Sustaining Royal Navy manpower – the greatest challenge

Despite his usual upbeat tone, the First Sea Lord recently admitted the RN still faces manpower challenges. Here we look at some of the serious on-going manpower issues and how they might be addressed. (In this context “manpower” is shorthand for a diverse mix of men and women).

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Type 23 frigate in heavy weather

Ongoing manpower issues revealed by status of Royal Navy surface escorts

Although recent news for the Navy has been mostly positive, with HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea and orders placed for the Type 26 frigates, a quick look at the status of the escort fleet reveals the stresses that lack of manpower continues to exert.

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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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The campaign to retain, and eventually replace HMS Ocean starts here

Under current plans the RN’s sole helicopter assault ship HMS Ocean, will decommission on 31st March 2018. There will then be a gap in capability for some years but the official plan is for the new Queen Elizabeth class to eventually double as both strike carriers and assault ships. Although this concept is not without precident, in the current circumstances it is fraught with problems, limitations and dangers. Many inside and outside the RN strongly believe the best solution would be to retain HMS Ocean, at least in reserve and then build an affordable replacement vessel.

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All six Type 45s in Portsmouth – rare but not an indication of something sinister

National media has reacted to the observation that all six of the RN’s Type 45 destroyers are in Portsmouth this weekend. Although a rare occurrence, it is not unprecedented. The propulsion issues that have dogged the class have been widely reported in the media and their operations and whereabouts now attract an unusual amount of attention. Apart from HMS Dauntless, in long-term lay up as training ship due to manpower shortages, all the Type 45s are in a normal operating cycle.

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Some immediate steps that would support UK plc and restore RN strength

This is a guest post by John Dunbar who argues that Brexit and the end of austerity mark a turning point for the future of the UK, and for the Royal Navy. With some modest additional funding there are several potential ‘easy wins’ for the new government of Theresa May to consider that could strengthen the RN.

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