HMS Artful roll out

Will 2017 be “the year of the Royal Navy” ?

On New Years Day the Ministry of Defence stated: “2017 is the year of the navy”. The Defence Secretary said, “2017 is the start of a new era of maritime power, projecting Britain’s influence globally and delivering security at home.” There is no doubt that there will be some very significant milestones in the program to deliver new equipment to the RN and there are many reasons to be positive. But this is just one side of the story. While it is very heartening to see new vessels arrive, this must be seen in the context of the size and strength of the fleet as a whole.

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Naval Strike Missile

Failure to replace the Harpoon anti-ship missile would be inexcusable

The Royal Navy’s sole heavyweight anti-ship missile, Harpoon (Block 1C) is semi obselete and at present there is no plan or funding for a replacement. Recently HMS Duncan, Richmond and Sutherland escorted Russian warships close to the UK. In photos showing these warships at work, the 8 Harpoon missile canisters were plainly visible. Although nearly obsolete, the missiles purpose is clear and their availability reassuring. When the RN is called on to meet Russian vessels, their hitting power will be nothing but a single 4.5” gun. This state of affairs is unacceptable, dangerous and risks making the navy a laughing-stock.

*Harpoon Out of Service Date was extended until 2023 as an interim measure in 2017
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Type 26 Frigate

Will the Type 26 frigate deliver a punch commensurate with its price tag?

The quality of a warship should never be judged purely on its armament. There are many other factors to consider such as its sensors, electronics, propulsion, construction quality and above all the standard of its crew. But in this article we will focus primarily on the weapons fit of the Type 26.

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Type 31 frigate Venator 110

Type 31 Frigate – unwanted child of austerity or bright hope for a larger fleet?

It is widely accepted that the current total of 19 surface escorts falls far short of what is needed to meet the UK’s strategic aims. With the Type 26 frigate programme now fixed at 8 ships, the only way surface escort numbers are ever going to be increased is to build more of the cheaper Type 31 frigate (General Purpose Frigate – GPFF). The 2015 SDSR committed government to “at least 19” frigates and destroyers but on 4th November 2016, when talking in the context of frigates, the Defence Secretary said “We will have fleet larger than the fleet at the moment”. This is a positive sign and at least suggests intent in government build more than 5 Type 31 frigates.

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Royal Navy Sea Power - Gulf war 1991

Britain needs to re-discover its understanding of sea power

This is an article by guest writer Christian McLean-Mair who recently completed a Masters degree in military history. You can read his blog here or follow him on Twitter @ChrisQF

In recent years it appears that much of the British public has lost their passion for the sea; there is far less interest in the Navy than the Air Force, and Parliamentary approaches to funding have reflected this trend. Yet it must not be forgotten that it is sea power that has remained the arbiter of British policy throughout our nation’s history, and that it is upon the seas that the fate of nations are decided. 

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HMS Queen Elizabeth Portsmouth 2017

When will HMS Queen Elizabeth arrive in Portsmouth?

HMS Queen Elizabeth will arrive for the first time in Portsmouth in 2017 but the exact date is still unknown at present, even to the Royal Navy. The Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) who are constructing the ship are determined she be tested thoroughly and the majority of teething problems eliminated. Only when the ACA and the RN are is satisfied she meets the specification will she be formally handed over.

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HMS Prince of Wales in the LPH role

Why your CVF should not moonlight as your LPH

In part 1 of this article we argued that HMS Ocean (LPH) should be retained and then replaced. If this does not happen the official plan is for the RN to operate the Queen Elizabeth class (QEC) aircraft carriers (CVF) in the LPH role. Here we look at how this might work in practice and why this solution is flawed.

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The campaign to retain, and eventually replace HMS Ocean starts here

Under current plans the RN’s sole helicopter assault ship HMS Ocean, will decommission on 31st March 2018. There will then be a gap in capability for some years but the official plan is for the new Queen Elizabeth class to eventually double as both strike carriers and assault ships. Although this concept is not without precident, in the current circumstances it is fraught with problems, limitations and dangers. Many inside and outside the RN strongly believe the best solution would be to retain HMS Ocean, at least in reserve and then build an affordable replacement vessel.

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