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The Whale Island Zookeeper

We are where we are.

Submarines are best purchased in batches of four for one to be available. Government has since the end of Cold War failed to grasp even simple aspects of defence let alone perhaps the most complicated conventional sphere, sea power.

The UK is a second tier regional power. We should have constructed our primary seaward defence around sea denial. This means keeping submarine hull numbers as high as possible. Ensuring that our fighters have a decent long range stand off anti-ship missile as well as always flying with the latest long range AA missile. Two capable escorts in the Atlantic Norwegian Arctic region. And that we have enough AEW/ASaC planes (18) and MPA (24) in support. [Some thought should be given to a serious defence of Faslane.]

I don’t think Barrow has the capacity for an 8th Astute. I hope somebody has at least done a study to see if one more could be built if the whole weight of the state is thrown behind the problem. As for cost well we have money to p*ss up the wall for Ukraine, we p*ssed huge amounts for ‘scamdemic’, we are p*ssing money away for ‘net zero’ and so on.

Eight SSN’s is a minimum.

David MacDonald

Agree with that 100%.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

Thank you. Thank you also for not just picking at it without offering anything on the topic hand.


No practical way to build an eighth Astute. Both the structural and reactor parts of the build process moved on to the new SSBN’s years ago. They need to work flat out on this project as the current SSBN’s are getting very old.

The Whale Island Zookeeper



Yes. Building an 8th Astute train left the station probably 10 years back

However , keeping HMS Triumph on only at Faslane as the ‘delousing’ vessel for the nuclear missile boats, probably expensive for a limited use but is really only answer


I could be mistaken but is Britain not helping design the aussie nuclear ssn surely Britain will build some of them. That is a good few years off aussie’s are getting a few Los angles class first.


Yes. The Aussies should get three Virginias in the 2030s and would hope to get their SSN-AUKUS boats starting in the 2040s.

We’d expect the UK to get our first Aukus submarine operational in the second half of the 2030s — at which point HMS Astute would be thirty years old. However we can’t refuel the Astutes, so the boat (25 year reactor design life) will almost certainly have been decommissioned by then and HMS Ambush will be close to end of life. We won’t be increasing the number of boats, we’ll just be replacing the first three A-class until the early 2040s.

We’ll probably be back down to six boats between 2035 and 2040, and if we don’t build fast, at least a boat every two years, we’ll never get to eight. So we’ll have to pay more per annum for some of the most expensive assets in the fleet just to stand still. Aren’t the Treasury going to love that one! Can you imagine their reaction when Wallace’s review says we need more subs than we have, so build even faster while we are still paying for the Dreadnoughts?

Also we can’t speed the design and start sooner by much (even if capacity existed in an expanded Barrow) because we’ve agreed to build a complex mishmash of three countries’ technologies, which will increase design/build time and project risk. We’ll need to get construction contracts signed by around 2027/8, so that’s when we’ll need to start putting aside an extra billion or so per annum in the budget line for construction, and Barrow will need to be ready to take on the extra work.


Reactor life !
That could be the basic reason none are at sea now. They are stretching it out over 30 years , although Astute especially as first of class was very slow to go on its first deployment when the operational power was used continously


Very possible.


Build an 8th Astute? The ability to fabricate and fuel PWR2 reactors has been sacrificed to let us build the larger PWR3 for the Dreadnoughts. PWR3 won’t fit in an Astute, and it would be too difficult to have the capability to make both reactor types at the same time (hence the multi-year delays to the Dreadnought reactor programme caused by refuelling Vanguard). This leads us to the idea of building a larger Astute that can accommodate PWR3. Well that needs a bit of a redesign, so why not put in the latest sensors, a quieter tail configuration? Before you know it you’ve ordered up an SSN(R).

However, we aren’t building SSN(R)s anymore. We are building SSN-AUKUS. So why not just get a lick on and accelerate that? Maybe enlarge Barrow and put money into Rolls Royce? If only the last budget had thought to put aside £3bn pounds over the next two years to do just that.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

Whatever. My point is we need an 8th boat sooner rather than the later. I am pointing at the moon, you are looking at my finger.


You aren’t pointing at the Moon. You are pointing at its reflection in the surface of a lake. If we reach for that we’ll just take a bath.

If we want an extra new boat this decade, we’d have to go SSK.


SSKs in the North Atlantic won’t keen up with Russian SSNs. Not withstanding the cost of replacing the German systems with British.

The only actual route to increase ASW capability where we have capacity to make it happen is more T26s, more Merlin’s and more kit for those mission bays. The T26: could be built quicker and will be much more useful then the super OPVs they are building at Rosyth. With additional UUWVs.

Perhaps an Ocean replacement with a squadron of ASW helicopters….

Agree with all the people saying the funding is there – and of course it would all wash back into the economy.

Supportive Bloke

T26 is the top ASW platform agree that more would make sense and be possible to deliver as PWR2 and other key bits are now out if production.

Calling a T32 equipped with Mk41 an OPV is a little OTT – it is very capable – just not at ASW in a F26 kind of way.

More P8 is also achievable this decade.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

There isn’t a T32 on a cad screen anywhere. So how is it very capable?


I’m sure it’s just a typo.

Supportive Bloke

It was!


Agreed on the P8s (although they could do with more British kit on them) and again things that could be obtained realistically.


“Could do with more British kit on them”. No! That pushes up costs, causes delay and leads to small fleets that cannot be upgraded. We have to accept that for some systems, off the shelf is the way to go.


I don’t disagree in general – and we should pick those capabilities which we have a real advantage in as the ones we continue to develop in the UK: and British sonobuoys and torpedos are better than their US equivalents: which won’t remain the case if we don’t continue to buy them.


True for Atlantic and global tasking, but we could run a few SSK for specific tasks, such as delousing, patroling offshore energy farms, and so on. Short deployments close to home.


Seabed sensors for much of that


Submarines have sensors, decision makers and effectors in one package, while a sensor is just a sensor. Different jobs.


Your point is all well and good, but how do you practically deliver it? Its far too late to be ordering the long-lead items required for an Astute, the build for Dreadnought has already begun and has higher priority, and design work for SSN-AUKUS is in its infancy.

You’re pointing at the moon, we’re asking how you think we get there.


I think it calls for an emergency build of 4 U boats built in Germany however distasteful this might be to some. Alternatively join with Holland and their new conventional boats.
These would fill the 200 mile out Economic zone and choke points like the Straits of Gibraltar on into the Med.
We would really need 8. 4 deployed North and 4 South.
When they are clapped out we can replace them with 4 SSN’s giving us 12.
Tally Ho what!


Sea denial, denial from who, Nigeria? Or mad vlads “aircraft carrier”?


The Russian sub fleet.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

How can you comment on a naval comment board if you have no grasp of the vocabulary?


Skipping over “scamdemic” I’d be one of those arguing that “money to p*ss up the wall for Ukraine” is the best possible defence investment we could be making at the current time.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

Really? Surely one of the lessons from all of this is we can see the limit of Russia’s landpower. How many Ukrainian old men and children do you want to die to keep you safe you sad sack?


We aren’t “p*ssing” money on Ukraine, we’re supporting a democracy that has been invaded by an authoritarian regime who is seeking a land-grab. It just happens to also benefit the U.K. as every Russian military asset destroyed by the Ukraine is one more that will never threaten us.

We haven’t “we p*ssed huge amounts for ‘scamdemic’”. There was a pandemic, we spent money to reduce the death toll, we spent money to keep businesses and the economy afloat. The only ‘scamdemic’ is in the minds of the tin-foil hat brigade.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

Before the war your beloved MSM was telling us the Ukraine was the most corrupt country in Europe.

I do wish the site owner would bring it blocking. I wouldn’t have to read you MSM propaganda. And you could choose to ignore my truth.


Because that’s what tin foil hat types do when confronted with facts.


If he did your the one far far more likely to get blocked.


“My truth”, “MSM propaganda” – I see you’re regurgitating all the do rigour conspiracy phrases like a good sheep.

No the corrupt country in Europe’s has always been Russia.

David Barry

Sean. The Ukraine was very corrupt however, so are most EU countries to varying degrees, as is the UK.

No one should be throwing stones in a greenhouse.


Of course Ukraine has corruption issues, it was part of the Soviet Union and thus under Russian control for nearly 70 years. Same issue with most of the former Warsaw Pact states.


Seaward defense around sea denial — sounds like a country in Asia…

China-based its A2/AD concept on the ‘Sea Denial’, using very long-range land, air and sea-based precision fire and ballistic missile capabilities to hold enemy force elements at risk over much greater distances.

For anti-access, China relies on advanced land-attack ballistic and cruise missiles such as the DF-26 to threaten US ships, forcing America’s aircraft carriers back to a distance at which the effectiveness of their aircraft would be severely reduced, and forcing back surface ships so far that their Land Attack Cruise Missiles (LACMs) become an irrelevance.

China’s anti-ship and cruise missiles can reach out to beyond the so-called First Island Chain. This string of islands includes the Kuril Islands, the Japanese Archipelago, the Ryukyu Islands (notably Okinawa), Taiwan, and the northern part of the Philippines, effectively enclosing the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

Land based anti-ship missiles on the mainland already cover an area far beyond the First Island Chain, and almost as far as the Second Island Chain.

By extending the deployment of surface-to-surface weapons to the Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief Reefs virtually the whole area within the ‘Nine Dash Line’ would lie within the range of the 250 mile (400km) range YJ-62 ASCM (anti-ship cruise missile), while the 950 mile (1,550km) range DF-21 MRBM would be able to threaten Malaysia, Singapore, and most of Indonesia.

The 1,367 mile (2,200km) CJ-10 LACM would extend the area at risk to Jakarta and Palau. Even without these weapons, the DF-26B intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), can hit targets out to distances of between 1,864 miles and 3,417 miles – placing Guam and even New Delhi at risk.


Best not to conflate max range with effective use. All of these weapons require targeting data to hit mobile ships, which would require Chinese assets within range to do so, and any ballistic missile is unlikely to be used in a peer conflict with a nuclear armed opponent for the same reason we don’t use a conventionally-armed Trident to flatten opposing armies; the risk of an opponent misidentifying a ballistic missile launch as a nuclear first strike is far too high.

The Chinese A2/AD defences are formidable, but they’re building weapons they’d be stupid to use.


China’s long-range missiles are supported by a rapidly growing number of space-based sensors, including a constellation of Naval Ocean Surveillance System satellites. These provide persistent coverage of the waters surrounding China and could provide targeting for anti-ship ballistic missiles.

But missile systems have also already been deployed on some of the man-made (or artificially expanded) islands and reefs in the South China Sea – most notably on Woody Island, the largest of the Paracel islands – further extending their reach. The deployment of 124 mile (200 kilometre) range HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles (a derivative of the Russian S-300 system) to islands and reefs where there are already Chinese military bases and airfields would provide Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) coverage over large areas within the Nine Dash Line, while fighters or a longer range SAM system, like the Russian S-400 – designed to engage targets out to 250 miles (400 km) using 40N6 missiles – could create overlapping MEZs covering the entire area.

By extending the deployment of surface-to-surface weapons to the Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief Reefs virtually the whole area within the ‘Nine Dash Line’ would lie within the range of the 250 mile (400km) range YJ-62 ASCM (anti-ship cruise missile), while the 950 mile (1,550km) range DF-21 MRBM would be able to threaten Malaysia, Singapore, and most of Indonesia.

China relies on fighter aircraft and an intricate network of air and missile defence platforms for area denial, and has made real efforts to improve its air defence capabilities, deploying Shaanxi Y-8J, KJ-200H, KJ-500 and KJ-2000 airborne early warning aircraft, and Y-8CB, Y-8DZ, Y-8JB, Y-8JZ and Y-9DZ electronic intelligence platforms, Y-8G and Y-9G jammers and the Y-8T Airborne Command Post, as well as a variety of tankers. Its fighter force now includes the notionally ‘fifth generation’ Chengdu J-20, while the J-35 (broadly equivalent to the F-35) is under development. Other PLA Air Force fighters will soon deploy the new PL-20 and PL-21 very long range air-to-air missiles – intended to take down high-value assets such as airborne early warning and tanker aircraft. These weapons would further enhance area denial capabilities by forcing US force-multipliers like tankers and EW aircraft to operate further back, or risk being shot down. The effect is to turn a benign environment into a more contested one, and to force the US and its allies to return to having to face the real prospect of suffering losses in a peer-level conflict.


All these amazing weapons sound the same way posters use to talk about Russian weapons before the Ukr war. We all see how that is going.


Are you referring to the dismal performance of the Sea Slug, Sea Cat, Sea Dart, Blow Pipe, and the Rapier missiles?
Or Type 45 PIP, and SSN not on patrols?

While RN mostly stays at ports, the USN is taking notice of the PLA navy development.

Pentagon: Chinese Navy to Expand to 400 Ships by 2025, Growth Focused on Surface Combatants

We will see how RN perform when the shooting starts, see which sides will run out of missiles first?


Hey Chinese trolls have awoken! How’s your good mate Corbin


Apparently, you have nothing meaningful to say and cannot face the facts except sticking your head in the sand… little England.


Quite the PLA expert. How did that little war with North Vietnam go ?


And how many posts have you been posting every day, expert on all creatures great and small?

Remember the following:

  1. Singapore 1942. Singled out by none other than Churchill as the worst defeat ever. A total shambles that removed the linchpin of prewar British strategy in Asia.
  2. France 1940. The defeat of the BEF is overshadowed by the French collapse and Dunkirk, but a total defeat it was.
  3. Malplaquet 1709. One of history’s great Pyrrhic victories. A bloodbath that got Marlborough sacked and saved the War of Spanish Succession for the French, so a strategic defeat par excellence.
  4. Medway 1667. For once the Royal Navy got utterly spanked, not surprisingly by the Dutch sea dogs. A near comical shambles that triggered an invasion scare.
  5. Gallipoli 1915. Folly or worthwhile gamble? Still debated, but the execution was terrible and the defeat clear cut.
Charlie Farleigh

Perhaps the most aposite British defeat, if we seek to apply the lessons of history to the situation today, is the fall of Crete in May 1941. Tiny Freyberg, who had won a VC in WW1, failed to grasp the Ultra intelligence that the main assault would come by air. He was wedded to the idea that it was coming by sea, despite almost complete domination of the seas by the RN, and loads of intelligence confirming the absence of any significant German naval assets in the area. We’re all focusing on Ukraine and drawing comfort from the brutal ineptitude of the Red Army. But it is false comfort, because the threat posed by Russia is not land forces, but NBC. Putin has invested very heavily in modernising his nuclear force. Who knows what he will do if his land forces are pushed out of Ukraine? He is in many ways like Hitler, and, while nobody really knows, I think Hitler would have used nuclear weapons in 1944 if he had posessed them. Without enough submarines to cope with a 12 boat surge, such as Russia has tried before, the West in general is very vulnerable.


theres a particular type – only ever criticises Britain and always has expert level knowledge of PLA (N) order of battle.
It was just a gentle reminder of the military foibles all countries have. But you have come on full steam over the smallest of border wars comparing to events in global conflicts.

Le Char

This smallest of border war known as WW2 to other people, managed to bankrupt Britain and end an Empire.
The Fall of Singapore in 1942 shattered the illusion of invisibility of the British and caused the largest capitulation in British history.
A force of some 36000 Japanese defeated a British Empire force of some 85000.
Around 61,000 Allied POWs were used as forced labour to build the Burma Railway.

Some small border, some war. The lest we forget.


And what type do you belong to? Do you have a problem with people expressing another point of view here?


Always amusing to see Russian trolls squabbling with Chinese trolls.


And how did that little war USA with North Vietnam go?

Gavin Gordon

No rant on my part, as I’m too old to do more than smile at what appears on the face of it to be youthful impressionability. However, I’m still interested in your missile choices. Sea Slug*,Sea Cat were 1st Gen, thus no relevance to speak of (*apart from land attack, surprisingly).
Sea Dart, effectively the 2nd gen / 1st iteration replacement for Slug by 1982 I knew more about on a number of parameters, but for it’s time was indeed a significant technical leap. Trials data is by no means war data, mind.
Of course, your ‘dismal performance’ is gleaned from Western, publicly-available, real-world operations, and any failures attended to reasonably well within a decade, as you ought to be aware.
Agree we do not have sufficient vessels, and have some questions to demand of Westminster.
But then there are a number of other participants within the Western force structure (phase includes East) that you may need to take into account overall?


No I was referring to the dismal performance of the Russian “super weapons” which by the way has been the design source and inspiration of many Chinese weapons.


Would you care to elaborate on what Russian “super weapons” performed dismally, for the sake of posterity? 


For sure, the Ukrainians are putting up a good fight but the main reason that Ukraine is still in the fight is because of the massive aid from the West including the kitchen sink,

The Whale Island Zookeeper

The Russians are winning and targeting at will anything they need to target.


That’s an interesting fantasy, I mean they are good at hitting random civilian targets, military targets not so much… Unless you think last nights attacks were actually Russian on Russia?


Oh please . Thats because Ukraine, correctly, doesnt release information on military targets hit. Do try and be sensible about what information is coming out of Ukraine, the facts that came via the US National Guard airman in US werent so rosy


You have an interesting definition of ‘winning’ that is the total opposite of established custom.


No the Ukrainians are striking military targets in Russia itself. How long did it take Britain to take Sevastopol Smarty?

Paul T

While that is true it won’t likely change the outcome of the War, Russian’s targeting strategy will.

Paul T

Correct, while neither Russia or Ukraine can claim Air Superiority Russia can at least hit specific targets at will, and their precision Weapons supply is holding out.


Kindergartens and maternity units? Yeah hitting such specific targets with precision weapons is a sure way to win a war…

Paul T

Are you not familiar with the term ‘Collateral Damage’ – what goes up must come down, Western supplied SAM System’s shoot down a percentage of Russian incoming Missiles – does the resulting debris magically dissappear ?.


Someone’s swallowed Chinese propaganda wholesale, this is the same invincible China that has never won a modern war. Same people who were pointing out invincible Russian weapons a couple of years ago.

wilkinson sword

The British used to tell themselves that the IJN Navy pilots were inherently inferior flyers, incompetent pilots, remember HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales?

Remember Singapore 1942? The biggest British surrendered and sealed the fate of the Empire.

At least the USN has not forgotten about Pearl Harbor 7-December-1941


To be fair…HMS POW had a serious design flaw and HMS Repulse was hit with a multidirectional attack from several angles with torpedo’s after dodging quite a few torpedo’s beforehand. Loosing POW and Repulse left the Scrap Iron Flotilla ship HMAS Vampire V-Class from 1918 and HMS Hermes from the Mid 1920’s vs the IJN. You are right though….never underestimate your enemy…


During the Battle of Ceylon, the same IJN inferior flyers, incompetent pilots managed to inflict disproportionate damage on the British.

They damaged port facilities, sank carrier HMS Hermes and two cruisers HMS Cornwall and HMS Dorsetshire, destroyed a third of ground-based fighters and nearly all of the enemy ground-based strike aircraft. In addition, 23 merchant ships, totaling 112,312 tons, were sunk,
In return, the Japanese lost only 18 aircraft, with damage to about 31 more


That’s not why they were sunk. Like most disasters it was a combination of several factors, such as underestimating the reach of the Japanese aircraft due to the rapid advance of the army allowing them to quickly relocate forward.


A perfect summary of our Politics, Great Job, well done!!

Fred Fish

Agree but you then need to get the numbers in on recruitment and retention, which extends all the way down to decent MQ accommodation. If the Mrs is happy, then people will stay in.

Tom Orchard

There can’t be an 8th Astute since Rolls Royce no longer make the PW2 reactors for it.


Great statement, nice to know we’re not the only country pissing money at ukraine like there was no tomorrow. While we have more serious issues on the home front that need the money more. I also feel the same way about the plandemic. And why is it that we continue to do business with adversarial nations like china? The only thing we should be doing with adversaries is watching them like a hawk. Not helping their economy or making it easier for them. I am convinced that to be a politician, one must be brain dead or lack commonsense. Right biden? F/JB


‘Why are no Royal Navy attack submarines at sea?’ Easy if troubling to answer – a pathetic number of boats including one that is ancient, service wide problems with crew retention due to pay & conditions and a serious lack of foresight in having no extra dry docs available.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

THIS ^^^^^^^^^

The same ‘political class’ that is taunting Russia for no real reason is the same ‘political class’ that has left us defenceless.

Jeffrey Smidt

No real reason….did you miss the 3 military invasions and annexations in last 15 years? Putin’s Lebensraum is getting concerning, and China is watching to see if anyone cares.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

How many countries has the US invaded and bombed since WW2? How many times has the US pressured allies and others to do things for the US’s good which is ultimately detrimental to the other party?

Why would the largest country on earth need more land?

If you had been here before and spouted a few paragraphs out on a topic I might listen to what you have to say. Jumping out of nowhere to spout Russophobia is a bit tiresome.


It’s not Russophobia to think it’s important that a rules based international order (however imperfect) is upheld, that Ukrainian freedom and territorial sovereignty is defended and Putin’s expansionism is resisted.


Unfortunately conspiracy theorists think the pandemic wasn’t real, deny climate-change, think Trump won in 2020, and that Putin is a nice guy provoked by nasty NATO. It’s all part of their creedo and facts won’t convince them otherwise. It’s like trying to have a reasoned discussion with ISIS.


Agreed, there is some bewilderingly Strange Love Fest going on in the mind of some on the far right, right?
Be like Churchill, Lawful, Aware, Prophetic, Demo-Patriotic and Amusing washed down with Sea Sense and we wont go far wrong.


Mainly extreme right, though you get a few on the extreme left too – but once you reach the extremes in politics there’s little difference between left and right (eg Hitler and Stalin). I suspect Prigozhin‘s Internet Research Agency in St Petersberg, and various units in the GRU and SVR helped stoke these conspiracies after their success in influencing the 2016 presidential election against Clinton. Which means it’s no surprise they’re so sympathetic towards Russias’s action in Ukraine.


I’ve never heard Mick Lynch and Jeremy Corbyn described as ‘far-right’


Fight-right/ far-left, they end up the same, state authoritarianism. Both require total obedience. The subtle difference is far-left require you to believe too, whereas the far-right doesn’t care so long as you’re sufficiently terrified to obey.


What’s the difference between Fascism and Communism ? In one man persecutes man but in the other it’s the other way around.


The difference between Fascism and Communism, both persecute but in Communism you’re expected to thank your persecutors.


Sorry. I clicked reply on yours when meant Seans. Of I was blonde i’d call it a moment.


Rules based order ? ROFL
The rules based order said when Mauritius became independent its previous islands that were part of the colony stayed with it
However a land grab by US for Diego Garcia mean the Chagos Is and their residents were expelled and the place became a military colony of the US- while nominally called British Indian Ocean Territory in the middle of the Indian ocean- very conveniently [Its better placed than even Hawaii is in the Pacific}

If you want rules based order in Europe how about returning Kosovo to its parent country Serbia instead of being a Nato protectorate

Not to mention those same ‘rules’ applying to Nato member Turkiye whos occupied the northern 1/3 of Cyprus since they invaded in 70s.
Cyprus is both a Commonwealth and EU member

These are all current ‘broken rules’ not historical. too many is the list of broken rules.
Kissinger was right all those years back and still is. Its really about regional/global dominance and putting your own interests first.


The ‘arguments’ you’d expect to hear from the Kremlin.

The existing international order, like democracy, isn’t perfect, but it’s better than the alternative.

Your ‘facts’ on Diego Garcia, Kosovo, Cyprus are all distortions of the truth. But were it not for Russia’s expansionist aggression, both during the Cold War and today, most of these issues would have been resolved. You know this so I don’t need to detail them.
It’s unfortunate there is no way to eject Russia from the Security Council.


Thats what the ‘rest of the ‘world’ actually thinks and why they want to be neutral
Im just giving actual historical facts it you that has the agit-prop angle to everything ….ever. This isnt a Ministers office where Spads compete to be most ideologically pure …hmmm ring a bell?


The facts as decided by the international Court
The rejection of the UK claim was made by the special chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea’
I suppose the Royal Navy…cough cough ..will have to find a new base in Indian Ocean


And again, very pertinent as Cyprus has UK bases – under lease-
European court orders Turkey to compensate Cyprus for 1974 invasion
Those international rules are like candy floss


That U.K. has SABs in Corus is completely unrelated to the Turkish invasion. You’re getting befuddled.




What invasion- thats just Kremlin news speak, you said your self.
British bases mentioned arent related of course- it was to make it topical in this post and and having ‘special operations’ next to UK military personnel isnt a problem ?.

Ukraine matters more than an EU and commonwealth country ?

David Graham

The SBAs are not leased from Cyprus. They are British Overseas Territories.


Hilariously the same International Court that ruled that Kosovo could declare independence. So like it when it agrees with you (Diego Garcia) but you ignore it when you disagree with it (Kosovo).
You know what that says about you?…


I dont have a problem with Kosovo declaring independence- please dont make things up I didnt say. if its not allowed independence it must be returned to Serbia – rules are rules surely
It was Natos occupation that is the issue for me
Doesnt that created a precedent for Crimea – Eastern Ukraine and their declarations of *independence from* Ukraine. Cue long list of break ups such as Catalonia
Some say the rules dont allow that , maybe you could explain


There is no precedent from the Balkans. There was no civil war in Ukraine and even Putin now openly admits that Crimea and Donbas were taken over by Russia in a devious and underhand plan, don’t you remember the ‘little green men’?

The idea that it was civil war and declaration of independence is absolute nonsense. But of course some people fall for Russian propaganda.


So Kosovo declares independence while under US army occupation get international court approval – but US and UN say no independence. Not sure which rule that is

So what really is this international rules system you first mentioned ?

Clearly that system didnt apply in March 2003 for the Iraq invasion by US and UK…. plus 5000 Ukraine troops over some years also went to Iraq

Tell us what was the international rules when Ukraine was part an invasion of another country.

Strange situation when clear cut facts are labelled propaganda


I saw you’re rowing back in your position after I highlighted your hypocrisy.
NATO isn’t occupying Kosovo, another bare faced lie on your part.

Kosovons were being persecuted and killed by the Serbs before their independence. Spain wasn’t slaughtering Catalans, Ukraine wasn’t slaughtering the inhabitants of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. That’s the difference, but you’ve previously demonstrated that you have no regard for human life so I doubt you’ll understand this argument.


No Right of appeal is there except the court of common sense, that says Mauritius will give them to China pronto. Ruling ignore.


Far from that , I understand that they will continue the US lease …but on their terms
But now Maldives has a claim too, but Mauritius has primacy
Where did you find that China will take over , but as it would be their country thats their choice.
Surely you dont want UK to break international laws – like they have for last 60 years ?

Jeffrey Smidt

How many have we annexed for additional territory?

(The answer is zero, sense you seem to lack the ability to tell the difference)


Some food for thought


You saying we need to grab a part of Far Eastern Russia to ensure the sun never sets….etc?


Funny you should mention it with these considerable ‘special military operations’
Archangelsk 1918-1919
Vladivostok 1918-1922
Baltic 1918-19
Caucasus 1917-19

What were the time the Russians were last here ?


To coin a phrase – “ these are smallest of border wars compared to events in global conflicts


Border wars ?
They were full UK army invasions plus RN in Baltics.
Churchill was the prime instigator, even in a speech in 1954 regretted it was ‘too little’

de Almagro

Border wars — your words or eat them?

But you have come on full steam over the smallest of border wars comparing to events in global conflicts.


You think the invasion of Ukraine, the imprisonment, torture and rape of its citizens, the abduction of its children, is “no real reason” for standing up to Russia? Says a great deal about your moral compass, or rather lack thereof.

John S C Lewis

As a resident of Salisbury, I have first hand experience of just how evil Russia / Putin is. I think you need to take along hard look at the facts of Russia’s behaviour.

David MacDonald

Perhaps the crews are on maternity leave.


What a helpful comment.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

Sadly there is a lot of truth in it.


This isn’t the first time this has happened, and won’t be the last……but yiu seriously need to question why, with such limited resources are boats spending such long periods alongside? Our newest boat Anson – inactive for several months and Ambush for over a year? What is wrong with these boats? Is it maintence issues? Or crewing? Either way, this needs to be sorted yesterday!

Rob Young

Sadly we are short in all areas… hopefully the various support/maintenance builds will help in the future, but it seems we still need at least a couple more boats to ensure minimum cover.


Is there any point in building them if we can’t afford to operate them? SSN’s are the only conventional weapon we can seriously bring to bear on the main enemy (China) in the event of them making a move. They need to be afraid of that threat and i wonder how afraid they are reading this?

The Whale Island Zookeeper

My fear is when China starts operating submarines out of bases in the Atlantic.


I see that the Foreign Secretary is in China today for the first talks in 5 years. Apparently he’s really going to put his foot down…..whilst we have no big stick in the area whatsoever ????


He is threatening not to sell them anymore Marmite and also no more Top of the Pops.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

I think some here have got to get used to that Western Europe is a small corner of a very big world. A big world that is leaving us behind.


Indeed… agree.


China is really fearful now of this paper Tiger navy.


Whilst there is an issue with manning levels, across the various branches, this is really down to a lack of infrastructure support. Currently Devonport (Babcock) is in the process of revamping the dry docks which form part of 5 Basin (9-15 docks)(See Babcock website for major details). It was started late last year and is currently expected to be complete by 2025 at a cost of some £1.5 billion.
Clearly the delay in getting Vanguard out of refit has impacted somewhat on the schedule, but it is totally criminal that we can’t get a SSN into a dry dock for the forseeable.
As the article alludes to, the ship lift in Faslane remains a priority for SSBN use, as the longer length patrols are also due to Vanguards delayed return, which in turn means the rest are worked harder and need more maintenance. The shiplift also isnt really designed for long docking periods either, more for quick checks/maintenance(1-2 months). So, we are currently up said creek without any paddles!


We need another SSN base perhaps Portland or Portsmouth with a proper dry dock to fit the carriers too. A Depot ship is an idea. Remember those?

Don quixotes

I totally agree
Plus another 12 destroyers, 24 frigates, and 18 SSK.
Why not bring back the Empire, it is easier.


Well, that other SSN base used to be Devonport until a few years ago!!!! Why not just open it up to SSN’s again – cost I imagine.
A Depot/Support ship (Dilligence!) certainly wouldn’t go amiss would it?

The Whale Island Zookeeper

Some of us remember…….
comment image


Indeed we do.

Capt. Karl Marsen

They were not bad and served well but the modern SSK is much better, obviously,


Probably due to shortage of key personnel.


Fall in serving personnel in 12 months – UKDJ

  • Royal Navy/Royal Marines: 29,350 (a decrease of 1.4% from 1 April 2022)
  • Army: 74,830 (a decrease of 3.1% from 1 April 2022)
  • Royal Air Force: 29,380 (a decrease of 1.6% from 1 April 2022)
  • Total: 133,570 (a decrease of 2.4% from 1 April 2022)

That’s not going to help. If you can’t crew of the vessels you have Right now. Not going to get any easier…..


It’s not the fact that they are all alongside that’s the worry. It’s the inactivity over time. Why isn’t Anson working up? Why has Ambush done nothing for a year? Is Astute the only boat that can move?


Exactly…….are we talking technical issues with the A boats, or simply no crews? The decision to base all the attack boats in Faslane had a negative impact on crew numbers as some simply didn’t want it, in other cases I know of guys used to the Trafagars and their predecessors who simply don’t like the A boats and have quit the service . Whatever the issue is, the RN needs to act fast.


That is quite strange, how a modern submarine in not as well liked compared to older ones?


Horses for courses Alex. I went down Astute while it was still in build, didnt like what I saw one bit and avoided them for the rest of my time in the RN, went back to both T and V class instead.


Within reason you can choose what class of SM you want to serve on, although a lot depends on where any particular skill set is required, or deemed to have a higher priority. Basically its either a ‘preference draft’, or a non-preference draft’.
If you have just come off a NP draft, you tend to get what you want for the next one or two. Also the build rate of the Astute’s was slow, so much more easily avoided.
I’m not an engineer, the Warfare branch is my specialisation.


Thank you Deep32.

John Monaghan

The armed forces of Britain are pathetic


You cannot be SERIOUS.

It is the UK economy that is at the heart of the problem.
Not enough income for the Chancellor of Exchequer to cover government expenditures

Adrian Paul Alexander Macfarlane

I have to disagree on this with my ‘hand on heart ‘the U.K armed forces are the very best of all armed forces in the world with out question, from training with all that involves discipline, commitment.pride in your Regiment (history)/no matter what your particular branch of the service is and don’t forget all person’s join of there on free will to serve their ‘Country , Community.,City, Town, Village.and in doing so should take pride in themselves,in Serving this (Great Nation)with all its faults to change what needs changing and most importantly to stand ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’ against the ‘Bullies’of the world,IE Russia,China ,North Korea/and their sidekicks
(Tin pot Dictators)
As for my background and why I believe in my response I am a former R.A.F.M.T.D and I am proud to have served my ‘Country ‘if blame lies anywhere look to this Country’s politicians they are the truly pathetic in my honest opinion.
‘Mr Macfarlane ‘(Per Ardua Ad Astra)????️


Bog off Adrian. Our politicians have, forever, been pathetic. You, on the other hand, served your country and even now do not recognise the problems that our successors face. Just a quick example- who wants to be a submariner if the only foreign language you hear is Scottish!


I think you’ll find Russia has previously secured exclusive use of that adjective with regards to describing armed forces.


I hate it when people talk about subs and have never been on one. I have served on S&T class for many years from early 1990 but at the end of my career served on several A class and everyone had serious problems I cannot go into detail but all I can say is BAE are shockingly bad. We lost the sub expertise when VSEL stopped building the boats in Barrow. We should have at least built advanced T class. Just one thing to note the yanks in Groton CN build subs on budget within 2 years. Astute class is quiet but not worth x5 over budget and 8 yrs to build. I did feel unsafe everytime we went to sea this is my honest opinion.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

It’s the level of manning at Electric Boat. Where VSEL would say have one manager and techs for a whole assembly, say Trident launch tube, EB would have a separate team for each sub-assembly so a team solely for the hatch. Many hands make light work.


The Astute maybe over budget but it’s a lot cheaper than a US attack sub.
As to the build rate it’s down to the size of fleet being supported. To replace the US fleet every 25/30 years you need multiple new boats each year. To support a U.K. fleet of +/- a dozen boats you need a new one every 30 months.


Your opinion is shared by a good number of experienced submariners who have left the service rather than serve on an ‘A’ boat….not a good advert for the RN…


BTW it s not the lack of boats we have it is what they cannot do and their engineering problems . If you want to point the finger than should be at BAE. It is one of the reasons I left and we should spend a thought for the last couple of T class boat crews who had to carry the A class boats which were nuclear fenders in Faslane. Tal Tri did massive amount of sea time.

Mike B

Yes I believe BAE has become too big and doesn’t consider itself accountable.
BAE knows the government can’t go anywhere else.
Maybe it’s time to encourage US companies to build UK warships in this country under license.
Look at the QE class, along with the SSNs the UK has no conventional deterrent at sea.


The QE class wasn’t built by BAE but the Aircraft Carrier Alliance ( BAE, Babcock, Thales, MoD).

One if the supposed reasons for giving T31 to Babcock is to break BAEs monopoly on surface warships.


Fortunately, the USN with its SSNs is an ally, and is helping to shoulder the burden. That said, the RN just needs more funding, which should include funding for retaining and attracting more personnel. A nice sign-on bonus, payable over several years sounds good.

While I too would appreciate an 8th Astute, it’s not happening for all the reasons many have listed here. Focus has to be on AUKUS-SSN. My question on that is shall the RN be using the same CMS as the Australians and USN?

The Whale Island Zookeeper

The US doesn’t have enough boats.


For what? The USN has 70+SSN’s

The Whale Island Zookeeper

To keep the seas that keep you fed and keep petrol in your car safe.


The USN is in an equally bad place regarding sub refits the saving grace being that they have more subs to start with.
25-90% extra time required in dockyard for SSN and SSBN.
This knocks on to following refits and has a massive cascade effect causing even bigger delays.
They have had subs alongside awaiting drydock space in excess of 3 years.
They have 4 yards and they have not invested in dockyard infrastructure. There drydocks are falling apart and have had emergency work done to them to keep them in use…with caveats…(You don’t want caveats when doing nuclear refits!)

The Whale Island Zookeeper

Why are you telling me this? I know they are having problems.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

You do realise you can reply to comments further up the chain and not just the last one?

Adrian Paul Alexander Macfarlane

Were is the ‘First Sea Lord’??(A.W.O.L)time me thinks for H.M to ask the important /awkward question to the P.M (the R.H.Mr .R. Sunak)and the above mentioned.


You think the King is actually involved in running things or even should be?

The Whale Island Zookeeper

Last time I looked the UK of GB & NI was a constitutional monarchy. So yes the King does have some say. Not much but some.


All the royal prerogatives have been subsumed by the PM and cabinet. if theres disagreement then the King must give way.

Then again I think the monarchy itself has become a corporation sole with executives who run things and the Queen/King merely has light oversight and sets goals and long term strategy for the Monarchy only. The government…stay well clear of that


Maybe i’m being cynical but I think it will take the manpower shortages impacting CASD before anything changes on pay and conditions.

Rob N

It is nice to tell the world the disposition of our subs….


Open sources. What is secret is the future arrangements, not last weeks news


Easier then that, just take the road across the top of the hill that parallels Faslane. There is a public car park broadly in line with the shiplift, stop, have a cuppa and a look down into the base. How much more ‘open source’ do you need?

Rob N

Yes you are quit right lets just do the Russian’s job for them… It is the attitude I do not like. Yes Russia could uses spies or satellites but that would cost them time and effort. Instead now they can just read the details here. It is disappointing. We all now submarine deployments are one of the most sensitive UK military secrets, yet here we just flash it up here! It the attitude…


I understand where you are coming from, but it’s not really such a big issue fella, really it’s not.
They don’t even need satellites or spies, just go online with the local papers and go to the KHM section which shows all shipping movements for the preceeding 24 hrs, job done.
Most navies have major fleet ‘down times’ centred on holiday periods. I expect that the majority of our surface fat is also currently alongside getting ready to deny or whatever.
The Plymouth Herald recently ran a large article on the redevelopment of 5 basin (all SM docks), as well as the info being available on the Babcock website. You don’t need to get out of bed to discover this!
What is more concerning, is the fact that we can’t currently get a SSN into dock for any maintenance, which is causing a bottleneck and piling pressure onto our limited assets that can deploy. The US is in a far worse state, with some SMs not getting into a dock for some 3-4 years!!! We in the West are very guilty of complacency at the very least mate.


Any chance the opposition might ask a coherent question in Parliament on this subject to discover the reason for the lack of SSNs on patrol?…


Commons rules mean answers can be avoided as the Minister can ‘address’ the question obliquely


This is the answer you will get:

It is UK policy that we do not comment on matters relating to submarine availability as this would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness, or security of our Armed Forces. The UK’s attack and nuclear deterrent submarines continue to meet their operational tasking, deploying globally on operations and protecting our national interests.


The irony is if you go to the RN website, select the submarine service, and filter based on “on deployment” or “not on deployment” you find that only HMS Vigilant is at sea.
So everyone with a web browser can see that all but one sub is alongside.


It should be pointed out, the P-8’s are fully operational and can provide extensive sub-sea surveillance and denial.


If they know where to look send a P8 but its a big ass ocean.
However P8s can be sent to look in an area of interest by the information from Theater Undersea Surveillance Command Atlantic (TUSC LANT) (Formerly in decades past SOSUS) . It has the highest number of UK service personnel working anywhere in one location in the CONUS something like 30+ RAF and RN, all doing work with the USN on sub detection.
This is the place that recorded the submersible going pop over the Titanic some months back.
SOSUS never went away…it just changed its name a few times…


Thanks as always for actual info rather than more “this is the end of the world” nonsense from most on the site.

Commonwealth Loyalist

Pretty clear what the reason is, the govt of the day does not regard defense of the realm, actually its main job, and originally the only reason for its existence, as much of a priority.

Lots of other stuff like the climate “crisis” which I know a lot of people here believe in is much more important to them. But that will gradually change as the military threats keep increasing and the costs of unilateral reduction of CO2 “emissions” increase astronomically, EG the ULEZ example, and the greatly increased electricity prices to people living in places that increase the intermittendt sources like wind and solar. Even the famously stoic and obedient British voter is not going to put up with huge increases in costs to outfit his house with unreliable solar/wind electircity to pay for the antics of the jet-setting John Kerrys of the world.

The only evidence that the warming over the last few hundred years since the little ice age is man-made comes from long-discredited computer models. A recent paper in th Nature empire that dared to challenge them was “retracted” because the same people involved in Climategate (including Mann of the notorious Hockey stick hoax) object to its conclusions that extreme weather is not increasing, even though that conclusion is documented by the NOAA and other official records. So much for ‘peer review” and free thought, as a scientist myself I know there is no such thing as “consensus”, the idea of science is to keep questioning everything.

Here are the facts, CO2 is fortunately increasing, improving crop yields, after getting to dangerousy low levels for plants only 200 years ago. But historically temperature rises usually precede rather than follow CO2 fluctuations. We are overdue for another glaciation, we have had about 20 of them in the current Pleistocene ice age and you might in Britain find a bit more to complain about when it happens. In the last one, Montreal was under 2 miles of ice, have not see figures yet for the UK but not likely to be good.

Sorry but my point is the historical perspective versus the hysterical current PC commentary. We need to focus on the more immediate threats, Russia and China and the general incompetence of the UK government (whether Conservative or Labour) in having any plan to deal with them.



Peter S

A few years ago, it was widely reported that not one of Germany’s 6 submarines was operational. All were out of action waiting for maintenance which was hampered by lack of spare parts, the inventory having been run down to save money. Even if fixed, only 3 trained crews were available.
Without knowing the causes of the current, apparently similar RN situation, it is difficult to suggest what remedies are needed.
But the boats have cost so much that it is unacceptable to have them out of action unless for routine planned maintenance. The Aukus deal seems to be the answer to the question Wallace asked about the balance between sub and surface fleets- a larger sub fleet. But the current situation doesn’t augur well for that ambition.

Mike B

Simple answer to that question.
We don’t have enough SSNs.


And why?

Mike B

Because the government hasn’t ordered enough.
That and a “just in time”policy on maintenance that clearly has broken down.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

Yes. Government is not a business and it shouldn’t be run as such.


And why hasn’t the government ordered enough?

stephen ball

Be nice too know if Russian subs are out of their base.

stephen ball

NATO Increasingly Worried About Russian Submarines Amid Rising Tension ( 16th Feb 2023
In 2019, 10 Russian submarines, eight of them nuclear-powered, conducted a surge deployment from Arctic bases into the North Atlantic with the apparent aim of sailing as far as possible without being detected by NATO.


That website is absolutely clickbait….


Is there any alternative to using an astute for de lousing ?

Dockyard Davy

this is what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket, the mod should have retained nuclear facilities at Rosyth instead of Mr Rifkind getting rid of nuclear sub maintenance which could have taken up the slack at busy times instead of the ridiculous situation of boats queuing up for maintenance and only one dry dock available . You reap what you sow .

The Whale Island Zookeeper

The only way I can see now is if we build Warspite without the CMC. And order more long lead items for another Dreadnought hull beyond KGVI. Perhaps we need to speak with the Japanese about helping with construction?


The UK can’t build its own submaries without help. Look up astute on your web browser

David Broome

Completely agree 8 SSNs are the absolute minimum and ensure at least two boats at sea noting one would be for the CSG. Maybe off the back of AUKUS we might get there.

Yet from the current SSN fleet why are none at sea? That needs hard, hard questions.

But even better would be 8 SSNs and 4 conventional boats (AIP or Lithium-ion) ensuring an optimum platform for delousing with often another boat for littoral deployment. Imagine four boats like the U212NFS or JS Ōryū – deepening ties with Italy or Japan is no bad thing.

The Whale Island Zookeeper

I think the only standing task is the Indian Ocean. I would like to proven wrong on that one. I have been wondering if that is why Diligence hasn’t been replaced because the RN could use Oz? And I have also been wondering how far back this idea of AUKUS actually goes before we the public heard about it?

If we wanted an SSK sitting off the top of Norway to track Russian assets entering the Atlantic we would need more than 4. Yes I would buy Japanese too even at $500 million a copy.


Norway? Already done

The Whale Island Zookeeper

That’s one of my favourite pics. I have had it as my desktop wallpaper more than once.

Funny to think that even when Norway had all those Kobben’s the RN still sent boats up north. I wonder why?


The oceans are big places , its SSBNs which go to quiet areas while the SSN go to where they might find some action.
Doesnt mean the RN has to duplicate what Norway, Germany , Netherlands ,maybe France also are doing ‘up north’
Denmark who have vitals interests in the Arctic ocean – actually are an *Arctic Nation*- decided not to bother around 20 yrs back

The Whale Island Zookeeper

You are going off on won of your rambles again.

We need to know to protect CASD. Simple as that.

Go read why the Maginot Line failed.


There is no ‘we’ , there only is Nato.
Also no ‘we’ needed in Indian and Pacific Oceans either . Its “their” problem.
Try to rethink why the Maginot line failed, its because the germans used their adversaries strengths against them.
The oceans are big places so doesnt really apply at all. The RN had to split its battleships to go after the Bismarck too, as they didnt know where they were going. That turned out badly initially, as then and now airpower turned the tables. Let the P-8s handle it


Are you an expert on NATO besides Nazi Germany’s order of battle?


Not at all.
I just read what ………the RN says

Do you think the RN and Nato might be the experts in he room ?
Hunting submarines is a team sport and Dynamic Mongoose is an invaluable opportunity to not only train as an individual unit, but also share expertise across the alliance – developing our collective defence across the underwater battlespace.”
Who knew they would reveal such secrets


Maginot did not failed. It was the other part of Allied armies that failed.


And they are now looking at regenerating the capability.


HII, If i was someone that make anayls and based in knoweled of military history, i coud say that someone is preparing for high intensity operacions and manutection will be not avalibity…

The Whale Island Zookeeper

Some of the comments here remind me of the guff you hear from first year IR students: ‘The UN should do something!’


This is all a load of rubbish. Our subs are at the highest level of secrecy. Anyone who believes this is mad …. the public will never know the full whereabouts of our subs, nor will they ever know actually how many we have, in service or not, and to then have a news post titled the way this is just tops it all off …. let’s tell the world we have no subs at sea …. hahahaha …. anyone who believes this is very silly… and the boffins who think they know really do not


All you had to do is look. They were all there.


Apparently an Astute class sailed from Faslane over the weekend.


That is just awesome!

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)


The real reason that only one of our very expensive (£1 billion) subs is at sea today (allegedly) is because they are inherently unreliable……

Our submarine’s inherent tendencies towards needing frequent TLC whilst alongside at Devonport has been very frequently pointed out, by others, on this website.

Submarines are inherently very complex. They need to be engineered – which is called proper engineering – whilst the plans are still on the drawing board. That process requires plenty of professionally qualified and experienced design engineers: all working as a coordinated team across many different disciplines.

Accordingly, to give just one very-recent example of why we in this mess today – i.e. the UK’s RN having only one submarine out at sea whilst there is a major European war in progress – please look at:

Advertised today by MOD are plenty of vacant roles for professional engineers, including several key engineering roles related to submarines (Incidentally: it appears that professional graduate white male engineers who shave their chins daily are not required by the MOD – in any of these roles).

However, by far and away the highest paid job on offer here at MOD is for an accountant (aka bean counter). MOD value their accountants at 30K per year more than engineers (I.e.MOD literally has two qualified professional engineers valued the same as one professional accountant).

The real reason that the US Navy’s subs are at sea is found on this website, an obscure organization called the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

US professional nuclear engineers are, on average, paid nearly three times the salary of UK nuclear engineers who are doing exactly the same job!

If the MOD and RN honestly believe that woke arts graduates who are being supervised by over-remunerated BC’s (Bean Counters) can manage complex engineering projects such a nuclear powered and armed submarines, we are – as Private Frazer frequently said in Dad’s Army – all doomed.

Peter the Irate Taxpayer


Although eight to ten nuclear “boats” (ideally ten) would be great for the RN, there is another solution. Why not build a new class of high end diesel-electric or AIP boats and task them with most operations closer to home? You could put six of these in the water for very reasonable cost and use them for 1) regular patrols in the North Sea and GIUK areas, and 2) in the Mediterranean. Say, four on duty at any given time, with one in refit and the other working up. Two in the north and two in the Med. Meanwhile you have your 7 Astutes or 8 (it won’t be 10, sigh) UK-AUKUS submarines for blue water – global operations.

Ian Donald

Is there anyone in the MoD who is on our side? Just asking.

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)


The reason MOD Procurement has always been UFO (Utterly F******g Obstructive) to making any real progress is that throughout the MOD, and all three armed services, they employ far too many:

  1. WAG’s (Woke Arts Graduates) – who can write very verbose policy documents.
  2. WC’s (Woke Counters) – who’s only job is add up all of the very expensive consequences of all of the very basic engineering mistakes made by those aforementioned WAG’s.

Root Cause?….

For more than one hundred years, the civil servants at MOD (and its predecessors) have always had a steadfast policy of refusing to employ and promote properly qualified professional engineers.

Here is yet another example. These two jobs are advertised on the MOD website today (21st Sept 2023):

Lead Submarine Engineer

Senior Accountant

Both offering £58,500


In Marked Contrast:

Now read this article, about the two great technically-minded admirals of the 20th century:

  • RN – Jackie Fisher – Dreadnought Battleships
  • USN – Hyman Rickover – Nuclear Submarines

Please note that Admiral Rickover – the genius who masterminded all of the development and deployment of all USN nuclear powered (and armed) submarines during the Cold War (quite incredibly, over a full forty years from 1948 to 1988) – was a professionally qualified engineer. He had a top masters degree from a top US college.

In marked contrast….. do you know of any senior employee of the MOD or RN who has a master’s degrees in any proper engineering subject?

That is the real reason why most of our RN submarine fleet is both so expensive to build and also, as of this morning, mostly laid up alongside at Devonport.

Peter The Irate Taxpayer

PS – Meanwhile – as MOD develops its long-term 7P strategies (Policy, Postponement, Pausing, Prolonging, Pottering, Pontification and Procrastination) – the early stages of WW3 gradually widens in scope:

Armenia vis Azerbaijan (Round 3)

Poland Falls out with Ukraine about Grain Shipments

Jules Blixen

As an outsider on defence matters. I just wonder if the long inservice timeframe for the Australian submarines, might not be overtaken by remote controlled submarine technology. Is there any chance that by the time things are delivered, the undersea environment may have changed?

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)


To answer your one question, there are two key engineering issues – both of which apply for all under-sea matters (submarines) – which need to be addressed:


  1. All smaller submarine’s are conventionally powered. That means diesel, battery or an air-independent system (like a Sterling engine). These need air. These engines only have a effective duration of days, or at most a few weeks, before the submarine needs come up close to the surface, to refresh its air supply. The on-board air supply is simply not enough for a sub to be combat-effective during a very-long-range and deep-sea voyage: (i.e. one which requires both a long ranged transit and whilst also staying completely undetected down in the deep).
  2. Today’s larger submarines are all nuclear powered. Their built-in radio-active kettle effectively gives them unlimited propulsion power and also the extra power needed to scrub the crew’s air supply. That globe-trotting ability was spectacularly proved by the first atomic sub, USN Nautilus, way back in the 1950’s/60’s. However, nuclear reactors that are powerful enough for a submarine require a lot of onboard space (mainly height) and also, once turned on, they then require constant monitoring. Reactors are horrendously expensive to buy (As in that famous line from the film Pretty Woman: ” “Is Sir talking expensive; very expensive; or are we into the realms of obscenely expensive” )

The deadly effectiveness of nuclear powered submarines – to silently enter a hostile area undetected and then attack enemy shipping – was proved by HMS Conqueror in 1982. It sailed tens of thousands of miles, without fueling or resupply nor needing any escorting ship, then it promptly sank the Belgrano (which, incidentally, the Japanese had failed to do at Pearl Harbour).

(SIDE NOTE. Furthermore: had our cretins inside the Northwood bunker got their act together back in 1982, our three submarines would have ensured that many more Argentine ships would have been suffering from rising damp in the South Atlantic. That is yet another naval scandal which still has the security classification TSVE (Top Secret: Very Embarrassing).

Thus the key reason why Australia is now planning to use lots of taxpayer’s money (i.e. the pound in your pocket, or rather, the pound that used to be in your pocket….) to replace its current conventionally-powered submarine’s with nuclear powered ones – is thus its effective combat range.

The Aussie Navy want to “Go Large” such that it can patrol much further north from their Perth or Darwin bases: up towards China. That means not coming up for air as they pass Papua New Guinea on the right hand side (Sorry: we are on NL!. I meant “Sir. PNG is definitely just off our starboard beam. Range 2 miles. It appears to me to be holding a stationary position at the present time!”)

Achieving that extra range dictates buying the Aussie Navy buying nuclear-powered option.


The second key engineering issue is that once they are submerged, radio communication with any type of submarine – by almost any type of radio link – is “almost impossible” (only low or extra low radio frequencies work, even at quite shallow depths. Even these are very slow).

Furthermore any submariner at or near to on the surface is very liable to detection.

(NOTE. Despite what many Oxbridge Tosser’s now claim, most German U-boats were sunk by the RN in WW2 either because they were caught on the surface and/or because they transmitted far too often. Bletchley Park’s decoding of Enigma has been over-hyped).

In very-marked contrast to life under the waves, the development of uncrewed ariel flying vehicles has rapidly advanced over the past three decades by the simple fact that all aircraft all now have routine access to numerous different radio channels. These link planes with many types of satellites. These links allow easy communication and also (crucially) continuously fix the plane’s navigational position. Please remember that not so long ago, a commercial airliner needed to carry at least 4 crew: pilot; co-pilot, navigator and engineer (Plus, obviously, a gorgeous stewardess to serve all four a full roast dinner).Today it is just 2 crew on your airliner. The radio links and silicon chip’s do the rest (except under-cooking the “dinner”).

Finally, you also have to seriously consider the “human in the loop” issue (i.e. the decision before releasing any lethal weapon). Ariel drones can phone up the RAF’s call center and press options 3,4,1,7 etc – to get human advice and input. However, without secure radio links, sneaky submarines have to make their own minds up whether to, or not to: shoot…

Thus, in the absence of almost any effective radio links that can work underwater, a naval submarine has to carry on board some biologicals thingy’s – frequently called smelly submariner’s’ – who crucially, when the need arises, make quick on-the-spot decisions.


Frankly I cannot see “full-sized autonomous naval submarines” being deployed anytime soon.

In these two key technology areas, the necessary technology to go fully uncrewed simply does not yet exist: not even on the benchin the concept-stage laboratory.

Therefore all uncrewed submarines that are currently “in the development pipeline” tend to have a single core function. For example the MSub recently ordered by the RN is very focused on reconnaissance

(PS MSubs is a really good company. At the recent DSEI, I even got chatting to their properly-qualified professional engineer. A very rare find, especially amongst all the snake-oil salesmen)


For most submarine deployments, especially the nuclear-powered ones, the operational limit is nearly always crew fatigue (please see many other posts, by others, on this NL website).

Therefore what would definitely be worth developing is some/many board systems that are:

  • More reliable (thus requiring less maintenance whilst out at sea)
  • More automated systems (Thus reducing the total crew numbers required onboard and thus, in turn, making it more habitable for long endurance voyages).


  • In the quite-near future, I would expect see many smaller uncrewed submarines (i.e. the aforementioned MSubs) doing some specialized tasking: in particular regular reconnaissance and patrolling.
  • I would also expect to see developed some kamikaze-style mini-submarines, to be used – Ukrainian style – to attack enemy shipping at long range (especially in ports).
  • However I believe that the bigger submarines – so those with the extremely long ranges needed to be able to get up close to a hostile coastline undetected – then sneak around wearing carpet slippers before” doing the business” – will be with us for a long while yet.
  • regards Peter the Irate Taxpayer

CHATHAM YARDS would. Have solved this problem,


While the dry docks are being maintained, they should look towards their allies to see if they can enter a maintenance contract to lease a dry dock so they can maintain heir subs. After all alies are supposed to assist one another.