The new First Sea Lord and his vision for the Royal Navy’s future

Tony Radakin was appointed First Sea Lord (1SL) and Chief of the Naval Staff in June 2019. He is seen as a reformer who is keen to accelerate change within the Royal Navy. Here we examine the issues he may face in his three-year tenure and what his priorities for the Naval Service may be.

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Has the Royal Navy solved its manpower problems?

In bullish mood last week, the First Sea Lord told the Portsmouth News “we are through with relegating frigates and destroyers to training vessels due to a shortage of sailors”. This is an encouraging sign and here we examine the context and true extent of the improvement in RN personnel numbers.

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University Royal Navy Unit P2000

The University Royal Navy Units – student yacht club or valuable asset?

The 15 University Royal Navy Units (URNU) provide an opportunity for students to go sea and to broaden their naval understanding. Against a background of constrained funding for the navy, there are some who perceive this as an indulgence of limited value because the URNU does not exist for primarily for recruitment or operational purposes. Here we examine the real value and wider benefits the units offer.

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Positive signs for Royal Navy Submarine manpower

This week the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee was examining the Submarine Nuclear Enterprise. The session primarily dealt with finance and planning for the Dreadnought programme but the Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Tony Radakin also gave evidence about submarine manning issues. Lack of suitably experienced and qualified personnel for the submarine service has been a problem for almost a decade but there are some signs of improvement.

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Royal Navy sailors commissioning ceremony White Ensign

Five priorities for the Modernising Defence Programme 2018

The MoD is now running a public consultation for its on-going defence review, now named the “Modernising Defence Programme” (MDP). The MDP will consist of four ‘work streams’. This is our submission for consideration, primarily focused on the naval aspects of the most critical Defence policy, outputs and military capability work stream (Although some principles may also be applicable to the Army and RAF).  

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Sustaining Royal Navy manpower – the greatest challenge

Despite his usual upbeat tone, the First Sea Lord recently admitted the RN still faces manpower challenges. Here we look at some of the serious on-going manpower issues and how they might be addressed. (In this context “manpower” is shorthand for a diverse mix of men and women).

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Type 23 frigate in heavy weather

Ongoing manpower issues revealed by status of Royal Navy surface escorts

Although recent news for the Navy has been mostly positive, with HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea and orders placed for the Type 26 frigates, a quick look at the status of the escort fleet reveals the stresses that lack of manpower continues to exert.

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