The axing of the troubled Nimrod MRA4 project in 2010 SDSR has left Britain unable to properly patrol its waters and left a serious gap in anti-submarine capability. In 2015 the government tacitly admitted its mistake and announced the plan to purchase nine Poseidon P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) from Boeing in the United States. In the first part of this article we will look at the programme and infrastructure behind its introduction into service, and the aircraft itself.
John Dunbar argues a re-branded Royal Navy Home Fleet would be understood both politically and publicly and would provide a much stronger basis to argue for the necessary resources to bolster protection of UK waters and economic interests.
In spite of frequent claims that the Royal Navy is “barely able to defend its own waters”, two of its escorts are shadowing the largest group of Russian warships to pass near to the UK since the end of the Cold War. Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov sailed from the Northern Fleet base of Severomorsk on Saturday accompanied by seven other surface ships and probably at least one submarine.
Small numbers of migrants intent on entering the UK illegally have started taking to small boats in an attempt to avoid the strict controls on cross-channel ferries. As the Brexit debate climaxes, media focus on migration is at fever pitch with some journalists even trying to blame the navy for being ill-equipped to respond. A few migrants in rubber dinghies that make it across the Channel should not be cause for over-reaction. There is undoubtedly a shortage of RN, Border Force and Coastguard vessels available to patrol UK waters but sensibly addressing this issue should not undermine the RN’s main purpose as a globally-deployed, ocean-going navy.More
The seas and ports around our coast are vital to our economy and require policing for our safety and to ensure international law, treaties and agreements are upheld. With 17,820 Km of coastline and the world’s 5th largest Exclusive Economic Zone, one of the UK’s greatest natural resources and environmental responsibilities, is the sea. While high-profile controversies about aircraft carriers are important, the RN’s less glamorous but key role in UK maritime protection should not be forgotten.