Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has revealed he is protecting HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion from spending cuts.

Williamson said:

“To deliver what seems impossible, the Royal Marines need to be able to bring the fight from the sea to the land. As such, I am happy to announce today that I am protecting their vital landing platforms HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark.”

The Albion class landing platform docks are HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark.

Their primary function is to embark, transport, deploy and recover troops and their equipment. Each ship can host 305 troops with an overload of a further 405. The class features a vehicle deck capacity of up to six tanks or around 30 armoured all-terrain vehicles.

The Albion’s also feature a floodable well dock, with the capacity to take either four utility landing craft (each capable of carrying a Challenger 2 tank) or shelter a hovercraft landing craft.

Four smaller landing craft are positioned on port and starboard davits, each capable of carrying 35 troops. Each ship features a two-spot 64m flight deck able to take medium support helicopters and stow a third or operate a Chinook. However, the Albion design does not have a hangar.

63 COMMENTS

    • Why?
      Why do we have to loose something just to retain a capability we should never of even considered scrapping?
      The UK is a rich country, what it boils down to is political decisions on what we should spend our taxes on. I would rather have a strong military and investments in defence and infrastructure then benefits for drug addicts who have never worked and are frankly unemployable.

      • Unemployment benefits amount to 1 per cent of the welfare budget. Stop demonising the unemployed. The biggest welfare is state pension.

        • Granted – unemployment benefit alone only makes up £2billion of the £60billion welfare pot. But, you’d also have to include government spending on housing benefits and social exclusion (bus passes, meals etc) if you want a truer picture of unemployment’s costs to us. Tot the whole thing up and you’ll get £41billion. That’s 66% of the Welfare budget (and note I do not include pensions – to do so when talking about unemployment would be a tad silly). Personally, i’d go after uneccessary child benefit payments…cost us billions. Oh, and the foreign aid budget – a sacred cow that needs sorting. Then we might have a bit of dosh to splash on giving our brave servicemen the equipment and support they deserve.

          • Yeah but where do you think the unemployed spend their money? The government gets a fair chunk back in tax from them spending it and helping out shops in the process. It’s foreign aid that we need to stop! But the government made it LAW that we have to spend 0.7% of GDP! This is not right and should be stoped!….

        • I watched a guy talk about how he could make nearly as much money on welfare as working. He was not working. Why can’t benefits be tailored to help working stiffs get something extra for working? Is that too common sensical?

      • Spending money to get drug addicts off the drugs and producing employable people instead is a good strategy for our economy. Unfortunately we do not spend nearly enough on this and lots of them end up in prison and then they are pretty much permanently unemployable and almost permanently in prison costing the economy huge sums of money with the knock on effects.

        I met a homeless guy the other day. He had lost his job and then as a consequence was thrown out by his GF. He struggles to find help as he is 40 years old and a man. He can’t go to the hostels as even if there is room they are full of drug crazed lunatics who steal what little he has while he is asleep. He instead lives in a tent but doing that exposes him to being attacked by youths at night. Last week he was woken up by kids throwing bricks at him from a rooftop. He is covered in sores due to having to live in damp clothes which means he can’t work even if he could get a job. He can get to the doctors but he still gets charged for the prescription! So as he can’t afford the prescription he can’t treat the problem. He is basically stuck. I gave him my coat and my umbrella and I am going to try to find him so I can put him up in a hotel for a few nights, but this is should not be happening in one of the richest countries on earth.

        Now I understand your point that we should be able to spend more on our defence. However lets remember that the last labour government left the country in huge unaffordable debt that we are still trying to get out of. Meanwhile our schools are running out of money and our health service needs more money. So we have to be careful where we spend the money we have got.

        Sometimes you have to spend money to make money…

      • It matters not one bit how Social Security is made up although all the other arguments are valid, if the government gained an extra £10bn from somewhere the military are unlikely to get it. Health, Education and Social care are going to be higher up the priority ladder. Then any pennies left over will be caught after by the Police.

  1. Fantastic news. I just hope we don’t lose something to protect them.

    And according to sources, HMS Albion may soon prove her worth by responding to the Indonesian Tsunami. HMS Argyll is also in the region, but Albion would definitely be suited to this work (and think of the PR potential).

  2. At least 2 type23,one or both the wave class tankers,I suspect a Bay will go as well maybe more type 23 retired earlier to free up manpower.

    • They take the Harrier AV-8B, 18 of, with 6 deck spots. Italy has similar, but is replacing its Harriers with the F35-B. Way to go. I didn’t realise the STOVL was already as popular as that, I’m behind the times when I’m looking ahead!

  3. There are no magic words, just plain common sense. However, what has the Treasury demanded to be cut instead??? It’s never about the defence of the realm, just accountancy and a lack of meaningful understanding. One other train of thought, would have defence cuts been even worse if our dear queen had passed away, say ten years ago? The current level of spending has no doubt been down to her sharp eye and loyalty towards her forces? It takes a brave Prime minister to tell her he or she is ready to take a knife out on her forces.

    • Well it’s almost certainly the reason the guards escaped Jackson’s mergers. Pretty sure that was not a good thing.

  4. Afternoon all
    As expected, each service gets their headline, for the RN and RM the 2 LPD’s that were never going to be cut (remember the leaked releases were only options put to ministers) have now been “saved”.
    Currently the RN can support one at sea and one in reserve and I doubt that will change, the manpower is there just.
    What you will see go though are the 2 escorts (T23) to leave 17 FF and DDG’s until about 2023 when T31e should go to trials at which point you will see another 2 T23’s more than likely removed from the fleet leaving 15 FF and DDG until 2026 when 1st T26 float out for trials at which point the final GD T23 will go and the first T23 ASW will leave the fleet. I don’t see the critical mass of the FF and DDG fleet going below 15 (active) but I think it will go down to that number in the early 2020’s as the RN rebalance. As long as the standing commitments can be met the RN will cope, manpower levels will sustain and grow and more flexibility will be built in to the crewing of remaining vessels (T23 perminently based in the Gulf for example) which will also enforce the “Global Britain” message being pushed out by ministers.
    Over the next couple of years you will see fewer vessels doing more but with better crew rotations and more efficient use of available platforms.
    As newer platforms come on line, needing fewer crew to man you will see the physical growth of the RN, for the time being a little pain may have to be felt as the services get their houses in order.

    • It’s the lack of escorts that bothers me most. There is little point in deploying high value assets if you can’t protect them in contested space. Adversary navies have been practising for years how to take out carriers by overwhelming defences with saturation attacks. what’s the life expectancy of a QE task group defended by 1 Type 45 + 1 or 2 T23/26?

      • The only two countries capable and interested in sinking our carriers are Russia and China. When operating in their waters the cbg will have a lot of allied escorts in place. Outside of that, the layered defence is just about there but with little resilience.

  5. ” A Growing Navy ” , “At Least 5 Type 31’s ” ” We don’t need HMS Ocean ” “East of Suez ” North to the Arctic ” ” Showing our Presence In the China Sea “.. You have to love this Latest bunch of Half Wits.

    • It’s desperate isn’t it Captain.

      Each new government is as bad as the last.

      My biggest worry now isn’t escorts it’s the Waves.

      They might well use the excuse that we have the new Tides. Total rubbish. The Tides themselves are replacing the Ol class, Rover class, and Leaf class!

          • Old Wounds Heal Better with a fresh dose of Old Salt. But The Mind still Remembers the Pain Inflicted by our Glorious Leaders. Mr Knott May well have had a Comfy Retirement but I’m Looking Forward to Haunting him When I’m Gone.

          • When Knott was cutting the military was still large.

            Now we cut and the military have already had the fat removed, and the legs and arms.That’s the danger.

            Capability, professionalism, training, know how, prestige, the UK is still somebody.

            Our cyber and intelligence capabilities are also premier league.

            Numbers wise we are not.

            Until these reviews result in expansions as well as cuts they are not defence reviews at all.

  6. This is great news. I would like to think that those of us, of all persuasions, who got involved and contributed to the review in different ways are at least partly responsible for this reprieve. Keep at it folks!

  7. And again… Why FFS do we have to loose anything. Frankly I find talk of a reduction of our frigate and destroyer fleet down to 17, hulls massively worrying and any reduction to 15 to be just plain madness. This political incompetence is going to bite us in the arse. We will loose a war due to our utter lack of naval power and available warships.
    Scandalous that a country with such a huge naval history could be brought so low by successive incompetent short sighted and idiotic leaders.
    Just put the defence budget up you idiots. Now is not the time to cut but to invest. How do we afford that?
    Simple £14 billion a year to EU, £14 billion a year to foreign aid. 25% of that money equals £7 billion a year extra to defence taking us to a true 2.25% defence to GDP ratio. Which would be a good start and stabilise force levels where they are now with a potential small uptick in manpower and some key equipment funded.

  8. I don’t think cutting the waves/bays would bring enough of a saving, it has to be a front line asset, so either frigates or helicopters, neither do we have enough to lose.

    My preference would be to cut the f35b order down to around 80, which is more than enough to surge one carrier with the other packed out with Chinooks and Apaches.

    Realistically in every realistic war situation, the typhoon / drones will take most of the heavy lifting, meaning less f35s are realistically needed.

  9. Opening at MoD. Job title: Minister of Defense.
    Educational requirements: MS in Accounting, Finance, or related degree
    Experience in downsizing, budget reduction, and giving bad news without saying its bad.
    Desirable experience : some familiarity with national defense subjects, knowing what a naval ship or fighter is, knowing where Russia and China are approximately located.
    Ability to talk endlessly for hours while saying nothing is a highly desirable skill.

  10. Just when you think the “absolute minimum” number of escorts has been reached….!
    Surely mothballing for quick re-activation is a better strategy? If we were involved in another Falklands type conflict there is no reason to suppose the RN would not sustain losses of a similar order. We were able to absorb these with 50 plus escorts in 1982 but could not take the same punishment today

    • Look at other European navies, they barely have a navy at all and freely rely on the US to guarantee their maritime security. Most would not be able to operate outside their EEZ without outside support.
      The UK has slowly been slipping towards that model to save money which is why the US is pushing so hard to avoid it and it will reach a point where the US will pull the plug on European defense.

  11. Morning all
    Whilst fleet reductions in the short term will be painful and follow disappointing trends the RN will adapt, the worry being that they adapt too well. The treasury will always argue that if it can be done with fewer ships at no loss to standing commitments then it should be. What treasury always forget and governments in general is that when you remove the surge capability (going to war for example) you cannot just switch it back on. You only have to look at the conflict in Afghanistan and the lack of rotary lift in the early stages to understand that peacetime scaling does not work – it took 10 years to purchase and deploy the correct rotary assets to theatre and by then it was too late, lives had been lost.
    A fine line has to be drawn between what is wanted and what is needed.
    Both the MoD and the Treasury have their part to play.
    If I were the Treasury I would find it very difficult to give the MoD any money at all, waste and overspend is endemic and systematic within the department, regularly asking for more money whilst not spending all its money in year make it very difficult for the Treasury to justify handing more over.
    Most of the money doesn’t go to the people in defence but the defence industrial complex that supports it.
    For the first time the T31e project is challenging suppliers to give value to the taxpayer.
    Always remember, it is the soldier, sailor, airman and marine that make the military what it is, not the number of tanks, ships, planes and assault craft it has. If the investment starts there (pay, accommodation, training) you will find the numbers increase, once they increase the platforms with in the ORBAT can get properly utilised.
    It’s great for the Def Sec to say that he is protecting ships and sending the Corps back to Norway, sometimes he needs to look at the people first and recognise that they are getting a raw deal (accommodation and married quarters for example – just read military blogs).
    Shiny toys don’t make the military – people do
    It’s a shame he didn’t mention that in his speech

    • “Most of the money doesn’t go to the people in defence but the defence industrial complex that supports it.”

      Ah! Someone else apart from me mentions the truth.

      I have said before HMG care little for the military, but will always support the military industrial complex behind them.

      Thank you Lee.

      • Hi Daniele
        I think we have both talked about it at length before, hopefully the message will start getting through.

        Cheers
        Lee

    • Lee, I will give that a Bump!

      I have lived in single accom on naval bases and on establishments.
      The new stuff in use now is very good…on par with say a premier inn/travelodge room.

      Married quarters in my experience are still bloody awful. I had my own house away from the usual naval base areas but my family and I lived in MQs for 3 years prior to my final posting abroad and subsequent retirement. I was luck in that I was a V senior NCO on our patch so I knew who to talk to and the rules and regs that applied. I pishd a lot of people off in the Married Quarters Offices when the material state and fit out of our patch especially the juniors was not IAW the relevant JSPs.
      I was in a MQ designed for a family of 5 so we had a kitchen that was so small it could only take a washing machine, no chance of a dishwasher, no tumble drier( That was in the dinning room) and only a narrow small fridge/ freezer. The heating system ran off a 1978 floor standing boiler and none of the radiators had thermostatic valves. So with the temp sensor in the hallway that meant the heating bills where huge.

      MQs are a massive bug bear for any families living in them . They are improving but its very piecemeal and you can only upgrade so much before its easier and cheaper to rebuild. Fixing MQs would make a big difference.

  12. What are you talking about. You have to provide the military with the required very best equipment, in sufficient numbers otherwise they are canon fodder. Similar to the Siberian divisions sent into Leningrad. “The soldier in front carries the rifle, the soldier behind picks up the rifle and fights on when the soldier in front is killed”.
    See my point? equipment does count regardless of how good the personnel are.

    • It does count of course. Numbers have a quality of their own.

      But how do you have numbers without people? Unless the kit is automated robot warriors.

      And that quote was from the film about Stalingrad, not Leningrad! And the Siberian divisions were deployed in Christmas 41 outside Moscow. But I’m just being picky so forgive me!

    • Hi Mr Bell
      Fully see you point.
      I would point out though that a good system comes in three parts:
      People
      Process
      Technology
      We sometimes rush to the technology bit before fully understanding the people and processes required
      Equipment should be:
      Usable
      Deployable
      Supportable
      Secure
      To do those things you need people and process first to enable the technologies that we use to conduct war.
      All to often politicians will show off shiny new toys without fully understanding what is involved in actually getting the best out of it – well motivated and trained individuals who know when they are out there doing the business all is good at home.
      Show me a brand new Ajax or Lightning or T26 and I will show you a married quarter with damp, a block with no heating and a system that relies on the “can do” attitude of those that serve.
      Great kit is brilliant and should be sought after, great people who are looked after manning great kit with world class training – I think you find that hard to beat.

  13. The amphibious fleet is going to remain active with 3 command intact so what happens. Doubt, gloom, cancellations, insults, woe is me is all we’ve got on this blog. For goodness sake …we have the best equipped navy in Europe and one of the best in the world. Let’s celebrate something, if only until next week when everybody can have a good moan again.

    • Agree Geoffrey.

      On the amphibs side they had been written off here several months ago despite being told it was all speculation on options presented.

  14. (Chris H) – for what its worth:
    “During #Toryconference18 event today Defence Sec was asked would any other ships be sacrificed to save Albion & Bulwark?

    He replied “No. I don’t have plans to lose any mass in order to save them”

    I actually take the man at his word given his excellent comments in a fringe meeting when he answered some pretty fierce questioning from the audience here:

    https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2018/10/lord-ashcroft-interviewing-a-defence-secretary-who-truly-believes-that-the-uk-should-consider-getting-stuck-in-to-other-peoples-wars.html

    • I like what I read with him.

      The proof will be in the pudding though.

      Thank God Fallon could not keep his hands to himself. Another useless yes man.

      This defence secretary seems to be made of the tight stuff. So far.

      • That is a skillfully spun answer. He answered no mass would be lost, and not the question of how many ships. Reminds me of yes minister on how to answer difficult questions, by answering a different question instead.

        I assume what he means is the 2 carrier’s entering service will have more mass than the ships going out of service.

        • The comments made about the Navy growing are true…if you only use tonnage as the yard stick ( Sorry for mixing units of measurement metaphors).
          New carriers, T26 etc are all heavier than the existing units.

          As ever Stats can be spun however you want them.

  15. Looking at the comments about the Royal Navy frigate, well it looks like it could get worse, I have just been reading a report on the state of the US Navy and how they would get the reinforcement convoys across the Atlantic. They won’t, it seems that the merchant ships are being told that they will need to go it alone. Switch off there electronics and go. It looks like the US and the RN have let the ball drop. If we cannot escort our carriers and Amphibs or escort a convoy with a US armoured div then NATO is in real trouble. It really is time that politicians understand that the Royal Navy cannot be reinforced quickly it takes a few years to build a ship. It is the one service that always needs to be prepared for war in numbers and equipment 24 hours a day. They will never know when the balloon goes up and they could be the other side of the world.

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