The government have commented on the year of change the Royal Navy will undergo.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

“We are investing billions in growing the Royal Navy for the first time in a generation with new aircraft carriers, submarines, frigates, patrol vessels and aircraft all on their way. 2017 is the start of a new era of maritime power, projecting Britain’s influence globally and delivering security at home.”

Key milestones in 2017 include:

  • HMS Queen Elizabeth, will sail from Rosyth, ready to conduct sea trials in summer and debut in Portsmouth later in the year;
  • Her younger sister HMS Prince of Wales will enter the water for the first time in the summer as work on her continues and is due to be formally named in the autumn;
  • Design and Manufacture will begin on the multi-million pound Crowsnest, the early-warning ‘eyes in the sky’ system for the helicopters that will protect the new carriers;
  • In the summer, steel will be cut on the first of eight Type 26 frigates in Glasgow;
  • The first of four Tide-class tankers, RFA Tidespring – crucial for supporting the new aircraft carriers – will arrive from South Korea in the spring to undergo UK customisation work;
  • Similarly, in the spring, the first of the Navy’s five next-generation patrol ships, HMS Forth will begin her sea trials;
  • The fourth Astute Class submarine will enter the water for its commissioning phase in spring;
  • The keel for the seventh and final Astute-class submarine – as yet unnamed – will be laid in 2017 as work continues apace on the fifth and sixth, HMS Anson and HMS Agamemnon in Barrow;
  • The opening of the first permanent Royal Navy base East of Suez in nearly half a century.



  1. Odd that Mr. Fallon wants to claim credit for all this since ALL of the vessels (except the OPV’s) were planned by previous government. All the current government has done is delay (and increase the cost of) implementation. Rather leaves himself open for abuse in the press.

  2. As long as these commitments are honoured, then the future is far brighter than what we’ve witnessed in recent years. Only one concern, could the RN run the two new carriers simultaneously if required?

    • Eventually, when the F-35’s trickle in over the next decade or so. But it is unlikely unless of a conflict where at least one is likely to act in the role of soon to be decommissioned HMS Ocean as a helicopter carrier/support depending on the type of conflict and/or allies involved and what assets they offer…

      • Can you really see the US putting its jets on our carriers in a real war situation? The only way they would trust us for that, is if the carrier was fully under the control of the US battle group, with a US escort.

  3. I can save 100k a year just replace Fallon with a tape recorder.

    Such hits as;

    Track 1: More ships.
    Track 2: 178 billion.
    Track 3: Equipment programme.
    Track 4: 45 minute disclaimer for the first 3 tracks.

    • Excellent!

      The Navy has fewer ships and fewer personnel than at any time for hundreds of years. Look at it’s size just a few years ago in 2000. We’ve seen a 30% or more cut since then.

      And this clown says it’s bigger than ever. Jeesh.

  4. I’m just glad things are moving along. Let’s just forget the politics and be happy we are getting some decent kit and facilities.

  5. Yet the Royal Navy is going to get rid of its entire anti surface missiles later on with no replacement within the next 10 years. Meaning the only anti ship weapon the Navy will have is the main gun

    • Absolutely.

      The other thing missing was any mention of T31. With the ageing of the T23 fleet and the expected decommissioning dates the T31 program really needs to be seen to be moving forward if we have any hope of maintaining at least 13 frigates (+ the 6 T45 destroyers). I’m not expecting miracles such as date for first steel to be cut but any properly managed project should have design milestones as well.

      When will requirements specs be released with a formal description of T31 role and required capabilities?

      When will detailed design submissions be required by?

      When will down-selection happen? Design winner announced? Etc etc.

      In the absence of any such clarity I remain concerned as to whether T31 is a project that HMG is serious about and will ever deliver anything except perhaps some batch 3 OPVs with slightly bigger main gun and a hangar.

      • Don’t worry abut it, Fallon is on record as saying the T31 won’t be ordered until the T26’s are finished. 2035 at the earliest. Nearly two decades from now.

        • That’s depressing beyond belief. Ordered 2035 so by that time all the T23s gone before first T31 hits the water? If that plan holds then the escort fleet will have dropped from 19 (6 T45 + 13 T23) to 14 (6 T45 + 8 T26) and at that point the T45s will be close to retirement as well. Under those circumstances I don’t see the T31 being ordered at all, HMG would say that we’re doing OK with 14 escorts and move on to T45 replacement and quietly drop T31. If that is where we end up if would pretty much be the end of the RN in terms of being a credible mid-tier navy is concerned.

        • I can’t see the current wasters having any say whatever in 10 years time, let alone by 2035. I also suspect that we shall soon enough need ships/subs/aircraft/armour – you name it – in far larger numbers and at a much faster rate.

  6. 2017 is indeed the year of the Royal Navy, but lets be a bit bolder and commit to the Shipbuilding strategy. We should really be building 1.5 escorts a year and 0.5 of a submarine and 1 support/ other ship every year. We also need a large fleet of smaller vessels such as safe boats mark vi (50), Combat Boats CB90G (100)for the marines and the Atlas Arcims mine countermeasures system (100) so that we can retire our mine hunters in preference for escorts and joint support ships (think Karel Doorman).

    I would also suggest 2 more astutes, as they are a pretty fantastic asset and 7 just isn’t enough imho.

    The capital cost of modernising the fleet whilst keeping hull numbers of major assets at a reasonable number (75) is £2.5bn per annum or just 14% of the overall allocated equipment budget. Surely this can be done.

    Notes: £2.5bn p.a is spread over 25 years and includes:
    £20bn build cost for 4 successor (£5bn each)
    £10bn for 9 new astutes (£1.1bn each)
    £12bn for 16 T26 (£750m each)
    £12bn for 24 T31 (£500m each)
    £5bn for 20 RFA vessels (mixed)
    £4bn for 1 Carrier, (second carrier funded in second cycle)

    The cost of the small vessels fleet is tiny in comparison

    50 Safeboats Mk 6 – cost £10m each
    100 CB90 G – Cost £2.5m each
    100 Atlas MHVC – Cost £2.5m each
    150 Ribs – Cost 250k each

    Given the carriers have a 50 year lifespan and the nuclear reactors have a 25 year lifespan the strategy should be a 50 year strategy with 2 lifecycles in it.

    2017 should be the year the RN sets out its intent to become a fleet of escorts that can conduct multi missions anywhere on the planet, and set out its plans to revitalise its stock.

  7. By this method of reporting, also 2016 was a good year for the royal navy. It seems neither year is going to result in any actually improvement in capability, just a step forward to it arriving.

    • Yup. Essentially this is a press release saying that nothing has changed or gone wrong with the already announced pared back building plans. It reminds me of the joke about the guy who falls off the top of a 100 storey building and someone shouts to him out of a 50th floor window “are you OK?”; he answers “OK for now”. Are we going to have these “OK for now” updates each year as we head towards capability gaps all over the place that may or may not get filled at some future date? Answer: yes, of course we are.

  8. What a joke! If 2017 is the year of the Royal Navy perhaps the government should actually do something urgently required to sort out the mess of our 2 most descent SDSRs.
    Build more than 8 type 26 frigates and get them online and in service MUCH MUCH faster than currently planned. There is an urgent need for 8 type 26s now!
    if we have to have a light patrol frigate aka type 31 then build them concurrently with the type 26s. Prefabrication around the uk final assembly, if it has to be on the Clyde then so be it.
    Fix the type 45 destroyers propulsion problems asap. Do not scrap Harpoon antiship missles and therefore loose another defence capability until you have a replacement. The Americans have the new long range anti ship missle based on tomahawk coming online soon and able to be fitted to mk41 VL systems. Perfect! order them and the land attack version for the type 45s destroyers initially. Get these systems fitted when type 45s are in dock having their propulsion and power systems fixed.
    HMS ocean needs replacing madness to use a £3billion QE carrier as a poor substitute for a purpose built and designed LPHD. Copy Aussie design (see HMAS Canberra)
    If 2017 is year of the navy increase defence budget (take some of the ridiculous waste from foreign aid budget) and order 2 more astutes, 4 more type 26s and a decent number of type 31s (say 8-10 hulls) and a replacement for HMS ocean.
    go to 3% GDP to defence budget ratio.
    I doubt any of this will actually happen as our Government are big on talk and short on action. Parliament is suffering from sea blindness and we are likely to be defeated at sea in the near future by a rival nation that has the will and vision to invest in their most important national asset, their navy.

  9. Looking at the schedule for decommissioning type 23 frigates, it is apparent that it will be possible to maintain 19 escorts until 2030 provided the type 26 build schedule is synchronized. That’s not too gloomy a situation, especially given the significant upgrading of the anti-air capabilities of the type 23s with sea ceptor and artisan and the inclusion of the mk 41 Val’s into the type 26 design. Mk 41 would allow the introduction of sm6 into the fleet which would provide supersonic asm capability with only software integration to perform. I’m dubious about the relative merits of introducing new subsonic asms like LRASM into the fleet. The U.K. should go with SM6 for now. By 2027, the type 31 build will need to be under way. That’s ten years from now. Don’t panic!


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