HMS Daring Gulf

The navy replies to avalanche of bad news stories

Beset by several weeks of bad news stories, the First Sea Lord has delivered a message highlighting how the service is currently working hard around the world and fulfilling the tasks the Government has set out for it. There are undoubtedly very serious problems facing the RN right now and in the future which we will continue to highlight and campaign to be addressed. However the RN of today is still in the front rank of navies, its people are getting on with the job and should be commended. The Admiral’s message is reproduced in full below.

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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 This is the revival of a proposal originally made by Michael Gove in 2012.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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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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771 Naval Air Squadron Sea King Helicopter

Goodbye 771 Naval Air Squadron – UK search & rescue helicopter service goes private

After more than 40 years providing search and rescue (SAR) services across the UK, on 1st January 2016 771 Naval Air Squadron handed on responsibility to private contractor. Until now the MoD and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) have operated a 24-hour military and civil helicopter SAR service for the UK using around 40 RN and RAF Sea king Mk5s. 

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SDSR 2015 announcements

SDSR 2015 – putting the Royal Navy back on course

Judgement on the SDSR announcements made today will very much depend on the lens through which you view it. There maybe plenty of room for improvement, but taken in the context of austerity and the ‘rock bottom’ 2010 review, today’s announcements can be seen as broadly very good news for the RN.

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MBDA Aaster-30 Missile Sampson Radar

UK and NATO navies take further small steps in developing ballistic missile defence

NATO warships will gather for Exercise Joint Warrior (JW15-2) in Scottish waters from 5th-16th October 2015. This large biannual event has been running for many years and covers the full spectrum naval operations. This month JW15-2 will introduce a unique component with an at sea demonstration (ASD15) of a ballistic missile interception. Networked sensors aboard several NATO warships will be used to track and destroy an Aegis Readiness Assessment Vehicle (ARAV) ballistic missile surrogate with a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) fired from USS Ross. The exercise is the first of its kind in European waters and will help test and evaluate interoperability between participating warships and provide data for further development.

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