Type 31

MrConservative

Super Moderator
Staff member
Mun Johnathan. Empirical Cost Estimation for U.S. Navy Ships, Journal of Management 7(5): 152-176, 2019 is a very useful analysis of construction cost of warships as well as Laurent Deschamps and Charles Greenwell, Integrating Cost Estimating with the Ship Design Process, SPAR Associates, Inc.

The MTI study referred to in Mun noted that 30% of the build cost in warships is the labour element, this can be higher or lower depending on the volume and density of the warship as well as the design philosophy and the extent to which modulisation was part of not just the design and construction but also capacity of platform growth and flexibility and in serviceability.

This is also a useful article I relied on in developing my "Type 35" concept:

James A. Johnson and Ian H. Wakeling, Flexible Design as an Acquisition Opportunity - Diseño Flexible como Oportunidad de Adquisición,
from the proceedings of the 5th International Ship Design and Naval Engineering Congress, March 2017, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, BMT Defence Services Ltd. Salient bits pertaining to the Iver F-370.

A good example of this incremental strategy is that adopted during the Danish Iver Huitfeldt Class
Frigate acquisition, described later within this paper. In this Danish example the first of class prototype
was later refitted with the additional capability to bring her up to the full class requirement, and only
entered service at full capability after all other ships in the class were delivered.
This incremental acquisition, together with the functional arrangement, also raises other opportunities
for the capability that the Navy can acquire. As the design itself has the flexibility and space to be
reconfigured without incurring significant costs, additional capability can be added to later ships of a
class if the threat environment or roles change during the build programme, or more funding becomes
available.p8

For example, the stern sections could be changed to a Variable Depth Sonar option, or the number of
cells in the Vertical Launch Silo (VLS) could be increased, or swapped out for a different type of silo.
These capability upgrades on later ships are a more cost effective method of acquiring this capability,
reducing the risk overall by spreading out the design, build, test and acceptance risk for different
aspects of the programme over time. The functional arrangement means that only certain individual
blocks require this re-design effort, which would not affect the overall platform, reducing the
associated cost and maximising commonality. If a Navy wished to procure an initial batch of ASW
specialised Frigates, followed by a second batch of AAW specialised Frigates, this functional
arrangement means that the commonality of the base platform is also accentuated between the two
batches, contributing to a lower through-life cost.This concept can also be extended to incorporate
the latest technologies and equipment, to mitigate the risk of obsolescence. p8

A Navy may also wish to specify individual systems or equipment produced by manufacturers in their
own country. This is where a flexible design, and a functional arrangement, is required so as not to introduce
a high level of re-design work to accommodate these new system choices, which would add risk and cost
into the programme and make the design itself unattractive or unaffordable. p10

For reference, Lamb (2013) (Reference 3) outlined a number of acquisition strategies that could be
taken, and Tascon (2015) (Reference 4) further analysed these different potential approaches.
One acquisition strategy to highlight is that used to acquire the Iver Huitfeldt Class Frigate. The
acquisition of the Iver Huitfeldt Class by the Danish Defence and Logistics Organisation (DALO) used
a model that had strong parallels with the commercial procurement of ships by companies such as
Maersk. This also provides a good example of a flexible design, based on the earlier Absalon Class,
and was designed by the Royal Danish Navy and the Odense Steel Shipyard working in close cooperation. p10

The platform, combat system and integration of the Iver Huitfeldt Class were split, with the
DALO organisation itself effectively taking responsibility as the prime over all these elements. All of
the blocks for the three ships of the class were constructed by Baltija Shipyard (Lithuania) and Loksa
Shipyard (Estonia), before final assembly in Odense Shipyard. p11

It is claimed that this split procurement model, where platform and combat system were procured,
built, integrated and tested separately and incrementally saved around USD 65 million per vessel
overall (Reference 6), with the allocation of risk within the programme a contributory factor. This
resulted in a low procurement cost of these vessels, when compared to contemporary Frigate
programmes. A breakdown of the cost for these Frigates has also been published (Reference 6),
showing almost a 50/50 split in costs between the platform and combat system elements. However, it
is important to note that for this type of acquisition strategy to be successful it is vital that the platform
design itself is flexible enough to allow the selection and fit of the combat system once the ship itself
has been built. p12

Once the platforms themselves were complete, the installation of the military equipment and testing
took place. Procurement of this combat system equipment was also undertaken („primed‟) by the
DALO itself. p12

Acquisition Strategy – Alliance Approach

Not all governments will have the capability and capacity to undertake the prime integration role as
taken by the DALO in the Danish example described above. However, many of the benefits of the
approach can be delivered through a strategy based on the engagement of an alliance. The Navy or
procurement body can work as closely with alliance members as they wish, depending on their
capabilities and desire to learn through participation in the project, tailoring the levels of technology
transfer to suit all parties. p12

The flexible alliance incorporates a Shipbuilder, a Platform Designer, a Combat System Integrator
(CSI) and a Platform System Integrator (PSI). The level of involvement each party plays depends on
the nature of the acquisition strategy, and some roles may be fulfilled by the same company. The
focus of effort will change between these parties as the programme proceeds. p12
 

MrConservative

Super Moderator
Staff member
The RN T31 in its current form is not suitable for the RNZN. Also why would we want to deal with Babcocks when we can deal with OMT direct? Babcocks just add to the costs by clipping the ticket. We know that the sensors, weapons, C3 fitout is an expensive part, but the costings that Mr C’s provided show that we probably can do it cheaper than the T26.
Actually Babcock makes sense for a number of reasons. 1. The Type 31 hull will be in production and will avoid a projects pre-build sunk costs of to start a fresh at another yard in lead in costs. 2. The RN and BMT have already done the donkey work and would also save the licensing aspect of the full build to another 3rd Party yard. The "Kiwisation" of the vessel is in the provision of GFE components and not in the baseline hull itself. 3. Babcocks run Calliope Dock for the RNZN under a commercial contract which if the option or opportunity arose the post production systems integration phase of the baseline hull and machinery following its UK build and ship lift journey ex yard, could be completed in New Zealand at Babcocks locally with the NZG and the selected prime integrator if policy, employment, taxation and reduction in BoP considerations at the time were positive or at least revenue neutral to NZ Inc. 4. The contractual compliance side from a legal perspective and potentially a cultural perspective is much more straight forward then with a 3rd party. 5. Both the shipbuilder per Babcocks and the prime contractor, lets use for example Lockheed Martin as they have the current Anzac upgrade integration contract and are the principal prime supplier including 330CMS, are verified contractors to our FVEY partners. 6. The politics and political symbolism, including the trading dimension, with the UK becoming more important for New Zealand than a design office in Denmark who will be doing OK out of it anyway.

My belief is that all those factors outweigh any potential margin saving for us by building the vessels in Asia under license, possibly Batam, Indonesia ( a Batam build would have even better savings margins on labour than for example in Busan, South Korea and will be building F-370's in the future if we wish to go down a cost is king pathway). Caveat Emptor applies! Of the above points the chequered flag ones for me are point 4 and 6.

We just don't see why we should subsidise any particular countries employment program, be it Australia, Canada, UK or US. Along with Western Europe they are the most expensive places to build ships. Our first responsibility is to the NZ taxpayer and if the ability to acquire a good quality GP FFG that has capabilities near to that of the T26 but for much less cost, then it is an avenue that must be fully explored. One of the requirements of NZ government procurement is VfM - Value for Money, and we expect that Defence follows that. Given that Defence has a fixed capital expenditure budget of $4.5 billion for the frigate replacement, it is expected that Defence will be adroit in its capability acquisition decisions.
Officially it is not $4.5B yet, as the last estimation was in 5 years ago per DWP, when the estimation of the Type 26 was GBP 1 billion per ship. However it is likely to to be $4.5 Billion in all reality.

The research would strongly suggest beyond the balance of all probabilities that a pragmatic design and known quantity in production vessel like the Type 31 baseline hull and machinery, along with a judicious selection of MOTS government furnished equipment GFE, with an integrator and prime combat systems supplier - that has substantially already fitted in the parent design as per the Iver F-370 or as part of the design philosophy would be able to supply the RNZN with a very capable GP surface combatant in sufficient numbers ships with far better value for money than joining as customer to a full commercial foreign build programme.

There is little departure other than a lower level of sensor and combat fit out from the foundation Iver F-370 design and the baseline hull and machinery in the Type 31. OMT did not reinvent the wheel for Babcocks to build the Type 31 for the Royal Navy. To do so would be counter intutitive for a cost sensitive project. It is in the integration and supply of GFE in which the difference is made, and that does not turn a turn key Type 31 at GBP400m into a turn key GBP1200m+ vessel, but in all probability a happy medium between those two diametrically opposing figures.

One is also not suggesting that a "Type 35" would be as capable as very high end specialised Type 26, however it will be at least be a very close peer to the USN's Constellation class as a general purpose surface combatant, but at a price point that is far less likely to cause comparative sticker shock.
 

Shanesworld

Active Member
This is very enlightening. Would acquiring two extended absalon be sufficient to replace canterbury? Forgo the benefits of LPH/lpd proper and take advantages of commonality and swing role ability? 3x type 35's and 2 absalon derivatives?
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
This is very enlightening. Would acquiring two extended absalon be sufficient to replace canterbury? Forgo the benefits of LPH/lpd proper and take advantages of commonality and swing role ability? 3x type 35's and 2 absalon derivatives?
Short answer no, because the Absalon doesn't have a welldock which is what we really require. It also only has hangar space for 2 helos whilst Canterbury can take, IIRC 4 NH90 and 2 Sprites, and the flight deck won't take a Chook and can only handle one helo at a time. We'd have to choose to carry 250 troops or vehicles, but not both, so we'd loose to much amphib capability.
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
Actually Babcock makes sense for a number of reasons. 1. The Type 31 hull will be in production and will avoid a projects pre-build sunk costs of to start a fresh at another yard in lead in costs. 2. The RN and BMT have already done the donkey work and would also save the licensing aspect of the full build to another 3rd Party yard. The "Kiwisation" of the vessel is in the provision of GFE components and not in the baseline hull itself. 3. Babcocks run Calliope Dock for the RNZN under a commercial contract which if the option or opportunity arose the post production systems integration phase of the baseline hull and machinery following its UK build and ship lift journey ex yard, could be completed in New Zealand at Babcocks locally with the NZG and the selected prime integrator if policy, employment, taxation and reduction in BoP considerations at the time were positive or at least revenue neutral to NZ Inc. 4. The contractual compliance side from a legal perspective and potentially a cultural perspective is much more straight forward then with a 3rd party. 5. Both the shipbuilder per Babcocks and the prime contractor, lets use for example Lockheed Martin as they have the current Anzac upgrade integration contract and are the principal prime supplier including 330CMS, are verified contractors to our FVEY partners. 6. The politics and political symbolism, including the trading dimension, with the UK becoming more important for New Zealand than a design office in Denmark who will be doing OK out of it anyway.

My belief is that all those factors outweigh any potential margin saving for us by building the vessels in Asia under license, possibly Batam, Indonesia ( a Batam build would have even better savings margins on labour than for example in Busan, South Korea and will be building F-370's in the future if we wish to go down a cost is king pathway). Caveat Emptor applies! Of the above points the chequered flag ones for me are point 4 and 6.

Officially it is not $4.5B yet, as the last estimation was in 5 years ago per DWP, when the estimation of the Type 26 was GBP 1 billion per ship. However it is likely to to be $4.5 Billion in all reality.

The research would strongly suggest beyond the balance of all probabilities that a pragmatic design and known quantity in production vessel like the Type 31 baseline hull and machinery, along with a judicious selection of MOTS government furnished equipment GFE, with an integrator and prime combat systems supplier - that has substantially already fitted in the parent design as per the Iver F-370 or as part of the design philosophy would be able to supply the RNZN with a very capable GP surface combatant in sufficient numbers ships with far better value for money than joining as customer to a full commercial foreign build programme.

There is little departure other than a lower level of sensor and combat fit out from the foundation Iver F-370 design and the baseline hull and machinery in the Type 31. OMT did not reinvent the wheel for Babcocks to build the Type 31 for the Royal Navy. To do so would be counter intutitive for a cost sensitive project. It is in the integration and supply of GFE in which the difference is made, and that does not turn a turn key Type 31 at GBP400m into a turn key GBP1200m+ vessel, but in all probability a happy medium between those two diametrically opposing figures.

One is also not suggesting that a "Type 35" would be as capable as very high end specialised Type 26, however it will be at least be a very close peer to the USN's Constellation class as a general purpose surface combatant, but at a price point that is far less likely to cause comparative sticker shock.
Ok, so just to make sure that I have got this right, you are suggesting that, subject to "policy, employment, taxation and reduction in BoP considerations at the time being positive or at least revenue neutral to NZ Inc.", that we could have the Type 31 hulls built with the machinery fitted in the UK and then ship lifted to NZ to be fitted out here? Of course we would have to pick an integrator well versed in such activities and they would work with both Babcocks and the NZMOD in the fitting out and final delivery.

The only real problem with that is that I don't think the current drydock at Callipole Dock is big enough for such a ship. However by then the location of the much discussed floating drydock should have been decided and executed. If the cost is even $5 billion in 2020 $, that would give us $1.25 billion per ship if we were to try for 4 ships, and I would spread them out. Say one ASAP, the second about 2 years after the first hull is delivered, the third about mid point between TK & TM retirement and the last after TM's retirement.
 

MrConservative

Super Moderator
Staff member
Ok, so just to make sure that I have got this right, you are suggesting that, subject to "policy, employment, taxation and reduction in BoP considerations at the time being positive or at least revenue neutral to NZ Inc.", that we could have the Type 31 hulls built with the machinery fitted in the UK and then ship lifted to NZ to be fitted out here?
Yes subject to those specific parameters and a concurrent approach would need to be with the OPV replacement project as well for it to be sustainable in a commercial support sense, including human resource factors.

Of course we would have to pick an integrator well versed in such activities and they would work with both Babcocks and the NZMOD in the fitting out and final delivery.
Indeed, especially one in which have already a number of joint venture relationships, have a significant presence in New Zealand, and have existing ties with the MoD and RNZN across projects and ideally have a product family which is in significant depth as an integrator and prime supplier to Type 26 and FFG-62/Constellation Class projects.

The only real problem with that is that I don't think the current drydock at Callipole Dock is big enough for such a ship.
It certainly is at 181.4m x 24.3m x 8.0m with added trench depth to account for the rudder and sonar pits added in the mid 1990's modernisation. It was constructed to be able to handle Royal Navy cruisers including the ones we took over then enlarged during the war to handle USN Indianapolis class cruisers.

However by then the location of the much discussed floating drydock should have been decided and executed. If the cost is even $5 billion in 2020 $, that would give us $1.25 billion per ship if we were to try for 4 ships, and I would spread them out. Say one ASAP, the second about 2 years after the first hull is delivered, the third about mid point between TK & TM retirement and the last after TM's retirement.
To get a fourth operational frigate I would leave that for another future DWP at this stage. I refrain from extending speculation beyond the knowns, because it is an distraction.

However, one must include the 4th "stone frigate" with its digital heart and nervous system - the surface combatant training centre in the total project cost and in tandem with the alongside support and maintenance infrastructure. These two significant pieces in the project puzzle will be approaching 40-50% of the cost of an operational frigate. Those onshore facilities, exponentially more advanced than the previous generation of onshore training and support per what we have at present, will be the amongst the first investment gateways in the project and required sometime prior to the phasing out of the current Anzacs. That "4th Stone Frigate" including the enabling support infrastructure is in many respects like having a 4th operational frigate fleet capacity in that training tempo is increased ( a potential 24/7/365 capacity so a gold and blue crew concept could be at least trialled) and also when alongside the offline maintenance of the vessels are reduced ( The best comparative in the NZDF is look at the massive increase in productivity generated from the current iteration of 14th Sqd RNZAF today and how it trains, supports and operates compared to the 1990's). The onshore support as well as having the vessels designed for inception to be rapid enablers of efficient alongside support is one of the great advantages and in deed attractions of the OMT parent design for the Danish Navy - to have their small fleet at sea more often on operational taskings than extended period alongside).

As for drumbeat for build & integration, to make project facilities and personnel more efficient and sustainable, it would be wise to sequence the construction and integration of the OPV replacement odds and evens with the Type 35.
 

MrConservative

Super Moderator
Staff member
This is very enlightening. Would acquiring two extended absalon be sufficient to replace canterbury? Forgo the benefits of LPH/lpd proper and take advantages of commonality and swing role ability? 3x type 35's and 2 absalon derivatives?
Look in the other direction to the Wellington and Otago replacements for that kind of "multi-capability" set that the Absalon offers. I am not saying buy two Absalons, but the replacement of those two vessels will require a vessel that can do much more than an Ocean/Offshore patrol vessel for fisheries protection. The two vessels in the future to replace the Canterbury will be substantial amphibious dock / sealift ships that are enhanced beyond the capabilities of the current ship.

In the distant past here on DT I speculated on a "baby Absalon" concept for the RNZN as an alternative to the then troubled Protector Class post the Coles Report. The Absalon itself grew out of the Stanflex 3000 project or Thetis Class which is now a 30 year old ice capable vessel used by the Danes to patrol their arctic waters, which will be replaced this later this decade. It will be interesting to see what the Danes evolve and I predict that with the transferring of the Absalons across to a more surface combatant role (note the adoption of towed array for ASW, the fitting of the Thales Continuous Wave Illumination transmitter plus the change from an A designation vessel to an F designation), it will see the Thetis replacement add increased roles to its primary ice capable ocean patrol role. The Danes were one of the first navies to transfer from traditional MCM vessels to using a platform agnostic approach utilising swap in/out systems and remotes. That "from the the ship" MCM capability will continue. However I also foresee, that the Thetis replacement will also have increased capacity for logistic support than the current vessel.

The Thetis itself has improved its combat capability in a recent refit, with the inclusion of the SitaWare C2 suite, the Terma SCANTER 4103 air/surface search radar, SAAB CEROS 200 fire control radar, a multi beam sonar, and the Terma C-FLEX CMS. Again this level of capability will very likely be retained in the next Thetis replacement.

Could the VARD-7 range develop a Thetis sized or Thetis + sized "baby Absalon" platform? In a word yes. There are already the ice capable 110m, 120m and 125m designs that have a degree of multi-purpose capability to them.
 
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