The Royal Navy’s part in the UK response to Hurricane Irma

There has been considerable criticism of the UK’s response to provide aid to the British territories in the Caribbean after being hit by the most severe hurricane in a generation. This is entirely unfair. Naval assets were already pre-positioned in the region for just such an eventuality and are now part of a considerable tri-service effort by the UK armed forces and other agencies.

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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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Solid Stores Support Ship

Fleet solid support ships – an important part of the naval logistic chain

The 2015 SDSR confirmed the intention to build 3 new solid stores support ships. This kind of logistic support vessel is critical to the global reach of the RN but are low profile and do not get the focus of attention given to warships. Government commitment to build the new ships is positive but entirely lacking in urgency, the first ship will probably not be ready for sea until around 2025.

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Type 26 frigate

Post-SDSR optimism disappearing over the horizon

The November 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review appeared to be a broadly positive result for the RN. Although much of what was promised would not materialise until far into the future, there was an end to the perpetual cycle of cuts and some cautious optimism. 9 months on the feel-good factor is evaporating and there is a rising tide of anger amongst those who understand what is happening to the navy. It is increasingly difficult to have confidence that government promises for the long-term will deliver tangible results when they are failing to deliver in the short-term.

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RFA Diligence

RFA Diligence for sale – another stealth cut to the Navy

The was no official announcement but the RN has just lost another important capability. RFA Diligence is a forward repair ship able to provide specialist engineering support to ships and submarines alongside in overseas ports or even at sea. Diligence has been inactive in Birkenhead for over a year and the MoD has just put her up for sale.

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RFA Lyme Bay and Mount Bay - Gibraltar

Flat out: The Royal Fleet Auxiliary in 2016

Following on from the 2015 article about the stretched Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service, this is an update on current operations. Like the naval service, manpower shortages, tight budgets and industrial issues, together with ever-increasing demand for its services are creating a perfect storm of pressure on the RFA.

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RFA Fort Victoria

Does the state of the RFA threaten the global reach of the RN?

The civilian ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary are a relatively ‘low profile’ part of the surface fleet but they are critical in providing the RN with the ability to stay at sea for extended periods and many other additional capabilities. An examination of the RFA flotilla in 2015 reveals a small and rather threadbare collection of ships. Like the RN it serves, it is doing its best with what it has in anticipation of the arrival of new vessels.

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