donald_of_tokyo wrote: ↑14 Mar 2023, 14:43
1: If no money nor man-power, 3 River B1s will just go away on 2025. This will release 30x3 = 90 man-power. I'm afraid the 90 crew will be needed for T31-hull1 (which will enable the first of the last 3 T23GP to be kept in service until 2026, a year before the T31-hull1 being accepted into service).
I think this was
current planning. The forward RB2s were to be relieved by the T31s apart from in the Caribbean and Falklands. The RB1s would decommission and the RB2s would slot back into the UK EEZ.
Two things to consider. The RB2s are really a bit too capable for UK EEZ patrol when compared to other RN patrol vessels that have performed the same role but times are changing. Patrolling the oil and gas fields, offshore wind farms and protecting undersea cables is going to become much more important as securing critical national infrastructure rises up the agenda.
Working in conjunction with the MROSS and possibly the Castle Class LSVs will become more important and therefore I am not of the opinion that the RB2s are over qualified for UK EEZ patrol any longer. So effectively current planning with the RB2s should continue.
The second consideration is that if the T31s are going to become more capable then it makes sense to operate from one single forward base, most likely Duqm alongside LRG(S). A sensible logistic chain will save money and improve efficiency. Three or four T31s plus a Bay, Wave and hopefully Bulwark operating primarily in the Gulf, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and the Indo-Pacific gives RN enough assets to really make its presence felt. Proportionate and affordable, it’s a good plan if the manpower can be found to operate it.
That leaves East and West Africa and the Caribbean. This is where the 3 replacements for the RB1s need to be tailored to operate IMO. Nothing fancy, expensive or complicated just simple high capacity OPVs maintaining a persistent presence in the areas of operation.
2: If T31's crew is not planned to be reused from the 3 River B1s, and there is a good money and additional 50 man-power, getting 2 of a Vard-7 313 (core crew 74), or Fassmer MPV100 (N/A) or "stabilized" RNZN MRV Canterbury (70), as "multi-role OPVs" could help a lot.
Lots of good options but where are the UK options from BAE, Babcock and BMT? The T32 could be a world-beating cutting edge design but I don’t believe it needs to be a Frigate and if built as an OPV it would be half the cost and twice as exportable. Why not design two options, Frigate and OPV and let RN decide. The steel needs cut in Rosyth in 3 years time and the whole program currently appears to have capsized. The T32 program has every possibility of being RNs Ajax moment without restraint.
The concepts you mention are interesting. The Canterbury has a good idea, badly executed so not an option. The Fassmer concepts are certainly very impressive and likely very expensive. They are certainly aimed at a certain market but I don’t think it’s the UK market. Vard is the one I would be most interested in. Solid hull forms with excellent sea keeping qualities tailored to the end user. They would slot into Rosyth or Appledore beautifully.
Actually I think these three replacement OPVs could be procured for £50m, £100m or £150m per hull. Of course, capability and build standards improve as the budget increases but none of these vessels need to have anything more than the most basic self defence weapons.
3: If T31's crew is not planned to be reused from the 3 River B1s, and only small money and no additional man-power are there,
3A: two 94 or 100m version of River B2 (River B3) with enclosed mission hangar might come in.
3B: Or, purchase 3 80-m class simplish (much more merchant ship-like) OPVs to replace River B1s one-by-one, while adding many extra kits to River B2s.
In the most simplest terms these OPVs are going to cost around £1m per meter if fitted with simple weapons and sensors unless converted commercial vessels are chosen.
High Capacity OPVs would be a huge boost to capability for a very modest outlay. More 80m to 90m OPV would be a huge missed opportunity. Not adding the hangers to RB2s was a disastrous decision at the time. This is the chance to fix it.