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John Hartley

Random thoughts. The need for a high end SAM to counter the single nuclear missile blackmail scenario. SAMP/T, THAAD, Arrow 3 or similar.
A fifth Dreadnought as a spare. Use it as a conventional arsenal ship with the 12 tubes loaded with Tomahawk, most of the time, but able to switch to the Trident deterrent role, if something happens to one of the other 4 boats.
Putting Standard SM6 on T83 or T31 block 2.
One 6 drone Bayraktar TB2 set with groundstations for AAC to get experience with, at a cost of $67 m.
On the civil side. Copy Trump & put tariffs on Chinese goods & use that money to reshore manufacturing to the UK.
Build the Severn & Wash barriers to provide electricity for at least the next 150 years. Build at least 1000 mini dams, the size of a domestic swimming pool, on the hill streams of the South East, Midlands & Lincolnshire. Prevents flooding & droughts.


Unfortunately wave power was somthing we could have really aced in, the U.K. coast has some of the biggest tides in the world and we could easily power our nation with tidel power. It’s also utterly reliable as well.

Supportive Bloke

Wave power has been kicking around for more years than I can remember.

Problem is how do you anchor the units down such that they don’t get trashed in the next storm.

Wave power works fine 99% of the time until it gets wrecked.


Wave power ‘doesnt work’. Its too diffuse. Look at wind power , it only is economic at large scale turbines, which are impractical for waves – the top few meters of the sea.
Plus the tides dont give a a standard sea level, a problem not faced by wind turbines. However both still have the problem that the generation cant be on demand , so isnt reliable enough for the critical morning and evening peaks

Last edited 1 year ago by Duker
Dave G

Wave power (the up and down motion of the surface) has the problems you say… tide power (lateral current flows particularly through choke points) should be much more practical. The turbines cAn be anchored to the bottom of the sea / estuary.

The Severn estuary is a prime location. I would imagine the solent would give quite a good option.


You really need to look at the newer generation of wave generators, they actually don’t use the mechanical action of the wave to turn a turbine, instead they use the waves to create positive and negative air pressure to turn turbines. This means the the generators and turbines can be fixes above the waves and not damaged, you can build them into harbour walls and sea defences, meaning any costal civil engineer project can become a micro generator.


Supportive, have a look at the newer generation wave generators. They are very different in concept from the early generators that turned the up and down motion directly into mechanical energy to turn the turbine.

The new wave of generators ( sorry ) use air pressure and keep the turbines and moving parts well away from sea water. The bit the sea gets to bash in is simply a concrete tube, which creates positive and negative air pressure with the up and down of the water in the tub then above that is a unidirectional wind turbine. They can be on floaty boats or set into things like sea defences and harbour walls. Infact you can slap these generators into any costal civil engineering project to create a micro generation site.

They have just started building them as commercial units and they seem to be the first really practical, stick it anywhere you like wave micro generator.


Wave power and tidal power are two different things.

The practicalities of harvesting energy from tidal streams are non-trivial. Directionality, speed, variation in volume (law of twelths) all mean it isn’t “easy’.

Which is why to this day, the biggest tidal stations in the world only deliver 250MW. Which is just a little more than both QEC generate.


Yes but a good proportion of our gas power station s on deliver 400MW, so a 250mW is pretty good actually. It’s also very mature and one very overlooked benefit it the length of time these stations will stay operational La Rance for instance is now at its 55th year of operation and still going strong, with no time frame for it to be decommissioned. It payed for itself after the first 20 years of operations and has been essentially out billions of pounds engery ( worth 3.3billion pounds, with only maintenance costs).

The average Life of a gas or nuclear station is somewhere between 20-40 years.

The Severn Barrage if it had gone forward would have provided an average output of 2000mw, would have lasted a good century, and at any one time had the same output of 3 nuclear power plants. essentially you would have had to have commissioned and decommissioned around 9 nuclear reactors to cover the the output over a century.

infact just the Severn barrier could proved the U.K. with 7% of its entire power needs for at least a century.

As for wave some of the new generation of generators are very good and have been tested in some exceptionally high see states in difficult condition ( the lasts set of tests form one of the more interesting wave generators was in the seas between Australia and Tasmania, the new systems actually keep all the moving parts away from the sea and use air pressure to move the turbines. The waves are just used to generate positive and negative air pressure waves to drive a turbine, so the whole kit does not move.They can also be built into any sea wall or sea defence….effectively every harbour wall can become a micro generator.


I am on board 100% with every one of these suggestions, @John Hartley . I have been clamoring for a Royal Navy cruise missile arsenal submarine for years. And yes, four (4) “boats” is one too few if the UK is serious about mounting an exclusively sea-based nuclear deterrent. I still say the RAF should be equipped with standoff missiles that could be armed with nuclear warheads if the need arose. The French already do this and it is a very cheap force multiplier that greatly complicates any enemy’s strategic calculus.

Last edited 1 year ago by Will

Since I heard about the SSNR program, I’ve been hoping they will go down the American route and build them with plenty of VLS.

But we don’t need more nuclear weapons. They’re so expensive to maintain, that it would be a huge drain on our defence budget.


Build the Severn & Wash barriers to provide electricity for at least the next 150 years. Build at least 1000 mini dams, the size of a domestic swimming pool, on the hill streams of the South East, Midlands & Lincolnshire.”
You would need to work out how to get local communities to buy into the environmental costs of this. Just remember the issues around fracking and you’ll see how difficult this sort of thing is politically, particularly for a Tory government.

John Hartley

There are videos on youtube of local schemes in Australia, China, India, Jordan, etc. where semi desert areas have been re greened by building mini dams 10-30 ft wide, 20-50ft long, using local stone & earth, so they blend in & are not eyesores. If they leak a bit, then good, as they are not stopping the water altogether, just slowing it down. If HMG offered, a £5000 grant to each one built, I think many landowners/farmers/councils, would take them up on it. Once people see some built & working well, then they will want to join in.
Look at the French tidal barrier at St Malo. We should build the same type of thing, but bigger, on the Severn & the Wash. Using turbines with slow turning blades, allows the fish to swim through unharmed.


£5000 gets you nothing in construction. The planning process is likely to cost the sponsor of the dam a lot more than that when you include time.
You would need to subsidise to a level that the dams owner could see a return on their capital in less than 10 years to get more than a token number built. Where is the money for these subsidies coming from?

John Hartley

In this Summers drought, many people will be thinking of greater water storage to stop their local streams drying out. The £5000 is an incentive. It is not meant to be the whole cost. Though it might be if local volunteers build it with local soil & stones.
Where does any gov money come from? They always claim to be broke, but can find billions for their pet projects.


Norway has built 100’s of micro dams, most of them you wouldn’t even notice if you drove past them. They’re good at disguising them to look like mountain cabins. Most of them are just add a small diversion to the river to channel some of the flow into the turbine house.

Last edited 1 year ago by KiwiRob
Phillip Johnson

Ukraine is regularly claiming that they have successfully intercepted Russian cruise missiles. Most of the claims seem to relate to missiles launched by Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. That probably mean they are Russian equivalents of the Tomahawk missile.
How much longer can the US and its allies rely on a missile like the Tomahawk, at least again peer forces?. It is subsonic, it is non manoeuvring ,and it is as big as a torpedo.
What does that say about future VLS launch requirements?

John Hartley

If they knock down half, it still means the other half are getting through.


It says that your VLS needs to be sufficiently big to launch next gen hypersonic missiles.
The need to move quickly beyond “Tomahawk style” missiles was I believe a big part of why the RN wanted to put the money initially earmarked for a new conventional anti ship system into hypersonics.

John Hartley

Yes & a Trident tube can take 7x Tomahawk or 1x new shiny Hypersonic missile.


Given the costs involved there is very very little chance of an extra Dreadnought being built. Plus mixing nuclear and non nuclear attack in the same hull type is a risky strategy. The likely launch signature of hypersonic missiles will only increase the dangers.

John Hartley

So are Russia, China, USA, North Korea going to abandon hypersonic missiles? Thought not.


Hypersonic definitely won’t be abandoned. But the launch platform won’t be an extra sub it’ll be the existing and in build surface fleet plus the RAF/FAA.

John Hartley

but as you said, the new super dooper, mega bucks hypersonic, won’t fit in a MK41. Will fit a Trident tube though.


In a naval aspect it absolutely shows up the stupidity of the RN’s lack of surface to surface missiles. Ukrainian land based SSM’s are doing precisely what it says on the tin; maintaining a sterile zone equal to the range of the missile that the enemy doesn’t operate in. That’s why ships need them. They deny the use of the sea to enemy vessels.

Some folks say it’s different for the RN as we have SSN’s and carriers. However, we only have 5 SSN’s operational and we have far more missions for them that we have boats deployed. And our F35’s don’t have a heavyweight stand-off missile for the anti-ship role (and Spear 3 is too short ranged and lightweight to provide the capability). The US, French, Indian, Chinese and Russian navies all have SSN’s and carriers whose aircraft have heavyweight ASM’s but they all equip their escorts with SSM’s.


Sounds like Wallace agrees with this, whilst Admiral Complacent himself aka Radakin dithers and spouts bull bingo


The U.K. still has some coal-fired power stations, but these are used as a last resort due to their cost, both financial and environmental.

The problem is that politicians avoided making unpopular decisions about more nuclear since the early 90’s. Uniquely the U.K. has enough fuel stored at Sellafield for fast-breeder reactors to power the U.K. for up to 500 years. None are under construction.
The SMR concept has been around years, but is only now seeing funding.
One of the reasons why France’s energy costs haven’t skyrocketed is due to the vast majority of their electricity being nuclear generated.

Neil Reddaway

Re French energy costs not rising, Nuclear is one reason, but it is expensive generation anyway. The other reason is that the French government still controls EDF, and has capped prices.

Supportive Bloke


The French don’t really use gas for heating so expensive electricity would be a trigger for street protests etc

I’m not so sure the UK government won’t have to intervene and scrap VAT on domestic electricity and suspend it on gas.


Well there’s a plus from Brexit, inside the EU we wouldn’t be able to cut it abolish VAT.

Meirion x

Actually ‘standing charges’ cost just as much then cost of VAT on electricity and gas, around 48p each a day. It should be the supplier to cover that cost.

Last edited 1 year ago by Meirion x

Yes the French government has taken control of EDF – guess Macron is a socialist after all – and is forcing EDF to sell electricity at at loss. EDF have responded with a lawsuit for billions of €s in compensation from the French government.

Supportive Bloke

The problem with nuclear is relatively simple: leaps to new ‘better designs’

The EDF design at Flamanville is pretty typical of first out of box.

Rather than using very well understood designs and incrementally improving them to a ‘new shiny’ us created that is always a nightmare to build the first few and costs run away.

The more understood and mature a design is the less technical and cost risk there is. That is really the SMRs main sales point.

How do I know this: I used to share a house with two nuclear engineers…..?


Agreed going with traditional big plants, especially when they are often new designs because they so rarely built is a huge gamble. I think it’s only worth taking for a fast breeder programme because it costs us a fortune to store what we could fuel them with.

SMRs should be less financial risk to build. I don’t see them ever getting to a production line, but they should be a lot faster to build. As for a design, RR have been building these for decades and putting them aboard our subs.


The problem with the submarine style reactors is they use uranium enriched to bomb levels. This sort of fuel has both huge security requirements and is massively expensive. It’s fine when power density is vital, but useless when economic production of electricity is the aim.

John Hartley

The Canadian slowpoke reactor had a version using only lightly enriched fuel, unsuitable for a weapon. Slowpoke reactors are too weak to power a sub/ship, but are a useful extra supply of electricity, that helps you reduce the amount of diesel you burn.


Is there an example of the slowpoke reactor in operation somewhere in the world?

John Hartley

The Canadians spent a lot of time building a series of them, refining the design with each new reactor. A Canada/UK partnership could put these into future subs & surface ships. Would cut emissions & fossil fuel costs. Think of it as a hybrid ship, part nuclear, part diesel.


Looks like the only one built of any power was only run for 2 years. That doesn’t sound like a success.

John Hartley

There are a lot of new reactor designs that have been waiting to be built. Slowpoke GE Hitachi Prism, AFCR, etc. Everybody is waiting for someone else to order the first one.


it seems to be ‘low enriched uranium’ -LEU or 20% for some small modular reactors

a nuclear weapon is 85% plus and while LEU is possible it requires very large quantities
Naval reactors are usually around 50%

John Hartley

Depends on whether you want your ship/sub “nuclear powered” or “nuclear assisted”. If you are happy with “nuclear assisted” then LEU is fine.


Who said you would have LEU naval reactors The LEU is for the smaller commercial power stations under the ‘small modular’ category
From 20% to 50% enrichment ( if it is that , it could be up to 90% + for USN) for military use is a big jump

John Hartley

To repeat, if you want nuclear powered, say for a SSBN/SSN/Supercarrier, then highly enriched fuel is needed. If you just want to assist the electrical load of a hybrid SSK/Frigate/Destroyer, then LEU is fine.


Who is even considering a LEU naval reactor, could you provide some evidence of this strange claim. Obviously a commercial power station reactor is totally out of the question let alone a supplemental LEU bnuclear ‘generator’ when a diesel or gas turbine will do

John Hartley

Canada was thinking about adding a LEU slowpoke reactor to its Upholder class submarines.

John Hartley

Oh & Brazil & South Korea are looking at LEU for their first SSN. Perhaps with technical help from France. LEU is also an option for Australia’s proposed AUKUS SSN.


Best not to tell France. They have SSN, SSBN & a carrier running off LEU. The problem with LEU is that you need to refuel the reactor every 7-10 years, depending on the design. This is a non trivial exercise. With HEU, you get 25-35 years, depending on design.


SB agree, we build a few bespoke designed reactors at great cost, when we could stick with a known design and let that mature.


Coal fired power stations are not the greatest when used as standby power. They take too long to get up to speed unless you already have them at least ticking over. You can ramp them up & down once they get going, but not good at cold starts. Gas is a lot more flexible.


Purchasing more hulls isn’t the answer. You can buy a lot of anti-ship missiles and surface-to-air missiles for the cost of a $800 million ship. Every combatant and major auxiliary in the fleet (USN & RN) should each have 2 CIWS, either Phalanx and/or SeaRAM, and every combatant needs to have 8-16 anti-ship missiles. I’d rather have 1 less Burke DDG or Type 26 and instead have the rest of the fleet fully armed at all times.


Fewer hulls makes a deployed battlegroup very fragile. At the moment a RN carrier battlegroup sent to a warzone would probably have two air defence destroyers and two anti-submarine frigates equipped with towed sonar arrays. Never mind combat, a single accident (say hitting an uncharted rock or an on-board fire) could wipe out half the groups’ area air-defence or long-range submarine detection capability. Reducing the number of hulls even further sounds like a terrible idea.


stark reality of no reloads for vertical launched missiles, how to maintain a surge production capacity of NLAWs all interesting dilemmas.

Steven Alfred Rake

I think what this dose high-light is the total lack by the UK government to have any sort of long term planning whether it be in Defence, Energy production or Food production.
The reason why Putin chose to invade this year is because we (the UK and Nato) have never been so week and interdependent on Russia. My hope is that we can learn from this short sightedness by investing in the future by giving our armed forces what is needed to do the job of protecting the UK and our Nato allies. Also by having a robust self sufficient Energy programme and by putting agriculture before building new housing developments so that we can once again feed our selves.
If I was a betting man I would have a few quid on the fact that the Green/Woke agenda that the government is following has Russian and Chinese money behind it.


Most importantly, militaries need a clearly defined mission that it is built for:

  • The Russian army depends upon mobilisation to fill out units. Fighting a “special operation” rather than a war avoids disrupting the economy by having a mobilisation, but also breaks the army’s model.
  • Whereas in response the Polish armed forces have a clear mission (defend its borders) and are reacting to a threat by spending money to achive that mission.

So what is the British military’s mission? It seems we want to do everything and end up with half-hearted efforts everywhere.

Plus on a more direct level:

  • anti ship missiles work, if you have them
  • cruise missiles can get shot down, but not always, so use lots of them
  • accuracy isn’t just about hitting the target but also reducing logistical requirements
  • weapons needs ammunition; lots of it
Last edited 1 year ago by Robert

This is typical of the shoddy journalism we see everywhere

“The invasion of Ukraine can be seen as another big step in the growing division between democratic western values and the authoritarian values of Russia and China. The polarisation of the world back into two competing value systems has been happening since the post-Cold War thaw ended but recent trends have seen a hardening of attitudes on both sides”.

There are relatively few countries who are aligned to western values, it’s just Europe, US, Canada, Australia and NZ, the vast majority of the world could care less about western values. There has always been more than 2 competing value systems, why must we always ignore Africa, Asia, Middle East, South and Central America, or assume that they are on the western side, when quite clearly most aren’t, they weren’t during the cold war either.

Last edited 1 year ago by KiwiRob

Um… “non-aligned nations”? I think for the most part people leave them out of the East-West discussion since they don’t seek to be part of it. Pretty pointless talking about Ecuadors value system if they don’t seek to impose it upon others.


The majority of nations are non aligned. It’s why Russia is still finding a ready market for its oil.


Yes they are. So… not really a factor when discussing the growing division/animosity between Western nations & the authoritarian values of Russia & China is it!? You called it “shoddy journalism” to not mention every nation on the planet when it would actually just be largely irrelevant. It’s like moaning that they don’t talk about Real Madrid enough when discussing who’s going to win the English Premier League this year…


For example, the last two defence reviews listed a pandemic a “Tier-1 threat” but when one came, little planning had been done or resources prepared, resulting in a botched response and policy-making on the hoof (to be fair this was the case in the majority of nations).

This one was particularly galling given that in 2016 there was a health services wargames type exercise to stress test the NHS in the event of a hypothetical future pandemic and one of the findings of the exercise was that the NHS would quickly run short of emergency ventilator units, which is exactly what happened. No extra reserves of ventilators and breathing has were stock piled despite, as you say, the threat of a pandemic being a “Tier-1 threat”. This incidentally is the kind of threat to have both the highest potential for damage to the economy/way of life and the one thought most probable to actually occur.


Another aspect is that perhaps the strategy of holding small islands as unsinkable aircraft carriers is potentially flawed as well. Granted the Russians only gave up Snake Island once Ukrainian land based artillery started hitting it but still, before then, the Ukrainians were able to hit it with numerous air strikes and drone strikes, and sink several ships that were employed in supplying the troops there, as well as the Moskva itself.

In other words Snake Island cost Russia materially quite a lot and ultimately proved a wasted effort, especially as the likely suicidal amphibious assault on Odesa never materialised. Chinese air defence capabilities are similar to Russias; their annexed islands in the South China Sea are unsinkable but they are also immovable and have no strategic depth or topographical cover. One US strategy in any future conflict might be to try and bleed away Chinese assets defending islands which, ultimately, probably aren’t worth defending.

Last edited 1 year ago by Gareth

The islands are more a political project than a military one.
It’s all about control of the economic resources of the area and exerting dominance over the other nations that have a far better legal claim to the area.


Good point. Political or military use aside, in the event of a conflict their loss would be a blow to the CCP ego/propagana so such a strategy may prove fruitful. I think the CCP may well commit a lot of resources to retain them.
But I would suggest the Chinese “Islands” are much more established and have greater defences & facilities in the first instance so will be a harder nut to crack. Snake Island wasn’t even big enough for a runway.

Last edited 1 year ago by Stu

I know I am a bit late on the discussion & no-one may read this, but most of these islands are actually not that stable. The CCP basically dredged up the nearby sea floor including coral reefs & dumped it around the foreshore, enlarging the island area. However the shape & depth of the sea floor has a dramatic effect on the wave & current interaction. A bit like stealing bricks from the foundation to increase the height of the wall. Behind the scenes, the sea is busily reclaiming that what was stolen.


I find it depressing that this article berates the lack of long-term planning and at the same time suggests we should have continued using coal as a significant source of energy. Particularly at a time when the extreme weather events in the South of England give us a small indication of what we’re in for if we don’t take greater steps on climate change.

Certainly nuclear is part of the solution, but so too are renewables and increasing energy efficiency. We live in some of the least well insulated properties in Europe and the government cancelled it’s scheme to help with home insulation. If the UK and Europe were serious about reducing reliance on Russian gas they should have acted 6 months ago to push home insulation and the installation of heat pumps at scale. We’ve already seen how the economic and military plans of many countries are limited by the energy costs they are willing to impose on their citizens. Transitioning to clean energy and efficient use are essential strategic aims.