Unmanned Surface Vessel

Unmanned Platforms & the Royal Navy – Part 2 Surface & Underwater Systems

For most navies including the RN, the trend is towards building bigger, more powerful and expensive ‘small combatants’. Unmanned technology offers new possibilities to partially escape this size, cost and complexity spiral. It also can save exposing the crew to danger as well as the cost and size penalty of their accommodation space. 

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Type 26 Frigate (or Global Combat Ship)

A critical moment for the Type 26 Frigate programme

Speaking at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) Exhibition last week, the First Sea Lord Admiral Zambellas said:

“the Type 26 [Frigate] will form the backbone of the Royal Navy, with a design that has the potential to meet the operational needs of a number of major navies around the world.”
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Royal Navy Merlin Helicopter on flight deck of HMS Sutherland

The Royal Navy’s Merlin helicopter fleet – bearing a heavy load

Glossy MoD publicity may give the impression the Fleet Air Arm is in rude health with several new types of aircraft coming into service to replace ageing veterans. A new generation of aircraft are indeed being delivered but the actual number of helicopters in RN service will have declined dramatically by 57% (From 194 to 83) in the decade between 2009 and 2019.

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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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Black Swan Corvette concept

British Seapower: A New Approach

This is a guest post by Louis Forde – a history graduate from KCL, due to begin studying for a Masters in September. His primary area of research focusses on British colonialism and it’s relationship with the Royal Navy.

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RFA Argus, Freetown, Sierra Leone

The Royal Navy – prime force for delivery of emergency aid and disaster relief

The size of the Britain’s £11Bn overseas aid budget is becoming increasingly controversial at a time when we are cutting defence spending and trying to reduce national debt. There are good reasons for wealthier nations to help the poorest in the world but whether these hand-outs create lasting peace and prosperity is questionable. There is however, a clear moral imperative when natural disasters occur to assist our fellow man struggling for their very survival. This important and frequently required humanitarian aid mission is often forgotten in political discussions around the size and shape of the navy.

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CND protest Parliament

In search of the Royal Navy’s political friends (Part 2: minority parties)

Summoning only a handful of MPs between them, the fringe parties have until now had a very limited ability to influence national issues. The absence of a legacy that can be criticised maybe to their advantage but they lack the political inexperience and the gravitas that comes with office. Any judgement of them must therefore be made mainly on their pronouncements, not their actions. The mainstream parties are mainly composed of ‘career politicians’ more concerned with power than ideology, but at least the fringe parties are predominantly ‘conviction politicians’ who actually believe in something. They tend to have stronger and sometimes extreme views on defence matters which must now be scrutinised.

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In search of the Royal Navy’s political friends (Part 1: the mainstream parties)

The general election due in May this year promises to be a tight contest and the result is unusually difficult to predict. Whatever the complexion of the new administration a defence review will be conducted in October that will be critical for the future of the RN and the security of the nation.

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Operation Sealion

Our new Battle of Britain – Have the lessons of history been forgotten or misunderstood?

This is a guest post by Dr. Anthony J. Cumming, graduate of Plymouth University and winner of the Julian Corbett Prize for Research in Modern Naval History. This piece provides a historical perspective on myths about defending Britain that continue to influence allocation of precious defence resources.

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