Sir John Parker's National Shipbuilding Strategy

Flight

LE
Book Reviewer
Well given that the evidence in the select committee indicated a budget of £8 billion and we were meant to be buying 13, then 8...

How many are we going to end up with?
 
Well given that the evidence in the select committee indicated a budget of £8 billion and we were meant to be buying 13, then 8...

How many are we going to end up with?


8, but I'll take a wager we won't see more than 6.

MOD refuses to learn - halving the order doesn't halve the cost. Development costs are fixed as are things like the yard. If you cut the number you buy, you have to amortise those fixed costs over a smaller number of ships driving the unit cost up.
Cutting the number of T45's from 8 to 6 didn't actually save anything.
 
Given your explanation, then it seems the primary issue with the T26 pricing (shifting requirements, not enough orders etc) won't be fixed by having competitors bid?

The disappointing thing about the report was that it did not say "bring more money" - standfast one brief mention of potential for other government departments to provide short-term funds (which refers to the near-years funding crunch causing much of this grief). Nor did it look at anything other than warships (and export warships) as workstream.

If there is no more money, you're asking the same budget to support more people and facilities and sustain this for the future. Which is nonsensical and only works if significant export orders can be attracted. Trouble is, the report also suggests selling off RN warships to be replaced by new-build - which anyone will tell you depresses the new-build export market (see US/UK/RNLN disposal of frigates in 90s for details - had a major impact on MEKO sales).

Would personally have mandated that any UK government owned ships were to be UK-built as a preference post Brexit. Not massive and not market distorting, but a starting point. If you can get enough work through to fund the yard overheads over multiple contracts, things become a lot easier.
 
Cutting the number of T45's from 8 to 6 didn't actually save anything.

No so, it helps in preventing the RN from participating in activities in support of Western Imperialism.
 
But what to sell?
Utterly shagged 23's?
Or 45's that even Green Flag wouldn't offer breakdown cover to.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
RIP
My understanding of the T45 engineering debacle is that it was precisely the result of political interference in technical matters in order to safeguard 'jobs'. Well, it certainly did that, it has produced useful make-work in the rectification process.

I do wonder (since, as repeatedly pointed out, steel is cheap and air is free) if rather than trying to design, expensively, a 'new' T31 it would not be cheaper to roll out another 5 T26 fitted-for-but-not-with this that and the other.

It is also to the point that making a ship smaller makes in harder to stuff in new gismos during the ensuing quarter to half century of a warship's life and makes to overall lifetime cost (because of earlier replacement) HIGHER.
 
Sounds of stampeding treasury horses neighing.....

But it's 8,000 tonnes! that's why it's so expensive! Make it smaller!
 

Flight

LE
Book Reviewer
I see what you're saying @Not a Boffin, though another way of putting it surely would be that BAEs have manipulated the contract to remove any commercial risk to themselves. Increasing the number of man hours to ensure full work plus profit despite knowing they could build them quicker and cheaper.

Surely they should have gratefully accepted 60% capacity or whatever the figure would be over a period of a dozen years or so and sought extra contracts from abroad?

Call me old fashioned but that smells of corruption to me. Surely we didn't contractually guarantee them a free champagne lunch for more than a decade on the public purse? If the ToBA was roughly what I recall then surely 3 Type 26s would roughly meet the contractual obligation?

Sir John clearly thinks the other yards in the UK can build something good for a fraction of the price. Am I as a tax payer meant to weep into my cornflakes over BAEs plight here?

If they do build both almost concurrently and CL etc deliver hulls quicker and cheaper with 90% of the capability as a tax payer am I supposed to support shipbuilding on the Clyde because a one eyed Jock tyrant wanted to gerrymander a constituency?
 
Surely they should have gratefully accepted 60% capacity or whatever the figure would be over a period of a dozen years or so and sought extra contracts from abroad?

Which contracts? From what nations? Particularly with a shipbuilding facility that is decidedly sub-optimal and would have closed without the ToBA.

Why should the BAE shareholders accept commercial risk when they are being held responsible for maintenance of the domestic capability? If someone tells you you're responsible for something, you don't automatically say OK give me 2/3 of the funds necessary and I'll hope to find the rest "somewhere else", do you? Because in a depressed world market with a somewhat unreliable customer, that's a very brave decision.

I personally think they could have done more, could be more efficient and less process-led, but I can't blame them for not acceding to that risk.
 
I see what you're saying @Not a Boffin, though another way of putting it surely would be that BAEs have manipulated the contract to remove any commercial risk to themselves. Increasing the number of man hours to ensure full work plus profit despite knowing they could build them quicker and cheaper.

Remember, BAE have been here before. See CVF where they were told by a certain persons treasury to cut £100 million off the carrier design. They did exactly as they were told and indeed cut £100 million off the design, they made it shorter.

What! What's with this £250 million increase in the programme cost! You told us you'd save £100 million!

Well, we saved the money by making the carrier smaller like you asked.

So how come it's cost an extra £250 million!

Well, a shorter hull isn't as hydrodynamically efficient, so as well as a redesign of the hull, we had to build in more power, and that meant an internal redesign, and we had to rob some hanger space for al the lost compartments, and......

Doh!

Now spend 10 years doing the same thing, change the design time after time with the T26 design.
The hullform design in particular has been quite a source of tears as the weight went up. 'If I wanted to get there, I wouldn't have started from here'

And don't forget either, BAE have seen fine words and promised big orders wither away like the morning dew. 14 T45's became 6, 11 SSNs became 7, 16 Global Combat Ships became 8
 
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Flight

LE
Book Reviewer

Someone else seems happy.

Which only really leaves the treasury and the MoD.

What are the actual terms of the Toba? Is it a certain amount of work per year in terms of £s?
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
RIP
That's J's peerage in the bag then.
 
Someone else seems happy.
Which only really leaves the treasury and the MoD.
What are the actual terms of the Toba? Is it a certain amount of work per year in terms of £s?


naturally he's happy, he's hoping this digs him out of the current hole the RN is in, but it doesn't grasp the underlying problem.
 

Flight

LE
Book Reviewer
So the Clyde is guaranteed £230m worth of work per year?

That's not a lot of Type 26.

Is the underlying problem related to this..

It's easy to have a pop at BAE, but have you ever considered why they get away with it ? However poor they may be, they keep getting paid. Having worked for them in defence a few times, I'll tell you why; because the MoD are even worse.

No matter how badly we screwed the pooch, we always had a list of fuckups from their side we could trade off against. When we delivered what they asked for they'd look dazed and mumble, "err, we actually wanted ..." Which, all too often was what we suggested they might like a decade ago, only to be told by some arrogant, ignorant tool that we knew nothing.

The civilian staff earn far less than we do for the equivalent job and their quality reflects that. We wouldn't touch most of them with a bargepole. And that's before they get moved just as they get used to the job into a post they are not qualified or experienced for.

But for the gold standard in inexperienced, unqualified staff parachuted into posts they know nothing about you have to look at the uniformed staff. Keen, punchy, on a mission to get that OJAR nailed by doing something, anything to look good. The few that do care invariably disappear just as they understand how to do their job properly.

And the culture is toxic, irredeemably so in my view. Results do not matter, delivery does not matter, all that does is process. Tick the boxes and your career is assured. Mistakes will never follow you, so move often and you will shine.
 
So the Clyde is guaranteed £230m worth of work per year?

That's not a lot of Type 26.

Is the underlying problem related to this..

It's easy to have a pop at BAE, but have you ever considered why they get away with it ? However poor they may be, they keep getting paid. Having worked for them in defence a few times, I'll tell you why; because the MoD are even worse.

No matter how badly we screwed the pooch, we always had a list of fuckups from their side we could trade off against. When we delivered what they asked for they'd look dazed and mumble, "err, we actually wanted ..." Which, all too often was what we suggested they might like a decade ago, only to be told by some arrogant, ignorant tool that we knew nothing.

The civilian staff earn far less than we do for the equivalent job and their quality reflects that. We wouldn't touch most of them with a bargepole. And that's before they get moved just as they get used to the job into a post they are not qualified or experienced for.

But for the gold standard in inexperienced, unqualified staff parachuted into posts they know nothing about you have to look at the uniformed staff. Keen, punchy, on a mission to get that OJAR nailed by doing something, anything to look good. The few that do care invariably disappear just as they understand how to do their job properly.

And the culture is toxic, irredeemably so in my view. Results do not matter, delivery does not matter, all that does is process. Tick the boxes and your career is assured. Mistakes will never follow you, so move often and you will shine.


Or…

We want a new gun, a 5" gun.

So, do we pick the most common and used by all our allies and built by BAE 5" Mk45 that ticks all the boxes?
Or do we spend a wedge of cash and time naval gazing at all the other 5" options, including BAE's chief rival, OTO Malera's gun, before deciding the Mk45 is the obvious solution and telling BAE to proceed with designing in their gun?

Time, money and design effort wasted and the designer/manufacturer annoyed.

Multiply that across everything on T26 and you can see why the design process is so drawn out and expensive.
 

Flight

LE
Book Reviewer
That isn't design, that's requirements.
 
That isn't design, that's requirements.


The requirement was a 5" gun, all the wasted time, energy, and design effort and money was down to a lack of confidence to make a decision by the end user.
But that indecisiveness comes with a cost. Either BAE freezes the designing of the gun bay and ancillaries until the end users make their mind up, lost time, or they spend time and money designing options for a variety of guns, some of which they know are not going to get the nod.

Would you go into a car dealer and order a car with half the options undecided and marked as 'I'll get back to you after I've looked at every other alternative option from 3rd party suppliers', but carry on building my car?
The dealer will certainly oblige you and build a car with all the options now down as 'dealer fit'. But while a factory fit Sat nav system is £1,600, a dealer fit of the same is nearly £3,000 as they now have to rip out all the dash, modify the wiring harness and build in a load of parts that weren't fitted at the factory.

Warships are a tad more complex than a car, but the RN feels its OK to endlessly tinker and hmmm and ha with the design right up to and into build. Then when the cost goes sub orbital, they call foul and blame BAE.
 

Mattb

LE
As I understand it, the T26/31 development went something like this.

We want 13 new frigates
We shall go with the current model whereby 8 are ASW and the other 5 are 'general purpose' (ie without the really expensive sonar fitted)
To make the frigate more versatile (which will mainly benefit the GP ships) we shall make it big, so that it can have a mission bay and chinook flight deck.
Now the ship is big
Big means expensive (if you lick windows as a hobby)
We aren't going to give you 13 big ships
You can't have your GP ships as big ones
Have a completely different class that we shall also have to design.
Now you have:
- Frigates with the special (GP) features that it probably won't use
- GP ships without the special features, because they're too small

And I absolutely guarantee that the T31 programme in total will cost more than the build price of five FFNW Type 26s.

Anyone care to challenge the above?
 

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