Thursday, 1 August 2013

July 2013 Notes: Corvettes – the chance to rebuild the RN?

Reason for writing:

The Royal Navy is shrinking and has been since 1946; with each new ‘peace dividend’ or technological leap demanding more & more and providing fewer & fewer vessels. The trouble is though that the world is not anymore peaceful, and is just as big with as many trouble spots demanding attention and ships can only be in one place at any one time… and sometimes that place has to be the home port for refit and repair.
An example of the shrinking is that the RN requested for 14 Type 45s AAD Destroyers to replace the Type 42 class vessels which had been in service since before the Falklands War in 1982. The RN accepted 12as the final procurement and ended up receiving just 6 (although more were paid for). Considering the RN is starting by requesting for 13 Type 26’s; then despite the fact that the official allocation of £11billion for new construction, the odds would seem that based on previous experience the RN could end up getting 6 again or even 5[1]. A situation that will be exacerbated by the fact that these major escorts will at current be required to do every mission, increasing wear and tear on vessels that need to be maintained for war fighting.

The solution to this problem is not only to build a decent number of the critical major escorts, but also build a number of adaptable force multipliers (or minor escorts) to provide the RN with the mass it needs to support the brawn it’s hollow without.
This is something which I think I am going to be drawn back to again and again in the future so any comments/ideas/suggestions are welcome.


Key Words/Phrases:
·         NATO: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation – Britain’s principle strategic alliance,
·         Type 26 Global Combat Ship: no not a British version of the USN’s Littoral Combat Ship nor the RN’s Type 23 frigates, but a Frigate successor to the larger more general purpose Type 22 class frigates, the last 4 of which were recently. 
·         Area Defence: weapons which exist to defend the task group, usually covering an area with a radius greater than 15nm, examples of such systems would be Aster 30 (as fitted in Type 45 class[2]), SM-2 (as fitted in Arleigh Burke class[3])
·         Point Defence: weapons which exist to primarily defend the ship and vessels it is very close to, usually covering an area with a radius less than 15nm,

A rough outline of Task Group Air Defence parameters[4]
·         AAW: Anti Air Warfare
·         ASW: Anti-Submarine Warfare
·         ASuW: Anti-Surface Warfare
·         MCMV: Mine Counter Measures Vessel
·         Stanflex, is a modular mission payload system developed by the Royal Danish Navy, it allows for a ship’s out fitting to be quickly changed and supports a range of systems, from Oceanography to Harpoon SSMs, from MCM gear to SAMs or Torpedoes, and a whole range of other systems.
·         Organic, when this is used in military terminology it means something that is part of that group, i.e. an aircraft carrier provides a task group with ‘organic’ air defence & strike aircraft, an oceanography vessel provides the task group with an ‘organic’ ocean mapping and analysis of conditions.
·         UAV: Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
·         USV: Unmanned Surface Vehicle
·         UUV: Undersea Unmanned Vehicle
·         EEZ: Exclusive Economic Zone, they are up 200miles out to sea from shore, or contiguous with an undersea shelf that is UN mandated under the jurisdiction of a country to manage the resources of.

HMS Echo, one of the RN’s oceanographic survey vessels

How can Britain go about rebuilding its fleet to a level that it needs to be; providing the depth of vessels to support operations. There is a possible solution, one which is tried and tested – the High-Low navy, a navy cannot be made big enough being made up only of high value units (it’s simply too expensive) so that means a navy in the 1920s needed light cruisers and destroyers to be able to have the presence and carry out the policing necessary in peace time maritime relations; and essential to furnishing sufficient vessels to put together task groups in war.

In Britain the emphasis on high value units has been exacerbated by two beliefs. One of which has been held since the 1970s that should a major conflict arise there will be enough time or warning for the low value units to be mass produced (this is despite the closing of shipyards, and the consequent loss of not only production space but experience). The other view can be seen as a more problematic one. That is there is a growing trend to try and make ships do more by adding in more and more capability into a hull – in part this is because with few vessels, those vessels need to do more, which in turns makes them more expensive and meaning fewer can be built without further money being allocated – something which doesn’t happen often. The trouble is a vessel may be more capable, it may even be three times as capable as its predecessor, but one ship can only be in one place at a time; that might be in refit or more likely it might be the North Atlantic when they are needed in Indian Ocean or the Pacific. The trouble is that any design that attempts to rectify the RN’s lack of numbers will have to at least conform to these ideas in spirit in order to be accepted.

Despite the construction of low value units being limited, with the belief it can be ramped up in times of emergency, it has been on going. This has been the case because certain roles such as Mine Warfare, Oceanography and of course Patrol require those types of vessel – and whilst some specialists vessels may still be required to supplement this role, this proposed class would (to be built in enough numbers, and deliver on savings) be able to carry out all these duties. Furthermore, Britain has a legacy of producing these types of vessel and selling them to other nations; a legacy which is chequered, but which is there and provides a certain advantage to construction as it means there are designs ready to be used as basis.

The capability requirements have to be dealt with by a modern slight of hand; which in this case is an off the shelf modular weapon/equipment system. The Stanflex system has both advantages and disadvantages[5], but there are at the moment 11 types of module in service. These allow a ship to fulfil a wide range of roles, not at the same time, and not without a trip to a facility with a crane… but baring those requirements very capable ships.

A knud Ramusen[6] the current Danish OPV and the class which replaced the Flyvefisken and took some of their Stanflex modules
A Stanflex system being taken out of a Flyvefisken class vessel[7] – highlighting it’s ease of change

The Flyvefisken Class Highlighting some of the range of options available with stanflex by MConrad[8]

Core Requirements

·         Cost less around £100million per vessel

·         Be easily adaptable to missions, preferably using an off the shelf modular system

·         Easy enough to operate that a number of the vessels  can be manned by reservists based around core competency crews (i.e. a  small engineering detachment to keep track of maintenance)

These core requirements have been put together to provide the maximum number of ships, at £100million the class would cost less per unit than either the Eurofighter or F-35[9], now this is more than what was paid for the River class but it is reflective of the adoption of a modular system, the increased size required and t8he fact their base design is corvette rather than ocean patrol.

The requirement to allow them to be operated by reservists is that this is a key to increasing fleet strength; there used to be many ships in the RN which were reservists, now there are no vessels which are operated by reserves[10]. In a time when the Territorial Army (and the reserves in general), are being increased as a cost effective measure to increase capability whilst allowing for reductions in cost/size of regular forces it seems strange that whilst there is reserve artillery and tanks, there are no longer reserve ships.

The UK’s Exclusive Economic Zone

·         Maritime Policing: Counter Piracy, Counter Drugs, Fishery Protection, Patrol of the Economic Exclusion Zone
·         Presence
·         Task Group: Point AAD, ASW, ASuW, MCMV
·         Oceanography & Artic Patrol (this would be limited as they would lack the icebreaking capacity of HMS Endurance[11] or HMS Protector[12])

These vessels have to be capable of carrying out a wide range of missions during ‘peace’ time[13] and War time. However, these missions would require a range of capabilities from their modules, for example in the case of the three most peace time mission profiles:
·         Maritime Policing - all the missions outline are really the constabulary missions the RN engages in, mostly they require boats, benefit from a light helicopter/organic aerial surveillance and a deck gun,
·         Presence - which requires significant surveillance capacity, enhanced self-defence systems and an ASuW capability,
·         Oceanography & Artic Patrol -  would be fitted with survey modules, boats and some UUV/USV

However, when they are war fighting within an Amphibious Task Group (a Carrier Battle Group will be different) the load out of modules will reflect what is required of that vessel. As there will be multiple vessels functioning within the group (at least four), they could be module orientated thusly:
·         two might be ASW orientated,
·         one Oceanography,
·         one MCMV

Whilst in reality there may only be one module difference on a standard load out (as they will require a general purpose potential due to the likelihood of combat) between the vessels these orientations will define how they are used, with the MCMV and Oceanography vessels taking inshore duties when part of an amphibious group conducting a landing, or inner ring when part of a the group during transit. 

Vessel Outline
·         Displacement: ~2800tons
·         Sensors: Air/Surface Search - SMART-S mk2, ESM - Vigile 400 ES, Sonar - Thales UMS4132 Kingklip
·         Weapons:
o   Modular - 5x staflex (2 to be mounted in a pair amidships, one each port & starboard, and one next to stern ramp so that it can either carry crane, towed sonar or MCM gear),
o   Fitted - 1x Phalanx CIWS (atop hangar), 1x BAE MK110 57mm (forward) & 16 cell Sylver A43 VLS[14] for CAMM (as in Type 23s & 45s mounted forward between main gun and bridge)
·         Range: 4500nm (at 19knots minimum)
·         Engines: Combined Diesel Gas and Electric, whereby the diesel and gas can be used to generate electricity which will power batteries which power pod propulsion units… ensuring maximum modularity & survivability with minimum cost – plus the very real advantages of running on batteries for ASW/MCMV warfare, the economical distance of diesel and the high speed of gas.
·         Speed: >25knots (it’s got to be able to operate with the Carrier Battlegroup)
·         Aviation Facilities: Hangar for one Lynx + 2 Rotary UAVs    
·         Boats: stern ramp, that can be fitted with towed sonar array  or launch boat (must retain ability to do either at short notice)

The principle purpose of these vessels to bring back numbers for the Royal Navy, to give the depth of force strength that it has been missing the Falkland’s war; they are not to be the war fighting elite, but the vessels which support that elite, the modern Flower Class corvette. However, they would need to be oceanic then in terms of design, i.e. not just Atlantic Ocean, but vessels which are just as capable in all oceans, meaning a high freeboard + heating for South Atlantic, Arctic & Antarctic as well as some sort of air conditioning for gulf, Indian Ocean & Pacific.

Force Proposal
·         A strength of 24 in regular, 24 in reserve
·         Procurement would be at the rate of initial rate of 6 a year, after the first three years falling to 4 for the next three, then 2 for the next 4 years … spreading the cost of procurement over 10 years
·         Furthermore the small size and design simplicity would allow for the construction to be spread out to different yards than just the BAE ones – allowing for an element of competition which has recently not been in British ship procurement to affect the pricing of the vessels
·         Finally all systems are to be procured off the shelf, therefore R&D costs are merely about fitting those systems together, again something which has mostly been done (even the hull design proposed is based on the BAE F2000, a design that has

The force proposed is reflective of the fact the RN has shrunk in comparison to the missions it is required to do, 24 vessels in regular would generate in terms of normal deployment 8 vessels, with 8 on their way back/going, and 8 in training/refit[15]; however with 24 vessels in reserve this changes – vessels could be put into the ‘reserve’ when in major refit and others put in their place, changing the figures to 9, 9 and 6.

This reserve could be easily structured so as to provide 6 more vessels at 24hrs notice, with a further 6 at 48hrs, 6 more at 72hrs and the remaining vessels comprising those in major refit/7 days alert (this would be done by having 30 crews on rotation, so that one week a crew would be on 24hrs notice, the next week on 48hrs, the third week on 72hrs and 4th & 5th weeks on a week alert – enabling both rapid mobilisation, and the reservists to still have the freedom to go on family holidays). This would mean that should a crisis emerge the RN would be able to draw on up to 42 vessels to provide escort/combat support missions, to maintain presence/patrols whilst the fleet is concentrated elsewhere – in simple terms it would turn many decisions from ‘knife edge strategic gambles’ into just ‘tough decisions’.

Spreading the construction between more yards and introducing competition can only be beneficial for Britain. The concentration and reduction in vessels being procured for the RN has undermined the shipbuilding in the UK because the orders have been placed with fewer and fewer yards, and the loss of these orders which had tended to be constant (so were reliable in lean times as means of keeping the yard functioning, although at a reduced level) lead to closures. There are though still lots of yards left functioning; Harland & Wolff (Belfast), Ferguson Shipbuilders (Glasgow), Swan Hunter (Tyneside)[16], A&P Group Ltd (Falmouth, Hebburn & Middlesbrough), Cammell Lairds (Birkenhead), Babcock Appledore Shipbuilders (Appledore) and BAE Systems Maritime – Naval Ships (Scotstoun, Govan & Portsmouth). In simple terms, BAE control 3 of 10 yards that could be used to build ships, and whilst when building High-Value units like destroyers it would seem sensible to got either the biggest or the best in order to ensure quality (which under current circumstances is restricted), but with low value simple units then all yards would be able to compete – and even yards like Ferguson which traditionally concentrate on building ferries & merchant ships might well be tempted to put in a tender. The more yards that tender, the more competitive the costs will be.

This is another reason to use off the shelf equipment – leave the R&D for the high value units, for these vessels going with off the shelf, available options, makes it not only cheaper but easier to build and easier to sell. If something is already in service, then a lot of the problems with it will have already been ironed out, again reducing costs.

Key Points:
·         Off the shelf: reliable and cost effective
·         Simple design: easy to build and maintain
·         Adaptable: modular system + size gives it a lot of flexibility to be adapted to emerging situations or technological changes
·         Cheap: so enough vessels can be procured

All the things which are key to helping the RN achieve the numbers it requires, but which would also be very attractive to foreign countries – especially those wishing to turn a green water navy into a light blue navy capable of patrolling their EEZ or sending a single ship to engage in maritime diplomacy by participating in a multi-national task force.

Points of Interest:

World War II
·         Flower class, were a 267 vessel strong corvette class which served as convoy escorts during the Second World War. They were basic, but they carried a radar, various ASW weaponry and guns – they were war winning because they were there when they were needed.

Foreign Navies
·         Danish Navy  - the inventors of the stanflex
o   Knud Rasmussen class patrol vessel, displacement - 2050 tons, range - 3000nm, top speed- 17knts, country of origin – Denmark
·         Russian Navy
o   Steregushcy class corvette, displacement - 2200 tons, range - 3800nm, top speed- 27knts, country of origin – Russia
o   Gremyashchy class corvette, displacement - 2200 tons, range - 3800nm, top speed- 26knts, country of origin – Russia
·         Chinese Navy
o   Type 056 class Corvette, displacement - 1400 tons, range - 2000nm, top speed- 28knts, country of origin – China

Meko A200 Valour Class[17]

·         South African Navy
o   Meko A200 Valour Class frigate, displacement - 3700 tons, range - 8000nm, top speed- 28knts, country of origin – Germany
·         Royal Omani Navy
o   Khareef Class, displacement - 2660 tonnes, range - 4500nm, top speed- 25knts, country of origin – United Kingdom

Commercial export opportunities, lots of countries (for example Turkey, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia to name just a few) are looking at expanding their maritime forces to deal with emerging security issues; adaptable vessels, which are competitively priced and capable of around the world operations will fit in with any fleet. They would especially fit in with allied fleets, allowing for Britain to have an even more flexible response as it could well leverage logistical benefits from having such a widely serving class, as it did with the Leander class.

LCS 1 USS Freedom & LCS 2 USS Independence[18]


The trouble with being defined as a ‘frigate navy’ is that the temptations is to build frigates; ships which are too small to carry the flexibility of firepower in the modern world yet are too expensive to be built in the numbers required. It’s a fine policy for a navy which wants to concentrate in European waters, but for a navy which is necessitated by its government commitments to have a global presence and a global war fighting capability; such a navy will not wield enough fire power to deal with peer conflicts alone and will not wield enough numbers to be present.

Whilst it is destroyer sized vessels which are the fighting teeth of any blue water navy’s escort strength (for example the Arleigh Burke’s are the mainstay of the USN’s global reach – far more than the far fewer carriers or the invisible submarines) the RN would never be able to secure the funding under current circumstances to build so many ships. Therefore, it must think smaller, think smarter and with an eye to exports - because by getting them then the RN will strengthen UK shipbuilding hopefully resulting in more investment in yards, more competition for naval construction and lower costs to the British taxpayer so that the RN. Corvettes as proposed in these notes offer a real chance, a really good chance if taken to rebuild the RN not to some golden glory day strength, that’s not what this about, it’s about build what the RN needs to do the missions it’s required to do. A destroyer/corvette tiered escort force would be by nature very adaptable with the destroyer sized vessels providing the back bone, the core, that the corvettes would support and work from to carry out their missions.

Even after saying all this if the Type 26 program could yield 18 vessels (as could be procured if the money was spent on General Purpose Type 45s[19]) rather than the 13 that’s been proposed they would go a long way to providing the RN with a stronger core escort strength. They would be something that numbers could be wrapped around, and that is the important thing – the multi-adaptable corvettes are vessels which in war time would be key task group units, they would be the MCMV, the extra ASW, the point defence vessel, and the oceanographic vessel; in peace time they would be the piracy patrol, the counter drugs patrol, oceanographic vessels, the Gibraltar patrol, the Falklands patrol and countless other patrols that will be needed as the world situation evolves over the next 30-40 years[20]. These vessels should not be looked down on because theirs would be the supporting role, as without them none of the operations would be really possible  - the Royal Navy needs escorts, it needs numbers again so that it can fulfil what it’s country needs, what it’s countrymen expect and what it’s government orders.

Simply put an Oceanic Adaptable Corvette would be winner for the Royal Navy, a Winner for foreign sales and therefore a Winner for the Country. Yes to some it will at 2800tons look more like a small frigate than a corvette, but the name is important – frigate in Britain inevitably leads to ASW warfare, perhaps the reasoning behind the Type 26 being called a Global Combat Ship rather than a frigate is to stop treasury accountants being able to go “that’s not necessary it isn’t part of the ASW mission set” so that a truly multi-role ship could be bought. In the same way a corvette means, unlike the River class OPV arming it with just a 30mm cannon will not be acceptable, but also mean that costs can be kept down by the service because when another mission is suggested for it that will add to the cost & complexity and therefore reduce numbers, they can reply “no, it’s just a corvette”. An Oceanic Adaptable Corvette it would be, but Corvettes aren’t really expected to do disaster relief or other missions, they are expected to provide the task group ships in war, and the patrolling presence in peace.


Another’s Idea

A friend of mine who’s a naval architect read an early draft of this work and decided to put forward their own ship design… there are some interesting innovations including a removable helicopter deck which when taken off allows mission containers to be stored underneath and a multiple easy access spaces for the carriage of stanflex modules.

Multi-Roll Corvette

Diesel/GT (by=pass) Turbo Alternator powered with twin diesels and a 12000kW  Driven altenators driving ywin azimuthing vp props which together witha bow thruster facility forward that will allow almost total variable maaanouerverability.  Speed 17 knots with perhaps 26+ available if required

76mm gun mounted forward with two side mounted small calibre guns to offera degree of side cover.

Helideck made portable over protected well aft for stowage of the various equipmeny modules and extra stores.  Space for 4 @20 ft & 4 @ 10ft.

Multi anchoring facility with two bower forward and one stern and one aft c/l mooring to a;;for positioning in a tideway(surveying and research) operated by two capstans forward and one aft.

Particulars: Displacement 2900 tonnes sw  !%)x17 (16.7 at swl) 3.4 m draught c/b 0.43

Crew approx 87 with 28 RM's and a band space & equipment if showing flag  which is a task the RN often has to do in peacetime.

Arsenal and silo's position ford just aft of main gun. Space forward deck for torpedo deployment.  The rest of equipment is up to you.

2900tonnes is 1200 steelweight; 600 fuel & fw 100 arsenal120 crew stores etc230 radar, masts LSA,etc.

Carbon fibre sounding and sonar forefoot shaped to integrate with underwater lines forward and provide a bulbous bow facility.

LSA stored around vessel as required with a hydraulic operated stern door facility opening up the transom space to permit access to a boat/rib handling deck space and stowage proving repair and refuelling facilities in action.  A specialised ramp to be devised for stern mounting a towed array facility. A cut in stern ramp would make to aft equipment well very wet in heavy weather.

Flight desk made removable over aft equipment well and at hangar level.  Hangar two decks and fitted between exhaust and air intake casings.  Hatch fitted in well to allow for quick vitualling at roll changeover when helideck will be temporily removed for deck space access.

DB tanks serviced by 4 pipe tunnels in DB to avoid contamination thogh pipe joints moving in rough conditions. FW generator and water purifier facility.  It wll nees a neuclear decontamination system.

Totally enclose bridge, wheelhose and C&C  spaces in bridge tower deckhouse.  Well on hangar house top to carry equipment.  Stability shoild be adfquqtw but another 0.5 m on beam at swl will solve any stability problems.  The GT can easily be uprated to give any mor power if it is required.


The overview and dimensions

The profile



Some other imaginings of a Stanflex RN vessel, from 2007:

Son of River Class[21] by username MSR


Further Reading:
· – a very interesting discussion.
· – seems a lot of people are in favour of more escorts.

[1] Although the author really does hope he’s proved wrong
[4] Inspired by Admiral Hill’s Air Defence at Sea, 1988
[5] On the Advantage side, unused modules can be stored ashore when not needed, so extend the life of & reduce the need for preventative maintenance of the systems (something which is an issue in when things operate in the salt water environment). This maintenance also has a benefit on ships service, as instead of taking time to service equipment when a ship comes into port, the equipment can be swapped in/out with other modules and the maintenance done at leisure – reducing ship time in port and costs of ship maintenance. Similarly through life weapons/equipment upgrades are easier, as it does not require major modifications to ships, just the construction of some new modules, which can be swapped in during routine maintenance. Further to this the modules are not lost from service when the ship is, i.e. when a vessel goes out of service removing useful equipment takes money, money which could be used to build more ships – with modules that equipment readily accessible without lots of work. So it sounds perfect; well there is of course a trade-off, something traditionally the RN has been less able to get, the multi-role adaptable vessels that the system produces, are of course not as good at any role as the specialist ships; they jacks of all trades not masters – this is made up for by the fact they can do all those trades, and also more ships can be afforded when economies of scale are brought into effect and in the end if the option is one specialist ship or two adapted ships – then surely the latter option is more viable?
[10] There hasn’t been since 1960
[13] As much as there is ever peace when conducting counter narcotics operations in Caribbean, counter piracy missions of the coast of Africa, dealing with freedom of the seas issues, maintaining an at sea readiness group and protecting various overseas territories against avaricious neighbours.
[14] Could be fitted for not with, but best would be to fit it.
[16] Now concentrating on Ship Design only
[18] (01/08/2013), even the USN has tried to go for a hi-low navy, unfortunately the result was a more hi-med navy, with the LCS being too expensive to be built in the numbers desired, and not really capable enough to justify the price tag.
[19] Class costs about £500million per unit to build, all the development has been done – the £1billion included development costs, so now all that would need paying for is the steel, the equipment and the man hours – all things which are made cheaper by economies of scale, the more that are built the quicker building them becomes, the easier training is as crew do not need to become familiar with an entirely new vessel – it is like the USN are doing now with the Arleigh Burke class rather than build Zumwalts. & (01/08/2013)
[20] For example Britain may need to have a guardship at Gibraltar if tensions continue to rise (01/08/2013)


  1. Interesting article for sure.

    As someone who spent ten years in the RN, deploying on a SeaWolf Leander, a Hunt Class MCMV, a survey ship and and RFA both in MCM support role, and a Type 42, I personally have to say the last thing the RN needs is "Corvettes" !

    However that might be because you have failed, IMHO and all that, to fully define:

    1. What is a Corvette
    2. What is the military requirement for these vessels

    You say the name is important, that Frigate smacks of ASW and thus won't get past treasury accountants. However an Ocean Adaptable Corvette (OAC) is what exactly ? Apparently its a 2800 tonne small and versatile frigate:

    "the multi-adaptable corvettes are vessels which in war time would be key task group units, they would be the MCMV, the extra ASW, the point defence vessel, and the oceanographic vessel; in peace time they would be the piracy patrol, the counter drugs patrol, oceanographic vessels, the Gibraltar patrol, the Falklands patrol and countless other patrols that will be needed as the world situation evolves over the next 30-40 years".

    My problem with your "mission statement" above is that 2800 tonnes is not big enough ! I am afraid I am of the steel is cheap and air is cheaper school of naval architecture. I don't think 2800 tonnes is going to provide the sea keeping, the accommodation or the bunkerage / endurance to undertake some of these missions.

    I have no problem with your OAC being more of a war time asset than an OPV, but then I also believe that Counter-piracy, counter-narcotics, and anti-people smuggling should be done by vessels manned by the RFA with naval, marine and other parties (Fisheries, Immigration etc) provided as required.

    There has been considerable discussion of this topic at where the admin of the site has come up with the SIMSS concept (Security, Interdiction and Maritime Support System) - a number of articles and probably over 1000 comments in total on the subject !

    I have to say I slant towards SIMMS, over 4000 tonnes, cheap off the shelf, based on an off shore support type hull, and minimally armed, but extremely versatile. I just think your OAC concept is too small.



  2. Dear Jed

    first off thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

    1. A corvette in my mind is a ship of roughly 1500-3500tons (the modern frigate probably spans from 3500-6000tons), it's a general purpose/adaptable vessel (Wikipedia has a definition listed from IHSJanes,, which I can't find on the Janes site)
    2. the military requirement is that the necessities of maintaining presence where it's needed requires numbers, furthermore having ships like this to take the role of point defence and other task group secondary warfare functions whilst also having a capability in terms of primary warfare functions acts as a force multiplier for the larger ships.

    The line between frigate and corvette is often more of semantics than perhaps physicality, but it matters an Ocean Adaptable Corvette is a vessel which is an 'adaptable' auxiliary war fighter - the emphasis not being on what it has but what it can be adapted to do using a readily available off the shelf proven system.

    2800tons is actually over 1100tons more than the River class OPV ( who have a very good sea state ability according to many reports, and also 8000nm range which is enough with Replenishment at Sea to keep up with a fleet when required.

    I differ on the manning of vessels for Counter-Piracy, ect - firmly believing they should be naval with coast guard or fisheries or whatever added on to the crew as required by the mission - mainly because that means in war time when they are needed for that they are there... unlike for example the Scottish Fishery protection vessels which would be no help.

    I like the idea of a 4000 ton ship, but for a support ship not for the primary presence/task group vessel, for something like the Absalon class ( not for providing a small crew, low cost(partially thanks to it's size enabling more firms to compete for the build), force & capability multiplier.

    As I said at the beginning of the piece, this was mainly driven by an idea put forward to increase the escort numbers as one of the possible solutions, the other put forward is:
    and a bits here as well

    yours sincerely


  3. I think we will never agree on the strategy here :-)

    For "forward presence" I much prefer the Think Defence idea of SIMMS, not a "war ship" per se. I have never been to sea in a River class, but I have been on a Leander that has been tossed around the north Atlantic like a toy, and on a Hunt class that suffered significant damage in a storm in the Med, so I really don't want to under-estimate the sea keeping. Personally I think the Absalon Class are the ideal size and shape if you want the "presence" ship to also be a "war ship".

    I guess this is really where we disagree though: "...mainly because that means in war time when they are needed for that they are there...." - I am fine with using COTS / civvy build standards and RFA manning for Maritime Security Operations (aka operations other than war) because we have an RFA and we dont have a separate para-military Coast Guard. I am also of the opinion that the Bay Class and Albion Class ships are great assets for counter-piracy and counter-narcotics tasking, but we sell off a Bay and put an Albion into extended readiness.........

    However I think your OAC does not offer enough to be a really useful deployable warship given that to pay for them we would have to drastically cut the T26 buy. However a SIMSS type vessel could actually be partially funded from other agencies budgets, i.e. DfID, MAFF, etc.

    Anyway, we agree to disagree matey.



  4. Dear Jed

    well we do agree there need to be ships, that's a start. I think for the Danish the Absalon class is great, I also the Knud Ramusen class which are their OPVs that they send all round Greenland are great. When I was writing this I shifted back and forth between the two and eventually went for the smaller size (and the corvette signifier) because of the increased yards that could build and the larger number of ports it could get into - plus it wasn't going to be carrying land forces other than a RM boarding party or Special Forces. That in my mind plus the entertaining space is the really big advantage of an Absalon sized vessel.

    On the Bay's and Albion's I couldn't agree more with you, you might have noticed that I often use the Bay's as motherships for operations - a role I think they have been sorely under appreciated by the government on(personally if we'd need to save money that badly, I think sticking one in reserve sitting in Falmouth where they're maintained would have been the sensible option). I think in both classes the scrapping of the built in hangar was absurd, and on Albion and Bulwark the deletion of that cost them a far better hospital, gym and extra accommodation - all things which would have been really useful and when your saving less than £50million you have to ask what are you really saving you are spending that amount of money anyway? Being able to stow 3-4 medium helicopters would have been a great asset especially now they are 'umming and arring' about the Ocean, Illustrious & Argus replacements; as would being able to keep fitness levels of the embarked force at a higher level with the better gym, being able to embark a slightly larger force wouldn't have hurt either - but second in importance to the hangar has got to be medical bay which was planned at more than twice the size of the current one.

    Well on the paying for point, I would say they are aimed to be less that £100million a vessel, with the £2billion underspend of the MOD this year that could buy 20 of them... or maybe just buy 12 and use the rest of the money for other things. The idea is similar to that used with light cruisers and destroyer leaders in the 1920s when the RN would try to make them as cheap as possible to sneak them by the Treasury - often succeeding.

    happy to agree to disagree, but wanted to again say thank you for commenting.

    hope you have a nice Sunday evening

    yours sincerely


  5. Alexander

    Its been mypleasure, I only found your site today via links posted to Think Defence, and have been reading many of your fine articles between my NFL games :-) (I live in Canada now). So Bravo Zulu on a great site matey !



  6. Dear Jed

    It's been a pleasure to chat, I glad you found them interesting. I hope your team(s) did well, I've only ever caught NFL on the BBC's occasional broadcasts, so enjoy the games but have never really got into as much as I could imagine a rugby fan could.

    yours sincerely, and thank you again


  7. What is required is a ship of around 3000 tonnes capable of the full spectrum of mine warfare via uuvs and uavs, with a flight deck and hanger capable of handling a wildcat asw helicopter. A sophisticated bow mounted sonar is required for the amw work and an artisan 3d search radar for aaw, this would enable the inclusion of 12-24 camm sams. A 76 mm deck gun and a couple of miniguns would complete the equipment load. A flexible mission space for the inclusion of 2 x 20 iso containers or a pair of rigid inflatables for special operations. 12 ships like this would be sufficient to replace the Hunt and Sandown classes but would also compliment the escort fleet in time of conflict. The ships would be capable of convoy escort, mine countermeasure, hydrography, anti-piracy, fisheries protection, and anti-smuggling operations.


Thankyou for taking the time to comment, I endeavour to reply to every comment that I can within the constraints of time