In this article Professor Basil Germond summarises the maritime aspects of the Integrated Review Refresh (IR23) announced on 13th March.
Publication of IR23 coincided with the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, attending two high level meetings with strategic partners (French President Macron on 10 March and US President Biden and Australian Prime Minister Albanese on 13 March). Both resulted in agreements that will have long-lasting impacts on global naval affairs. In a period of geopolitical instability not seen since the Cold War, IR23 addresses important questions as to the implementation of Britain’s maritime objectives.
The March 2021 Integrated Review (IR21), and its accompanying Defence Command Paper, defined very ambitious goals for what was then called ‘Global Britain’. The strong emphasis put on the importance of the maritime domain for the UK’s security and prosperity got a positive reception in the naval circles.
For the first time in decades, the UK would make the most of its intrinsic strengths as a maritime nation to deliver on its ambitions to shape the rapidly changing world order in partnership with like-minded states. Yet, the deployment of Carrier Strike Group in 2021, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, to the Indo-Pacific region in 2021 could not hide the limitation of this strategy: the Royal Navy’s overstretched resources.
IR23 accounts for the current strategic acceleration whereby risks and threats at the higher end of the military spectrum have increased, as demonstrated by the occurrence of a large-scale conventional war on the European continent. It also anticipates the impending global leadership challenge posed by China.
In this context, IR23 suggests that the UK capitalizes on its inherent strengths (in particular Science & Technology) and maximizes opportunities (for instance Britain’s extended network of partners) to “generate strategic advantage” despite limited resources. The refreshed strategy offers pragmatic options to address the issue of overstretched maritime assets, increased risks and threats (including from climate change) and sharper demands on the Royal Navy in home waters and overseas.
IR23 makes an important choice: the Euro-Atlantic theatre is clearly prioritized at a higher strategic level. In the current geopolitical context, this is a sound decision. However, the Indo-Pacific region is crucial for the protection of the all-important global maritime supply chain. And leadership over the international maritime order has been instrumental for the west to contain Russia since its invasion of Ukraine.
Maritime power is best enacted as a collective effort within the ‘solidaristic society of maritime nations’. With limited means at its disposal, HM Government has devised pragmatic solutions to achieve its maritime objectives by empowering partners to complement Britain’s contribution to security in distant maritime regions.
IR23 assigns an important role to the “new network of ‘Atlantic-Pacific’ partnerships”. This includes the Australia-UK-US trilateral partnership AUKUS that will facilitate the procurement of conventionally-armed, yet nuclear-powered submarines to Canberra. Strengthening the capacity of the Australian Navy by transferring technology is a cost-efficient way to outsource maritime security to a trusted partner as well as an opportunity to promote British industry.
Cooperation with France is strongly emphasised with plans to establish a “permanent European maritime presence in the region through coordinated carrier deployments”. This is a logical step for the UK. Indeed, France is a Pacific power with interests, assets and diplomatic ties in the region.
The importance of soft power for ocean governance and resilience to climate change is also reflected in the ‘Partners in the Blue Pacific‘ initiative that, although not focused on defence, will strengthen cooperation with Pacific island states and reinforce Britain’s soft power in the region.
The strategy consisting in cementing regional (maritime) partnerships is not limited to the Indo-Pacific. For instance, JEF partners – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden – are key stakeholders in the defence of the Arctic, whose strategic importance has increased as a result of the growing tensions with Russia in the High North.
Avoiding sea blindness
IR23 demonstrates bold yet realistic maritime objectives, in particular protecting the global supply chain, upholding freedom of navigation and energy security (see its para 36). Yet, two shortcomings are apparent. Firstly, the 2022 National Strategy for Maritime Security is not mentioned alongside other supporting national strategies whereas it represents a crucial step forward towards addressing maritime crime and sustainability challenges at sea by implementing a whole-of-government approach that also relies on public-private partnerships.
Secondly, IR23 somewhat ignores the rapidly changing naval seascape. It mentions the need to adapt to “the changing nature of warfare – notably in the land domain” but does not mention naval warfare. Yet, the Ukraine war has demonstrated the vulnerability of naval platforms (especially surface units) to land-based missiles and the role played by maritime drones. This can impact on western navies’ operations in war and peace and lessons learned are crucial.
As IR23 enters its implementation phase, it is crucial not to forget or downplay the central role the sea plays for the UK’s defence, security and prosperity. To prevent any resurgence of sea blindness, maritime stakeholders are invited to remain vigilant and continue to promote an understanding of the sea and its significance for a maritime nation like the UK.
Article by Basil Germond, Professor, Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University
Funding follows strategy?
The chancellor Jeremy Hunt confirmed on 15th March that the Defence Budget will rise by £11bn over 5 years. More immediately, an extra £5bn will be available to the MoD over the next two years. £3bn of this will be spent to support the defence nuclear enterprise and enable the AUKUS Submarine delivery programme, although Australia will also be making its own investments in UK infrastructure. The remaining £2bn will be spent on replenishing munition stocks. It can be assumed this is primarily for Army munitions depleted by the war in Ukraine and will of little benefit to the RN’s similarly thin naval weapon stocks.
This takes UK defence spending to around 2.25% of GDP but Hunt only made the vaguest of commitment to further increases, saying he would implement a rise to 2.5% only “as soon as fiscal and economic circumstances allow”. The new and very focused funding falls well short of what the Defence Secretary had demanded and will not fully mitigate the effects of inflation which will result in hard choices in the near future. These will become clearer in the revised Defence Command Paper (DCP) to be published in June which will detail the revised structure of the armed forces following IR23 and MoD budget allocation.
We know that inflation will erode the funding for the surface fleet as that will have no uplift over the next two years, and we also know that significant work will be undertaken on the underwater fleet with the certainty of infrastructure investments in Derby and Barrow, and the possibility of a significant increase in the number of hunter/killers in the 2040s. This seems to prejudge the review requested by Ben Wallace on the balance between the two. So I don’t think funding is following strategy. At least in this respect it feel like the other way around.
Or is it the outcome of that review? Despite the curious two stage announcement of more funding, Wallace appears to have got the £11b he is reported to have wanted. I assume that he was privy to the Aukus negotiations so it may well be that a decision had been to fund an eventual (16/17 years away)increase in the SSN fleet. You could review the issue and reach a decision in a day- no need to wait for another Command paper.
My biggest concern is the very protracted timescale of so many of our major equipment projects. We are likely to see further reductions until things start to improve by the end of the decade.
I will be very surprised if Jeremy Hunt is still the Chancellor beyond 2024 given the very likely change of Government so much of this refreshed policy is just words.
With a few notable and honourable exceptions the Tories have been bad for U.K. defence and continue to oversee a further decline in the U.K. military.
It will be interesting to see who includes a real commitment to raise defence spending to 2.5% or more in their manifesto.
Sadly a bi partisan approach by both major parties to do this would show some common purpose but given the quality of our politicians I suspect that is beyond them.
Well it is 2.25% of GDP and has been around that level for a few years now.
Much as I disliked Doris, for his clown behaviour, he did actually put some money into defence which stopped near constant cuts.
The fact that the services cannot live within anything that looks like a budget is a cause for concern.
I’m not joking when I say I’m concerned that most of the 17k workers at Barrow earn more than most of the RN. Bit of thinking required there.
I wouldn’t be too surprised to find that BAES T26 + Babcock T31 + BAE Barrow + H&W FSS wage bill was larger than the whole RN wage bill.
Well the MOD employees almost twice as many civil servants as the the RN employs sailors, I suspect their wage bill is probably 3 times that of the RN. Get rid of half of them we’d have plenty of cash for a few more ships, helicopters, aircraft, munitions and sailors.
(You could extend this to plenty of Government spending. The Met Police has more employees then the navy… and yet the roads are still blocked with climate protestors…)
Be very careful what you wish for. Those civil servants are responsible for providing a huge amount of the support services that the RN (and other services) rely on. Who do you think ensures that the weapons stockpiles are maintained and that near life-expired munitions are the ones that get used or gifted? Who do you think orders the fuel, spares, consumables etc for operational units?
Who do you think arranges the certification of ships, aircraft and weapons? Just as importantly, who do you think generates the operational analysis, modelling and staff work that allows projects to move forward through the approvals gates? (Hint – only a few of these wear uniform).
You’re not talking about a bunch of pin-striped bowler-hatted bureaucrats (in the main) here. A classic example of what happens when you don’t get them involved is the debacle with Patrick Blackett. RN types want trials ship, firstly look at getting RV Triton back (until explained to them how bad an idea that was), then saw Damen boat and said gizzit. Unfortunately, they ignored all the certification stuff that has to be done and just assumed Lloyds Register or DNV would sort it for them. Not how it works. It appears they’ve now had a further mishap, the detail of which beggars belief, but that’s for another day.
There is no doubt that many of the processes that the RN / MoD have to employ are overly bureaucratic – but that’s a result of HMT / Cabinet Office governance to protect public money. There are a huge number of technically competent MoD CS who are not being replaced and that is having an impact too. (It’s also fair to say there are a small number of very special MoD CS, who should probably be put somewhere where they can’t get in the way, but they tend to be a minority).
I probably overstated the point with the silly suggestion of half but an MOD of 60,000 when we have an armed forces of 140,000 feels too large.
Again. “Feels too large” on what basis? On what understanding of what they do?
Uniforms where needed. CS where needed. Given the complexity of what HMAF actually do (and the equipment they use) it’s not out of balance.
Outfit them with spades and broomsticks and send them to the Eastern Front!
The problem with the police in general is ‘complex operations’ – this is code for operations that the leadership are too thick to comprehend and the offers/ support staff haven’t got the first clue what there are investigating or how to figure out what there relevant evidence is to gather.
The net result is huge teams achieving nearly nothing.
There are plenty of police around to do the standard stuff they all prefer the kudos of ‘complex investigation teams’ (you have to say it in a comedy copper voice) to solving burglaries and muggings.
If you talk to any barristers involved in prosecuting fraud you will get the same thing: clueless investigations that miss opportunities all over the place.
The other part of the problem is the Met got so big and unwieldy taking on work from M15, Parks Police, HMRC, MOD etc etc essentially a big turf grab. The big problem with that is that there are no longer segmented budgets for these things so whole ares of ‘nothing really going on’ are established.
So true…… would you like a cup of tea person glued to the road…. let me know if I could help you….
Caress a dick was such a Great leader for the Met….????????
I think even with all his flaws Boris did instinctively have an interest in defence but even the recent uplift announced this week this will just be swallowed up by the rampant inflation we have been experiencing.
Your comments about the MOD working within a budget I think in more recent times is largely due to the level of inflation but there are still a long way to improve procurement and reduce the logistical tale of the MOD.
The shocking state of training and living accommodation is an embarrassment and reflects very badly on the way the MOD still procures and manages their estate.
I have worked on many MOD projects and this has not improved in 30 years.
You raise an interesting point about wages but the cost of people is high in the U.K. and therefore slowing the build of any equipment might help spread the cost but that cost is eventually much higher. On the carriers it added £1bn.
As an anecdote on Babcock projects in Devonport, works cease at 3.45pm Monday to Thursday and 13.30 on a Friday. There are layers of management and the MOD is paying the bill. I am not suggesting people should work 12 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week but does that sound efficient.
Depends on what time they start work etc
Maximum working week 39hrs less breaks. The actual time working is a joke.
Another hidden cost of keeping facilities running at a much lower tempo to suit the workload with a largely fixed overhead. It is not good value for money.
That is a very valid point. You need to sweat the fixed assets.
Try looking at the yard in Barrow after lunch on a Friday.
As a young green man with fresh gold on a blue suit standing on a ship in dry dock: commenting at the evident level of inactivity by the MOD dock workers. The CPO took me aside, sharpish, and told me that the might all walk out if the heard that!
The “shocking” state of accommodation for singles is way better than student residences or average bedsits, and for married quarters is way better than what average families can afford to buy for themselves.
Sorry but I suggest you read this
There are similar articles in the Times and elsewhere.
There is a huge scandal behind the disastrous sale of MOD housing to Annington.
Go and read about HMS Collingwood and there are others.
The condition of the MOD estate is generally is poor.
I don’t agree.
Clearly you have not seen the modern standards of student accommodation.
Upgrading accommodation is a relatively cheap way of increasing retention.
What we don’t want is a race to the bottom by allowing the private sector side wages to stagnate either. The highest levels of behaviour, professionalism and skills are required in many areas on the navy side, I’m particularly thinking of those poor souls in the Silent Service. We seem to require an awful lot from them and in return offer sub-standard housing and pay. There was a little discussion on here about the new Solid Support Ships and the lack of portholes in cabins. A short term cost saving measure unlikely to make service with the RFA particularly attractive.
Life on warships and under the sea can’t guarantee comfort and most wouldn’t expect it but decent pay and quality famuly accommodation has to be a start point.
It would be awesome if our MPs could collaborate on a defence policy that met a universal agreement. Along similar lines to the Defence Commitee, but who set the overall strategic policy. Where the Defence Secretary and Treasury then strive to meet.
As this would allow more thorough long term planning and scheduling for new and current projects. Which should minimize the boom and bust that all three services get every time a new Government comes into power.
Sadly this will never happen!
I have mused over this for some months now. Effectively depoliticising defence. In some ways the nature of defence and the sheer scale and time scale of some of the projects means that they often span several governments, the new inheriting the project and it continuing. The nuclear deterent issue seems like a good example as it, largely, has the support of the whole house. Just looking at the last year or so of promises of a rise to 3% of GDP to today’s reality of realtime cuts. There is often, on both sides of the house, a lot of rending of garments and pulling out of hair when news of the navy’s threadbare stores comes to light.
For instance. But when faced with a 3 line whip those same MPs rarely continue to complain.
Or when faced with finding the money to pay for defence. Ask anyone among the general public whether they would support closing their local hospital to pay for more Tanks, ships or aircraft.
Because they want both and setting up a stupid false dichotomy is how you can justify anything. Ask people if they’d be okay having their house bulldozed to build a hospital and you’d get an overwelming vote against hospitals.
It is really more of a narrative against hypothecation.
If you had hypothecation then Treasury has little power and individual ministers gain power.
Cash is king…of politics….
What a lovely thought.
That would require politicians to grow up and dump ya-boo politics.
That said they might find people would engage more with politics if the House of Commons was less like a juvenile point scoring debate with the other side laughingly making silly points but not actually providing any solutions other than tipping buckets of cash all over everything that they know perfectly well does not exist.
It will be interesting if Labour include a full time Defence Secretary in their Cabinet should they be elected . I seem to remember it a part timers posting. Wallace is by contrast by a wide margine the Best Defence Secretary in a lifetime! The worst its hard to chose from so many; Dennis Healey, Duncan Sandy and John Nott.
What’s part time about a Secretary of State for Defence in say browns ministry
Sure Des Browne was also SS for Scotland, that’s a ‘no show’ job for obvious reasons but his successors both had only Defence
Swiss Toni was a part time SoS for defence for nigh-on three years, during which time we were conducting two live operations. SoS Scotland is hardly a no-show – it involves closer liaison with the SG. That Brown considered defence so important he made it a job-share during two very difficult operations tells you everything you need to know.
Do remind us what Swiss Toni’s successor did to the carrier programme as well? Who was it who slipped the delivery date by two years (allegedly to stay within spend profile) while keeping the same number of people on the job? Epic.
Epic waste of money: agreed.
Thing is the scale of the waste of money was very, very well known actually.
There is another piece of that puzzle that RN was in no hurry to get the QEC’s once Harrier was axed. F35B was delayed so they really would have been the two biggest helicopter carriers about if they were accepted on the original time line.
A lot of people took it as a serious analysis of the program.
Nigh on 3 years ? Another of your faulty memories.
The Facts say Jun 2007- Oct 2008 , just over a year
The carrier contract was only signed Jul 2008 so hardly have a full workforce idled for a slower build rate in that time, and it was said that the F-35 schedule was delayed as well.
The real roadblocks and spending ‘pauses’ came after a certain ‘event’ in May 2010
Oh Bubbles. How you must miss your master.
Swiss Toni was SoS Defence from May 2006 (after John Reid – no need for ammunition on Herrick) and until October 2008. I’ll grant you that’s closer to two than three, but as ever you avoid the minor inconvenience that he was a part time SoS in the middle of two operations. Two ops that were way in excess of the Defence Planning Assumptions on which SDR 98 and its refresh in 2001 had been built. But you knew that anyway……
On the carrier contract point, your lack of native English is showing again…..No-one ever said that the full workforce was idled. But it was noted that the activities started as per the original plan but the duration was extended.
If only you had more than (poorly understood quotes from) the internet to inform your argument.
Off you go, that poster of Grangela on the wall needs a bit of paste.
Can the French Navy actually deploy a CSG to the Pacific, the French auxiliary fleet is two relatively old and small AORs, with no solid stores ships?
As for the IR23, it’s laughable to say we need to focus on the navy the same month two more ships have been decommissioned without replacement (Echo and Enterprise)
Manpower levels are too low and this is the result along with a problem of retaining people because of poor pay and too much time away.
Even if they had been stored until the situation had abated it would be better.
Fixing those problems would be pennies on the pound of MOD budget: proper accommodation, better pay.
It’s interesting that normally straightened economic times usually result in more people who want to join the forces….
That’s something I’ve always wondered about the French navy. The Royal Navy and French Navy are generally considered to be the same rank which may be true in fire power however as we have seen in the Ukraine war it doesn’t matter how much firepower you have if your logistics are rubbish. I know that in really life the French have the same allies as the UK and can call them in to help out with fuelling and transporting good. However it seems very much they have let there logistical side of the Navy fall behind. Considering the French like to do as much as possible by themselves I’m surprised they let it happen.
We invest a lot more in the less flashy stuff I guess. I am sure the French approach of building all your own kit has benefits but it must mean corners have to be cut somewhere…
Compare Rafale with Typhoon or Astute with Suffren. I would say their disadvantage is though more that the (rest of) the West depends on the US too much. If we were all ‘independently’ minded I think the gap would be closer. It isn’t hard to imagine a different NATO with the White Commonwealth building its own platforms and systems instead of what happened caving to the US. You have to admire the French in a way.
PS: Typhoon is basically a UK design…….
I do wish we were a bit more French: the RAF in particular love buying American but there is a middle ground somewhere between what we do and what the French do. For stuff which we have a qualitative winning advantage we should maintain our sovereign capability (e.g. combat aircraft, submarines, radar), whereas other areas where we have let our industry wither and which wouldn’t be decisive in a war we should probably procure the most cost effective options (e.g. military vehicles) and then there will be things which are harder to decide (helicopters is an obvious one) which fall between those extremes
I mean it’s crazy our apaches will have hellfires instead of brimstones for example….. and that then prevents another export opportunity…
The RAF got used to buying USA stuff. Mustang, Sabre, Phantom, Chinook, etc To be honest The FAA was much the same in WW2 and with the scrapping of Super Harrier P1154.
All quite sad but it does seem the FAA tried harder to buy British when they could with mixed success except with some notable exceptions like the Harrier and Fairey Firefly.
Yes. But isn’t it crazy the UK isn’t flying its own Lynx based attack helicopters? The UK, Canada, Australia, and NZ would have provided a big enough ‘market’ for defence. Japan builds its own. Russia builds its own.
The more likely option would have to have been buying the Eurocopter Tigre. Thank goodness the U.K. went for Apache instead of that mess.
Why would commonwealth countries buy British? This isn’t the 50s. Anyway only Australia is a more recent attack chopper buyer
As for Japans Kawasaki OH-1, it’s quite diminutive around the size of the Augusta Mangusta and half the weight of the Apache
Locked software and ITAR…..
You may wish to Gary Google FLOTLOG……
Currently one ship on sea trials – and I have seen you point out the difference of a fleet solid support ship to an AOR to a number of people on this site!
So maybe the will be able to in the future but could the French as of today actually deploy a CSG to the pacific and sustain it there like the RN did for CSG 21?
The UK chose to have separate tankers and solid stores ships for good reason. However other choices are available depending on your requirements.
The point being, the MN are recapitalising their maritime logs force counter to the suggestion above.
Does Dixmunde count ?
Not strictly true because they have bought in those two Ofshore Supply Ships as RFA’s plus the RV Minesweepers. I agree though that it does seem unplanned and ad hoc, brought about by the Russian’s madness.
This has been entraid for a while. A bit feeble to blame to blame the US Deep State’s war for poor decisions by the MoD(N) here.
It’s just fiddling around the edges. Mistakes were made at the end of the Cold War. Then there were the pointless and wasteful wars in the Sandbox. Are we a maritime nation still? The rest of Europe is just as dependent on the sea as we are. I look at the Italians, Japanese, and Cloggies and we are found wanting in so many ways when it comes to naval matters. Retention I feel is a problem beyond pay now; I don’t think the current political paradigm would allow any solutions. 3Cdo needs to go back to 3 full commandos. In terms of hardware we now do desperately need that ninth T26, we need to ensure F35b gets a AShM (especially one that can be carried internally), join the Italian DDX programme soon as to bring forward the T45 replacement programme, new LPD three off, replace hydrographic capability, new MCM hulls, and get out of T31 even if it means building the things and not commissioning them as they will prove to be a waste of manpower in the future. It is all rearranging the deckchairs now.
Shame you think T31 are bad.
24 CAMM, 8 NSM and potentially 1-2 MK 41 modules for the price is very good. Crew only half that of a T26 as well.
It also has lots of export potential.
Um. Iver Huitfeldt is a good design. Lack of ASW fitout on our variant makes them worthless.
This ties in with your other comment about T26 not having area defence.
No Navy has state of the art ships perfect at every role. The US has Arleigh Burke and Ticonderoga which are very inferior to T23 at ASW and that is what happens when you get GP platforms.
Hull sonar, Merlin and maybe some ASROC in the mark 41 is the best you’re gonna get.
Their ASW is better on a comparable scale to SeaCeptor as opposed to PAAMS. FREMMS have area anit air missiles. The RCN and RAN do too. As will the US variant of FREMM as it will be an AEGIS ship. The new Japanese frigates have area AAW missiles and so on. No navy? Really?
T23 is an exceptional ASW platform. Picking an exception as an argument against a general trend isn’t very good. AB was as good an ASW platform as T22.
Freems are the apex AAW for those nations equivalent to T45. They aren’t standard frigates.
So now the T31 have 24 CAMM (from 1-2 MK41 modules – which never have been shown to have worked , 8 NSM ?
24 CAMM and 8 NSM has been confirmed. There was always talk of adding mark 41 to them and it’s been confirmed they are FFBNW. Since then Navy said mark 41 would be added to current and future vessels, presumably T31.
“from 1-2 MK41 modules – which never have been shown to have worked”
What does that mean?
Mk41 is a well proved system in international service?
Most of this money should go into making recruitment more attractive; better pay, better housing etc so we can actually crew what we have.
They can crew the ships they have. You only have 80 engineering crew officers and ratings in a T45 or T23. The RN has 6000 engineering ratings plus extra engineer officers
Good if we get to 2.5%.
Not if the overall GDP is shrinking. 2.5% May seem to be an increase in spending but if GDP is less than it was a few years ago then you haven’t really gained anything. At best you’ve maintained the level you were spending previously.
Totally untrue. Apart from the Trussonomics experiment its at normal growth for this type of economy
3rd quarter 2022 its was 1.9% over the previous 12 months, and dipped down to 0.4%pa for the 4th
Covid period upended at lot of things with lockdowns and such when large parts of economy frozen
It is ironic that work in naval dockyards was passed from public to private hands on the declaration that the private sector was more efficient, but this now appears to be total baloney and the Royal Navy is paying the price with reduced numbers of less effective ships.
We have now seen a series of reviews by the Conservatives that has seen the reduction in numbers of escorts from 24 in 2010 to a very nominal 19 today (overdue for replacement) and a SSN squadron reduced from 7 to 6.
It should be noted that some of the replacements will be incapable of tracking let alone fighting hostile submarines and will have the capability of large patrol vessels in any other navy.
In 1982 the then Defence Secretary announced that the absolute minimum for the escort force should be 50 ships after he cut the numbers by 20. Luckily this had not happened as those ships that had been cut were required to cover elsewhere as the newer ships that replaced them were required to remove the Argentinians from the Falklands.
Perhaps it is time for the Government to look at featherbedding in private enterprise and if it is incurable to return the dockyards to the Navy who have more control.
There is little or no “feather-bedding” in the privatised yards. Baloney it is not – particularly when compared to working practices in the old dockyards ( which made British Shipbuilders seem efficient).
What you tend to find is that the actual cost of doing things is now visible, instead of being hidden within multiple budgets.
The other thing you tend to find is that because MoD processes can be very bureaucratic – all about protecting public money, preventing fraud, preventing unfair advantage- their commercial teams end up writing contracts with built-in inefficiency. There’s also the issue that MoD is often liable for timely provision of GFX which for various reasons they cannot deliver on. Which causes delay and adds cost.
Jeff, you seem to be living in some sort of Ken Livingston alt universe! If you can name better escorts than the T45, T26, on the planet, maybe you should be writing for Monty Python.
Noisy under armed T45? Under armed T26 hasn’t done anything yet. Tell me is T31 like the Death Star?
How is T26 under-armed.
It has 72 VLS.
Type 055 has 122 cells.
Where is it area anti-air war capability? Where is the RN’s modern AShM? And don’t point to NSM it is old hat. Phalanx? A 20mm CIWS. And that is just a start…….
Type 055 is a cruiser. Hopefully that’s what T83 will be.
T26 is an ASW frigate so only needs local air defence assets, 48 missiles is very good for that.
NSM is brand new not understanding your point there.
Delays in FC/ASW and Spear 3 are disappointing but the RN recognised the capability gap for a change and ordered NSM.
There are also 2 Phalanx on T26.
Another trait of this site is the fondness too many here have to play with designations to support arguments. So ‘is a cruiser’ is eyewash. There are no set terms. And we are not the US here we don’t use size. You can’t afford to put a major surface combatant to sea without a area anti war system. You need to be able to reach out 40 nautical miles at least.
AB Flight IIa on has 96 cells. Our T26 is getting 24 cells for Sea Ceptor and 24 cells in a Mk41 for other things. FREMM’s 32 cells are all for Aster. You could say numbers there, but they are supporting an area system.
20mm is too small these days. One on each beam isn’t enough. There needs to be something back aft probably on the hangar roof. There are reasons why other states are buying systems with a calibre of 30mm up.
Let’s see if we haven’t been to war then before fitted FC/ASW. A heavy anti-ship missile has been needed decades. Even the Indians are deploying a Mach 3 missiles with a range of several hundred nautical miles. Spear 3? Really?
T26 is getting 48 CAMM which is plenty. By the time T26 enters service hopefully FC/ASW will also enter service. If not we could buy some more NSM as an interim.
Whatever you want to classify the Type 055 as it has a different role to the T26.
Type 055 has 112 VLS cells.
The Italian DDX looks to have 96 VLS cells in addition to 16 canister launched torpedos/ASHM.
Good chance T83 will be same size as DDX and we may even collaborate with the Italians.
Spear 3 will be an amazing missile for F35B.
Yes Spear 3 amazes me too.
You can’t play the different role game. I didn’t mention cell numbers. My point was T26 is at the low end for a ship. Especially in a small fleet that is somewhat unbalanced.
Go play Top Trumps.
72 VLS is a lot.
When including canister launched ASHM, 72 VLS is more than FREMM, constellation class, 052, 051, 054 classes.
The type 055 you mention is the only modern ship in the PLAN that has more VLS than T26.
Merlin + T26 + Astute is the best ASW in the world so T26 really isn’t low end.
There are ‘reasons’ also why the USN has stuck with 20mm for its CIWS and the next size up has settled on 57mm rather than the fan boys favourite medium , the 76mm.
For me the only part that matters is the accuracy of the hits. It drives the capability at the very highest end of the strategic weapons too.
Smaller KT and more of them matters rather than a a MT or two.
Careful otherwise we are onto Russian artillery versus NATO artillery arguments.
The issue isn’t the number of shots you have it is the number of shots it takes to do the job.
And how those shots fit into the fabric of the ships sensors and fightability.
Personally, having worked thinking about ship survival, I would rather have a smaller number of better missiles than a mass of mediocre ones.
There are no T26’s on the water yet except possibly toys. It is a bit premature to judge their capability .Now ask how many submarines do China and Russia have? If it is more than 8 then the RN has a problem.
The T45 is 20 years old and the principal AAW system is French. There is no long range strike capability and the obsolete Harpoon anti ship missiles are being replaced by a lightweight weapon that will scratch the side of another warship but will not sink it.
There is featherbedding in the dockyards and the trouble with the Daring’s propulsion, the flooding of Queen Elizabeth and the prop on the POW show that they are inefficient.
There is no incentive for Ballcocks or other builders to improve productivity as they work on a cost plus basis, whilst when the Navy had control there was no “plus” involved.
How ‘old’ is the USN Arleigh Burke class?
You have this ‘consumerist’ view on the world, unless its introduced in last 18 months its junk
How is it that design flaws in the T45 propulsion architecture are down to “inefficient dockyards”.
Do tell when QNLZ “flooded”. News to most.
If by “prop” for PWLS, you mean shaft coupling, please explain how this is a result of inefficiency.
Babcock’s most certainly do not work on a cost-plus basis. They’re building T31 on a fixed price contract. In fact I can’t remember the last time MoD awarded a cost-plus contract.
If you think the Navy being in control is a good thing, take a long hard look at the unfolding debacle that is Patrick Blackett……
By dockyards he means shipbuilders. Everybody knows he means shipbuilders. He means naval architects and engineers who managed to design an underpowered and noisy propulsion. He means your tribe. He means those who design the war canoes and those who screw them together.
I see. I suppose you mean the people who designed what the Navy asked for then?
The Navy requests are based on the Chancellor of the Exchequers requirements, not that of the Navy. The Navy used to design (and build) it’s own ships and when there was no Government interference they built good ships indeed.
The Navy Design team,( like much of the Navy) was closed down by the Conservatives and the work handed over to private enterprise.
You will find that what the Navy wants, and what they get are two different things that are miles apart.
No doubt we will see in the fullness of time whether there are any problems with the T26 and T31 programs.
I might add the Astute submarine has also endured problems
Other problems that have been reported include flooding during a routine dive, corrosion in places, concerns over the quality of nuclear reactor monitoring instruments, and flaws with the submarine’s periscope.
And the submarine has been described as having a V8 engine with a Morris minor gearbox…
HMS Astute was laid down in 2001, ten years after the completion of the last Trafalgar boat and three years after the launching of HMS Vengeance, the last of the Vanguard-class SSBNs. Unfortunately, the gap had led to the atrophy of key design and production capabilities, resulting in delays and cost overruns that continue to harry the program today. Basic drafting and engineering skills had deteriorated as the submarine construction work force had retired or moved on, forcing British Aerospace (which had taken over the program) to redevelop many key capabilities. Other problems emerged around the sophisticated drafting software used to design the class. This took time, pushing back the construction of the first boats, and pushing up overall costs.
Additional problems emerged after HMS Astute entered service. The boats are considered cramped, and crews have endured some atmospheric issues (excessive temperatures) inside the subs. Problems with reactor design (borrowed from the Vanguard SSBNs) led to a mismatch of some components, and an inability to achieve design speeds.
Will we see issues with T26 and T31?
One of us is a little closer to involvement in how the navy actually gets its ships and submarines than the other.
The chancellor of the exchequer absolutely does not set the requirements for the navy’s ships and submarines. In thirty years in the naval sphere I have never – not once – seen anyone from HMT get involved in the requirement definition or contract acceptance of the ships.
The navy hasn’t designed its own ships for a century. The people who used to design the navy’s ships (to contract design level) were Admiralty and later MoD civil servants, the RCNC. The last ship / submarines they designed fully were the T22 and the V-boats. The last naval dockyard built ship was a Leander.
We will almost certainly see some issues with the T26 and the T31. They’re complex ships with complex systems – just like the Astute. Just like QEC. But be in no doubt, the navy sets the requirement – whether it understands the consequences or not – and industry has to try and deliver that to the budget.
The Chancellor has always told the Navy how much it can spend.
The DNC was responsible for all ship design until Thatcher’s time. Are you saying that was more than a century ago?
One of the DNC staff David Brown wrote a series of books describing the full process from the Warrior onwards. The first vessel not designed by the Admiralty design team was the type 21 Amazon and that was a shambles. It cost more than the Leander despite claims it would be cheaper and unlike the Leander could not take Seawolf or 2016 Sonar.
It was structurally weak and needed reinforcing beams.
The admiralty pointed the weaknesses out to government before it was built but was told to keep quiet.
Another vessel screwed up by the chancellor was the T42 which was built to a fixed length 410 feet despite the admiralty telling the Chancellor it was a stupid idea.The intent was for the vessel to carry Ikara and to have a larger magazine but these were ditched because it was only 20 foot longer than the old Daring class circa 1945. The lack of length caused the loss f Sheffield as the radar had to be shut down when Satcom was used because of interference. The Chancellor saved money building the ships but it cost lives and two vessels.
In the end the Manchester class was completed with the required length
FYI Brown was responsible for the preliminary design of the T23 and was the designer for the Castle Class corvettes.If the design team had not been shut down he probably would have designed what became the new Daring.
You might be interested to know that DNC was not the Navy. It was the Directorate of Naval Construction, staffed by the RCNC, whose ranks included DKB, for whom I have great respect.
However, his recollections in his books (all of which I own and have read) are the recollections of one man which is not necessarily the same as what actually happened.
At no stage did the chancellor tell the navy that the T42 could only be 410 feet long. Never happened. Just like “the Admiralty” telling the chancellor it was a stupid idea. Carrying Ikara and a larger GWS30 mag is what is known as T82, with a length well over 500 feet, which by the way is considerably longer than Manchester, which was 50ft shorter. Here’s something else that DKB doesn’t tell you in his book. The stretched T42 were designed (by – wait for it – the DNC) without sufficient scantling strength to deal with that additional length. Which is why they ended up with rather large strengthening beams (and some keel work) to achieve adequate strength. Even then they were cracked to b8ggery throughout.
Funny old thing – same issue arose on the T22 B2/3 where the DNC extended the length but neglected to beef up scantlings in particular areas. However, I’m sure you believe that the chancellor sent a memo ordering them to do so.
Here’s something else you don’t know – the Forward Design Group (which is where DKB finished) still existed in 1994, although by then he’d retired. They did the first MOD concept designs for what became QEC. Sadly they weren’t very good. He wasn’t anywhere near what became T45.
You talk a lot of nonsense. The T42 was the result of a number of designs that were considered and included a number of weapon systems including both Ikara and the US Tartar, all of which were larger and more expensive.
The Manchester was a stretched T42 not a new design and the strength problem again was known and again the Government said you will take what you are given. Obviously if you stretch any design length but fail to provide extra strengthening you are going to have problems. The T21 was never lengthened but still needed reinforcing which tell you something about private enterprise design.
That is why I am doubtful about the 26 and the 31 even if the government screws on shipbuilding have now been lifted. The shipbuilders need their 20 percent plus profit to keep the investors happy.
The main reason that Manchester was lengthened was to provide extra Sea dart magazine space but the Chancellor refused to pay for the extra missiles leaving her with the 22 of the T42. I assume the CO’s wine store benefited.
All DNC staff carried naval rank and I think Brown was a Commander
However, I’m sure you believe that the chancellor sent a memo ordering them to do so.
No, they just refused to pay enough money to do the job properly! As usual.
However, his recollections in his books (all of which I own and have read) are the recollections of one man which is not necessarily the same as what actually happened.
If you looked closely you would see the most recent book was co written by George Moore.
If you looked at the other books you will see all designs were only one of many with variations on size, power and payload, with the final design usually being at the bottom end.
The T23 (which according to you Brown hepled to design a century ago) is the exception changing from a tug for a big sonar to a combat vessel, but this was because the T22 program was cut from the planned 24 vessels.
Dear God. Are you Galen to Duker’s Bubbles?
You do realise that the rank Constructor Commander was an equivalent honorary rank? I know a number of former Constructor commanders. None of them ever for one moment considered themselves in the RN.
Yep. “The Government” got right down to it and told the RN that the design bending moment of the stretched T42 would have to be accommodated within the section modulus of the existing T42 design. Interesting that the magazine capacity of the stretched T42 appears at variance with the ones I saw in there. Must have been the wine store, obvs.
You’ve never stepped aboard one of HM grey war canoes have you?
I’d ask if you were Suzy Eddie Izzard, but that is a better comedian than you are.
DKB retired because with the department being closed down there would have been nowhere to go!
T42 was restricted both in length and displacement according to the designer Purvis. That also restricted crew and payload.
He wasn’t anywhere near what became T45
He was involved with the T43/T44 which was not built, but which was eventually brought to life as the T45 with a french AAW instead of Sea dart Mk2.
What Navy did you say you say you were attached to?
yes the RCNC was run separately , a civilian corps of the naval service and many had naval ranks and wore the uniform.
The person who set the direction to the RCNC was the 3rd Sea Lord and Controller of navy.
However the 3SL most definitely did decide what sorts ship designs were built ( final design had to be signed off by the Admiralty Board), most famously when Henderson more or less dictated the design of the armoured carriers in the middle 30s.
There is a difference between choosing options presented and conducting the design.
The contemporary equivalent to 3SL was until recently known as COM(F) who had both D(Ships) and D(Subs) reporting to him. None of them conducted the designs. All of them choose options recommended to them by their project teams, at first generally originating in the NDP (or Subs NDP), but during competitions, as evaluated by their project teams.
By all means hark back to 90 years or so ago if you think it helps…
The CofE pays for the ships. Do you think the Admiralty just stick their hands in taxpayer receipts? Why do you think the Navy wound up with 6 Daring’s not the 12 they asked for?
Why did the navy receive 8 T26 and not the 13 to replace the T23?
Why indeed were there only 13 when 16 T23’s were built?
Why is the T31 so much weaker than the Danish original?
One of us is a little closer to involvement in how the navy actually gets its ships and submarines than the other.
I guess you play with models a lot?
“HMS Astute was laid down in 2001, ten years after the completion of the last Trafalgar boat and three years after the launching of HMS Vengeance, the last of the Vanguard-class SSBNs. Unfortunately, the gap had led to the atrophy of key design and production capabilities, resulting in delays and cost overruns that continue to harry the program today. Basic drafting and engineering skills had deteriorated as the submarine construction work force had retired or moved on, forcing British Aerospace (which had taken over the program) to redevelop many key capabilities. Other problems emerged around the sophisticated drafting software used to design the class. This took time, pushing back the construction of the first boats, and pushing up overall costs.
Additional problems emerged after HMS Astute entered service. The boats are considered cramped, and crews have endured some atmospheric issues (excessive temperatures) inside the subs. Problems with reactor design (borrowed from the Vanguard SSBNs) led to a mismatch of some components, and an inability to achieve design speeds.”
Golly where do I start with that?
Whilst you are absolutely correct to state that the build gap caused design, management and fabrications skills to atrophy you cannot blame the dockyard for the lack of orders provided to it. GEC / Marconi had run the yard reasonably well. When Arnold Winestock was running GEC defence was a core part of it. Winestock took a backseat from 1996(?) and things moved downhill from there pretty rapidly as the new GEC management wanted to move away from the old core activities. History records that being the reverse of a success. Thus Barrow fell to BAE where it has had some ups and down but is now firmly on the up with a constant drum beat of orders, investments and now AUS voting with their feet and wallet.
You do realise that there are essentially three different versions of Astute
Astute her self
That is why there was a build hiatus.
The power mismatch issue refers only to #1 as it was initially.
“Other problems emerged around the sophisticated drafting software used to design the class”
Ummm the issue was more that it was a poor choice of 3D software and a different working approach where the dockyard didn’t just use commons sense and experience to weld things together but had to follow a complex 3D model. That is a big skills shift even if you have retained the whole workforce from before. Some people cannot be unskilled to work in that way.
A leak which forced the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier to return to port saw water rise “neck-high” in flooded areas, the BBC has been told.
The biggest and most powerful warship ever built in Britain experienced the leak during sea trials on Tuesday.
It was believed to have come from a ruptured pipe which caused some internal damage, the BBC learned.
A particular coupling which failed in a HPSW main. Nothing to do with whether navy or industry designed. Flooded a single compartment and then pumped out.
So it was flooded?
And why did they buy the Blackett? Because it was all they could afford because money was that could have been spent being wasted elsewhere by private builders?
Utter hoop. They bought the Blackett because it met their requirement for a trials vessel. Had they been left to their own devices, they were keen on buying a 20 year-old, one off vessel with limited certification and largely unsupportable kit.
Having got the Blackett instead, they have proceeded to ignore their own CS regulatory body, until it was explained to them that they couldn’t. They’ve since managed to do something else to the ship which as I say beggars belief.
You are the one talking hoop. The Navy works to a budget set by the Chancellor. They were simply trying to get what they wanted out of the platform they were allowed to have, not the one they wanted.
Sometimes the Navy even gets what it wants but is not allowed to keep it like HMS Challenger (1984).
Ha ha ha ha ha.
Challenger? Really? The ship that needed re-cabling in its entirety at eye-watering expense? That Challenger? The one that never got to deploy its designed payload because it never worked?
The reason being the Navy never had the money!
The Challenger was last heard of making a fortune collecting diamonds from the seabed. It apparently paid off the pittance the C of E demanded for her in 3 months!
Just looking at costs for building RN warships and the difference between amount charged and actual work is about 20% although it has gone about 50% in the past. A good return on investment?
Lets see those figures Bubbles – and obviously their source.
Particularly how you appear to have access to “actual work” as opposed to “amount charged”.
In fact, let’s hear exactly which contracts – based on their publically available contract award statements – are ” cost plus”.
Check out D.K. Brown. I doubt things have changed since then.
“The T45 is 20 years old and the principal AAW system is French. There is no long range strike capability and the obsolete Harpoon anti ship missiles are being replaced by a lightweight weapon that will scratch the side of another warship but will not sink it.”
SAMPSON – major upgrade program announced and funded.
A30 – major upgrade has been announced and funded.
T45 is the best AAW destroyer out there.
The outcome of a missile strike is to mission kill the ship. If the ship isn’t fightable then it isn’t a threat. so you might want to hit the radars and plonk a weapon into somewhere that blows out a magazine or a VLS so the ship self destructs.
Simply blowing up a modern warship to sink it is very, very hard: try looking at the SINKEX videos on YouTube.
With your logic your would need a 5000kg HE effector warhead. Which would probably still not do the job.
Much better to have multiple smaller precise hits on a ship. With modern weapons you can choose within centimetres where they hit home. And something even quite small hitting a ship at Mach3, such as Sea Ceptor, will do a massive amount of damage.
The reality is that what saves or sinks a ship is
Not necessarily in that order!
Ask the Russian what does the job. You can check out the Moskva at the bottom of the Black Sea.
NAASM is designed for mission kills not to sink ships. A US frigate took a hit from Exocet and still got home. Sheffield would have got home if she had been in sheltered water and not in the South Atlantic.
Under Margaret Thatcher we had 4-5% defence spending.
Today, more than 30 years later, we face the same old enemy, with the same arsenal of nuclear weapons, and many of the same people still in charge of them.
Why should we be spending any less?
The argument will be that we’re not facing the same old enemy.
Today the enemy is Russia and Belarus…
Back then the enemy was USSR (Russia, Belarus AND Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan), plus the Warsaw Pact (Poland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Albania, East Germany).
The fact is, a large chunk of what was the enemy back then are now fellow NATO members!
That raises another issue . The top Western leaders , Thatcher, Kohl, Mitterand and US Baker assured Gorbachev that Nato wouldnt be moving its membership east after the German unification.
Some of those leaders much later denied that, but the senior foreign officials – all retired now- who accompanied them and attended meetings say it was promised as revealed in major reserach and documents
Declassified documents show security assurances against NATO expansion to Soviet leaders from Baker, Bush, Genscher, Kohl, Gates, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Hurd, Major, and Woerner
Who now remembers George Bush’s famous chicken Kiev speech to the the Ukraine parliament where he warned against ‘nationalism’
So which of those leaders you mentioned were still there between 1999 and 2004 when the expansion occurred? Who broke their word? Maybe there was a Bush in the White House, but not the same one. You can’t hold the next generation to the verbal assurances of the last. (And who was Gates anyway?) If countries had wanted to get into a military alliance with Russia, they could and did, such as Belarus.
Was Putin justified in being pissed off? Perhaps at the chuntering level, but not at the “I’ll rain nuclear death down on you all, mwu-ha-ha-ha” level.
Gates was the CIA director. But you are right about assurances of one decade not binding on another. Results also in the changes in the 2000s having consequences now.
Your right look up Scott ritter ex us marine and un weapons inspector in Iraq and col dougles mcgreger ex pentagon analyst
Hi there, different Jon. Just in case anyone was wondering why we seemed to be posting inconsistently. There are two Jons here today it seems.
Thatcher and Nott were hell bent on reducing the 5% in 80 and was 4.2% by 88 when the Cold war ended.
it was also 2.5% in 2010 when the governments changed and the Tory cost cutters came back
have you seen the tax rates when 5% was the norm . 33% was the basic rate , its now 20%
Dont forget that the NHS was 6% of GDP in 1980, now its 11-12%.
So the answer to why ‘we be spending less now’ is …?
The Falklands changed Thatcher’s thinking for a few years, and spending rose to 5.5%, also under Nott, but she couldn’t resist that pre-Falklands urge to sell the family silver for long. When Hesletine replaced Nott in 83 that was when Rosyth, Devenport etc went, along with Royal Ordnance. Nott rightly gets a lot of stick, but he wasn’t the only one.
I’m not in favour of going back to 5% right now (fun though fantasy spending can be), it’s a pendulum swing too far, but with the current threat we need to be north of 3% very soon, and thinking about more. We need credible deterrence, and it’s clear we don’t have it at 2%. We should never allow ourselves to drop below 2.5% again even in peacetime.
I think we need an extra £20 billion per year for a decade to get back on track to see worthwhile change. And a huge restructuring.
I’m less certain of the need for a huge restructuring. It’s crossed my mind that the abolition of the Navy, Air Force and Army and the creation of a single multi-domain service might have certain advantages, but I worry that politicians will use the idea to reduce the number of personnel even more.
Yes. Thatcher liked the khaki election results. It went from 4.8% in 81 to 5.5% in 84
The big drop came from around low 4% at end of 80s, when the end of cold war cuts really came on, and it was 2.5% 10 years later
Defence like law and order has in recent decades always done better under Labour than the Conservative Party. Some may disagree but one only has to look at the direction of travel since 2010. So with that being the case I look forward to some noticeable uplifts post the next election.