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Wait, Portsmouth was actually considered for closure? First I’ve heard of it, how on Earth would that have even worked?

Devonport or Faslane, I’d understand being considered (although closing either would’ve been mad), but in 2010 (and today) Portsmouth was easily the most heavily used of the bases. Biggest flotilla, most important facilities, most historic value.


Great article, very interesting.

Also it is easy to just look at the glittering achievements which are the carriers, and overlook all the superb enablers such as these that make them actually operational and useful, which exist in the background out of the limelight, and were doubtless the results of a lot of expertise, hard work, and battles over need and money.

Well done to all responsible parties.


Back in the noughties, there was a school of thought that the Naval Estate was vastly oversized for what it had to support – which was interpreted as needing only two naval bases instead of three. Portsmouth was seen as particularly vulnerable – partly because it was not a nuclear support facility, but largely because large chunks of the base (the older heritage parts to the southeast) were seen as very expensive to maintain – and indeed had low occupancy. They were difficult to rent out as well, partly due to security access requirements and partly because commercial insurers convinced themselves there was a huge risk of ships exploding and hiked premiums accordingly.

One only needed to look at the size of the ships on the orderbook, the available wharf space at Guzz (and associated difficulties getting in) to realise that the idea of shutting Portsmouth was utter nonsense. But actually articulating that argument to the satisfaction of HMT took some time and effort. That was when every penny not going on Herrick needed justifying to the Nth degree.

The pendulum briefly swung back the other way and Guzz was looking a bit iffy after the decision to base the SSN at Faslane, the assumed redundancy of nuclear refits with core H and the poor state of the South and Morice yards. Thankfully sanity prevailed and the droggies, amphibs and tail-fitted frigates support relevant centres of expertise there.

Just goes to show how tight money was back then. Still is, but some of the more barking options are now discounted.


Given the massive running-down of the nuclear fleet during the 90s and 2000s, it’s almost comedic that a lack of nuclear facilities was seen as a bad thing.

At least we’ve reached a fairly logical distribution now. Having each base specialise in specific areas means less duplicated efforts.

Unless the absolutely mad suggestion that the paras and marines be unified into a single army commando unit goes through…


That was really interesting, and would love to see a full inventory of the 2,000 items collected during dredging. Thank you for the article.


Not a list but an interesting video air what had been found


Do all RN ships run at 60Hz or just the carriers?


Generally all shipping is 60Hz , its the same as US grid frequency, while the rest of the world grids mostly uses 50Hz. The RN was late to using AC power on ships , the post WW2 Daring class half the ships were still DC. It caused all sorts of problems for the carriers that were laid down in WW2 but lasted till the 70s. The modern equipment was all AC but the ships core systems werent.
There is now research into using DC again in shipping, one of the reasons is a ships multiple generators have to be harmonised at the 60Hz for AC , but a DC system means they can operate at variable frequency for for greater fuel efficiency at lower loads. I dont know if these options for commercial shipping could work for warships


Are your photo caption dates correct? The one dated July 19 is missing the big white building with a black roof that is shown in the photo dated March 19.


At last, the white knuckle journey to get these two sisters built as come to a close. The wilderness years between the demise of the Invincible Class and today, has been stressful for me. The prime cause of this fraught tension is due mainly to the sloppy machinery of government, and its irrational thought processes when it comes to military matters.

Unlike the critics of the new carriers, I have always believed we will bless the day the UK decided to build these vessels. Just as with the Hurrican and Spitfire, we will owe these two sisters an awful lot over the years of their service. Countless people will be saved from the ravages of climate change across the World, and the bullied and terrified protected by their actions. Sadly, they will be called to action and maybe stricken by the superweapons to come, but I’m sure they will endure, becoming the sweethearts of a grateful nation before they finally drop anchors.


When you look at the size of the cars in the foreground on the pictures you realise how huge Hms QE really is….Amazing

Supportive Bloke

I thought you needed a LONDON bus or an Olympic swimming pool to understand the size of the QEC?


Still no dry dock to take the carriers apart from The Firth of Forth. Work on it RN.