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 This is the revival of a proposal originally made by Michael Gove in 2012.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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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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SSN14 book review Submarine HMS Turbulent

SSN14 – Book Review

£23.99 (Hardback) £13.99 (Paperback)  £2.99 (Kindle)

Former Royal Navy submariner, Commander Ryan Ramsey recently self-published this unique book that tells the story of HMS Turbulent’s eventful last deployment in 2011. Commanding a highly capable, but ageing Trafalgar class submarine tested Ramsey’s management skills to the limit and the book is structured around the leadership principles he employed.

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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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Type 45 Destroyer Gas turbine engine problems

Putting the Type 45 propulsion problems in perspective

Amongst informed defence commentators it has been an open secret for several years, but on 29th January a BBC report finally put the engine problems of the Type 45 destroyers into the public eye. The MoD has consistently played down the seriousness of the issue, that had on occasions resulted in total propulsion and electrical failure, leaving ships dead in the water. Even Parliamentary questions were met with vague assurances that “progress was being made”. The media coverage has since been predictably excessive, giving the unfortunate impression that Type 45s are £1Billion cripples. Although these breakdowns have hampered their operation, all the Type 45s have completed major deployments and HMS Defender is currently on a 9-month Gulf and Indian Ocean deployment.

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The Silent Deep - Submarines Polaris

The Silent Deep – Book review

£20.40 (Hardback)  £12.99 (Kindle)

2015 saw the publication of the latest in a string of fascinating titles dealing with the Cold War history of the Royal Navy Submarine Service. Secrets of the Conqueror (2012), Hunter Killers (2013) and Cold War Command (2014) were essentially based on stories told by RN submariners. The Silent Deep, the Royal Navy Submarine Service since 1945 is a lengthy and more encompassing work that tells the political, operational and personal stories of the service from the end of WWII up to the present day.

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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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