Speaking today at the Royal United Services Institute, the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson made a series of announcements about his vision for the future of UK defence. The role of the RN was front and centre of a positive and bold piece that focussed on innovations and increased global deployment.
The MDP statement of December 2018 promised to look at how UK armed forces could improve readiness and availability, rapidly modernise and embrace new technologies. It is clear that Williamson is driving this forward with some enthusiasm and open-mindedness. He recently even invited mid-ranking Army officers to submit 1,000-word essays directly to him on how to boost Britain’s influence after Brexit. For the Navy the stand-out announcement today was the increased emphasis on amphibious capability and a determination to operate in the Pacific region. The Secretary of State said: “Two new Littoral Strike Groups are to be created. Complete with escorts, support vessels and helicopters, one would be based to the East of Suez in the Indo-Pacific and one based to the West of Suez in the Mediterranean, Atlantic and Baltic.”
To hear the Secretary of State talking about “bringing the fight from the sea to the land” marks a remarkable turnaround from a year ago when the entire UK amphibious capability was under threat. Julian Lewis MP, chair of the Defence Committee noted: “It is a profoundly welcome development, and shows what can be done when Treasury-led attempts to hollow-out the armed forces are successfully resisted.” Expeditionary capability centred on aircraft carriers and amphibious vessels is central to UK strategic thinking again. This marks a big step in the rehabilitation for the RN which suffered from the Continental Strategy of the Cold War and the COIN operations of the early 21st Century. If the RN is properly funded and deployed with strategic sense, the aircraft carriers that have been so maligned by so many may quickly prove their immense value.
The Future Littoral Strike Ship
Outlining a new Future Littoral Strike Ship (FLSS) concept, Williamson promised they would be delivered quickly, have a multi-role capability from disaster relief (HADR) to combat operations. They would carry the ‘Future Commando Force’ – Royal Marines and be maintained at high readiness. The FLSS concept imagery posted by the First Sea Lord today (main image above) looks very much like the MV Ocean Trader, a merchant ship conversion adapted for use a low-profile base for US special forces. The SD Victoria performs a similar role for UK special forces and the FLSS appears to be intended to have a much wider utility for logistics and amphibious support than the Ocean Trader. There are other concepts from the US that could be considered. The ‘Expeditionary Mobile Base’ is a logistics, aviation and MCMV support vessel. Although built from scratch, the hull is based on a commercial oil tanker with the tanks replaced by a mission deck, flight deck, hangars and stores. The FLSS procurement might also dovetail nicely with the plan for an aid ship, funded by DFID that recently gained support from the International Development Minister, Penny Mordaunt
The FLSS is intended to have an enduring presence, low running costs and flexibility. It is perhaps something of a misnomer to name them as ‘strike’ ships, they certainly are not intended to spearhead an amphibious assault but be a logistic and support hub. As a base for special forces operations, they could perhaps mount small independent ‘strikes’ but are otherwise auxiliaries. The FLSS could potentially relive Bay class RFAs from their support and disaster relief duties so they could return to their primary amphibious role as part of the littoral strike groups.
The MoD is at pains to point out the FLSS is very much in the concept development phase. There have been no firm decisions about the specifications for the ship and how they will be manned. They could be a completely new design and build, an adapted existing design (such as the Point class Ro-Ro ships) or merchant ship conversions. They could be manned by the RN, RFA or even as a commercial charter ship, manned by merchant sailors. Assuming the FLSS are based on merchant ship design, they could be operated by a very small civilian crew but also carry a naval party for running military operations. For example, the Point class ro-ro ships are manned by just 22 merchant sailors, although they are sponsored naval reservists. As part of the plan to have an enduring overseas presence to provide visible reassurance to allies and promote trade and diplomacy, there may be some merit in designating them Royal Navy ships. A ship flying the White Ensign makes a bigger statement than one flying the blue or red ensign.
There is concern that FLSS might just be low-cost replacements for the LPDs (HMS Albion and Bulwark) but the SoS was quite clear he intends then to complement the existing ships. Williamson talked very optimistically about how “If we ever need them to, our two LSS, our two aircraft carriers, our two amphibious assault ships Albion and Bulwark, and our three Bay Class landing ships can come together in one amphibious task force.” This would indeed be a powerful battle group, but manning and equipping the two QEC aircraft carriers to operate simultaneously is a new aspiration and it should be remembered that currently one of the LPDs has to be kept in mothballs, due to lack of cash and manpower. Reliance on foreign allies providing at least some of the escorts for such a group, is a virtual certainty given the RN’s limited frigate and destroyer numbers.
Aspiration meets reality
It is encouraging to hear a secretary of state who has the vision to grow and expand capability and is fighting in Whitehall for more funding. This is in marked contrast to many such speeches of the past that were merely thinly veiled attempts to be positive about the managed decline of UK forces. Unfortunately, Williamson’s bold statements seem rather disconnected from the realities of the present. There are big obstacles that make the dreams of sustaining significantly higher naval force levels in at least two theatres simultaneously
The RN lacks the manpower it needs just to operate the ships it currently has and is stretched to find the ships companies for both aircraft carriers. It is possible that better recruitment and retention strategies, together with slightly lower manner requirements for the future frigates, could improve the situation within a decade but this is far from certain. Adding new ships, or at least enduring overseas commitments will only be possible if the manpower situation has stabilised and does not place additional pressures on those serving.
Unless the MoD is about to get a major injection of funds in the next Comprehensive Spending Review, it will have enough problems balancing its existing budget without further pressures. The Defence Secretary implied that new capabilities and concepts announced today, not just for the Navy, but also the Army and RAF would be paid for from the ‘Transformation Fund’. This consists of £160M for 2018-19 ring-fenced for innovative new military capabilities with an aspiration for a further £340 million available as part of the Spending Review. £7M has already been earmarked for the development of various concepts including the FLSS and drone swarms for the RAF. The Commons Public Accounts Committee says there is a £14.8bn shortfall in the MoD 2018-28 equipment plan, The efficiencies that the MoD still hopes to achieve across the board are unlikely to make much of dent and hopes for two semi-permanently deployed littoral/carrier battle groups look wildly optimistic.
Gavin Williamson will undoubtedly have moved on when someone else has to make the really tough choices about what gets cut and if any of these ambitions can be realised. It is imperative that the military chiefs do not enter into a conspiracy of optimism and sign off on plans that they know to be unaffordable, which was partly the case in the 2015 SDSR.
This Williamson rhetorical offensive about creating more ‘lethal’ forces and taking on the ‘oppirtunities’ afforded by Brexshit seem to be more political posture and positioning for the top job once Maybot is dethroned rather than any solid and sustainable post Brexshit defence planning.
Realistically, economists are talking about an economic slowdown in the UK (if we are lucky) and a contraction with resultant recession (worse case). That will impact on tax take and health and education will rightly be prioritised. Looking at precedent, defence will be one of the likely first ports of call for desperate politicians to cut. We can’t plug gaps now, so unless more money is freed up, I don’t see where we can afford new capabilities like drone squadrons and the like.
In short, forget ‘East of Suez’ (how deliciously nostalgic) and start thinking of withdrawing from around the world and consolidating closer to home. For example, fisheries patrols against hostile EU fishing vessels encroaching on our waters.
Sadly ladies and gentlemen, proof if ever needed, that ‘care in the community’ simply doesn’t work…
Sean, how rude. He’s entitled to his opinion.
Any ideas around Expeditionary capability need to be shelved. The country has been in permanent crisis since 2016.
We need to consolidate our stalled economy, divided society and constitutional crisis and not antagonise other countries!
Naval priority should be not to lose any current capability in this chaos.
Well put, although I doubt the speech is really antagonising those he is targeting ie. Russia and China. In reality his comments are probably being laughed at. Like pretending that sending a survey ship to the Black Sea is a show of strength, these announcements are actually negative for the long term strength of the Navy and are really just tokens. The speech is a bit like a fat old man with no martial arts experience trying to pick a fight with Conor McGregor.
“Naval priority should be not to lose any current capability in this chaos.”
Given the decomission of HMS Ocean without a replacement these would actually provide a measure of returning some Amphibious capacity we have lost. Your statement seems to fly in the face of that? Perhaps you should read a little bit more into what the Defence Tasks assigned to the RN by the Government actually are and then consider these announcements within that context?
“negative for the long term strength of the Navy”.
The news that the RN may indeed get the hulls required to conduct Maritime Security Operations and Defence Liaison without over loading the High Readiness elements of the Fleet seems pretty positive to me.
The news that we are building ships, a hard industry, when the country needs an economic boost. Also seems pretty positive to me.
It’s only positive is extra money is made available to pay for it, otherwise Peter will just be robbed to pay Paul…. Are these two ships worth a T26 to you? That’s the question Ian and David are asking.
*if, extra money, not is extra
I do know what David and Ian’s and Iqbal as well, real intentions are, that is the Royal Navy downgraded to a coastal defence agency only! With No deterrent Whatsoever!! Beware of
Pro Kremlin Trolls!
I meant relegation of the Royal Navy to a coastal defence force, unable to fulfil any International role Whatsoever!
Which is Not a P5 member and major economy of the World should be!
I will put a card down. These suggested new vessels will turn in to a 2 for 3 replacement for the Bay Class RFA’s. Best the RN can hope for are serious replacements for Albion and Bulwark when they are needed.
My concern is that these here today and gone tomorrow politicians could talk us into a situation where there is a humiliating back down. I cannot undestand what planet Williamson is one. As an earlier remark it is pure posturing for the post Maybot era.
This is not the forum for Brexit but since YOU deployed the term “Brexshit”, one has to ask, …do you understand what motivated people to vote to remove themselves from the EU?
This is supposed to be a forum about the Royal Navy and not one about the UK leaving the EU.
For what it is worth, having worked in many diverse places during my working life, I believe sovereignty is the most important issue at stake.
I agree & we must be careful not to stray too far from RN issues but Brexit is by no means irrelevant given that the role of the RN is to protect national sovereignty which is the very reason (among others) that so many were motivated to leave a supranationalist entity
The B word means getting out from under the Norman boot, shedding the Scots, Welsh, Irish and Londoners if
it comes to that. London can become the Singapore of the EU if they love frittes so much.
Or maybe it was the Hunnish boot, the fellow who explained it was a might tipsy.
Brexshit?, charming Iqbal.
“complete with escorts, support vessels and helicopters”
From what excess capacity? The escort and helicopter fleets are already overworked and short of mass, and the auxiliary and MCMV fleets aren’t much better.
Going off the good old rule of 3, the RN can expect to have around 6 active escorts at any given time. 6 escorts, to maintain a CBG, FRE, CASD support, Op Kipion, NATO commitments, and now apparently 2 permanent littoral groups? It’s not possible, short of a second batch of 5 T31s, which would give the RN ~8 active escorts. That’s JUST enough to put two ships with the carrier and one ship for the other standing commitments I previously mentioned.
Does anyone honestly think the RNs going to get an extra £2bn+ added to it’s 10-year budget plan? Because that’s what we’re going to need minimum to provide the ships, manpower, and equipment to make this work
I presume he’s talking about forward basing them along with the 2 forward based GP frigates (T23/T31) in the Gulf and East of Seuz. So in the Gulf we will have the new litoral strike ship, up to 4 MCM (could see numbers dropping from 4) and a T23 GP/T31 forward deployed. Quite a presence to reassure allies and support our interests in the region, even if the T31 is only available 1/3 of the time. It will be bolstered by the frequent presence of a T45 on Kippion and the occasional CBG.
East of Suez will look similar, with a literal strike ship and T23 GP/T31 forward deployed. This will be bolstered by the occasional CBG and ARG deployment.
Although escort numbers are thin on the ground (if we can consider T31 an escort?), the rule of 3 won’t apply exactly since the escorts for the carriers will probably by aligned to the same readiness and deployment cycles. Assuming this, 2 T23/26 and 1 T45 will removed from the general escort pool and tied to each the carriers and this respective deployment cycles. Along with 2 forward based T23 GPs/T31s, that leaves the general escort pool of 4 T23/T26, 4 T45 and 3 T31. 11 in total, meaning 3-4 available at any one time to undertake standing tasks.
It’s not unlike the short lived RFA Reliant (Lebanon evac) which used the Arapaho system. This was short lived as the container built hangar leaked and the deck chewed up the tyres. However the concept was sound and if you add a surface offload capability to a larger more finessed hull then it makes sense if you’re on a limited budget.
Just had a look at Reliant, initially one of the civvie ships appropriated for the Falklands. Shame the conversion didn’t work out as intended, in better circumstances she could have still been in service today.
You cannot have an adequately funded Royal Navy, or any other component of defence when you have a £14b budget for foreign aid…..more than Germany which has a bigger economy
We have to spend more on defence, even the President of the U.S.A. has said European countries have to spend more on our own defence in future. Our Navy needs to be bigger to be able to fulfil all the tasks asked of it. In the short term we should increase the size of the Royal Navy with a second batch of 5 Type 31 for a total of 10.
In the long term we should aim for a Royal Navy of 8 Astute replacements, 8 Type 45 replacement, 8 Type 26, 8 Type 31 and 8 O.P.V.s.
I do Not think the RN needs more Type 45.
But RN needs GP destroyers, network enabled to Type 45. Maybe convert some Type 26’s to GP destroyers, lengthen for more Type 41 cells.
Procure at least 10 Type 31 with VL41, shortened version.
A few thoughts:
1) I like the direction of travel of the comments in the speech
2) It looks like there’s a rethink coming on definitions of aid:
3) Agree with Iqbal A that affordability is likely to be an issue but combo of points 1 and 2 may mitigate (some at least)
4) Quick spin around the Internet got me to the cousins MV Ocean Trader, MV Cragside, RORO 2700, and eventually led right back to the Point Class. I betcha they’ll end up converting a couple of them
4a) If we’re feeling hard-up, it will be 2 out of the 4 we already apparently have on charter!
Agree that the released image shows characteristics that suggest a conversion of two of the existing Point Class vessels. MoD may have found themselves using/wanting to use the existing Points quite heavily as is, to the point (no pun intended) where it makes sense to have two as dedicated vessels. A modification to add flight deck and other capabilities would be relatively quick to deliver versus a new build and affordable, with plenty of talent around the UK for the conversion.
That’s good news about foreign aid if it happens. If we have to have it let us at least make it work better for us, like other countries do.
I guess it’s important to have a vision, but this needs to be backed up with funds and actions not just rhetoric. Let’s hope that whether the littoral support ships are converted or built from scratch it is done in the UK and not overseas. See this petition
I think you are overestimating the size of the groups.
Gavin Williamson said “Two new Littoral Strike Groups” and the new “Future Littoral Strike Ship” concept – note the use of “Strike” in both. A possible group that meets his definition would be 1 FLSS, 1 Type 31e, 1 OPV with 2 Wildcat or Merlin. Perhaps less than that, if a minesweeper or second OPV can fit the definition of an escort.
Of two groups, one could be based in the UK, the other in Bahrain, given he said “they’ll be forward deployed”. Although he mentioned high readiness, its not clear that is means continuous deployment or only during high tension. Plus the UK-based group can take on tasks like escorting Russian ships through the channel.
For a possible standing group I would guess on 3 ships made up as follows.
This would be the basic core and other units could be attached if required depending on mission/tasking.
Exactly, but I’d say T31/T23 GP. No T26 (apart from occasional attachment if one is in the region) and no OPV. Still a credible trio for reassuring allies, flag waving, diplomacy, SF ops, maritime security, and small scale ops. Cheap and cheerful too, maximising what we have, and you get the benefit of their presence (assurance, flag waving, diplomacy etc) all year round when forward deployed, even if they are only actually deployed 1/3 of the time. Followed up with a CBG making an appear ‘ve every 12 months or so…
Dan indeed. I think sometimes people need to remember just what the core tasks that the RN does to contribute to the UK Defence Tasks. In essence what does the government need the RN to deliver IAW its stated strategy and foreign policy. Maritime Security is one of those tasks and that grows ever more complex with increasingly asymmetic issues.
The FLSS and Type 31 both need to be cheap and cheerful to allow them to maintain the bulk of the RN duties and oversea commitments. These are not going to go away. In a war they need to have the capability to take part sure but being a little brutal about it that can sometimes take the form of running Goalkeeper (casualties are a fact of life in war and currently the Fleet cannot sustain many, if any).
I like your basing plans although personally I’d stick the Med/Atlantic group in Gibraltar. Fairly natural point of it and provides easy access by Air/Sea from the UK for logistics support. Not to mention it does the flag waving in the Med well.
I like the commitment to two amphibious groups, they’d sit nicely between the carriers staggered deployments, but yes, it does raise questions.
Is everything going to be called ‘strike’ now?
How big? Is an amphibious task group still to be based around a ‘commando’ and its supporting assets?
Is this what the possible basing arrangements in Singapore/Brunei were about, possible maritime prepositioning? if so, is it the intention to just sit a group of ships in the Far East and call it a strike group, rather than having it sit in the UK and calling it a disgrace? If so, could one get away with having available manning for just one of these groups and calling it efficiency?
What exactly are we going to commando in the Far East and do we really need a delayed reaction time for putting boots on the ground in Asia? It’s my understanding that they really dislike having boots on their ground and I think maybe pause for thought would be advised.
Wouldn’t an Astute be more useful to our allies in the Pacific and mean we’d be less likely to trap an extremity in something unpleasant? I’d take a T26 embedded with the Australians, because it’s almost within our means and if they were in trouble we’d be going anyway.
Why upset China unless you really need to?
Are they additional ships or will we lose something? If they’re going to be Point Class conversions, what happens to our sealift capability, we’re not going to move a ‘strike’ brigade by air.
Can I abandon any hope of seeing two LHD?
“Complete with escorts, support vessels and helicopters”?
It would seem building two new amphibious assault ships is rather pointless if the RN doesn’t have sufficient crew to man them. Recruitment shortages are a continuing issue not only for the RN, but also for the US Navy. I know it would never fly, but it seems like the draft may be necessary to ensure sufficient staffing; especially if the RN plans on expanding its presence.
Michael, the only thing worse than having a manpower shortage is to fill the gaps by forcing people into roles. Especially those with niche skills such as engineers.
A volunteer navy will always be more professional than a conscript one. Especially as the latter will be full of malingerers who are only good at peeling potatoes.
Not that you are going to like being reminded but the pressed Navy of the 18th and early 19th centuries ended up as masters of the Oceans.
To add to Ahmed’s point here. Recruitment is a funny thing and in recent years “good” seagoing drafts have been few and far between compared to a 60s or 70s Navy. I would suggest that the RN progressing with the NSS and being seen to create a rolling drumbeat of hulls will encourage recruitment. Especially as it adds variety for people, not everyone wishes to serve on a Capital Ship or Large Escort. Many will find appear in serving on a forward based small frigate East Suez/Med. Likewise you will find both Marines who love and who will hate that role.
The point here being that we will never solve the recruitment problem if all the RN can offer is 10 month patrols on a large escort/submarine to the same patch of ocean because we have too few hulls and too many commitments.
Going for names as to the established convention, I personally would like them to be named HMS Fearless and HMS Intrepid, 2 names that hold alot of sway for me
Good article. Unfortunately the speech raises far more questions than answers. Like how building two mega-carriers has led to cuts to other parts of the navy to pay for them, the same would be the case for buying new amphibious ships or building overseas bases.
The secretary does not appear to realise that Britain is no longer the richest, most powerful country in the world and no longer has an empire. Establishing foreign bases would likely involve the UK paying foreign governments to lease land (if they would allow such arrangement) and the costs of establishing these bases would come from the defence budget. They would also likely lead to cuts to bases in the UK.
The new emphasis on marines is not unwelcome, although slightly peculiar given that admirals appear to have targeted them and amphibious ships to help pay for the carriers. If they navy is now to retain both of these capabilities, expect large cuts to basically everything else remaining in the fleet.
Emphasis on foreign bases does also raise questions about how much of the diminished fleet will actually be available to protect UK waters (one would think this is actually the main purpose of the navy). Such a small amphibious force is really just a token, the force it could deploy would be far to small to be of any use in any high-level conflict. Much like the carriers – sending them to any high level conflict would be a suicide mission rather than a show of strength. Advanced countries have hundreds of aircraft, mines, hypersonic missiles and dozens of submarines that would easily take care of them. These are really the things the UK should be investing in rather than token “power projection”.
Most countries don’t have 100s of aircraft or hypersonic missiles, or dozens of subs . China has 76 subs ,18 nuclear and 58 conventional of which only 6 nuclear subs are in service and 17 conventional are in service due to various problems with maintaining the fleet , just like out its 1026 frontline jets only 300 are actually serviceable.
Numbers are meaningless unless you can maintain them and deploy them .
Russia is the same large numbers on paper but in reality nearly 80% of its fleet is laid up .
China is spending vast amounts of money on more advanced weapons systems but still operates a conscription based army/navy/airforce where there are huge gaps in the training to maintain and deploy such weapons .
Presumably the UK is exempt from these issues. Like the RAF only having around 40 flyable jets at the moment and the Navy last Christmas not being able to put a single ship to sea. China is making some mistakes, largely by copying some mistakes that western militaries are making, although their military is far more capable and ready than that of the UK.
I’m not sure your negative view of conscripts holds up to historical evidence. Conscripts served with great dedication in world wars 1 and 2 on behalf of the UK. They also made up the backbone of Israel’s successful defence during invasion several decades ago. The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria have all been western/UK failures despite a lack of conscripts in these conflicts.
Conscription is a form of skin in the game. If Gavin Williamson realised that either he or his children could be conscripted to fight in a war then his warmongering rhetoric would probably be toned down. This is the same for members of parliament voting to send to the UK into wars – if they knew there was a risk that their children could be conscripted, they would probably make a more balanced decision on the merits of invading or bombing another country.
China has a immense coast line to police and a land boarder of nearly 15,000 miles to secure .
And you are right about conscription in WW2 but the technology fielded was very different to today’s battlefield technology.
You are totally wrong about IDF though , reservists undergo very intensive training and there conscripts are highly trained .
The PLAN is a one dimensional armed force with a very political hierarchy very good at terrorising Tibetan villagers but totally outclassed by Indian armed forces in various border skirmishes and Russian armed forces .
There latest carrier has not sailed more than 150 miles offshore and has failed its flight test , 2 of its latest destroyers are laid up due to technical problems and manning issues and there latest ballistic submarine nearly sank due to faulty welding.
I know the adage quantity has a quality all of its own but if you can’t man or maintain the quantity correctly then it is just expensive scrap.
With there island fortification policy they are following the totally discredited tactic the Japanese followed in WW2 it did not work for the Japanese and it will not work for the Chinese especially as the islands they are fortifying are tiny and hard to supply.
Failed it’s flight test? Incorrect. It passed the flight trials and is 2-3 months ahead of schedule.
Please check your facts. From open source alone I know that during the 2018/2019 Christmas period (last Christmas) the following is true:
At Sea throughout Christmas:
As usual the nuclear deterrent was sustained. The Royal Navy obviously keeps the deployment patterns of SSNs classified for good reason however the submarines required at Very High Readiness or for Operations were available throughout Christmas.
RFA Cardigan Bay was at sea with RN/RFA and RM personnel onboard.
RFA Wave Knight was at sea over Christmas.
HMS Echo was deployed abroad stopping in port on 19 Dec 18 briefly but spending much of her Christmas out and about including being at sea on boxing day.
HMS Ledbury was at sea throughout Christmas.
HMS Protector was deployed and at sea.
HMS Dragon was on operations throughout Christmas.
HMS Argyll was deployed abroad on operations sustaining a lengthly patrol foreign.
HMS Montrose was deployed abroad on operations in the Pacific.
The FRE, Duty RFA tanker, Duty Merlin, Duty Wildcat all sustained their required High Readiness profile.
On Duty over Christmas:
Middle East: more than 1,000 personnel: The drugsbusters of HMS Dragon; minehunters Brocklesby, Shoreham, Ledbury and Blyth, plus their support ship RFA Cardigan Bay; their operations are directed by the team at the UK Maritime Component Commander’s HQ in Bahrain.
North Atlantic: RFA Mounts Bay on counter-narcotics patrol in the Caribbean.
South Atlantic: providing support and reassurance to British citizens in the Falklands is HMS Clyde, while HMS Protector is surveying Antarctic waters.
Mediterranean: Gibraltar Squadron (Sabre and Scimitar) protecting the Rock and its waters; HMS Echo is on NATO duties in the Black Sea.
Asia-Pacific: HMS Argyll is in the Far East on the second half of her Pacific patrol; her sister HMS Montrose is crossing the Pacific, ultimately bound for Bahrain.
In the UK: more than 1,000 personnel are on duty or at short notice to react: the Fleet Ready Escort, supported by a duty RFA tanker and Fleet Air Arm Merlin and Wildcat flights; as well as bomb disposal teams in Plymouth, Portsmouth and Faslane; in addition, RN medics are working shifts in NHS hospitals around the UK and staff at the Northwood Maritime Operations Centre co-ordinate the actions of all active units.
Submarine Service: A Vanguard-class boats performing a nuclear deterrence patrol, the 50th Christmas the Silent Service has carried out the duty. Astute-class submarines maintaining elements at very high readiness as required.
Again. Please check your facts before making such obviously erroneous statements. You do the RN no good in doing so.
I was referring to 2017 Christmas.
Apologies, the UK did actually have one warship deployed in home waters. “Only” 18 of its 19 warships were in port or laid up.
Direct extract from https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2017/december/22/171222-sailors-and-royal-marines-keep-britain-safe-over-christmas:
Deployed or on duty over the Christmas period and New Year are:
East of Suez
662 Naval Service personnel deployed or on duty
Minehunters HMS Middleton, HMS Bangor, HMS Ledbury, and HMS Blyth plus their support ships RFA Cardigan Bay and RFA Fort Rosalie, on maritime security patrols;Sea King helicopters of 849 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) embarked in Fort Rosalie;Staff in the Maritime Trade Organisation in Dubai working to keep sea lanes open to merchant shipping;Staff in the UK Maritime Component Command HQ in Bahrain overseeing the operations.
107 Naval Service personnel deployed or on duty
RFA Mounts Bay on patrol in the Caribbean, having been part of the successful mission to render aid to the stricken region after a devastating hurricane earlier this year;Naval Service personnel embarked with the US Navy.
184 Naval Service personnel deployed or on duty
HMS Clyde providing support and reassurance to British citizens overseas;HMS Protector has been taking part in the search mission to find the missing Argentine submarine ARA San Juan and next will be surveying uncharted waters around the South Atlantic;Plus 42 people on duty in the British Forces Falklands Islands HQ overseeing operations.
152 Naval Service personnel deployed or on duty
Gibraltar Squadron – HMS Sabre and HMS Scimitar – protecting the Rock and its watersHMS Enterprise is acting as the flagship of the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2;HMS Echo working as part of counter migration operations in the Aegean;Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines are also deployed on other ships and headquarter operations in the region.
In the UK
1,362 Naval Service personnel deployed or on duty
One Type 23 frigate on standby to conduct Fleet Ready Escort duties if required;RFA Wave Knight is on standby to support the Fleet Ready Escort;As does HMS Chiddingfold, HMS Shoreham, 824 NAS, HMS Raider, HMS Tracker, 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, HMS Tyne, 814 NAS, 815 NAS, 824 NAS, 848 NAS, and the Maritime Sniper Team who all stand by at immediate readiness.
One of four strategic deterrent Vanguard-class submarines, conducting a mission the Submarine Service has performed unbroken around the clock for nearly 50 years;
This year marked the 350th nuclear deterrent patrol.
RN has more than 19 Warships. Your statement would be accurate to say 1 of the RNs 19 Frigates or Destroyers from 22 Dec 17 to early Jan 18… which is not the entire Christmas period anyway.
David; I keep saying this but please bother to do just a little reading that doesn’t present a singular view point that is also often taken out of context. Which is a shame because I happen to believe 19 Frigates and Destroyers is too low. Exagerating or misleading statements help no one however.
For instance your very own article even has an official MoD statement that 13 Ships or Submarines were deployed over Christmas 2017.
Furthermore I’m sure many serving submariners would find the exclusion of the submarine assets as “warfighters” quite amusing… if somewhat ignorant.
How long have you worked in mod or?
Gerry I don’t work in the MoD. As demonstrated in my post above everything I said can be found from open sources.
My understanding is that the Chinese don’t use conscription, like the Americans, they have a draft, but don’t actually enforce it because they get enough volunteers to man the various PLA, PLAN and PLAAF formations/assets without resorting to conscripting.
I don’t have much time but to address one point really quickly:
We already have Foreign bases that are UK owned: Gibraltar would serve quite nicely. HMS Jufair in Bahrain is another option. The Falklands is another option as well. By my count that covers: Med/Atlantic/East of Suez. All are existing bases, many have had increased infrastructure put in place to be able to provide various levels of support to a deployed CBG.
I’d gently suggest going and reading so you can edit your post to reflect a slightly more informed position.
Re. Cost of bases: The Sultan of Brunei actually pays us to be there, not the other way around. The majority of places I’ve visited welcome more presence from the UK, including militarily, and what’s more, they are prepared to pay for at least part of it.
Ref. Token power projection: I don’t think anyone is suggesting squaring-up to China solo but there eg. places in the Middle East and increasingly Africa where strategic competition takes place and where intervention could be in our interest and within our means. Just look at Iran in the 70s: we were busy arming them to the teeth and a change of government changed everything; is it so far-fetched to imagine something similar happening to Saudi?
The RN have already established a base in Bahrain
The RN seems to be in search of a mission.
It is the nature of armies/navies and air forces to be search of reason for there existence , just like every department of government searches for a reason why it should not be abolished.
A bit like humans we search for reasons why we should get out of bed every day.
The RN has a long standing mission to protect the UK and its interests .
Grubbie, What makes you say that?
I am genuinely surprised that people seem so shocked. A Surface Action Group (SAG) that is forward deployed and capable of counter terrorism, counter piracy, counter narcotics, liaison visits, training in foreign environments (always an understated benefit!) and martime security and patrol duties seems to be good Value For Money (VFM) for me.
So what about a SAG that does the above at reasonable VFM suggests the RN is in search of a mission?
The USN has built 3 littoral ships based on Alaska oil tanker design.
They are very successfully deployed to help police the narcotic trade and anti piracy patrols and cost a fraction of sending a RFA vessel.
The RN and it’s predecessors have had a 1000 year mission, as long as they continue to do so then our Islands will be safe and we will have the freedom to decide our own destiny. Our interests are global so we need a globally deployable Navy.
Hurrah. A 1000 mission and a post Brexit budget. Bring on the Dane geld!
By the time the MOD “scope” these new ships they will cost more than a Bay class (that we sold for peanuts to OZ) and be half as useful.
Frigate or something vague and unable to defend itself?Or pay for it by scrapping all the ships in “extended readiness”?
HMNZNs secondhand support vessel looks useful for NZ $100 million, not that much more than we spent on our old knackered thing immediately prior to scrapping.
Built from scratch. I am sure we can build these Point type ships cheaper than expensive Germans! Given new facilities too, I cannot see how many of these western non UK yards can compete with the UK! Given the fact that UK yards have been hampered by UK military ship orders too.