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Lovely article, thanks.


Another small value ship that shows we need something bigger for the job at hand.

The UK doesn’t fall within the Arctic circle. But as the Arctic is a sea, we are on a direct line to that sea, possess nuclear submarines, and we are a P5 state you could argue perhaps we are just as much an Arctic state as Finland or Sweden neither of which have direct access to the Arctic sea.

We therefore have commitments at both poles.

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Last edited 1 month ago by X

We don’t build our own ice breakers, so there won’t be two.


We are taking on more East of Suez, and you apparently want us to take on commitments in the North Pole too. I don’t. Even if we had the crews, and we don’t, we’d have to buy in another ship, and the MoD budget is too stretched.

What’s your solution to your own proposition that we should have responsibilities and commitments at both poles? Why should we declare ourself to have North Polar commitments if we can’t or won’t handle them?

I didn’t think I had to write that out in full. It seems I was wrong.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jon

That’s a fair jump from ‘we don’t build ice breakers’ to that paragraph is it not?

Arctic is important for a few reasons. It is an open flank. It has resources. We are still, just about, one of the few navies that can get there and operate.

What do you mean by East of Suez, just so I know we are singing from the same hymn sheet? If you mean prating about in the South China Sea then no we don’t need to be there. If you mean defending Australia and New Zealand then we send assets on a regular basis and the fleet if the balloon goes up. If you are including the Gulf beyond the MCM hulls, which we are going to do away with, we have never really deployed an appropriate asset or assets there despite being BACK there now for nearly 30 years. There was a time when we built ships specifically for the Gulf, see the Tribal class. But a frigate or destroyer design for the Atlantic isn’t the best and really just a moving line in the sand as it were; shoot at us if you dare.

The Arctic is close and immediate. As China and Russia work ever closer they will exploit the Arctic; just as we in the West will want to exploit the Arctic. Sending a carrier into the bugger’s muddle that is the South China Sea might capture the excitement of the less than well informed on sites like this. But some of us are more worried about Chinese SSN’s coming from the north in a decade or so.


I didn’t mean the South China Sea per se. Just that HMG’s Global Britain has a Pacific Rim trade component, and the RN will be forward basing in SE Asia as well as “Indian Ocean” whatever that means. OPVs initially, frigates in time.

Now I agree we have to keep an eye on Russians in the North Atlantic, and patrolling the GIUK gap probably isn’t enough for that. So we are in agreement on the open flank to the North, even if I think regular visits from Chinese subs are some ways in the future. But it’s a different thing working with our partners to monitor potentially hostile naval activity and working the Arctic Ocean, surveying and icebreaking. We don’t need to provide logistic support in the Arctic, so perhaps any patrols might be better undertaken with subs of our own.

In the future you may prove to be correct, and perhaps budgets will be loosened further in time. Not right now. We shouldn’t claim a responsibility without the resources to undertake it.


As @X knows, we do keep close tabs on what the Russians are doing in the NA/Arctic, which doesn’t just include patrolling the GIUK gap. A wide range of assets are assigned to this task by NATO, including both US/UK SSNs. Despite having let the ball slip in this area over the last few decades, we are steadily regaining momentum in this area, not quite at pre cold war levels just yet, but certainly enough to deal with things as they stand. However, in a decade or so, who knows?
We have always retained an active interest in what occurs in this region, it’s just not always been visible.


And your point is? We don’t have the assets. And activity is increasing. X knows all manner of things.


Neither do the Russians have the assets of pre cold war days, so, probably at parity at the moment despite the increasing activity, yes it has been a busy last few years.
Don’t take all posts as a slight on your comments, they’re not intended as such! Whilst you may know all manner of things, you are not unique in that respect, others know lots too!!!


I see that time hasn’t mellowed your outlook since we last met mate (89/91 I believe, we shipped out on Talent). Of course, you may not be the person I’m thinking of, but if you are, how are things Russ?

Meirion X

He seems to have a real tip on his shoulder?


It’s a long story, a long time ago, and X might not be the person I’m thinking of. A bit unfair to speculate if it’s not the case.

Meirion X

That’s ok Deep, you maybe be right, not the same person!

Last edited 29 days ago by Meirion X
Meirion X

I wonder if it is technicality feasible to cut a waterway though the polar ice from East of Greenland to the Bering Strait?
I read the ice is between 2 to 3 metres thick, so you would need a Icebreaker ship with a big enough draft?

Last edited 29 days ago by Meirion X

Just wait, In think global warming Neill soon achieve that!


Should be will not Neill!!!

Meirion X

Yes, and may be one day look forward to a cruise in the Arctic!


It is certainly feasible, however, if the water temperature is below freezing then any passage cut by an icebreaker will very quickly re-freeze over.


The Royal Navy is one of the world’s premier hydrographic organisations. The RN has surveyed the globe at one time or another.

I am beginning to see that you don’t understand the difference between a ship that ‘ice strengthened’ to do its work and ice breaker whose job is to break ice for other vessels either owned by governments or commercial entities to allow the passage of conventional ships.

And it is no good being fluffy. I am not saying we should concentrate on the Arctic. I am saying it needs far more resources than it is getting now. Resources that will take time to acquire. A time frame in which we will see Russian and Sino submarine activity increasing. A balanced navy would have enough assets to deploy to the Indian Ocean. And yes a frigate or whatever in the future at time when the Indian Navy will be even bigger and even better in terms of quality. We may not be welcome paddling about permanently there.

Last edited 1 month ago by X
Meirion X

“If you mean prating about in the South China Sea then no we don’t need to be there.”

The West’s, including the UK’s, main arterial trade route runs though the South China Sea from the Far East.

We do need to help to protect it!

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X

If and it’s looking more likely now than ever is the northern passageway across the top of Russia and Canada becomes more open throughout the year. Then trade will start to use it more often. Hence Russia’s move to put more forces in the Arctic circle. Canada are looking to do the same. So I wonder if we will also get involved helping Canada?


Absolutely correct DaveyB. The Northern Sea Route primarily in Russian waters will become a major waterway between Europe and the East, probably not in my lifetime, but certainly later this century.
In fact global warming will have many benefits for Russia, in that vast areas of Siberia will become available for agriculture, and the melting of the permafrost will provide access to minerals currently non economic to extract. Given the minute population density of the area in question covetous eyes from the Southern border regions ie China, may in the future create tensions.

George Nares

Not true. ALERT reached 82N in 1875/76 as part of the Nares expedition. This is still a modern record but certainly not an absolute record.


I just noticed it’s referred to as an Antarctic Patrol Ship rather than as an Arctic Patrol Ship, is there a distinction?


Protector was purchased to operate down south. Just this time they have gone north for a change. So no difference. I hope the altitude doesn’t give them nose bleeds. 🙂


We do need a fleet of RFA icebreakers, that can also resupply vessels up north and south. Maybe a couple based in the falklands, we do have an ant Arctic territory 5x bigger the Great Britain itself, people tend to forget that,


Oh! Interesting fact.

I’d actually go with needing two ships – the arctic may become a battleground at some time, trade will flow between the via the arctic between China and Europe and indeed, Royal do operate and train within the arctic circle – it needs our full attention. Mapping sea for SSNs is a… ahem… hidden plus 😉

However, with antarctica we also need a prescence – potentially vast resources and with deep fjords the Falklands might make a great, new base for the SSBNs given Scottish independence – and let the Russians try monitoring that 🙂


The Falklands would make an ok base for many missions ( bit far though). But The Falklands have only got better with the current UK base being built after the war, and the island from goggle earth seem to be building many more homes and oil type stuff.

We have South Georgia down there too and that seems to be a big beautiful place, we should build a permanent base there too after what the argies done to it, many options…. Atleast they have an opv based 🙄


new base for the SSBNs”

Plenty of rest of UK locations, its a misunderstanding to think you need a deep loch type base, the US base at Kings Bay Georgia is winding estuary. I can see the areas around Barrow in Cumbria being ideal, with the advantage of the ship yard not too far away, or someplace in Wales.


The problem with Barrow has always been the shifting sands and the need for dredging, hence, once per year/ish is OK for newly launched subs, but everyday would be a tad costly. On top of which, with the number of subs being built, RN occupancy is spilling over into Ulverston and forcing rents up.