A modern Royal Navy ASW corvette based on the WW2 Flower-Class

By Nicholas Drummond

In another departure from regular Land Domain content, this article considers a naval topic that has aroused much recent interest both within and beyond the UK Defence Community: the need for light frigates and corvettes to compensate for a reduced total number of warships. As the UK Ministry of Defence prepares to review bids for its Type 31 frigate requirement, it may be helpful to consider UK requirements in this area by looking back on similar ships produced between 1939 and 1945. 

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Revell-00451-Flower-Class-Corvette-Technik
Flower-Class Corvette of WW2. This illustration was used for Revell’s 1/72 scale model of HMCS Snowberry. (Image: Revell Models)

At the beginning of the Second World War, the Royal Navy had 332 warships making it the world’s largest navy. The fleet included 15 battleships, 7 aircraft carriers, 66 cruisers, 184 destroyers, 45 patrol vessels, and 60 submarines. While the size of the Royal Navy’s fleet was a major factor in deterring Hitler’s invasion plans in 1940, the Admiralty realised that it was short of small escort vessels for coastal patrol duties. This led to a requirement for an inexpensive inshore vessel that could be produced quickly in large numbers. It also needed be easy to operate, so it could be crewed by inexperienced sailors. The resulting design, developed by Smith’s Docks in Middlesborough, was based on a pre-war whale catcher and dubbed the Flower-Class corvette. It displaced 940 tonnes, measured 62.5 metres in length, and 10 metres in width. Two oil-fired cylindrical boilers powered a 2,050 Kw steam engine giving the ship a range of 4,650 Nm (6,482 km) at 13 knots. Its top speed of 16 knots (29.6 k/ph) was quite slow relative to larger Navy warships, many of which were capable of 28-30 knots, but it was fast enough to chase a submerged submarine, which typically traveled at around 8 knots (14.9 k/ph). 

Almost before the first Flowers began to role down the slipways of sundry British shipyards, it was realised that additional vessels were needed to escort transatlantic convoys. As is so often the case with ships, aircraft and armoured vehicles in time of war, they were pressed into service in a role for which they were not designed. Fortunately, the Flowers were large enough to negotiate Atlantic in mid-winter, although they rolled easily in rough seas which quickly exhausted their crews.

HMS_Meadowsweet_K144

Flower-Class corvettes packed a remarkable punch for such a small warship. A single BL Mk IX 4” naval gun with 100 rounds of ammunition was mounted on the forecastle, four Mk II depth charge dispensers plus 25 depth charges, and twin .303 Lewis guns were mounted aft. The ships were later modified so that they additionally had a 40mm “pom-pom” anti-aircraft gun on a Mk VIII bandstand mount amidships, two Oerlikon 20mm cannons on the bridge, and Hedgehog anti-submarine mortars on the foredeck. 

german-u-boat-attack-world-war-ii-science-photo-library
During WW2 German U-boats sank about 2,780 ships, totalling of 14.1 million tons in gross tonnage. This figure represents about 70% of all allied shipping losses to hostile action in all theatres of the war. The most successful year was 1942 when over 6 million tons of shipping were sunk in the Atlantic.

Winning the Battle of the Atlantic required Flowers to be fitted with Type 123 ASDIC sonars for detecting German U-boats. These were placed in dome fixed to the hull about 12 metres from the bow. Early Flower-Class ships had an enclosed wheel house on top of the bridge. This was later changed to an open design for better visibility. Refitted ships added a surface radar mounted in a lantern housing behind the bridge. This became very useful for tracking submarines that followed convoys on the surface. 

Initially, Flower-Class vessels had a crew of 47, but this was increased to 85, including five officers. The forecastle of refitted versions was lengthened to add additional accommodation for the extra crew.

FCC0003
Flower-Class corvettes were small, inexpensive vessels designed for inshore escort duties. A chronic lack of escorts for the vital North Atlantic convoys resulted in such ships being used in a role for which they were never intended. Despite cramped accommodation, a slow surface speed and a willingness to roll in even in gentle swells, the Flowers made a crucial difference and saved millions of tons of shipping.

A total of 267 Flower Class corvettes were built between 1939 and 1940. They were operated by British, Canadian, French and US navies. Despite a very high number being built, the design constantly evolved throughout the vessel’s service life and it was uncommon for any to be alike in either configuration or appearance.

Between 1939 and 1945, 36 Flower-Class corvettes were lost, of which 22 were torpedoed by enemy U-boats. They accounted for 51 enemy submarines sunk (47 German boats plus 4 Italian). The most successful Royal Navy Flower-Class vessel was HMS Sunflower, which single-handedly sunk U-638 on 5 May 1943 and U-631 on 17 October 1943. It shared in the sinking of a third submarine, U-282, on 29 October 1943. Winston Churchill took great delight in announcing that a Royal Navy vessel with a name that made it sound more like a pleasure cruiser than a warship had sunk three German submarines. 

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Ultimately, Flower-Class corvettes gave the Royal Navy critical mass at a crucial moment. In doing so, they saved countless lives, millions of tonnes of shipping, and prevented Britain from being starved into surrender. These small corvettes were mediocre ships at best, but they represented almost 50% of total number of allied escort vessels during WW2. The significant contribution made by the Flowers was graphically depicted by the 1952 war film “The Cruel Sea” starring Jack Hawkins and Denholm Elliott. Based on the the novel of the same name by Nicholas Monsarrat, it ranks among the greatest of British war movies. 

As the war progressed, the operational experience gained by Flower-Class crews provided useful feedback that enabled the Royal Navy to design and build a range of vastly superior frigates and destroyers, such as the River-Class frigate. These vessels displaced 1,390 tonnes, were faster, with greater endurance and improved seakeeping abilities; but their weapons and sensors were similar in capability to those fitted to Flower-Class ships. The Loch-Class frigate, which entered service in 1944, had better weapons and sensors (including the Squid anti-submarine mortar which fired depth charges ahead of the vessel), but by this time, the tide had turned in the North Atlantic. Though unsophisticated, even by 1940 naval standards, Flower-Class corvettes proved to be the right ship at the right time.

Today, Britain has the 5th largest navy behind the USA, Russia, China, and Japan. It currently possesses 74 vessels including 2 aircraft carriers, 6 destroyers, 13 frigates, 11 submarines, 2 commando assault ships, 13 MCM vessels, 22 patrol boats and 5 survey ships. Although today’s Royal Navy warships are much better equipped than their forbears, 19 surface combatants is an extremely low number to fulfil the many roles essential to the United Kingdom’s maritime defence and security. In terms of critical mass, the Royal Navy may now be too small.

Royal Navy Fleet.001

With a vastly increased naval threat posed by Russia and China, a major conflict would require Britain to address the same problem it faced at the beginning of WW2: a shortage of ships capable of detecting and destroying submarines. It is unlikely but not impossible that Britain might have to fight a third battle of the North Atlantic. Regardless, the threats we face have evolved and are significant. China has 59 submarines, including the sophisticated Yuan-Class diesel electric boats, while Russia has 58.

The Royal Navy built 16 Duke-Class Type 23 Frigates. Of these, 13 remain in service and they will be replaced by the City-Class Type 26 Frigate or Global Combat Ship from 2023. This new class of ship will be much more capable than the one it replaces. It will have the 997 Artisan 3D search radar and Sea Ceptor (CAMM) as well as a a bow mounted sonar, towed array and Merlin ASW helicopter. Such sophistication comes at a price. Type 26 frigates are expected to cost between £750 million to £1 billion each. For this reason, it was originally planned that the Class would consist of eight anti-submarine frigates, plus five less-expensive general purpose frigates. After the 2010 Strategic Defence & Security Review, it was decided that only 8 Type 26 ASW vessels would be built in total and the general purpose requirement would be met by a new low-cost class of “Light Frigate” to be called Type 31e. This will be “fitted for but not with” anti-submarine sensors and weapons and the target price is £250 million. 

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Type 23 frigate, HMS Sutherland. (Image: UK Ministry of Defence)

Given the extent to which the geopolitical environment has now changed, many naval analysts believe that eight anti-submarine frigates is insufficient. This view has split opinion on what the role of the Type 31e should be. Critics of the programme have suggested that it could end-up being only marginally more capable than the Navy’s nine planned River-Class Offshore Patrol Vessels, which cost around £120 million instead of £250 million. Fundamentally, we may need to redefine the Type 31e’s role and refocus it around anti-submarine warfare. If this is right, perhaps the most sensible option is to revert to the originally planned total of 13 Type 26 global combat ships and to make them all ASW ships?

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Type 26, City-Class Global Combat Ship model. (Image: BAE Systems)

A second option, could be to develop a contemporary version of the Flower-Class corvette. This would be a low-cost anti-submarine vessel. The term corvette is used here to denote a ship defined by cost not size. Conceptually, this could be a 3,000-4,000 tonne vessel that could be built quickly by a variety of smaller UK shipyards. 

In fact, contemporary versions of Flower-Class corvettes already exist. These are the advanced corvette designs developed in recent years by British and European shipyards. Typically, they are around 100 metres in length, have twin 7,000 Kw engines, a top speed of 30 knots, a range of 3,500 Nm, and a 30-day endurance. Modular by design, modern corvettes can be equipped with a variety of weapons, including 76mm or 113mm main guns, vertical launch cells for AA, ASROC and S2S missiles, CIWS for point defence, cannons and ASW helicopters. Bow mounted sonars, towed arrays and powerful radars help them track and engage targets. A large part of the cost is not the ship itself, but the weapons, sensors and other systems that make it credible. The Artisan radar for example is extremely expensive, but it is a less-expensive version of the Sampson system used in Type 45 destroyers. If the weapon and sensors used can be specified according to price, there is no reason why a corvette cannot be both potent and inexpensive. 

Type 31e Frigate bidders.001
The UK’s Type 31e frigate is a corvette by any other name. 

Slightly larger One element that makes an ASW frigate expensive is ensuring the hull is as quiet to reduce the ship’s own signature and maximise the effectiveness of its bow-mounted sonar. As small unmanned vessels become more capable, there is no reason why advanced anti-submarine equipment could not be mounted in two or three such vessels controlled by a mother ship. The key here is to re-think ASW sensor technology so that it is less expensive without compromising capability.

With a target price of €250 million, versus €1 billion for complex anti-submarine frigates, like FREMM or Type 26, the critical advantage of modern corvettes is affordability. 

A few designs are noteworthy:

  • Damen Sigma 10514 frigate for Indonesia
  • Fincantieri multi-role corvette for Qatar
  • Thyssen Krupp MEKO A-200 frigate for Algeria
  • Cammell Laird and BAE Systems Leander frigate for UK Type 31e requirement

All displace 3,000-3,700 tonnes, and are around 100 metres in length with a crew of 100. They mount a 76 mm main gun, CIWS, small calibre guns, vertical launch missile pods for short-range air defence, SSM missile launchers, torpedo launchers, hull-mounted sonar, 3D surveillance radar, ESM and a FCS. All can carry a shipboard helicopter. All cost around €250 million per ship.

Fincantieri multi-role Corvette
Fincantieri Multirole Corvette (Image: Fincantieri)
MEKO 200
Thyssen-Krupp Meko A-200 light frigate.
Damen-SIGMA-10514
Damen SIGMA 10514 corvette. (Image: Damen)

Any new class of corvette needs to balance affordability with effectiveness. Can it be done? The above designs suggest it can. A fleet of 16-20 corvettes would do much to offset the low number of surface combatants. At £250 million each, it would cost an additional £5 billion to build them. It wouldn’t be the same as having a WW2 fleet of 500 surface combatants, but a fleet of contemporary Flower-Class vessels would do much to enhance the Royal Navy. This number is likely to be unaffordable, but even eight corvettes costing £2 billion in total would would make a difference.

Ultimately, modern corvettes do not need to be a compromise. Modern warships of this type have a crucial difference from those designed in 1939: they are not based on a commercial vessel, but a purpose-designed warship that incorporates the very latest shipboard systems. 

Just as the Army recognises that it cannot afford the number of tracked IFVs and wheeled APCs it wants, and so is looking to buy a less expensive armoured vehicle, MRV-P, so the Navy must recognise the same financial constraints and specialty a low-cost light frigate or corvette.

Leander
Leander light frigate for UK Type 31e requirement. (Image: Team Leander)

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“The dangers of the sea should always take precedence over the violence of the enemy.”

Rear-Admiral Ben Bryant CB, DSO and two bars, DSC.

25 comments

  1. I’m rather baffled as to why we are going down the route of anti submarine ships at a time when submarine threats seem lower than they have done for the past seven decades. That’s not to say there wouldn’t be a threat from a resurgent Russian Navy, but the technology of aerial surveillance and airborne anti-submarine warfare seems to have more flexibility to address this than building sufacce boats.
    A cynic would say it is yet another command opportunity for junior and mid ranking naval officers to get them up to one of the many admiral positions in Whitehall.

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      1. The past two decades has seen our armed forces engaged in land battles and more predominately, anti insurgency campaigns.
        I do not doubt the advanced technology available to Russia and china when it comes to submarines, but the leap forward in submarine technology is counterbalanced by air reconnaissance and surveillance technology.
        That being said I see more used in minesweepers than I do in destroyers and frigates. However the changing shape of naval warfarehowever the changing shape of naval warfare undoubtedly points to aircraft carriers as being the principal ships of any modern fleet, with assault landing ships being a very close second.

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      2. Out of interest which airborne surveillance technologies did you have in mind? In particular those that were not getting already via Poseidon and Merlin?

        Reality is that multiple means are needed to defeat submarines from maritime patrol aircraft sweeping a wide area of ocean, to helicopters conducting anti-submarine barrier operations, to ASW frigates able to carry large low frequency towed array sonars (well beyond the capacity of aviation to carry), and to deploy helicopters.

        While our recent conflicts have been on land, malign Russian behaviour together with it’s big submarine building programme now poses an increasing risk at, and menace from the, sea and threat to international peace and stability.

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  2. Interesting article. There is certainly no shortage of light frigate/corvette designs one could look at.
    I thought the later versions of the BMT Venator 110 design showed promise in this regard. While very much a GP light frigate, options were shown with part of the Sea Ceptor battery replace by a modest Mk41 VLS silo .. so it would be relatively easy to move the design from GP to more of an ASW emphasis by simply putting ASROC in the Mk41 (if we ever buy it for T26) & say containerised CAPTAS in the stern mission bay instead of the extra large RIB envisaged. Also easy to switch back to GP.

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  3. I’ve been trying to press the point (with limited success I might add) over on Save The Royal Navy that we’re making the same argument with T31 that we did with the OPV’s, that there’s actually no need for them to be well armed because they just fly the flag and chase pirates and that they free up T26 and T45 for important work and I’d predict a similar argument emerging for a corvette.
    My concern is that whilst T26/T45 numbers would allow for a routine carrier or amphibious task group and both in extremis, we look to be abandoning fighting ships and accepting a two tier navy which limits our global options to what we can do with maybe eight available escorts.
    Accepting that the trend is toward less and donning my armchair admirals hat I’d prefer to consolidate various tasks around maybe twelve T31 (the big one) loaded for bear at £350m each (£4.2bn). They could replace the Rivers, GP T23, hydrographic ships and act as MAS motherships on a day to day basis but provide critical mass in the event of something like Operation Corporate.
    So, kind of like the original T26 C2/C3 plan.
    If the T31 budget absorbs the MCM replacement monies of I think £1bn then (according to the back of my beermat) the difference between the UK being able to act alone and it not being able to act alone is about £2bn, which is kind of comical, but also very typical.

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  4. I must admit to being cautious about corvettes. Essentially the modern day corvette has all the expensive mission system etc. of a larger frigate but without the flexibility of a larger hull to re-role and refit easily. Clearly there’s a judgement to be made in just how big, or small, a warship should be but I do feel with corvettes there’s a real risk of being penny wise, pound foolish.

    As for the Type 31 (versus Type 26) there’s a centuries old naval debate about a mix of both high capability and lower capability vessels, versus a smaller number of high capability ones. I guess the debate will still be going on for centuries to come.

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  5. Interesting article for sure. As with one of the comments above, I like the BMT Venator 110 for the T31 role, however the big question has to be, while smaller light light frigates might offer some useful combat capabilities, and quantity does indeed have it’s own quality, I would if this is the right approach.

    You ask in the article whether cutting the cutting of the numbers of T26 is the right approach, whether 5 “General Purpose” variants would be a better investment. I think this is the way to go, my opinion being based on my 10 years experience in the surface fleet.

    The number of 8 top flight ASW focused T26’s is based around the number of towed array sonar sets we have. We have 8 sets that are moved around the T23 fleet, thus those without the towed array are general purpose T23’s – except of course they have hull mounted sonar, and carry a Marlin HM2 ASW helo.

    So I believe we should run the same scheme with the T26. If you have 8 ships with the towed array, and 1 is in long refit, 1 is in short term maintenance period, 1 is under work up with Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST), and say 1 is under transit from a single ship deployment. So actually you have 4 major ASW assets, 2 with the carrier say, 2 with a amphibious group, each of which also has a single T45.

    If you 12 or 13 T26, you have more flexibility in maintenance periods, in non-task group operations, etc You can move a towed array set from a ship in refit to another ship. So instead of a set of cheaper light frigates, which can be provided by many other NATO partner navies, to join a task group, I would stick to the high end assets where we can apply our considerable expertise in a complex skill set.

    If we did have the extra money you mentioned in the article, instead of spending it on additional low end surface units, I would invest in enabling the carries – V22’s in AEW role, and maybe even as tankers. This would fully enable the F35 in the task group air defence role; maybe even see if you can launch some of these with the ramp and no catapults, and land on without arrestor wires: http://www.ga-asi.com/predator-c-avenger

    Oh, and buy an 8th Astute, because SSN is something else we do well, that this an exemplary ASW tool and that other Euro NATO navies do not have.

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    1. I understand that there are an additional three sets of CAPTAS-4 on order for a total of eleven, but I have no idea how that came about, how the money was found or the thinking behind it.
      I think the Bell V-247 Vigilant would compliment the carriers very well if they work as advertised, optimistically a Bell V247/V280 combo would be somewhere in our future across all three services.
      Nemo.

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  6. I thoroughly agree that type 31 should be a cheap ASW vessel. Unfortunately our (and really all of NATO’s) method of conducting ASW warfare is inherently expensive. The teaming of TAS, ASW helicopters, SONAR buoys, dipping SONAR, smart lightweight torpedoes and the demands this puts on the host vessel is effective but expensive. So if ASW type 31 is to be done cheap then it must be done without putting these demands on the vessel or additional strain on the Merlin fleet. Can we design a effective ASW vessel that does not rely on its own Merlin? A vessel that can detect, track and prosecute a contact without a helicopter. Taking lessons from the Battle of the Atlantic and applying modern technology I believe it can be done.

    What I propose would not replace but supplement the current ASW doctrine. It would also add more options for destroying submarines and provide a vessel capable of the peace time constabulary duties to free up the tier one escorts (type 26/45). This proposal requires the development of some new equipment so it cannot realistically be for the current type 31 competition but I believe it could be a development for a future cheap ASW capability.

    For my proposal the new ASW vessel would require the same aviation capabilities as the River batch 2. This would allow Merlin to refuel for extended range from its host vessel. Additionally a Scan Eagle style UAV should be used by the vessel for surface surveillance.

    The surface sensors would also be the same as those for the River batch 2. Is it the best? No. Is it cheap and good enough. Well… probably. Read up on it and decide for yourself.

    Click to access scanter_4100_-_naval_air___surface_surveillance_2d_radar.pdf

    Sub-surface sensors are the key. The current RN hull and towed array SONAR will be the main sensors for this vessel and where the money should be spent. But if this vessel is forced to work without a helicopter what can replace its dipping SONAR? I would suggest the development of Rocket launched SONAR buoys for the Centurion launcher.

    Click to access centurion.pdf

    In my proposal the vessel would use patterns of its own SONAR buoys for localisation of a distant TAS contact. A glide kit could perhaps be used to extend range to increase the effectiveness of the concept. Would this be too difficult a task for a product which is already air launched?

    Sub-surface weapons. Currently the Stingray torpedo is the only real option making it a single point of failure. It may be excellent but it still has the same draw backs of most smart munitions with being expensive, vulnerable to countermeasures and procured in relatively low numbers. Ammunition expenditure in times of war often exceeds the predictions. Expensive weapons such as ASROC and expensive vertical launch systems should be avoided in my concept to keep costs low. I would suggest low cost rocket launched, contact fused, depth bombs. Loads of them! The RBU-6000 already exists but I think the concept can be improved/adapted for lower costs. Taking the GRAD MLRS as inspiration rockets with 20Kg+ warheads at 20Km+ ranges with 40 launch tubes on a stabilised mount seems entirely possible at what would not be a huge cost. This idea is not new. It has disadvantages but it allows you to repeatedly deliver large volumes of munitions at range. A 20Kg warhead is approximately 50% smaller than that of a Stingray Torpedo. It may not destroy the submarine in one hit but a 20Kg shaped charge to the pressure hull would probably persuade most Captains to go home.

    Surface weapons. Medium gum, 30mm guns and Sea Ceptor. Keep it simple.

    The vessel itself. 25 knots should be affordable and good enough. Faster speeds for chasing nuclear powered submarines with a conventionally powered escort seems like a fools errand. 25 knots will be faster than conventional submarines and being an escort you have the good luck of having the submarines come to you. Range, build standards and crew levels should be to the appropriate levels while within budget of course.

    I see real potential for cheap vessels like this to work along side the type 26. Providing an outer ASW screen, refueling Merlins and localisation of distant SONAR contacts. There is also the potential for Battle of the Atlantic style Support groups consisting of a type 26 with Merlin and several ASW corvettes. Alternatively the proposed Littoral Strike Ship could carry a couple of Merlin working alongside ASW corvettes. I believe this type of ASW corvette would work. It is based on proven concepts and would need the minimum of investment to make it a reality.

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    1. Mike, I love your out of the box thinking, but I don’t think it would work.

      You quite rightly state that ASW is expensive. The latest towed arrays are complex and expensive bits of kit, for sure. I have no idea how expensive a modern sono-bouy is, but lets except they are quite expensive. Helicopter dipping sonar probably not so much, though compared to the overall cost of a Merlin HM2.

      However, I don’t think any rocket that will fit in the Centurion launcher is going to throw a sono-bouy far enough to be useful. I get your point about glide kit, but still, I just don’t see the range being great enough. However one of the larger unmanned helicopters could potentially be a cheaper delivery vehicle than a Merlin (or you could have one configured as a dipper).

      Large rocket launchers require a very large ship, not to fit the launcher but to have a magazine, handling equipment and reloading equipment for an long and ungainly munition. Having manually passed 4.5 shells down the main drag, and even man-handled a Sea Wolf in drills, such elements to the use of a weapon system should not be overlooked. Rocket launched depth charges probably still have a role in littoral ASW engagements, but I am very doubtful of utility against an SSN in the open ocean.

      In the 80’s during the cold war, we had the concept of an almost un-armed, civvy design derivative “towed array tug”. This eventually became the very well armed (and much more expensive) T23, working with Fort Class RFA’s originally designed around their own SeaWolf PDMS, and 4 Sea King dippers. In some respects it sounds like your suggesting something similar.

      I think maybe the way to go with your idea, is bi-static sonar, and a cheap manned, or unmanned vessel that deploys part of that sonar system, the main processing and C3 being on the more expensive multi-role warship ?

      Anyway, kudos for thinking out of the box.

      Jed

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      1. Would it be possible to concentrate the technically challenging and expensive aspects of a frigates ASW package into something like the US Sea Hunter USV?
        I’m thinking it must be easier to quiet a 150 ton platform than a frigate and have it tow a CAPTAS.
        These could happily potter around the GIUK gap connected to a shore station or be allocated to any general purpose frigate for longer hauls.

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      2. Hi Jed, thank you for your comments.

        Regarding SONAR buoys from what I have read you kind of get what you pay for. There seem to be some very sophisticated ones out there but for the low cost proposal I made I would like relativity simple active SONAR buoys. Not being directional a pattern of 4 would be required. The same principal as GNSS as I am sure you know. I believe buoys like that are on the cheaper end of the spectrum. You may very well be right regarding range and perhaps a unmanned solution for SONAR buoy deployment would be the way forward, though potentially that is the beginning of the end of low cost.

        I really take on board your points regarding weapon handling. It would be a major design consideration and cost driver for a ASW vessel. But I am of the opinion that more than one solution for destroying submarines is needed for the surface fleet. We have a high end solution. I think a low end one would come in useful too. I fear that the situation could arise during a future conflict were an effective decoy or countermeasure to Stingray would render all of our surface fleet ASW efforts near useless. Even if this problem was only temporary it could be decisive. My point is we do not seem to have anything to fall back on. I think dumb bombs and bullets come in useful sometimes.

        I have read about the concept with the Fort class in a couple of the DK Brown books. The proposed vessels seemed terribly under armed but yes that concept was an inspiration. It seemed like a modern adaption of the Battle of the Atlantic Support groups operating with an escort carrier. I think the concept is a good one.

        Thank you again for your comments. It is much appreciated. 👍

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      1. Well, there’s the tunnel, there’s airlift, there’s simply crossing the channel without the navy…

        IMO the British overrate naval power, but still don’t get much utility out of it, nuclear deterrence considerations aside.

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  7. I am of a similar opinion to this article, in that there is nothing wrong at all with a corvette.

    On other sites I have made a comment that the T23 hull and design is still good and it is around the right size and we should have used the base hull and reconfigured the inside to modern standards.

    Essentially T23 hull meets Spartan (stellar systems design). This would have saved considerable cost in design and given us a really capable and inexpensive ASW asset. We could potentially even use the same propellers if they are still good.

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  8. Can you even detect a submarine? The 51 contacts (that were not even submarines) on the way to the Falklands and the American exercises with Swedish submarines with AIP show that a small number of Type 26 Frigates or other vessel are going to INEFFECTIVE overall.

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  9. To build ships you need to have a secure supply chain. Global trading partners need freedom of passage and Navies having better stratergies with capabilities to secure them. China produces 60% of the worlds steel supply. The UK needs a bigger smarter Navy with greater use of techology . Lets have clear leadership about this and set out the plan. Politicans need to stop hiding behind reviews that achieve nothing other than reduced cost and capability. The whole thing lacks credibility and fails to deter.

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  10. Is this just a case of quantity trumping quality, and are they (the RN hierarchy) just chasing the USN dream of a 350+ ship navy , and who is the beneficiary and at what cost. Many current naval ship inventory is often based on the last war fought which in the UK’s navy case was the Falklands War.

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  11. Really useful and interesting article you’ve written! I am telling you as a man who has been into boating and sailing for almost 20 years now. I own a web directory about boating as well. Would you mind if I add your article to my directory? It would be a pleasure for me to share it. Thanks.

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