With some commentators, rightly or wrongly, arguing that it’s “embarrassing” the Royal Australian Navy will be ordering more Type 26 Frigates than the Royal Navy, some perspective is key.
We all want a larger fleet but in this instance, embarrassment isn’t warranted.
The following was sent to the UK Defence Journal via our contact form and was penned by a user on Reddit. I thought I’d share the comment here, enjoy.
Not embarrassing at all. The Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy are two very different navies, quite literally a world apart. The challenges that they face are very different and so both the structure and composition of the two navies reflect those differences.
The Royal Australian Navy has to deal with the vast Pacific ocean, the huge amount of commerce that travels through it and upon which they are reliant. They also have to do their part to constrain China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea and the wider Pacific. For this reason they need a large number (relative to their countries size and defence budget) of capable, long range endurance, surface warships like the Type 26.
The Royal Navy on the other hand is a true blue water power projection navy, that provides the UK with the means to deliver its army (and air force) anywhere in the world. It’s also has the ability to constrain the passage of Russian warships through the GIUK gap or the Strait of Gibraltar – and by extension the Atlantic sea. The Royal Navy also has the UK strategic nuclear deterrent in addition to a large fleet of nuclear hunter killer submarines.
It’s very crudely comparing apples and oranges to simply total up the number of a single hull type. What the RAN doesn’t have but the RN does is a comprehensive nuclear deterrent, the ability to really project power or the means to physically control access to the seas around their homeland. Likewise, trying to replicate the RN isn’t going to help Australia achieve their goals – they don’t need aircraft carriers, what they need are frigates and plenty of them.
It’s also worth pointing out that the RN plans to order a further 5 of the Type 31e Frigate. The RN dwarves the RAN both in tonnage and hulls.