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Organisational dog’s dinner skills in abundancy , what a mess.

Supportive Bloke

The costs of making short term savings are writ large….


Too often governments have raised a bit of cash by privatizing and then stood by whilst the private sector raised a bit of cash by closing down capabilities. Tank factories shut, small arms factories shut and a near miss with submarine construction. The lesson is simple: if you want to retain defence manufacturing across a broad spectrum, the state has to be involved. That is how Italy and France have retained far more of their pre peace dividend defence industry than we have. We are about to spend £1b on machine guns made by state owned Belgian FN and have awarded the £1.6b FSS contract to a consortium led by state owned Navantia. All current new classes of warship will be armed with entirely foreign built guns.
Where is the Defence Industrial Strategy?


First you should ask where is the strategy to raise the taxes needed to support a defence industrial strategy. Without consistent funding a strategy is just talk.

John Hartley

Raise the taxes? Better to sack the overpaid woke, diversity non-jobs that plague the public sector.


That may or may not be a good idea, but it definitely won’t free up the sort of money needed for a real defence industrial strategy.

Derek Taylor

Just an interested observer but I get alarmed when someone uses the politically clumsy ‘woke’ term. I’m now retired from the public sector – aviation branch – and can tell you these generalisations are inept and unhelpful. Oh and while we’re about it this brilliant article rather underlines the occasional ineptitude of the private sector or more importantly political dabbling in the defence of the nation, that old hackneyed phrase of ‘saving taxpayers’ money’ by cutting corners. If we really believe in our armed forces we’ll have to pay for them won’t we and if that means those with deep pockets pay more of their share so be it!

John Hartley

Cut the “Wokery” out of the public sector & free up at least £500m per year, for more important causes.


Can you explain what “woke” means?


Can you explain what “woke” means?

Expanding the Classical Marxism based social classes struggle to any other apparent difference as a way to reinforce the Power of Victimology.
“victimism, which uses the ideology of concern for victims to gain political or economic or spiritual power.”

The problem is not only the anti-liberal outlook, is that society only source of authority is being a designated allied of a “victim”.
We can already in UK that if you are a “designated victim” you can do violence and the punishment is very limited.


Expanding the Classical Marxism based social classes struggle to any other apparent difference as a way to reinforce the Power of Victimology.
“victimism, which uses the ideology of concern for victims to gain political or economic or spiritual power.””

Did you just make all of this up?


Victimism is a bit more complex than that. In fact it redefined our whole society. Once there was only power, oppression, rebellion and violence with the victor becoming the new oppressor. This can be seen in all revolutions right up until the rise and fall of third Reich and Soviet Union.

Victimism changed all that, its birth was in the Industrial Revolution and the relocation and subsequent subjugation of the poor into the new industrial machine. But because of a pretty interesting mix of nation characteristics and culture instead of the Industrial Revolution breeding new British revolution what occurred was the birth of Victimism, using protest and messaging to highlight wrongs that changes public opinion and forced power to listen…the protection of children in workplaces, workers rights, universal suffrage…these were all born from Victimism. This spread creating the western democracies, even turning totalitarian states into democracies without the need for violent uprising.

So the positive side of Victimism is that it created and shaped liberal democracies…their are negatives to Victimism and we see that a lot in the 21c, the creation of other, the need to create them and us the victims who should have a voice and the oppressor who’s voice should not be heard, which has fuelled an epidemic of identity politics, solutions become the enemy, after all something getting better would invalidate the power of Victimism. Then you get to the really dark side the parading of genuine victims by those seeking power and influence…finally leading to an over abundance of victimhood that saps people’s empathy, creating victim fatigue, with disinterest at best and the creation of Polarisation at worst….unfortunately this is where we are close to at present.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jonathan

I think Jonathan there should be a different word for the time when the process changes its nature, maybe you have your own reasons to use the same term. Just adding that you might want to go back longer time to the beginning of Christianity.
For me Victimism as in the birth of power grab part when it prevents the victim from growing oneself to stop being a victim and also while professing diversity forbidding the diversity that matters: Of Opinion.
That is what makes its objective being a permanent power tool.

Last edited 1 year ago by AlexS

I know what you mean, but a lot of things have both positive and negative effects, generally depending on how much you have of it. Freedom of speech is important and vital, but the moment it turns to hate speech and the incitement to violence it’s to much ( and I use that in the true context of someone inciting people to go and hurt/kill others….not a “we don’t like what you are doing speech”). So I think on balance it’s probably ok to keep the word but like everything ensure the debate is keep open (as there would be some that would be shouting us down as privileged oppressors for even having the discussion)

I do agree for me the issue is about growth as well. Victimism at its most positive has allowed society to grow and improve. It’s a social movement that highlights true injustice and helps a society change that without the need for violent change, conflict and revolution. But you have to much of it and it stops growth, becomes a tool for those who what to gain or maintain power and can at its very worst creat the them and us that then causes conflict ( I think you can see this in US politics, where it’s got beyond a tool for social adjustment and is now being used by the less pleasant on both sides right and left). Luckily I think in the UK we are still on the side of what I would call social adjustment as we grapple with things like women rights and how these are being impacted by trans rights ( it’s a needed debate as effectively the sets of rights impact on each group,so an adult discussion is needed…but I feel it may go down the less positive side of your oppressing us…no your actually oppressing us).

So I do know what you mean about a different word, but for me I think we need to focus more on getting growth out of Victimism and in that way cut out the people who are trying to stifle growth for their own ends ( power, influence, significance etc).


There is merit in “Scalar” words but that forces for a much more sophisticated thinking and much higher alertness since have the big risk of preventing timely action because it favours the “boiling frog syndrome”
“Binary” words make a cut. Sometimes it is necessary a cut even when there just a change of degree.

I disagree totally about your characterisation of today UK. Unfairness of “current” culture already started longer ago with father rights or better saying unrights.

Last edited 1 year ago by AlexS

Well I don’t disagree there is still plenty of unfairness and we do need the correct appropriate Victimism, father’s rights is a classic legal and cultural unfairness and assumptions across legal systems and hopefully at some point correct use of Victimism such as fathers 4 rights will get the legal changes needed. It’s an area where we will hopefully at some point see the positive element of Victimism…the need to make a specific change for one group to make it a bit more fair.

I do tend to have a positive view of British culture and our ability to be sensible in the end. I tend to not get that hot and bothered about some of the identity politics that are in fashion at present. Although I do worry about protection for women ( as we know a lot of women do have traumatic interactions with men) and things like enforced shared intimate spaces need careful discussion.

I also firmly believe that it’s the point of youth to push society a bit and be a bit radical…we all generally grow up to be a bit more Laissez-Faire. So I’m less bothered about all the young people wandering around with some odd little passions and protesting about stuff I don’t really get…as I was the same when I was young…I was a proper full on hunt saboteur and passionate environmentalist ( still passionate about the environment, but no longer feel the need to stand in the rain arguing with horse riding Rupert’s as the chase foxes around or waving banners and insult senior politicians…both prime ministers and ministers of state have had tirades from my younger self…I now just send regular annual emails to my MP and ministers of state about my four main favourite things..defence, boats and the sea, environmental issues and healthcare, which I feel is an important exercising of freedom of speech.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jonathan
Julian Edmonds

It is the latest in a long line of synonyms dating back to the 1960s.
Ideologically sound.
Politically correct.
etc etc


The government is already taxing the population at a higher rate than anytime since the second world war. The issues isn’t raising the money it is spending it so poorly.
France, Italy and Germany all cut spending to the same I’d not lower levels that the UK over the last 20 years but their governments and defense industries where able to create sensible industrial strategies that kept them in a good position for the future.
I think we are in a good place for ships, but for armoured vehicles it has been a disaster.

Supportive Bloke

The ship building thing was rescued by the skin of its teeth.

Thanks, bizarrely, to one G Brown Esq. who was otherwise notorious for not funding the surface fleet. But signed off the QEC project which kept a lot of ship builders in work.

Unfortunately a turnip, G Osbourne Esq, didn’t green light T26 so there was a gap for B2 River and a loss of skills.

Now we have something vaguely sensible going on thanks to Doris No 10.

OK down to his ‘Churchill’ complex!

T31 was ordered and various things signed off that are coming through the system. Wether Doris invented T32 on the hood is a moot point.

Rishi did, in all fairness, identify sub sea cables and pipes as a threat vector by himself. Hunt + Rishi have made sure defence doesn’t face more cuts. Hunt has previously been clear defence spending must rise – 4% came out of his mouth.

Rishi is very bright and interested, Hunt is good on defence and son of an admiral. Backed by the very competent Wallace things are not so bad. But BS projects will get the chop as these guys are seriously in control. Value for money is the name of the game and T31 is a trail blazer to questioning the BAE monopoly.

Last edited 1 year ago by Supportive Bloke

Maybe you could fund it from cuts. But you’d need to find cuts that both freed up substantial amounts of money and didn’t cause a government problems that cost it more votes than an industrial strategy would win it. The fundamental problem is the lack of public support for large scale defence spending.


How do we know there’s a lack of public support for an increase in defence spending? People are not informed to even the most basic level. According to an IPSOS poll last year people thought that (on average) 20.4% of central government spending was on defence. 34% of those asked thought it should stay as it is and 30% thought it should be raised. Not a lot in it.

What’s inteseting is that despite the fact that people overestimated the current spend by a factor of four times, 30% still thought it wasn’t enough.

In 2018 YouGov asked around 3,000 adults whether spending should rise: 43% were in favour of it rising, 40% against, the rest don’t know.

It doesn’t seem to me to be unpopular. To find out what the actual support would be requires a bit of education, so the people asked actually know where we are at. Then ask if we should spend more.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jon

I don’t think we can underestimate how much government spending policy especially on welfare is determined by the BBC. Welfare, and Pensions are sacred cows.
I don’t have an issue funding the NHS through taxes and would happily pay more tax to fund it, yes it needs reform but I would rather that than deal with a health system that is only interested in how much money they can charge me using my health as ransom.
Foreign Aid should fund all of our RFA fleet with hospital and supply ships as they spend most of their service lives delivering disaster relief. It should also include SAR and other rotary / military transport assets that have a secondary role in transporting aid in emergency situations. Billions have been wasted over the last 10-15 years on nonsense to meet that 0.9% of GDP target with little oversight.
That would free up a lot of money to deliver the purely military related defense spending.


There are 10 million more people in the country then there were ten years ago, but as most have gone into low paid employment they have diluted GDP per person. Its why despite record spending there isn’t enough money for Healthcare or Education.

Equally the 10% increase in pensions and benefits will cost £35bn next year and every year for the rest of time. That’s amount equals 3/4s of the defence budget and 1/3rd of the education budget. I think the majority of British people would like to see less spent on benefits and far more spent on defence and education.

Healthcare is a hard nut to crack…. we need double the doctors. We could afford double the doctors, but you can’t magic them out of thin air, that’s why we are getting less and less bank for our buck when it comes to NHS spending as all the money goes on trying to take work away from doctors so their time can be utilised. Sort of like the submarines, we need more but there’s no where in the UK to get them for the next decade.


Most of the “pensions and benefits money goes to the Old. That is a popular use of tax money.


Too much of our money goes abroad in profits for foreign companies. Not only did we pay the EU Danegeld we then paid again as profits from everything from rail to cars to banking to energy and myriad of other things went into Continental coffers. Not for nothing do the German’s call the UK Treasure Island.


You must be living in an alt reality if you think the Germans have had a successful defence strategy. Why is it that commentators on this site seem to think everything is rosy everywhere else and terrible at home, without bothering to do even cursory research. The Germans defence establishment is a well known joke, the French have had huge problems with their subs and the Italians don’t compete at the top level but have also had their problems with kit.


Germany, the country whose frigates come with a list to starboard, the country whose troops exercise with broomsticks due to a lack of rifles, the country which recently had its entire submarine force laid-up for repairs, and which still flies the obsolete Tornado but not at night due to night-vision issues…


I know the German ministry of defense has been a mess in terms of their funding and preparedness, but the German defense industry itself is hardly on its knees when it comes to innovation.
Rheinmetall is one of the largest military vehicle suppliers in Europe.
ThyssenKrupp made a mess of the F125 frigates, but their U boats enjoyed enormous export success, as did their Meko frigates.
They also have Airbus and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann as major defense manufacturers.
Outside of BAE and Babcock, our defense companies have been sold off or outsourced to Leonardo, Thales, General Dynamics to name a few.


“The government is already taxing the population at a higher rate than anytime since the second world war.”

Where do you get this nonsense from? Taxation was far higher in the 50s, and just looking over the last 50 years:

Top rate of Income Tax was highest in the late 70s.

Corporation Tax rate peaked in 82.

Central government tax take as a proportion of GDP had peaks in ’82, 2000 and 2008, and is currently comparable to countries such as France and Italy, etc. [Source World Bank]. However Germany is federal so central government revenues are not directly comparable.

UK’s total tax take has remained between 31% and 34% of GDP for the last couple of decades or more, is slightly less than the OECD average and is considerably less than Germany’s. [Source OECD]

Last edited 1 year ago by Jon

It might cost more initially to insist, as USA does, that military equipment is manufactured domestically. But the benefits in terms of economic activity and export opportunity would offset this. Britain used to export a wide range of military equipment, helping to reduce unit costs for our own supplies. Now our exports are dominated by a few sales of combat aircraft that may not happen again. France and Italy export a much wider range of equipment from mainly state owned or controlled manufacturers.
A short sighted obsession with privatisation has led to our present heavy reliance on imported equipment.

Derek Taylor

Agreed Peter. Good to see some sanity around here.


Yes, unfortunately the Uk is utterly obsessed with the dogma of neoliberalism and the market must be paramount….even if this means you allow your own industrial and tax base to be destroyed.

Julian Edmonds

Inflate away the public debt including the billion a day that Boris spaffed away on his totalitarian, dystopian lockdown. Not ideal, but it’s what we did in the 1970s when we still had 70-odd major surface combat vessels.


And Germany. Don’t forget pacifist Germany who can supply everything from rifle to tank, from submarine to frigate, and a lot of supporting kit. All tax money churned through the government to keep their economy alive. (Never mind the Euro adventure.) They even have the biggest workshare on Typhoon which as we all know began as British Aerospace’s EAP project. (Just as France’s delta wings were all based initially on British research.)

And yes you have a valid point about FN. But heck we are country where we allow a foreign state to operate the biggest part of our rail freight infrastructure never mind all the other EU countries that own things here. What annoys about Navantia is that the EU gave Spain a wrist slap for subsidies but the entity is still with us. BAE may have sold Oz T26, but let’s not forget before that there was the RAN’s LHDs and Hoberts all built by Navantia. (Then again the RAN wants USN compatible kit and that is what Navantia supply……..)


Tyhoon workshare:
The workshare split was therefore UK 37.42%, Germany 29.03%, Italy 19.52% and Spain 14.03%
There is some different ways of counting % when engines and electronics/sensors are counted


I never heared about british delta wings research stole by the french.. they produced lot of delta fighters from the 60’s and I don’t see any british style in their aircrafts. And the fighters we made in coop with them were not delta (ex: jaguar)

Supportive Bloke

The initial supersonic research was German – they had the first high supersonic wind tunnel.

After the war that wind tunnel went to Farnborough (others went to USA) where it was used for the V bombers and for Concorde. There were also UK made trans/supersonic wind tunnels made for those projects too.

So the UK did have a lot of expertise in Delta wing design from immediately post war. Bear in mind that the Chadwick designed Vulcan was drawn up close to the end of the war.

The relevance of supersonic was that it had to dive down to deliver the bomb in a supersonic parabolic dive to gain the acceleration to climb away from the sunshine bucket.

Ian Mitchell

I am not familiar with any contract by the Army for machine guns and certainly not one costing £1 billion. I would be grateful if would you be kind enough to clarify which contract you are citing? Thanks


Those capabilities were shut down because the demand for the equipment produced plummeted at the end of the cold war.


Once more we need 16 and will be lucky to have 6 when Agincourt is commissioned.

A sound design with the only real omission being VLS.

Another cock up by HMG.


UK never had more than around 12-13 even at height of cold war when the oceans were full of large numbers of Soviet subs.
Thats not the case any more, so 16 is is just la la land.
Far more important to have a build program that can have 8 max in service ( as well as SSBN build program


No comment about the welding of hull sections in the wrong position? or was that just a tabloid story?


You believe tabloids?… ?


Not mentioned in the story is the detail that hull sections for last 4 boats were sub contracted to Cammel Laird
Cammell Laird was contracted to fabricate and assemble casing units 1,2,3 and 5 for boat 4 which cover the top of the pressure hull and the following modules and items for boats five, six and seven’
They are also included in Dreadnought build


The welding story ‘wrong way round’ dates to 1988 and HMS Triumph….maybe a recycled much earlier story

Mike Smith, a spokesman for Vickers, said: “A section has been welded into an incorrect position. An investigation is under way. We don’t envisage there being any impact on the building program or the quality standards.”

Paul T

In terms of construction at Barrow, sections of Submarine Hulls were traditionally joined together horizontally – but when Electric Boat had to step in to help the workforce re-learn some essential skills they recommended Hull sections being stacked vertically for joining then being craned onto the horizontal afterwards,is that what you are referring to ?.


Vertical outfit was the brainchild of the Bentley boys, Hadyn Clueless, Matt someone et al, who came from a mass production automotive background and thought its principles could be applied to shipbuilding. One minute wonders. Nothing is ever perfect but this was change for the sake of it.


Electric boat did much more than that… It involved the actual design and developing that. That’s where the bottleneck was. It wasn’t just the manufacturing part it was the design issue. If you let that go away. You have to relearn everything.


This is why a domestic SSK programme to supply platforms for both RN and the export markets is needed. Allow SSNs to do what they are built for, allow SSKs to do the dirty inshore ops.


Can you imagine how long it would take to design a new SSK, with AIP, and then actually build it? The UK is out of that business never to return.


We could buy the design in. For me it is a matter of capacity. Where would we build them? And who would build them?

comment image


There’s no money. The UK will be lucky to retain the programs it has and it will be lucky if a ship like Type 31 remains a frigate. The budget pressures in the next decade will be massive.


I know there is no money. I mention that here a lot.

T31 isn’t anything without ASW fit out.

Last edited 1 year ago by X

Why do commentators keep repeating this “no money” nonsense. The U.K. has one of the biggest defence budgets in the world and the 2nd biggest in NATO, so if we have “no money” then everyone else might as well give up! Move on from this repetitive nonsense please.


It isn’t just the size of the MoD budget though. It is how HMG chooses to spend its entire revenue.


Exactly. There is no money for anything new. It has been made clear that there will be no up tick in the defence budget. That means that any money for new programs within the defence budget must come from within the defence budget itself. In other words, robbing Peter to pay Paul. In that sort of fiscal environment, nothing major is possible – certainly nothing like SSKs. And it also means that programs like Type 32 or the Multi-role ships are likely in trouble.


We are slowly facing a situation where in a decade we will have CASD working “guarded” by a few SSN’s and a sprinkling of frigates, QRA with supporting systems, special forces with a few supporting systems, and the Household Division for public duties. Everything else will be a shell.

Tango - Yankee

Can i borrow your crystal ball when you’re done with it?

Supportive Bloke

The MOD has a decent budget which now isn’t big enough as the threat level has increased.

However, the way it was spent, historically wasn’t the wisest. Not helped by Treasury rules that meant that MOD signed contracts and then slowed the delivery down wasting billions in the process.

That has happened an awful lot and keeps on hollowing out the core equipment budget.

Sometimes spending money to save money is a better mindset.

Barry Larking

Uncollected taxes have been estimated by Parliament to be around 45 Bn. Then their is fraud of the taxpayers going unpunished … Foreign Aid should be on a much tighter rein and audited for results and outcomes.


RN isn’t interested in SSKs, and the OPEX costs in crewing them. It’s unmanned programme will fulfil this role.




Very true. I can see the current technology supporting uncrewed recon subs. But until solutions for communication and maintenance are found it’s difficult to see uncrewed combat subs working.


Crews make submarines work and AI is very dumb still. To be useful (never mind all that extra ruduncy) the are going to have be as big manned boats. Plus there will have to be personnel shoreside too. Never mind command and control……….


Good historical article on the Astutes, but where did you get this: She also exercised with the Virginia Class boat USS New Mexico “and proved conclusively that her capabilities matched or exceeded that of the latest US Navy SSN”.

I only ask as the very next paragraph outlines a host of problems uncovered.

Regardless, this is a very impressive class of SSNs, and I too wish the RN would/could purchase more. I’m also hoping against hope that the tooling for them will be sent down to Australia so that the RAN can start producing them as their first SSN, albeit with a US Combat Management System.


There was a story that did the rounds saying that when exercising with USS New Mexico the US boat could only detect ours when the RN exercise officer told them where to look. I don’t know how much is true, but I heard it enough times from different sources to suggest some truth.

When they work, the Astute’s are incredibly good boats. Unfortunately there aren’t enough of them, and therefore it is likely that operational pressures will place too much stress on them through their lives, reducing maintenance and upgrade opportunities.


I wonder if the ‘peace dividend’ ended up costing the taxpayers more money in the long run?! This sort of story is repeated in all 3 services and usually begin with cuts in the early 90’s.


Scandalous that SSN production was allowed to lapse for almost a decade due to the so called peace dividend!

By the early 90’s the Swiftsure’s were already around 15 years old and as the article notes the Trafalgars were a fantastically capable design that was being produced within barely 4 years. Should have kept on going with a batch 2 to keep that drumbeat going and skills fresh.

Astute is going to be halfway through her estimated service life by the time Agincourt commissions!


It has been a long time.

I remember Superb feeling lived in and Talent smelling of fresh paint.

I think we would all agree here that the cheapest and best option was just to carry on building boats.

Government is not business. Something our politicians perhaps should take aboard.


Its their Treasury advisors to ministers and its people in the financial areas of Ministries – in Admiralty the financial member has equal ranking to the head of the Fleet.
They should be there as the ‘technical crew’ not equal position


Why. Without money and control of the rate it’s needed the Navay can’t function in the long term.
You could easily argue that the root cause of lots of these problems is lack of financial discipline. Far too often programs start without proper and complete understanding of the likely real costs. What’s often called “the conspiracy of optimism”. A possible solution is to give the financial control staff more authority so as to stop things being started that there isn’t the budget to see through in an efficient manner.


I suspect that creating financial black holes for the next government to worry about is a conspiracy of both sides.

Put professional project managers in control from the pre-concept phase, with a remit of time, cost and fitness for purpose. No unrealistic bells and whistles from the military, no payment black holes, and leeway to allow the supplier to change the spec if something turns problematic, although always with discussion.

I say this with all respect to both accountants and military professionals, but asking either to run a major project off the back of a theory course will end badly more often than it needs to.


Yep. They put say a commander in charge of a program. No experience in anything to do with contracts or running a project. And then he is moved on to his next draft just when he has probably found his feet. So yes professional project managers………

Rob Collinson

A great article. I look forward to reading the follow-on articles. Well done ?


Wonderful photo. Puzzled by some kinks in the design for my hydrodynamic eye!

Trevor G

Me too. Even if my fluid dynamics courses were a long time ago! Hard to ignore (a) transition area from base of fin to casing, and (b) contours of the change from aft end of the pressure hull to propulsor. Both likely to produce interesting flow characteristics at speed.


Im sure the hull and especially the upper casing shapes were extensively tested in flow chambers to produce the smoothest flow possible.

Havent had time to read this yet but may give some pointers
BAE Submarine Drag Modelling and Hull Design

Trevor G

Many thanks for that link, have saved to read later. I do note that it covers laminar flow and flow separation which are two issues that interest me wrt the Astute hull form. Now where are my old naval architesture textbooks???


Geeat privilege to be the first Junior Rate to join the Astute programme back in Jan 2006, and to go and serve on her for the next 4 and a bit years and to also have served on Ambush as well


Its taken 10 years from being laid down to commissioning for each Astute versus 4 years for the Virginia class subs, which are larger and more complex. I doubt we will ever reach that pace as we want to maintain a steady drum beat of orders but the extreme long lead times requested by the treasury have cost us at least one sub with very little if any cost saving as a result.


Electric Boat have a lot of more peeps building those boats. I remember talking to a Barrow chap over the Vanguard build. He looked after the launch tube. In the US his job was split up and handled by several teams.

Barry Larking

The collapse of the Soviet Union was unforeseen by all major powers despite enormous resources expended on closely watching the old U.S.S.R. The Peace Dividend that followed briefly deceived everyone into thinking Russia has changed*. Now we know better. One aspect lacking in this otherwise fine article is what effects the collapse of the U.S.S.R. also produced for Russia’s armed forces. The past year has demonstrated what a disaster that has been. The problems of the Astute programme (and some off stage bad luck) are, I think, teaching a lesson: It is folly to think such vastly complex systems could always have been done faster, smoother and cheaper. But by all accounts worth the effort.

*Told about the Russian Revolution in 1917, Joseph Conrad, Polish, Jewish, a great novelist and a certified sea captain smiled and said ‘Leopards don’t change their spots’.

Last edited 1 year ago by Barry Larking

The peace dividend came about because the Soviet massive ground- air-undersea forces disappeared.

Even now hasnt come back in numbers , especially naval forces.


Experts said during cold war USSR built around 16 subs per year

Now the russian sub build program is about as slow as UK
Norman Polmar, who knows a bit about submarines types, design and building

Its a simple concept but doesnt seem to be accepted by some keyboard warriors who think the UK forces downsizing shouldnt have happened

Last edited 1 year ago by Duker

Have a look at a world map. Look at the collective West. And look at all that ocean between the various parts.

Downsizing should have happened. But not in the way it did.

UK forces had been in decline for some time mainly because we tried to do too much.

Removing the USSR from the board took away stability. The world is not safer now.

There was no thinking. Just salami slicing to protect fiefdoms.

I know what you are saying and why you are saying and it is reasonable as always if a little trite.


The Russian armed forces are a fraction of their previous soviet days .
For goodness sake they averaged new construction of over 12 nuclear subs per year!
Not the case any more

Conrad was a writer in English , his adopted country after being born in what is now Ukraine


That’s the cover story ….during open ocean exercises
Don’t pass the smelly fish test, risking lives and a boat coming up and under the Kiev.
More likely a under cover frogmen mission when in a port . The RN lost a frogman when then wanted under water pics of a Soviet heavy cruiser when it came to Portsmouth.
The sonar signature , but at some distance is plausible


Yeah, a good point the risk vs reward equation.


Well, Swifrsure wasn’t the only UK SSN to conduct such a manoeuvre on the Kiev, nor was it the only ship that it happened to. RN SM’s was officially stopped from conducting underwater looks on foreign warships sometime in the early noughties, as it was deemed too risky a venture!! Although they do still practise it with our own warships on occasion.

How and where do you think that the RN gets its acoustic information on foreign warships/submarines from? There are several sources (warship ta, sonar buoys etc), but the vast majority comes from our submarines, who go out and detect, trail and record these platforms.


Acoustic information is available from 100m-10km away. Thats useable in ordinary circumstances.
20ft under the hull, what use is that .


’20 ft under the hull, what use is that’, that’s not the primary purpose of an underwater look, although acoustic signature gathering is still part of the equation as are other considerations linked to it.

Trevor G

I remember Buster Crabb, huge media speculation as to what happened, I was just a kid then but getting interested in RN career. Lots of wild theories, I recall one that the cruiser had underwater access for covert missions for frogmen/chariots…

JJ Smallpiece

In terms of staff retention one of the biggest problems is location. Unless originally a local person, relatively few new people move to the area. The old joke is true Barrow is a spot on the end of a 35mile cul de sac. to get back to anything like civilisation – Manchester area is a 2+ hr drive.

Its far too late now but it would have been better to build submarines either in Liverpool, Newcastle or Glasgow. Bigger populations nearby with a bigger diversity of engineers and skills nearby. I doubt this was considered back in the 1960/70s when the RN was going nuclear, although I believe some early nuclear boats were built in Liverpool by Cammell Lairds.

Its all quite often raised as a discussion point in the office in B

Trevor G

Just a polite reminder that Cammell Laird are in Birkenhead not Liverpool… small but important difference. We built 2 of the polaris boats plus Conqueror and yes second source for nuclear boats was viewed as necessary back then. re another topic, we built the polaries SSBNs in approx 4.5 years…


how many doctors are on submarines