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Type 26: Frigate or Mothership?

March 30, 2010

Britain's future frigate may be based on a Type 45 destroyer hull. Photo by Brian Burnell via Wikimedia Commons

Former RN sailor Lewis Page is much harder on Britain’s future frigate plans, the so-called Type 26 than yours truly was the other day. Here is is post at the National titled “Royal Navy starts work on new, pointless frigates

The Royal Navy has decided to spend £127m to answer the question: “What should the next generation of frigates be like?” This is disappointing, as the real question is “do we actually need any more frigates?” and the answer is very likely “No, or not in their present form, anyway.”
Officially the navy, commissioning BAE Systems to start looking into the new ships’ design, says it isn’t looking for frigates but for a “Type 26 Combat Ship”. But the Type 26 will replace Type 22 and 23 frigates, and indeed nobody is really pretending it is anything else.

Remember when the American LCS wasn’t a frigate but now it is? Same thing. Modern naval strategists can’t think beyond their Cold War platforms and fighting the German Soviet Navy in the North Atlantic. So they keep trying to fit the new wine of the missile age and the sensor revolution into the old frigate bottles.

A frigate carries only close-quarter air defences, intended to offer some minimal hope of survival should enemy air strikes get through the fleet’s fighter screen and destroyer-mounted missile shield. It cannot, then, offer useful protection to other ships against air attack.

Which is my argument against the LCS, and why I think the traditional general purpose frigate is obsolete. Because you have a vessel almost as expensive as modern guided missile warships, which are high end battleforce ships, except they are armed no better than foreign corvettes or offshore patrol vessels. Which sounds more logical, to build a few very expensive and potentially vulnerable vessels, arm them like small patrol vessels, then use them like coast guard cutters, or buy a great many patrol vessels at less cost? But the all-battleship navy can’t think in these sensible terms.

The argument may be that you don’t have the range and staying power with corvettes and patrol craft, which is true since they are not base vessels but “fighters”. For extended deployment then you need motherships as Lewis points out. Here are examples of what a cheaper but heavier mothership can do versus the exquisite frigate:

  • A frigate’s principle job is hunting submarines with helicopters, which can also be done by fleet auxiliary (RFA) vessels.
  • 8 Harpoon missiles on a 6000 ton frigate isn’t much more than the armament of a corvette or patrol boat, but a mothership can carry numerous helicopters that is a significant capability against submarines and surface craft.
  • A frigate/sloop can load only a small amount of troops, but the RFA vessels load many troops, vehicles, and equipment.
  • The frigate beats the mothership in shore bombardment, but do you really want a large warship so close to shore and inshore threats from missiles, aircraft, subs, mines, etc. for only 10 minutes of sustained firing?

As noted in the above link, the Navy already uses its auxiliary ships in this role, since the number of frigates which can be bought is so few. The RFA will likely continue in this role, since the number of frigates will soon decline by 2021. So how does buying fewer ships annually maintain capability?

He goes on to make the point that the 127-400 million pound Type 26 is a very expensive solution to modern naval threats, especially since they come when the Navy is desperately attempting to modernize its naval airpower, replace submarines, and arm the Type 45 destroyer properly. Even if they could be afforded, they simply are not needed when there are better vessels available. From what we have seen above, the modern frigate is not so cargo capable as a mothership, neither is it better armed than the shallow water corvette, more suitable for operating in the littorals.

But I suppose new frigates would keep the industry and politicians happy, as ironically revealed by this headline recently in the Greenbay Gazette “Littoral Combat Ship program example of how to generate jobs“. So it will be with the Type 26, and perhaps other ship programs whose usefulness in modern warfare are increasingly questioned:

Or in other words we need to have some frigates so as to avoid closing our frigate yards, so that we will be able to have even more frigates in future. Tail wags dog: ice-cream licks itself.


49 Comments leave one →
  1. unknown permalink
    June 1, 2011 11:23 am

    i believe we should base our new type 26 frigates around the type 45 destroyer because it is a very advanced design and will lat us well in to the future fo global stability.

  2. aouar permalink
    February 7, 2011 5:50 pm

    it is very bower frigate the algeria’s navy acquirir this frigate

  3. jack permalink
    January 26, 2011 1:55 pm

    Im 16 and applying the Royal Marines and I have to no about all the naval aspects including frigates. Frigates offer power projection and are essential to any navy. Carriers cannot be everywhere at once and neither can destroyers (since we have so few) frigates are the perfect detterent off a coast thanks to their bombardment capabilities. Destroyers and RFA vessels are not capable of this kind of firepower because of their different roles. Destroyers are fleet defence and anti air units primarily and RFA is a support organisation for the navy. Frigates are the backbone of the navy, if we get 18 frigates it is a significant detterent. T45 is an ace design but we are getting 6 ships? thats not enough so we need frigates for the spine of the navy.

  4. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 18, 2010 12:37 pm

    Anonymous-Yes, the reformers are always pronounced the dangerous ones, but there is a thing such as being too conservative. I agree with your thoughts about escorts, except you won’t be able to afford them because of the high cost of what needs escorting.

    But with missiles, these so called escorts should do many of the functions without the need of a budget draining and vulnerable carrier.

  5. Anonymous permalink
    May 18, 2010 11:59 am

    All you internet “it’s not the Cold War anymore!” types are dangerous and will get people killed if anyone ever listens to you. Britain is building two carriers. These need air defence and anti-submarine defence if we intend to fight anyone who has air or submarine capabilities ever, which is everyone except landlocked countries in the second case, a group that reduces to everyone except afghanistan and mongolia in the second. Not buying the escorts is like in WWII building a state-of-the-art tank and then not putting any armour on it. It’s not WWI anymore, you know! No. It is far far worse.

  6. McZ permalink
    April 4, 2010 9:04 am

    “McZ why would you want containerised CAMM on C.2, even though it’s likely that C.2 will only receive 8 VLS cells that’s enough for 32 CAMM, more than adequate for self defence”

    On C.2, it would be additional to the VLS, which should btw be standardized fleet-wide on 48-cells. I want this primarily because it has to be developed for the army and would be nice to have for C.3 ! So it would be also available for C.2, if the modularization-plan still stands. I deem it also as a risk-reducing strategy, because that is basically what the Danes are doing with their STANFLEX-system.

  7. leesea permalink
    April 4, 2010 2:19 am

    I would give the nod to stern ramps in heavy weather (not all work the same).

    Davits are only dismissed by USN. Even there small RHIBs are launched by Allied SLAD which are really cranes while callled davits. I have worked with both Allied and Schat reps and gear. Each model has its differences.

    Wet well are the height of anachronisms! Far too expesive to build in to a hull, taking up much internal space and cost to operate. Usefullness beyond first wave launch is questionable.

  8. Chuck Hill permalink
    April 3, 2010 12:56 pm

    My concern on seeing the stern ramp was that when the ship is pitching, the stern, being on the end of a long arm, would be experiencing a lot of vertical acceleration. The boat and the stern might not necessarily be in sync. Don’t think this would be a problem on launch, but recovery might be problematic.

    A couple of times I have heard that while the stern ramp is faster, for severe weather they still need davits near amidships.

    I don’t personally have any experience with stern ramps but have put boats in the water from cutters by davit in some pretty nasty weather.

  9. Hudson permalink
    April 3, 2010 10:22 am

    Thanks, leesea, for that report. So some davits work better than others, and weather is a factor. Many of us would assume that the davit is the anachronism not the well deck. But you, with your sea experience, say the reverse is true.

    Like many New Yorkers who lived or worked downtown on 9/11 and the aftermath, witnessed the collapse of the twin towers and lived with that awful stench of burning flesh at Ground Zero, and other issues, I have pinned some hopes on the new USS New York as a fighting ship representing the spirit of New York in time of war. So it’s disappointing to learn that it can’t handle small boats properly. Dumb Yanks! I know it doesn’t have big guns or look like a fighting ship. Anything good about it?

  10. leesea permalink
    April 3, 2010 12:30 am

    Hudson I have used many forms of davits, the Francis Marion had Welins. There advantage is speedy discharge of multiple boats. There disadvantage is the normally were normally stopped at the rail to load troops. The Royal Navy to this day launch larger than LCM8 sized boats from davits. CB90s are 49+ ft depending on model. There are a number of other foreign navies which launch boats over the side with modern cranes go look at RNZN Canterbury.

    Davits of old were maintenance problems, launching was weather limited. Modern cargo gear overcomes most of the problems. I have lifted a 112 ton SLWT with one crane onto a prepo ship. I have been on 7 mtr RHIBs which were picked up by Schat luffing davits while ship was making around 5 knots.

    The USN is apparenlty clueless when it comes to handling boats. I was on the USS New York reacently. The two RHIBs it carried were buried in an enclosed hatch and had to be hoisted by a single whip crane at least 100 ft in the air to get them over to the rail. That was absolutely the dumbest boat handling arrangement I have ever seen!.

    My bottom line is this: wet well dock systems are WW2 anachronisms. USN amphibs have NO alernate means to launch boats OR discharge cargo i.e tactical equipment IF there wet wells fail which of course they do ALL the time.

  11. Guess who? permalink
    April 2, 2010 8:55 pm

    Aster 15 + CAMM is pointless, they’re both of similar capabilities and range not only that but CAMM can be Quadpacked and will be much cheaper although IIRC Artisan should be able to cope with Aster 15 if you really see any point in arming T26 with them (while you’re at it you might aswell add Sampson in place of Artisan, a VSR (although I recall reading somewhere about Sampson being able to do the job of both with a degree of proficiency, I’m rather skeptical) and SYLVER A70, and fund development of ABM/ASAT Aster to go with it)

    McZ why would you want containerised CAMM on C.2, even though it’s likely that C.2 will only receive 8 VLS cells that’s enough for 32 CAMM, more than adequate for self defence

    While we’re covering Radar/AAW systems has anyone heard any news on SPECTAR over the past couple of years (SPECTAR is a SAMPSON with a single array as opposed to two and is aimed at corvette sized vessels and if SAMPSON is half as good as reports suggest is definitely something worth looking into!)

  12. Mike Burleson permalink*
    April 2, 2010 1:17 pm

    I recall SeaWraith. Yes it was too bad, but no one back then was interested in small warships and mostly still aren’t.

  13. McZ permalink
    April 2, 2010 12:51 pm

    T26′ s task is to provide an ASW-screen for ESGs and CSGs, as well as secondary AAW. The RN has added a secondary “land-attack” role. This should not be overemphasized.

    I think, it was added by the RN primarily to be sure to get a large and deep VLS aboard. As soon as this is accomplished, weapons load will depend on task and integration. Even the suggested Aster-15 would be no problem, if required. And if at some later point they find some additional funds, whooops – “by accident we added Sampson to two of these babies”. Seeing an BAE-artist impression of a 6-7,000 ts vessel with such a small ridiculous VLS shocked me a bit.

    Re. AAW: as CAMM has to be containerized in some form to fit on the army’s vehicles, there is a real chance this baby can be added via modules to C2 (additional) and C3 ships. It’s range is only 30% short of Aster-15, while being 4 times the number due to quad-packing. Using it in all branches of the armed forces should give a huge cost advantage. If I had to decide, this would be a no-brainer. The whole Team Complex Weapons effort is well managed up until now. Maybe the Fireshadow LM, FASGW (Light + Heavy) or SPEAR Capability 3 are giving additional possibilities to add highly efficient relatively low-cost kit.

    An 8 – 9,000 ts ASW- + UAV-carrier called UXV was proposed by BAE two years ago. There was zero reaction from any Navy in the world. The RN completely ignored it, as they did with VT’s SeaWraith or Trimaran concepts. Shortsighted as usual, as the SeaWraith would have beaten the sh** out of those shiny Lafayettes and MEKOs on the export market. I guess, the RN was afraid of questions like “if you get those UXV-babies, for what is that CVF-thingy any good?”. Mike would have loved these guys from the Treasury.

    And if I remember correctly, there was a proposed Spruance-Version with an angled flight deck, some sort of a mini-Kiev.

  14. Hudson permalink
    April 2, 2010 10:56 am


    You can stick guns or missiles on anything, especially a vessel as large as the JSHV. Odd shaped duck, though. Not an LST. You might place a non-penetrating (Typhoon) auto cannon on the top deck but with limited field of fire. You also might place blisters or gun ports along the side as in a WWII bomber. I think you’d have to assume more capable warships in the water with JSHV and air cover.

    I noticed the CB90s on davits on the concept Aboukir Bay (a ginned-up LCS, btw). Gives the ship a retro look. The Navy sure found davits useful in WWII and beyond. Today, as you know, it’s mostly stern ramp, flex deck, well deck delivery. If your stern gets shot up, I guess you’re up a creek, so to speak–so maybe davits along the sides give you more of a chance of off-loading your cargo.

    As an expert on the subject, what do you like/dislike about davits? Any good davits stories?

  15. leesea permalink
    April 2, 2010 5:43 am

    ok since Chuck brought up the Marines, let me throw another thought in. There will be one or more JHSV assigned to the enhanced MPS rons. The JHSV can carry a battalion minus of troops and some of their tactical equipment. From that I would assume the JHSV will be used like APDs (or more correctly APc) as manuever element transportation.

    Should the Navy JHSVs be armed for self-defense ? I have called ANA for armed naval auxiliaris before. Who boy will this get some folks going?!

    Second thought remembering the Aboukir Bay concept drawings. Did anyone else see the CB90s slung from davits on those ships? How about more davits on USN warships for same? Speaking as 1st LT who had 12 LCVPs in davits on an LPA.

  16. Chuck Hill permalink
    April 1, 2010 5:57 pm

    Since the Marine Corp has gone from the Battalion to the Company as the smallest deployable unit, a fast ship that can land a company and provide basic fire support seems to make sense.

  17. Hudson permalink
    April 1, 2010 5:44 pm

    OK, I get the picture. Thanks. I was thinking of the term “expeditionary” more in a political context and how the more correct and less correct naval officers would jawbone on it. People do that sort of thing nowadays. Personally, I like the term.

  18. Chuck Hill permalink
    April 1, 2010 5:20 pm

    Generally speaking, everything has gotten larger and more capable.

  19. leesea permalink
    April 1, 2010 4:06 pm

    hey guys I did not dream up the term Expeditionary Frigate up. I got it from this link:

    Which of course I got from some other blog site I can’t remember – CRS

    It uses this definition:

    “A frigate sized warship designed to operate off foreign shores in a light-amphibious or power projection role with a focus on close-to-shore operations. ”

    Interesting comparisons provided.

    P.S. I do like the comparison of Absalons to WW2 APD except the former is far larger and more capable

  20. Chuck Hill permalink
    April 1, 2010 3:27 pm

    “Pray tell, what is an expeditionary frigate? What manner of beast is it and what does it do?”

    How about the ability to land a company by boat and or helo?

  21. Hudson permalink
    April 1, 2010 3:10 pm

    Just to turn the burger over on the grill for extra sizzle…

    Pray tell, what is an expeditionary frigate? What manner of beast is it and what does it do?

    It has a whiff of lads in khaki going over the top, going over there. Rupert Brooke, Kipling, stirring stuff. Ye Olde Empire, strong and true. Showing the natives how it’s done. Driven to the beaches by the relentles Blitzkrieg, ye olde BEF. Lost causes, adventures, distant glory. Incorrect. Eh?

    And when ye new exped. frigate is not venturing on expedition, what then? Capability rather than mission?

  22. Chuck Hill permalink
    April 1, 2010 1:33 pm

    Until recently I had not been aware that was how the Brits currently made the distinction between destroyers (AAW) and frigates (ASW), because they seemed to fall into those catagories for other reasons.

    The rationale I had understood was that destroyers were multipurpose, do-it-all ships, while frigates, were similar ships but compromised to allow greater numbers. So frigates generally tended to be smaller, slower, and minimally equipped in one or more mission areas. Generally frigates specialized in one mission area, this was most commonly ASW, but it could be another area such as the Type 41 class AAW and Type 61 fighter direction frigates.

    The old APD designation might now be referred to as expeditionary frigates. I also would include the Absalon in that catagory.

    We might simply recognize frigate specialties by referring to them as ASW, AAW, SUW, or expeditionary frigates.

    Looking at the type 45 Darings I would think of them, as the French and Italians think of their Horizon class ships, as AAW frigates since their speed and ASUW are compromised.

  23. leesea permalink
    April 1, 2010 12:30 pm

    The basic distinction I would make is warship versus naval auxiliary. The community of thinkers have NOT decided where the mothership resides.

    IMHO it is NOT given that a mothershhip needs to be a warship. Warships probably need to get larger to perform expeditionary missions or logistic support roles.

    The Absalon is a absolutely transformational (to use an over worked term) since it falls in between. The Huitfeldts sisters being built my be more warship?

    BTW I believe ALL warships of the future need to support helo/UAV ops and boats. Those to me are now such basic roles that regardless of what we call a warship, they should be organic capabilities. The only qualification would then be how big an aviation facility and how many boats etc.

  24. Jed permalink
    April 1, 2010 8:53 am

    Leesea and Hudson

    What is in a name ? Hudson talks about the USN pushing up the tonnage, but that does not work for the RN where the post war nomenclature is thus:

    Destroyer = AAW specialized surface ship
    Frigate = ASW specialized surface ship

    So in the RN the T45 is a 8000 tonne Destroyer, not a Cruiser because it is an AAW ship. Likewise the T26 maybe a 6000 tonne Frigate, not a Destroyer, because it is an ASW focused ship. Does using up the extra space on either vessel for land attack dedicated VLS silo’s turn them into Cruisers ???

    Does it really matter what we call them – as you note Denmark has broken the convention for the Absalon. Are we all so stuck in our ways that we constantly have to debate what we actually call these vessels, as much as we debate their capabilities ? I realize a common lexicon can help provide the framework for discussion, but in the end I just don’t care if a ship is a frigate or a destroyer, I care if it has Aster or Standard, if it has 1 big helo, or 2 small ones etc.

  25. Hudson permalink
    March 31, 2010 10:26 pm

    I think the confusion of ship types comes basically because of two reasons: A) Traditional navies including the USN have pushed up the tonnage of the destroyer, for example, into the cruiser range compared with WWII classifications. B) A number of small countries, in particular, have created hybrid designs to kill two or more birds with one stone, so to speak. One of the best examples being the highly touted Danish Absalon, only two in existence. Here, the Danes seem to have gotten so many things right that it might well be a game-changing vessel type. You can call it an FSS or Command & Control or Command & Supply or something else ship–The Swiss Army knife of ships! And a great pirate hunter, to boot!

    Staying with frigates, it might be useful to stick to more traditional terminology, going with Light Frigates (traditional warship), and Heavy Frigates (plus VLS, troop capacity, and mothership capacity, that is, “mothering” smaller naval craft, but still with standard frigate fighting capacity.

    I would narrow the term “mothership” to carrying, supporting and supplying smaller naval craft, exempting air craft–supporting helos and UAVs, else most larger naval vessels become motherships. Thus, LCS would be a mothership of sorts as it carries undersea bots. Larger supply auxiliaries would not be motherships because they would not carry smaller naval vessels inside, only supplies for them. It helps if you imagine the science fiction version of the mothership as one in which a larger star ship docks and supports smaller fighter craft and their crews.

    All of this is confusing–more so when you throw modules into the mix–but it’s an interesting confusion, I think.

  26. leesea permalink
    March 31, 2010 8:53 pm

    I will post the link to Expeditionary Frigate later, but suffice to say it is NOT a traditional frigate, giving up some traditional roles like ASW for others.

    The first link went to an Aboukir Bay concept drawing which apparently was a cross between how the RFA Bay class LSD(A) started out and the French Navy Jeanne D’Arc. A very interesting design not so much a frigate as mothership. I would call it an Expeditionary Destroyer?

    Once again we seem to be discussing ship types without defining our end goals? If we are talking 3000 ton or less warships, they there need to be called frigate or corvette. IF we are talking 6000 ton plus mothership, then the FSS or JSS or something similar ship type needs to be used. Throughdeck cruier to me is not so much a mothership as modern CVL Iwould put the TKMS MHD150/200 into the mothership category since is much less warship as armed naval auxiliary?

    Mixing warship missions with naval auxiliaries capabilities is something to be approached very carefully. Defining POE is a important as specificing ROC.

  27. Jed permalink
    March 31, 2010 12:27 pm

    I forgot to express my thanks to William who found the links to the ‘HMS Aboukir Bay” ‘through-deck cruiser/mothership” designs – thanks !

    Mike – I think this design in one of its variants would be right up your street for a mother ship ?

  28. Hudson permalink
    March 31, 2010 11:10 am

    Yes, an Expeditionary or Light frigate at around 3,000 tons dry weight (Type 23), fully capable of taking on sea, air, and undersea threats without modules. In other words, it already comes with batteries. This to replace LCS and remaining Perry class ships.

    An Absalon type at twice that weight containing VLS, troop capacity, and riverine type craft that can fight close in-shore and go up river–an armed mother ship, if you will.

    At another 3,000 tons (not quite) the U.S. has the Burkes–do we need any more of these excellent ships? And do we really need additional cruisers at 12,000 or more tons? Beyond that, it seems to me, we are talking about LPD/LHD and light carriers with greater air/sea capacity.

  29. Jed permalink
    March 31, 2010 9:44 am

    Guess Who ? – as others have said – good posting.

    I am totally with you Phalanx – obsolete except in the anti-small boat role ! MK49 launchers with 21 x RAM Block 2 seems like a damn fine idea for vessels with own radar / ESM to queue the RAM.

    For auxiliaries without such systems then SeaRAM – the Phalanx radar and EO sensors plus and 11 round pod of RAM missiles would fit the bill. Allows us to ‘lever’ the existing investment in the Phalanx mount while improving the capabilities.

    Of course, too sensible, and too cost effective to be enacted ! :-)

  30. March 31, 2010 7:55 am

    Hello Guess Who?

    1) Super post. Did you type that all out into the comment box off the top of you head? BZ!!!

    2) I hate it when people use mysterious usernames! ;)

    3) More seriously. A lot here appreciate that the numbers of particular systems aren’t available. But if we went with real numbers there would be little point in posting. I try not to play fantasy navy!!!! But we have occasionally indulge ourselves so forgive us.

    I am a “bigger is better” person. But I see bigger as simpler. I am very fond of the big empty box approach to naval architecture. I think what I want to see is hull framing that is removable. Not a hatch. I envisage hull plating being able to be removed in dry dock to reveal a section of frame that can be remove to allow pre-fabricated modules to be inserted. Rather similar to the way in which cruise ship cabins are fitted. Once the modules are fitted the removable frame is fixed back in and then plated over. I am always amazed when I am onboard any ship the lengths the builders/architects/et al go to fitting kit in place. And I just going with a big empty box seems simpler. Um. I don’t want traditional 10,000 tons ships. I think I am advocating 5,000 ton ships “poured” into a 10,000 ton hull. Which will give benefits for endurance, sea keeping, helicopter operation, survivability, crew comfort, etc.

  31. michael permalink
    March 31, 2010 4:27 am

    What on earth is your problem,there is nothing rude about my post whatsoever.
    The reason this is called a discussion board is just that,if we all agreed on every subject there would be no need for a board or a discussion.
    I assume Mike puts articles on here to promote discussion and differing opinions,not to just have people blindly agreeing with with said post
    As far as Lewis Page is concerned my opinion still stands and I think you will find a lot of people far more knowledgable in this field than myself would agree.
    Your argument is generalistic in the extreme.
    Oh.I’m sorry if disagreeing with you is deemed to be ‘Rude’

  32. leesea permalink
    March 31, 2010 1:55 am

    I certainly don’t think an armed naval auxilitary can take on the role Mike suggests, BUT there are other examples of warships as motherships which are more flexible and better armed. Such as the RSN Endurance class LST/LHD, or the Absalon FSS or better yet its follow-on frigate. There size allow more flexiblity in configuration for different missons, though may be too big?

    Or as Bob Work would perhaps say: pick the right box size and fix/update it later?

    The bottom line is perhaps an Expeditionary Frigate is what the RN and USN needs to replace to replace the LCS?

  33. B.Smitty permalink
    March 30, 2010 11:32 pm

    Guess who,

    I don’t have a problem with SHORADS per se. They just are what they are.

    I understand Aster 15 is more expensive, but CAMM will have trouble covering anything more than the immediate area around the ship. Giving it Aster 15 would let the T26s back up the T45s as an AAW escort.

    Sounds like it could include a Sylver or Mk41 VLS, so it may have the option to carry Aster 15 or even ESSM down the road.

  34. March 30, 2010 10:20 pm

    Hello Guess who?,

    that was a very interesting post.


  35. Guess who? permalink
    March 30, 2010 9:20 pm

    Aster is too expensive, you lot aren’t appreciating the effectiveness of SHORADS

    T26 project is maligned if it’s going to end up how most are speculating right now…

    T22 & T23 aren’t going to be replaced like for like, they’re remnants of old strategy, neither are cheap to deploy, nor are they meant to be, T26 is to be what is left of the Royal Navy’s ASW escort force, numbers originally speculated at 10 probably limited now to 6. I’ll cry if there is any more or less than 8, one for each T2087 TAS in service.

    The price tag of T26 isn’t likely to fluctuate above inflation, infact if anything that’s going to be a bit high, weapon systems, sensors and other goodies will be ripped off of T22B3/T23 as they retire; Mk.8, Harpoon, CAMM, Artisan, T2087 etc. (bare in mind that T45 without SeaViper is £300m)

    Too large, too heavy is often the cry here, too small, too light is the cry coming from my corner. Whilst more ships ergo more sonars in the drink is preferable to 10,000t behemoths the most effective ASW weapons and sensors are rotaries, there is a good argument for a hull-stretch, LARGE pad and a hangar for 2 Merlins infact I’d love to see her as modern Tiger but it aint happening, the rotary assets aren’t there, neither are the funds for such extravagant vessels

    Larger but still improves the cost effectiveness of the RN, she’ll provide a Land attack weapon on the surface, SSNs cost far more to actively deploy and procure than a potential T26 (plus that the doesn’t have enough underwater assets), we’re looking at 40/48 missile silos 32 with SCALP/TLAM the rest with CAMM

    The argument for adding TLAM to T45 is a non-starter there isn’t the space and she’s too expensive to deploy but all of that aside the most important bit is the fact that there isn’t enough for fleet defence if the balloon goes up, it’s little use having cruise missiles that can’t reach far enough inland because you’re launch platform is an AAW asset in the middle of the blue water. defending the carriers.

    Brief summary of my thoughts:

    It looks like they’re still trying to put T26 and C.2 on a common hull, T.26 needs to be bigger, C.2 needs to be smaller and cheaper, C.3 needs to be given some serious thought and any attached mothership would have to be a cheap and cheerful RFA vessel unlinked to T.26/C.2

    PS: Somebody give MoD the funds to be able to kit out the RN with 25-30 Mk.49 launchers, Phanlanx was passed her best when the RN panic bought them, Goalkeeper would just about suffice if some work and money goes into her but theres only 15 in the stockpile so an additional purchase would be required so that’s out.

  36. Hudson permalink
    March 30, 2010 5:32 pm

    You might stretch an LPD or C&S (HDMS Absalon) into a frigate, but not an RFA. If the Type 26 is anything close to the recently-mentioned HNLMS Tromp, it will be formidible ship indeed. Tromp:

    8 X 4 ESSM
    32 SM-2111A
    additional 8 cell MK 41 VLS
    plus Harpoons, torps, guns

    Similar to Absalon but with longer range AA

    Frigates will be around awhile as your Standard Surface Combatant.

  37. March 30, 2010 4:45 pm

    I bet it won’t even have that!!!! It will be a 4.5 Mod 1 and Merlin and a few bootnecks………..

  38. B.Smitty permalink
    March 30, 2010 4:36 pm

    Why make CAMM the primary air defense weapon for the Type 26? At least give it Aster-15. CAMM only has enough range to protect the frigate itself.

  39. March 30, 2010 4:00 pm

    “ps sorry, X, was responding to earlier post, not yours”

    No problems. I wish this site had a forum attached it would make formatting responses to each other easier. Even when I disagree with something here you know that nothing is meant in nasty way. We are all learning and interpreting and thinking about the same stuff using a limited channel.

  40. Matthew S. permalink
    March 30, 2010 3:15 pm

    This article is ridiculous suggesting fleet auxiliary do the job of a frigate. The frigate is the primary vessel in all navies outside of the USN. The modern frigate is actually closer to a classic destroyer or even light cruiser in some cases but still it has become the primary warship. At a time when the RN has sunken to all time lows in warship numbers, the author wants frigates to be replaced by tomahawk armed auxiliaries…manned by RFA?

  41. MatR permalink
    March 30, 2010 3:13 pm

    ps sorry, X, was responding to earlier post, not yours

  42. MatR permalink
    March 30, 2010 3:12 pm

    Well, by that token, you couldn’t have people teaching in universities who’d only worked in their field for nine years, no matter how much other time they spent learning about their subject.

    Or you could say that an admiral was unqualified because he’s only worked in certain parts of the navy before promotion. Some of the RN’s best people in WW2, in the submarine service, were in their early 20s – including the tubs’ captains. Some bright people ‘get it’ after a few years, some duffers serve decades without really offering much to their organisation. And plenty of intelligent people don’t get promoted because they’re not in the right clique.

    I’m not saying Lewis Page is either a charlatan or a genius… I just feel that Mike B must sometimes wonder why he posts things, given the reception his politely argued ideas sometimes get. He must have the patience of a saint. I love Mike’s posts, but some of the responses are, well, rude. Mike – sorry for sounding off like this.

  43. March 30, 2010 3:08 pm

    Though I would like to see T26 break the mould I don’t think anybody with influence will take the risk.

    The Merlin is a capable ASW platform and I would like to see it carrying Harpoon. But the helicopter is no good if the platform is “shot” away from underneath her! As we all know the T23 was primarily design to operate tow arrayed. Ship and aircraft have a synergistic relationship. This seems to escape Mr Page. (I do confess to owning his books. And I will make a further confession in that I think there are actually a couple of good ideas and some good information amongst the wilder stuff!!!)

    The problem I have we modern naval ship design is that I see how capable merchant ships and their price and I can’t see why navies can’t get a bit more bang for their bunk in hull and propulsion. I think perhaps the days of conning a ship out of trouble (ie under attack) are gone. And perhaps hull stability should take precedent to give weapons and sensors a better chance of hitting next gen weapons. I wonder how much design money was put into hull design for the T45 (and money into making things fit into that hull.) When perhaps something with a good strong bow, parallel midship section, and cruiser stern about 10k tons would have done better. (It times past successful design elements were borrowed; I am big fan of the Spurance hull.) If Emma Mersk cost £290 and Daring’s come in about £600million, using a ratio of 50% cost for weapons, 50% for hull I have to ask how that £300million of Daring’s price was spent! A bigger hull is more sea worthy. A bigger hull gives better endurance. More water tight compartments means better survivability. Crew accommodation spread out through a larger help is good too. I see automatic fire fighting systems as an aid to RN fire fighting strategies not a replacement for; but I think more could be done. Remember that Albion and Bulwark are built to Lloyds Fast Cargo Ship standards…….

    We are going to end up with an oversized OPV, fitted for, but not with………….

    (PS: I am not criticising the Type 45; it is just a shame they will be hobbled. I am really looking forward to August when I actually get to set foot on one. )

  44. michael permalink
    March 30, 2010 1:22 pm

    Good old Lewis embittered as ever and obviously far more knowledgable than any one else about the RN after serving approx nine years.
    I don’t think he served on anything larger than minesweepers,and I believe his specialisation was in the Clearance Diving dept.
    He always reminds me of that other self appointed expert on Army matters Richard North,who served a very short time in the RAF but turned his ‘expertise’ towards the army and in particular Afghanistan.
    An area which it appears he now considers himself a font of wisdom.
    Makes me wonder why people like these two left the forces instead of attaining the highest ranks which they were so obviously destined for???????????

  45. Marcase permalink
    March 30, 2010 1:16 pm

    “…hunting submarines with helicopters, which can also be done by fleet auxiliary (RFA) vessels…”

    Not bloody likely.

    Hunting modern (AIP) submarines is a concerted team effort, which requires a trained crew proper operating from a proper ASW combat center, preferably aboard a ship that can mask its hull noises (Prairie/Masker) and a carries a towed array for long range, variable thermocline surveillance.
    The Merlin can do it on its own, just not very effectively. Current subs also carry anti-ship missiles, and without its base, Merlin is just another dingy.

    Modern frigates aren’t just gun-toting helo carriers. They have integrated CICs, expansive (sat) communications, and elaborate ESM/ECM systems which RFAs lack. Shipboard torpedoes aren’t relics either, and especially in littoral (shallow) waters current ‘smart’ torps can act as sensor and weapon.

    “…but the RFA vessels load many troops, vehicles, and equipment.”

    If it is an LSD(A) Bay class, sure. But the Bay can’t do ASW, AAW or MIW, even if it has a big a$$ helo-deck.

    Nelson must be spinning in his grave listening to all this.

  46. William permalink
    March 30, 2010 1:05 pm

    HMS AboukirBay Mothership



    ThroughDeck with Ski Jump

  47. Jed permalink
    March 30, 2010 12:33 pm

    So Lewis, the world famous expert, wants what exactly ? An RN composed of RFA ‘tankers’ with helicopters ?

    Nope, sorry, your right, not tankers, but Amphibs, because they can carry troops too … oooh !

    So a Bay Class derivative, with adequate air defence, a hanger for at least two ASW helo’s and the ability to carry troops – so a bigger, fatter, slower version of the Absalon then ?

    Unfortunately I can’t find it, but I am at work and you may have more success if you look on ShipBucket or use Google to look for the a ‘fantasy’ design which the guy who drew it calls the ‘HMS Aboukir Bay’ – it is the adaption of the Schelde Enforcer class into a modern day ‘cruiser’ – he has drawn both ‘conventional’ flight deck, and ‘through deck’ versions. Go see if you can find it – I could support such out of the box thinking, having a tiny (8000 tonne) mini-ASW carrier, with maybe 3 Merlins and some UAV’s , VLS for CAMM etc – but then the RN would need enough helicopters and OOOOOh, yep, UK government can’t be arsed to pay for them either (only 30 Merlin to be upgraded to HM2 and only 25 Lynx Wildcat going to FAA).


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