Risks or rewards? The Royal Navy in the South China Sea

HMS Sutherland, currently in Australia and on a tour of the Western Pacific, will conduct a Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) in the South China Sea at some point before she returns home. Sister ship HMS Argyll, will also be sent to the region in the later part of 2018. Here we examine the context and motives for these deployments.

Read More

Should HMS Queen Elizabeth be fitted with her own missile defences?

In an earlier article, we considered how the RN would use layered defence to protect the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. There has been particular concern about the lack of defensive missiles fitted to the ship themselves and here we focus on the advantages and disadvantages of fitting the CAMM(M) Sea Ceptor system.

Read More
HMS Artful Devonshire Dock Hall

One of our submarine orders is missing

There is deepening concern that the funds for the completion of the seventh and final Astute class submarine are not available. Failure to build this vessel would not only be damaging to the Barrow construction yard and its supply chain, but also to the protection of the UK, at a time when the undersea threat is increasing.

Read More
Type 31e frigate Arrowhead concept

Should the Type 31e frigate be reclassified as a corvette?

Plymouth MP, Luke Pollard, suggested last week in Parliament that “the debate around the Type 31e Frigate could be resolved simply if we renamed if from a frigate to a corvette“. This proposal is unlikely to be welcomed by the Navy, the MoD or industrial partners but does raises questions about the Type 31’s capabilities and results from the general confusion over how surface combatants are to be classified.

Read More
Ex-Royal Navy nuclear submarines await disposal in Rosyth

The painfully slow process of dismantling ex-Royal Navy nuclear submarines

There are currently 20 former Royal Navy nuclear submarines awaiting disposal in Rosyth and Devonport. They do not represent a great hazard but maintaining them safely while they await dismantling is a growing drain on the defence budget. Nuclear submarines are arguably Britain’s most important defence assets but the failure to promptly deal with their legacy has been a national scandal. Although there has been discussion and consultation going back years, only recently has there been action to actually start the disposal process.

Read More
Repenishment at Sea. Heavy Jackstay Transfer

Why the Fleet Solid Support ships should be built in the UK

In a previous article we discussed the importance of the Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ships to the future of the RN. Here we focus more on the industrial aspects of the project and look at why building these ships in the UK is the only sensible way forward.

Read More

Listening to the ocean – the secretive enablers in the underwater battle

Critical in the ongoing battle to detect hostile submarines is a little-known network of ocean sensors that support the more visible deployment of frigates and maritime patrol aircraft. Here we examine the history and development of this network, a key to UK maritime power.

Read More
Dreadnought class submarine Faslane

The Dreadnought class submarine in focus

The programme to construct the 4 submarines that will replace the Vanguard class boats, will soon become the largest defence project in the UK. Ballistic missile submarines are some of the most sensitive and closely guarded defence assets and there is understandably limited information about them in the public domain. At this early stage in the construction programme, we look at what is known about the Dreadnought project.

Read More

Has the time come to the move the cost of Trident replacement out of the MoD budget?

On 29th July 2010 the then Chancellor, George Osborne, announced that the MoD would have to fund the capital costs of replacing the Vanguard class submarines (Successor) from within its own core equipment procurement budget, instead of from the Treasury Reserve as had been expected. Defence Minister at the time, Liam Fox argued strongly that funding Successor from within the MoD would be hugely damaging to the rest of defence. He lost his argument with Osborne, but time has proved him right about the consequences.

Read More
HMS Bulwark

10 reasons the Royal Navy needs to keep HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark

Government is seriously considering axing HMS Albion and Bulwark, severely curtailing UK amphibious capability. Recent reports suggest the new defence secretary is resisting the cuts and is in a battle with the Treasury for new funding. If the Treasury needs reminding, speaking before the House of Commons Defence Select Committee this week, the former First Sea Lord Admiral Zambellas said: “Nobody in the world of complex warfare thinks a reduction in sophisticated amphibiosity is a good idea”. The LPDs (Landing Platform, Dock) Albion and Bulwark are the key ships needed for credible amphibious capability.

Read More