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Supportive Bloke

The poor performance of the Russian Army in Ukraine so far appears to be in large part down to logistic failures, a powerful reminder of the importance of sustaining troops on the frontline with food, fuel and ammunition.”

Exactly this.

“3rd February 2022 in response to the growing Russian threat to European NATO parners, British Army vehicles were loaded onto FLS ships MV Hurst Point and MV Eddystone at Marchwood Sea Mounting Centre. They were delivered to Paldiski, Estonia less than a week later.”

And exactly that.

Bloke down the pub

Any pivot to the Far East post the Ukraine conflict will require more transport than is available now.

GlynH

Whenever I hear “Beachy Head” I can’t help but think about that old Amiga/DOS game “Cannon Fodder”.

ANDREW WILDE

The British public have, generally speaking, forgotten the importance of the Royal Navy when it comes to the future of their country and they never knew of, or have ever understood the importance of the RFA to the Royal Navy. On the other hand politicians do understand just how unimportant, in terms of votes, it is to maintain a credible Armed Force. . So what chance does the Strategic Sealift stand of replacing the Point Class ships, absolutely none- unless they are built as a political gesture on the Clyde/Forth or in Belfast for a disgraceful sum. Logistics are everything, anyone disagree?

Supportive Bloke

Vlad The Mad might have a view on logistics?

ATH

I think that’s a bit negative. If things are so bad why did a class get built in the first place? At the time of build this was a “new” capability being brought in house.

ANDREW WILDE

Not really. Tony Blairs Private Finance Initiative cost the country dearly, especially when it came to building hospitals, but in the case of the six Point Class ships the country got exactly what had been asking for, on time, and at a good price. Of course the Governments since then, none of whom have the faintest idea of maritime strategy, and the general public who are also sea-blind, had no problem with the disposal of two of these ships, and a Bay Class, plus the manpower that went with them.

Barry Larking

The critics of P.F.I. are many and they make a case; however, in 1997 over half of the N.H.S. hospitals were older than the National Health service established in 1948. In 1993 when Labour said it would raise Income Tax by one penny to fund a national hospital re-building programme it lost. The alternative to P.F.I. is raising taxes and no government that wishes to hold power or gain office can present any sort of case for tax increases the public won’t reject. P.F.I. has given the country new hospitals and potential.

The sea lift capacity argument is part of a wider problem of selling defence to the public. In the wake of the rape of Ukraine and easier task. I am for building in the U.K. as part of a national strategy. Better late than never, but this is very late. What else to do?

Sonik

I disagree, PFI is in essence simply an expensive form of government debt that is conveniently kept off-balance sheet. It’s demonstrably much cheaper overall for HMG to just borrow the money directly, even Tony’s favorite audit commission say’s so. There are valid questions about sustainable spending and national debt, but tax policy does not come into this argument.

Gunbuster

I get to see one of them alongside here on a regular basis. They are well used which is obvious from the rather battered paintwork and rust that is evident on them.
Operational not Decorational…

Robert S

well get your paint brush out then and stop talking about it.

Cam

99 million to paint them no doubt!

Barry Larking

Gunbuster is an Impressionist?

Armchair Admiral

2030 again….
In 2030 we are going to have an outstanding army, navy and airforce, bristling with (insert sound byte here), but sadly more likely to be a chest with IOUs in it.
AA

Cam

Delayed to 2040! We need new gear yesterday! We need to expand the British millitary again, too many cuts have happened!. And Sending men into a potential war zone with sub par gear isn’t right! Iraq war did help get better and urgent gear but not enough. Warriors should be upgraded and Decision on Ajax ASAP, boxer bought in original numbers with something better than gpmgs,As90s numbers have been cut but a replacement will be needed and the Korean k9 thunder looks good maybe we should buy more from them, they do make good stuff these days and allot of it, their military’s far more powerful than ours! Nukes obv not included.

Barry Larking

We need to slash foreign aid. Give only to countries in the Commonwealth who vote for us in international fora and then only for specific programmes time limited and fully audited. The money ‘saved’* can then be spent on urgent requirements here at home, including help for ex-services.

Bloke down the pub

This may be of interest to everyone here. The Defence equipment plan 2021-2031
Microsoft Word – 20220215 EP21 draft content v1.1 FINAL OS (publishing.service.gov.uk)

RAMBO

ITS FSL NOT FLS…… ALSO I THINK U WILL FIND ITS 9 CYL ENGINES NOT 8…..

Sunmack

Really informative article thanks

Max

Very interesting article. I have sailed in these as a deck officer and afterwards with the RFA. The service and availability of the point ships was amazing. Long periods at sea with very little time spent in refit or repair running to commercial requirements.
When compared to the RFA who are excellent at their jobs the amount of output from the point ships was much much better as well as better value for money.
Seeing both sides of the private v public service at sea there is a lot to be said for the point ships. The RNR and british seafarers requirement for the contract worked well resulting in a training program of British seafarers which are in short supply.
The RFA have a tendency of restricting themselves by having slow promotion and long rotations on board which make it less appealing to British seafarers which in turn has a large impact on ship availability. Selling the spare two point ships wary resulted in four full crews of Uk sailors not being employed and the UK lost 30% of its roro capacity.
Those ships were on private charter so costing the gov nothing.
The PFI in this instance worked very well and in my opinion should have formed a template for other naval services operated by both the RFA and the navy. A prime example of this could be civilian vessels such as DP supply ships that could be used to operate the new unmanned mine clearing systems. Survey ships and as a replacement for diligence. Navy Force protection and other specialist crews could be appointed as required.
I know everyone want to see ships with HMS or RFA written on the side but personally I would rather see British owed and run capacity even if a company is making a profit. I think you could get much more for your money if contracted and set up properly.

4thwatch

Don’t you just hate the powers that be, who sold off the fastest two ships and who never think we need redundancy. Such was the fate of the 4th Bay Class and the Best Fort Class. They shouldnt be let do this to any RFA or RN ship without the express passing of a Bill in Parliament itself. Thats the only way to stop it. Show them who’s in charge.

Jon

The powers that be are the ones in charge. By definition. And they know it. Meanwhile my MP doesn’t hold surgeries and doesn’t answer emails.

Cam

And the Rest they either sold or scrapped! Reducing our naval capability by almost a third! 12 destroyers for 6, sold three type 23s, scrapped newest type22s, mines cut by half, RFA left with one solid support RFA Victoria…etc ect

Grant

Really enjoyable article about a lesser known but clearly vital capability. Great pictures too.

How do these ships equal a £1.25bn PFI contract and that contract being ‘good value’. A quick internet search suggests these vessels cost £40m a piece… I know you have to crew, fuel and maintain them but wow…

On the VFM argument a lot is made about an aid ship but surely most of the HADR work can be done by these vessels largely unmodified…

(Must not mention we could have 6 new ones for less the the BS national flagship….)

Phillip Johnson

I have always been doubtful about these PFI contracts. When these contracts get close to an end there should be a statement comparing the worth of these arrangements with more traditional forms of service delivery.
At the moment we are told they are good for us but that is never backed up with numbers. So it comes down to trust a politician.
For instance, given these vessels are built to commercial registration standards they will due to go through a serious survey at the 20 year mark. That survey will probably end their commercial value in first world nations but they will perectly saleable else where. I have recently seen 30 year old vessels sold into SE Asia.

X

Voyager……….>shudders<

Matt

My low opinion of Mr Cameron gets lower :-).

Great piece.

Tom Bowler

Almost 40 since the Falklands we couldn’t do it now no troops no matelots. I served before and after that conflict seen good oppos hurt not good and we still don’t look after our veterans shocking.

Anonymous

These will eventually end up being crewed by RFA personnel, or at least operate under the RFA umbrella…

Last edited 2 months ago by Anonymous
Highwayman

The Rfa can’t even man the ships they have at the moment.

Cam

It’s almost like they deliberately recruit less so they don’t have to send ships to sea! I mean cutting the RN by 5,000+ then moaning about lack of crew was fun!

Max

Having the RFA run these ships is a complete waste of resources. Keep the bays tankers and solids stores for the RFA. everything g is should be privately run to free up crew for the RFA. just pin down the contracts properly and ensure the crews are RNR. you can add force protection. Flight crew etc as required.

Robert S

Week three and still no sign of a Ukraine related article on here.

Duker

Royal Navy connected? Not this war.
Surely theres other places to comment

Robert S

Yes, Royal Navy, Black Sea, War in Europe, Historical envolvement in the area, Deterrent, History repeating itself, and yes there are other places to comment and all of them are concerned with current events in Ukraine rather than a bunch of bright green Ferrys. But don’t let any of that deter you from being your usual self on here.

Cam

That’s the entire British Army being loaded on the two ships at this point! Shameful how small we have let the once might British army get….Funking disgrace…we are the UK not some craphole pointless country…

X

There was a comment on ARRSE that basically said at one time the British Army had 180k personnel and field a full armed corps plus odds and sods brigades like 5th Airborne. Now there is a strength of 70k (60k, just pick a number) and we can barely field an armoured brigade.

There was no real vision post the Cold War. Blair wanted to be play carriers as he some himself as the incoming El President of the EU. That never happened as we know. For me the carrier project would be more valid if we had had procured a fast class of LPD to accompany the carriers. We could have rotated a commando through the ‘carrier group’ (one close combat company in the carrier with a small Tac HQ with the Junglies), the balance of the commando in the LPD, and odds and sods in the LSD(A) (engineers, artillery)) We should have put the Parachute Regiment on the same footing as the RM. Then put both into a division on their own. But what to do with the rest of the Army? I don’t know.

Deep32

Don’t think that the Army Headsheds know what to do with the army either? Certainly not on the procurement front it would seem, wheels/tracked – who knows!!!

Deep32

Actually, having just read the latest article over on TPL – NAO report into Ajax, might have been a tad harsh on the army. V interesting read.

X

Who might have been harsh on the Army? Ajax is a mess. I understand the idea some push that GD were chosen over BAE because BAE see HMG as an ATM. But we should have bought CV90. I am not sure in the age of drones etc. we need a 40 tonne plus recce vehicle. I am not sure all of them will be equipped with all those gizmos they were suppose to carry. We are desperate for a vehicle to do cavalry tasks. I can’t believe the Army pushed the Warrior refurb programme either. It was doomed to expand beyond safe bounds. All that we needed to do was to turn into an APC and never ever try to integrate that awful gun into a new turret. It’s a mess.

Jon

All customers overspecify everything; can’t blame the army for that. Blame instead the sales force that said yes to the laundry list. It should also have been up to the DE&S senior project manager to say no, but I have a sneaking suspicion there wasn’t one until after the contract had been signed.

Agree about CV90 and Warrior CSP. We still should buy CV90, but only about 300 for now. The rest goes on accelerating the Boxers. Including some with the awful gun and its awful turret (which the army has rejected on the Boxers). Well, the hell with what the army wants! It’s time it accepted some kit, like it or lump it. Warrior is going out of service and otherwise there’s nothing medium weight left.

X

I like Boxer. The UK should have never left the program. Infantry brigades based around Boxer IFV, Boxer cavalry variant with 120mm gun, and a 120mm mortar variant would have made sense at one time. (1 x cavalry, 3 x mech bats, 1 x 120mm mortar). The tanks could have been hived off into a couple of tank brigades (2(3?) x mbt, 1 x armourd inf bat, 1 x 120mm)

Saying all that a do wonder if the French Jaguar Griffon combo would be a better now.

I am just not sure now.

I never mentioned the army as ‘customer’. The whole reasoning behind the purchase was off even before specs were drawn up.

Deep32

Boxer is very high end in terms of what it provides – v expensive. Rightly or wrongly the army have decided it’s for them, which is fine, however, given its price(£4-5 mill each) and we have just ordered 4 non specialised variants, will we have the budget to equip all the BCTs we need to if we are scrapping Warrior without a tracked replacement?
I can see Boxer being the Army’s version of the T26 saga. We wanted 13, split 8/5, but that was deemed too rich for our purse, so got 8 and 5 T31’s instead. I mean, do we need the ambulance version at some £4 mill a pop when something cheaper would have been just as effective. The French/Italians don’t use a VBCI/Freccia ambulance variant, they use a different vehicle for the role.
If we think we need a 120mm mortar, do we need to develop it on Boxer? Why not just buy the Polish Atmos version, we will only need about 60ish for 2 BCTs, save the development costs for more IFV/APC versions. I would say buy off the shelf for a MGS version too if we decided we needed one, only because development would be costly and MGS versions already exist. If commonality is what we are after, put the same engine/transmission as our Boxers have in them. It’s the only realistic way I can see us getting enough vehicles to equip our forces properly.

Deep32

Hi mate,
Sorry wasn’t clear enough, I might have been a tad harsh on the army having read that article in TPL reference procurement. Clearly there is still blame to be attached to the MOD and Army top brass, however, given the constant changes enforced by political decision making, I shouldn’t be surprised if they were all going bald.
Yes agree with you, cant understand the need for a 40+ tonne recce vehicle either, especially when standard practise is for ‘lightweight’ recce troops, forgoing armour protection for agility! Not sure what they should have used instead, perhaps something with wheels.
They should have replaced Warrior with something like CV90, agree without that gun and its v expensive ammo!!!

X

Our trouble is that we are influenced by a 20th century view of our physical security. The large armies of WW1/2 run against our history. But because they were so personnel intensive their influence on society has been great. It is also easier for the man in the street to grasp the immediate violence of soldiering than the more esoteric principles of sea power. Even though there much, much more to ‘soldiering’ than trigger pulling and violence. Saying that modern British Army seems to be drowning in doctrine. For the life of me I still don’t understand the thinking behind ‘strike brigades’.

Jon

My reading on strike has been cursory, but I think the strike philosophy is speed, distance and exploitation. ISTAR finds enemy weak points at a distance. Deploy an infantry mass quickly before they can reinforce or counter. Pin them down using distance fires and wipe them out, with an armoured brigade follow up if necessary. Move on and do it again. Low logistics requirements mean you should be able to do this for days with minimal resupply.

X

Yes. The idea is we do this with others supplying the ‘force’.

Cam

And how many of the Army’s 70k are actually combat troops…10k!

Deep32

I believe about 18-19 k are Infantry, not sure how many Tank,Arty and AAC numbers there are? I imagine that’s what you mean by ‘Combat troops’, as opposed to support troops, although the RA are classed as CS troops.

Cam

When did we start using the Oshkosh trucks for tank and fuel transporters?

X

Quite recently about 2000-ish.

Cam

Cheers, shame we couldn’t have built and made a modern Scammell Truck!. Or shame we couldn’t build modern British army trucks!, we need enough of them!., but hey buying tens of thousands German trucks will have to do!!! As the British truck industry is no more! It used to be huge now we make one kind and it’s not even British! Erf off!

X

Well you have to consider that the ‘war mongering UK’ can’t even build a rifle. Whereas ‘pacifist and war guilty Germany’ can offer everything from a rile to a tank and most things in between. One of the reasons why the Germans had a superbly equipped army was that they churned tax money through industry. They built weapons to keep themselves in work. Our prudent Treasury sort cuts everywhere and that is coming back to bite now.

Last edited 2 months ago by X
Barry Larking

In a classic ‘salami slicing’ move to save money, two of the ships, Beachy Head and Longstone, which offered a measure of spare capacity and resilience were released from the PFI and sold in the wake of the 2010 SDSR.’

The infamous Coalition 2010-2015. If the British armed forces ever needs a collective tombstone this is what should be chiselled into it.