HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Rosyth

HMS Queen Elizabeth sails for the first time today. Here’s the plan.

This afternoon HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to cast off lines ready to depart from the fitting out berth in Rosyth Dockyard to begin sea trials. Taking the ship out of the basin and down the river Forth will be a complex and delicate evolution.

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Up close with HMS Queen Elizabeth

In this photo-essay, we go aboard the largest warship ever constructed for the Royal Navy as she prepared to leave Rosyth to put to sea for the first time. This is not an exhaustive tour (the ship is made up of over 3,000 compartments) but gives an overview of some key features.

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German type 212 submarine

Should the RN consider buying conventional submarines, even at the expense of frigates?

The 2015 Defence Review promised the UK would build a new ‘cheaper and simpler’ frigate to complement the more expensive Type 26. This Type 31 frigate offers the attractive possibility that the total number of Royal Navy warships could be increased, albeit after 2030. Threats to surface ships continue to proliferate, adding to the challenge of making the Type 31 a credible warship. Meanwhile, the undeniably potent RN submarine fleet is far too small. Here we ask if the RN should prioritise expanding its submarine force with the same enthusiasm it applies to frigates.

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HMS Forth rolled out of construction hall

Defence procurement: the role played by contractors in delays and cost overruns

The share of blame attributed to the Ministry of Defence for delays and cost overruns has been extensively documented over the decades. But what is the role of the other half of the partnership, defence contractors, in this epic tale of failure? In his first article, Jag Patel identified deep-seated problems that have plagued the existing, defence procurement process. In this article, he examines the role played by contractors in delays and cost overruns.

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Theresa May aboard HMS Ocean

Can defence issues impact the election debate?

Ironically perhaps, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s pacifist stance has caused defence issues to take slightly greater prominence in the election campaign that might be expected. Tories have been quick to seize on Labour’s “weakness” on defence. Although they are right about Corbyn, the Tories are on very shaky ground saddled by their own poor record on defence. The electorate is again largely faced with a choosing between the lesser of two evils. While global threats continue to intensify, the sorry state of UK defence urgently needs to be treated as more than just a sideshow in the pre-election political Punch and Judy.

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HMS Daring

HMS Daring’s deployment at the sharp end. Eventful. Successful. Important.

Today HMS Daring returned to Portsmouth after 9 months away, visiting 12 countries and steaming 50,000 miles. Another warship completing a Gulf tour could be considered somewhat routine for the RN but it demonstrates the Type 45 destroyers are reliable mature platforms, the enduring global reach of the RN and the conclusion to a job well done.

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HMS Illustrious Philipines

Why a portion UK overseas aid money should be given to the armed forces

Britain’s £13 billion annual international aid budget is extremely controversial and re-directing this money often cited as a way of solving the defence funding crisis. Theresa May recently said she remains committed to the current level of spending on aid. There is a strong moral, economic and security case for Official Development Assistance (ODA) and humanitarian aid but there is little doubt we should be allocating the funds more intelligently. The armed forces are key enablers for aid delivery and disaster response – a portion of the generous DFID budget should be re-directed to finance more ships, aircraft and personnel.

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Royal Marines Boarding Party

Trading marines for sailors – the Royal Marines, reduced or just restructured?

to On 11th April the MoD spin masters announced that the “Royal Marines are to be restructured in line with a growing Royal Navy”. Only around 200 regular Marines will go and there will be no redundancies. There had been grave concern and recent media speculation that up to 2,000 marines were going to be cut so this announcement is something of a relief.

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