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.

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Russian Kilo class submarine Krasnodar in the English Channel

Understanding and responding to the Russian naval threat

Russian naval activity is now at its highest levels since the Cold War. This threat posed to Britain and NATO is often counter-balanced by those who say that the Russian Navy is actually in decline, hampered by budget problems and shipyards struggling to deliver new vessels. With the head of the British Army publicly admitting this week that we are ill-matched to counter the Russian threat on land, it is also instructive to consider what threat they pose at sea.

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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.

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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.

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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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