Global Data press release
When asked by GlobalData’s Naval Technology if enough was being invested in the Royal Navy, Ellwood said: “No, not at all, for the very reason that we overcomplicate the equipment. For our ships, it is often the case that the procurement processes are advanced by admirals who, from their own experience, tell ministers who do not necessarily have the experience, what is required.”
In light of this, Ellwood said that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) could look to simpler modular platforms as a means of delivering more ships into the navy that can then be tailored to the different missions they are tasked with.
Ellwood told GlobalData: “For the last four years [I have been] promoting the idea that, like your mobile phone is a basic vessel for which you introduce apps that are bespoke to you, why don’t we create a ship which uses ISO container-sized ‘apps’? Then if you want a big gun on the front, it comes in a plug and play capability, if you want desalination units, if you want missile silos, whatever you want, there are 25 compartments on, and in, and under the ship that can be interchanged which will then allow SMEs to create [systems] in the same way that apps for the phone have flourished.”
Ellwood explained that the Type 31, due to be built by Babcock, was an example of the Royal Navy taking a step in the right direction by procuring a cheaper ship based on an existing hull. However, this did not go far enough as the vessel was ‘still too fixed for what it’s going to do’.
Further commenting on the Type 31, Ellwood said that the vessel would be unlikely to stand out against similarly-sized frigates from across the world when it eventually enters service. The ship’s design is based on the Iver Huitfeldt class Frigate in service with the Royal Danish. The ships have a relatively cheap price tag as a result of this with the construction of five vessels carrying a price tag of £1.25bn.
Each Type 31 will cost £250m, in comparison to the £1bn price tag for each of the Royal Navy’s, more bespoke, Type 26 frigates.
There are hopes that the Type 31 will be a lucrative export opportunity for British shipbuilding and attract interest from navies overseas.