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Better to concentrate on the known facts than worry about rumours in the press. The article in The Telegraph also reclassified the T31 frigates as a second batch of T26s…

Orders for the T26/T31 were repeatedly delayed for years. But ships age regardless of politics and now we are seeing the result, T23s too old for service and their replacements still under construction and years away from service. It’s going to lead to a numbers gap in escorts for years to come.

The LPDs being mothballed would not be surprising. The RN has previously announced the RM is being reconfigured as a raiding force, though the question is from what ships. As for using LPDs for large, opposed beach landings, by the army, that’s unlikely to ever be considered again. The casualty rates would be far too high to be politically and publicly acceptable in these media-rich days.

Meanwhile we are in a period of instability comparable to the mid-1930s, and we know how that went.

Sooner we get NSM fitted to T45s and T23s, and Sea Ceptor to the T45s the better. Uparming all existing combatants should be the highest priority.

Last edited 4 months ago by Sean

The T31 as a ‘second batch of T26’ was indeed the financial solution . Not enough money/BAE too expensive so instead of a second batch of T26 being ordered to was replace it with the new T31.
So the only issue is a phase is missing – “instead of”


We all know the history, well everyone except The Telegraph which at no point mentions the T31.
Wrong again, but you have a disconnect with facts, as demonstrated by your climate change conspiracy theory.

Last edited 4 months ago by Sean

Moderation Policy.
Please try to stick to the subject matter of the article you are commenting on and above all, avoid personal attacks, however much you disagree. 


You’re wrong in your explanation of the error in The Telegraph, you’re wrong about climate change denial. Not my problem you have issues with facts.


Moderation Policy.

“Please try to stick to the subject matter of the article you are commenting on and above all, avoid personal attacks, however much you disagree. 

Last edited 4 months ago by Duker

Sad BAE quoted high price for 1st batch of T26 or we could have had 1 or 2 more. They really should have upgraded the yard but seemed to lose interest in building frigates.
Silver lining hopefully are the type 31’s and a second yard to build T32’s. We are definitely going to need all we can get and give recruits a worthwhile future in the RN.
Demographics aren’t looking good. Support families from a traditional background.

Nick Brough

Where is the additional cash to pay for this coming from. There is no magic money tree.

John Davies

yes there is a money tree.. its called ‘printing’ .. any thoughts of austerity are purely idealogical control from disgraceful politicians who should have been removed from navy planning decades ago.

Rob Cameron

“This demands capable subject matter experts”. It’s been a long time since I last looked at this but does the RN still insist that the ‘top’ jobs must be filled by Warfare Branch officers? A lot of the infrastructure being discussed is ‘engineering’. AE, ME and WE officers are involved in project management roles throughout their careers. If they aren’t being considered for top roles then they should be.

Anonymous coward

Check out Jonathan Woodcock (OBE etc) he retired in the last 5 years and was 2SL and also a Marine Engineer, so it has started to change. Also a lot more WAFUs getting higher up and the ones I’ve served with have been excellent.


Maybe its like the British Army , who once they get to Colonel rank drop their previous ‘corps’ badge or affiliation ‘family’ and become generic higher staff officer.


Excellent article.. Here’s my pitch in on why there’s a problem: successive governments over the last 33 years running down the UK’s military making fit to be a component of the eu defence force; successive military brass who have been politicised, seduced by medals and achieving rank and placement; a school system not fit for the 21st Century turning out too few educated people (only propagandised drones); a recruiting process that lacks a personal touch, i.e. Careers offices manned by the military; negative coverage of the military by the MSM; core potential recruits being messaged they are not wanted; desperate recruit training policies and conduct that fails to inspire and test, requires only mediocrity and attendance (I’ve seen it first hand at Collingwood and through family who are fighting it as instructors!); low morale across all services (this is messaged on leave, word gets about); messaging about depression and ‘woe me’ – we are turning into a country of fan knees and victims!
I’m 62, I’d rejoin the Navy tomorrow!


“only propagandised drones”

The UK education system undoubtedly has it’s issues, mainly due to a decade of underfunding, but I think you might be the one “propagandised” but about the education of young people.

Rose Compass

Just out of curiosity, was it underfunding that led you to use ‘it’s’ – a contraction of ‘it is’ – rather than ‘its’, the possessive pronoun applicable in that statement? You see, in the 1960s and 1970s we had the sort of education which enabled us to avoid gaffes like that. I was one of 44 kids in the infant school class on the council estate I grew up on. Then to comprehensives for O Levels and A Levels before university. In those days state education was rooted in a credo and an ethic, not a bottomless pit of money. I think a spell in detention and some grammar revision is in order for you young Minnsey! By the way, the degree was International Politics and Strategic Studies, which is why you’ll occasionally find me here.

Rose Compass

NB I might well have said ‘…which is why you’ll find me here, occasionally’!

Jason Hartley

Nicely put .


The UK education system undoubtedly has it’s issues, mainly due to a decade of underfunding

That is what a propagandist would say. Money, money money.


Nope. Wil is exactly right.

Jason Hartley

Funding isn’t the educational problem it’s the direction it’s gone in it’s practice . Like much else government run .

Anonymous coward

Of course you would, like so many who slate the RN of today. Would you be bringing the toxic sexism, alcoholism and bullying back with you?


Say what you will about the “toxic sexism, alcoholism, and bullying”, but the its certainly the case that the fleet had fewer issues back then. I’m certainly not defending it, but the reality would seem to be that a force with better funding and rough edges attracts more recruits than one that panders and scrapes by


That depends, WW2 was won with “toxic sexism, alcoholism and bullying” per your own words if with none of that there is no will to fight a war, then it is the End.


Lack of man power is causing the disbandment of HMS Westminster and even another T23. Then, improving the payment (or bonus or operation incentive), correcting the entrance system is the two top-priorities to do now.

Immediate and clear (re)action to mitigate the problem, is the thing to do now. And, as all the RN/RFA members know the problem, such action is the direct means to improve the morale, not pretending “larger navy”.

1: Ordering T32 is not needed at all. It is “for future”.

2: Do not waste time by thinking of adding Mk.41 VLS to the first three T31. Make them come into service as fast as possible to improve the situation, is the highest priority. If with 24 CAMM and 8 NSM, it is already “good enough”. Any “up-arming” is for future (as T32 is). If RN double-crew the first thee T31s by rotating 6 crew teams (each with 90 souls), then the frigate tension is greatly relaxed. Then, RN can think of how to arm the remaining two hulls. Any up-arming can be retro-fitted to the first three later in mid-2030s.

3: Do not waste time by thinking of up arming the first ~five T26s. RN needs 5 active ASW frigates, at minimum, as soon as possible. Up-arming or improving shall be considered starting from the last three hulls, and any up-arming can be retro-fitted to the first five later in late-2030s.

4: Although just a personal (un-professional) proposal, but I think when QLNZ goes in to refit, RN shall better use a half (400) of her crew to “over-man” PoW (like River B2), to enable her longer activity. This will also help maintaining their skill. Another half can go into HMS Bulwark (needing 300). When PoW goes into refit, following QLNZ, the same can be applied. When both CVs ended their long-refits (may be around 2028?), then HMS Bulwark can go into extended readiness, waiting for the 1st MRSS to some.

Last edited 4 months ago by donald_of_tokyo
Anonymous coward

On your final point, it wouldn’t work. You are assuming that QNLZ and PWLS are fully manned now….. They have gaps. Also, that the ships companies of these Portsmouth based ships would be happy going to Plymouth on a platform that is very different. And yes, you could ‘make’ people do it, but it only adds to the resentment and push factors…… Its the sort of thing that’s been happening for years



I guess you are NOT AGAINST my proposal for “over manning” PoW (and then QNLZ) to keep training them, as well as increasing the availability of the remaining carrier?

No big objection on using them for Bulwark being “not easy”. But anyway leaving these crew without a ship for long period will mean RN will simply lose them, I’m afraid? And, if, as you said, the carrier has “gaps”, the crews who will go to Plymouth is not so many, say 100? RN may need to cut a frigate (200) to make up the 325 crew for the Bulwark, but do not need to cut two frigates?


The frigates aren’t being cut because of a lack of crew. Westminster is unsaveable, if (that’s a big if) Argyll is being cut it’s because something has cropped up in her LIFEX that puts her in a similar position to Westminsyer.

Westminster is laid up uncrewed, Argyll has been in LIFEX for a while and is uncrewed as well. Cutting them frees up exactly 0 crew.

Bulkwark has enough crew, cutting it frees up ~250 according to the RN.

Mark P

I’m by no means an expert but I’m sure I read somewhere that although HMS Westminster is laid up all the while she is on paper (in the fleet) she still has a skeleton crew doing bride watch keeping ect, which I grant you seems a bit odd but that’s my understanding. I think it would be no more than single figures? I’m happy to be corrected on this.


You are correct, it’s a very small amount though which is why I didn’t bother mentioning it, not a full frigate crew like the person I had replied to suggested.

Generally RN ships laid up like that will have a skeleton crew if they remain in the fleet.


Frigates are operated in rotation. Now HMS Westminster and Argyll have no crew because their crew has moved to other frigates which came back from long-refit/LIFEX (the “10 active escort” is kept as such).

Disbanding these 2 frigates means, RN will lack the two hulls when they were planned to come back (at around 2025) and accept the crew from “frigates which needs long refit from 2025-“.

So, what the original article was saying is exactly as it is. The crew from “frigates which needs long refit from 2025-” will be used for T26 frigates. As HMS Glasgow will be starting shipbuilders’ trial around late 2025, and delivered to RN around late 2026 (with some delay possible), RN needs her full crew by early 2026.

Yes Glasgow will be flying white ensign from 2026-2027. But, as the RN’s own “the first of class ship trail” continues, she won’t be operational until 2028 or so.

Last edited 4 months ago by donald_of_tokyo

Sadly this all points to a complete disconnect between the armed forces leadership and their political masters.

The admiralty see us not having enough sailors as a sign that recruitment and retention has to be addressed and we need more money and updated ships to improve morale and decrease the burden with better automation. After all, the crew of a Type-26 and Type-31 is only about 75 more than a type-23 on it’s own.
When we still had thirteen Type-23 frigates that was notionally 2405 Officers and ratings. To crew the new 8 Type-26s and 5 type-31s would require about 1780 Officers and ratings. Leaving us more than enough extra crew to back fill a number of other holes or almost have enough crew to man a third aircraft carrier.
But the new ships are late and the politicians won’t release the money to keep the old ones running causing the morale crisis we have and the terrible retention we witnessing.

On the flip side

The politicians see this as meaning we have too many ships and isn’t it great that they can direct the money to some new pet project that is sure to get them re-elected next time. I wonder how many of them have also factored in the cost to the school system when we have to learn Russian or Mandarin.


You last sentence is the key currently “spending big” isn’t possible. Until HMG increases the defence budget above 2% of GDP things will be very tight, inter service fighting over resources will be rife and difficult choices between equipment and personnel costs will be normal. Either the budget has to go up or losses of whole capabilities are needed to balance the situation.
With an election due in 3-12 months and a government hell bent on tax cuts and news management I don’t see much beyond coping measures before the next (80% chance) Labour government gets round to considering defence issues. This isn’t likely before late 25/26.


What do you think the chances are that Labour has any interest in rectifying the defence funding issue though? I confess to leaning right politically, but I’m also not going to bash Labour for the sake of it. However, I’ve not seen a single constructive comment on the issue beyond the typical “The Tories have let our armed forces down, Labour would do better!”

Unless someone starts actively killing British personnel, I can’t see anything changing without some other radical societal or political shift across the board.

Phillip Johnson

A depressing post from someone who normally paints the best picture possible!

Anonymous coward

You’re right, navy lookout does paint things in the best light, but they are also one of the most accurate. In this, they are most definitely being accurate.

Peter S

Regrettably, whatever the final outcome of these latest rumours, the fantasy of the IR with its tilt to the Pacific and ambition for a CSG and 2 LSGs has been harshly exposed.
Whilst politicians bear the responsibility for years of inadequate funding, it is the navy leadership that has failed to come to terms with the second tier status of the RN and have pushed hard for a carrier force whose cost has led to cancellations and delays across the rest of the fleet.
They are still overbidding- they included in the latest 10 year plan full costs not just of replacements for existing ships but for additional ones, T32 and MRSS. These will need additional manpower yet it seems the RN cannot crew its current much diminished fleet.
Collectively, a top heavy leadership seems to have mismanaged its organisation. It is not difficult to imagine what the navy might now look like had better decisions been made.


Agreed. We really can’t blame politicians for asking for committments when the military leadership always says “Oh Yes!”. Bet no Navy leadership said “Sorry, we can’t send another ship to the Red Sea because we are having to manage the decline in remaining life of an aging fleet of escorts”.

At some point there has to be an assessment of what the military will do, and by extension what it will not do. Poland has done this – they decided the mission is to prevent an invasion, so buy lots of tanks and zero aircraft carriers. The UK meanwhile is trying to be the USA and have all capabilities everywhere but without the massive spending needed for this.


The elephant in the room is the jab; lots of personnel are in ill-health like elsewhere in the general population. I am afraid that the problem is about to become much, much worse.


Could you please take your rubbish off to the parts of the internet where the tin foil hat types congregate and not pollute this forum with your nonsense!


ATH, if you knew who I was you would apologise for that. It’s a car crash.

Toby J

Don’t beat about the bush, if you want to intimidate people then tell them who you are. He doesn’t have to apologise for anything.


who are you? I’m intrigued now…


No because you’re nobody.
Conspiracy theorists tend to be of low educational attainment, with low socioeconomic status, and bitterness at their sad little lives. Deluding themselves that they have some “secret knowledge” that the general population doesn’t have gives them a false superiority and a belief they have a control of their lives that they otherwise don’t.

Nick Brough

You should try looking at the actual data rather than lumping bit into “conspiracy theory” land. 100,000 more UK citizens than on average have died in 2022 and 2023 without any official cause for the excess. Waiting lists are the largest ever and the cost of health service provision is rising rapidly as the 1.5 million employees (out of around 35 million in the UK who arent permanently on benefits) are getting 10 to 20 % pay rises on the threat of strikes.


Oh dear, oh dear oh dear, as sad posts go that one is too sad, no mate no mark! Get out, dancing clobber on and meet some other people, interact with humans, it’s good for you.

Wasp snorter

Tell us then, who are you, mysterious drivel agent.

Anonymous coward

You’re a joke regardless of who you think you are. A jab making ‘lots of personnel’ ill……. Very few people are ill, go and give your head a wobble!


The US Army not immune to manpower probs either, here inviting those that were “let go” due to jab refusal, to come back…

Captian America

Does that help help the Royal Navy?


In reality, lots of personnel in the RN and the general population are not ill-health due to be being vaccinated. But being a conspiracy theorist you don’t live in reality, you live in conspiracy theory social media echo chambers where you just tell each other this is the case.

Oh, and the world isn’t flat either.

Last edited 4 months ago by Sean

Give yourself a tea break tin foil!


I must admit, I can’t understand why Argyll isn’t given Westminster’s sonars and use made of the extra life it’s already been given to early decommission Northumberland or Kent (if either turns out to be in the same state as Westminster, and if both are okay, there’s still Richmond that might be irreperable). Even without QE crew, there should be enough crew including sonar specialists from Northumberland and Kent to man an upgraded Argyll. Iron Duke is fine as a GP, and needs to go to the Middle East.

Last edited 4 months ago by Jon

This sounds like a fair decent idea?

A GP T23 will need to replace HMS Lancaster next year when she is due to return for the Gulf when I recon she will be axed too!


Yes. It was announced as a three year deployment and there are no current plans to extend its life further. She came out of refit in May 2020 and so should ideally be canned by May 2025. There seems to have been some ships extended without refit for up to an extra year; however, given its age at 35, I think a three year deployment is as much as we can reasonably ask of Lancaster. Isn’t it being dual crewed like Montrose was? I imagine they’ll do the same to Iron Duke up to 2028.


Writing this makes me wonder. Didn’t we pay for a two year trial of the Peregrine drone on Lancaster starting this year? Does not compute!


Yeah that’s spot on to what I was thinking. Like Montrose, Lancaster will be worked hard with a dual crew and will be hard pushed to last any longer than 2025. I’m not certain about the details on the peregrine trials but they need to be carried out somewhere so it seems logical to do them in a hotspot and get a proper work out, lessons learned should be transferable to other platforms.


Yes. Of course it was specified as transferable. I had forgotten.

“The life expectancy of the contract is 2 years from IOC with an anticipated IOC in Q1 2024 and an option for it to be extended by up to a further 2 years. However, the software and hardware used to integrate FTUAS data into the Type 23 CMS will remain in situ with the option for it to also be used on other platforms (or if FTUAS is taken up as a core capability). The software delivered will remain an enduring element of the BAES CMS-1 product family, the contract specifies.”

Last edited 4 months ago by Jon

My god that statement about her being 35 just hit home. When I joined my first ship, HMS Hermione in 84, she had been “mid-life updated” to an Exocet-Sea Wolf Leander, Integrated Communications System (ICS)3 in the MCO, type 670 jammer etc. But she was old, a steam powered ship. We were getting all three batches of T22, by the time I left in early 90’s the T23’s were being commissioned at pace…. it all looked good! Hermione was 23 years old when decommissioned, and now we are talking about 35 year old T23’s!! WTF…..


If this is even half true these problems could not have come at a worse time. We are truly sailing into peril here. The Chinese are clearly lining up for Taiwan and will most definitely not be taking the view that opposed amphibious landings will never happen again! We have been here before in our history and only just survived. We need urgent action now to rectify this and the economy in order to pay for it.

Anonymous coward

I think you are right about China and Taiwan, it’s the next most likely thing while everyone is busy with Ukraine and Israel.
And sadly the article here is extremely accurate with regards to the state of manpower within the RN


It’s a shame that we lack a system of long-term funding for our Navy and all our armed forces. Italy, I believe, have a system where the military budget is enshrined by law. For all of my life, it has been one continual military retrenchment to a point where we have very little hardware worthy of (sustained) combat. Politicians cannot be trusted to protect this nation.


Enshrining something in law is in reality a fiction. Anything a government can pass a law about they can just as easily repeal or modify the law.

Ryan Ramsey

This is a really good article and an accurate summary. There are some long-term issues that have never been dealt with on the people front – standards and conditions of service, which I think have deteriorated over the last 15 years. The fact the people have not been ‘the most important asset’ – in fact in many cases it’s been the complete opposite – people fill the gap in capability and leadership only care about meeting operational capability, rather than saying ‘no – we can’t do this’. The numbers of people leaving has never been arrested, primarily because there is no bargaining methodology.


This is not a new scenario I fear. It takes a war to concentrate the minds unfortunately. If that should happen who would we turn to for assistance, especially if there is a second term of Trump who is wanting to look after the US before his allies….??


Fortunately safeguards are being put in place in case Trumpy gets a second term


If this is the Ryan Ramsey who had a distinguished career in the submarine service, including as Perisher Teacher, this is a comment from exactly the kind of person the RN should be trying to retain as a senior leader. If so, it makes the comment all the more damning.


Without going into all the detail, across all the branches, recruitment seems to be an issue and there have been some reports out that the private firm responsible wasn’t processing applications fast enough to get the people signed up. It’s not even a problem with people not wanting to do the job, it’s that our own systems are so poor we aren’t giving them an opportunity.
Some serious overhaul of this needs to be done, along with procurement.
But most of all, the government needs to decide how they want the military to support Britain’s position in the world and fund them accordingly.


Time to dig the “Save the Royal Navy” branding back out?


Sadly I was thinking it has proven to be rather premature to change the name of this great outlet for RN news.


Good article. Laying out the facts without hyperbole. I’m just too jaded and cynical to trust most of these ‘newspaper’ stories. Two things are undeniable to me. We are facing the consequences of what will be almost 25 years of not a single frigate being commissioned, Whether too spend 10’s of millions to squeeze a couple more years of life out of wornout ships or accept a serious gap in operational capability. The other and even more serious issue of the self inflicted haemorrhaging wound of recruitment. Why has recruitment been allowed to get to this state ? Who or what is the obstacle to dealing with it ? What is being done to resolve the problems ? More money will always help particulary retention but on recruitment the problems seem to lie on a system that is a complete shambles. It feels like a pre budget appeal for more money from the treasury something as old as time. So i’m pessimistic but not anymore than I was pre the stories in the press. What would change my mind would be if Bulwark isn’t brought back into service. In that case for the first time in a long time I am too optimistic. Time will tell.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

It’s broken. But unfixable within the current political paradigm. Simple at that.

Anonymous coward

Another chief and myself were having a very frank discussion in the mess about a year ago. We came to the conclusion that it’s so broken we couldn’t even see a solution to fix it – specifically the ME branch.
A ‘New Operating Model’ is being pushed out, but honestly, it’s not going to work. Retention is the biggest problem and no one has a solution that will work for that!


Marine Engineering is seen as a dying long term career. Its probably only seen as a stepping stone to better paid shore jobs in aviation turbines and large diesels.

Anonymous coward

Marine engineering is probably the most versatile of all the trades, and once people are trained and with a bit of experience behind them, can move into just about any field……aviation turbines and big diesels is just a tiny bit. Arguably we have very little experience with true aviation turbines, and certainly the way aviation works…… Tool control is a swear word!
However with refrigeration, High Voltage, Control System, Network (industrial ethernet rather than full data center), power systems, fluid systems, hydraulics, cranes, lifts, pumps and many many other disciplines, there are so many employment opportunities out there.

Why am I still doing it? Ultimately I love it, but I am in a minority….. Many see it as a stepping stone, but where else do I get to play god so easily?! ????

Wasp snorter

Good, stay where you are, the RN needs you.


It is not the political paradigm, politics are downstream from culture.
It is simple. There is no culture to sustain Royal Navy a current level.


It seems that I have had two comments removed. Now, either it’s my web browser or my comments are being removed. The first one was just saying how the current government is bad for morale and recruitment, and the second mentioned that the first comment was deleted.

Supportive Bloke

“ The original failure to fit S2087 to all of the frigates is typical of the corner-cutting and hollowing out of the austerity navy”

Could it have had something to do with the end of the Cold War and T22 still being in service?

The T23 GP was from early days not a 2010 effort.

Making T23 GP -> ASW is not so easy as there was hull strengthening work done of the ASW ones. I don’t know if that was mapped across to the GP ones.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

I think 2087 could be fitted to all T23 hulls. Go ahead for 16 sets was given in January 2001-ish if I remember.

The design started as a TAS tug.

Last edited 4 months ago by The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Just to on youtube and get a different view from Jeff Taylor, the guy with a bold head and deaglo moustache. wef, eu and pesco….


Hello Jeff, trying to get more people to view your conspiracy theories I see.
A true conspiracy grifter in action.

Anonymous coward

As yes, random YouTube channels are definitely a valid source for an exercise in critical thinking!
Or would you just like us all to swallow a non truth because someone tries to phrase it in a way that sounds clever to the under educated?


Wow a YouTube random, got to be gen!


Until some radical approaches are taken with the MOD Budget then all the bright ideas are just moving deck chairs around the Titanic. It is easy enough for people to say the MOD needs more money and not many would disagree, but where does the money come from? Increase taxes? Hardly a Conservative thing, or slash funding for other public services? Are you willing to take billions out of the NHS budget? Education? Maybe it is time to think differently about the budget, pensions are calculated as part of that 2% figure, maybe they shouldn’t, but does that really fix the problems? Maybe it is time to think the unthinkable and accept we can’t do everything and maybe it is time to give up the nuclear deterrent. Not ideal in the current unstable world, but does the single at sea boat really contribute that much to NATO? It would free up a sizable chunk of cash to do the conventional warfare stuff properly.
The Jam tomorrow argument is beyond thin now. The budget has some big commitments coming up, with little idea where the funding is coming from. AUKUS submarine (SSN-A) programme, Tempest. Then there is existing programmes such as the dreadnaughts and new warheads. We are assuming they can be delivered on time and on budget which has to be a huge assumption considering the MOD track record.
This is ignoring the dire budget needs of the Army and the Airforce, I fail to see how we resolve the problems without radical maybe even unthinkable changes

John A Brabyn

Quite right the country’s commitment to defense needs to be revisited. I do think Boris was more into that than the current encumbent as well as the likely Labour successor. Neither of th latter seem to realize we are effectively in a state of war. and even if I am exaggerating, we have seen this movie so many times before with Britain disarming and so belatedly getting the idea that maybe that wasn’t wise. I just hope the latter part of that sentence comes about.


Crisis? what crisis?


When I was in the mob late 70s to mid 80s we had 78 surface ships. Never had any problems staffing then or getting qualified leadership. It ran like a well oiled machine. I was a very small cog but my three sea drafts went like clockwork. Literally thousands upon thousands of people coordinated like a ballet. We were very proud and very professional and very much loyal to our beloved Britain. That has all changed now. Its every man for himself. A shocking downturn in national pride and capability. Britain is on the downturn and has been for years. Immigrants are prioritized over indigenous Britons. Truth is, countries and their unique culture are more about a collection of shared ideas, ideals and national identity. Ideas forged long ago on what it means to be British.Ideas that are championed and supported decade in and decade out. But now things have changed. Britain and its people are questioning the very idea of Britain.Gen z in particular do not feel British. They feel European or say they are “global citizens.” Nationalism is now a dirty word. Exceptionalism too. How dare we say we are better than (country here). Gen Z are not joining like we did, with pride in our hearts and a willingness to fight and die for the country. It’s over for the UK or very close to it.


Sadly I have disagree with your view of manning in the 70s and 80s. A quick trip to the National Archives and you’ll discover that in the the early 1970s RN manning was in crisis – Ship’s Captains were being told they had to choose which weapons system or Comms system they wanted – Mk 6, Sea Cat etc as operators/maintainers were in such short supply. In 1975 the Navy Board discussed applying to the Government for a forced recruiting system (like the US “Draft” for Vietnam) but decided that might be going a bit too far. The introduction of the military salary and a VERY intensive recruiting drive in the late 70s stabilised things (I know, ‘cos it prompted me to sign up) – but post-Falklands the RN lost a lot of good people (I’ve had my war – goodbye) and by 1984 was desperate to get (as then designated) GL(X) officers – a considerable number of RNR GL(X) (from MCM10) and MN officers on 2 yr SSC were tried as a temporary solution. It’s fair to say that RN (RAF and Army) manpower and recruiting has been a recurring problem for the last 50 years (in 1949 FO Far East was lamenting that sailors didn’t want to do 3 yrs o’seas unaccompanied – they wanted to see their wives and kids (!) and that was driving requests for premature release from service – he felt it was a definite deterioration in RN ethos and culture); you could also say the same about procurement! Slightly off topic – but an equally good read in the archives – is the post WW2 argument about the abolition of WO and the long convoluted path back, via FCPO.


When I was in the mob late 70s to mid 80s we had 78 surface ships. Never had any problems staffing them or getting qualified top shelf leadership. It ran like a well oiled machine. I was a very small cog but my three sea drafts went like clockwork. Literally thousands upon thousands of people coordinated like a ballet. We were very proud and very professional and very much loyal to our beloved Britain. That has all changed now. Its every man for himself. A shocking downturn in national pride and capability. Britain is on the downturn and has been for years. Immigrants are prioritized over indigenous Britons. Countries and their unique culture are more about a collection of shared ideas, ideals and national identity. Ideas forged long ago on what it means to be British.Ideas that are championed and supported decade in and decade out. But you have to agree with those ideas.

But now things have changed. Britain and its people are questioning the very idea of Britain.Gen z in particular do not feel British. They feel European or say they are “global citizens.” Whatever that means. Nationalism is now a dirty word. Exceptionalism too. How dare we say we are better than (country here)? “We are no better than Angola.” Thats how Gen Z feels. And Gen Z are not joining the forces like we did, with pride in our hearts and a willingness to fight and die for the country.

It’s over for the UK or very close to it.

John A Brabyn

Rob I see what you are saying, it does seem a lot like that, but as an optimist I really hope it isn’t true!!

As time goes on hopefully people will start to realize what a good inflence Britain and its empire has been on the world in general. And on a more particular note, we gave our all to beat the Sausage Eaters who were bent on rather evil goals at the time. We risked and lost the Empire in that effort, but we won the war.

Currently Britain kinda stands alone again but its politicians are unfortunately like those everywhere, mostly feckless.

I do think it is admirable that Britain has supported Ukraine probly more than any other country has compared to its means, thanks mostly to Boris the optimist, who IMHO was kicked out on su=purious charges.

Unfortunately now Britain seems to have more technocratic politicians who are more concerned with the fictitious catastrophic climate change scenario, and seen ti have no plan for winning the next election which wil habd over once again to Labour, who also have no plan for the defense of the realm which surely must be the first priority of any government, otherwise why would governments exist.

Here’s hoping that Rishi or Sir Kier can save this situation, otherwise Britain is a lost cause.



“with the fictitious catastrophic climate change scenario”

someone else who doesn’t believe in science, guess you think the earth is flat too.

John A Brabyn

Thanks Sean you are entitled to your opinion but it is typical of the only thing I dislike about this website, the quick and frequent resort to personal insults in the comments. None of us is perfect but please let’s not insult each other.

I respect your view but please also realize I am a scientist by profession with a PhD in electrical engineering and dozens of publications, I am quite familiar with the biases involved in peer review and academic publications. Since electricity production methods are topical these days I have researched them a lot. Yes the climate is changing as always but not catastrophically and mainly because we are still emerging (thank Goodness) from the little ice age. Greatly increased human CO2 emissions are a fact, but their contribution to temp rise is still unproven, that is still a theory supported only by pre-programmed computer models designed to show it. But if you look back further in history atmospheric CO2 is mostly uncorrelated with temp rises and when they are correlated they usually lag temp rises not lead them, which makes sense, when it warms up, more CO is released fro the ocean which contains hundreds of times more than the atmosphere).

We are still near record lows in CO2 when you look at the history of life on earth, probably due to long term absoprtion by crustaceous creatures, and we need more of it not less to optimize plant growth (ask any greenhouse owner who injects it to 3 times the current level). We are extremely fortunate to be in an interglacial period of the current 2.6 million-year Pleistocene ice age (which incidentally is the coldest earth has been since the Kroo ice age that ended 250 million years ago). The pleistocene has so far gone through about 44 glaciations interspersed with shorter (10-15,000 year) warm perods. It is thought these are caused by the Milankovitch planetary cycles. We are currently about 12,000 years into the latest one, so we will soon be due for another glaciation. At the peak of the last one Boston was under a mile of ice, Montreal two miles, that would really be something to complain about. Before that, in the previous warm period about 120,000 years ago, we had significantly higher temps and sea levels than today in spite of lower CO2 levels. The theory that CO2 level is the control knob for temperature is frankly absurd, and the current overwhelming scientific-media-govt investment in climate alarmism does not make it true, any more than the “settled science” in the old days proved that the earth was flat.

My apologies because this is anyhow off topic, please return to regular programming.


Thanks for that well said view. CO2 is like H2O a wonderful thing without which we cant survive and in spite of all the cycles of climate change over the last few billion years here we are still.


“someone else who doesn’t believe in science, guess you think the earth is flat too.”

When you will be able to explain past climate changes i might trust your “science”.

Anonymous coward

You and Rob do raise some valid points and other worthy of debate. But you both let yourselves down when you use phrases such as “ficticious climate emergency” and rob with “giving priory to immigrants over indigenous Britain’s” phrases like these smack of right wing bias and prejudice. Who exactly are indigenous British? How far back should you go in generations to be considered British? And why should they have priority over anyone who has a need?
And in the climate front, which bit of the science are you struggling with? It’s been studied to death, peer reviewed research has demonstrated that we do need to do things differently. Please don’t confuse me with someone who would glue themselves to a road or go in an XR match! However, if you close your opinion using phrases like yours, then you are to the right of the argument what they are to the left of it. We can all disagree and discuss, but try not to used such closed phrases!

Wasp snorter

Not wanting to dampen your enthusiasm but can I say that you destroy your points with other non related nasty comments, sausage eaters may sound good on Blackadder but not here and the climate change is absolutely catastrophic, 2023 was the hottest on record and nothing fictitious about that. On your point re Ukraine, I agree but would say that it had been British foreign policy years before Boris to support them, Boris kinda made it his call and adopted it, but to give him some dues, he did bring more attention to it.


Three countries signed a treaty to guarantee Ukraine’s security – one of the signatories invaded them, twice. If we and the US had been serious about that treaty commitment we would have been doing a lot more since 2014. And yes, the cynic in me is pretty sure Boris was just maxing the PR opportunities because he knew how badly he was screwed at home….. 🙁


There was no guarantee of security.
read it , they are very weak and called ‘assurances’
It certainly was broken by Russia, but there was only assurances to ‘respect territorial integrity’ and go to the UN Security Council.

John A Brabyn

I do apologize for my non-pc comments about the sausage eaters, As an old guy I have to remember we are in the 21st century now and my schoolboy humor is no longer appropriate.

I do not apologize for objecting to the current ridiculously extreme climate change alarmism.


 climate change is absolutely catastrophic, 2023 was the hottest on record and nothing fictitious about that.

Record of what 10 years? What is the value of that?
Don’t tell me you can know the “earth temperature” – a concept that is already wacky – without knowing the temperature of oceans 2/3 of earth.

Tell me what is the current energy budget of earth and how much energy entered in earth system including sun and vulcanic vents and what part of energy budget departed to out atmosphere. Can you or anyone answer to that question?

You are so wrapped up in journalist bubble that you can’t think outside of it.


No, 7 of the top 10 hottest years, measured by average surface temperature, in the last 150 years have been in the last decade. That’s not something that can be explained away


Or it could simply be that every employer is having difficulty filling vacancies because there isn’t enough people to fill them?…

Wasp snorter

Exactly, If you can’t even fill well paid civvy street positions then the military will really struggle. Ageing population adds into this also. Recruiting process is also a problem, against this backdrop you need very creative methods and slick processes to get people signed up, we don’t have that. Good friend of my son tried to join as a Submariner, and met with a glacial and pathetic process, months in they even said ‘the submarine has problems and not ready yet’, he eventually quit the process after waiting so long and got a job outside the military.

Last edited 4 months ago by Wasp snorter
The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

They might be global citizens here. But if they go elsewhere they will find their globe’s has a greatly reduced diameter!

Mickey G

I joined up in the 60’s. No qualifications except a 25yd swimming certificate. The RN put me on the path to become a CEng and FIET. We need to emphasise the excellent engineering opportunities that the military can offer and of course up the pay for technical rates


Engineering needs to be more respected in society in general and as a great profession to get into. This will be a reciprocal benefit for military careers.

Anonymous coward

The forces are an excellent way into engineering, but sadly once some qualification is gained, we can’t retain due to the opportunities outside and the problems within!
Also, we have totally lost our way with training. What was once an amazing engineering school at HMS Sultan where people were taught to a very high standard and given a broad and detailed background in all engineering has become a watered down facsimile of its former self.
People are rushed through, given the barest minimum to ‘get a job done’ with no broader knowledge. The staff have got older and not been replaced, and become fed up and the students are let down by it all.
Sadly we are turning to civi colleges to try and claw back some return to the better days.

Some examples : the ME branch is about 2200 strong from AB to WO1.
Excluding the AB rate (as they are largely still in the training margin) and excluding those in the LH rate that are under training, downgraded or have their notice in, the ME branch is now gapped between 40 and 60% of the fleet and across the ranks!

This trend isn’t reversing, despite the many effort to direct recruit POs (terrible) and LHs (even worse) and bottom feeding is forcing LHs through so fast they have very little experience or wider engineering base.

We are rather hollowed out!

Last edited 4 months ago by Anonymous coward

I thinks its more in the *engineering* branch than that. If you include all the various streams when they last released the actual numbers in 2017 ( a secret now)
all numbers excluding officers ( which was then 1500)
General service Engineering 4200
Engineering Submarine 2000
Engineering Air 2800
Total 9000
although the numbers of ‘marine engineering technician’ ratings was around 2000 in general service and 1000 in submarines

Anonymous coward

Sorry I forgot to say that the figures above were for General Service Marine Engineers. I don’t know the numbers for the other disciplines if engineering in the RN as thay are not my day to day concern quite so much!
But 2200 MEGS with 40-60% gapping from LH to WO….. Often at the higher end of that figure.

Andrew Deacon

You’re flattering The Times Defence reports – at times RAF Luton is more reliable! Last week’s offerings had HMS Defender as a minehunter and claimed we still had 4 Bays which by sheer coincidence is the opening line in Wiki!The Armchair Admirals, of which there are many, make their feelings known in the comments!

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

RAF Luton is my favourite defence website.


America is having the same problem . All branches of its Armed Forces are below minimum requirements . Ever since Biden and the Democrat’s rioted , hammered away their Policy of Defunding Law Enforcement and the Military we see this … .


Biden and the Democrats never had a policy of defunding the military and law enforcement. Some local councils under Democrat control did, but they were a minuscule minority.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Government is not business.

You cannot apply the same models and methodologies to an armed service as those you would do to a factory for washing machines.

David Barry

Old idea.

Should I think of a platform as a Regiment then changing Regiment and cap badge would be very strange for me.

Where we have 22 year careers, officers can come and go but the Ship is our Regiment and we enlisted progress through her, learning personnel management and new skills.

Constantly chopping us from one Regiment (Ship) to another would have left me uncomfortable – I like to know the people I work with.

Which brings us home.

With the SSN and SSBN force co-located at Faslane, a sense of community can be inculcated and going on-board one platform and then another might be doable, but, switching home ports between postings, going from LPDs to clapped out frigates back to Carriers… does it really work for retention?

Last edited 4 months ago by David Barry
The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

It’s part of naval life.

The trouble isn’t sea drafts, it is a lack of shore drafts.



What is noticeably absent from this debate about what can – or cannot be afforded to defend this country is the subject what investigative journalism are always told to look out for first …..

= “to follow the money”

The simple fact of the matter is that the last set of MOD figures which gave the true costs of costs of running the RN/RFA fleet show that remarkably little money is spent on ships out at sea…..

These 2014/15 figures come from somebody’s FOI (Freedom of Information) request to the MOD several years ago (Please note that this has been published before, for example in UKDJ and is still on

Please note that these figures

Include all personal on board during deployments, plus all of the ship’s fuel, provisions and all miscellaneous Exclude the aviation (Ie helicopters and planes) Exclude the personnel who are ashore between deploymentsExclude all of the Royal Marines Excludes all shore bases, including MOD, RN and dockyards Excludes refits /upgrades
Running costs per annum per ship in that year were as follows:

Astute class £9.9 millionTrafalgar class £11.7 millionVanguard class £18.6 millionType 23 £11.7 millionType 45 £14.8 millionHMS Ocean £12.3 millionAlbion class £24 millionRiver class £3.5 millionHunt class £2.8 millionSandown class £3 millionEcho class £5.5 millionGleaner coastal survey ship £555,000HMS Scott £4.5 millionHMS Protector £7.4 millionWave class £9.1 millionLeaf class £5.7 millionRover class £7.2 millionFort Victoria £14.3 millionFort Austin class £11.8 millionBay class £8.2 millionRFA Argus £8.9 millionRFA Diligence £6.6 million
Obviously since 2014/15 there have been changes to the fleet: noticeably the addition of two big QE class carriers and the decommissioning of several of the ships listed above


However It does not take either rocket scientist nor a forensic accountant to realise that if you add up the budgets above and multiply by the numbers of ships – then deduct that off the total Navy budget = there is a case of MTG (“Mind The Gap”)


The remaining money goes into;

New ship building (i.e. so not very much) A quite astonishing amount into all of those shore establishments what is being spent on research and development (where the definition of “small change” seems to start at “a billion”)Wasted in the dockyards for repairing and refitting knackered old ships which are suffering from what any structural engineer or naval architect would decide is an very-obvious case of TC (Terminal Corrosion)
What the Navy needs to do next is to look long and hard at itself .. and start counting the pennies….. The simple fact of the matter is that if the Navy was looking at its own financial figures = it might understand where it is wasting money……

Regards Peter The Irate Taxpayer


You’re quoting 2014 figures in 2024, really?!?!

Jim Stonehouse

Sadly, the Royal Navy walked into this crisis with ‘eyes wide open’. There has been much criticism of politicians on this thread, but none of the Royal Navy’s leadership, which is where much of the blame must lie. There is a delicious irony in seeing Adm Lord West commenting in The Times since he is one of, if not the principal architect of the Royal Navy’s current parlous state.
The the 2003 ‘Delivering Security in a Changing World’ Defence Review reduced Type 45 destroyers from 12 to 8 (eventually 6) vessels; Type 23 frigates from 16 to 13 vessels; nuclear attack submarines (SSNs) from 12 to 8 boats and mine countermeasure vessels from 19 to 16. It also reduced navy manpower by 1,500 and Adm Lord West’s message to the Royal Navy was that  “We must continue the shift in emphasis away from measuring strength in terms of hull numbers and towards the delivery of military effects… I am confident that these changes will leave the Navy better organised and equipped to face the challenges of the future.” He knew then that the Navy couldn’t afford the future carriers and as importantly he knew that even if they were built the navy couldn’t provide the crews. I know this because I was working in the Fleet HQ at the time. The cunning plan was that if the Navy could get the carriers built, it would then be possible to argue for the additional people that would be needed to crew them. Adm West and his successors, didn’t account for the Army and the RAF playing hard ball and forcing the Navy to ‘consume its own smoke’ both on the increasing cost of the carriers and on the manpower needed to crew them. Since then and through successive reviews the Royal Navy Navy have been steadily salami slicing their way towards a more capable, more agile, better organised and equipped force, which is layman’s speech for smaller. Along the way and to protect the carriers they have sacrificed the Fleet Air Arm, the amphibious capability and made the Royal Marines more capable, more agile, better organised and equipped to face the challenges of the future.

Could this have been avoided? There’s no question that maintaining the force structure of the Royal Navy of the turn of the century was unsustainable, but I can also hear Adm Nick Hine when he was ACNS declaring that there was no limit to the extent that the Treasury could reduce the defence budget and that there was ‘no point’ in leadership pushing back. Really, isn’t that what leadership is about?

Peter S

Absolutely spot on. Governments of both main parties concluded in the late1960s that full sized up to date carriers(CVA01) would consume too big a slice of the naval budget and were less necessary given the end of empire. The affordable Invincibles were just about adequate for our needs. I remember thinking when the commitment to 2 huge carriers plus F35 was announced in 2003/4 that this would have to be paid for by serious cuts elsewhere. Zambellas, West and others are primarily responsible for the crisis the RN now faces.

A. Nonymous

I’m ex-RN and designed and delivered WE Training. Design was based on Operate, Maintain, Diagnose & repair to Field Engineer level (FdEng) of a T45 Destroyer as it’s mainly digital networked equipment. There was and still little to no T45 training equipment in Collingwood. The old kit would be the equivalent of HMS Victory versus Starship Enterprise. I blew this whistle to SFO and HSE and was effectively sacked. New training provider (Capita consortium) still delivers training without new kit, with Fujitsu (think Post Office Scandal) as a partner. The whole thing is a multi-billion pound scandal with individual and corporate fraud but nobody is interested it seems.

Nick Brough

The tone of this article is quite complacent. The RN has been in crisis for years now. Wallace, like every defence secretary for years, was a failure as is Govt defence policy as a whole. Wallace just had better PR with certain people in the press.

It seems the politicians will continue to write cheques that the MoD cant deliver and our readiness and capability will continue to decline. If we think about the Navy in the 2030’s what will we have. A force no larger than today’s maximum, with the T45’s reaching end of design life. Can we afford the £10 billion replacement programme today ? Even if we can, will we be able to pay enough to recruit the staff. Will we be able to maintain the UK shipyard base needed ?


Should have built the Black Swan Sloop of War in 2012 as proposed at that time. Ideally 16 of them, but even a dozen would greatly mitigate the massive problems of today’s RN. Which should also have had at least 8 Type 45s, not 6.

Folks, this is a national disgrace for the UK and a gross failure of its political class. Why do the British people put up with this? Asking as a wretched Colonial from Across The Pond.


If HMG was serious about maintaining a legitimate Royal Navy without spending itself into oblivion and reducing hull numbers still further, the solution is obvious. 1) Build around a dozen units of an updated version of the Black Swan sloop along with 5 or 6 AIP or advanced diesel-electric submarines. These would be far less expensive than the apex predators the Navy seems fixated on at present. The new vessels would all have very basic weapons and sensor kit but could be realistically upgraded throughout their service lives. 2) As this force is generated, reconstitute a Home Flotilla composed primarily of these units, with the understanding that they could deploy overseas if required. 3) Use the top end RN units—the CSG and the SSGNs—for blue water, AUKUS, and other power projection missions. 4) Continue with all other building projects as they are currently constituted.

There, done.

Last edited 4 months ago by Will
Chris De Pole

What i’d love to know is why are we struggling so much, when our nearest peer European Navy, the French Marine National has twice the number of destroyers/frigate, three Phibs, and a nuclear carrier.


My son applied for Navy Pilot 4 years ago .He has done numerous on line assessments medicals fitness tests and passed all of them but they keep moving the goal posts. .He has finally been placed on a reserve list but if he is not recruited in May intake he will be too old to commence training . Hes just attended Sandhurst initial officer selection. Sadly I feel the Navy’s Loss will be the Army’s gain.The Navy has only recruited two pilots in two years, the system is broken. No instructors to train new pilots ,no aircraft to train them on.ThePrince of Wales sailed last week with 2 F35s onboard .We are no longer a Great Britain with The finest Navy in The World ????