Rear Admiral Roger Lane-Nott was Captain of HMS Splendid during the Falklands War and Flag Officer Submarines from 1993-1996. In this article, he examines the state of the submarine flotilla and the RN’s ability to counter a growing Russian submarine threat. More
The 2015 Defence Review promised the UK would build a new ‘cheaper and simpler’ frigate to complement the more expensive Type 26. This Type 31 frigate offers the attractive possibility that the total number of Royal Navy warships could be increased, albeit after 2030. Threats to surface ships continue to proliferate, adding to the challenge of making the Type 31 a credible warship. Meanwhile, the undeniably potent RN submarine fleet is far too small. Here we ask if the RN should prioritise expanding its submarine force with the same enthusiasm it applies to frigates.More
It is very easy to write fiction about submarines but rather more difficult to come by the facts. It is strict MoD policy that “We don’t comment on submarine operations” and while operational security must obviously be first priority, this information vacuum allows journalists to say whatever they like on the subject with little accountability.More
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Former Royal Navy submariner, Commander Ryan Ramsey recently self-published this unique book that tells the story of HMS Turbulent’s eventful last deployment in 2011. Commanding a highly capable, but ageing Trafalgar class submarine tested Ramsey’s management skills to the limit and the book is structured around the leadership principles he employed.
Two Royal Navy submarine officers recently participated in the US Navy’s ICEX 2016. Two American attack submarines (SSNs) navigated under the Arctic ice and surfaced where a camp was established on an ice floe. Shortly after the exercise concluded it was announced that an RN Trafalgar class submarine will conduct under-ice operations in the Arctic in the near future. Although a strategically wise decision, this is another pressure on the RN’s stretched SSN fleet which numbers just 7 boats.
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2015 saw the publication of the latest in a string of fascinating titles dealing with the Cold War history of the Royal Navy Submarine Service. Secrets of the Conqueror (2012), Hunter Killers (2013) and Cold War Command (2014) were essentially based on stories told by RN submariners. The Silent Deep, the Royal Navy Submarine Service since 1945 is a lengthy and more encompassing work that tells the political, operational and personal stories of the service from the end of WWII up to the present day.More
This piece was inspired by a recent click-bait gem that proposes the UK consider joining the US Long-Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) programme with a view to replacing the submarine-launched nuclear deterrent with an air-launched alternative. This kind of proposal rears its ugly head very so often and was even briefly enshrined in UKIP defence policy. Here we will show why submarines are overwhelmingly the best vehicle to carry the UK nuclear deterrent.More
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Hot on the heels of the excellent “Hunter Killers” (2013) comes “Cold War Command” also published by Pen & Sword. Both books describe the operations of RN submarines during the same intense period from the 1960s to the end of the Cold War. While Hunter killers covers the activities of a variety of submariners, this book is a biography of Captain Dan Conley who had a diverse and interesting career. More
Nuclear submarines: the key UK defence asset
The submarine force is the arguably most important of the RN’s assets. Not only do the 4 Vanguard class subs (SSBNs) carry the UK nuclear deterrent but the attack submarine force (SSNs) are the only vessels able to launch the Tomahawk land attack missile. Of all the problems facing the RN at present, the recent rapid decline in SSN numbers is the area for greatest concern.More