Global deployment is thus important.
On the other hand, I think deploying a T31e or a Wave/Tide/Bay will be good enough.....Military exercises, HADR operations, port visits, not only actually doing war, all of them will make "friends" with the nations.
Exactly, so why the T31?
My preferred option is to upgrade the T31 programme into the £350m+ region or better still scrap it altogether and introduce a second tier of escort frigates based on the T26. This would then allow a class of highly versatile but technically basic global patrol vessels to replace the £250m T31's role.
Pure fantasy I know but I think it's worth looking seriously at the merit of big capable commercially derived floating forward bases that don't cost the earth to operate and support.
If RN was to forward base vessels in Singapore would a T31 really be the right vessel? For major HADR deployments it would be little use. For military exercises it would probably be one of the least capable vessels taking part. For port visits it would be just about as impressive as an OPV (especially Leander). What's the attraction apart from a political desire to pretend frigate numbers aren't being cut.
Instead of a T31, what if HMG decided to operate RFA vessels from Singapore? Maybe 1 or both Waves and a £125m Global Patrol Vessel? The Waves could earn their keep supporting Allied Task groups operating in the area and the GPV could act as a cost effective multipurpose platform that could be surged at short notice if events dictate.
The Wave(s) and GPV combination could make an enormous contribution to HADR operations in the region. This would undoubtedly make the UK lots of friends. A modest number of 10,000t to 20,000t UK vessels turning up in anyone's harbour is going to be impressive, especially if a CSG joins them occasionally. Freedom of Navigation operations could be conducted by RFA vessels just as effectively as by RN vessels.
Maybe if HMG really want to increase the UK's global presence, the RFA might be a very good way of doing it.
An OPV is not good in these tasks, because it is very political/diplomatic. For example, when French Floreal-class visits Japan or HMS Montrose, a T23 frigate visits Japan, I think there is no big difference. The media says "a warship", and 99% of the folks cannot distinguish them. Then, why not T31?
In the same way, why not a 10,000t GPV? What's more impressive, a 117m stretched OPV with a single Wildcat or a 10,000t GPV with multiple helicopters, LCVP's/LCU's/LCAC's or CB90's? Even if it's just for an Exercise or as a PR stunt for the local media before all the kit is packed up and shipped back to the UK. It would show what kind of a surge capability the UK could provide in the region.
The strength in depth that these GPV's could add to any Amphibious Task Force would be an added bonus.
Effectively are the 2 proposed HADR vessels just GPV's with a different nomenclature?
Four £125m 10,000t GPV's could adequately perform virtually everything that is needed for the Caribbean, Falklands APT(S), East/West Africa HADR and Singapore or Brunei. This would leave an extra £750m for an extra T26 with effectively no loss of hull numbers.