Subscribe
Notify of
guest

293 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
JimB

It’s not dig in. It’s dig out
On the other side of it. The ships company will no doubt have been overjoyed at being recalled!!

As usual the RN will step up as always. The can do attitude still exists which perhaps is part of the problem. The MOD expect it.

Wonder how many snivel servants were recalled to assist?

Last edited 14 days ago by JimB
Will

“Snivel servants”, heh! I’ll use that one going forward if it’s alright with you.

JimB

Please do

Expat Alien

Snivel serpents ??

Challenger

A good observation made between the need for maintenance/training/deployment cycles, but also the need to react to the unexpected and not just be on hand when it’s pre-planned months in advance. Hopefully PoW working up and deploying so quickly will successfully demonstrate the utility of having 2 carriers in service and able to respond at short notice.

Frank

Quite right, the merchant navy keep ships working for 350 + days per year

Watchkeeper

I do find it very strange that the 3 Phalanx CIWS systems were not fitted! This screams of someone trying to save a few beans at a massive loss in self-defence capability on a very obvious target. Had she been sent to the Red Sea instead….. Serious questions need to be asked about the penny-pinching habit of “fitting for, but not with” of systems that are critical to a ship’s capability. Yes there is talk of the missing cells being added to the T45s and the ABM capability to. But but are many years away. For the ABM upgrade the lead time is longer than WWII!

Peter

If either ship goes anywhere near the Red Sea then they should have both Phalanx CIWS and 30mm cannon fitted. The consequences of even a small drone hit on either vessel don’t bear thinking about. Penny wise pound foolish indeed !

Supportive Bloke

I agree.

This has to stop now ish – I can get that maintenance costs are reduced and lifetimes increased by keeping them in a warm dry warehouse but crews need to get used to them being onboard and part of the furniture.

I find it hard to understand why they were not simply craned into position and bolted down so the requisite work could be done underway and on the ranges.

Phalanx is mostly internally controlled. Ok it connects to CMS for handoff and cues.

The most obvious reason they are not fitted was so some idiot couldn’t decide to send a half worked up carrier on an active deployment?

On crewing for thus I’d be surprised if some experienced air hands from QNLZ were not on board PWLS to help train and share experience to tekd pressure off.

Jonathan

One only hopes some idiot does not send a half worked up carrier without CIWS to an active war zone.

what will be interesting to see is how quickly they consider POW worked up…the US may want someone to cover the Middle East in around 6 months.

You are correct they really need to stop this practice of not having self protection fitted….there are no friendly seas anymore….it’s possible for a group of nutters, with the deniable help of a nation state to arrange a drone attack anywhere really.

AlexS

“it’s possible for a group of nutters, with the deniable help of a nation state to arrange a drone attack anywhere really.”

Precisely and an yacht or a merchant can be used for propose of launching drones very far the Iran/Houthi territory. Even in Atlantic.

Supportive Bloke

Mr Green is an idiot………

Jonathan

Yes indeed

Monty

Phalanx and 30mm are kept ashore at Portsmouth from salt corrosion, lol.
Cannot even afford to maintain 3 miserable guns, lol.

Is like the Fire Service saying we put the wheels back on the engines when there is a fire.

Duker

Probably a service contract payments based on the number of hours operational- thus cocooned and dormant in a Portsmouth warehouse doesnt have the payments clock ticking

Jonno

Salt corrosion. Unbelievable. Excuses wont wash off a drone if or when it hits the deck park.

Duker

Yes. have they looked into this ?

351739229_741495237711283_1860214639517420341_n_480x4801
Sean

She’s going to an exercise not to the Red Sea. Had she been going there then they would undoubtedly have fitted Phalanx.
(They probably used the opportunity to get Babcock to perform maintenance on them.)

There is no “talk of the missing cells being added to the T45s” because there are no cells missing. There is a plan to increase the number of cells on the T45 to host Sea Ceptor, using the space reserved aboard for such expansion. Hope the RN continues to build its ships with excess space into which new weapons systems and capabilities can be fitted.

Last edited 13 days ago by Sean
James

Yeah, no problems. Until there is. Its a risk that is no longer acceptable. Plus the missing 30 mm cannons. Another risk.

Sean

If you’d kept up with Navy Lookout previous articles you’d know the very reason why the 30mm were not fitted.

Hugo

Got a link?

Supportive Bloke

As I said on UKDJ and above crew need to get used to these self protection bits being onboard.

They do need something to prevent some idiot trying to ram her with an explosive laden boat.

This is not a benign environment RN vessels are targets as soon by virtue of the duster.

So the CIWS (all 7) needs to be fitted pronto.

The reason I suspect it isn’t is to prevent PWLS being tasked to the Red Sea at the whim of Mr Green.

Sean

The reason why the CIWS hasn’t been fitted is stated in the article, there wasn’t time. Stop with the conspiracy theorising.

Albert

Yeah, no money and the whole of 2023 for time, try getting your head out of your bum.

Sean

You clearly don’t realise ad hominem show you’ve already lost the argument on facts.
She only returned to sea-trials in July, and was then involved in the UAV trials. Unless you wanted Phalanx to shoot at our American cousins?…

Donald

You don’t have an argument at all, only excuses.

Russia should attack a country like yours and American is not your cousin.

Go and play models at Southsea Canoe Lake.

Last edited 12 days ago by Donald
Toby J

“Like yours”
Where are you from, Donald? One of your namesakes seems to be making similar “Russia should attack them” claims, though I doubt he would refer to Southsea canoe lake.

Sean

That’s the kind of response I’d expect from a 5 year old in a schoolyard.

Last edited 6 days ago by Sean
Sean

Bum fixation? Are you another that hasn’t come to terms with his homosexuality yet?

Jonathan

I have to say I think the threat situation is changing a lot and basic self protection should be something fitted at all times to such an important national asset…some nutter driving a drone into it may not be lethal to the ship, but it would be embarrassing as hell and may lead to loss of life.,,really surface and airborne drones should be considered a risk in almost any ocean..and finally the transition from peace to war may come so swiftly that sailing back to port to fit CIW systems may be an issue.

Sean

If the Phalanx are fitted at all times then they will become unusable. They are removed for maintenance, upgrades and servicing by Babcock. How long would they remain useable without this?
QE was to have been the carrier for this exercise, but PoW has had to take over at very short notice. They could have fitted the Phalanx but been late to the exercise or sail without, they chose the latter.
It’s all there in the article.

As for a “nutter driving a drone” into it. The embarrassment will not be because CIWS is not fitted, the embarrassment will be that the entire carrier group that surrounds her failed to prevent it.

Last edited 13 days ago by Sean
Supportive Bloke

“ If the Phalanx are fitted at all times then they will become unusable. They are removed for maintenance, upgrades and servicing by Babcock. How long would they remain useable without this?”

They are rotated through a common stockpile which was fully upgraded some years ago.

I stand by my comment that CIWS is a baseline fit. You don’t leave the wall without baseline stuff.

Jonathan

Completely agree

Gavin Gordon

Ageed

Sean

Thankfully the RN thinks differently.

Frank

That’s why RN is so pathetic with people like you.

Jonno

A lot of people wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes with people of my fathers generation.

Jonno

Does no one consider covers for the Phalanx and 30mm?

Jon

Phalanx barrels are and have a cover, and barrels are sealed until you fire them, like any gun you will need to clean it.

Jon

Agreed but POWs 3 were removed when she went into drydock, then off to the USA was felt didn’t need to be refitted for a flight approval trials. POWs 3 then swapped with QE as carrier on duty, as they were fired on her tour, they are a service item, and there is a limited stock. no point having them lined in storage sat there as they will need servicing and paying Babcock to do nothing is provening very easy

Jonathan

Because the ships go into refit and maintenance cycles as well, so you take it down and maintain at the same time as you’re taking down the rest of the ships systems……you also have a maintenance pool.

Sean

Which is what happened. They were removed and sent to Babcock when PoW went to Rosyth for the propellor shaft fix.

Jonathan

Yes but when she was back on 30days notice they should have been put back….that’s pure save a penny….

Supportive Bloke

Precisely

It isn’t that big a deal bolting Phalanx onto positions already prepared for them.

The wiring etc is already there.

Jon

Phalanx is a stock system, RN does not hold enough for all, QE fired all hers on her tour, so if you need 3 where would they have come from. =POWs

AlexS

If the Phalanx are fitted at all times then they will become unusable.

Your sycophancy is outstanding.
If they are buy more. It is like saying that a T23, T26, T45, T31 that have or should much use than a carrier in todays RN should not go with their guns to the sea…

Last edited 12 days ago by AlexS
Joe

His idiocracy has reached a new level, might as well not have any guns. With this kind of people who needs a navy?

Will

Here’s a thought. How about buying and maintaining enough CIWS mounts that you can swap them out, 3 for 3, so the ship is fully defended at all times?

Jumbo

A ship of this type cannot deploy without full capabilities (Offensive and defensive) installed and operable. On the unlikely chance Russia invades Finland or worse still the Fulda gap or tosses a nuke first then troops behind that the RN may come under attack quickly from Russia missles. To quote Winston: When will the lesson be learned?

Sean

So you want the biggest exercise since the Cold War, involving over 90k servicemen from 32 countries should be scaled back or cancelled because the newly assigned flagship is going to be late while the Phalanx are fitted… just in case Putin decides to invade Finland, etc…

(The UK started shipping weapons to Ukraine in late 2021 because the Russians had already prepositioned supplies ahead of their Feb 2022 invasion. You don’t just decide to invade a country without making preparations.)

Last edited 13 days ago by Sean
Gavin Gordon

Whereas POW got as far as leaving the berth, even to the extent of recalled crew families having journey to the Round Tower, when the sailing was cancelled. Not getting at you Sean, or the RN as an ex, but we need to get an act together, as you truly know. Once, a week ago, was sufficient even for an exercise scenario.

James

Not only the CIWS but also the 4 x 30 mm cannons which were supposed to be fitted. The “fitting for but not with” is going to cause a massive problem at some point during a deployment. When was the last time anyone saw a Tide with its CIWS fitted.

ATH

When was a Tide seen in an other than low risk area without CIWS.

Supportive Bloke

Before things took this turn I was relaxed about this but not in present circumstances.

It is all very well saying it is risk assessed.

Not all risks are foreseeable.

Jonathan

I don’t think anywhere should be considered low risk anymore…a drone attack to could implement on any ocean..the world has become profoundly dangerous..not only that you could a very swift transition to war…strategic surprise is a thing ..and there is a very good chance any pacific war would start with strategic surprise..and the RN may not have a lot of time before it has to send whatever it has across the globe.

Sean

Read previous Navy Lookout articles as to why the 30mm are not fitted.

Anthony

I missed that. Do you have a link please?

Clive

The “Fall of Singapore Excuse” mentality – we were busy and it was too late, we had no time.

Duker

Yes. Especially since that time the Falklands was the opposite where all stops were pulled out and amazing feats were accomplished in a short time- when the will was there to do so.

Will

It was also a much bigger Royal Navy back then. That counts, too.

Supportive Bloke

I laughed when I got to the bit ‘There are some issues with ammunition degradation if left in on the mount for long periods ‘….sure it does.

Then don’t leave the ammunition in the 30mm keep it in the magazine.

It is a lot quicker to load a 30mm than to fly the whole gun and mount out to where a ship is, bolt it on, test it, calibrate it……

Anything could kick off anywhere. Even Israel got caught napping.

Using stuff we have got in stores in not silly in times of tension.

Gavin Gordon

OK, recall that thanks. Interesting comparison now, though, when we are lead to believe the the 30mm was used by Diamond to take out a drone in the Red Sea?
OK, recall that thanks. Interesting comparison now, though, when we are led to believe the the 30mm was used by Diamond to take out a drone in the Red Sea?

Last edited 12 days ago by Gavin Gordon
Supportive Bloke

Which j don’t agree with as the CMS has IFF and can therefore plot safe arcs.

Sean

IFF prevents friendly fire, it doesn’t prevent stray shots missing the enemy vessel and striking a friendly escort beyond.

Jon

Aren’t these the same 30mm guns as mounted on the escorts, which have never hit a friendly carrier, despite carriers being bigger than escorts?

I worry about the other reason: that they don’t need 30mm because they have Pahalanx. What if, just hypothetically you understand, a carrier had to leave in an emergency so quickly it didn’t have time to mount Phalanx? I know what you are going to say. That could never happen. nevertheless it worries me.

Let’s hope the current delay gives them enough to time to mount the Phalanx, even if they have to finish connecting them on the move.

Sean

Because escorts don’t fire towards the centre of a CSG, they fire outwards towards the threat.

Phalanx deals with air threats, 30mm are for seaborne threats.

I’m not saying a carrier could never leave for a conflict zone without Phalanx, I’m saying it definitely shouldn’t.

But leaving for an exercise is a different kettle of fish entirely.
The recent USS Gravely shows that CIWS is essential for all vessels.

Babcock is contracted to maintain 41 Phalanx, so there should be enough for all vessels plus spares:
Type 45 = 12
Albions = 4
Carriers = 6
Bays = 6
Tide = 8
Fort = 2

Tim

That’s 3 spares out of 41, and the Carriers should have 4 each so really it’s just 1 spare. This is why we don’t see a ship coming in and having a unit replaced by a newly maintained one because there aren’t enough spares.

They cost $13m each. I suggest 7 more giving 8 spare across 16 ships, plus 20 more later for the T26s.

Deep32

Actually mate no, there are more available going by this not ‘fitted until required’ line.
Fort – 2, in dock not currently req.
Albions – 4, as they are in various stages of maintenance/refit, not currently needed.
Tide – 4, as one is in long term refit, and another in a maintenance period.

Would hazard a guess and say that we currently have between 10-13 spares floating around in various stages of overhaul.

Also seems rather odd that the T45’s keep their Phalanx fitted when alongside, but the carriers don’t? Don’t know why they are not always available for the carriers, but its not down to none being ‘ready’ to be fitted, or the rubbish about ‘we didn’t have time’ to fit them. A lot of the maintenance on these guns is done by the ships staff themselves, so the reasons for their omission are somewhat unclear.

Deep32

Sorry, forgot to add another 6 from the refitting T45s that don’t require them at the moment. So, at the very least between 15/16 sets doing nothing, can’t all be being worked on, as some must have been in Babcocks hands for months if not longer.

Jon

i would assume as its Babcock 21 are in bits and waiting parts.

Jonno

That’s war matey. In the Pacific ships and aircraft were regularly hit Blue on Blue; you take risks or often more people die. My father told me of two fatal cases he saw or knew about.

Hackew

The point is that the carriers were designed to be fitted with 30mm – subsequent excuses for not fitting them dont ring true. Even less so after Diamond’s experience of using them in Red Sea. If 30mm were so useless why would the carriers have been designed to have them fitted ? Why would Ocean have had them fitted ? The two carriers are woefully provided for in terms of self-defence compared to other western carriers – and, just now, Prince of Wales has none at all.

Sean

No that’s negligence and incompetence being dismissed under the excuse of the ‘fog of war’.

Jon

also doesnt stop gravity, what goes up will come back down…

Jon

30mm auto were deleted due to how the RN escorts its carriers, a single wayward shell could sink a modern escort.

Spud 114

I agree. These carriers are supposed to be in a high state of readiness. Clearly they’re not if there’s no time to refit the self defence capability.

Otterman

This might be a dumb question, but if Prince of Wales crew aren’t as experienced for the operation needed, why not just swap the crews so the Queen Elizabeth crew deploy on the exercises and the Prince of Wales crew can take Queen Elizabeth through repair/refit?

If it’s ‘wear and tear’ why was it not found after Queen Elizabeth finished CSG 23 last November? Or is there wear and significant corrosion while alongside? I don’t think she’s been to sea since, and finding it 2 months ago would presumably have been useful to adapt for the 2024 program.

Iain

There will be subtle differences between QE and PoW. There were a number of lessons learnt during QE’s construction that were ‘implemented’ in her little sister’s construction. This mean’s it is not a simple job to swap over crews.
As far as wear and tear is concerned, sea water is always eating away at metal. Whenever the tide runs in at Portsmouth it just brings in more corrosive materials. It’s entirely possible that the divers that check these things gave it a scrub and said hang on a minute there is more going on here than there should be and flagged it up.
And yes Portsmouth harbor is tidal and it generally comes in at about six to eight feet on a pretty regular basis so, no she’s not been at sea but the sea comes to her a couple of times a day.
Also a massive well done to the crew and and support team for PoW. I would hate to guess when the last time someone had to get an aircraft carrier ready for sea this quickly was. 1982 perhaps?

Supportive Bloke

I still think that some of QNLZ will be going with training of PWLZ particularly airside as they don’t have the experience.

Anonymous coward

Very accurate Ian. This is exactly how diving inspections work. There are only certain tidal flows that diving can happen on too. So, during any maintenance period, there will be 3 or 4 dive windows of a few days to a week each.
Then, there is the matter of the isolations that are required. This will have an effect on the ship, so must be deconflicted with other activities. For example, a fuel tank clean may take out the FWD set of diesel generators. That would only leave the AFT set. One of these may also have a scheduled maintenance routine. The ship always keeps at lest one DG available for blackout recovery in the event that shore supply fails (it happens with circa 5MW needed for each ship).
This means you could dove FWD, because those engines are out of action, but not AFT.

Therefore you’d do over inspections and jobs in that first dive window.

Add to this that there are normally about 3 or 4 conflicting requirements at any time and you will understand how diving onky takes place in certain areas at a certain time.

So when the shafts and couplings get checked, and it’s in silty low visibility water, it will all be recorded and check once the diver is out of the water. If there is something that needs to be re-checked, it will be. Then you may have to wait for the next window……so the issue may have started being investigated over a month ago,but you don’t stop getting ready for an unknown issue of unknown severity.

QNLZ has done many 100k nautical miles, and her couplings have been in the water for at least 8 years now, so it really is a wear and tear issue rather than a long term defect!

It really is a game of many moving parts!

Also, personnel from the WAFU side of the fence have most definitely gone across to help get them upto speed with the jets.

Every other department has also sent people and filled gaps where necessary. It really is a team game and the majority of people have dug out to support in any way they could.

Many are gutted to loose out on sea time.

Duker

Remember when the new fangled electric drive pods were proposed early on in the carrier design and discarded because they werent mature enough
Who knew that the conventual shafts and propeller designs werent ‘mature enough’ either .
Theres plenty of massive containers ships with large props who do more sea miles in a month than the carriers sea time combined in 8 years. So I understand these are more complicated than might appear on the surface , Im not buying the ‘time in water or distance travelled’ excuse

Last edited 13 days ago by Duker
Supportive Bloke

Agreed.

The time windows for dives are smaller than non divers might think.

Oddly it is easier to do dive inspections when the ship can just drift as there is no relative motion (assuming low windage).

The other thing is that if the ship is able to get under power it can navigate to clearer water to allow better visuals.

Here there is the worst of all worlds short dive windows and lots of sediment under certain conditions. Which all conspires to make the job very hard.

Hard if to the guys who were doing the checks for catching this before it became an issue.

Anonymous coward

You get it. Funny you should mention clear water and low time…… Just those conditions exist in Glenmallen…… So one suggestion may have been to sail with limitations and conduct a more thorough inspection up there.

The ship does do diving up their for those very reasons you say.

Duker

Modern LED lights have been a boon for recreational diving. Im sure underwater ship maintenance divers use them too for low visibility areas and even when its dark above

Supportive Bloke

If there is loads of silt it makes little difference.

More is done by feel than you would guess.

Jon

you spelt Silt wrong lol

Jon

In Pompey Harbour, a centuries old base, where everything used to go over the side. ewwwwwwwwwwwwww i dont think 98% of the population would go for a swim in there. they would be asking if its blue flagged

Frank

Wear and tear on a coupling? Not much of an excuse.

Anonymous coward

Sorry,
We’ll pop down halfords for a new one….. Well be sure to get the one that will withstand over 8 years in the water, covering many 100k of nautical miles in many different temperatures and salinity levels, oh and don’t forget the silt.

I’m sure they’ll just whip one off the shelf!

Behave yourself and just accept that sometimes what you are being told is actually what is going on.

Nothing has actually failed, hence why this can be a relatively quick fix. It’s more the rist of failure at a sensitive time thst is the issue. Remember QNLZ is due to dock next year anyway, so this isn’t a total surprise…… The parts are even already available due to being ordered for the next docking!

tomuk

I’m sorry but why are you trying to cover for this complete mismanagement.

And your logic is nonsense on the one hand ‘you can’t pop down to Halfords’ on the other its not a total surprise and the coupling is available on the shelf.

Why was the program of inspections not adequate to have identified that a docking was need sooner if just wear and tear and not am unexpected failure.

Sean

The programme of inspections obviously worked because the fault due to wear and tear was found BEFORE she sailed.

Duker

That lesson was learned last time when QE only made it to the Solent channel- and checks werent made or made and ignored

Sean

Wrong.
(a) It was the PoW not the QE
(b) Checks were made prior to sailing and the issue was known about. It was decided to take her out and give her some runs to see how serious the issue was when underway. As a result of those tests, it was decided not to go to the USA and she was sent to Rosyth to be fixed.

Duker

Thats far from the truth
 take her out and give her some runs to see how serious the issue was when underway. As a result of those tests..”

There was some known issues , but the pressure was to leave anyway and take some contractors with them- however significant damage was done because of that choice to sail with a known problem. There was no ‘runs to see how it was’ , this was the departure for the US .
https://www.navylookout.com/hms-prince-of-wales-to-be-dry-docked-while-hms-queen-elizabeth-takes-on-some-of-her-tasking/

or more precisely
“Shortly after departure from Portsmouth, however, Prince of Wales was forced to anchor due to propulsion problems. Inspections revealed that a coupling had failed on her starboard shaft, causing significant damage to the shaft and propeller, with superficial damage to the rudder.
On drydocking, engineers determined that the root cause was an alignment problem with the starboard shaft. The port side propeller shaft was found to have similar misalignment problems, requiring similar repairs and adding to the cost.” Maritime-executive*com

Sean

You said it was QE, can’t even get the right ship…

David Barry

Prince of Wales has a habit of sailing with contractors on board…

Perhaps, maintenance needs to be conducted earlier as a result of lessons learned.

Jon

POWs has a fair bit of experimental options fitted. QinetiQ have a office on POWs

tomuk

Finding it on the eve of deployment isn’t a proper programme of inspections.

If there was a proper programme of inspections QNLZ wouldn’t have been worked up and committed to the deployment. She could already by at Rosyth under repair and POW could have had a proper work and be deployed instead.

Not this embarrassment and disruption to both crews and the ongoing programme.

Anonymous coward

I explained above why inspections take longer than your simplistic understanding. It just took time to get approved because it’s a longer exploration.
If you still think you can manage many conflicting requirements across 2 maintenence periods a years, then please apply for the job, I’m sure your experience and expertise would be welcomed with opened arms!

tomuk

You didn’t explain anything. They are complicated machines operating in a difficult environment that is a given but they should be managed appropriately. Discovering a fault a declaring a no go on the eve of sailing causing much embarrassment forcing a too hurried work up of POW and putting the whole programmes of both ships and crews out of kilter isn’t good enough.

Sean

It wasn’t found on the eve of deployment, was found in January and has been under investigation since. In the real world you don’t always have all the answers available immediately.

tomuk

If that was the case she should have been stood down then not gone through all the wasted time working up for deployment and definitely no triumphant PR should have been issued around the deployment.

Sean

It was the case, no IF about it.
But it takes time to analyse the results of checks, determine the implications, decide the course of action, etc, etc. so they continued with the planning for deployment. Once it was realised deployment on exercise would be ill-advised, it was cancelled.

Will

With you entirely once again, tomuk. You are spot on with this.

Jon

maybe just maybe it was item 98 on the list of 100 to check. ?????? ever consider that

Sean

Not an excuse, a reasonable explanation. Happens all the time in every kind of engineering.

John A Brabyn

Hey folks I know my ignorance is vast as other posters never cease to point out, but as someone with a Bachelors and PhD in engineering I am surprised to see the issue put down to normal wear and tear of a propeller shaft coupling. I would think such a coupling would be designed to last more than one major deployment, if not it should have been replaced under routine maintenance.

But don’t get me wrong, I agree all these issues keep happening in real life despite the best efforts of designers and engineers, it is only the lawyers (and politicians) who pretend everything should always work perfectly!!

My personal opinon is that in the past any ship near this size (eg the Audacious class, HMS Eagle and Ark Royal which were much smaller) had 4 propellers and shafts, this new design, for good reasons, only has two, each subjected to much higher stresses. The designers may have had no experience with shaft couplings requiring such high torque.

Someone rightly mentioned the fact that commercial ships have to serve almost 100% time, but that is easier, they are much slower. If you don’t have to do over 30 knots on a periodic basis, the design is much easier. OTOH there are probably valuable lessons to be learned from the commercial shipbuilders, unfortunately now much more difficult since nearly all of them are outside the UK.

Cheers

John

Anonymous coward

Interesting take, and could have some milage….. Certainly the older 4 shaft carriers didn’t always have 4/4 shafts available.

I know the commercial world runs at about 90% sea time, but it does have refit periods built in. Air craft carriers are different to large commercial shops though, it’s not a direct comparison, they have very different operating characteristics. Commercial vessels tend to get out of harbour and then come upto their cruise speed and stay there until the get to their destination…… I don’t think an OOW can last more than an hour without adjusting the shaft speed on the RN!

If you want my actual opinion, I think the couplings could be thicker, and the material /design better….. But they are a commercial product, so entirely standard.

Also, don’t forget that the issue with QNLZ is different to the PWLS issue….. Although they could end the same way.

PWLS shaft was misaligned from build, so the coupling was stressed to sudden failure.

QNLZ coupling is corrosion, which ‘could’ weaken it leading to a failure….. But its not actually failed or caused any damage.

Merchant

I have worked at sea in the merchant fleet for over 20 years and we have problems too particularly with first in class ships. The dry dockings are routine maintenance and for some items like shaft couplings this is when this type of work gets done, they spotted a problem early and have a dry dock due so maybe they have decided it is prudent to bring it forward. This is a situation that has happened on a ship I have been on due to predictive maintenance raising the alarm about wear on shaft bearing’s.

Tankers commonly use one shaft driven by a main engine and they are bigger than carriers although they are slower. I have worked on ships with two shafts and they have been trouble free regarding the shafts but all ships have their issues. Some container & passenger ships do get up towards 30 Knots.

I have worked in 3 Korean yards and European yards due to company new builds and as a service tech and a lot of the personnel doing the work are contractors from the various companies that make parts and systems for the ship, such as MAN, Wartsila, Babcock, ABB, GE etc. The Yard design & make the ship superstructure. There is a lot of experience from the UK who work at these yards and remotely in the UK and Europe from a design point of view .

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

The big difference is merchant ships are designed to run within certain ranges to meet their service requirements. Whereas warships, even carriers, are designed to be ‘driven hard’, to be manoeuvred across a range of speeds changing rapidly as the tactical needs arise.

comment image

Jon

Most of the people i know have lots of letter’s after there names, But they amaze me sometimes how they managed to get to work, designers and engineers are great but cannot build it to be maintained

Jon

took me 7 days to get a universal joint for my car

Moonstone

I am thinking that any sailor not ‘up’ for this operation shouldn’t really be in the service. But yes, the crew of HMS PoW will no doubt be facing a rather steep learning curve in the coming weeks as they grapple with all the challenges this unplanned deployment will present. But let’s remember that this ship has been in commission for years now while back in 1941 the previous PoW was so new she was sent out to battle the Bismarck with dockyard workers still aboard.

As for the lamentable lack of defensive armament fitted and meager aircraft operating experience this carrier currently has one can only comment that in the famous old song ‘Hearts of Oak’ (the RN’s mission statement) we once could boast that “we always are ready”

Well, no anymore it would seem …

Sean

“back in 1941 the previous PoW was so new she was sent out to battle the Bismarck with dockyard workers still aboard.”

and looked how well that worked out.

Billy Baker

She had much damage inflicted…. withdrew and lived to be sunk another day in the ill-fated deployment north out of Singapore…..

Sean

1,500 dead, Hood lost, and PoW having to flee because she was down to 5 serviceable guns – the others lost to break-down not inflicted damage. Had Lutjens decided to give chase, as Lindermann wanted, then PoW could have been lost that day too.
All for 3 hits on Bismark.

A tragedy that should have been avoided.

Last edited 12 days ago by Sean
Mogster

PoW scored 3 hits on the Bismarck, one to the bow fuel tanks, one to a generator room that caused flooding and reduced speed. Those hits were mission kills, Operation Rhineubung was over for the Bismarck.Pretty good going for a new crew and a ship on a shakedown cruise. POW was forced to manoeuvre heavily to avoid collision with the Hood wreckage, taking hits from the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen in doing so. PoW bridge was hit killing many senior crew, Captain Leach somehow escaping. With the technical problems withdrawal was the only option.

Lutjens had Wake-Walker’s cruiser squadron of Norfolk and Suffolk closing to near torpedo range so couldn’t pursue PoW immediately.

Sean

You think losing 1,500 brave servicemen, one and very nearly two capital ships lost, for a ‘mission kill’ worthwhile? Even that was only because Bismark had failed to make the planned refuelling in Bergen which meant the fuel loss was more critical. The real ‘mission kill’ was that they had been discovered at all, as Operation Rheinübung relied on surprise.

If Ark Royal’s Swordfish attack hadn’t been successful then Bismark would have made it to France, been repaired and back out in the Atlantic within months.
(Norfolk and Suffolk despite their speed advantage were too far away to assist PoW.)

Last edited 12 days ago by Sean
Duker

In 1963 USS Thresher sank during its first ocean deep dive after a refit – with shipyard workers on board
USS Ford many times had large numbers of shipyard workers on board when it went to sea in the early days
Ford is more than halfway through this post-delivery test and trials stage – an 18-month period where the carrier spends about half the time at sea and half in port – which should wrap up in April. In addition to the shipyard crew finishing up construction on the elevators and conducting some work originally scheduled to take place next year, …”

https://news.usni.org/2020/11/24/uss-gerald-r-ford-making-steady-progress-ahead-of-deployment

Sean

More pointless comments…

Duker

Its just that new ships – both in WW2 – and nowdays do go to sea with shipyard contractors. But thanks for your memoriam for HMS Hood even if its irrelevant

Sean

Yes they do, for trials, not to go into battle.

Supportive Bloke

Various civis were on board as ships went down south in ‘82.

Tim

One of them was on board Brilliant commissioning the Sea Wolf system. After she took a few 30mm hits in Falkland Sound he had to go up to the top of the mast in the middle of the night in a storm in a war zone to fix it! If I remember correctly that story is in Woodward’s book 100 days.

Jonno

Not entirely irrelevant as crew changes can work for good or ill. The RN needs another 3000 men, that’s for sure.

Will

In an ideal world, I would add more troops to the Royal Marines as well. That force would never drop below 10,000 if I had my way.

David Barry

Except the RN want those PIDs for themselves.

A brigade of ROYAL coupled to the present arrangement would be my choice, including the enablers.

Cohen

Don’t lecture on history when you cannot get the facts right.

Sean

Thanks for letting us all know why you aren’t providing any historical lectures.

Jonno

..and looked (sic) how well that worked out……Better than Hood as it happens.
POW had pretty awful gunnery to be honest as she wasn’t a target till Hood blew up; although her hit on Bismark was important as it slowed the enemy as well as cut her radius of action.
The one thing that surprises me is that not much is said of the effect on Hood’s gunnery, firstly due to her having a new gunnery officer and other crew changes after Mers el Kebir and secondly due to the relatively new discovery that the control top was destroyed in the opening minutes.

Pete

‘Fair wear and tear’ for a failure similar to PW sound very sus. How would they know so quickly that its FWAT, rather than a latent defect, either in design or in manufacturing/ build quality present from day 1. It would normally take weeks to determine root cause

Anonymous coward

How would we know so quickly? By looking….. If the material has corroded away, it’s obviously not a design or installation issues like misalignment would be……that did take a long time to work out, because PWLS had a failure, so had to be worked back from.

This is much more simple….. It’s not failed, it’s effectively failed an inspection
…… And the inspection and remedial work has been going on for weeks!

tomuk

If that is the case why isn’t she alreasy sailing or if the retification would take longer and the fault discovered weeks ago why was she not stood down down and POW substituted weeks ago not on the eve of deployment?

Anonymous coward

Because it takes weeks to get all of the under water inspections done in ships. Once something is seen, it may then need some more work to have a closer look. Remember, it’s dark, cold and silty under the ship….. There isn’t a big neon arrow saying ‘here is a defect’, this one will have been subtle to start with. Any further investigation has to be fitted in around other work.
Look at my post above for how tight dive windows are.
Once something has been genuinely identified you have to assess the severity. This is done much higher up the chain with many authorities weighing in, they will have wanted additional measurement and maybe some NDE work done.
This will likely have had Lloyds Register and the manufacturer of the coupling (voith) in on it. This is not an overnight process, so the ship will keep getting ready.

Its only once these authorities have come to a conclusion that a decision can be made, and in this case, it was late in the day, because the ship may have been passed for operation, albeit with some limitations. However on this case it was not.

tomuk

Underwater inspections are difficult and take time. Who knew?
These are all expected and known constraints. If the result of the processes on inspecting and signing of the readiness of the ship are the shambles we’ve seen then they are inadequate and need amending

Will

This ^^^^.

Anonymous coward

You’re obviously not here to learn anything, and would rather ignore what you’ve been told and what it actually means to just made belligerent points.

I will make it simple for your mind.

If dive windows are short and difficult, then examinations take time. If you want more examinations then you need longer maintenance windows. Which means more time in port and less time on operations…… This will lead to people like you moaning about it.

But by all means please run your fleet of warships in a better way!

tomuk

I’m sorry but why do I need to learn anything. I think you do if you think this whole escapade has been a success.

Dive windows being short, long or medium sized are irrelevant you plan around them just as with other constraints.

Why would I moan if the ships were operated properly.

I’m ‘moaning’ as you put it because the lives of two ships crews have been disrupted, ones assume a load of money has been wasted and the disruption is only going to snowball onwards into the carrier programme.

Is POW at the same level of capability as QNLZ, doesn’t seem likely so what parts of the exercise will be cancelled. What effect will this have on availability of the related units.

What about POWs readiness going forward. I assume she will need further maintenance after coming back of exercise which wasn’t planned and the worked that was cancelled will also need to be carried out.

How about the CSG25 deployment which carrier will go?

Deeps

We have all watched thousands of drones fly in pre programmed harmony I think the 30mm need upgrading to Bofor’s Mk 4 with the 3P ammo before we have an issue and sailing high readiness vessels without CIWS is negligent, common practice, but negligent in my opinion.

Anonymous coward

Bear in mind that PWLS has sailed for an exercise in the North Sea, not gone on any kind of deployment in harms way.

Deeps

The point is that it is foolish to sail any war canoe without a full outfit of ammo and weapons fit. I sailed south in eighty two from an exercise and i never subsequently sailed as a deeps without an alpha load other than into and out of refit.

Supportive Bloke

Precisely.

There were ships sent on Corporate from exercise with what they had on board.

With a tiny navy the best we can do is use what we already have in a warehouse so the crews can get used to it and debug it.

Anon

FT reporting that the PoW’s departure is delayed past today

AlexS

No reason posted?

Watcherzero

They said there would be a statement during Sunday but none has appeared.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

I bet the Assistant NAAFI manager is adrift with a key to an ‘important’ cupboard in the Wardroom pantry…….

I don’t think it is anything technical TBH.

Will

On the plus side, it is certainly impressive that POW was made ready to sail in such a short time. On the negative side, it’s a good thing there isn’t a hot war erupting, in which case having a fraction of the designed F-35 air wing and no Phalanx is…well, let’s just be glad that there aren’t any hot wars involving the UK at the moment. But the RN’s overall readiness for sustained combat operations is surely far below where it needs to be. The fleet continues to shrink and deteriorate, to the point at which the previous regular warship patrol (as opposed to the OPB) around the Falklands is now discontinued, and this at the same time that Argentina appears to be on the verge of re-equipping its air force with F-16s.

The RN is too small. Much too small. That’s all there is to it. It should be double its current and near future projected size, or nearly so. This is a gross failure of the UK political class and I am amazed that there don’t seem to be any real repercussions for it.

Last edited 12 days ago by Will
N-a-B

There hasn’t been a regular deployment down south for years. Because it wasn’t needed. F16s – real or imaginary – don’t change that.

Want a bigger Navy? What are you prepared to sacrifice for it? Higher taxes? Reduced public services? Big conversations no-one – publicly at least – is ready to have.

Sean

Nailed it.

Of course those that want a bigger navy could send a cheque to the Treasury. They accept donations as well as tax receipts.

But the type that generally jump up and down about the RN needing squadrons of battlecruisers are the loudest to squeal about raised taxes.

Duker

Look what happened to the PM who proposed a bigger navy. The Treasury mandarins and their allies cut him down ( helped by his own failings) and he was replaced by one of their won , a former Chancellor and Chief secretary of the Treasury

Sean

If you’re referring to Boris (you’re not having memory issues too, are you?) he was brought down by his inability to enforce discipline at Number 10 and the Cabinet Office during the pandemic. It was not because he proposed a bigger navy as you imply.

I doubt the Treasury would describe Liz Truss as “one of their own”…!!!

Duker

They couldnt chose Truss as it was a membership vote beat the Treasury candidate Sunak- who then was ‘unopposed’ in his election.
Then Wallace was ‘retired’ so that those inconvenient defence spending promises could be ignored under Schapps
[Partly with a grain of salt]

Sean

Yes they wouldn’t have chosen someone as financially illiterate Truss, not that the Treasury has any say. After her attempt to bankrupt the U.K. pension industry, Tory MPs rightly chose someone with a grasp of economics.

As for Wallace being ‘retired’, he’s already explained at length his personal reasons for stepping down. There are enough conspiracy theories going around without you fabricating more.

Last edited 11 days ago by Sean
David Barry

We’ll have to disagree on this one Sean.

Bluffer was brought down because he was a humongous C^nt of biblical proportions.

Will

Being the good Thatcherite that I am (in UK terms), my solution would be to privatize as much as possible and otherwise grow revenues on the supply side in order to pay for a proper RN.

Sean

Being a ‘child of Thatcher’ myself (bring back the 80’s!) I’d go after Amazon, etc who all off-shore their UK profits to Ireland and Luxembourg. Now we are out of the EU it should be far easier to do.

Jonno

And the RoI pays virtually nothing towards its own defence. A cynical and sad shambles virtue signaling, leaching and hiding behind Neutrality.

Supportive Bloke

In that we totally agree.

Ireland freeload on a very large chunk of our corporation taxes and then freeload again on our defence budget.

Will

So…30-odd F-16s versus 3 serviceable Tornados and a couple of SAM batteries, and no warship standing in the way of any Argentine landing force no matter how makeshift or nondescript it might be otherwise. No worries, nothing to see here, move along, move along.

The real issue is that “…no one…publicly at least—is ready to have (this big conversation)”. THAT is what is wrong, or so it appears to this American.

What I don’t understand for the life of me is why the average Briton sits still for this. I could be wrong, but I thought most UK citizens were on board with the idea of “Global Britain” and of playing an outsized role in world affairs in general. Has Britain turned inward on itself to such an extent that it no longer gives a whit about its place in the broader world?

Last edited 12 days ago by Will
Billy Baker

“Tornados” ? “Argentine landing force” ? You’re American yes ? Most Yanks have no Idea whatsoever about the rest of the World, you just confirmed it.

Will

I did, did I. Why don’t you instruct me regarding the rest of the world about which I am ignorant? Go on, you may fire when ready, Gridley.

Sean

Well you confused the aircraft currently stationed in the Falkands, the Typhoon, with the Tornado.
Flight 1435 in the Falkands converted from Tornados to Typhoons 19 years ago, and the last Tornado was retired from RAF service 5 years ago.

Secondly you seem unaware of the state of Argentina. Inflation is over 211% and the country is effectively bankrupt.
As for the “Argentine landing force”, the Argentine navy is a fraction of what it was in 1982: for example, both of its last 2 remaining submarines have been non-operational since 2020.

Will

Excuse me, yes. Typhoon not Tornado. But the last I checked, there were nevertheless exactly three (3) operational.

Regarding the state of the Argentine economy, the country has been a shambles for decades, and yes the armed forces, particularly the ARA, are all but nonexistent. However: if the new president is successful with even some of his economic reforms, and if the latest attempt at re-equipping the Argentine Air Force is successful, there IS a threat. And in the face of three (3) operational combat aircraft and an offshore patrol vessel, I don’t think even the current Argentine military would have great difficulty landing enough troops—read, a few thousand—to overcome the current Falklands garrison. And while I don’t think El Presidente (the one at the moment) is spoiling for a fight, nevertheless he is on record as repeating the longstanding Argentine claims to the “Malvinas”.

Therefore, if he is even moderately effective in office, it could be one of his successors who decides to pull the trigger. In any case Argentina is a big country with significant natural resources. If the UK is serious about holding onto the Falklands indefinitely, it will take more resources than are currently being invested and stationed there. Speaking of which, I am wondering if the reported gigantic oil and gas basin below the ocean floor off the Falklands is going to be developed, or if anyone is going to try it? There were articles about that around a decade ago but I haven’t seen much in more recent years.

Sean

Three is all that’s needed given the current potential opposition.

The new President of Argentina will just make things worse for the country.

The UK is serious about retaining the Falklands for as long as the islanders wish to remain British.

Russia is a big country with large national resources, yet its vast military is now recognised as a joke. It’s lost half the land it took in Ukraine in 2022, and relies on waves of suicide squads charging entrenched positions.

Rockhopper is looking at making a decision on 2024 on the viability of a project for oil/gas extraction.

John A Brabyn

I’m with you Will, as someone from the Empire now in the USA. I doubt if the Argies will actually get the F-16s but if they do there will need to be more than a flight of Typhoons in the Falklands. I know the latter are really good planes, and their Meteor missiles are totally awesome (hopefully the USA would not sell them any that good, even if they have any), but it would still require some beefing up of defenses to have more than an even chance of fending them off next time. Hence the usefulness of the new carriers if they were up to speed with full air wings of 5th generation fighters and decent AEW, which at the moment is clearly not the case, not to mention the lack of CIWS, adequate escorts, etc.

British politicians seem to have ignored the vote for Brexit, they are not only hell-bent on going all out for the NHS, probably the world’s largest bureaucracy, (make something free, guess what it creates infinite demand) and other socialistic ideas, as well as playing a leading role in the lemming march towards Net Zero, and that’s under the so-called conservatives. While the populace voted for Brexit the politicians seem still mostly opposed to it even today.

No country is perfect, certainly not the USA either with its current problems, but I really hope the good old UK will wake up to the threats surrounding it in the real world,

Cheers

John

Sean

Err… in case you hadn’t noticed, Brexit happened and we’re out of the EU.
And the majority of the public support action on human made climate-change.

Our politicians have a lot of failings, but I think I’d vote for them over someone without a grasp of basic facts.

Louis

What F16s? People have been saying Argentina will rearm since 1982, yet each year they have the same equipment as 1982 just less and less of it.

Argentina has zero F16s. They have 4 operational A4s. 3 Typhoons will destroy those A4s.

Will

What F-16s? These. 24 and not the 32 I thought I recalled off the top of my head, but nevertheless. These are ex-Danish jets that would be sold and transferred to Argentina. I think you will need more than 3 (three) TYPHOONS and a couple of small SAM batteries against this sort of threat.

https://www.thedefensepost.com/2023/10/13/us-f-16-argentina/#google_vignette

Edit: This is Exhibit A for my contention—and remember, I am an American—that the UK’s overreliance on the US and NATO militaries is going to come back to bite it in the rump. Because of the Monroe Doctrine, and because of US concerns over Chinese military-industrial infiltration into South America, there is a very good chance that this F-16 purchase for the FAA will go through. Yes, these are 4th or 4.5 generation airframes, and the Eurofighter is still a better aircraft overall, not least because of the superb Meteor AAM.

But.

The UK simply cannot count on ALL of its foreign policy and national sovereignty objectives ALWAYS lining up with those of the US. Certainly we are shoulder to shoulder overall and in most specific cases. But not all. Here is one good example of how the British failure (or refusal) to build and maintain its own adequately sized military erodes British sovereignty and freedom of action.

Last edited 9 days ago by Will
Jon

There are lots of military threats in the world. Right now Argentina isn’t one of them.

As regards the South Atlantic Patrol escort, I agree. That the RN has shrunk to a point where it can’t do both North and South Atlantic patrols with warships anymore is a shame. Whether it would be a good use of resources if we had them is another question. However, trying to figure out what most UK citizens think about it is futile; this is not a matter about which most UK citizens think. When asked, most would like to increase the size of the military. When not asked most get on with earning a living, raising a family, nursing arthritic hips and laughing at soggy bottoms.

Most don’t have the luxury of thinking ahead. Back in 1981, I was more pissed off that John Nott had lied about fitting out the Ark Royal than the fact that they weren’t going to fit it out. I certainly wasn’t thinking, but what about the Falklands!

AlexS

As if the billions taxpayers give to the state are only spent in public services and not in lots of political ideologues many anti-British.

Sean

You don’t seem to be aware that Argentina has a zombie economy.
While people complained on the U.K. over the cost of living crisis with 11% inflation, Argentina just topped 211% inflation.

Jon

Is the 30mm that’s too dangerous to put on the carrier as it might hit an escort, the same 30mm gun on the escorts that we aren’t worried about hitting the carrier.

Sean

The carrier is centre of the CSG, so would be firing outwards, towards the escorts. The escorts would be firing outwards, towards anything approaching the CSG and not inwards towards the carrier. Not difficult to work out.

Supportive Bloke

You do realise that the CMS does IFF and therefore creates safe zones and arcs automatically? There would be little point in IFF if it didn’t. That has been the case for a long time.

The CMS does understand elevation ‘n’ stuff so given that the 30mm on QEC is very high up the angle down is large enough to not accidentally engage friendlies as it might be from a T23 which rides low amidships.

So I’m afraid the argument doesn’t pass the sniff test.

It might have been true if the 30mm were manually aimed but they are not.

Jon

Does that mean destroyers shouldn’t have guns, only the frigates because they are the furthest out? You are defending the indefensible. It will not always be the case that an escort sits directly behind the target. In fact it is vanishingly unlikely. It will most likely need to defend itself when there is no escort nearby. In the odd case where there’s an escort directly behind (or given Supportive’s point about elevation, are we worried about submarines?), the carrier always has the option not to fire the gun. If it has one.

Sean

Your forgetting in your ridiculous extrapolation that escorts also operate on their own, and so need their own all-round defensive suite.

Carriers NEVER operate on their own without escorts. Hence CSG.

Jonno

Tell me why back in the day Battleships, Carriers etc all had secondary and other AA guns. I’ll tell you why, because the escort screen often got penetrated and they very often used them in self defence.
I think today there is a super abundance of Hubris about that says it can never happen to us.
IMHO a carrier is an ideal platform for CAAM. It can probably even reload them if it tried apart from being able to store quantities of the things which the escorts can’t. Ba-boom as they say!

Sean

Both technologies and tactics have moved on since WW2… you’re repeating the error often said of generals.

Which is why HMS Ark Royal (R09) had her 4.5” guns removed in the 60’s, though I think eventually removing the Bofors so that she had no air-defensive (except for decoy launchers) either was a step too far.
Clearly the RN thought so too, and the
subsequent Invincible class had Phalanx.
So the RN hasn’t mounted anti-surface guns on carriers since the 60’s.

CAMM on a carrier:
• reduces the amount of munitions that can be carried for air operations
• impacts air operations as FOD searches would need carrying out after use

The carriers best air-defence are her aircraft, after that, her specialist AAW destroyers.

Supportive Bloke

The issue with CAMM is that you would want to horizontally launch them. As far as I am aware there isn’t a horizontal launch variant of CAMM.

If you VL launch them you get into all sorts of FOD issues and that shuts down air activities.

This was tried with Sea Dart on the Invisibles and this was a right pain as there was a massive clear up operation every time one was fired.

Dart was removed to make more space onboard but also as it was a total non starter as it shut down air operations so frequently.

Jon

Forgot to say: if a FIAC sits between a carrier and an escort, the escort would be firing inward to hit it.

Sean

The escort is supposed to fire to stop the FIAC getting past her and between her and the carrier in the first place. If the escort is firing inward the defensive ring has already failed.

Peter

That logic for not fitting 30mm cannon to the QEs is misguided. Say an escort occupies 10% of the arc of fire from the carrier; in reality the number is probably lower, and the escort would also have to be within the ~5km effective range of the 30mm gun.

So there is a 10% possibility of damaging a £1bn escort vessel with 30mm fire from the carrier. If using the 30mm prevents a missile or drone hitting a £3.5bn carrier loaded with £2-3bn of aircraft, with a potential mission kill, then many think that that tradeoff is worthwhile.

Sean

The Phalanx is to deal with missiles and UAVs, the 30mm is designed for fast attack boats.

Supportive Bloke

Which is why Diamond used it to down an incomes before it got to Phalanx?

The 30mm with air burst ammunition is very useful to provide another layer before Phalanx.

Sean

Diamond used it for slow moving drones, not missiles.
Big difference in threat.

Against missiles, it’d be the Phalanx.

Sometimes you can use something in a way it wasn’t designed or intended for, to get a result.
HMS Dreadnought wasn’t built with a ram bow, yet it successfully rammed and sank an enemy submarine. But the same tactic didn’t work so well for HMS Fairy or HMS Harvester.

Last edited 10 days ago by Sean
Supportive Bloke

You are underestimating how versatile the 30mm is or better the same mount with a 40mm on it.

I think you are also making the mistake of thinking that the 30mm’s slower rate of fire makes them less useful than Phalanx.

The 30/40mm are not being used as hittiles – you don’t need to hit the drone / missile directly. These are being used to create shrapnel field that the incomer will pass through. The combined kinetic energy of incomer and the shrapnel do the damage and even better if the shrapnel is injested into an intake etc as it will mash up the propulsor.

The 40mm gives a significantly larger / more dense shrapnel field depending on how the fuze is set.

Philip Shrigley

Sorry but thisone is now broken as of 11.30am on 12.02.24
Great what.

Sean

Broken? Unlikely given she’s sailed.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

comment image

AlexS

That is Cavour. I recognize the big ECM antenna,also the stern door for vehicles.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Yes. I have been looking at carrier (and LHx) props.

Thought it was an interesting picture.

Duker

Does the QEC have same or similar ECM …(installed?)

AlexS

If it have it seems to be hidden, i don’t see an antenna that ressembles ECM on photos but my search was not exhaustive.

Cavour have another big ECM antenna like this one right in the bow which imo makes sense.

Last edited 11 days ago by AlexS
Duker

I think its another one of those things the RN wants the escorts to do. Italy has its own home made system for its warships up to Cavour
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nettuno_4100

AlexS

Yep that is the one. It is AESA antenna and is also operational in French FREMM and Horizon. Due to its secrecy was retired from the FREMM that Italy sold to Egypt.

Jon

I recognise the word Cavour written on the side. I guess that makes me a ship-spotting newb!

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

You scamp. 🙂

JimB

The Italian navy certainly get a good bang for their buck

Duker

Have you seen their extensive shipyards and well distributed naval bases!

Peter MacINTYRE

HMS Prince of Wales has now set sail from Portsmouth:https://twitter.com/i/status/1757042489398034668

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Thank Neptune!

Jonno

To see the complete lack of defensive armament is a profound shock. The navy needs to get a grip of the this FFBNW madness.
I’d go further and say stop making excuses about not fitting CAAM onto the carriers. If fitted on the port stern quarter there would not be a material amount of deck debris which is seemingly what concerns people. Cando not cantdo.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Somebody will be along soon to tell you PoW isn’t going near the Red Sea so doesn’t need anything. And will probably throw in so ad homs too for good measure.

Of course this undermines the utility of the ship because what if there was a need to send it to the Red Sea now? The escort (and so upwards) is the smallest self deploying unit in our armed forces. They need to be ready go. FFBNW has bitten us in the back side.
comment image

Last edited 12 days ago by The Whale Island Zoo Keeper
CAMDAN

Well what an even more of an embarrassment. It would be like waiting all year for your holiday driving to let’s say to Scotland and finding a major problem with the car which you had,had plenty of time to check for faults. Disgrace

Sean

Try to gather the facts before commenting. They tried to get PoW ready for deployment on an exercise in record time, they failed just, and had to wait to the next day for the right ride conditions. She was not delayed by a fault.

Rose Compass

This is entirely off topic unless you think things can’t get any worse…

I’ve just read a piece in The Telegraph about the our defence contractors pitching designs for future vessels with much reduced complements – presumably so as to make them more attractive in light of through life costs but also ongoing recruitment difficulties.

What is really interesting in this piece is that John Howie, Babcock’s corporate affairs chief, when mooting the next generation of frigates and talking about Type 32 states: ‘we like to refer to it as Type 31 batch two’.

Is that a clue?

The alarming bit, however, is in some of the rationale for reducing the complement, namely forgoing damage control for which a higher crew complement might be required [Howie:] ‘…in the age of hypersonic missiles, do you just assume that ships are, if they get hit, gone? And therefore they just need to stay afloat long enough to get the crew off?’.

So let’s think ahead to Type 32. What could we have? HMS Expendable? Followed by Disposable, Abandonable, Relinquishable and…Sinkable?

See:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2024/02/12/new-navy-warships-smaller-crews-recruitment-crisis/

But caps off the the Navy for getting POW to sea in eight days.

Rose Compass

Erratum: ‘…caps off to the Navy…’. Typo.

Duker

Too much hype and little real understanding of Hypersonics missiles

1)..order to maintain the air pressure needed for the operation of a scramjet engine, a hypersonic cruise missile needs to maintain an altitude of around 20 km for most of its flight.
2)..missiles travelling at hypersonic speeds ionise the air around them and generate a plasma layer which makes external guidance and the use of onboard sources of data (such as active seekers) extremely difficult. 
https://www.rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/zircon-how-much-threat-does-russias-hypersonic-missile-pose

The idea of some hypersonic as just a much faster version of current sea skimming cruise missiles , which cant be detected until around 14km out is a myth

Supportive Bloke

The E class – does this follow from the D class….? Or does it follow from the C class?

– Expendable; and
– Eliminable, and
– Execrable; and
– Exitable; and
– ………….z

I’m assuming it is a five ship class?

Duker

Towns ( citys actually) followed D class, the next class was names that ‘inspire’ but soon reverted to names like Bulldog , Campbeltown because of personal preferences of the high and mighty

Supportive Bloke

The E / C class was a Mercedes related joke…..

Dabbler Dan

I did 25 years in the RN and left in 2014 just the right time I think, unfortunately we are an international joke, a carrier with no planes or air defence capability and it will no doubt break down, watch this space. The chap below is right the ships company will have been delighted to have all their leave cancelled, disrupting family life, and worked round the clock to go on another BS deployment. I remember an admiral coming onboard in 2010 when we were on yet another anti piracy deployment and he hosted a Q&A session in the Chiefs mess. He got soaked with all the drips, which were all legitimate, and then told us if we wanted to leave he would expedite our paperwork and get rid of us as the RN was trimming down. That’s why recruitment and retention are a problem the fantasy land that the Officers live in is miles away from the real world of a family life of the decent hard working crew. There is no thanks, decent working conditions or even decent wages for people in the forces and when they have drained you dry and worked you to exhaustion, your discarded.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

You would have seen the navy then go from its Cold War size (and stance) today’s modern navy.

For me it was that nobody in blue suit could convey to the politicians the importance of shore drafts for retention.

Letting women go to sea was a mistake as well. But politics. But socialism. Etc. etc.

Last edited 11 days ago by The Whale Island Zoo Keeper
pjh

“letting women go to sea was a mistake too”

Seriously ?

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Yes. Seriously.

Billy Baker

I just read that too, This bloke is now publicly making misogynistic remarks on a public forum and is confidently confirming it too !

This person has a very long history of this sort of behavior yet admin seem to turn a blind eye. I have many friends and former colleagues both serving and retired from various branches of the armed forces who are Women and this sort of comment does not belong on a site like this.

For the record, I’m flagging this comment and will be expecting Admin to remove this poster for such a misogynistic remark.

Billy Baker

Your comment re “Women” is nothing more than Misogynistic, I’m pretty sure that your “Etc, etc.” would include certain other categories of humans too. I find your comment and it’s connotations wholly unacceptable on a public site.

Our Women play a huge part in all aspects and positions in our armed forces, they are an essential and integral part of everyday operations and should be treated as equally as anyone else regardless of gender or any other bias’s you may have.

Admin, please remove this persons account, he doesn’t deserve a place on here.

Sean

Misogynist as well as an avowed conspiracy theorist, quelle surprise…

Admin please take action.

JimB

Really good piece today in the Telegraph about our carriers and what we could have had.
The Navy (allegedly) wanted CATOBAR for both carriers and this was (yet again allegedly) requested after sending a team to the USA.

We could have had 2 carriers with CATOBAR and F18 fighters.

17 faceless MOD senior civil servants thought otherwise. This is where we are today.

Apparently there is space allocated within the ships for CATOBAR and it could be fitted.

The price of the EMALS had been picked up by the USA

It really was a no brainer

Still got to get those civil servants into their defence directorships somehow eh???

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

F35b will fly from more decks eventually.

But not going CTOL cuts us off from the USN main maritime aviation technology path.

If we did things properly it wouldn’t be so much of a problem. Take Crowsnest. It is a cheap system that is barely if adequate. And then compare it to E2.

Even arguments like Bravo is easier to land don’t hold much water with technology like MAGIC CARPET.

For me though with hindsight I think the UK would have been better building a brace (or three) of Makin Islands. It would have allowed us to keep up with what we are good at such as light amphibious warfare or re-role for sea control with squadron or so of pingers.

Last edited 11 days ago by The Whale Island Zoo Keeper
Duker

Magic carpet is just technology for a more precise landing within the visibility limits which still exist. Fully Blind landing isnt possible The STOVL carriers still have lesser visibility limits.

Sean

The Telegraph, bound to be gospel then… presumably by the notoriously inaccurate Lewis Page perchance?

Might I suggest a more accurate article on the subject?
https://www.navylookout.com/cats-traps-and-claptrap-why-the-royal-navys-new-aircraft-carriers-operate-vstol-aircraft/

Adam

The Sun is your gospel then? Is the Trident still up your back side?

Sean

What’s your obsession with anal sex?
You’ve not come out the closet yet, have you?

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

Jim B

I have just read the same piece in today’s Daily Torygraph.

What you have not spotted is that today’s article – a full colour centrespread – is remarkably similar to one in the Sunday Times (That was published late last year and I commented upon it at the time (obviously here on NL)).

The simple truth is that the RN and RAF formally committed, a very long time ago, to having STOVL planes. That was THE early key decision and, frankly, they should be sticking to it!

(Working on the principle of Order + Counterorder = Disorder).

The RN and RAF had, after all, been operating STVOL aircraft from the RN’s Invincible class carriers since the early 1980 (and I would add that in 1982 the Harriers were both very effective air-to-air fighters and also had a remarkably high availability in combat = 99%).

However, as of today, it is quite obvious that “a faction” in the RN / FAA is now getting very cold feet about the non-availability of the F35’s. They are therefore trying to initiate, via several factually incorrect leaks to the media, another multi-billion pound procurement programme.

It is a nonsense for them to suggest that F18 Hornets and Cats and Traps were ever being seriously considered. That decision was taken for the very simple reason that the Hornet is an aircraft design originally conceived in the 1970’s: one which is not, and can never be, low-observable.

The key issue here is, frankly, not which type of carrier aircraft was selected two decades ago…..it is that the MOD and RN repeatedly cannot deliver these big and complex defence programmes into operational service on time and on budget.

A reminder as to the in-service dates originally promised eighteen years ago:

“House of Commons Defence Committee Future Carrier and Joint Combat Aircraft Programmes Second Report of Session 2005–06 Report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence Ordered by The House of Commons = 13th December 2005” 

Quite simply, if the two QE Carriers and also and the RAF/FAA squadrons of F35 low observable planes had been in operational service when originally promised = ten years ago- then this whole issue of “cats and traps” would never be coming up (yet again).

As you rightly imply, the big problem with our two carriers and also the F35 programme is a very simple one!

= that the leadership of the Royal Navy; senior MOD civil servants and the directors of our big defence contractors repeatedly made big promises = then regularly under-deliver.

This institutional bad practice – which always includes telling “fibs” to Parliament – repeatedly happens because those responsible always get away with it…….

———————–…

The big difference between here and the defence procurement practices in the USA is the legislation which was passed by Congress after soon after the Vietnam War ended in the mid 1970’s (Note: for the younger readers of Navy Lookout:in that long running war, the superpower called the USofA came a very poor second to an elite fighting force that fought in black pyjamas and rode into battle on their low-carbon high-mobility battlefield transportation vehicles (aka bicycle’s), whist wearing helmets made of straw).

Then, just for good measure, Congress also soon linked their “somewhat onerous” defence procurement legalisation into the US Constitution That mandates that federal agencies can only spend federal taxpayers money after that expenditure is approved by Congress (Note. which is why a full shutdown of the federal government is threatened whenever Congress and/or the Senate cannot agree the budget).

Thus, in the US of A, every single defence procurement programme has to be fully reported to Congress, in a very great level of detail. The timelines and budgets have to be very accurately estimated (i.e. budgets must to within approximately plus or minus 10%). That expenditure is then very carefully monitored…

Therefore, what happens when “fibs” have been told to Congress is very simple: = those responsible are puled up before the committee and, almost inevitably, either loose their jobs, or are demoted. Being put in front of a Congressional committee is “probably” worse than a court-martial (not least because hearings are frequently televised)

Therefore the military’s’ senior leadership take every possible measure to thrash out (amongst themselves) all of a project’s key requirements – including how much it will cost and when it will be delivered into service – well before anything goes in front of Congress.

The US Navy does have big cock-ups – the Ford class carrier’s electromagnetic launcher and aluminium littoral combat ships being two prize examples. However you can pretty much guarantee those person(s) responsible (i.e. those who signed, in their own blood, the papers that went before Congress) will today be found mopping and painting the decks out in the most-far flung outpost of the USN….

—————–

Accordingly, to get the QE class carriers and F35’s into service quickly, the best bet would be to publicly keel-haul in Portsmouth all those who made false promises to Parliament back in 2005 (Note. Their names are all listed in the above report).

That would encourage the current leadership to get their act together….. and thus start making these large defence contractors and MOD snivel servants fully accountable for the error of their ways…

regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

N-a-B

I haven’t read the Telegraph article, not least because any defence reporting in there ceased to be credible after John Keegan retired.

However, I think you need to understand a bit of context here. Firstly, while your characterisation of the US procurement process is broadly correct, I don’t think you could ever hold it up as an exemplar – far from it. Indeed the multiple budget approvals that have to be jumped through actually increase uncertainty and delay.

Secondly, having been around and peripherally involved in what was CVF back then, there are some omissions you’re making.

Probably first and foremost among them is that you haven’t mentioned what was called “ShipCo” back in the day, which was formally known as the Maritime Industrial Strategy. This was a big stick which was used to beat the UK shipbuilding industry into consolidation, because while it was appreciated that the carrier programme would stress the UK shipbuilding base, it was also assumed – thanks to the work of Mr Hans Pung at RAND – that on completion of the programme demand would fall, requiring rationalistion (ie closure) of some yards. That directly led to the formation of BVT – and indirectly the infamous ToBA for complex warship building. However, the stand-off between MoD and industry in agreeing to that construct was not an RN, “snivel service” or industry issue. It was entirely led by the politicians Lord Paul Drayson and his master one G. Brown esq. No ShipCo, no contract. For the impact of that compare the original target dates for Main Gate approval and the contract award with what actually happened.

Then we get onto the actual report itself, HC 554 for anyone interested.
554.pdf (parliament.uk)

In that report, paragraph 20 since you ask, there is an explicit statement by one of your “snivel servants” that there is no firm date for Main Gate, let alone the actual build contract. Although he does suggest at para 36 that 2012 was still the target date, only to be contradicted by his (politician) boss at para 37, who refused to commit to that date. The report also notes previous target dates for Main Gate in 2004 and 2005.

There’s also some real comedy referenced in a previous report from Adm Alan West, the 1SL demonstrating he didn’t really understand what was going on. However, that also torpedoes his frequent claims that the detail of the carriers was nothing to do with him, guv, honest.

In actual fact, the Main Gate decision was not approved until July 2007 and the build contract not signed until a year later. That’s before we get to the November 2008 decision to reprofile the budget and delay ISD by a couple of years. Who made those decisions? That’ll be the pollies again – albeit informed by civil service options.

Point being – programme timelines are only as good as the assumptions underpinning them, as I’m sure you know. Change the assumptions, change the timelines. It is therefore rather silly to try and hold the people who gave evidence to the committee in 2005 responsible for things beyond their control.

I haven’t even touched on the comedy STOVL/CTOL switcheroo, nor the 2010 SDSR deletion of CVS/GR9, which while painful was probably the best of a bad bunch of options. Both those decisions also had knock-on effects, not least on the generation of the f/w force.

For the avoidance of doubt, both F18E/F and (snigger) Navalised Eurofighter were considered – at least in the initial design phases from 99-2003. Steam cats were still being provided for in the design well beyond that, with the hope that you could get EMALS (subject to ITAR controls) and the ships power system is still set up to generate that if need be. The overriding assumption remained however a Joint Force flying STOVL f/w.

Where some of the issues are surfacing now, is largely to do with the barriers between budget holders and consequent dislocation and delay in force generation, for which the slow buildup of the Lightning force is probably the most obvious one. But that is all down to decisions taken by politicians and driven by budgets.

Trying to old someone to account for assumptions made 20 years ago isn’t really helpful. Look forward and fix the issues, rather than re-fight old battles, which I think was your point anyway.

Sean

Great to see a comment heavy with facts rather than political prejudices.

Duker

Cough cough

Sean

Your most intelligent and most factual post, ever.

Duker

maritime Industrial Strategy ?
Do you mean the 2002 Defence White paper on Defence Industrial Strategy, which covers the wider defence industrial base

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5a7cd8eae5274a2ae6eeb239/6697.pdf
A Commons committee report is largely pontifications, the White paper from the defence bureaucrats and with the politicians name on it ( Reid, Drayson etc not G Brown esq) is the meatier work

It doesnt mention anything about ‘shipco’, indeed BAE had too many fingers in the pie already including ground combat , fast jets, submarines as well as combat ships. Dont know that pushing out competitors in warship construction was part of the White Paper. In deed VT was a block build supplier on the carriers. But it was BAE own monopoly business approach meant they used their financial muscle to gobble up VT ignore the intial carrier distributed build project
Also they ‘took out’ the other major partner on the carrier , KBR as an integrator
Guess what , its now really a BAE subsidiary/control
https://www.baesystems.com/en/kbs-maritime

maybe your claims could be more specifically located in the references including the White Paper ?

N-a-B

Of course it doesn’t mention “ShipCo”. That’s because those of us who were involved – as opposed to internet warriors – referred to it as such.

And no, I don’t mean the 2002 DIS. I’d have thought a google expert like yourself would have been able to find Maritime Industrial Strategy without any help.

I’ll make it easy for you – here’s the relevant bit from John Reid in 2005, where he explicitly talks about consolidation.
House of Commons Hansard Debates for 15 Dec 2005 (pt 13) (parliament.uk)

As for KBR – I think you’ll find they’re still happily existing doing what they do. In fact they recently bought Frazer-Nash from Babcock. The KBS joint venture you reference is a very different thing.

KBR were brought in because of their offshore and large scale oil and gas project management expertise, in essence to try and corral the myriad yards and suppliers that were needed. BAES weren’t particularly happy with that and eventually prised them out of the job, rather than absorbed them.

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

N-a-B

Thank you for your two well-informed posts, which have to be two of your longest-ever on NL!

Lets start by saying that we can 200% agree that the Daily Torygraph’s defence reporting is today definitely not as good as once was……. as you rightly say, the late Mr Keegan is sorely missed….as is another very knowledgeable commentator on defence matters (see more below).

However, as I noted in my post, it is this very same proposal – to soon be adding “cats and traps with F18 Hornets” to the two QE class carriers – which was recently given publicity in the Sunday Times.

Therefore these two different journalists “informed sources” must be RN naval officers (probably serving ones….) and the fact that they feel free to be talking anonymously to the media – to promote their own multi-billion pound pet project – is yet example of the root causes of why there are so many serious problems throughout UK defence procurement…

(PS Sean. Before you post a reply, can you please refer to your own earlier comments (and I have not forgotten your bet: which is still posted elsewhere on NL!))

——————–

We can also agree that US defence procurement practices are not “ideal”. Indeed, I would add = far from it………..However I note the following:

  • As you rightly say, before the final approval is given in the USA, there are many hoops for the project team to jump through (and as you quite-righty imply, these are often a line of burning hoops).
  • However that early approval process, which often involve some quite-vicious critiquing of the designer(s) initial proposals, does tend to sort the “wheat out from the chaff”.(Or, here on NL, should that phrase have read: “sorting out the silver kitchen foil from the carefully-engineered defensive countermeasures“)?
  • Thus, by the time that any US defence project arrives in front of Congress – and it will be always be presented in a well-written and also concise Congressional paper (including properly estimated budgets and timelines) – that project will normally be in a good place = so as to be soon moving forward into production.
  • Accordingly, once a big defence project given the “GO” by Congress, US defence projects tend to move quite fast: both through the detailed design process and into production; then into operational service.
  • However, those project teams that fail to perform as promised are soon reported back to Congress = and that is when the fun really starts…generally, its either nappies (US readers = diapers) or brown underpants time…..followed by a demotion.
  • I would add in here that Japanese’s ship design / shipbuilding practice also puts very great emphasis on resolving all of the design issues, even the tiny ones, long before any steel is cut. That is why their ships slide down the slipway long before ours….. (Note: Japanese naval ships are much admired: especially by many posting here on NL: even if they do have the funny habit of calling their aircraft carriers destroyers)
  • Therefore, at the end of the day, those US defence procurement practices are (generally) far better than here in the UK.

Thus, again generalising, good quality operational kit does get into the “US field” quicker, and with better overall value for money, than here in the UK.

Accordingly, the best of the US defence procurement practice should be studied very closely = especially how the armed services and DoD regularly report to Congress…..which is in very marked contrast to how our very-arrogant ministers and MOD civil servants treat Parliament…

————-

So, returning the theme in hand, to the “problematic” UK carriers – and going back over the last two decades:

  • I was fully aware that F18, and also navalised Eurofighter, were being actively considered in the earliest stage(s) of the UK carriers conceptual design.
  • Indeed, during those early phases ( called “optioneering” in the HM Treasury’s thick handbook), it was quite right that all possible combinations of ship and aircraft were all being actively considered by the design team(s).
  • I would add that, over in the USA – those early concept studies of all of the various different options – would have been publicised and then publicly scrutinised.
  • Therefore, as you quite righty say, by 2003, the MOD and RN/RAF were fully and publicly committed to the F35-B (STVOL) being deployed on their two new carriers.
  • Thereafter, the RN should have been “getting on with the job”

In 2003, the Defence Procurement Agency (Abbey Wood) published:

“The Royal Navy Handbook – The Definite MoD guide”

(208 pages,£14.99 in hardback. Available from any good bookshop)

(Note: the little “o” in the middle of MOD is in the original text)

This has 4 pages on the Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF) (Pages 22-25)

Overall, it has to be said that several CGI images from 2003 bear a quite-striking resemblance to the ship being shown here today on Navy Lookout (with the only two caveats being that both islands are now taller and the ship’s sponsons are today far more “bulbous”).

(Technical Note: I can only assume that these two late changes to the QE carrier’s design were as the result of the introduction of woke / diversity targets:

  • Those much-taller islands are, quite obviously, to allow those somewhat shorter (i.e. vertically challenged) members of the officer classes to see over the front of the ship (sorry – I must get into the habit of calling it a bow)
  • The more bulbous sponson’s must be to give more space in the hanger: obviously so that the more obese (i.e. horizontally challenged) members of the ship’s crew can do keep fit classes (which – in the absence of massive squadron’s of F35’s being embarked – is what the QE hanger is mainly used for these days…..))

However, all in all, the publicly available CGI images of the carriers back in 2003 – which had yet to be named QE and POW – look remarkably like they do today.

I shall now quote verbatim from page 22-25 of that definitive 2003 RN/MOD handbook:

  1. “They are to operate the STOVL variant of the Lockheed Martin F35 – the same version that the US marines are using – in the strike and air defence role”
  2. “Ramp for STOVL operations”
  3. The larger design will allow the F35 to make rolling landings”
  4. “….the potential for the F35 to making rolling landings, rather than land vertically”. …..”this means the aircraft could land at heavier all up weight’s” (Important note to Sean. In the context of this paragraph it is clearly referring to landing with unused PGM’s (ie another one of your posts))
  5. “In 2003, the MoD announced that the BAE systems to be the preferred prime contractors, with Thales UK performing a major role as the key supplier’s”
  6. “Total cost to be no more than about 2.8billion”

Separately, on page 192

  • “the Royal Navy has chosen Portsmouth as the base for two new aircraft carriers that will replace the invincible class ships…”

Then, on page 8, the introduction to this self-proclaimed definitive guide:

  1. commitment to modernisation is manifest in the biggest military shipbuilding programme in Europe”
  2. The replace aircraft carrier project moves on apace, in tandem with the development of the Joint Strike fighter, due in service in 2012

Those words directly above were written by Admiral Sir Alan West KCB, DSC ADC = 1st Sea Lord

Accordingly, in my own modest and humble opinion, Dec 2003 should have been the cut-off date for the “debate” – either within the armed services or in public – as to what type of aircraft were going to be operationally deployed on those two new carriers. At that point in time, the cats and traps debate should have been ended: once and for all.

Unfortunately, as you have quite-rightly pointed out in your posts here, the shenanigans were only just starting..

To quote the first two conclusions of the December 2005 Parliamentary report (no 504):

“1. Given that the original target date for Main Gate approval on the CVF programme was two years ago, it seems to us extraordinary that there is now no target date at all. MoD should have a target date, even while accepting that it may not be achieved because work to clarify programme timescale, costs and risks is still being undertaken. (Paragraph 22)

“2. It is disappointing that design definition work on the CVF programme has not progressed much in the last year, even though it is a key objective of the Assessment Phase. (Paragraph 25)” 

To quote para 8 from the Parliamentary 504 report: 2005

The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Alan West, told the previous Defence Committee on 24 November 2004 that, in relation to the first carrier, ‘I am still adamant that I want it in 2012.  

To quote para 8 from the Parliamentary 504 report: 2005

“on 20 September 2005, Lord Drayson, Minister for Defence Procurement, wrote to our Chairman expressing concerns about the timing of the inquiry. A particular concern was that ‘negotiations on the carrier programme in particular may be at a critical stage as we approach the major investment decision (Main Gate) on the programme’. The Minister said that he would prefer us to amend the timing of our inquiry, but if that was not possible, noted that MoD ‘will be forced to be limited in the information that it will be able to provide to the Committee’.”

Translation from the civil service gobblegook =

Despite what we promised in 2003 – the budget and timeline for the carrier is now out of control.. … so we e not gong to tell you what is going on!

This ought to be called out for being a contempt of parliament.

If that statement had be made in front of the US Congress, the minister would have been given hell…..

——————————

Now, returning to the need to have good commentaries on defence matters…. Corelli Barnett was a brilliant historian and a lecturer at all of the defence colleges;.This is what the Guardian newspaper said in his obituary in 2022

  • “Bill” as he was universally known – was convinced that Britain’s political and military leaders, as well as the mandarins who provided them with administrative support, were regularly guilty of abysmal incompetence during periods of conflict, and that repeated failures to learn lessons or adopt reform had contributed to Britain’s decline as a nation”

The best of his many books – and he was prolific – was Audit of War.

If you can find an old copy on E-Bay = well worth a read

Same old stuff: just half a century later….

Chapter Six : The fossilisation of Inefficiency: Shipbuilding

regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

N-a-B

I’m not going anywhere near point by point. I’ll just say that

1. STOVL was chosen albeit with significant risk at the time from both a performance and also variant survival perspective. It was therefore entirely sensible to hedge bets via the adaptable carrier route, noting that EMALS was also far from risk free. This stuff isn’t easy.
2. With respect to US procurement and the perspicacity of Congress, I’ll just leave these three examples – LCS, DDG1000, KC46. Nuff said.

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

N-a-B

Back to the short replies!

In reply:

  • As per my earlier posts on NL, I have always agreed with the future carrier design team’s very early decision to go with STVOL planes (and, I would add, changing over now to “cats and traps and Hornets” would be an expensive disaster).
  • With regards to your three examples of USN “balls ups” – I would 200% agree with you that, in service, all three of these ship types have not “done what was promised”.
  • That is why tough action was taken….
  • To use the “very very expensive balls up” of the DG1000 programme as an example, please note page 26 of this report:

https://news.usni.org/2023/12/21/report-to-congress-on-u-s-navy-destroyer-programs-

(This includes a very detailed analysis- including budgets and timelines – as to what, and why, things have gone so wrong with DGG1000).

The only reason we know these three USN programme have all been unsuccessful is because of the inherent transparency within the US programme system! (i.e. “Sorry congressman: we have screwed it up!)

I can never remember seeing a publicly available UK /RN document with anything line this level of clarity.

The simple truth of the matter that – only because of this transparency – the USA tends to learn from its procurement mistakes…

So, to use your own example = Congress basically told the USN stopped the build programme for the DGG1000 (Zumult)(after 3no (when over 30 had been planned)) and, instead they carried on with build programme for the modified /upgraded version of the DDG51 (Ardley Burkes)….

A key decision = which means the US shipyards still had a regular drumbeat of work: and therefore USN has always had fleet of modern warships regularly coming into service…..

Meanwhile, here in the UK, those ball-ups were covered up = which is why so many of our warships are queuing up at Devonport, ready to collect their Old Age Pensions

———————

Applying the same “transparency” treatment to MOD, RN, Babcock and BAe would be a long overdue wake-up call.

In the short term, it would be a very nasty shock to their system.

In the longer term, might actually give the RN the warfighting kit we now so urgently need.

————————–

Have you purchased Audit of War yet?

I think you might find it a real eye opener….. mainly because Whitehall has been making, and repeating, the same mistakes with UK warship building over the past 80 years.

You may care to note the striking similarity between the recommendations made about UK shipbuilding in the 1942 Bentham report and the more recent RAND report = the one you were (very obviously) so irritated about!

regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

N-a-B

Hmm.

I think you’ll find that the reason our frigate programme has been delayed to the extent it has is only partly to do with cock-ups and primarily to do with reluctance to actually fund programmes.

In responsibility terms, the finger ought to primarily point at politicians, from Brown in 99, 04 and 06, through to Osborne in 2010. They of course are highly unlikely to admit to being the cause – and in fairness (at least to Osborne) there were other things going on with the design.

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

N-a-B

Not entirely sure I will agree with you on this one……

Of course, the one thing which we can agree on that in the period 2000-2010 some politicians, and only some, “alleged” we were at peace.

However, during that very same period, the UK armed forces were properly engaged in very big punch-ups in both Irag and Afghanistan (over 400 dead, many more maimed for life).

Thus the leadership of our armed services should have been regularly reminding both the politicians and also the Treasury that the horrendous events of 9/11 proved, once again, that age-old adage = that nasty threats could arrive very unexpectedly and without any prior warning.(However, the USS Cole was attacked, in Yeman, in 1999…)

The “least effective” of the three “successful” attacks on 9/11 was the one that hit the HQ of the US DoD”!

(Note. As an aside, did you know that London is now the only capital city anywhere in the world where commercial passenger jets arriving into the country’s leading international airports fly directly over the three seats of UK political power (Whitehall, Parliament and Buck Palace)).

————————

Simple truth of the matter is that UK defence expenditure did increase during that decade:

Military expenditure of the UK 2000-2019 | Statista

So, having put that popular urban myth (“we are skint”) to bed, l shall now move on – to comment on where all of the taxpayer’s money went during the Brown/Osbourne era (Decade from 2000-2010)

  • During that period, AWE at Aldermaston and Burghfield wasted a large fortune: employing more “numpty” consultants to write verbose study reports than they ever employed as engineers and contractors to actually do the work (Source NAO (National Audit Office).
  • (However, before anybody called Sean posts a reply here on NL; I must quickly point out that, to be 100% factually correct, that the NAO did not actually use that one little word “numpty” in their very heavily censored report; the one which very heavily criticised AWE’s project management. After all, why use one word when 3,257 will do instead?…..)
  • The British Army spent an awful lot of taxpayers money on what can best be politely described as “abortive projects”: their so-called “Revolution in Military Affairs” (note. which, interestingly, was never abbreviated into a TLA).
  • In particular there was the the engineering fiasco, often called a fiscal disaster, called the Army’s Future Rapid Effects System (FRES). (Note to all youngsters reading NL: this is just coming into service now in 2024 as the Ajax tank). That project – including the numerous sets of ear defenders and associated compensation – has cost more than the RN’s carrier programme…….
  • During that period, a large number of squaddies and bootnecks died in Iraq and Afghanistan because the British Army had not learnt (or rather relearnt) a very basic lesson from three decades of fighting terrorists in Northern Ireland before 1997 = that counter-insurgency operations require mine-proof vehicles (and also lots of helicopters). As a result, lots and lots of very expensive mine-proof vehicles were purchased by MOD on the “hurry-up” (Or, to use the correct military TLA: UOR (Urgent Operational Requirement).
  • Meanwhile, another “stunning success story” by the Army was the Watchkeeper UAV – of which the politest thing to say is that the Watchkeeper’s design team “probably” fell asleep on the job – …….. when they took an Israeli UAV (that worked) and, having spent about a billion quid of TPS (Taxpayers Pounds Sterling), made it into a UK drone that did not work (or, come to think of it = even fly). I did a better job at the age of eleven; with a UAV procured, for what seemed like a lot of pocket money at the time, from my local toy shop…
  • Also, by 2019 the BOAR was repatriated from West Germany (Note. This major redeployment was completed almost thirty years to the day after the Berlin Wall had fallen: but, hey-ho, one has to take one’s time when one is an senior officer making key decisions about defence procurement….the proceedings of the Army Dress Committee must take precedence….)
  • Thus in the 2000’s many RAF bases here in the UK were converted to Army bases (a neighbourhood development which I am sure many local communities were delighted about….). Thus many hundreds of new accommodation blocks were build, mostly by Carillion.
  • So, I have to now ask, with so much money having been spend on BSN (Brand Spanking New) accommodation buildings in the years since we all “partied like its 1999” = why are so many squaddies now moaning about being housed in very poor quality accommodation?????? (i.e. A big editorial in the Daily Torygraph this week)
  • Staying in the subject of closing down RAF bases (i.e. because there were not enough aircraft to go around all of them…), during that very same period the RAF managed to bugger up (to use the correct aviation technical term) the procurement of F35’s, A400M, Nimrod MR4 and especially next tranche of Typhoon’s:

So, as an example, to quote the 2010 Major Projects Review presented to Parliament (Hansard 687), writing about the Typhoon:

“The 2004 decision to remove the £1 billion of funding for the third tranche of Typhoon combat aircraft was a high risk decision based on over-optimism, which cost the taxpayer dear. It did not reflect the reality that the Department would incur significant costs whatever course of action it chose to pursue. In 2009, the Department committed a further £2.7 billion to buy 16 additional aircraft, a significant contributor to the £36 billion “black hole” in the defence budget”

  • Meanwhile, over at the top-secret GCHQ in Cheltenham, a signature US architect designed the now famous Donut (Note: which have to admit is very nicely finished on the inside). Unfortunately, a Sir Humphreys at MOD forgot to include in the initial budget, the one presented to the minister for their final approval, all of the new computers! (I know, sad, but true)
  • Oh yes.. The MOD rebuilt their headquarters in Whitehall; all furnished with office chairs priced at a cool one and a half thousand pounds each.
  • ——–

So now, having just engaged engaged in in the long tradition of defence procurement (i.e. slagging off the “other” armed services and the civil service = so as to take the heat off one’s own mistakes…)

………we shall now move onto the water……

During that period, the Navy had five large shipbuilding programmes:

  1. Albion’s (these came into RN service just when all of the Army’s heavy tanks – wot these two ship’s were supposed to land onto the enemy’s beaches – went out of service…)
  2. Bay Class (my comments, if posted here, would be viewed by the High Court in the Stand as a case of very severe libel).
  3. Astute submarines (an oxymoron if ever there was one!)
  4. T45 Destroyers (the exact opposite of a BOGOFF offer (buy eight, only get four)
  5. QE Carriers – see next

For just one example of naval indecision, this is what was said back in 2010 about the decisions being made about the new carrier’s cats and traps, (a subject which has been very topical this week by those, including me, posting here on Navy Lookout)

“The Department is in the process of carrying out detailed costings, but the decision to fly a different type of aircraft off the carriers was not based on a full understanding of the costs. The Department was confident that the additional costs incurred in fitting catapults and arrester wires to the carriers would be more than offset by procuring lower-cost aircraft. An inadequate understanding of costs is indicative of more deep rooted problems in the way the Department takes decisions”.

(PS. Note to Sean (post directly below). It is not my fantasy that Cats and traps are to be added to the QE. If you had bothered to read my posts properly you will not ever find me in support of them. In my comments about cats and traps, I was (very obviously) commenting on certain naval officers fantasies)

I can only assume that, whilst indulged in all of these very big shipbuilding projects – the orders for the little stuff (called frigates) fell off Sir Alan West’s desk. However, as always, best to blame the outsourcer Capita – who probably tidied up his office and put the offending piece of paper in the waste paper basket…

———————

However no mention of defence procurement during the Brown era would be complete without me having mentioned the “crème-de-la crème of defence procurement cock-ups…

That has to be the new headquarters of the Defunct Procurement Agony itself (DPA: Abbey Wood, just outside the woke capital of Bristol)

One of the UK’s largest, and certainly one of the best, construction contractors send back, in a small lorry, their entire tender set (i.e. returning all of the drawings, contract documents and technical specifications etc back to the DPA). They included a short covering letter, explaining that this completely unprecedented action had been taken because there were so many discrepancies (i.e. within the set of tender documents for the DPA’s own new headquarters) They then, very-politely, pointed out that one example of this bad practice was several different drawings – all stamped “DPA approved for construction” – had on them some very-different total number of new buildings! (Quite literally = would sir like twelve or fifteen new buildings?)

———————–

Simple truth of the matter is that – if we want to have an effective UK fighting force to defend this nation’s national interests (and boy, after having just listened to BBC 1 news at thirteen-hundred hours today, are we going to need that capability quite soon!!!!) then those at the top (aka “Defence Leadership”) ought to be leading these major equipment projects: so not running away or leaving it to the bloke called “others” or then wringing their hands or (finally) blaming others when it all goes “Pete Tong!”

So, to quote from that same 2010 Parliamentary report (687)

“Senior Responsible Owners (SROs) for major defence projects typically move post every two to three years, eroding accountability. It also seems common for the Department to appoint a single individual to be responsible for a wide range of different major projects – a task no one person can properly fulfil. “Responsible” means that such individuals should be held to account for delivering the project within an agreed budget and should have the authority to direct those involved in delivering the project. Neither is true in Defence”.

That paragraph, published in 2010, rather-nicely sums up that entire decade of defence procurement….

To conclude my reply,

N-a-B: Can you name me any one large defence project – Army or Royal Navy or AWE or GCHQ or DPA or Royal Air Force – that was originally procured during the decade of 2000-2010 that has not been the subject of a very critical National Audit Office and/or Parliamentary report?

(Hint: I am now expecting your shortest-ever post!)

regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

PS. Just before Christmas 2023, the RN in Portsmouth advertised for the “project controls officer” for the forthcoming multi-billion pound MRSS shipbuilding project. This is a very key role; reporting to the RN’s leadership on the MRSS project – budgets, expenditure, identifying key risks and delivery programme / timelines etc (i.e. all of the trivial stuff which one really needs to bring a big and complex engineering project in on time and on budget…..)

Key job requirement, and I quote word for word from the RN job advert: “no experience necessary”

mark

TLDR, waste of time

Sean

And I expect that £1000 when your fantasy of fitting cats and traps for F18s is shown to be the fantasy it has always been.

BTW are you even aware the F18 is ending production next year so we’d have to buy second hand ones, if they were even available…

Shame you don’t think of yourself as a British citizen but instead as a “taxpayer”…

N-a-B

House of Commons – Defence – Minutes of Evidence (parliament.uk)

Q42 through 50 should cover it.

Free of charge.

Duker

This was good for a laugh
”  Take submarines, there is only one shipyard in the country that can design and build submarines for us; so whether we like it or not we have to contract with that yard. The question is: how do we contract with that yard most intelligently such that we do get the best product, on time, with the best value for money?”

BAE made a collosal mess of that with the Astutes, triggered by the long pause in orders, but still BAE seemed totally unprepared when their guaranteed orders came in. Taxpayers were mightily done over there

N-a-B

Remind me again who the original contract for Astute was let to – and when?

Nearly a decade prior to that statement.

Duker

That was already a monopoly- never going to change as Trafalgars and Swiftsure class before then came from Barrow

Surely you know the original Astute contract was a political theatre by Conservatives , I think it was 2 months before the election, and was no where ready to ‘contract anything’ as the process was all up in the air.
This is at the heart of my beef over your comments , you know well enough a lot of the background – but your mind goes blank before May 1997 and again after May 2010.
Just curious about why that is so.
Would be great to hear your views on the Astute contract from 1997 and why it turned to custard- apart from BAE failures on the design software lack of maturity

N-a-B

Except the original Marconi master plan was to work with BMT IIRC and largely cut VSEL out of it. To the extent they were considering fabrication at AMEC offshore in Wallsend.

The reason that plan went wrong was twofold. Firstly it assumed that “it’s just fabrication isn’t it?”, if you apply systems engineering nothing can possibly go wrong ever. Secondly it ignored the advice of what remained of the people in MoD who spent thirty years learning the hard way how to design and build boats. All in the name of transferring risk to industry for which the Tories absolutely own the blame. As they did for essentially killing shipbuilding on Tyneside with the LPH contract.

However in both cases BAES did not exist as a shipbuilding entity, so can hardly be blamed.

There’s no blank after 2010. It’s just that one of us was living the issues in the industry and one of us spends a lot of time thinking the internet is always right.

Last edited 8 days ago by N-a-B
Duker

As for the Carrier VT was a partner in the build order so must have been part of Draysons master plan to be a major supplier
The takeover came once the government deals were signed and sealed
‘VT Group is to sell its 45 percent stake in its BVT Surface Fleet naval shipbuilding operations to joint-venture partner BAE Systems for a minimum of 380 million pounds.’

N-a-B

VT and BAES ships joining up to form BVT was Draysons master plan, the exact consolidation he envisaged (as recommended by RAND).

They got out to concentrate on service provision – again, exactly as Drayson had planned.

Duker

And BAE buying out VT and Kellogg marine ?
Joint ventures on projects yes

The Astute contract disaster was hardly a ringing endorse of a single monopoly working out well – even though for that type of construction it was unavoidable

The TSR2 mess of the 1960s was partly because 2 aircraft builders were forced together for ‘efficencies’
Nothing wrong with a head contractor and major subcontracts with smaller yards .

N-a-B

Your English is slipping again….

Supportive Bloke

“ I haven’t read the Telegraph article, not least because any defence reporting in there ceased to be credible after John Keegan retired.”

To be totally fair Tom Sharpe is doing a pretty good job of feet on the ground stuff.

I really wish they would get rid of Lewis who just makes stuff up.

I totally agree that the STOVL decision had been taken a long time back and that F18 was never a serious runner. There was zero trust for BAE or for the Typhoon consortium for it not to turn into a money pit.

The CATOBAR argument was curious and was, in part, driven by articles in The Register: yes really! And the Max Hastings nonsense in The Torygraph. As well as a desire to push the carrier timeline back for Osbourne reasons. It wasn’t anything either RAF or RN we’re particularly interested in. The only thing that was of interest was the AEW possibilities.

Personally I think the BRAVO variant is the right one for RAF and RN. There are plenty of international partners on BRAVO so ongoing costs are well spread about.

The CHARLIE variant would have saddled UK with massive ongoing update costs with USN who may not keep it in service at previously predicted numbers thereby making ongoing costs an impossibility.

The argument is pointless as we are where we are with two carriers and soon 45 usable F35B.

It is a very real capability that the Russians will envy and be very afraid of. Now they have seen T45 in action as well.

Sure CrowsNest is the weak(er) link but as everyone keeps saying the next iteration will be drone AEW anyway. That said what have Russians got that would be anywhere near the performance of CrowsNest that isn’t land based?

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

Supportive Bloke

The decisive key factor will be one which I touched on in my post

The F35 is a low observable (stealth) plane and in all future nation-state battles, that strike capability will be crucial.

Throughout the last three decades, NATO combat aircraft, including the F18 Super Hornet, have only ever been operating in very permissive threat environments. Afghanistan, Iraq (round 2) and more recently Yemen were/are nations which did not have any effective air defences (let alone a fully networked and integrated set of air defences)

Therefore one has to think back to Vietnam, Iraq (round 1) and former Yugoslavia to remember what conventional warplanes had to put up with when they came up against a soviet-era integrated air defence system (i.e. fighters, missiles, triple A, radars, ECM etc etc). Plenty of pilots flying conventional aircraft were left sat in muddy puddles, eating their UASF/USN/RAF combat survival rations, wondering when they were going to be rescued and thus presented with their Martin Baker tie (A club first founded in 1957; with a current membership list of over seven thousand)

Quite noticeably during the ongoing land war in Ukraine, at no point over the past two years has any type of conventional airpower been either effective or decisive (Note. much to the surprise of those numpties wearing their RUSI ties) . That has been because both Russia and Ukraine both had in place their own, very effective, soviet era air defence system (both inherited from PVO Strany)

Therefore I agree with you = that the F35B is the right piece of kit for the job. Its is a plane which the Russian’s, Chinese, North Korean’s and Iranian’s ought to be very worried about……

For N-a-B benefit (especially as I have been winding him up over the past few days!) I will put “on the record” that the correct decision was taken by the RN and RAF twenty years ago to run with the F35-B.

It is just a very great shame it has taken over two decades to get a few into operational service…

regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

N-a-B

The USN indecision over F35C will soon fade. It is a no-brainer for them now – particularly with the return of great power competition. You could pretend that F18E/F/G is enough for your needs when you’re playing in a relatively permissive environment.

When you’re planning on going up against the PLAN, it’s a very different game and if you’re not a Day 1 player, you’re not a player.

Aside from which, retiring A6 in the hope of getting A12 and then 20 years later canning the first stealth aircraft you’ve actually managed to buy will not be a good look…..

Supportive Bloke

Sure but at the moments in time when UK decisions were being made the love F18 over F35C was pretty clear.

Nothing at all to do with senior folks who once flew and commanded F18 now flying very important desks……nope nothing at all….cough….cough.

N-a-B

Not sure there were any “senior folk” with F18 exchange tours in “very important posts”. Can’t think of many who actually did an F18 tour who stayed in beyond 3 rings. There is the recently departed Royal but that’s long after those decisions were made.

Supportive Bloke

I meant stateside of the pond.

Sean

No, most American casualties in Vietnam were to the regular North Vietnamese Army, not the bicycle riding, black pyjama’d VC.

Duker

And Afghanistan ?

Sean

Afghanistan didn’t participate in the Vietnam War FFS…

Duker

The irregular forces in Afghanistan caused causalities for US and Britain
Including Iraq is 7000

Sean

And if you bothered to read Pete’s comments he was referring to the Vietnam War.
Your rambling tangent about Afghanistan isn’t relevant.

AlexS

Most US causalities in Vietnam were due to mines and bobby traps, more than 50%.

Sean

Mines mainly, things like punji stocks seemed horrifying but killed few.
And it was the NVA that planted the majority of the mines, not the VC, so my point stands. Idiot.

Will

The US came in second in Vietnam because our political class completely mismanaged what was a poorly conceived war effort in the first place. I suppose the original thinking was that the hoped-for end would be a prosperous and independent outpost of western civilization along the lines of South Korea, but that was not going to be achieved with a war of attrition that was fought with one hand tied behind our back.

Nixon got it right when he sent in wave after wave of B-52s to level Hanoi from one end to the other. Well, not quite, most of the targets were military, logistics, and industrial sites, but the NVA got the message: we can do this not just to the rest of your city, but to your entire country. If this had been done in 1965 instead of 1972-3, I believe the outcome would have been quite different.

Duker

South Vietnam was a dictatorship in that era.
The background was the Domino Theory.
Vietnam is now prosperous and independent communist country.
Same Domino Theory nonsense is applied in Ukraine, by all means provide support to end an invasion. But just as Putin made a mistake in thinking his armed forces could prevail, west is making the same mistake in that Ukraine can prevail- with enough shiny things or artillery shells.

Compare with the very limited Nato support when Cyprus was invaded , Falklands were invaded or Gibraltar is ‘menaced’- 1704 is supposed to be OK for Spain to reclaim back but not Kviv

Last edited 9 days ago by Duker
Sean

Domino with regards to Ukraine isn’t a theory, it’s a stated ambition of Putin, to restore Russian hegemony over the former Soviet republics.

Cyprus was not a NATO member, and it was invaded by Turkey, NATO member. As it was at the height of the Cold War, western solidarity was the higher priority.

Falkands was outside NATO remit.

Spain can claim whatever it wants, nobody is taking any notice – just like it doesn’t take notice of Morocco. But neither of them have mobilised invasion forces.

Ukraine given enough continued support can prevail. Afghanistan was able to prevail against the entire USSR. Already Russia has sustained in 2 years of war more casualties than in 20 years in Afghanistan.

Duker

The Domino effect was for countries neighbours to the one invaded
Cyprus is EU ( now ) and Commonwealth (then) member .
Yes it was 50 years ago , but how about some solidarity with them in this century

Spain still makes claims about Gibraltar free from any pushback from *Europe*
Falklands outside nato remit ? How did nato end up in Afghanistan or involved in Libya ?

Sean

Domino effect is for countries in the region, which includes, but not limited to, neighbouring countries.

Cyprus didn’t join the EU until 2004, which is 30 years after it was invaded. Yes it was in the Commonwealth in 1974, but the Commonwealth is not a military alliance.
So again you’re spouting facts that are completely irrelevant.

Yes Spain still claims Gibraltar, and everyone ignores them. So what?

Article 6 states that NATO’s Article 5 only covers the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and territory, as far south as the Tropic of Cancer. Libya, Afghanistan are both north of the Tropic of Cancer. The Falkland Islands are well south of the Tropic of Cancer!!!
The intervention in Libya was taken up by NATO to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1973.

Will

Although the F/A-18 is certainly not a stealth platform, even now it is still a very good jack of all trades fighter-bomber. And it has been built in huge numbers, so the cost per unit would be (still is) quite a bit less than the F-35. There will be stupendous amounts of spare parts and numerous additional airframes available for decades, as well as ongoing support and even additional upgrades from the OEM going forward. So there are, or would have been, definite advantages for the RN in going with CATOBAR carriers equipped with the generation 4.5 Super Hornet and not the fifth generation Lighting II.

On the other hand, the advantages of both stealth and STOVL (or STORVL in RN use with the “R” meaning “rolling landing”). UK readers can correct me if I’m wrong, but it is my understanding that the Admiralty has preferred STOVL aircraft for some time because it would be far faster and cheaper to get a few converted large merchant ships into the battle as improvised CVEs than it would be to build new carriers in the event of a hot war. Given the resources available to the RN, it is hard to argue with this sort of pragmatic approach, seems to me.

Last edited 9 days ago by Will
Duker

Thanks for that . But UK was never going for the F-18 once the F-35 was proposed, they would have gone for the F-35C if a catobar carrier was ever seriously in the works. BAE is one of the major partners – alongside Northrop Grumman- so the UK share of work is a plus. I dont think there is any possibility for converted merchant ships flying STOVL, it was suggested back in Harrier days, a smaller lighter plane, but even that was impossible in practice for a combat role. Falklands showed aircraft ferrying was possible .

N-a-B

Merchant ship conversion was never a driver in the STOVL choice for QEC. It was largely down to two factors :

  1. Once the Joint Force Harrier construct had been made in the SDR98, the RN and the RAF were essentially committed to providing a force that could operate off carriers and from austere bases (how austere, given the complexity of F35 is of course an issue).
  2. CTOL options (CATOBAR is a made up acronym by internet spods) were considered as a fallback should the STOVL jet either fail to meet its performance targets, or get cancelled as seemed possible several times during the development programme. The CTOL option was always seen as less desirable, because of the need to keep most aircrew trained in catapult launch and (especially) arrested recovery, ie currency. This would theoretically have reduced the amount of time the joint force was available for non-embarked ops and cost more.
Supportive Bloke

As USN are finding out “ And it has been built in huge numbers, so the cost per unit would be (still is) quite a bit less than the F-35” isn’t actually true.

Will

It is really difficult to get straight answers from anyone in the military-industrial complex in the US and, I presume, in the UK. The last time I checked, which was admittedly 2 or 3 years ago, the Super Hornet was still cheaper to build and especially to operate than the F-35. I have read that the overall price tag of the F-35 has come down significantly as production has neared 1,000 units, but I would have a hard time believing that it would ever be in the same ballpark as the F/A-18. I could be wrong, no doubt, but I would have to see hard data and reliable numbers.

Jack

Looks like HMS Portland is stepping in for HMS Somerset.
Broken again 🙁

Sean

The Black Sea Fleet keeps getting smaller…

Theoden

But their sub fleet is growing !

Sean

SSKs and SSBNs yes, not SSNs.

Noel

So is the Royal Navy…. even smaller, lol,

Sean

Currently, but we’re able to build replacements. The Russians haven’t commissioned anything larger than a frigate since the 1990’s, whereas the UK has commissioned 2 carriers and 6 destroyers.

RobAB

Well, there’s 4 Yasen SSN’s at 13800 t each, and 7 Borel SSBN’s at 24000 t each, since 2000. (With 7 more expected to be completed by the end of the decade.)

Sean

Actually it’s 27 not 11 since 2000:
• 1 Akula SSN
• 4 Yasen SSGN
• 7 Borei SSBN
• 12 Improved Kilo SSK
• 1 Lada SSK
• 1 Sarov (experimental)
• 1 Belgorod ( UAV mothership)

Compared to the RN
• 5 Astute SSN

(Though the RN’s 4 SSBNs were just launched in the late 90’s so won’t be replaced until 2030’s.)

Under construction units confirms what the above shows, that Russia has given up building SSNs, and is instead going for numerous cheap SSKs with Russia reserving nuclear for land-strike only (SSBN, SSGN).
Whereas the RN is all nuclear.

Supportive Bloke

And some large overpriced OPV’s.

Alistair

2 nonfunctioning under-gun carriers and 6 old under-power destroyers, half of them rotting in port with no crews.

Last edited 8 days ago by Alistair
Sean

Well that’s obviously wrong and just tells everyone you don’t know what you’re taking about.

POW is on exercise, and QE is sailing to Rosyth for repairs under her own power. Compare that with the Admiral Kuznetsov that has been out of service since 2018…

As for the Type 45s, if you think they are “old” then the Russian fleet is antediluvian as their equivalent date from the last millennium. You’re also completely wrong on the status. Three are in port undergoing refits (ie PIP programme), not “rotting” – an adjective that better describes both the Russian Navy and Russia in general.

Paddy

No money, no personnel, no replenishment, and UK in recession.

Sean

“No money” – in billions, largest in Western Europe, second largest in NATO, sixth largest globally.

“No personnel” – 185,000 active with 33,000 reserved personnel

“No replenishment” – 4 Tides, 3 Bays, 1 Fort.

“UK in recession” – as is Japan, EU, etc. price to be paid to reduced inflation, probably already out of it.

So basically, you’re either very poor with facts or just ignore them completely.

Esteban

How about the Russian submarines?

Sean

How about Storm Shadow?

Whale Island Zoo Keeper

US Navy Preparing To Buy EMALS And AAG For CVN 82, 83 And PANG Aircraft Carrier
The Yanks are buying the French a catapult for their new carrier.

https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2024/02/us-navy-preparing-to-buy-emals-and-aag-for-cvn-82-83-and-pang-aircraft-carrier/

Sean

No they’re not. The USN is looking to place an order for 3 EMALS, one of which will go to the French and which the French will pay for. They aim to get a better deal by bundling orders together, and gives them control over foreign purchases/ exports.
It’s the same as how F35 purchases are made, the UK, Italy, etc didn’t buy direct from LM.

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

Sean

For your pet subject – of how best to launch UAV’s off the deck of a RN QE class carrier – I do now have to point to you out there are better solutions available in the marketplace….(i.e. instead of electro-magnets).

See attached = “Increasing Launch Capability of a UAV Bungee Catapult”

untitled (ceon.rs)

regards Peter (Irate taxpayer)

Sean

Not my pet subject at all.

I think there’s a raft of drone launching solutions, and a mix is probably the best for redundancy. There’s a place for helicopter style, tiltrotor drones, and catapult launched drones.
But these will be augmenting, not replacing, the ramp launched F35Bs.