Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Someone needs to answer not only for this diabolical situation where a new vessel is not fit for purpose and needs to go back to the builders, but also for the cost that the British Government has paid for them.
If I understand correctly the cost for the three vessels is somewhere around £348 million and yet Brazil ordered 3 Amazonas OPVs from BAE with virtually the same specifications for £133 million (all Three plus support). So my first question is why, this is a £200 million difference.
If this is not bad enough the Netherlands have ordered and built a class of 4 Holland Class OPVs, these vessels are larger with a helicopter hanger and much more powerfully armed for 467 million Euros.
So again why, no one can say that the Dutch build bad ships, the OPVs are designed to work in the same area as the RNs, their salaries and taxes are similar. So Why please if someone can answer these questions for me I would be quite happy, but the way I see it the £200 million would be a useful addition to the T31 budget that has been wasted.

jon agar

Simple they are called BAEs and the screw everyone


There was a gap between the ends of the QE class fabrication and the start of T26 construction. In order to keep BAe shipbuilding in existence the government agreed to pay them a money each year. To keep their skills current the B2 rivers were ordered. The price of these ships is all about the cost of keeping the shipyards open a little about the actual building expenses.
This sorry tail is what you get when you want to build in a home yard but don’t have a rolling order plan.


Thats no excuse for quality problems, these should be almost superyacht standard with the quantity of labour available.


Its surprising that the RN when they realised that they were paying the money to BAE whether they wanted to or not didn’t specify Khareef Class designs rather than River B.2. Lots of extra capability for zero extra money.


That actually goes back to the 15 year 2009 ToBA (Terms of Business Arrangement) between BAE and the MOD, so it’s not directly related to any current gap.


The extra ~£200 million is for T26 build training, isn’t it?

There is no excuse for this quality issue.

There are many excuse for the high cost.

TOBA is there for reasons, which is very logical I think.

Why RN is building 5 OPVs, and not the 1st batch of T31e in place, is primarily RN/MOD’s fault, not foreseeing (or prepared for) the delay of T26 build start and inability to fund 13 of them.

Cost spent for the 5 hull amounts to ~£630 million. In other words, 2.5 T31e equivalent. RN/MOD’s optimistic “innocence” made this “waste of money” happen.

But, note again, this quality issue is totally of BAES issue. They shall pay for everything RN needs to compensate.


It was always a scam to build the 3 B2 OPV in Glasgow at the inflated cost of 348 million.
It was all about politics keeping the local Labour party happy and the SNP at bay .
The RN never wanted the B2 but due to Gordon Brown’s and Geoff Hoons reluctance to order the type 26 2004 there was a gap between the QE program and the Type 26 so 348 million was paid to build the world’s most exspensive OPV and under gunned OPV .
And on a side note our new exspensive and world’s biggest helicopter carriers might never embark the F35B as it now transpires courtesy of a FOI request to the USMC the heat resistant plates for landing the F35B are only good for 7 landings before they break up and cost a cool $1.5 million to replace + plus the plane is proving to be very hard to maintain and very manpower intensive.

Well done Geoff Hoon and Gordon Brown you paid for 2 prized turkeys with taxpayer money. The QE program and the F35B program and in doing so have destroyed all 3 armed services.


The UK does not use the same heat resistant treating that the USN does….the US uses Thermion. The UK got a proprietary surface treatment from Monitor Coatings. It’s been extensively tested…The USMC plates are also for land not sea…..nothing to do with ships. So it doesn’t affect the UK.

As to the operating costs they’re coming down all the time. Just as they did with Typhoon, Tornado, Harrier etc. Things are always expensive in the early days and with small fleet sizes. The MoD is wisely buying the bulk of their F-35B when full rate production is underway rather than from the more expensive low rate initial production.


Totally untrue the UK is locked into a unit cost of £138 million per plane .
The USMC plates where for ships not land based
And the MoD has refused to answer if the uk plates have the same problem.

It is unimportant any way the treasury has committed funds for only 24 F35B anyway and I predict that no more will be brought and as such there will be insufficient numbers to creat a meaningful strike force.
The navy wanted cats and traps and the f18 the raf wanted f35a and the treasury said share f35b to save money and result of the government’s tinkering is the world’s most exspensive helicopter carrier with at the option of a cple F35B if the RAF can spare them.
We can never send these white elephants into action we have to few escort vessels ,not enough planes to defend or preform strike duties and most importantly of all not enough personnel to man a task group.
Time to give up being a blue water navy and become a coastal defence force. The army is already a home defence force and the RAF can’t even protect the uk air space so let’s just close the MoD and give the budget to the NHS.


1: Where did you get to the idea “no more F35B will be brought”?
2: USN has 138 escorts for 11 CVNs and 9 LHDs = 6.9:1 ratio. UK-RN has 19 escorts for 2 CVFs (1 for strike and 1 for LPH) = 9.5:1 ratio. Even if T31e is not to be counted as escorts, it is 14 = 7:1 ratio. Why you think “RN can never send these white elephants into action we have to few escort vessels”?
3: “not enough personnel to man a task group”, what is the number you have?

If NHS is important, I think just increase the TAX. No problem. How about cutting ODA? Yes, making RN a coastal navy is one solution to do more without increasing TAX, but it is only one of the many solutions.


We have standing commitments and at the moment over half the escorts are either laid up ,undergoing maintainence or refits leaving just 9 ships 4 of which are presently in harbour laid up and the rest are fulfilling our commitments.
The funding for 24 F35B has been agreed the treasury has refused to give funding for the next batch at the present time .
The F35B are a shared platform the RAF has precedence in there operational use and a third of the number will be in maintainence leaving just 16 and that is insufficient to provide CAP and a strike role. Plus the royal navy has no way of refuelling the planes aloft meaning the carriers would have to stand close in to provide any meaningful strike .

Just be honest Brown,Hoon,Lord West and Osbourne and Hammond have eviscerated the armed forces with there short term decisions.

I would like nothing better than be proven wrong ,but there was not a peep out of Labour or the Lib Dems about the type 31 delay and most Tories said nothing which will embodied the treasury to not fund them.
Which means defence has no votes and therefore no influence on the political decision.


I’m afraid your point of view is rather extreme.

1: If RN can prepare a CVTF, do we really need standing commitments covered by escorts? “Revenge by CVTF” cannot be a deterrence?

2: Funding for F35B, we will see it in future. Basing assumption on “only 24, no more” is what I do not follow. We have different point of view here.

3: On “meaningful strike”, I’m afraid you are thinking of peer-to-peer war. For me, CVTF is to fight with 2nd-class airforce, not 1st-class. And, 95% of the worlds is 2nd-class or much less. If a CVTF carries 24 F35B, I think it can win many of the war against most of the world’s airforce. 24 F35B differs a lot from 24 SeaHarrier. UK CVTF is not going to fight with China or Russia alone, nor India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and USA. Many of other airforces can be handled with a CVTF. This is the big difference, UK never had such CVTF after 1950s.

4: “Just be honest Brown,Hoon,Lord West and Osbourne and Hammond have eviscerated the armed forces with there short term decisions.” I agree. CVF is too large, risking escort fleet and amphibious fleet. Many optimistic, unbalanced decision harmed RN a lot.

But, it is not the end of the day.

5: “defence has no votes and therefore no influence on the political decision.” You may be right, or may be wrong. Let’s see MDP to come.


The truth about the carrier programme is beginning to dawn on the enthusiasts.

Paul Bestwick

Andy where did you get the idea that we buy US equipment in sterling? If so why all the concern since the brexit vote over the value of sterling and its impact on the defence budget.


Paul this has nothing to do with Brexit.
And we buy us equipment in $$ but before the ref £1=$1.50 now £1=$1.28 so less $ for your £ which effects the price and quantity you can buy.

My concern centres on the fact that extra costs have been loaded into the defence budget but there has been no corresponding increase in the budget one these costs is the vanguard replacement which is already costing 500 million a year before even steel is cut and the money to pay for it comes from the defence budget .
Vanguard was paid for from central government and cost £2 billion a year now it comes from the MoD budget plus the costs of GCHQ MI5/MI6 and pensions which where never paid for in the defence budget.
Over 10 billion of costs have been added to the defence budget but only 2 billion of extra money has been given over the last 5 years and it will get worse.
Take out the deterrent and intelligence and pensions out defence spending is 1.6% of GDP not enough to fund our commitments.


This is something that I have often about ,does the downwash from the F35B and its ground loading make its potential landing sites so restrictive that it’s very difficult to imagine it being used anywhere other than an airfield?


It is a on going problem the USMC has been unable to solve the heat downwash problem and find a composite that works as a durable heat shield.
What is more worrying is the amount of maintenance needed to keep the F35B combat ready .

We brought a turkey for our white elephants.


What t31 budget? If i understood correctly the money for them still hasn’t been included in the MOD budget and everyone is effectively waiting for the mini SDSR to confirm what money is available for what. When the MOD released its 10 year equipment plan, there was no mention of the t31.

I would put money on there being a link to the delay/freeze on the t31 project being linked heavily to the delay in the defence review.


Has this piece of crap been paid for?Hopefully the RN will not accept anymore B2s unless they are properly finished. I didn’t realise that HMS Clyde was so young ,Bae can pay to keep her in service for years if necessary.


Are Bae are paying Clydes crews wages as well?


The RN never wanted the B2 they wanted the type 26 ordered but Lord West sided with hoon and brown and agreed to the delay and the ordering of the overpriced B2 to keep the skills ( what a joke that turned out to be) in the ship yards until the type 26 was ordered in 2009 then 10 and eventually 2018 .
14 years to order a ship whose cost has risen from 600 million to 1 billion and numbers cut from 13 to 8 , I predict we will get 6 just like the type 45 12 to 10 to 8 to 6 to save money and the programme still cost the original £6 billion.
BAE has a proven track record of Ballooning costs.


Hundreds of type 45 crew must be looking for something to do at the moment.


Not true?


Oh look,I’ve been voted down by a mass of relaxing type 45 crew.


If ever there was an ‘excuse’ for a Reserve Fleet this is it. There are many nay sayers in this regard. However while I suppose Reserve ships still cost money to keep in a state of suspended animation; the RN keeps ships generally in such a good state of maintenance and repair, almost all can quickly be brought back into service in a short time. This is especially true of relatively unsophisticated warships like OPVs. I would also include all RFA vessels.

With such ludicrously small numbers of ships the RN needs a reserve fleet.

I am also prepared to come over and lend a hand with maintaining them, as I have Merchant Navy experience. Can we please have a RNVR to support this?


It may appear that ships can be reactivated quick, but its only really a half truth, they can move through the water yes, but all of their subsystems like the main gun, radars, all the bits that are exposed to the elements and move rust up tight and reuse to move costing significant contractors costs to get them going again. so yes they can spark the engines up but that’s about it really. I have always had an adage in engineering to stop it breaking use it daily


The USN has been trying to get rid of its reserve fleet for years but congress keeps refusing .pork belly politics.


What you might be overlooking, is that a lot of the “active”fleet is already effectively in reserve. The same is true of quite a of equipment across all 3 services .


Article gone AWOL, or did I just imagine it?