HMS Sultan, Gosport

Making sense of another shore establishment closure

On 7th November the MoD published a full list of sites that will close as part of its Plan for ‘A Better Defence Estate’. The biggest surprise from a naval point of view was the announcement that HMS Sultan in Gosport will close in 2025. Most of Sultan’s functions will be transferred to HMS Collingwood in Fareham. The people of Gosport are not amused but many within the navy seem to take a more pragmatic view. Here we will try to asses if this is unmitigated bad news or if there is a silver lining.

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HMS Duncan shadows Russian warships

The Royal Navy – quietly getting on with the job

In spite of frequent claims that the Royal Navy is “barely able to defend its own waters”, two of its escorts are shadowing the largest group of Russian warships to pass near to the UK since the end of the Cold War. Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov sailed from the Northern Fleet base of Severomorsk on Saturday accompanied by seven other surface ships and probably at least one submarine.

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Royal yacht replacement

A new royal yacht – good idea?

75 Conservative MPs have now signed a letter to the Prime Minster urging that a commission is established to look into building a new Royal Yacht. This is the revival of a proposal originally made by Michael Gove in 2012. No design for such a ship exists as yet, but it is intended as a statement of British confidence in a post-Brexit world and as a platform for diplomacy and trade deals. Here we examine if this is a wise idea.

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All six Type 45s in Portsmouth – rare but not an indication of something sinister

National media has reacted to the observation that all six of the RN’s Type 45 destroyers are in Portsmouth this weekend. Although a rare occurrence, it is not unprecedented. The propulsion issues that have dogged the class have been widely reported in the media and their operations and whereabouts now attract an unusual amount of attention. Apart from HMS Dauntless, in long-term lay up as training ship due to manpower shortages, all the Type 45s are in a normal operating cycle.

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Brexit impacts - union flag

Brexit – possible impacts on the Royal Navy

On the 23rd of June 2016 the United Kingdom voted by a narrow margin of 51.9-48.1% to leave the European Union and while much has changed, much remains the same. The day after “Brexit” Britain continues to move 95% of its traded goods by sea and imports 40% of its food from overseas. Offshore wind, tidal and North Sea oil and gas will continue to play a crucial part in powering the lives of millions of Britons. The maritime world remains as vital to national life as ever, as it has through centuries past and will continue to be for centuries to come. While our economic fortunes may wax and wane the UK’s dependence on the sea is eternal and unchanging.

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UK Border ForceCutter

Migrant boats crossing the Channel demands a measured response

Small numbers of migrants intent on entering the UK illegally have started taking to small boats in an attempt to avoid the strict controls on cross-channel ferries. As the Brexit debate climaxes, media focus on migration is at fever pitch with some journalists even trying to blame the navy for being ill-equipped to respond. A few migrants in rubber dinghies that make it across the Channel should not be cause for over-reaction. There is undoubtedly a shortage of RN, Border Force and Coastguard vessels available to patrol UK waters but sensibly addressing this issue should not undermine the RN’s main purpose as a globally-deployed, ocean-going navy.

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BAE Systems Shipyard, Govan Glasgow

The navy just wants some frigates but can government and industry deliver?

There has been predictable union and Scottish Nationalist fury at the revelation there could be upto 800 job losses at BAE Systems on Clyde. At a time when Scottish unemployment is rising and the SNP are using every opportunity to push for another independence vote, frigate construction becomes ever more politically sensitive. 

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