In this guest article, Justin Hedges outlines the case for a British humanitarian aid ship and his company’s solution that is available to fulfil this role.
Rishi Sunak is undoubtedly in a tough spot, balancing the competing interests of the Covid fiscal drain and the demands of a comprehensive spending review; however, there is one way the Chancellor could navigate these choppy waters and deliver not just a capital stimulus for domestic industry, but also provide the country with a talismanic presence for a post-Brexit Britain. The Prevail Partners Multi-Role Vessel, or MRV, presents a sea-change in approach
Different by design
Prevail’s Multi-Role Vessel has been purposely conceived to provide a capability that breaks with many conventional maritime constraints capable of providing the nation with a talismanic seaborne humanitarian relief platform. The MRV, by virtue of being both adapted from existing fleets and adaptable for multifarious purposes, is by orders of magnitude quicker to deliver and deploy and can be configured for an array of applications.
With a civilian crew, privately financed and wet-leased to government, the MRV breaks through many usual paradigms that confront naval procurement and vessel lifecycle management. First and foremost, the capital cost is borne by private, not public finance. As an adapted vessel, it has the capacity to deliver targeted and much-needed economic stimulus and can be ready to operate in short order. And with a civilian crew, the operational stamina reaches 300 days per year, far higher than an equivalent military crew. As such, MRV allows the Chancellor to deliver high-profile capability, instant economic stimulus and benefit from low operating costs. Moreover, MRV fits squarely within the five HM Treasury business case criteria.
Strategic context for the MRV
Over the past decade, a palpable and growing chasm has emerged for the UK, as well as many other nations, in the space between the demand for rapid interventions in humanitarian crises around the world and the paucity of military capability that is over-committed in higher priority defence roles. The almost limitless demand for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) interventions following health crises such as the Ebola pandemic, or extreme weather events such as Hurricane Irma which devastated the Caribbean in 2017, show no sign of abating.
The UK’s Integrated Defence and Security Review is likely to conclude that, as a relatively wealthy nation with economic and industrial capacity, the UK is expected to play its part in responding to humanitarian disasters, both altruistically and indeed to reinstate diminished soft power following Brexit. However, the same review will also conclude that the Navy’s fleet of expensive warships are increasingly required to counter military threats from peer enemies including Russia and China and ensuring freedom of navigation in disputed waters.
The continued practice of diverting expensive warships from contested waters and priority defence tasks to natural disasters every year makes little military sense and is also significantly more expensive; MRV provides a strategic answer to this conundrum by meeting the HADR role with a ring-fenced asset for the FCDO.
A UK MRV managed by the FCDO would also represent a highly visible commitment to the Sendai Framework of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) in a post-Trumpian political landscape where international treaties and commitments will reassert their validity. The Sendai Framework emphasises the time-critical requirement for solutions to disasters, the acknowledgement that global problems belong to everybody and that new paradigms must be embraced to have any meaningful impact on the escalating frequency of risk events. MRV provides substance to the notion of Global Britain in a post-Brexit world.
The economic case – UK shipbuilding
Shipbuilding in the United Kingdom has struggled to find its competitive place in the world economy for decades. Sir John Parker’s National Shipbuilding Strategy, and the appointment of a Shipbuilding Tsar has been intended to provide both direction and opportunity to shipyards and supporting heavy industries; however, above all, these shipyards require projects now, rather than a future commitment which risks further degradation of domestic capacity and capability.
The MRV provides just such an immediate opportunity for UK shipyards, thereby creating prospects for apprentices, expertise and local jobs to contribute to a reinvigorated UK shipbuilding powerhouse. Baked into the MRV proposition is the objective to cut steel within 6 months as part of an 18-month conversion project. But the benefits to UK industry go far beyond the actual period of work and act as an essential bridge between current orders in Babcock’s and BAE’s shipyards and the Navy’s notably delayed Fleet Solid Support Ship programme that may offer prospects for other yards. The Prevail MRV Task Force is shipyard-agnostic, allowing the work to go where it is most needed as an integral element of the post-Covid recovery planning for 2021.
Furthermore, a chartered MRV with its civilian crew brings a far higher productivity quotient allowing the vessel to be deployable on operations for over 300 days a year – normal for a commercial vessel, but unheard of in military applications. This ‘stamina’ would allow a limited quantity of MRVs to contend with more operations in more locations at a lower cost, unshackled from the logistical limitations of a standing crew.
The commercial and financial case
The MRV can be brought into service as a charter which is the most usual practice in the global maritime industry; one party owns and operates the ship, while the customer charters it for a service. Prevail’s consortium of industrial heavyweights who design, build, own and operate over 100 ships worldwide will raise the finance, build, crew and manage the vessel. Chartering de-risks the project from a government perspective, passing the responsibility to deliver a ship capable of operations to the consortium; this practice is what fixes oil tankers, car-carriers, container ships and all other commercial vessels at sea on time and on budget. The FCDO have full strategic oversight and control of the vessel’s operations, direct its activities and deploy suitable personnel to oversee operations by the contractor crew. Vessel chartering is a mature and dependable model that removes the capital burden from the state while also warranting a dependable service provision.
Raising finance for a project of this nature is straightforward and inexpensive with the UK Government as the counterparty to the charter. The charter fee would pay down this structured finance in the same way that a mortgage is paid off. The charter fee should come from the well-funded foreign aid budget which is set at 0.7% of UK GDP. Although the voluntary code for foreign aid budgets set out by the OECD precludes the financing of assets, like the MRV, there is a strong argument that the MRV for HADR purposes should be an exception owing to its mobile role in providing relief from the most significant natural disasters providing aid where it is needed most acutely.
The financial case is also compelling for the Treasury. RUSI’s 2012 report into the ultimate destinations of the defence pound concluded that 36% of money spent in UK industry was returned to the Exchequer through one form of taxation or another. As a result, the MRV’s commissioning as a privately financed initiative will provide a taxation return as well as a vital and timely stimulus economic for UK industry. Moreover, the taxation returns will continue throughout the life of the charter.
Using private finance to capitalise ships for the government is not new. In fact, the Bank of England itself owes its very establishment creation to just such a requirement in the late 17th century. Re-purposing a ship to a different use through conversion is commonplace, with RFA Argus just such an example.
The management case
The Prevail MRV Task Force brings together user expertise with world-class ship design, building and operating track record. The whole Prevail MRV concept has been conceived and led by an expert company founded by ex-Royal Marines. It brings together three partners of global stature. Siem Industries own and operate a commercial fleet of over 100 vessels with applications spanning offshore support and construction, rolling cargo, bulk and perishables transportation. With a history dating back to 1856, Houlder Naval Architects are an MoD approved supplier and a member of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects with an enviable track record in new vessel and conversion design.
The MRV is a rapidly-realisable and low-risk solution owing to its underlying architecture being based on the conversion of an existing and globally validated RoRo vessel; this stands in contrast to the lengthy ground-up design and build approach which takes a minimum of 4 years longer to realise, frequently results in cost over-runs, and is often plagued with first-of-class vessels delivered with baked-in design flaws.
MRV – why now?
The MRV dividend can be summarised as underpinning the UK’s contribution to disaster relief while also providing a valuable domestic economic stimulus at zero cost to the taxpayer. In addition, MRV frees the Royal Navy to use existing resources in the defence of the country while providing the FCDO with freedom of action. As a result, the chancellor can have his jam today and realise the benefits long before the next election.
Justin Hedges OBE is the Executive Chairman of Prevail Partners and a former Royal Marine officer who commanded special forces units.
Love this, Great concept, great for Great Britain, Great for people in need, Just waiting for N.A.B.’s Take. Oh and the predictable Downvotes. Why Downvote this comment when It’s such a Humane thing, I’ll never know.
Well I’m a great fan of this too, If it makes you feel any better, not sure what an N.A.B. is though ? Either way It would be a fantastic addition to the UK’s Soft Power Standing.
Hello Heroic, i guess you are new here ? An N.A.B. is someone very clever, very clever indeed .
Not A Boffin has been involved in naval ship-building for a long time.
Would it be possible or sensible to build a larger muti-role version of the Bay class with more internal space where the Bays have vehiclestorage?
Retaining the rear docking door would allow it to fulfill the current amphibious warfare role of the Bay’s. The internal space could also be used to:
1) Store humanitarian aid
2) Have space for modular medical facilities to be installed to act as a hospital ship
3) Have helicopter support infrastructure and a lift to the deck built in
The ship can then be configured for any of disaster relief, humanitarian aid and because of the helicopters also anti piracy/narcotics and search and rescue missions in peacetime and as an amphibious support vessel or task force helicopter carrier in warfighting.
In essence I’m asking whether a hybrid of RFA Argus and the Bay class couldn’t be constructed to replace those existing vessels with something that’s multi-role and has a wartime and peactime role.
I learned a lot from that reply thanks
It’s OK mate, I was referring to an answer I received not so long ago, apparently it’s not possible.
In fairness to @borg, he is providing the short abridged version of a very in-depth response to a similar thread concerning such possibilities when discussing FSS. Believe it cropped up last month on this site, and is well worth a read, details why it’s not possible to go down this route.
Yup. But it’s nice to be downvoted.
Yes, must make us really special I expect!!?
I’m happy to take a few for X, in his/her absence ! lol.
I did read that and understood why it doesn’t work for the FFS role. That’s why I specifically didn’t include that as one of the potential missions.
It wasn’t that part I replied “Nope” to. Just sayin mate. Nice to see the resulting Down Votes though.
I do not think you would need a larger ship than the Bays, you could just reconfigure their internals to suit. A Bay Mk2 class that includes enough hulls to replace the existing plus variants to replace Argus & Dilligence’s roles would make sense. The issue as always is money, auxiliaries are not glamorous, and while often considerably cheaper to construct than a warship the Navy is often short changed by the Government not wanting to buy enough.
It’s my understanding that a ship needs a fixed designation. It is either a medical aid ship or a naval ship. Argus crosses those barriers but it prevents it doing certain roles. I also believe Foreign Aid budgets couldn’t be used if it held any military secondary support role.
I think purpose built ships are needed, otherwise any RoRo ship with a hospital built up top would be top heavy when unladen.
We could easily build 4 ships that meets this need from the Foreign Aid budget, staff it with volunteers and charity workers, crew it from RFA, and deploy as needed. At the outset of Covid we could have used these with 200 bed hospital units as offshore hospitals fully isolated. No staff coming and going spreading it.
Yes it’s perfectly possible but financially, probably not.
The answer is yes
the Dutch Karel doorman already has this configuration and could be further enhanced to operate S2S connectors and 4 caiman 90s lowered from the sides.
the Canadians are looking at a version of this vessel and we should look at building a fleet of 12 to replace a range of assets.
Flo FLO,s are another solution we should pursue as they can be configured for tasking using mega modules, we can buy 16 hulls at £100m each and invest heavily in the mega modules..
so this is all doable as it is already being done
there is a big difference between being able to do something and people/companies not wanting to
You might like this.
if you look at the danish tide class tanker they bought at 5he same time we bought ours it does make you wonder why we don’t have these as well
the Canadians have an upgraded version of the KD class that is even better, I also think we can do even an even better design.
if we want an all in one ship then the KD or Canadian upgrade is a great ship. If we want maximum versatility at a price point then FLO FLO’s with mega modules is the way to go. Also cheaper.
I can understsand your logic on 12 enhanced KD to replace a range of assests and you have been a great advocate for this which is great to see.
I would be in the undecided camp on this presently but would keep an open mind on it.
Alot depends on the Navys aims objectives and operating doctrine and what outcomes it wants to achieve. This will have a major bearing on if the prospal for 12 KD is a good fit or not. To this end the RN/MOD needs to set out what outcomes it wants to deliver across carrier operations, amphibious operations , littoral strike , standing tasks , HADR, minewarfare, drones, asw etc etc etc. And once this is done then see if 12KD is a good fit in delivering these outcomes.
To gain 12 KD somethings would have to go. What do you give up and will the KD deliver the outcomes required.
we could replace the following ships:
2 x Albions, 2 x Bays, 3 x Forts, 1 x Argus, 2 x Waves and potentially the 4 x points.
the key here is that we assign the tides to carriers and these new logistic support ships to tasking as required.
buying 12 over say 20 years also gives us drumbeat and cost savings both in terms of unit cost and support. I would also think it increases our capacity to do things massively and lastly will avoid having specialist ships tied up.
with a few tweaks these could accommodate 8 CB90’s, 4 Caimen 90’s and 2 S2S connectors operating off its steel beach.
the Canadian Davie yard has done an updated version called G-LAM which looks ok, but I think we could do better.
I know that these ships don’t do everything as well as a specialist ship, but recent history would show we don’t want specialist ships as so many of them are tied up
helicopter carrier (KD can hold 8 Merlins in its hanger)
Amphibious – see above and choose a combination of heavy or light raiding
Hospital – built in and can be enlarged with containerised elements.
Mothership – instead of CB90’s or Caimens we could have 12-16 Atlas MCM
Special Forces – everything you need and more
lastly and most importantly it logistics capability is very impressive and could be improved through using containerised solutions in the lanes.
I am sure we can come up with a smart containerised solution for ammunition storage and if we can then we really should consider this platform
12 should cost us 300m each. no reason they should be more
There is a lot of merit in your proposal and I particularily like the steady build drumbeat that secures jobs, skills and shipyards.
There are somethings that may need further consideration.
Albions have C3 facilities, what happens with this capability? Could this be sacraficed and the carriers pick up the slack? Do some KD get C3?
Bays ….typo ….3
Forts are being replaced with FSSS and this is looking like it will proceed,a specialist FSSS allows you to get the maximum from your carrier group.
Waves have roughly double the oil storage capacity as KD but this is offset by having a lot more KD.
Welldecks v steel beach?
Is there a role for welldecks to operate UUVs?
Yes agree KD don’t do things as well as specialist ships but could increase your capacity to do things.
I see potential for 8 to12 KD but would still err on the carrier group having the Tides and specialist FSSS.
KD can spot 2 chinooks , I wonder could an enhanced KD spot 2 merlin and 1 wildcat?
A good proposal that needs geniune consideration. In a world of limited budgets this could help secure ship building and give streamlining /cost savings in maintenance and training while keeping a level of RN capability.
Pretty sure the Danes haven’t bought a Tide class tanker. Are you referring to the Norwegian Maud – which isn’t a Tide?
The Canadians are procuring a version of the German Berlin-class – which took them well over 15 years to get to contract
FLO-FLO and modules were looked at in the early noughties – and discarded for very good reasons.
Norwegians – sorry
smaller than ours – but packs a lot in
But not necessarily that which we need……
Our requirements are – understandably – somewhat different to those of the Noggies. Top Trumps on open source characteristics isn’t usually a good idea.
The Danish don’t have a tanker and the Canadians don’t have a upgraded KD class vessel. The Canadians do have 2 enhanced German Berlin Class tankers on order.
The Norwegians have a tanker, designed by BMT, the same designer as the Tides.
Don…… built in 4 years and operating the year after……. if only we could do that………
Canada is definitely not looking at this type of ship. Some Canadian companies are pushing it just for the work, but the Canadian government has never solicited any bid or RFP and no MND has suggested one for more than 25years. The Afloat Logistics Sea Capability project (some 30 years ago) suggested some HADR capability. The JSS 20 years ago refined it, but the new Protecteur Class AOR is basically just a mid to light sized tanker with some C4 capability.
We’d love to have this, but it will never ever happen.
I nearly laughed when I read this article but for the fact that Boris in his present state of mind would probably agree to anything he sees as a flag waving opportunity. A replacement for HMS Argus is the only decision to be made and once that ship is built and at sea then she can carry on with all her duties including humanitarian action as required if she is available. Of course if such a ship were built and used as suggested by Justin Hedges and paid for from the Overseas Aid budget then that would be fine but where would it be built ?Considering the lack of space in British shipyards if the Fleet Support Ship programme does finally get underway may I suggest Spain.
I say old chap, are you against saving lives, what what ?
The UK currently has a 200 billion+ pound deficit! If the UK spends money on this, one should be under no illusion that something else on the defence side will not be funded. The article references China and Russia as “enemies”. If that is the case, and given all the weaknesses in the Royal Navy (insufficient F-35s, insufficient escorts, insufficient P-8s, insufficient refuelers, insufficient SSNs, no money for MCMV replacement), it is impossible to fathom how this can be justified.
Can you post the Figures please, I’m thinking you might just have made a small mistake
You mean on the deficit? 200B may be optimistic given the second source. Two sources below:
Oh, you are talking about the recently added figures then , not the total which is north of two Trillion then. lol.
Yes, the debt is an even larger problem. It’s all daunting to say the least for all countries.
I think the UK having a fleet of humanitarian (and perhaps with a secondary role as training ships for British mariners), would be a grand idea.
However I am not sure of the financial sense of outsourcing the ships to a private management company. The RFA in the UK and the MSC in the USA regularly achieve (and exceed) the operational tempo, showing that governments can support commercial hulls in house.
The maintenance costs of a ship should not differ whether in government or commercial hands (they contract out to the same suppliers) and the same goes with construction.
Therefore it comes down to purchase costs and the markup a commercial venture would need for profit. I cannot believe a private consortium would be able to offer a lease cheaper than the interest rates the Government can achieve on borrowing money on the open market.
As with all PFI’s a select few notably with Lord, OBE, Sir or Honourable Member beside their name get to ‘again’ fleece the taxpayer. Look at the names tied to Airtanker as an example.
This guys pitch will never work, We will pay top dollar for the hull, the conversion will be done anywhere but the U.K. and if things have to get fighty this hull won’t under the terms of the contract or it’s hull colour be allowed to play without making its owners a ton of money in compensation. Refer the Shorts Belfast and merchant charters during the Falklands.
It’ needs to be a at least near MIL standard build with a rear dock and a hangar crewed by RFA or don’t bother.
I think the MRV is also the basis for the litteral strike ships which would make sense using common hull, engines, etc making operability and maintenance savings. Think 2 MRV would make sense if one was based in the Atlantic and one in the info Pacific region but don’t think UK should find both time for UN to chip in.
This is the same outfit that were proposing it for the Littoral Strike Ship concept. The fact they’re now proposing it as multi-role vessel for HADR (for which there is no requirement) probably signifies that LSL is dead in the water.
It’s not going to happen because money.
If it were me and there was no ‘military considerations’ I would buy a cruise ship.
Plenty of them lying around.
Well they are designed to be refitted very simply. Cabins are built elsewhere and slid into place. You could demolish most of the upper works for a flight deck. The only ‘problem’ I see is piping oxygen around the ship.
If it was designed and built as purely a humanitarian relief vessel then it would have to be paid for out of the aid budget (now controlled by the Foreign Office) given the long list of other priorities the MoD has and the level of financial strain it’s under.
I’d be more receptive if it could act as a helicopter assault ship in times of need or perhaps there was a bolder vision to have 2-3 such vessels that could act as forward deployed sea bases that fulfilled both the disaster relief and littoral strike concepts depending on the region / circumstances.
Nice looking ship.
Not a fan of PFI but perhaps depending on the contract I may reconsider.
If this is being considered then it should ALL be funded out of the foreign aid budget including the entire air support package the landing craft/small boats package and embarked vehicle package.
There’s no point having an aid ship funded from the aid budget that relies on MOD assests and funding to carry out its aid tasks.
It not just about the ship its also about the enablers that allow the ship to carry out its role.
I think you could only realistically use the aid budget to fund the ship itself, and crew costs whenever it’s on humanitarian related deployments. You couldn’t, for example, use the aid budget to purchase 3 phalanx CIWS, which can and have been swapped between ships before. I think the same would have to go for the air support package (but again the aid budget could cover fuel and general maintenance costs). I think just getting the aid budget to cover hull and general systems costs would be enough of a sell, especially if we would be getting 2/3 of them to replace one RFA Argus.
The helicopters, boats, vehicles etc. should be civilian also.
As long as it doesn’t come out of the MOD budget, it is foreign aid.
The challenge would be to keep it from being over complicated and over budget. The track record of most natural national disasters is that aircraft get there first so the role of a vessel is heavy equipment and sustainment.
A modified freight ferry would be perfectly adequate as long as people don’t want to fit one of everything. A medical facility, onboard cranes, relief accommodation (in terms of giving our people ashore a break) and small boats and landing craft would have a higher priority than helicopter facilities except for a basic landing pad.
Keep it simple.
Fitting out new hospital builds on land is wickedly expensive. Put it on a ship and the cost goes up again. This idea is a ‘conversion’ of existing ship and that means the price escalates again. Being at sea means corrosion is a bigger concern for civilian grade equipment.
The era of dedicated UK military hospitals has ended and with that goes the capability of a military run hospital ship. Sure the defence forces medical corps can build on existing civilian capacity but not throw them all together to fully run a hospital ship and maintain existing services back home?
Theres people with more knowledge than me but the current arrangements bring the most seriously wounded military back to the UK, what are they going to do at the disaster zone. The ship would filled up in the first 2 days and nowhere to send people on. And if they are replicating the military treatment system why not set up on land -using existing mobile surgical facilities- to triage patients and send them onwards by air anyway.
Surely the current tasking for RFA Argus provides the definitive case for her replacement, clearly demonstrating her utilitywhere there is a HADR requirement.
You could make the same case for say Diligence considering the only standing task (out of area) for SSN is the Indian Ocean. But she won’t be replaced.
The medical facilities in Argus are not large at all. They are very, very modest in deed.
The only advantage Argus brings is that she is separate hull.
I think this could be the 4th/5th hull in the fss order.its a much needed capability. Why not build 2 one as a direct replacement for RFA Argus and one forward based at Gibraltar for disaster relief
It could almost be amusing, if it were not so sad, how just about every western new build warship that is announced to the world gives disaster relief as the first purpose for which it is built. Governments should recognise that wrapping up a warship in fluffy virtue signaling will not win over the do-gooders to defence spending but will tell adversaries that we are not serious about putting lives on the line to defend what is right. There will always be times when a warship is first on the scene and able to offer assistance but separating disaster relief roles from warfighting seems to be the way to go.
I am not offering ‘fluffy virtue signalling’ – a notion that I abore – but we have an obligation to our overseas territories, and one might argue Commonwealth nations,
in this region, to provide practical assistance during hurricane season and constabulary patrols … for this very reason, in the not-so-distant past, a ‘warship’ was tied up in this tasking, and was very limited, despite the sterling efforts of the crew, in what it could offer.
Raid the overseas budget – and to hell with any protest from tofu-chomping, sandle wearing, nouveau looney leftski – to build in UK, the ideal platform (s), that offers the widest range of capability, lots of space for storage for kit and.supplies, room for 4 hellicopters, no skimping on hangers – and forward base all year round in the Caribbean.
I go further – and I thought had read something similar – create a maritime training centre in the region – again paid for from the bloated aid budget – to train locals with a view to forming a supply of crew for such a ship, offering the separation yousuggested.
All this in parallel to a drumbeat of proper ‘warships’ to ensure the Royal Navy has the high end warfighting tools.
It’s not difficult ,,,
Given that humanitarian disasters usually provoke an international response, couldn’t we build such vessels in partnership with other countries such as France or perhaps Sweden?
Are we really a red crescent nation? Don’t see that we are yet.
PFI’s once loved by Gordon Brown are every much disliked right now for excellent reasons. Check the RAF’s air tanker deal if you are in any doubt. Hugely expensive and cumbersome to operate.
This is not going to happen.
RON 5, Downvoter first class. Sussed again mate, UKDJ and here. Multiple Accounts too. I’d love to see you in person mate. We’d have such a great time. X, meet your best mate on here. lol.
Odd that people care so much about votes, whether up or down.
It’s a website, it doesn’t matter.
The site owners think it is a positive. Some of us just don’t like seeing facts down voted. Either the site serves a purpose or it doesn’t. To be honest I don’t care about the down votes for myself. Why have the feature enabled then? If it doesn’t matter why comment on it? I thought it didn’t matter?
You don’t care?
Sure your don’t…
Looks like you care though. You obviously like the Down Vote feature, I hope you’re not too disappointed it’s removed like all the other sites. Interesting to see you have made no contribution to this thread other than your two comments above, classic Trolling.
I have been online since before the internet I have seen all sorts of characters on line. And for somebody who said it is none matter you seem to want to speak about it.
Not Odd, Sad, Sad that the feature is used to downvote perfectly correct and otherwise informative comments rather than have the balls to discuss any facts or concerns mentioned. Sadder still that grown Adults resort to Trolling, all safely hidden behind a Pseudonym. Thanks for so obviously jumping on the Troll bandwagon Dave. Have an upvote.
What a poorly written article, not even a comparison with air mobile hospitals and other assets to make the case.
Without a case being made it just appears to be another big mistake since the ship would be in port 95% of the time doing nothing.
Unless it can be put into medical commercial operation it is just a waste of resources.
I was thinking the same. A hospital ship means beds, medication, doctors nurses, porters. All hanging round waiting for a disaster.
We give money for foreign aid, some we outsource to the EU (to stop now?) and UN. Let the UN manage it, and we carry on as we have been, cruising in hurricane season.
I don’t agree that UN should manage aid.
My point is only that this investment isn’t justified by this text.
I’m not a fan of this idea. I understood the whole LSS idea & boats from the Davits etc. & I get the hospital ship idea.
But this is not really an MRV? surely that falls to an ellida or Karel doorman type design that have landing docks and RAS capabilities?
Aren’t Cammell Laird and BMA looking at hospital ships and don’t several charities also provide these type of vessels.
This doesn’t really have the necessary dock to fill the logistic ship to shore capability between hospital ship and military vessels? I can’t see any allowance even for mexeflotes? Therefore amphibious shipping would be needed where normal hospital ships and this couldn’t reach anyway.
If it’s to free up military resources where are the Chinooks or other helicopters coming from? Are they part of the deal? With multiple helicopters wouldn’t flyco etc. Be required?
If it’s in white livery & red cross as in the picture of this article then it can’t carry any weapons and therefore when there isn’t a disaster cannot be used for military purposes so again where’s multi-role come in?
Also the “to relieve the state of capital burden” is a bit of a con these are likely to be extremely cheap vessels compared to military ones even something like the Bay class. I’d be very interested on the charter fees and also the actual chartering model i.e. how they’d make money when there isn’t a disaster? If for commercial use when on commercial charter surely to divert it to HADR would then take time to unload & load it up with aid?
How many vessels are planned? – ships aren’t fast so if low numbers they’re not going to be first responders – which is why navies generally end up responding? As RN although small it is deployed globally so are likely to respond anyway & possibly have an RFA in tow which pretty much could fulfill the initial role of this vessel anyway?
If these vessels aren’t going to be first responders, don’t have amphibious lift capability. Couldn’t standard civilian ro-ros not just be charter from the nearest port? At most likely much cheaper rates?
Also there’s no British markings in the picture so how does it flag wave as RN would?
Just my thoughts
As long as no-one confuses this for a naval ship or auxiliary and hence suggests using it as such, fair enough. No funding from MoD budgets – particularly not operations and support which are going to be squeezed hard in the next few years.
There are a (very) limited number of charity ships doing this already. One wonders why Prevail aren’t setting up like that, rather than trying to chisel money out of the soon to be much smaller foreign aid budget.
As a conversion, benefits to UK shipbuilding probably overstated. Would probably keep 150 or so going at Hebburn for a year or so. Not to be sniffed at, but hardly transformational.
Raises the question of why it’s on a naval site……
Exactly. If this happened it would be a civilian vessel that would almost certainly replace an MoD asset (RFA Argus out-of-service 2024). This would happen in much the same way as Search and Rescue was civilianised and became the responsibility of the department for Transport.
It would have no military utility whatsoever.
And Siem, who would presumably own the MRV being proposed, are headquartered in Norway and registered in the Cayman Islands. So who knows if the MRV would even be registered in the UK and UK crewed.
It may be that UK taxpayers just get to pick up the bill.
All ships have some ‘military utility’.
Perhaps the funding could come from the Caymen Islands and the other tax havens in the Caribbean raising some tax locally rather than expect the UK taxpayer to pick up the bill.
I think I recall reading somewhere that the River 2’s have some provision for or actual medical facilities. Anyone have any info on this?
sickbay below ops. excellent article, as usual.
p.s. first post, so hello to all. been reading for a while, enjoying articles + comments.
Helpful graphic. Thx
My main concerns with this idea is that I do not think the UK requires a humanitarian relief vessel 300 days a year.
Our commitment to the Caribbean during hurricane season is very important, but this only lasts a few months. Beyond that the uk only needs such a vessel very rarely eg the Ebola crisis.
If ships were that useful for humanitarian relief, the charities such as MSF and Oxfam would have their own fleets of such vessels, and this is not the case.
Beyond the Caribbean the only place I see such a vessel being useful is the remoter islands of south east Asia/Oceania. There are lots of other countries, such as Australia, Japan, China, Korea and the US, who are better positioned to help this area than us.
There is potential for the RN/RFA to handover the Caribbean hurricane relief work to a civil agency. Possibly a British Caribbean coast guard could be formed that is staffed by citizens from the Caribbean British overseas territories.
16.5 billion boost to defence over 4 years. Over and above the 0.5% increase above in inflation.
Good news indeed. Quote from the DT today.
“Prime Minister will restore Royal Navy to Europe’s most powerful maritime force with largest military investment in 30 years”
The foreign aid budget % of GDP is being cut. As regards a dedicated hospital I would have thought there is a good case for replacing Argus in its casualty evacuation role.
But in disaster situations my feeling is that the RN is doing a good job with the Bays to deliver humanitarian and medical help often as part of a team with NGOs, the NHS, the RAF and other nations to get the medical resources set up on land.
Take the help to the disaster not bring the disaster to the ship.
Boris Johnson Mentioned a new Type 32 Frigate for the Royal Navy, Has anyone heard of this ?
Where? I have read that the foreign aid budget has been cut. I suppose that this will be equivalent to the money we simply give to the EU. I would cancel the stuff we pay to the UN.
Hello Trevor, He mentioned it in his Briefing earlier. He said that the Royal Navy will grow in numbers. I have Googled it and can’t find anything at all about a Type 32 but I can find his Statement.
Don’t get over-excited. I suspect that it’s a placeholder for whatever comes after T31 in the long-promised 30 shipbuilding programme. Doubt it has any real substance as yet.
Indeed mate, but I’m just highlighting his very quietly spoken inclusion of this in his Brief. No mention of a Type 45 replacement, just a mention of an otherwise unheard of Frigate. To grow the Surface fleet would surely mean additional Ships over and above those already in the pipeline ?
Here you go…
Ta mate, but the Sky News link would show his Comment about the “Type 32” better.
So far, nothing whatsoever about this fantastic news on here or other sites like UKDJ. I’m staggered . Must be some frantic behind the scenes researching going on !
Loving the enormous efforts of the Downvotor by the way. Excellent Trolling, First class, You deserve a Medal. Probably the only one you’ll receive though. I wear mine with Pride and a tear in my eye.
Would you like me to personally pin it mate ? I’d be more than happy, as you are so obviously deserving. I look forward to tomorrow morning just to see how low you can go.
Oh and, You have missed my 3 other Posts above. The ones where I am Supporting the latest Defence Brief where we are getting extra funding. Can’t see why anyone on this site would see that as bad enough to Down Vote but, Fill your Boots mate.
I’m all over you now mate. It’s only a matter of time before Admin delete this cowardly down vote feature and then, you’ll have to debate like the others on here.
Sounds like T31 is just a stop gap and will be sold on and then replaced with this all new T32 (which is probably a T31 with a 5inch, enhanced Sea Ceptor air defence and an anti-ship missile). Wallace also mentioned a ‘new destroyer’ which is likely to be based on the T26 hull. We don’t need a massive navy but the ambition should be to get up to 30 escorts though. Nothing on amphibious ships though…a bit worrying.
I reckon the Army & RAF aren’t getting much beyond existing programmes. The RAF will of course get the ‘Space Command’ but I would imagine this will be a small cell and very joint with the US.
Overall it is the best we could possibly hope for.
It’s more, much more than we could hope for though. It reverses decades of cuts, OK maybe It doesn’t reverse back to the Cold War but it does at least start to undo the decline.
Getting back fo the topic of a dedicated hospital ship, the £16billion defence announcement made reference to shipbuilding in Birkenhead, Belfast and Appledore as well as the Clyde and Rosyth. And also mentioned a ‘multi-role research vessel’. This sounds like it could be an Argus replacement. I didn’t hear mention of a hospital ship as such.
Laser weapons were mentioned. Speculating, maybe Albion or Bulwark are envisaged as the ‘multi-role research’ ships- aviation training, casualty evacuation, laser test bed, LPDs ??? c.f. USS Portland. Interesting times ahead.
Lol, I was watching Boris Live and he actually said “Labour Weapons” lol…….
I don’t believe the RN would go for a ship with the flight deck in from of the bridge, so I wonder what are the other options on the table will be are we looking a version of the bay class
First of all, I think this concept has much potential to be a success, so well done on the idea!
I have to ask is the author suggesting the RN use the MRV as a replacement for RFA Argus and the Bay class, or to augment.
Also, legally how do you define a ship that at one mission is transporting weapons and troops, or supporting special forces and the next mission it is a HADR potentially in a non-benign environment. Such a ship has no real protection under the LOAC, Maritime Law and similar conventions.
How do you ask a civilian crew to sign off on that risk?