BBC BLOGS - Peston's Picks
« Previous | Main | Next »

Aircraft carriers' costs soar £1bn

Robert Peston | 17:53 UK time, Monday, 29 June 2009

A £1bn cost over-run is threatening the future of the publicly funded project to build Britain's biggest ever warships.

I have obtained a memorandum written by the lead contractors for the two 65,000 tonne aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Price of Wales, known as QE Class carriers.

Written earlier this month, the memo says:

"The MOD [Ministry of Defence] will publish its annual report and accounts in July; these will show c£1 billion of QE Class cost growth and the project will come under severe pressure through the opposition and the media".

It continues: "this is a very real fight for the programme's survival".

The original budget for the two carriers was £3.9bn. That was the price when the MoD signed the contract for the project with the Aircraft Carrier Alliance last July.

In other words, in just 12 months the cost of these enormous ships - which will be 280m long and 70m wide, or the size of almost three full-size football pitches - has risen by 25% to around £5bn.

This massive inflation in costs will be widely seen as alarming, especially at a time when there are intense pressures on the government to cut public spending.

The memo, written for the chief executives of companies participating in the project - who are collectively called the Alliance Management Board or AMB - attributes the cost increase to "a combination of direct costs, inflation and accounting adjustments".

The paper then discusses possible measures to reduce costs, including the possibility of "substantial redundancies", of the order of 400 to 500. It also says that the future of the Appledore shipyard [which is in Devon and is owned by Babcock] would be under threat.

The Aircraft Carrier Alliance is a consortium consisting of BVT Surface fleet, which is itself a joint venture between BAE and VT Group, together with Babcock, Thales and the MoD (which describes itself as a partner and a client).

In December, the MoD announced a delay of up to two years in the schedule for bringing the new carriers into service. That has caused much of the increase in costs, according to an executive at one of the companies involved in the project.

However work has continued, and the first steel for the ships is scheduled to be cut in Govan on the Clyde on 7 July.

If the worst fears of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance's board were realised and the project was scrapped, the knock-ons would be serious.

For example, some 80,000 tonnes of steel worth £65m has been ordered from Corus, the beleaguered Anglo-Dutch steelmaker.

And it could also put in jeopardy plans for BAE to acquire VT Group's stake in BVT, which employs over 7,000 and was created to be a near-monopoly in the construction of warships in the UK.

However official sources say there is little prospect of the project being dropped, because 40% of contracts relating to the carriers have already been placed and ministers are said to be impressed with the way it has been managed so far.

Update, 18:35:

Here is a statement from the MoD in response to my story:

"The MoD took the decision to delay the two future aircraft carriers in December 2008. We did this in order to reprioritise investment to meet current operational priorities and to better align the programme with the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. We acknowledged at the time that there would be a cost increase as a result.

"We are currently re-costing the programme. The MOD accounts published next month will present an initial estimate and the formal costing will be available later in the year."

Update, 21:14:

Here is a statement by Babcock, one of the members of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance:

"The increase in cost of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers is a direct result of the Equipment Examination review carried out by the MoD earlier this year. The review sought to balance the spend profile on major defence projects over the next few years and in the case of the new carriers it was decided to extend the length of time taken to complete the build programme. This has the effect of reducing the spend in the next four year period but will result in an increase in the overall cost of the project."

A Babcock spokesman said that this increase in cost was purely the result of an internal MoD "resource re-profiling exercise" and was not due to design or manufacturing cost escalation. The spokesman went on to stress that the Alliance industrial partners, BAE, BVT, Thales and Babcock continued to work closely with the MoD and were fully committed to achieving the lowest possible cost outturn for the project.


  • Comment number 1.

    I wish our company could add 25% to a contract like that!

    Not so good for the supplier chain though, there must be a lot of nail-biting going on in the second and third-tier suppliers.

  • Comment number 2.

    I guess these costs must have risen due to the huge increases in raw materials and labour costs - hmmmmmm

  • Comment number 3.

    Sorry to complain but Mr Peston has no right to say the following,

    "If the worst fears of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance's board were realised and the project was scrapped, the knock-ons would be serious.

    For example, some 80,000 tonnes of steel worth £65m has been ordered from Corus, the beleaguered Anglo-Dutch steelmaker"

    It is scare mongering at its most prolific, those workers will be worried enough without jounalist like Robert stiring up concern and bad feeling. Costs go up, steel and the like have increased etc - we have to deal with it evety day so will the MOD.

  • Comment number 4.

    What a surprise.. MOD procurement failing yet again...and in an environment where many contract costs (eg steel) are reducing....

  • Comment number 5.

    In America when recent projects started coming in under budget, Obama was criticised for reducing the amount of the economic stimulus! So perhaps we should celebrate this overrun.

    Having said that, I am curious just how the contracts are structured...don't the suppliers have to provide a fixed price? The answer is probably that the client has changed their requirements. Normally this does result in an increase in contract cost, but there are ways to write a contract where that might not happen...

  • Comment number 6.

    Pardon the ignorance, but not binding costing not part of a construction contract?

    Which UK contruction, public and private, if any, has been completed on time, on the orignal budget and fit for purpose?

  • Comment number 7.

    What is also likely is that the orginal costings were on the tight side to get the contracts going (ie passed cabinet) as the programme had been in "drydock" for a number of years.

    what industry cannot sustain is the MOD (via HMG) provaricating about projects as its almost impossible to keep a steady industrial basline to work from.

    This is another legacy of the Blair/Brown polices of the last 10 years as highlighed by Major-General Mike jackson recently.

    theres is a policy of choas for the defence arena.

    From a stratigic and industrial point of view they should have navalised the eurofighter rather than go for the JSF. Another bad call in a long line of them.

    These projects are no like buidling cars. They are highly complex.

    But we build the best in the world. And the indsutries involved should be supported rather than marches up hill and down dale as per Brown's requests.

  • Comment number 8.

    ps it was going to be political ploy to award the contracts just after GB became PM so that he could have big annoucnements. (2007)

    Then is was delayed because of the JSF delays and issues over the source code so that the UK could maintain it in the future.

  • Comment number 9.

    "Huge Cost Overrun on Defence Contract" is hardly news. It would have been surprising if this *hadn't* happened, although for it to happen this early is possibly a little unusual.

    However, with the Pound weakened and a lot of raw material to buy just getting hold of the steel is going to cost a lot more than was originally anticipated. Having said that, a 25% increase now does look a little excessive. How much more of an increase will there be by the time the vessels are complete?

    And I wonder if there has been some contract amendment that would allow the principal contractor to bump the price up? The MoD might not rush to release that information on the grounds that the finger of blame might start to point somewhere embarrassing.

  • Comment number 10.

    So, supposedly the delays are to marry availability of carriers to that of JSF. Can anyone recall how much we pumped into JSF, to equate it to the lousy deal we are getting on price for the aircraft? At least with aircraft a sensible decision was taken to be compatible with US kit, as we would probably use them along side US forces. Can't understand why we did not do a joint design on carriers with US instead of France. Has anyone worked out what escort ships these things will need, and how we might afford those? US use Aegis boats, and they used to be something in region of $1 billion each.
    Just think the whole deal has not been thought through AGAIN.

  • Comment number 11.

    #3. pilsbury600 wrote:

    "Sorry to complain but Mr Peston has no right to say the following..."

    The paragraphs that have so offended you look to me like nothing more than a simple statement of the facts, and certainly not "scare mongering at its most prolific".

  • Comment number 12.

    Like I said in my post to Robert Peston's previous blog re-Royal Mail: as individuals, companies and nations edge towards bankruptcy, the laws of unintended consequences start to play havoc.

    I'll wager that the root cause of the problem with this contract and others like it could be traced back to bureaucrats and politicians twigging that the British Government is rapidly running out of money. Attributing the £1 billion hole in the budget to "direct costs, inflation and accounting adjustments" is meaningless. In my business, if someone put up that reason for a 25% adverse variance to budget so soon in to the project, his job would be on the line. No question.

    From here on, across Government, increasingly often we'll learn of delays, disruptions, cost-overruns and the like: all characteristics of a Government whose finances are shot. The Government will, of course, do its utmost to prevent facts like these entering the public domain.

    The tragedy is that for as long as our political elite fails to be honest with themselves and us about the appalling state of the nation's finances, the harder it's going to be for all of us when the runaway steam train, that is now the UK economy, smashes into the buffers.

    Planning to deal with financial difficulties and the prevention of bankruptcy are tough enough when you're being honest with yourself and your organisation. If the chief exec and his top team all lie through their teeth about the situation, the resultant collapse of the organisation rapidly becomes an uncontrolled catastrophe. Since Gordon Brown is doing wonders developing his reputation as one who is, er, shall we say, economic with the truth ... the potential for a national economic disaster grows by the day.

  • Comment number 13.

    This project always appeared to have more to do with job creation and prestige, rather than the defence of the British Isles, which has many excellent airfields, which cannot be sunk like aircraft carriers. More cost will mean more jobs and perhaps even more prestige, so it is not entirely a bad thing.

    The carriers will also serve to cheer the senior admirals up, when inevitably a British government finally accepts the fact that Trident is no longer needed. There will be much more scope for fun with aircraft carriers rather than submarines. The Senior Service will be able to have many aircraft. That will be one in the eye for those RAF upstarts.

    Think of all the sailors one will be able to line up on their decks and how the Royal Marine band will be able to march about. Add a bit of bunting and plenty of lights and the presence of her Majesty with her sailor husband and one will have created a great spectacular. The media will love it and the recruits will flood in.

  • Comment number 14.

    We are bankrupt yet we find billions for bankers and billions for wars of our own making.

    Is it me?

  • Comment number 15.

    I agree with radiowonk. The UK's track record on defence procurement should lead us all to expect massive cost overruns, delayed in-service dates and reduced performance kit. Anything else would be exceptional.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    What's another 1bn ?

    Just print more money.

  • Comment number 18.

    I'm sure this leak has nothing to do with the looming defence cuts and the inter-service rivalry this has generated (not)!

    So far we've had the Army and Navy trying to get the Typhoon Tranche 3 for the RAF cancelled, the RAF and Army trying to get the carriers cancelled, the RAF trying to get existing Harriers scrapped so that our current carriers have no planes, and everyone trying to get the Army's FRES program cancelled.

    I don't know what angers me more, the appalling infighting, in the middle of the war, caused by the poor procurement/jobs for the boys decisions of many governments (not just this one) or the media's complete disinterest in discussing defence issues in any more depth than that needed for a few simplistic headlines.

    You'd have thought if ever there was a time to discuss defence issues seriously, the middle of war in which British troops seem to be dying almost daily (perhaps for no good cause) would that time.

  • Comment number 19.

    The original proposal was to get the job and funding, after that comes the "adjustments." Now the cries of lost jobs if the project is cut and all the hand-wringing and tears. What do you expect, same government that was watching the banks. Maybe they could delete the names and offer up some space for naming rights to raise some needed funds. It just never ends, no matter what party is in power, the big money folks pull the strings. The numbers have become so big that they no longer have any value or meaning..bail out this, bail out that, increase this or increase that. It is encouraging that the government has such faith in our grandchildren to pay for all of this. We should all pretend to pay taxes the way they pretend to have money to spend...please hold my tax assessment for my grandchildren as your plans indicate they will have the ability to pay.

  • Comment number 20.

    It's only monopoly money after all. Billions or trillions it doesn't really matter anymore. Most people have completely lost track of any meaningful value of anything.

    Printing money or borrowing to fund unknown black holes in this country's finances is Brown's policy.

    No one will ever know how bad things really are until they have to start borrowing the money to pay the interest charges.

  • Comment number 21.

    Peston an alternative career as a stand-up comic beckons, post-NewLabour

    Or could it be that these floating football pitches really are QE class? and one of them is called the Price of Wales (or maybe you meant to say that it will be the total cost of running Wales?)

    I'm afraid I would question the utility of building aircraft carriers, let alone trident. You should beat your swords into ploughshares, submarines into wind turbines and carriers into tidal barrages; that would use all that steel and manufacturing/engineering capacity on something useful

    Now what would one do with a couple of super-sized aircraft carriers of the QE class.......... let's see recent wars have been in Iraq (no use there) and Afghanistan (landlocked), and places we should intervene are Sudan and Zimbabwe (both landlocked)

    and of course you have us pirates to contend with; tell you what, if you want to catch me then you'll do just as well buying a few rubber boats off eBay; good luck me mateys

    but if you really want a couple of fancy new aircraft carriers why not hire the South Koreans to build them for you

    or if you want a really cost-effective navy then look back to the Golden Age of England as a proud seafaring nation and just hire in a few of us pirates to provide it for a finder's fee

    blimey, we'll run the Post Office for you at the same time

    like they say over here, don't sweat the easy stuff

  • Comment number 22.


    Cool idea. We could have adverts for Mars Bars on the sides and an enormous mural of Branson's head on the flight deck.

    If that doesn't scare the **** out of any enemy nothing will.

  • Comment number 23.

    Scrap Trident. These two carriers are a much more worthwhile investment in the UK's defence.

  • Comment number 24.

    Tell me is this billion overspend going to rise? And further, have they any money to buy any planes for these carriers?

    Thought not...

    The best thing would be to cancel the whole project now. The only value of these rather pointless items of hardware is for fighting coastal wars....

    At least one should be cancelled immediately.

    Why waste money on assets we don't need so that a few naval types can float around on diplomatic work. There are already more admirals than boats in the navy!

    (PS what about the latest frigates purchased with NO weapons!!!!)

    Give the man in change a GCMG, or whatever, and send him on permanent gardening leave.

    Yet again the arrogance of civil servants running the government is beyond belief.

  • Comment number 25.

    As you were, No.7 IR35_SURVIVOR:

    '.....This is another legacy of the Blair/Brown polices of the last 10 years as highlighed (sic) by Major-General Mike jackson (sic) recently.'

    Accord the General his correct rank:

    Lieutenant General Sir Michael Jackson, GCB, CBE, DSO, - two ranks higher than you credited him. Just a nice touch, to research your subject before sallying forth into the Media Sea, similarly check your spelling; whatever the quality of an article, it will not hold the reader's attention if it is bespattered with mangled words and a disregard for grammar.

    'Pencils drawn, erasers ready.'

    Carry on.

  • Comment number 26.

    In #18 nicebunfight touched on the inter - service rivalry for funds for shiney new kit. Lewis Page discussed this at some length in Lions, Donkeys, and Dinosaurs, and that book is definitely worth reading. I must say that given the gestation time of the Typhoon / Eurofighter, the requirement for which goes back to the Cold War, buying Tranche 3 does look a bit extravagant, especially since it is people in DPM that are having a consistently hard time of things at the moment rather than the RAF. Trouble is that the penalty charges of cancelling it now would be prohibitive, and it's not as though we could get anything more useful from BAe as an alternative; more Chinooks and Hercules for example.

    In #23 SheffTim suggested scrapping Trident, but I'm far from certain that having two carriers in exchange would be a good deal, especially as the projected cost doesn't include anything to fly off them. Trident subs don't need a supporting Fleet of other vessels to supply and protect them; the carriers most definitely will.

    What is to me really silly is that in comparison with the money that has had to be thrown at various banks the costs of carriers and Trident looks like small change; RBS managed to lose more than the current budget allocation for both projects on its own.

    According to my morning paper the Defence Budget (as a proportion of GDP) has shrunk quite markedly over the years, and the effects of that shrinkage are now becoming all too apparent.

    It worries me that once the true horror of the UK's monetary predicament becomes clear then we may almost have to give up any pretence of having armed services at all.

  • Comment number 27.

    This government is an antithesis to itself. It shunts future submarine work up to Scotland so in due course there will be a 'Scottish Navy' but doesn't realise how well looked after the dockyards are up there. I used to work in a small munitions depot in Devon which carried out equivalent work to a Scottish depot yet the Scots all received 'Danger money' for working in close proximity to munitions! When we asked for it we were told we weren't eligible. Funny old thing, but it was always the Scots who looked after each other for overtime and promotion as well. Do the sums against any southern dockyard (Mr Brown & Mr Darling)and see how much you will save. Of course - you can't do that can you? Where will the votes come from?

  • Comment number 28.

    Most government contracts overrun cost-wise, so this to be expected. But the amount (25%) seems high. The real issue is what incentive will there be for this government to keep costs under control? Like the Post Office pensions issue discussed earlier. How many more financial timebombs will Mr Browns team (sic) leave for the incoming government next year. It really is time for an election now to stop this and get some decisions made before the consequences of 'no decisions' becomes intolerable

  • Comment number 29.

    It's just a drop in the Ocean!

  • Comment number 30.

    #14 truths33k3r wrote:

    We are bankrupt yet we find billions for bankers and billions for wars of our own making.

    Is it me?


    Yes!'s just you!

    and me!

    and just about every other 'heart bleeding' poster in this blog.

    ...and probably just about everyone else who doesn't live on planet Westminster!

  • Comment number 31.

    sadly it was to be expected during a downturn but to stop building them would be worse.
    a way of bridging the gap may be to use captured drug monies and repaid over expenses from the house of commons.
    one day we may just get a government that knows how to add up without making mistakes.

  • Comment number 32.

    I find it utterly amazing that the BBC can bang on about cost increase like this on ships which will last 30 years and yet make no fuss at all about the £12Bn being squandered on a 2 week ego trip in 2012. Or is it just that the BBC has a vested interest in the Olympics?

    In many economic downturns since the 18th century wars against the French spending on high tech defence equipment has helped the country out of bad times by keeping high tech industry going. Cutting defence spending has NEVER helped the country out of bad times. It won't now.

  • Comment number 33.

    Another thought.

    The carriers were delayed and the cost of them has gone up by (you claim) £1bn. About £1bn was saved by cancelling the last 2 Type 45 destroyers. Apart from illustrating the fact that delaying things doesn't save money what is your point exactly? It hasn't had any other effect on the defence budget.

  • Comment number 34.

    Radiowonk/nicebunfight make some good points but you should remember that Lewis Page is a discontented ex-Mine Warfare Officer and very often mis-informed.
    JohnfromHendon you are utterly wrong on everything! Coastal warfare? If given the correct aircraft (the CATOBAR JSFs instead of the STOVOL variant the RAF want, but even with those) the carriers will have a huge range inland. You and Somalipirate need to recognise that being landlocked makes no difference - most of the original operations in Afghanistan were flown from US carriers and much of those for Iraq (and still are!). The contribution that carrier-based aviation can make is vast - much more easily deployed than land-based assets, can be sustained or removed much more easily and are a potent visual symbol. Not relying on basing rights. By frigates you mean destroyers, and they do have weapons.
    Stanblogger - no good having an unsinkable carrier, our wars aren't fought near the UK are they?!? And haven't been since 1945. Trident is 'needed', but it isn't meant to be is it??
    Passiniterest - there is absolutely no point buying US carriers, too big and nuclear powered. Yes the escorts are worked out! The T45 is exactly that (and better than Aegis). Doesn't it occur to you that the Navy/MoD do vast amounts of thinking and work on a project like this?! Also you can't buy 'off-the-shelf' Korean-built vessels, as the specifications and tolerances required can't just be ordered up like a car. This is a vast and complicated military vessel which the Koreans don't have any experience of building.
    If there is any solution to the defence budget problem it's to slash the size of the RAF - not really a good thing to do but that's where the fat in the budget is. The real problem is that it's other budgets that should go - welfare, health - rather than defence which can't be provided by other means. Unfortunately, there are few votes in defence so no doubt we'll lose even more of our maritime capability and influence in the world as a result. No Navy means no British expeditionary capability and no ability to operate anywhere.

  • Comment number 35.

    I think everyone is missing a kernel here. This is not so much about the in fighting, which was always there, or the issue of the rising costs which someone conveniently pointed out could be saved by going to Korea. This is more about what we will still be able to do if this goes pearshaped. Now Corus is owned by Mittal who has any number of other steelworks and Tata owns Land Rover Jaguar but that is also Indian. The thought crossed my mind as when these two manufacturers either close or move to India to save costs. This Government has been at the heart of every move to shut down strategic manufacturers and the building of two warships for good or ill is another indicator of what we can still do. An entire Nation's wealth has been squandered on a bunch of banking wastrels who appear unscathed while England is sold under our feet. That is what this is about, not warships.

  • Comment number 36.

    Cameron predicts a riot...

    I predict riots!

  • Comment number 37.

    Robert, I've always wondered what planet folks were on when they started this project, 2 ships built in 3 locations by 2 contractors who hardly love one another. Yet a simple solution exists, the USA have just decommissioned their last conventional carrier USS Kittyhawk which will either along with her remaining 2 sister ships be a; turned into a museum or b; sunk as a reef after costly stripping and salvage. Using our "special relationship" we could acquire 2 of these "hulks" and in 2 locations refit, repair and build all the British bits we need. The ships are triple hulled and would make a sound basis upon which to proceed. If folks seriously think a £1bn overrun is where it ends they should think again, if this carries on then assume £3bn minimum as the contractors are masters at weedling more cost from a contract.

    While we are at it perhaps choosing a better version of the F35 might also be useful, the so called short take off function is not a patch on the harrier so why bother. The US are going for one of the conventional versions, buying that will be cheaper economically, simple economies of scale. After all the good old steam catapult is a British invention and since HMS Ark Royal we have failed to use it.

    A final thought I spoke to a military officer who worked on the working party for the "business case" for the carriers and one of its conclusions was that only 2% of the world would not be reachable via land based forces so that does make you wonder as to the value of the project.

    So do they sail on with the daft political solution and get royally stiffed by the contractors b; recycle 2 existing warships and save a pile or c; abandon it and lose face, jobs and many millions through the courts. Of course it will be a; think of the joy of even more money down the drain.

  • Comment number 38.

    PS oops I meant to say 'Trident isn't meant to be used', being a deterrent after all!

  • Comment number 39.

    Seriously, after all the banking hysterics, is £1 billion really an issue? Of course, any overuns such as this still warrant attention, but relative to what is going on, this is chicken feed.

    It wouldn't even cover the interest payments on the Royal Mail pension fund.

  • Comment number 40.

    Englishvineyardman - it isn't whether it's 'reachable' by land or not! It's whether you can get basing rights, plus the speed and flexibility of naval airpower. Didn't the Army learn anything from the Falklands War, or Korean War?

  • Comment number 41.

    The Donkeys' orders to the Lads!

    'Over the top Lads'

    Quickly followed by...

    'Woaaaah Lads'........'wait a minute!'.....we haven't yet paid for the long jump pit in the Olympic Stadium in Peckham!'

    'Come back now....we forget....we spent the money for your bullets on the sand for the pit!'

    Major R. Soul

  • Comment number 42.

    >>> "a combination of direct costs,
    We're in a recession, costs are dropping across the board...

    >>> inflation
    Again, we're in a recession, inflation is negative by one measure... next....

    >>> and accounting adjustments".
    Ah the real reason, the accountants messed up. Nothing to see here. Move along.

  • Comment number 43.

    #12 moraymint...unfortunately....hear hear!

  • Comment number 44.

    The two new carriers are practically defenseless except for their aircraft. The Navy has insufficient ships of ANY type let alone carrier defence types to protect one let alone two carriers. The US Navy employs tiered defence as it considers carriers both great assets, but extremely vulnerable (even given their self-protection capability). Neither UK carrier will have an armoured deck, meaning that a kamikaze style attack would likely sink them, particularly given the enormous amount of aviation and gas turbine fuel required on-board. The UK carriers will also be highly vulnerable to the need for replenishment (from a paltry fleet of even more vulnerable tankers) If we need big carriers, then buying a US Nimitz class would be a better (if more expensive) option.

  • Comment number 45.

    pestonisanidiot; chances of another falkland scenario? where else do with have lone possessions that are in a similar scenario? Reality is we will be locked into the Afghan/mid east area for some years and beyond humanitarian situations i'm struggling to see where they would be deployed. I actually would like to see the carriers completed but using recycled hulls as a little bit of flag waving is good for international diplomacy and most folks in the UK would feel some pride in their armed forces.

  • Comment number 46.

    Here we go again another Preston special trying to trash one of the UKs great engineering projects and a much needed boost to a flagging Royal Navy force.

    Get your facts right. Why will it be over budget? Principally because the very government that wanted these fine ships to be built decided actually it could not afford the spending over the next few years. For a change, do not blame British industry, do not blame the Royal Navy, do no even blame the lazy civil servants who conjured up the stupid estimate for the 2 ships in the first place.

    The blame lies firmly with this inept and pretty dumb Government who cannot financially manage this country.

  • Comment number 47.

    Methinx it is about time that all the forces, but particularly the navy did a simple little exercise which related the number and rank of top brass to the number of ships RN possess. This would quickly show that no more than 10 admirals (to cover 24 hours / illness / holidays / etc could conceivably be needed (there are DOZENS of them). Similarly a serious culling of all ranks might help to balance the budgets. For god's sake at the moment weve got 2 tiny operational aircraft carriers, at most 35 destroyers and frigates and a few landing ships, oilers and minesweepers - why on earth do we need circa 40,000 Navy personnel to man that lot?
    PS if you dispute this, I'd like a breakdown of what the Navy personnel (and in particular the top brass) do!

    A thorough review of Navy manpower might yield sufficent savings over time to buy some....... SHIPS!!!!

  • Comment number 48.

    or have the costs risen because the original flight deck design was flawed to the point of being unsafe to land upon?(allegedly)

  • Comment number 49.

    This ill-conceived project should now be cancelled. It is obvious, in the era of the £1 billion destroyer, that these ships could never have been built for £4 billion. The navy is fighting for its survival as a major player in the 21st century and needs viable numbers of destroyers/ frigates, fleet submarines, amphibious ships and auxiliaries. If current trends continue, and there is no reason to suppose that they will not, the navy of 2020 will have only 12-16 escorts and 4-6 submarines. The idea of operating "carrier battle groups" is therefore ludicrous. Three smaller "flat tops" such as these operated/planned by Italy, Spain, Australia and Japan would provide more flexibility at a fraction of the cost of the proposed ships. If built, they will probably be mothballed after a few years service (with no aircraft!) and then "sold" (i.e. given away) overseas. Fill the current void with a realistic defence strategy and gear procurement to the needs of the armed forces, not British industry, Mr Brown!

  • Comment number 50.

    The whole QE class concept was flawed at the beginning - we're having to purchase F38's and probably some V-22's to go along with it at exorbitant costs, not included in the current costs, due to the choice of configuration and power plants.

    Then there's the fact they'll likely be upgraded in under a decade into a new configuration, at extra expense and with new aircraft to use the spanking new electric catapults when installed.

    It stuns me that for somewhat less cost, the US gets a Nimitz class supercarrier - which is significantly better all-round than the QE class - which, given how flagrant with defence spending is, just highlights what a mess the MoD and the government have made of the new carriers.

  • Comment number 51.

    Steel price has plummeted in the last six months; £1100/tonne - £600/tonne.

    I'm sure it's a game that all parties know they're playing.

  • Comment number 52.

    Julius Caesar had plans drawn up, and costed by contractors, for a new Roman port. His assassination meant that the plans did not go ahead. When Claudius ascended the throne he called for similar plans which came in at a sum as astronomically increased as the ship building programme. They had, however, reckoned without the fact that Claudius was an historian. He produced the earlier plans and demanded to know why the costs had increased so dramatically. As usual, the contractors made the oleagenous face and gave various spurious reasons. Claudius told them they were villains, liars and thieves and that they would build the new port for 10% LESS than they had proposed to charge Julius, or lose their lives in a singularly unpleasant way. Guess what? The project came in on time, under cost, and at a huge profit to the contractors. Oh for a Claudius as Prime Minister.

  • Comment number 53.

    I worked at a n.e. eng. co. which was involved in the bid process on these carriers. Our representative could not beleive the selfish greed culture which exists in these government contracts. For example he could not get anyone on the commitee to agree a way forward to accelerate the program the response was always "We have two more(paid) years to make this decision, lets use the funding up". This is why overruns(spends) happen, they are desirable to the people being paid to steer them. This should be investigated and exposed.

  • Comment number 54.

    What a joke. The 646 members of the criminal classes who "work" in the commons bubble, plus their greedy defence business chums, think they can rip off the taxpayers yet again. Of course, a slice of a one billion "bonus" is a nice pension earner for the crooks about to lose their "jobs" at the next election. It's a bit like the expenses scams and frauds but add three zeros to the swag invoices and expenses claims.

    Let's have a tesco on-line shopping approach. You give your shopping list via a web page (thus saving very expensive meetings in far-away, sunny beach resorts) and if they want 25% extra payment (current figure - which will probably rise quickly to 50% plus) to deliver the goods go and shop elsewhere. Such a shame that none of the criminal classes have actually had a proper job so they would have seen the workings of fixed-price contracts and penalty clauses for overspend and late delivery.

    Meanwhile, front-line members of the armed forces are being killed in cheap patrol vehicles costing peanuts.

    NuLaburr, CamCons and the rest of them make me puke.

  • Comment number 55.

    How about a mention of the size of the defence budget (£38bn) compared to the *interest* on the national debt (£28bn)? (Figures from the 2009 budget)

  • Comment number 56.

    The £1 billion is fairly irrelevant in the great scheme of things. The problem here is that the government have yet again rolled over in the face of big business. Just like the Olympics and almost every other major capital project the government gets involved in, the costs have risen hugely because the contruction companies know that the government is a soft touch. They know damn well that the government is not going to cancel a major contract right now and put 5,000 people out of a job so they know that a cost overrun of 25% or so is going to be approved.

    They also know that once the project is half complete, they can whack the price up to almost whatever they want because no government is going to write off £5 billion, so watch this space, my guess is that we are going to end up paying more like £8 -£9 bn for these carriers.

  • Comment number 57.

    I see stanblogger has completely missed the point as to why we need the carriers. Defence has been cut year on year while other sectors grow fat.

    Why don't we leave defence alone for a change? As for the service infighting I agree they need to stop. FRES is all but doomed anyway. If any service needs money then it is the Navy as that has been the easiest target. As for the price rise, most people and politicians who are against the carriers won't see the bit about it being due to reprofiling, rather than actual costs.

  • Comment number 58.

    It is very common in defence contracts. What you do is quote for a job, say you are taking into account, all the risks, issues and opportunities and say that you have built them in to your cost model. You then get given a number by the MoD and are told to make your cost model fit that number. You do that and are therefore awarded the contract. You then after about 6-12 months, when raw materials have been bought etc, release the real costs plus inflation of what the product is actually going to cost in real terms. You now have the government tied into a contract that would be politically difficult and fiscally unsound to pull out of. They then have to come up with the extra funding. It reminds you of Nimrod, Astute, Typhoon, Type 45 and Combat Engineering Tractor....who built all of those by the way........and where are they built?

  • Comment number 59.

    #34. pestonisanidiot wrote:

    "you are utterly wrong on everything"

    You seem to have issues with the facts.

    1. There are no aircraft for these carriers.

    2. They could not provide any form of military rational support for the inland wars in Afghanistan etc.

    3. With the support of (unarmed) frigates their vulnerability is immense.

    4. Bombing does not win wars, only the occupation of territory does that and aircraft carriers are unsuited to getting too close to land because of the easy availability of missile technology that will sink them (see also the latest frigate problem).

    5. Carriers are just a liability than needs protecting. We are totally unable to contemplate engaging by ourselves in any for of war in which they could possible be of any use.

    Our navy should concentrate on home waters protection and air sea rescue. The main possible use of carries is to go on diplomatic missions and then it is just their potential that impresses and then impresses other countries naval chiefs.

    In the naval arms race they are an historic throwback and are past their sell by date. One man with a missile costing a few thousand dollars is a serious threat to every large ship. Or even as the Americans found in the gulf on suicide bomber with a speedboat packed with explosives. Modern wars are won and lost in the schools and madrassa! Until this battle is won, say in thirty or forty years time, huge capital ships are pointless, unnecessary, a waste on money and most importantly divert scarce capital from material that helps fight the actual war, not the mythical ones fought by armchair retried admirals!

  • Comment number 60.

    We don't know what's going to happen in the next 20-odd years, so how can we say that we won't need these carriers (or Trident, for that matter)? Defence spending is meant to provide armed forces which can cope with any potential conflict which could arise, hence the need for tranche 3 Typhoons, F35 et al.

    One of the big problems with defence procurement is that the available budget rarely matches the needs of the armed forces. I'm not sure about current figures, but I know that Britain's defence spending (as a percentage of GDP) was one of the lowest in Europe a few years ago. This leads to poor decisions being made which allow the books to be balanced in the short term, but causes longer term problems with penalty clauses and cost overruns (which, in turn, makes the budget tighter and so on).

    Defence spending will always suffer during times of cuts because it's not a vote winner. However, if we cut back our spending too far, we not only compromise the defence of our country, we also risk losing valuable income from exports (as we lose design and manufacturing capability).

    Trident is going to be renewed for one very simple reason: nuclear weapons can't be un-invented. No Prime Minister is ever going to agree to give up the nuclear deterrent while it is still possible for any country or organisation to obtain a nuclear weapon.

  • Comment number 61.

    12 Moray mint wrote "The tragedy is that for as long as our political elite fails to be honest with themselves and us about the appalling state of the nation's finances, the harder it's going to be for all of us when the runaway steam train, that is now the UK economy, smashes into the buffers"

    Well said indeed. There is going to be a Security Review in 2010. I can imagine the preamble...The carriers and JSF were legacies of a time past which such a Review may reveal to be less relevant in the future. Likewise the level of deterrence achieved with Trident may be neither affordable nor appropriate to whatever our future Defence needs maybe....

    Oh the luxury of such unhelpful statements. We are bankrupt. By 2011 we will have interest payments on the national debt that exceed the entire annual Defence budget. Could someone please have the guts to stand up in Parliament and spell out the options for savings however awful they may be - Vince Cable please just do it - you're the only one we trust.

  • Comment number 62.

    1Billion over run....

    Chicken feed, hardly worth bothering Gordan Spender Brown over.

    You need to over spend by 100's of Billions to get a chance for a Knighthood from Brown.

  • Comment number 63.

    How can costs go up by 25% before anything has been built?

    How can inflation be a factor when we are supposed to be combating inflation with low interest rates.

    This has all the sound of pigs and troughs yet again.

    Why is it that public service contracts always go up in cost once the taxpayer is committed? Has the specification been changed?

    This is a far greater issue than two aircraft carriers: this goes to the heart of the competence of the British state to do anything.

  • Comment number 64.

    Will were talking of over spend...

    Why not ask why we still have Apache Attack Helicopters in storage?

  • Comment number 65.

    I'd like to add some facts to the discussion going on here. I worked at the Aircraft Carrier Alliance for a number of years and just two weeks ago attended a conference about them . The QE Class carrier project has been going on since about 1999. Even back then the budget was £3.9b, and it became clear very early on that the MoD could not afford the ships they wanted. Several iterations of design were produced, some smaller and cheaper but less capable, some with all the bells and whistles, but too much. A LOT of time and effort was spent on designing an acceptable carrier to an affordable budget - but there was no rmargin for error. The to-ing and fro-ing on the design front has led to delays in the project, but these have been swallowed up by the need to delay the project for financial reasons i.e. a two year delay to allow the £3.9b to be spread out a bit. I would suggest that the £1b increase covers not only the cost of this delay (inflation etc) but is also conveniently hiding other cost over runs (although these are comparitively minor). Of course, as has been pointed out, this £5b only covers the costs of the ships themselves, not the aircraft (40 per ship) nor the support ships - tankers and replenishment ships. Also, this cost increase is only the increase so far - the manufacturing phase has only just begun, so there must be potential for further increases in the future.

    Quite simply , there is not enough money to carry out all the defence projects on the go. As such, something will have to give, or our national debt climb even higher (can you borrow money from the Chinese to build weapons?). There is a lot of inter-service political manoeuvring going on between the Navy, RAF and Army. That is the main reason why the engines have already been built (awkard to cancel a project when so much money has been spent on building a major part of it already, despite the fact the hulls won't be built for many years yet). It is also rumoured to be the reason why the carriers have already been named the QE Class - it is politically embarassing to cancel a project named after the monarch.

    Finally, for those saying that aircraft carriers are only useful for a coastal war, that is un-informed hog wash - something like 80 per cent of the world's population and the huge majority of cities and stratgic sites are within range of ship-bourne aircraft. The whole point of an aircraft carrier is that you are no longer reliant on other nations letting you use their land to conduct military operations from. For example, Saudi Arabia were not keen to be a runway for planes used to bomb Iraq.

  • Comment number 66.

    The quantity of new Type 45 Destroyer was reduced to cut costs.
    Just like the BOXER & FRES Programme, it looks like we will see another MOD contract scrapped costing hundreds of millions with nothing to show for it.

    Boxer cost approx £118 million when Labour pulled the plug in 2003, FRES has cost something similar.

    If anything, the carriers should be mothballed until we have a different government and we are in a position financially to continue with these ships.


  • Comment number 67.

    How do you think the kit gets to Afghanistan? By plane? Nope, it is by the funny things that float in the water. And remember Afghanistan is just today's battle. Where are tomorrows? Are you seriously suggesting that we spend all our defence income on one area of operation and leave the rest just to simmer away? You say one man and a speed boat does away with the millions spent on large warships. One man and a bomb does away with tanks, IFV's, APC's, AWACS, Submarines, Frigates, Destroyers, Mine Sweepers, Typhoon, Tornado and the countless other equipments that the MoD have. What is your point?

    1. At present there is no aircraft for these carriers because there are no carriers.
    2. Afghanistan is one battle. F/A 18 regularly patrol over Afghanistan from aircraft carriers in the Indian Ocean and Gulf. F-35 has longer range and like F/A 18 and most other 4/5th generation aircraft can be refuelled in mid air.
    3. What mythical unarmed frigate are you talking about? Type 22/23 frigates are fully armed. Type 42 has a working (admittedly old) AAW system. What threat are you talking about? Speedboats and suicide bombers?
    4. Doctrine states that to occupy and hold ground you need control of the air. CAS is vital for ground troops to bring weapons on to target quickly and with out at least air superiority that would not be available.
    5. An aircraft carrier is an expensive platform that operates as part of a group. Its primary role is to project power and to do that it needs defending. However as the US has proved, by moving one of the aircraft carriers close to a nation shows strategic intent and serves as a warning that there is an air force on your doorstep. Coastal ships cannot do that.

  • Comment number 68.

    Just one more point to add, when have BAE ever delivered a major contract on time and on budget?

  • Comment number 69.

    What I would like to hear from politicians is a coherent discussion on the future of the armed forces and defense of the UK.
    It seems to me that our top priority should be a well equipped army with fully functional airforce and navy in support.
    But do we need 2 aircraft carriers-I doubt it.
    What we don't need either is a fleet of submarines,loaded with nuclear missiles,just to demonstrate we are a nuclear power.
    Strapping the Trident programme completely and reducing the purchase to one aircraft carrier would provide sufficent money from existing budgets to provide the army,navy and airforce with the equipment they need to do their job effectively.

  • Comment number 70.

    Every project that DPA or DES have contracted for have been delivered on time :0) don't you read the news? It is just one success after another. :-0

  • Comment number 71.

    My first reaction to the article was:
    "Hey....we're in a recession! What do you expect?"
    We in the commercial sector have been watching projects being cut, cancelled, delayed etc. for the last 12 months without any signs of the economy improving.
    For the Armed Forces and any organisation which relies on their profits coming from the public purse, they have to face a double recession.
    No money in the economy. No money in the Treasury.
    Did no-one listen to Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England?
    The government has no money left!
    They gave it to all their friends in the City of London so that they could retire on the equivalent of winning the EuroLottery everyday for a week.
    So what is to be done?
    Can't we just re-vamp a few old warships? A lick of paint can make even the most decrepid frigate look new again. As for the missiles, I find a quick spray of WD40 in the engine works wonders on my old jallopy. Perhaps we could bring HMS Victory out of dry-dock and back into service?
    Where is the old war time spirit of make-do and mend?

  • Comment number 72.

    #10 the Aegis boats command system is not a patch on the T23/T45 one inservice and about to be.

    Comment from US navy staff about the Command System staying up for more than 24 hrs was astonishing, they have to reboot every 24hrs just to make sure its avaliable to use. Mirrors Microsoft, rubbish

  • Comment number 73.

    The carriers are not Warships. They are to be built to civilian standards so will have to stay about 400 miles from a combat zone to be safe. Unfortunately the F35 is slightly overweight and will probably have a range of 350 mile. So the carriers can deliver nothing without air - air refuelling of the F35. So we could fly F35 or Typoons all the way with air - air refuelling and save the £6Bn cost of the carriers.

  • Comment number 74.

    ~53 22overseven: I couldn't agree more: I've worked in the construction industry long enough now (2 years) to know contractors will just ease every bit of money out of Government contracts, and then some.

    Obviously it'd be nice to get us Brits to do the work, or some other Western state, but we're too expensive and complain too much, so we should be better off, indeed, to get a developing country on the contract and have then build it for half the time at half the cost. After all, it's hardly an ethical contract so why not dispense with ethics altogether?

  • Comment number 75.

    If you can build a luxury passenger liner/ cruise ship of similar size and bigger for £300 million, why does it cost almost 10 times as much to build a carrier that is only a hollow shell with lifts?

  • Comment number 76.

    Has anyone noticed that we appear to be paying this conglomeration of companies more money to allow them to delay our defence projects more? I say we should pay them the agreed amount when the job gets done, rather than allowing the bureaucracy to siphon off millions of taxpayers money while we wait for our carriers to actually be finished.

  • Comment number 77.

    hannafordlee, are you referring to the Eurofighters due 9 years ago which aren't yet viable jets, of which our government is prepared to buy 232 just in order to keep the cost per plane below £100 million? Or the BAe Nimrods which were delivered in 1969 and have still not been declared flightworthy 40 years later?

  • Comment number 78.

    Thankfully at last someone with common sense talking about defence !!! ( U14053803 )

    I dont understand how people think these 2 new Carriers dont seem important? Anyone that doubts there unquestionable usefullness please pick up a history book and look at the Vietnam war, Korean war and most certainly the Falklands war to name a few.

    As for budget overuns, speaking as someone whos family worked in shipbuilding for approx 30 - 40 years appeace, for 3 generations, our hapless governments have left the remaining yards with a reasonable monopoly in shipbuilding.
    Given the UK cant look overseas to build its warships, ( and please God never let that happen ! Especially Mr Jack Straw, seding those RFA's to GERMANY ! Lets not forget ) There are so many overuns, and those delightfull MOD types in Bath changing there mind every few weeks about what they want, what do you expect ?
    We used to design systems to fit in compartments, then the MOD would say "To curve the spending we dont want "X" system any more!" We sent so many ships to sea with empty pannels and compartments, after moneys had been spent on designing equipment to fit in there etc, and I have no doubt bad practices of the civil servants are not changed!

    We need new and better Carriers, NOW not later or never ! Cost? rather see benefits, NHS, Education rationalised than defence!

  • Comment number 79.

    The contract was signed for £3.9bn, so why should the MoD have to deal with cost over-runs?
    I'm not sure which is worse - this, or those expensive state-of-the-art helicopters the MoD can't use because they didn't purchase the software to use them.

  • Comment number 80.


    In deliberating future UK budgets & the possible future size/equipping of the UK's Armed Forces, & in pondering how the UK ought to be approaching potential adversaries in coming decades- UK politicians & bureaucrats would do well looking back in history- particularly to the pre-WW II period...

    It was only, barely, 6 years between 1933 when Hitler and his Nazi party gained control of then Germany's governmental structures and 1939 when the world was plunged headlong into WW II...

    Because there is a comparative calm upon the world today in terms of dangerously oppositional relationships between the world's present great powers is not reliable-logic or trustable-evidence that today's situation could not change overnight...

    Designing and building new warships PROPERLY- like Aircraft Carriers- and similar military hardware takes many, many years even in urgent situations...

    An unexpected hostile-nation acting against the UK in a month, or a year from now would have to be responded to with the UK's military-of-the-day: if all the UK has to respond to future aggressors with is an incompetently equipped force- such as today's, there will be no time to upgrade/re-equip->>> with potentially dire results!!

    A United Kingdom with an up-to-date, properly equipped Navy- including COMPETENTLY DESIGNED AIRCRAFT CARRIERS, TYPE-45 DESTROYERS and a new generation Trident missile & nuclear submarine delivery system- even if never used in war- is still a better off country than one which, in effect, decides to disrobe itself on-the-world-stage and invite the savage beasts of the international foreign-policy jungle to afternoon tea...

    While it's a truism that all countries' armed forces need to be efficient, once the consequences of meeting efficiency-objectives result in the effective neutering of a country's armed forces- or branches thereof- then whoever is pushing for- and/or facilitating- these 'armed forces branches' 'rationalizations' becomes party to a form of traitorous negligence...

    The UK's armed forces have been severely 'over-rationalizing'- IE making too many cuts in men, heavy-fixed-assets such as warships, materiel & even basic-training for most of the last 10-years...

    The egregious results have been entirely predictable- for example- the Royal Navy today isn't fit to fight anything close to a real conflict- whether a one-off skirmish or an ongoing war- against even a modestly-modern-weapons-equipped foe(s)...

    The RN's elderly, defective &/or obsolescent Submarines, Destroyers, Frigates & Aircraft Carriers have not been replaced in a responsible (IE with up-to-date technologies) or timely manner & certainly not in mission-sufficient numbers....

    Over the last 10-years, when RN warships have been (or planned to be) replaced, the rule under Labour has been to tamper with & chop-off vital components of designers'/contractors' specifications & designs for new warships- to the point that the ships produced are dangerously under-equipped in terms of weapons systems, ship-board defenses and levels of technology...

    - The new Type-45-model Destroyer programme- with several under construction for the Royal Navy today- is a case in point:


    What few Type-45's that are being built- less than 1/3 of needed- are functionally incapable of any war-fighting/military tasks other than launching primary defensive missiles at incoming air-borne threats...

    Contrary to designers specifications, Type-45's are not even being fitted to be armed with ship-launched torpedoes...

    These front-line warships have no 'secondary defensive systems', (also known as 'Close In Weapons Systems' (CIWS)) installed, for use in known-to-be-unavoidable combat situations when the Type-45's 'primary' defensive system (missiles) miss their target- or when the Type-45 expends its puny supply of 48 defensive missiles...

    The directives that Type-45's be constructed with a virtual void of weaponry, ammunition-capacities & defensive systems have resulted in brand new Royal Navy warships that easily could have been the most potent and effective (for their displacement) of their type in the world- being third-rate 'make-work-projects' at best...

    Why Type-45's are being built of a size & with on-board facilities capable of embarking/supporting just 1 helicopter each, instead of 2- like other top-tier countries' navy's Destroyers- has never been justified by Labour...

    2 copters are particularly useful to have, if, in the middle of a battle, 1 copter is lost while the suspected location of a known threat is out of delivery-range of the ship's on-board weapons and sensors...

    Similarly, the Labour-handicapped-design of the planned new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy is- if proceeded with- going to result in ships that would barely be suitable to fight a WW II type conflict, and certainly not 21st century ones...


    Labour's present* half-baked directives for the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers mean these central-to-the-RN's-functions warships won't be built with catapults.

    (* they change almost daily...)

    Catapults are necessary for Aircraft Carriers to be able to embark, launch & recover a variety of the most versatile & capable types of fixed-wing aircraft, such as Airborne Early Warning & Control (AWACS) types...

    The RN's new carriers will be restricted to Harrier type (short/vertical take off & land ) fixed-wing aircraft & helicopters- that can not duplicate even remotely the function of modern, fixed-wing AWACS...

    Without AWACS planes flying high above the respective carrier & its battle group- scanning OVER THE HORIZON for potential threats & theatre data- carriers & their support/escort ships are enormously vulnerable to low-flying (sea-skimming) incoming airborne threats such as supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles & aircraft...

    Labour's vote-motivated directives for the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers mean these ships won't be nuclear powered resulting in these ships, if built- being unable to generate sufficient power for fitting them with coming on stream/under-development 21st century armaments such as Directed Energy Weapons (DEWS) & will be significantly range/endurance-limited due to their fossil-fuel engines- & their aircraft- requiring constant refills of fuel from supply ships- particularly problematic if, during a conflict, the carrier's supply ships get sunk....

    Labour's forced sale by British Nuclear Fuels of the world's preeminent
    warship nuclear reactor company- Westinghouse- to Toshiba must have had a bigger purpose than just generating a quick profit??? No, it doesn't appear that way...

    As well, due to their 'on-the-cheap' design, the RN's planned new aircraft carriers won't be able to stock & use tactical nuclear weapons-

    Thereby eliminating these ships' usefulness in a legitimate hot-war- a situation that only the very most willfully ignorant/tunnel visioned would say can be ruled out during the projected 30- 50 year operational life of these "central to the RN's function" ships...

    In a similar theme to the plainly Labour-interfered-with planning processes for the proposed new Aircraft Carriers & Type-45 Destroyers- if anything, planning proposals for the next generation of UK Trident are too modest: the proposed new nuclear missile carrying submarines are significantly undersized and would carry far too few Trident missiles: :

    NOTE THE COMMENTS: "...The UK's next-generation ballistic-missile submarines will have (12) missile tubes rather than the (16) aboard the existing Vanguard-class Trident-armed submarines, (and much less than the (24) aboard the US Navy's current Ohio-class Trident submarines and their planned replacements- rvl) ... British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said... "

    The UK ought to be developing both its missile system and new-model ICBM carrying nuclear submarines jointly with the United States, which also is in planning stages to replace its present Trident missile/nuclear submarine system...

    This at least would ensure that this needed project gets completed in a responsible fashion- and with the end products properly functional instead of dysfunctional 'make-work-project' jokes like the Type-45 Destroyer & planned Aircraft Carrier projects ...

    Similar to the country's emaciated & cannibalized indigenous research & development base, the UK's armed forces need substantial long-term investment- not another politically-driven review.... guaranteed to cause money-wasting inter-service rivalries....

    This in addition to the armed forces needing political & military leaders who are prepared to speak against the intellectually-dishonest falsities that Labour- & some in the MoD- have been disseminating for over 10-years...

    Roderick V. Louis,
    Vancouver, BC, Canada,

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.


    The present Royal Navy Vanguard submarine based UK nuclear deterent consists of 4 Vanguard submarines, with each submarine having 16 missile tubes- each missile tube capable of launching 1 Trident nuclear missile...

    In other words the UK's total nuclear deterent today in 2009 is 64 submarine launched nuclear missiles...

    The UK MoD has been openly saying for many months that they are 'OK with the RN's present 4 Vanguard nuclear missile carrying submarines being 'replaced' with 3 of the under-development SMALLER ones and their new Trident missiles'....

    Prime minister Brown recently 'decreed' that the UK's new Trident system submarines, when built, will each have only 12 missile tubes- instead of the Vanguard's 16- or the US Navy's Ohio class submarines' 24...

    3 new Vanguard-successor submarines X 12 missile tubes each= 36 missile tubes...

    64 missile tubes with the present 4 Vanguard submarines-based Trident system


    only 36 missile tubes with the apparent Labour & MoD toadies' preferred system: 3 Vanguard-successor submarines/& their new Trident missiles->>

    = almost a 50% reduction in the UK's nuclear deterent, and all without a parliamentary or public debate or public consultation/advisement...

    1) "UK MoD remains open to three-boat nuclear deterrent option":

    2) "Some commanders may feel uneasy about (reducing Trident carrying subs from 4 to 3) given the fact that recently two of the (present Vanguard)submarines were out of service due to major repairs. In the future a similar scenario could leave Britain with one or zero active nuclear deterrent submarines...":

    3) "The UK's next-generation ballistic-missile submarines will have 12 missile tubes rather than the 16 aboard the existing Vanguard-class Trident-armed submarines":

    4) "The Royal Navy is cannibalising parts from various ships and (Trident nuclear missile/Vanguard) submarines to keep other vessels afloat and operational it has emerged..."

    "... The revelation that the (present Trident/Vanguard submarine) nuclear deterrent is being gutted for parts is particularly worrisome. If there was a national or international emergency some of the Vanguard class submarines would most likely have to be left in the docks since they would most likely be missing parts crucial to the subs operations....":

    5) RAF continues to eat their own planes:
    The cannibalisation of spare parts from aircraft remains consistent in the RAF-

    6) Typhoons already being raided for parts:
    Britain's Typhoon jet fleet has already been cannibalised for parts 1,325 times since 2005-

    7) Helicopter shortfalls worsen for forces:
    Only three types of helicopters have 50 per cent of their forward fleet fit for purpose the MoD said-

    8) Eating their own: Helicopter cannibalisation:
    The government has revealed the extent of the cannibalisation of helicopters for spare parts-

    9) "MoD won't commit to Astute (submarine programme) schedule"

    The Astute class submarine programme's timetable is under review according to the MoD and an announcement is expected soon:

    10) "Red alert - China modernises its nuclear missile force"

    Beijing is now deploying or developing up to five intercontinental nuclear-armed ballistic missiles in what amounts to China's most ambitious increase in intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability since the late 1980s... :


    "... The era of open sea warfare is over" according to the recent IPPR report...

    This ignores the facts that Russia is rearming itself and selling masses of hardware/warships to countries like India, Brazil & China...

    Not to mention comparitively huge sales of advanced submarines, Frigates and similar vessels by France and Germany to many non-NATO nations... such as India, Singapore, Vietnam and many Persian Gulf countries...

    1) Russia is reactivating two of its retired Typhoon SSBNs:

    2) Russia Might Complete Bulava Flight Tests in 2009:

    3) Russia Set to Build New Nuclear-Armed Submarine:

    4) Russia to build eight nuclear submarines:

    5) President Medvedev visited Sevmash, inspected Yury Dolgoruky:

    6) State-of-the-art nuclear submarines to the Russian Navy:

    7) Russia to lay down 2nd Graney class nuclear sub in July:

    "...Under the Russian State Arms Procurement Program for 2007-2015, the Navy will receive several dozen surface ships and submarines, including five Project 955 Borey nuclear-powered strategic ballistic missile submarines equipped with new Bulava ballistic missiles, two Project 885 Yasen nuclear-powered multipurpose submarines, six Project 677 Lada diesel-electric submarines, three Project 22350 frigates and five Project 20380 corvettes."

    8) Russia may export up to 40 diesel submarines by 2015 :

    The ethnic cleansing and genocidal actions occuring in the Balkans during the 1990's- that required US and UK led intervention to stop- and which EU member countries refused to do anything about, untill the US/UK played hardball- don't support the willfully naive position that: 'the UK ought to be putting its faith and future resources into a more interwoven EU member-nation defense force, and abandoning its historic allignment across the Atlantic'...

    The UK's armed forces and its defense-related research and development industries need reasonable increases in long-term funding, not intellectually dishonest cop-outs...

    Roderick V. Louis,
    Vancouver, BC, Canada,

    Roderick V. Louis,
    Vancouver, BC, Canada,
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.

    i explained why this project has gone over budget in a previous post,it really is because the flight deck design was highly flawed.the current architects 'do not have a clue' according to a retired naval architect who was bought in to remedy the has nothing at all to do with politics.blame the original architects not the government.

  • Comment number 85.

    The carrier price didnt 'soar' anywhere, no black holes were found under the sofa, there is no revelation that your headline or first report claimed.

    The MOD stretched the programme and presumably asked for a reprofile of the budget and an estimate of the costs etc and that's what they got. The memo you obtained seems to state quite clearly that sensationalist reports like this is exactly what they feared, still at least you got the first one.

    If you stretch out a programme meaning you can employ slightly less people at the same time, (but not all that many less as you still need to retain the skillsets and mangagement but now for longer), and you end up making much of the work already done with suppliers nugetory as you put back decisions and procurments costs will rise.

    A bit less 'obtaining' and a bit more reporting of the facts and leaving the judgement to the reader/viewer wouldnt go amis. Don't tell me that I should think its 'Alarming' I'll decide whether its alarming or not, and given the facts it certainly isn't. Regrettable yes, but only as an unfortunate consequence of the budgetary clashes the MOD is having to manage given its current commitments.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.