawks for the surface strike mission, would be complemented by these Global Corvettes. Such small patrol craft would be perfect for modern nautical foes, as we have seen their use patrolling the Falklands, protecting the North Sea, and potentially battling pirates in the Gulf or smugglers in the Caribbean, than traditional Blue Water battleship types. The continued demise of general purpose flotilla vessels, as opposed to ongoing all-purpose warship construction at the expense of operating forces within Western navies is both intriguing and baffling.

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35 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris Mitchell permalink
    May 5, 2012 6:12 am

    The British Government needs to stop building ships on a cost basis and design a ship that can actually fight, lots of smaller ships are not cost affective, they are flag wavers.
    1 Have a large 6000T common stealthy modular hull with set standard basic fitout, this to include an advanced integrated pannel radar system, the Spanish F100 makes a good starting point.
    2 Have electric propulsion as that is the future, generation shall be as per customer requirements.
    3 Have fitted a main vertical launch system capable of launching a wide range of ordnance including storm shadow.
    4 Have provision for a main gun up to 155mm customer to select.
    5 Have fitted 30/40mm CROWs each side of the bridge.
    6 Have provision for a integrated CIW to include a vertical launch system aft of the bridge, customer to select.
    7 Have provision for an air contingent of up to two EH101 customer to select.
    8 Have inbuilt provision for ASW systems fit as per customer requirements.
    9 Have fitted rigid hull marine deployment system for up to 60 troops.
    10 Have fitted adiquate accomodation for crew, troops, trainees and aircrew.

  2. Alexander permalink
    February 8, 2012 5:44 pm

    Here is some good information on the Type 26 Frigate.

    http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=108

  3. Mike Burleson permalink*
    March 31, 2010 9:12 pm

    “is it not worth consideration, perhaps the navy should look at them .”

    Christopher, I agree! Might come in very handy in war or peace, without breaking the budget.

  4. christopher whicker permalink
    March 31, 2010 6:43 pm

    Here again are the Specs for the “Pohang class corvette“:

    Length-88 meters
    Width-10 meters
    Draft-2.9 meters
    Weight-1300 tons full
    Speed-32 knots
    Range-4000 miles at 15 knots (?)
    Crew-95
    Armament-ASW version: Torpedoes, depth charges, hull mounted sonar 2-Exocet ASM
    AAW version: 2-40mm cannons
    All-1 or 2-76mm OTO Melara cannon.

    now this looks impressive . and its in opperation now.not ten years away.
    why cant we buy these and if need be upgrade a bit..we could buy at least 30-40 of these for the price of a few tpye 26,,,,,, is it not worth consideration, perhaps the navy should look at them .

  5. March 30, 2010 10:02 pm

    Hello,

    MatR said:

    “You know, I keep wanting to cut and paste:

    Tangosix said: “something curt and indicative that he needs to work on his social skills”.

    It should be too late at night for this, but I’ve got insomnia so here goes (rolls up sleeves):”

    This is the sort of childish comment one would expect in a school playground not in a civilised discussion of naval matters of the kind we usually have on this blog.
    A key social skill is being able to debate a subject politely without getting upset and resorting to insults when people disagree with you.
    You appear to be somewhat lacking in that particular skill.
    Allow me to give you the definitions of the words adjectives you used to describe my post:

    curt (kûrt)
    adj. curt·er, curt·est
    1. Rudely brief or abrupt, as in speech or manner. See Synonyms at gruff.
    2. Using few words; terse.
    3. Having been shortened.

    Few words,shortened and rudely brief are hardly words which would describe my reply.

    in·dic·a·tive   /ɪnˈdɪkətɪv/ Show Spelled[in-dik-uh-tiv] Show IPA
    –adjective
    1.showing, signifying, or pointing out; expressive or suggestive (usually fol. by of): behavior indicative of mental disorder.
    2.Grammar. noting or pertaining to the mood of the verb used for ordinary objective statements, questions, etc., as the verb plays in John plays football.Compare imperative (def. 3), subjunctive (def. 1).

    Showing,signifying or pointing out – that would be a fair description of my posts,I will take it as a compliment.

    MatR said:

    “What part of them building and obtaining what they needed, or ‘building as you fight’ as Mike calls it, somehow magically doesn’t apply? They were short of destroyers for a similar threat to the one they faced in the First World War, and rapidly obtained many more – period. (We can ignore that if you like. Me, I think it precisely makes my point.)”

    If the United Kingdom had “built as it fought” in the past,as some here suggest,it would have lost every war it has ever been involved in.
    For example,while fighting in Afghanistan in the 1930s,Britain would not have spent money developing A.S.D.I.C. or R.A.D.A.R..
    The Battle of Britain would have been fought with Westland Wapitis instead of Spitfires and the Second World War would have been lost in 1940.

    All of which has little to do with the point you actually made earlier.
    You criticised the Royal Navy for for not building destroyers pre war when they were not fighting anyone at sea with destroyers at that time.
    A position which is at odds with both with your “build as you fight” philosophy and with the Royal Navy’s record of building very large numbers of destroyers in the inter-war years.
    Destroyers without which the Battle of the Atlantic would have been lost long before any of the war emergency construction could have entered service.

    MatR said:

    “Please don’t try to lecture me about the Washington Treaty, Fleet Air Arm, Lend Lease destroyers, etc. I know this stuff, thanks (assume mere mortals know *some* things).”

    If you “know this stuff”,why did you did say that the Royal Navy didn’t build destroyers because it was busy building battleships and cruisers?
    When the reality was that that Washington Treaty limited the Royal Navy to building just two battleships in twenty years and the navy built eighty times that number of destroyers in the same period.
    You also said the Fleet Air Arm didn’t have decent aircraft because the Royal Navy was spending all it’s money on “the ‘jewls in the crown’ that were the large platforms”.
    When in reality those aircraft were owned by the Royal Air Force and paid for out of it’s budget.

    MatR said:

    “And you can say that the Sku and Roc were passable aircraft, but I maintain they were stinkers, and the RN could, ultimately, have pushed for much better, and got it if it tried hard enough.”

    The Skua and Roc were competetive with most other combat aircraft which were in service at the time they were introduced.
    Only a handful of the latest land based fighters seriously outclassed them,a position the Super Hornet finds itself in today.
    A far more serious problem was the lack of performance of the later Fairey Fulmar which thanks to the Air Ministry (not the Admiralty) was a fighter not intended to engage other fighters,a role strangely mirrored by the original Sea Harrier.
    The Royal Navy spent twenty one years pushing the Air Ministry and the Royal Air Force to take naval aviation seriously and had little success.
    Which is why they persuaded Inskip to give them back their air arm in 1939.

    MatR said:

    “The flyboys deserved better.”

    At least we can agree on this point.

    MatR said:

    “Having a lot of carrier hulls and no decent planes is rather a major flaw, I think! It reminds me of the UK fleet in the 1980s, where they equipped themselves with capable anti-ship missiles like Exocet, and fleet air defense like Sea Harrier, but left critical air defence gaps for countering just such weapon systems, like close-in point defence guns such as phalanx. It’s a lack of balance.”

    I also agree with you here.
    There was a lack of balance in the Task Force which fought the Falklands War.
    That lack of balance was the direct consequence of the ‘building as you fight’ philosophy.
    In the 1970s and 1980s the Royal Navy was “fighting” the Cold War.
    With the combined air forces of N.A.T.O. sitting between the Atlantic Ocean and the Soviet Union the air threat was limited to long range soviet bombers.
    Consequently the Royal Navy’s air defences were designed to fight long range bombers in mid ocean.
    When that navy found it’s self fighting inshore against fast jets in the Falklands,it did not have time to build a new fleet for this new war.
    A fleet designed for the Cold War the Royal Navy had been fighting proved completely inadequate for the hot war they found themselves in.
    A large number of British servicemen died as a consequence of the Royal Navy “building as it fought” instead of preparing for future contingencies.

    MatR said:

    “It reminds me of HMS Ocean being stripped of her CIWS, and the two new carriers not having CIWS. Penny pinching, so that large hulls can be provided.”

    Someone has already asked you when this happened,I can only repeat that question.
    Both Ocean and the carriers currently have their Close In Weapon Systems fitted.
    Here is a picture of Ocean taken just two weeks ago,with her Phalanx fitted:

    http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/hms-ocean-in-the-arctic-circle

    MatR said:

    “Are you seriously saying that the RN couldn’t have come to any kind of solution – any at all, political or economic – where it traded a major hull for decent naval aircraft? I’m British and I love the Swordfish, but by heck, it was a miracle those things flew.”

    The Royal Air Force had both the duty and the budget to provide aircraft for the carriers,they decided other priorities were more important,particularly the bomber force.
    There was nothing at all the Royal Navy could do about that,they were not even part of the same government department.

    “How does having a lot of major capital ships lead to undermanning? Are you serious? I mean, really? You don’t think it costs money to design and build large platforms with sophisticated weapons systems? You’re not aware that a River Class, or a Sandown minesweeper costs peanuts compared to a modern destroyer or aircraft carrier?
    I guess T45 works fine now and hasn’t cost a fortune – oh wait, it still can’t even fire its weapons (bar machine guns and cannon) and MPs openly call it a ‘disgrace’.”

    Undermanning is a factor of how much work there is to be done and how many men there are to do it.
    The work which must be done is defined largely by the number of ships in service and the size of the crews they require (and the number of sailors in Afghanistan).
    With large numbers of manpower intensive older vessels being replaced by smaller numbers of larger ships with smaller crews the work which must be done is declining significantly.
    For example,the six Type 45 destroyers have less than one third the crew requirement of the twelve Type 42s they are replacing – a reduction of 2,000 crewmen.
    The two Queen Elizabeth class carriers will require about 900 fewer crewmen than the three Invincibles which they are replacing.
    There have been vast reductions in the requirement for frigate crews with the retirement of many Type 22s and Type 23s in recent years.
    Over the same period the number of officers and other ranks doing that work in the Royal Navy has hardly changed:
    http://www.dasa.mod.uk/applications/newWeb/www/apps/publications/pubViewFile.php?content=32&date=2009-06-23&type=html&PublishTime=09:30:00

    MatR said:

    “Have you looked over any UK defence spending lately? Spoken to any serving sailors? *They* complain about overstretch all the time. *They* talk about safety and procedures coming second. And it’s because we can barely afford to run what we have on the budget we have. I doubt we can afford the multiple billions that will be needed to provide aircraft for the two new QE class carriers – I know plenty of people in the service who don’t think so. The RN has already traded numerous smaller hulls to obtain those two giants and the T45 escorts thought needed to protect them – losing major presence. A ship can only be in one place at one time, full stop. When we lose a Falklands guardship because it’s sent to fight piracy off Somalia, I say that’s a lack of hulls. And when we lose Endurance because of undermanning, I say that proves my point about overstretch. And I think that the RN’s recent prangs and mishaps have been caused by manpower being stretched too thinly, because so many other people, paid up clever-clogg experts, said so before me.”

    The Royal Navy’s job is to fight wars in the interests of the taxpayer and it cannot do that without those very same ships you so disapprove of.
    A navy which cannot fight wars is a pointless waste of taxpayers money.
    Reducing the Royal Navy to the World’s most expensive sailing club will certainly solve any manning crisis.
    Tens of thousands of sailors won’t be overstretched after they collect their P45s when the government decides it is not worth spending vast sums of taxpayer’s money on a navy which can’t fight wars without aircraft carriers and first rate surface combatants.

    MatR said:

    “I’m sorry if this sounds curt: if you’d wanted to raise your points in a friendlier discussion, I’d have been happy with that, tangosix.”

    I challenge you to quote any line in my earlier post which could be described in any way as “unfriendly”.
    Your response on the other hand clearly does not fit the description of “friendly discussion”,rude and churlish would be a better description of it.

    MatR said:

    “Bop someone on the nose and they tend to get snippy.”

    Quite,but reasonable people don’t lose their temper when someone has the temerity to disagree with them on an internet blog.

    tangosix.

  6. March 30, 2010 11:55 am

    It seems you lot have stomped all over the topic now, so there is no need to comment much more!!!!! :)
    Interesting stuff as always!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I wonder what names their Lordships will pick? I think perhaps we need something that reflects modern Britain. How about HMS Meadowhall or HMS Lakeside. Or perhaps more aptly HMS Bluewater…….

  7. Chuck Hill permalink
    March 30, 2010 10:57 am

    Michael,

    Just don’t want the Brits to make the same mistake we have made.

    If BAE is “leading” the team, who’s design do you think they will like best?

    I have no objection to consulting with them, but the service needs to lead with their own in house expertise.

    Never said I liked Littoral Combat Ship either, it is the same crock as “combat ship.”

  8. Distiller permalink
    March 30, 2010 5:44 am

    What would be wrong with making Type 26 and Type 45 Daring ASW and Daring AAW? Six of each, tasked with chaperoning the new carriers.

    Wonder if they will put something like MILAS on these Type 26 ships.

    And I’m not really convinced about the big 155mm idea. Better keep commonality with the Darings. For an opposed forcible amphib entry ops the Royal Navy/Royal Marines don’t have the critical mass anyway, so they will be limited to landing ops in more-or-less permissive environment. Don’t need to ship a big gun around for that all the time.

    And for the frigate/cruiser tasks something like the South African MEKOs. Or be it Absalons, if budgets allow. Doubling as escorts for the amphibs and other transports if needed.

    PS: Not again Phalanx! Millennium plus CAMM it should be. And don’t forget something like a MASS launcher.

  9. michael permalink
    March 30, 2010 5:39 am

    An excellent post this morning on ‘Think Defence’ website giving more details of the ‘Future Type 26′ for the Royal Navy.
    I think the post itself has something for everyone,the optimists as well as the pessimists amongst us.
    Where they got the details from I have yet to check out but if they are anywhere near correct, then the makeup of the vessels systems seem very comprehensive.
    This in itself is a nice change for an RN vessel,but whether it will be another fitted for but not with remains to be seen.

  10. michael permalink
    March 30, 2010 5:27 am

    Chuck Hill.
    No I am not out of my mind and we are not hiring salesmen to design our new ships,please don’t try and suggest otherwise.
    I would think it is a good idea to have onboard your design team a firm like BMT who are leaders in the field of ship design and can bring a lot of expertise with them.
    Perhaps if you took a look at the make up of the team that is being put together then you might have replied with reasoned remark instead of going off at half cock.
    As for inventing a new name I.E. ‘Combat ship’ perhaps you can inform me who coined the name ‘Littoral Combat Ship’ , according to your argument surely then it should have been named ‘Littoral Ship’
    One more thing Chuck,please dont shout it’s not polite.

  11. Matthew S. permalink
    March 30, 2010 12:45 am

    MatR – “It reminds me of HMS Ocean being stripped of her CIWS, and the two new carriers not having CIWS.”

    Since when did the Royal Navy remove the CIWS from Ocean? There are 3 phalanx and that is the sole anti air armament.

    For the Type 26, I wonder if it will have the phalanx “fitted for but not with”. Its easy to show the phalanx this early in the development.

  12. 4th Watch permalink
    March 29, 2010 11:55 pm

    I understand that there are 3 types of warships that may survive in an all out shooting war.
    1 Submarines. 2 Anti aircraft capable. 3 Aircraftcarriers.
    These are the reasons for the latest orders.
    I dont believe that with modern detection and long range surface missiles anything less than excellent will last very long at all. Remember when a ship sinks the casualties can be apalling, so “throw away” is just unacceptable.
    Battlecruisers are the lesson from history, where the chink in the armour was the lack of it. I am glad I wasnt around to see the state of the streets in Portsmouth etc when we lost 4000 men in one day.
    If you want anti submarine I think there is a case for buying the latest German Uboat!
    If you want peacetime patrol in the years ahead, say 2050 you might try an automated hybrid motor sailing trimaran! It may not be as crazy as it sounds.

  13. ArkadyRenko permalink
    March 29, 2010 10:26 pm

    I really don’t understand what’s wrong with the proposed T26 frigate.

    It seems to have learned the lessons of the Falklands war, the lessons that Mike unfortunately missed.

    Number 1) Anti Air and Anti Missile defenses are a must. This frigate will have SAMs and CIWS, it looks like 3 Phalanx guns in the current design. That will mean that the San Carlos Water slaughter will be less likely, as the ships will have the potential for a working air defense.

    Number 2) You need ASW. This frigate will have helicopters, therefore, it will have ASW. That is crucial for any British Taskforce

    Number 3) Naval Fire Support is useful. This frigate is supposed to have a 155 mm cannon, another useful tool for helping Marines.

    Given that the T45 will only be purchased in small numbers, they will be tied up defending the carriers. That means that the T26 will need to defend the amphibs as well as protect the beachhead. Thus, it stands to reason that the T26 will need SAMs, CIWS, and a 155mm cannon.

    Remember, piracy is merely an annoyance. Have the commentators here forgotten the C-801 in 2006? The era of lightly armed ships near the shore, without adequate defenses, if the enemy is anyone but pirates, is over. Escorts need to be able to escort. As the RN will not have many air defense destroyers, the new ships must be able to defend themselves to a certain extent. They cannot add onto the destroyer’s air defense burden.

    Low end ships have their uses, but you cannot gut the defenses of your primary battle group to fight pirates. Really, I don’t understand why piracy should drive ship construction. They’re pirates, they aren’t a threat to British Land or a substantial number of British subjects. The RN should prepare to fight the worst war that it could handle, not the easiest conflict around.

  14. MatR permalink
    March 29, 2010 9:01 pm

    You know, I keep wanting to cut and paste:

    Tangosix said: “something curt and indicative that he needs to work on his social skills”.

    It should be too late at night for this, but I’ve got insomnia so here goes (rolls up sleeves):

    What part of them building and obtaining what they needed, or ‘building as you fight’ as Mike calls it, somehow magically doesn’t apply? They were short of destroyers for a similar threat to the one they faced in the First World War, and rapidly obtained many more – period. (We can ignore that if you like. Me, I think it precisely makes my point.)

    Please don’t try to lecture me about the Washington Treaty, Fleet Air Arm, Lend Lease destroyers, etc. I know this stuff, thanks (assume mere mortals know *some* things). If doesn’t get around the fact that massive hulls take a shedload of money and men to repair, run and crew. It doesn’t get around sunk costs and lopsided investments. And you can say that the Sku and Roc were passable aircraft, but I maintain they were stinkers, and the RN could, ultimately, have pushed for much better, and got it if it tried hard enough. The flyboys deserved better.

    Having a lot of carrier hulls and no decent planes is rather a major flaw, I think! It reminds me of the UK fleet in the 1980s, where they equipped themselves with capable anti-ship missiles like Exocet, and fleet air defense like Sea Harrier, but left critical air defence gaps for countering just such weapon systems, like close-in point defence guns such as phalanx. It’s a lack of balance. It reminds me of HMS Ocean being stripped of her CIWS, and the two new carriers not having CIWS. Penny pinching, so that large hulls can be provided. Are you seriously saying that the RN couldn’t have come to any kind of solution – any at all, political or economic – where it traded a major hull for decent naval aircraft? I’m British and I love the Swordfish, but by heck, it was a miracle those things flew.

    How does having a lot of major capital ships lead to undermanning? Are you serious? I mean, really? You don’t think it costs money to design and build large platforms with sophisticated weapons systems? You’re not aware that a River Class, or a Sandown minesweeper costs peanuts compared to a modern destroyer or aircraft carrier? I guess T45 works fine now and hasn’t cost a fortune – oh wait, it still can’t even fire its weapons (bar machine guns and cannon) and MPs openly call it a ‘disgrace’.

    Have you looked over any UK defence spending lately? Spoken to any serving sailors? *They* complain about overstretch all the time. *They* talk about safety and procedures coming second. And it’s because we can barely afford to run what we have on the budget we have. I doubt we can afford the multiple billions that will be needed to provide aircraft for the two new QE class carriers – I know plenty of people in the service who don’t think so. The RN has already traded numerous smaller hulls to obtain those two giants and the T45 escorts thought needed to protect them – losing major presence. A ship can only be in one place at one time, full stop. When we lose a Falklands guardship because it’s sent to fight piracy off Somalia, I say that’s a lack of hulls. And when we lose Endurance because of undermanning, I say that proves my point about overstretch. And I think that the RN’s recent prangs and mishaps have been caused by manpower being stretched too thinly, because so many other people, paid up clever-clogg experts, said so before me.

    I’m sorry if this sounds curt: if you’d wanted to raise your points in a friendlier discussion, I’d have been happy with that, tangosix. Bop someone on the nose and they tend to get snippy.

  15. March 29, 2010 7:35 pm

    Hello,

    MatR said:

    “The UK followed the ‘be prepared’ mantra with its navy pre-1939 by building cruisers and battleships, not destroyers.”

    The United Kingdom built large numbers of destroyers in the interwar years.
    In the 1930s alone the Royal Navy ordered the B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,N,Tribal,L and M destroyer classes.
    Those classes totalled 145 new destroyers ordered in the nine years before the emergency war classes were ordered.
    That is roughly one new destroyer ordered every three weeks for nine years,which is rather a lot for a country who’s economy was ravaged by the great economic depression of the 1930s.

    MatR said:

    “The assets that prevented the Kriegsmarine wolfpacks from strangling Britain were hastily acquired, borrowed and constructed low-end destoyers and escort carriers.”

    Most things in the Second World War were hastily constructed,including the German submarines and the corvettes and frigates which fought them.
    However in addition to the destroyers mentioned above,the Royal Navy built 45 sloops in the 1930s,not counting the Black Swans ordered in 1939.
    By “borrowed” I take it you mean bought or leased at great expense from the United States.

    MatR said:

    “Incidentally, the Fleet Air Arm was laughably unprepared.”

    Incidentally the Fleet Air Arm was part of the Royal Air Force (who completely neglected it) from 1918 until the Inskip award returned it to Royal Navy control on the 24th of May 1939,at which point it was too late (the Second World War started on the 1st of September 1939).

    MatR said:

    “The Blackburn Skuas and Rocs they were initially armed with, before the advent of the Seafire and US aircraft types,were obsolete from the beginning.”

    The Blackburn Skua and Roc were no more obsolete than Their American contemporaries the SBC Helldiver,SB2U Vindicator and the Grumman F3F.

    “A major cause of this was that they threatened funding for the ‘jewls in the crown’ that were the large platforms, and they didn’t fit in with RN ‘groupthink’.”

    This could not be further from the truth.
    Between 1918 and 1939 the Royal Navy built six new aircraft carriers and just two new battleships,Nelson and Rodney.
    The major cause of the neglect of carrier aviation was that naval aviation was in the hands of the Royal Air Force which thought all future wars would be won by fleets of land based bombers and consequently couldn’t care less about carrier aircraft.
    The Royal Navy had led the way in carrier aviation,prior to this and continued to place a strong emphasis on carrier operations throughout the inter war period.
    By the start of the Second World War in 1939 the Royal Navy had as many aircraft carriers as the United States Navy.

    MatR said:

    “The RN’s obsession with big, flashy platforms has led to chronic overstretch today, coupled with undermanning, numerous embarassing cases of ships running aground or bumping into things (a true sign that something major is wrong in the service) and assets being worked to death because there aren’t anough of them.”

    How can undermanning be caused by building a smaller number of larger ships which require significantly fewer crew members?
    How can crews running their ships aground and bumping into things be caused by the ships under construction?
    When other navies run their ships aground and bump into things,is that caused by “obsession with big, flashy platforms”?

    tangosix.

  16. March 29, 2010 6:29 pm

    I am amazed how well their fragile craft cope with the bow waves of these big ships. And I amazed how they manage to board these big ships. But the advantage has to be with the ship and those onboard. Look how often pirates have been fought off with hoses.

  17. Hudson permalink
    March 29, 2010 5:49 pm

    papa legba,

    If you’re talking about 18th century pirates with heavily armed ships and large, experienced, vicious crews–then I agree with you.

    What we are talking about today is large merchant carriers that dwarf a handful of pirates in delicate skiffs. A few marskmen firing down into the skiffs with M4 rifles w/grenade launchers is more than enough to win the battle. Of course, a really large number of skiffs, a skiff wolfpack, might be a problem. But firepower is overwhelmingly on the side of the naval powers.

  18. March 29, 2010 4:59 pm

    Jed said “Yes, but as were are not Ministers of Defence, nor Chancellor of the Exchequer, we can still have fun with fantasy fleets :-)”

    True. :)

    papa legba said “Armed merchantmen have, historically, been a poor deterrent to piracy.”

    I hear you and I know where you are coming from. I will back peddle a bit and say that I am not advocating the removal of navy ships to scour the ocean. What I am saying is at the moment there is no deterrent. Though the organisation supporting the pirates seems seem complex, well funded, etc. the actual pirates themselves aren’t shall we say “hardened combatants.” I see placing a multiple/squad on ships as a concentration of forces. Would this cause the pirates to look for heavier weaponry? Perhaps. But they don’t seem that proficient with what they have. I don’t see a couple of heavy machine guns being much of a deterrent to stopping 100,000 tons of shipping at 25kts or so. You will also remember that the piracy campaigns you mentioned involved going a shore to tackle the problem. But no I understand what you are saying, I have looked at history for solutions too.

  19. papa legba permalink
    March 29, 2010 4:36 pm

    Apologies for the mangled tags in my post below.

  20. papa legba permalink
    March 29, 2010 4:35 pm

    X said: [i]The best platform to fight pirates from is the merchantman with armed squads place onboard as the ship transit the danger area.[/quote]

    I disagree here. Armed merchantmen have, historically, been a poor deterrent to piracy. Throughout the age of the Caribbean buccaneers and the Barbary pirates, armed merchantmen did little to discourage piracy– at their very best, they would only encourage pirates to arm themselves more heavily, or torture the crews of ships that resisted capture to discourage others from resisting in the future.

    In any conflict between a civilian merchant crew and a desperate gang of thugs, the thugs will have the edge. This is especially the case when international shipping crews their ships with the personnel they can pay the least, and have no long-term interest beyond a meager paycheck. They have very little to gain and their lives to lose when going up against pirates. The owners of the ships have little to gain by placing armed squads on their ships– it only raises the likelihood that their ship may be crippled or destroyed when an opportunistic raid escalates to a full-scale battle.

    The predations of both Caribbean piracy and the Barbary states were closed when the navies of the great powers turned their attention to them. In the Caribbean, that involved major navies adopting small platforms– barks and sloops– to attack chase down pirates.

  21. Jed permalink
    March 29, 2010 4:33 pm

    x said: Of course this is all idle speculation. ………….

    Yes, but as were are not Ministers of Defence, nor Chancellor of the Exchequer, we can still have fun with fantasy fleets :-)

  22. Chuck Hill permalink
    March 29, 2010 4:31 pm

    “A team led by BAE Systems Surface Ships, working with the MOD, will consider design proposals for the Type 26 combat ship, named in recognition of its planned multiple roles.”

    You’re hiring the salesmen to tell you what to buy. ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? Have you heard of “Deepwater”? DON’T DO IT.

    Then you have to invent a new ship type, “combat ship.” Gee, I always thought frigates, destroyers, and cruisers were combat ships. Is there an advantage to becoming less descriptive?

  23. March 29, 2010 3:02 pm

    As much as like the idea of guns and simple hulls and fighting pirates I don’t think this is the future of warfare. Before here I have said wars will break out at points of tension, limited engagements that are quickly defused by politicians “managing” the crisis. This is pre-Napoleonic model of warfare where expensive forces (so difficult to replace) are committed only after much deliberation. (And force preservation is a consideration.)

    The current issue of the British magazine Ships Monthly has a little article on the Type 41/61 frigates. The former was AAW platform. The latter was a fighter direction platform. But as there was no WW3 they spent their time like every other naval escort performing other duties at which they proved to be excellent. Yet if the balloon had gone up they would have returned to their design roles. A low end ship, even produce in numbers, would have be an irrelevance in a major conflict. You can use a high end ship for lesser roles; but you can’t use a lesser ship for high roles. Performing less roles helps to justify the procurement of the higher platform. Performing less roles should also be considered as “on the job” training as the crew learn to fight their ship together.

    The pirate problem won’t be solved at sea. The pirate problem won’t be solved without robust rules of engagement. The best platform to fight pirates from is the merchantman with armed squads place onboard as the ship transit the danger area.

    There is a danger that the simpler platform becomes the fleet standard.

    I note some commenters are playing fantasy navy, so I will have a play too!!!

    16 x Daring (later batches with Mk41, Harpoon, 155mm gun, and Merlin capable of carrying Harpoon.) I see the Merlin (the flying frigate) as the backbone of UK ASW forces not the frigates.)

    8 x Type 26 (specialist ASW with a good sonar fit (towed array, VDS, side scan, whatever) And two Merlin. I would hope that whatever form the T26 takes some consideration will be given to endurance. A larger ship with bigger bunkers would take pressure of the RFA tanker fleet. A bigger ship would allow more Merlin to be carried and would be a better aircraft platform too.

    Working on a one deployed, one working up, one in self maintenance/returned, one in refit rolement would mean we would have 4 Darings (2 for the carrier escort, 1 for ARG, one in “reserve”). 2 Type 26 ASW available at any one time.

    Of course this is all idle speculation. ………….

  24. Mike Burleson permalink*
    March 29, 2010 2:47 pm

    Michael said “I see you are still sticking to your mantra of basing everything on the current situation I.E. we are only having to fight ‘Pirates and drugs smugglers’”

    That is not totally accurate. I don’t think we should build exclusively one way or the other. I think we need balance. Logically you build only a very few Blue Water battleships because they are so capable. If you only build a few low end warships, you don’t get the same amount of capability. So battleships are force multipliers but small escorts are presence multipliers. If you will they are the “cop on the beat” for the navy.

    The Western navies, as currently configured are violating all the rules of sea control, making it up as they go along, that their technology can save them in a war of attrition at sea. Historically, small cruisers like the patrol vessels I advocate here have been essential in war and peace, guarding the frontiers of empires while capital vessels train and guard for the big wars. There is no historical basis for building only battleships.

    I consistently advocate a balanced fleet of multiple capabilities, not just Blue Water dominance which we have had little problems of late, but much trouble from pirates, smugglers, terrorists, and rogue states. Speaking for the US Navy, we have about 160 or so capital ships for Blue Water dominance, mostly new vessels. For our escorting and patrol forces, we deploy 40 very old frigates and some aging patrol craft. Please explain to me where the balance is and where is the USN neglecting its Blue Water capability, or the RN for that matter? As Save the Royal Navy pointed out, the Type 26 is another high end program that likely can’t be paid for on the heels of several other programs yet to be paid for. How is hope a shipbuilding strategy? But they are building against all history and reason.

    Michael, if you try to be strong in a single area, you are going to be weak everywhere else and this is how the enemy will exploit you in the next war. It won’t be to your strengths, I promise. So I disagree the smaller, concentrated Navy is “preparing for the future” or for unknown threats.

  25. MatR permalink
    March 29, 2010 2:39 pm

    I couldn’t disagree more with Michael’s recent post. The UK followed the ‘be prepared’ mantra with its navy pre-1939 by building cruisers and battleships, not destroyers. The assets that prevented the Kriegsmarine wolfpacks from strangling Britain were hastily acquired, borrowed and constructed low-end destoyers and escort carriers.

    Incidentally, the Fleet Air Arm was laughably unprepared. The Blackburn Skuas and Rocs they were initially armed with, before the advent of the Seafire and US aircraft types, were obsolete from the beginning. A major cause of this was that they threatened funding for the ‘jewls in the crown’ that were the large platforms, and they didn’t fit in with RN ‘groupthink’.

    The RN’s obsession with big, flashy platforms has led to chronic overstretch today, coupled with undermanning, numerous embarassing cases of ships running aground or bumping into things (a true sign that something major is wrong in the service) and assets being worked to death because there aren’t anough of them. We need more ideas like New Wars offers, not less!

  26. michael permalink
    March 29, 2010 1:29 pm

    In the first instance this artists impression has been knocking around now for months,it’s good publicity for BAE but I wouldn’t put too much credence in it.
    As for some observers actually making claims regarding it’s size and especially it’s armament on the basis of an early drawing of what it ‘maybe’ I find astounding.
    It’s a well known fact that numerous designs by various naval architects have been drawn up,and the whole reason for this contract is for the FCS team which is being led by BAE but consists of numerous interested parties is to come up with a design that follows all the principles as laid out by the MOD.
    One of the basic requirements is ASW which we and the type 23′s are good at.
    The school of thought after the cold war finished was that we wouldn’t need so many ASW frigates (not sloops), I would suggest that with the current worldwide proliferation of submarines that was a mistake. (hindsite is great)
    We need a first class ASW vessel and the intention is for the Type 26 to be just that.
    As an island nation in the geographicle position that we are,we do not need hordes of OPV’s that would be of little use in the blue water protection of our maritime trade.
    As for Mikes ascertation that ‘You build as you fight’, that is exactly what the politicians thought in Britain before the last war and we spent the first couple of years desperatey hanging on by our finger nails whilst we built up our forces.
    Let’s get the ‘high end’ ships built or building,if in the first instance they are ‘fitted for but not with’ so be it. It’s easy to add equipment to a vessel rather than having to build one in a time of crisis.
    I see you are still sticking to your mantra of basing everything on the current situation I.E. we are only having to fight ‘Pirates and drugs smugglers’.
    I am only too pleased that the Royal Navy,MOD and the British government for all their faults in defence procurement and stringent limitations in finances, is far more forward looking in outlook than you appear to be and accept that the future may hold some very large threats to our security.
    Baden Powell:- Be Prepared.

  27. Jed permalink
    March 29, 2010 1:11 pm

    Heretic – you don’t need new tech glass fibre hulls to what you suggest, this has long been practice in the ship building world. For example I believe the Dutch Royal Navy’s two Schelde Enforcer class LPD’s had their hulls built a Damen Schelde subsidiary in Romania and were towed to the Neatherlands for fitting out and completion.

    This is also a benefit of the Danish system of using Stanflex modules, you can build a hull with big holes for the Stanflex modules, which can be fitted by some other dockyard (or even in your Naval base).

  28. Mike Burleson permalink*
    March 29, 2010 11:57 am

    If they were to delay the Type 26, I could see the purchase of a couple additional Type 45s, along with some low end ships.

    This makes more sense too me. You notice these mid-size frigates are approaching the high end destroyer price. (Its the same with the mid-range capable aircraft, the JSF costing nearly as much as the F-22 or Typhoons).

    So you have adequate numbers of exquisite ships, which shouldn’t be many, but a great many low end warships for these sundry patrols we now send very expensive warships to do.

    Later, though, you could build say about 6-8 Type 26 sloops, which would act as small motherships or command ships for these corvette squadrons. But I would build the fleet numbers up first, quickly and effectively.

  29. Heretic permalink
    March 29, 2010 11:44 am

    Why am I suddenly wondering if Kockums foam core fiberglass hull technology wouldn’t be the radical factor Mike is looking for here. Have Kockums build the hull (or shell, if you prefer) of the ship, then deliver it (whole) to shipyard(s) in England (or Scotland) where all the machinery and internal spaces are then added into the partially completed ship to actually finish building the whole thing out.

    Basically, subcontract out the hull fabrication to Kockums … which isn’t exactly a National Security feature rich bit of work … and then keep all the National Interest milspec tech work and installation of “features” inside the country.

    How “big” can that foam core fiberglass hull technology that Kockums is producing for the Skjold and the Visby go?

    As has often been pointed out around here … steel is cheap, and air is free. What would it “cost” for Kockums to build an “empty” ship hull and tow it to England to finish out the build?

  30. Jed permalink
    March 29, 2010 11:40 am

    Mike as you know I disagree with your small is better mantra – but I don’t disgree with needless gold plating or exquisite platforms. I don’t think anything we have seen about T26 yet – and don’t forget this can all change, a lot in fact, in the next four years, suggests it will be an exquisite platform !

    If I had it my way, a pragmatic redevelopment of the RN fleet would be something like this:
    8 x T45 (yes only 2 more than curently on order, and 4 less than originally planned)

    10 x T26 (C1) – T45 hull based ‘high end’ ASW ships with towed array, and CAMM for air defence.

    12 x T28 (C2) – Abasalon based highly flexible “global cruisers” the ‘go to’ for your anti-piracy / global maritime security requirements, but with 16 x anti-ship missiles and 2 AW101 Merlin HM1 sized helo’s for “high end” ASW work.

    As plenty of your commentor’s on here have said before, hull steel is cheap, Absalon’s are a good deal and they are big enough to be highly flexible units, see my ideas fleshed out at:
    http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2010/01/fdr-maritime-futures-part-2-another-view-on-c2/

    The smaller size vessels your so enamored off is the so called C3 vessels of the Future Surface Combatant programme, a 2000 to 3000 tonne single class to replace MCMV’s, survey vessels and the River class OPV’s. Nothing has been said yet about ordering these vessels. An article on C3 and discussion of possibilities is at:
    http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2010/01/fdr-maritime-future-part-3-another-view-on-c3/

  31. Mike Burleson permalink*
    March 29, 2010 9:06 am

    “I totally agree we should be building a squadron of ultra-cheap HMS Clyde-type patrol ships, but in addition to, and not as a replacement for the excellent and versatile 22s and 23s.”

    That makes sense, only it seems keeping ship numbers up might be more urgent than more capability. Plenty of potential and capabilty with the Type 45s. The Type 26 sloops would be great to work alongside smaller ships like Clyde, as you notice the frigates now doing the work of patrol ships, not high end warfare. Logically you build more patrol ships, which is what the Navies today are lacking, not capability.

    The point being, you build as you fight.

  32. March 29, 2010 8:54 am

    Well argued as usual (I had a feeling this was what you’d be writing!). However I think the RN has to be careful not to down-spec the Type 26 too much. I totally agree we should be building a squadron of ultra-cheap HMS Clyde-type patrol ships, but in addition to, and not as a replacement for the excellent and versatile 22s and 23s. Just because the RN (and USN) is mostly dealing with low-end threats at present doesn’t mean blue water, state-on-stae conflict has gone forever and warships with this capability can take around 10 years to develop and build. If the RN just goes for a large number of cheap patrol ships it will struggle to ever get good ASW capability back, lack escorts for its carriers and loose a key part of its fleet. It would also erode the already waning amount of expertise in within the RN and industry in running and building (high-end) frigates and this may never be replaced. The 22s and 23s have proved highly adaptable to low-end operations but they still retain their ‘big-sticks’
    It must also be remembered the treasury will always try to cut numbers so if the RN set out to build a class of 24 low-end frigates would likely end up being 12! When fighting the treasury (its main enemy these days) “cheap frigates” will be a mixed blessing which could lead to fewer-less & capable ships rather than just fewer ships!

Trackbacks

  1. Royal New Zealand Navy Discussions and Updates - Page 147 - Defense Technology & Military Forum
  2. Type 26: Frigate or Mothership? « New Wars
  3. Consolation prize at large for BAE « Tower'Sight – vue(s) de la citadelle

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