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.

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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.

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Devonport Naval Base

Will Devonport naval base survive the next round of cuts to the Royal Navy?

There are strong indications that the RN is going to be forced to axe HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark and cut between 1,000 – 1,500 Royal Marines. There are even suggestions that some of the Type 23 frigates maybe decommissioned early. The loss of these assets, together with the planned disposal of HMS Ocean casts a long shadow over Plymouth and the future of Devonport Naval Base.

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HMS Westminster refit portsmouth

Royal Navy parts cannibalisation – a concern or a crisis?

Taking spare parts and equipment from one Royal Navy vessel for use on another has always been standard practice on a modest scale. The National Audit Office recently published a report showing this ‘cannibalisation’ has increased in the past 5 years by 49%, an unsustainable growth rate that could further threaten the strength of the RN.

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Bargain basement Type 31e – the Lidl frigate or an industrial miracle?

The RN published its outline specification for the Type 31e on 7th September this year. The £250 Million-per-ship price cap that has been set for the project is remarkable. If the project can deliver a credible ship at this price it would be something of a miracle and represent the most affordable western frigate design on the international market. The goals of Type 31e can therefore either be seen as ambitious ‘blue sky thinking’ or compromised and unachievable.

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HMS Sheffield Falklands war

In perspective: the loss of HMS Sheffield

35 years on from the sinking of HMS Sheffield by an Exocet missile, the full and un-redacted Board of Inquiry (BOI) findings have been made public. A heavy-handed piece by Ian Cobain in the Guardian heaps blame on the ship’s operations team and implies results of the inquiry were subject to a sinister cover up .

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HMS Albion in Devonport

Further cuts to the fleet in “the year of the Royal Navy” ?

Recent headlines about possible further body-blows to the Royal Navy are an indication that the terrible state of Ministry of Defence finances is starting to bite. Here we look at what could be cut, what could be the impact on RN capability and the potential political fall out.

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HMS Scott departs Devonport at night

It’s time for an honest conversation about the future of the Royal Navy

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has repeatedly stated that we have a “growing Royal Navy”. The facts do not support this claim and it is simply untrue. Worse still, there are now strong indications of another round of cuts to RN strength.

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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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Babcock Arrowhead

Babcock announces ‘Arrowhead’ – another option for the Type 31 frigate competition

Babcock International has just revealed their concept for the Type 31e Frigate competition. Arrowhead is the latest design to emerge from a British naval design house and will be formally unveiled at DSEI next week. 

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