RogerBW's Blog

Type 31 names announced 22 May 2021

This project continues, and the ship names have been announced.

It's still being claimed that the ships will cost no more than £250 million each. You can believe that if you like. I think this is flatly impossible given that the equivalent Ivar Huitfeld class cost the Danes £246 million each in the early 2010s, were built in Estonia and Lithuania then moved to Odense for final assembly rather than paying Scottish wages throughout, and were able to recycle a lot of existing hardware. The actual contract is for £2bn but supposedly only £1.25bn is for the actual ships. Presumably the rest is for a bloody good drink. And to account for the four-year slippage to in-service date (now to be 2027-2030).

The names have obviously been picked with an eye to PR, which given these ships' lack of resilience is a bit worrying: when the programme was first announced I said that I thought politicians would see "warship" and send them into danger as though they were Type 26s, and I still believe that that will happen.

But anyway, we have:

  • Active intended to represent "forward deployment of ships around the globe". Perhaps they're thinking of the 1911 scout cruiser? Decent array of battle honours, anyway, even if the last ship of that name (F171, sold to Pakistan in 1994 and renamed as Shah Jahan) has only just been sunk as a gunnery target.

  • Bulldog for "operational advantage in the North Atlantic"; that'll be H91 they're thinking of, the B-class destroyer that ran convoys through the Second World War (and was involved in the capture of an Enigma machine from U-110).

  • Campbeltown for "the Future Commando Force", so obviously they're thinking of the St Nazaire Raid – though Campbeltown was chosen for that job in 1942 because she was useless for any other purpose.

  • Formidable ("carrier operations") is obviously meant to make us think of the Illustrious-class aircraft carrier, which seems like a bit of a come-down for the name.

  • Venturer is for "technology and innovation", and is a bit obscure even by my standards. Three separate RNR tenders for Flying Fox in Bristol? A converted trawler?

Tags: naval type 31

  1. Posted by John P at 04:34pm on 22 May 2021

    Because calling them HMS Overspend, HMS Underarmed, HMS Inadequate, HMS Late & HMS Underwhelming would've sounded silly?

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 06:12pm on 22 May 2021

    Ships of a class should have a theme to their names – like the Type 26 "City" class, or the Type 45 "D" class. Yes, I know this isn't universally observed. Too bad.

    So I might propose: Etiolate, Errata, Enervate, Exhaust, and £350 million a week for the NHS.

  3. Posted by DP at 08:38pm on 23 May 2021

    The names did initially seem a little random, though I get that they are all based on ships with battle honors. I do agree that using Formidable for a somewhat lightly-armed frigate is perhaps a bit out of place, but at least they didn't reuse Invincible... As for Campbeltown, I might be superstitious of serving on a ship whose namesake's claim to fame was blowing up, even if that was the whole point...

    Speaking of the sister Type 26s, what do you think of the Canadian version our navy is supposedly getting? Some recent progress on the contract, but there seems to be a desire to heavily upgrade them (worry they might be getting a bit heavy).

  4. Posted by RogerBW at 09:01pm on 23 May 2021

    The basic flaw in the Type 26 as far as I'm concerned is the CODLOG (diesel-electric or gas turbine, but not both at once): no matter what you upgrade, you're stuck with that. I'd really have liked to see an IEP design to lose the vulnerable prop shafts going through the hull. On the other hand, none of the other contenders for the CSC contract offered that either, and it may be that it's just too expensive for a small ship right now.

    Of course there is also the basic problem that the first T26 isn't even afloat yet, unlike the other two bids, and it would have been nice to get a bit less of a pig in a poke…

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