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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RN attack submarines – is there a crisis?

It is very easy to write fiction about submarines but rather more difficult to come by the facts. It is strict MoD policy that “We don’t comment on submarine operations”  and while operational security must obviously be first priority, this information vacuum allows journalists to say whatever they like on the subject with little accountability.

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Submarine Trident missile launch

Why we should have every confidence in the Trident missile system

On 22nd January the Sunday Times revealed that a routine Trident missile test conducted by HMS Vengeance off the US coast in June 2016 had been a failure. A telemetry problem had caused the unarmed missile to be destroyed in flight. Previous test-firings have been announced to the media but this test had remained secret. Government stands accused of hiding a politically inconvenient fact close to the time when Parliament was due to approve the Trident renewal program.

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HMS Artful roll out

Will 2017 be “the year of the Royal Navy” ?

On New Years Day the Ministry of Defence stated: “2017 is the year of the navy”. The Defence Secretary said, “2017 is the start of a new era of maritime power, projecting Britain’s influence globally and delivering security at home.” There is no doubt that there will be some very significant milestones in the program to deliver new equipment to the RN and there are many reasons to be positive. But this is just one side of the story. While it is very heartening to see new vessels arrive, this must be seen in the context of the size and strength of the fleet as a whole.

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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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Trident Submarine scotland

Why relocating Trident away from Scotland is virtually impossible

On 18th July the House of Commons voted to construct new Successor submarines to replace the current Vanguard boats that carry the UK nuclear deterrent. The arguments in favour of the deterrent are compelling, delivering cross-party support and carrying the vote overwhelmingly. Unsurprisingly the 58 of 59 Scottish MPs voted against and their defeat will be another ‘grievance’ used by nationalists to push for another referendum on independence. Many in Britain seem to think we could simply move the deterrent from its base in Scotland to England. Here we will look at the extensive Scottish infrastructure that supports Trident and the very limited options for moving it south.

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SSN14 book review Submarine HMS Turbulent

SSN14 – Book Review

£23.99 (Hardback) £13.99 (Paperback)  £2.99 (Kindle)

Former Royal Navy submariner, Commander Ryan Ramsey recently self-published this unique book that tells the story of HMS Turbulent’s eventful last deployment in 2011. Commanding a highly capable, but ageing Trafalgar class submarine tested Ramsey’s management skills to the limit and the book is structured around the leadership principles he employed.

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Return to the Arctic, another task for the threadbare submarine force

Two Royal Navy submarine officers recently participated in the US Navy’s ICEX 2016. Two American attack submarines (SSNs) navigated under the Arctic ice and surfaced where a camp was established on an ice floe. Shortly after the exercise concluded it was announced that an RN Trafalgar class submarine will conduct under-ice operations in the Arctic in the near future. Although a strategically wise decision, this is another pressure on the RN’s stretched SSN fleet which numbers just 7 boats.

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