back to article UK spends £36m on 18 little 'bullet-proof' boats to protect Royal Navy assets

The UK is to splash £36m on 18 new vessels to help protect Royal Navy bases around Britain and Gibraltar. The contract – awarded to Liverpool-based boatbuilders Marine Specialised Technology, who seemed comfortable with being named as part of the deal – will help protect 50 jobs and create a further 15 posts. For the flotilla …

  1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

    Does Marine Specialised Technology offer similar specification and protection and better value and bangs for your bucks than this neighbouring stalwart with experience and an impressive record in the field ?........ https://www.safehavenmarine.com/barracuda

    1. ClockworkOwl

      Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

      They're probably not tory donors...

      I do want one though!

      1. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

        A Tory donor downvoted you.

      2. PTW
        FAIL

        Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

        Err, or it COULD be that one is based in the UK and the other in Ireland?

        So, I for one welcome the UK government giving the contract to a UK company, not an Irish one

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

          The Brexit angle again?

        2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

          Exactly. Look at the Titanic. I know the say it was fine when it left Belfast, but they would wouldn't they?

    2. gandalfcn Silver badge

      Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

      Several things going against them. Firstly the anti-EU Brexiteers in charge of the ordering.

      Secondly, the Tory gravy train. And mainly, they actually do the job as opposed to Tory projects.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

      Depends on the requirements - unlikely you'll need low RCS stealthiness around Gib so why pay extra for it? Same as its 'transportability' which limits engine size/power, on-board payload, hull thickness and survivability etc. Also, depending on the role, you might like having your weapons visible as opposed to having a complicated system that raises them up - also there's no comment on the sea states this runs in.

      So no, wanting a boat with a gun on is not the same as googling / ebaying 'boat with gun on' and paypalling your order.

      1. John Jennings Silver badge

        Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

        Most fast coastal boats drop their guns low when not in use.

        It makes a massive difference to top speed in these smaller boats - its not so much aerodynamics but centre of gravity - low down improves speed, manoeuvrability and seakeeping.

        having travelled at 25 knots in a swell in a similar sized boat - a dude moving to the bow forces a trim change. You need the weight low. When its travelling fast, noone is going to see a gun anyway- unless in active persuit.

      2. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

        also there's no comment on the sea states this runs in.

        They do say it complies with Lloyds SSC G2 which says

        G2 Service Group 2 covers craft intended for service in reasonable weather, in waters where the range to refuge is 20 nautical miles or less. This group will usually cover craft intended for service in coastal waters, for which geographical limits are to be identified by the Builder and agreed with LR.

    4. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

      Different requirements? The new boats ordered will be 15 meters with twin jet propulsion, the boats you linked are 11m with props.

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

        Erm no. The boats linked to were avaiable between 11-13m and choice of props (for capacity) or jets (for speed).

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

      Perhaps you might consider that Liverpool has a rather long history of ship building?

      Also, as this is military procurement, the U.K. needs to be careful where it buys it’s boats.

      Ireland is not necessarily a friendly partner - the hostility shown by the soon-to-return Varadkar demonstrate the antipathy shown by some in ROI

      1. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

        "Perhaps you might consider that Liverpool has a rather long history of ship building?" Really? We are talking boats nt ships and Liverpool has never had a major shipbuilding industry. Birkenhead mayge but not Liverpool.

        "Ireland is not necessarily a friendly partner" If so the UK only has itself to blame for being unfriendly. Whilst the he Barracuda was referenced, Safehaven produces a wide range of suitable craft for the international market, so the rest of the world doesn't see Eire as a threat. Why is it a certain type of Brit sees all foreigners as a threat, other than the USA which is actually a threat.

        Classed by Lloyds (LRS) too, i.e. with a UK body rather than DnV/GL, BV etc.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

          Surely you are aware Ireland and (Not so) United Kingdom have a bit of a history? A history that makes far less difference to the rest of the world but definitely influences relations between Ireland and the UK/England? The "lack of love" shall we say certainly extends to both sides of that particular conflict and it's not exactly ancient or forgotten history. The whole Brexit thing hasn't exactly helped ease tensions there either.

          1. gandalfcn Silver badge

            Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

            Indeed, bit Eire has not been the guilty part, that is thew UK, and as you intimate it is actually the English especially those that followed Nige the Flange.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

          The rest of the world doesn't see Eire as a threat as they tend to happily keep their heads down and have a policy of neutrality. Which allows you to play both sides and keep your houses intact.

          So no, Eire is friendly to everyone, which in practice means not friendly with anyone.

          (Yes there are a lot of subtleties around this, but the main point stands.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

            Military procurement can get a bit fraught with any foreign supplier. For example during the first war with Iraq in 1990 - sanctioned by the UN security council and involving a massive coalition of about 50 countries to defend Saudi and then retake Kuwait. The army used FN rifles, and the Belgian government banned all arms exports to the UK (a NATO ally), because Belgium was staying neutral - so we couldn't get spares and extra ammo. I'm sure that's not the only time it's happened, just the first that came to mind.

            Plus buying local creates jobs, and they notice, whereas the taxpayers don't always get told that buying foreign off-the-shelf is sometimes cheaper. Then again, off-the-shelf so often turns out to be a lie, as the military want the thing customised to their own personal requirements, thus doubling the price before anyone's noticed...

          2. gandalfcn Silver badge

            Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

            I suggest you study international affairs for a few weeks as you obviously know naff all.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

              And you need to understand what 'a friendly partner' means. It's not slating the world beating factual reputation of joining in a sing-along with a Guinness down at Mary's on a Friday night, it's to do with the facts of how the state aligns itself, for example, not being (and not wanting to be) a member of NATO.

              Or, if you want to drag up decades of history (always useful for an internet argument) sucking up to the Nazis during WWII as it was more profitable..

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

            The Republic of Ireland has this novel interpretation of Neutrality call Parasitic Neutrality. They cannot be *rsed to even pretend to defend their country. Unlike ever other neutral country in Europe it has no army, no navy, or no air-force. It did have an army but it was de-facto disbanded in the 1930' for purely party political reasons.

            Their "army" is basically two or three regiments of gendarmerie with a few artillery pieces for show. Could easily be rounded up by a regiment of the French GN or eastern European Interior Troops. Their greatest military exploit was shooting large numbers of lightly armed Congolese tribesmen in the early 1960's but quickly succumbed when faced with a company of real solders. They spend almost all their tiny defense budget on pay and pensions. Or compo payouts. The national passtime.

            The country has very few friends in Europe as it is recognized for what it is - a defense freeloader. The Irish Dept of Foreign Affairs made lots of enemies in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia in the last decade with its interfering grandstanding with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and related stuff. Where Ireland and a bunch of second and third world countries did the usual utterly fatuous UN "treaty" BS.

            Which sums it up really. Ireland's only real "friends" are banana republics and failed nations. Which is why Ireland was only allowed to join the UN in 1955. With the last of the Axis and Enemy nations of WW2.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

              Ireland is a wholly owned subsidiary of the USA.

              Why should it waste money buying F35s and M1 Abrams when the USA is going to defend it anyway?

    6. Triggerfish

      Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

      Oooh like that, could just imagine rocking up to the local marina in that and parking it next to a cabin cruiser.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

        Various different types of both lethal and non-lethal weapons, including a remote control gyroscopically stabilised 12.7mm machine gun / 40mm grenade launcher can be fitted to Barracuda.

        Oh. Yes please! Both! Or a stretched Barracuda with a twin GAU-8s.. Although that may result in a loss of forward motion when firing, along with needing to adjust trim as ammunition depletes. Now, if HMG decides to save money and outsource by re-introducing Letters of Marque, British small businesses and entrepeneurs could help out. Or just deal with annoying yachties.. Not sure if the Admiralty still has a Prize Board, but it's a tradition that could be resurected!

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

        Why park next to a cabin cruiser? Just blow it out of the water, and take it's dock - thus saving you an extra 50 steps before getting to the G&Ts.

        As the saying goes:

        Q. Where do you park a 50 tonne tank?

        A. Anywhere you bloody well like.

    7. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Well tried and comprehensively already field tested .....

      Sexy looking boat that Barracuda. Shame about the shockingly low quality promo vid on the website - complete with English-as-a-foreign-language titling. Pedistel, Inovative and Costal anyone? I presume Pedestal, Innovative and Coastal, but really... who knows when the marketing is this bad ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Turbinia

    Almost keeps up with the 19th century Turbinia, top speed 34.5 kn:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turbinia

    Although I don't think the Turbinia was bullet-proof, and the new boats will be equipped with things like radios, I expect.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Turbinia

      I doubt any of these will still be around in a museum 117 years later either.

      1. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: Turbinia

        Bless!

    2. keith_w Bronze badge

      Re: Turbinia

      I am sure, if the new boats cruise at 30kn, then their top speed will be much higher.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. WolfFan Silver badge

    Feh.

    Bring back a few of these: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairmile_D_motor_torpedo_boat

    I had assorted relatives in the Navy during 1939-45. None were in the coastal forces, not even on Dog Boats, but all thought that Dog Boat sailors were... insane.

    Officially a Dog Boat could make 30 knots. Unofficially, more like 36. And a lot of Dog Boats took the twin Oerlikon 20mm off and replaced it with a Bofors 40mm, or 'borrowed' a 37mm from an American boat, or liberated one off a German boat. At least one Dog Boat had a quad 0.50 caliber mount, again 'borrowed' from the USN, who had 'borrowed' it from the US Army. Some of the 37mm guns that Dog Boats acquired were originally US Army Air Force property, the USN liberated them off of P-39s. HM Forces got them when the original owners came looking for their property and things got too hot for the USN's PT boat boys, who were also crazy but not nearly as crazy as Dog Boat men. The six pounders (57mm) were semi-automatic, the same basic weapons as fitted to Tsetse Mosquitos. Dog Boats would go toe-to-toe with Japanese or German destroyers and win. Not that there were that many German destroyers left by the time the Dog Boats arrived. Wiki, as usual, screwed up, and left off mention of the two to four 21" torpedoes some Dog Boats carried... If you look at the pix in the Wiki article, you can see a21" torp on MTB 459, there'll be another on the other side.

    1. dogcatcher

      Re: Feh.

      My mother worked for Fairmile Marine at some stage during the war, ensuring that various boatyards had the bits and pieces to build the MTB/MGBs

    2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

      Re: Feh.

      Available in 1:72 scale: Fairmile D"

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Feh.

        I always like the Airfix Vosper MTB myself.

    3. bartsmit

      Re: Feh.

      These are the fastest ones I've come across: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasus-class_hydrofoil

      Makes it look like you're stopped in the water. Bit better armed and ocean going too.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Feh.

      But outclassed by the German S-boats [E-boats to the British], which the UK used, post war out of the fjords of Northern Europe to assist with intelligence gathering.

    5. TV nerd

      Re: Feh.

      My grandfather spent part of the war driving these things as a RNR Commander.

      He was even asked to take to the lifeboats on day when a U boat surfaced in front of him … so losing his boat!

    6. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Feh.

      I have no idea if it is still in print but I have a book that covers MTB action around the UK.

      MTB Flotilla at War - Night Action by Captain Peter Dickens

      It is so old it does not have an ISBN.

      Amazing accounts of what they did.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Feh.

        Weren't these the ones that were effectively giant floating bombs, considering they mostly consisted of engine and fuel tanks? Very effective and fast though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Feh.

          To add to the combustibility they were made of plywood. Here's a contemporaneous account of their activities in the Mediterranean.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Feh.

      "[...] a quad 0.50 caliber mount [...]"

      IIRC some British bombers - probably Lancasters - unofficially replaced their .303 guns with 0.50 calibre for better defensive power.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Feh.

        The SAS "found" a warehouse full of the aircraft mounts in Cairo in about 1941. And "borrowed" a few to stick on their jeeps.

        Then again, when "liberating" some equipment from a New Zealand division who happend to have more stuff than them - they were rumoured to have also nicked a piano out of the officers mess, to go with the tents, cooking gear etc.

        If it ain't nailed down...

    8. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Warm Braw Silver badge

    They can also be used in all weather

    At last! A boat you can use in the wet...

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Coat

      But still not much use in the dry.

      Not that we need to worry about that here in Blighty

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        >At last! A boat you can use in the wet...

        But can it be used in warm water ?

  5. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    No sign of armament

    What do they do when fired upon? Reply back with harsh language?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: No sign of armament

      Good point. What good are they if they're unarmed?

      1. ClockworkOwl
        Mushroom

        Re: No sign of armament

        Mobile shielding..!

      2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: No sign of armament

        Send a harsh letter to The Guardian.

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: No sign of armament

          I say. Steady on.

      3. hoola Silver badge

        Re: No sign of armament

        Maybe they will have a grunt with a useless SA80, or if they are lucky the SA90 that almost works.

        Another fine example of how to spend a huge amount of money and produce something nobody wants to use.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: No sign of armament

          Uhhmmm, SA80 covers several different weapons (L85 and L86, multiple variants) and SA90 is, as far as I can find, not actually a thing.

          If you're talking about the abysmal performance of the L85A1 rifle then yes, but you'll be happy to know that after Heckler&Koch got their grubby mitts on basically all of them and upgraded them to the L85A2 standard they're basically exactly as reliable as an M16/M4/AR15. L86 received similar upgrades and is now also at a statisfactory standard apparently.

      4. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: No sign of armament

        I suggest you should have actually read rather than written that :"Concealed weapon systems. A range of lethal and non lethal weapons are hidden below decks and raised only for deployment including a remote control gyroscopically stabilized 12.7mm machine gun, or a manned motorised gun turret incorporating a 7.62mm MG."

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: No sign of armament

      Presumably, run away.

      They don't have guns for the same reason the Hercules transport doesn't, or the Airbus A320. That's not their job.

      1. KarMann Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: No sign of armament

        #NotAllHercules

        Say hello to Spooky.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: No sign of armament

          You don't say hello to Spooky, nor does Spooky say hello to you. If you're on the wrong end you'll just receive a surprise care package from the skies.

          1. Dave the Cat

            Re: No sign of armament

            Certainly sir, would you like your freedom packages delivered in 20mm, 40mm or 105mm size?

        2. gandalfcn Silver badge

          Re: No sign of armament

          Read the specs.

      2. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: No sign of armament

        I suggest you actually read the full specs as the "problem you point out is actually a rather good design feature. However, I note most commenters here didn't bother to read the specs, are paranoid and don't know WWII ended rather a long time ago.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What do they do when fired upon? Reply back with harsh language?

      Or else we will be very angry with you... and we will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are.

    4. EvilDrSmith

      Re: No sign of armament

      The appear to be police boats for routine patrolling, and warding off lost/thoughtless civilian sailors, plus civil protests, which are generally unarmed.

      They would also likely be the first defence against terrorists. In that situation they have whatever guns the crew and passengers carry, which is likely going to be on par with whatever weapons they are facing in the hands of the terrorists (and which is presumably the thought in providing bullet resistant materials on the boat).

      Given that they will be routinely deployed in harbours, which tend to have lots of people all over the place, firing off heavy calibre machine guns or light automatic cannon might be somewhat counter-productive (every bullet or shell has to land somewhere, and they won't all hit the target).

      1. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: No sign of armament

        Yawn! RTFS

        1. EvilDrSmith

          Re: No sign of armament

          Erm, the (armed) Barracuda referred to was in another poster's link, it's not what has been ordered from Marine Specialist Technology.

          What's been ordered are Police Patrol Craft. No reference to any fixed weaponry in the press release on the Gov.uk press release page.

    5. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: No sign of armament

      > What do they do when fired upon?

      Sink?

      1. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: No sign of armament

        Fire back of course, with their guns

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Roger Kynaston Silver badge

    So ModPlod get new toys

    I often think that the Plymouth staff must get so bored trundling up and down the Hamoaze occasionally telling a SPaD off for getting do close to the floating death and destruction.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: So ModPlod get new toys

      To be fair, it's not far from Cornwall and we have record for invading England. It's been a few centuries, but next time we'll get past Guildford - I promise...

      Mine's a pint of Trelawny Ale -->

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    protect 50 jobs and create a further 15 posts

    oh, how the Mighty (British Empire) has fallen...

    1. gandalfcn Silver badge

      Re: protect 50 jobs and create a further 15 posts

      Reading a lot of the comments here some people still believe it exists.

  8. Andy The Hat Silver badge
    Coat

    Made for the task

    "...protect Royal Navy bases around Britain and Gibraltar."

    As the Breaks-it agreement means Gibraltar will be given back to the Spanish in exchange for two barrels of Sherry and a bushel of Anchovies, that only leaves our great naval ports - basically Southhampton Marina - to defend. So a couple of these new craft chasing pesky rascals at high speed around the Isle of Wight until everyone is dizzy should keep any potential invaders at bay. You can save money by leaving off all armament, reduce crew protection (a sou'wester should be suitable atire as it's nice around the IoW), provide a loudhailer rather than unreliable radios and, to meter out immediate and direct punishment (we do rule the seas after all) give the crew a video camera to threaten naughty seafaring types with exposure on BBC Crimewatch (and for extra humiliation, threaten repeats as Boredomforce on Quest, Pick and Dave ...) and we can even offset costs by selling footage to You've Been Framed! Sounds like a win win situation!

  9. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    £2 million each?

    That sounds rather expensive for a fast motor-boat.

    Is Honest Ron's Pizzas & PPE of Canvey Island involved in the contract?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: £2 million each?

      It's military procurement. Roll a 6-sided die and add that number of zeroes to the end of the price you first thought of.

      Though nowadays military headline prices also often include the cost of the maintenenance support and sometimes even midlife upgrades. But the press don't bother to mention that, as they like big numbers and not quite telling the truth.

      1. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: £2 million each?

        "It's military procurement" Correction.

        It's Pentagon procurement. Roll a 6-sided die and add that number of zeroes to the end of the price you first thought of.

        The UK is far more sensible, although recently the BoJo Mob seem to be emulating the USA.

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: £2 million each?

          > The UK is far more sensible

          For the love of god, citation needed! Where do you want to start, the aircraft carriers or the ongoing Boxer procurement debacle?

  10. gandalfcn Silver badge

    As quite a few obviously didn't read the specs, which habit seems a common trait here :

    "WEAPON SYSTEMS

    The design uses an innovative solution to weapon deployment. Various different types of both lethal and non-lethal weapons, including a remote control gyroscopically stabilised 12.7mm machine gun / 40mm grenade launcher can be fitted to Barracuda. In Barracuda the weapons are cleverly concealed below decks in the f/wd section of the superstructure, and are raised up to above deck level only for deployment through large watertight carbon fibre hatches built into the superstructure. In this way when the vessel is in engaged in surveillance or patrol, the weapons are concealed and the vessels RCS signature is greatly reduced. When the vessel is engaged in pursuit or apprehend modes, the weapons are raised for deployment. "

    The education was free. Think about it.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Homemade or not.

    A shame the aircraft aren't homegrown.

    1. gandalfcn Silver badge

      Re: Homemade or not.

      Sshhhhh, that totally destroys most of the naysayers arguments.

  12. gandalfcn Silver badge

    I find the number of downvotes given to facts and upvotes given to uninformed opinions and conspiracy theories is very telling. A bit like the GOP or the Mail/Express.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Has someone been writing a custom bot? I think we should be told...

  13. MAF
    Happy

    Usable in all weather

    'cos you wouldn't want to not be able to use it somewhere wet (err like the sea...)

    1. Dabooka Silver badge

      Re: Usable in all weather

      All weather is not the same as leakproof.

      I know feck all about boats but even I know that bit

  14. GrahamRJ

    Neal Stephenson was here first

    "See, I told you they'd listen to Reason."

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