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The Royal Navy and naval shipbuilding - a response

Warship Technology October 2021WT OCT21_Shipbuilding Andrews RSS


David Andrews FREng, PhD, FRINA, FSNAME, FIMechE, FRSA, RCNC, Professor of Engineering Design, University College London has written to Warship Technology in response to an article published in the July/August 2021 issue of the magazine, The Royal Navy and naval shipbuilding: what do the yards say?


“Anyone with a care for Britain’s naval heritage would welcome the government taking the naval shipbuilding issue seriously as is implied by the main article in the July/August 2021 issue of Warship Technology,” he said.


“With a background of 35 years in government warship acquisition (rising to a director for surface ships) with substantial involvement in every type of warship (including submarines and royal yachts) from concept to disposal, and also being the design authority for a large part of the then extant Royal Navy fleet, I feel obliged to comment.


“Having subsequently spent the last two decades in academia, in part writing on the nature of ship design and acquisition, I would particularly like to comment on some technical matters conveyed by your reporting of Professor Taylor’s evidence to the Defence Committee. Some messages given in the article summarising Prof Taylor’s evidence are necessarily simplified, given the complexity of the issue, and thus I consider possibly open to the wrong inferences.


“The comment that the cost of the ‘hull’ is small relative to the combat system is an simplification. As with so many texts, the article perpetuates use of the misleading term ‘platform’ instead of vessel or ship, all too common with much thinking on warship acquisition.


“Thus I would like to quote from my 2018 RINA Warship Conference paper: “The usage of the term ‘platform’ to describe a (naval) ship is a good example as to where a general procurement attitude reveals a lack of understanding of the very special nature of such complex ship designs.”


The full text of Professor Andrews’ letter can be found in the October 2021 issue of Warship Technology.