21 October 2010

Why the Royal Navy will have so few ships

Arleigh Burke class destroyer (built in S. Korea for own navy)
Cost: £582.6 million
Displacement: 9,350 tonnes
Length: 509.5 ft (155.3 m)
Beam: 66 ft (20 m)
Draught: 31 ft (9.4 m)
Propulsion: 4 x gas turbines, 2 shafts,75 MW
Speed: 30+ knots
Complement: 380
96 cell vertical launch system (VLS) for RIM-66 SM-2 anti air missiles, Tomahawk cruise missiles and RUM-139 anti submarine missiles
1 x 5 inch gun, 2 x 25 mm, 2 x .50 cal (single), 2 x .50 cal. (dual), 2 x 7.62mm
2 x 20 mm Phalanx close-in weapons system
2 x Mk 46 triple torpedo tubes
Aircraft carried: 2 x Sea Hawk helicopters

Daring (Type 45) class destroyer (built in Britain for own navy)
Cost: £1.1 billion (will increase when fully equipped)
Displacement: 8,100 tonnes (will increase when fully equipped)
Length: 500 ft (152.4 m)
Beam: 69.5 ft (21.2  m)
Draught: 24.3 ft (7.4 m)
Propulsion: 2 x gas turbines, 2 x electric, 2 shafts, 63 MW
Speed: 29+ knots
Complement: 190 (accommodation for 235)
48 cell vertical launch system (VLS) for anti-air Aster missiles that are not functional.
1 x 4.5 inch gun, 2 x 30 mm guns, 2 x Miniguns, 6 x 7.62mm
Provision for but not fitted with:
2 x Quadruple Harpoon launchers, 2 x 20mm Phalanx and, if VLS upgraded, Tomahawk cruise missiles .
Aircraft carried: 1 x Lynx or 1 x Merlin


  1. As you pointed me in this direction, I am honor-bound to point out all the errors. After all if there is a factual error on the internet, it must be corrected! :)

    I don't think the data really proves your claim that this explains why the RN will have so few ships.

    Firstly I strongly suspect that the price comparison is not comparing like with like. The Australians recently had held a contest for a new air defense destroyer between a variant of the Arleigh Burke and a variant of the Spanish F105. They ended up selected the cheaper F105, but even so the average system price was still equal to or higher than (depending on the exchange rate) the same price for the Type 45 (A$8 billion for three Hobart class destroyers, as compared to £6.6 billion for six Type 45s).
    The build cost of a single Type 45 destroyer is supposed to be in the region of £650M, which might be a closer comparison though it is not possible to say for sure without an accurate breakdown of the various prices to see what is being included.

    Secondly the running cost of a ship is probably more important than the initial purchase price over its entire life, and the running cost is going to be strongly influenced by the size of the crew. A ship's complement of 190 is obviously going to be far cheaper than 380.

    It also needs to be pointed out that the radar fit on the Type 45 is better than the fit on the current Arleigh Burke class destroyers (though I fully expect the USN to upgrade their ships in due course). The Type 45 has a long-range volume search radar that the Burke lacks, and the multifunction radar on the Type 45 is a more advanced type than the current SPY-1D radar on the Burke, though the SPY-1D may have more raw power output (the data on the SPY-1D is classified so I'm just guessing).

    That said, I would have preferred to see a larger VLS nest on the Type 45, 48 cells is a little weak. Also I would have preferred to see the use of active-radar variants of the US Standard and ESSM missiles fired from Mk41 launchers instead of Aster 15 & Aster 30 fired from the French Sylver launchers. The longer range of the Standard missile and the ability to quad-pack the ESSM are desirable, as is the potential ability to carry Tomahawk of course.

  2. Public Accounts Committee (1 June 2009). Ministry of Defence: Type 45 Destroyer. House of Commons. HC 372. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmpubacc/372/372.pdf
    £6.46 billion for six ships.