Steller Systems offers another option for the Type 31 frigate design

Steller Systems, an independent consultancy specialising in naval architecture, has just announced Project Spartan a design proposal to be considered for the Royal Navy’s Type 31 frigate / GPFF project. To date, BAE Systems has submitted 2 outline proposals and BMT Group have submitted their Venator-110. Here we take a brief look at the competing options for the Type 31 design.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth nearing completion in Rosyth

HMS Queen Elizabeth – making good progress

The exact dates of the departure of HMS Queen Elizabeth for sea trials and her subsequent arrival in Portsmouth have been subject of intense media speculation. Briefings last year had given the impression that sea trials would probably be conducted in March 2017, although many journalists overlooked the caveat that timings maybe subject to change. It is now clear that the sea trials date has slipped slightly but disappointment over minor delays must be seen in the context of a very ambitious 8-year building project. There have also been various other rumours about the project circulating, some of which are addressed here.

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HMS Artful roll out

Will 2017 be “the year of the Royal Navy” ?

On New Years Day the Ministry of Defence stated: “2017 is the year of the navy”. The Defence Secretary said, “2017 is the start of a new era of maritime power, projecting Britain’s influence globally and delivering security at home.” There is no doubt that there will be some very significant milestones in the program to deliver new equipment to the RN and there are many reasons to be positive. But this is just one side of the story. While it is very heartening to see new vessels arrive, this must be seen in the context of the size and strength of the fleet as a whole.

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Naval Strike Missile

Failure to replace the Harpoon anti-ship missile would be inexcusable

The Royal Navy’s sole heavyweight anti-ship missile, Harpoon (Block 1C) will reach the end of its life in 2018 and at present there is no plan or funding for a replacement. Recently HMS Duncan, Richmond and Sutherland escorted Russian warships close to the UK. In photos showing these warships at work, the 8 Harpoon missile canisters were plainly visible. Although nearly obsolete, the missiles purpose is clear and their availability reassuring. When the RN is called on to meet Russian vessels in 2018, their hitting power will be nothing but a single 4.5” gun. This state of affairs is unacceptable, dangerous and risks making the navy a laughing-stock.

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Type 31 frigate Venator 110

Type 31 Frigate – unwanted child of austerity or bright hope for a larger fleet?

It is widely accepted that the current total of 19 surface escorts falls far short of what is needed to meet the UK’s strategic aims. With the Type 26 frigate programme now fixed at 8 ships, the only way surface escort numbers are ever going to be increased is to build more of the cheaper Type 31 frigate (General Purpose Frigate – GPFF). The 2015 SDSR committed government to “at least 19” frigates and destroyers but on 4th November 2016, when talking in the context of frigates, the Defence Secretary said “We will have fleet larger than the fleet at the moment”. This is a positive sign and at least suggests intent in government build more than 5 Type 31 frigates.

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Royal Navy Sea Power - Gulf war 1991

Britain needs to re-discover its understanding of sea power

This is an article by guest writer Christian McLean-Mair who recently completed a Masters degree in military history. You can read his blog here or follow him on Twitter @ChrisQF

In recent years it appears that much of the British public has lost their passion for the sea; there is far less interest in the Navy than the Air Force, and Parliamentary approaches to funding have reflected this trend. Yet it must not be forgotten that it is sea power that has remained the arbiter of British policy throughout our nation’s history, and that it is upon the seas that the fate of nations are decided. 

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