More than 1,000 sailors and Royal Marines are sailing to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea aboard amphibious assault ship HMS Albion, destroyer HMS Dragon and amphibious support ship RFA Lyme Bay.

The Royal Navy say that while deployed the ships will test the new and experimental Littoral Response Group concept (which replaces the UK’s long-standing Amphibious Task Group) and shape the Future Commando Force and evolution of the Royal Marines into a hi-tech raiding and strike force.

Commodore Rob Pedre, the Commander Littoral Strike Group, was quoted as saying:

“This deployment will provide high-readiness, forward-deployed options, provide strategic reassurance to our allies and partners, deter malevolent actors, strengthen NATO, and conduct wide-ranging defence experimentation. We will test cutting-edge technology and innovative concepts such as the Future Commando Force and the Littoral Strike Force concept to ensure our war-fighting edge in an era of constant competition.”

According to a Royal Navy news release:

“The task group will also support NATO’s Mediterranean security operation Sea Guardian and conduct exercises in Cyprus – Olympus Warrior and Autonomous Advance Force 3, a test of cutting-edge kit and how it can be exploited by commandos to deal with the very latest of threats. And activity in the Black Sea will include a series of training exercises and port visits to demonstrate the UK’s support for regional security and freedom of movement in Black Sea waters.”

The Royal Navy also add that the Future Commando Force will be represented by elements from the specialist raiding units of 47 Commando, Marines of 42 and 40 Commando based in Plymouth and Taunton, and the intelligence experts of 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group (Plymouth), and Wildcat helicopters from the Commando Helicopter Force at RNAS Yeovilton.

 

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Steve

A positive sign that the task force actually includes an escort this time around.

I suspect that this is happening to justify the keeping of the albions in the defence review, but maybe its unconnected.

Damo

I thought the same

Robert Blay

It’s probably because they are heading to the black sea area. And deployments such as this are planned at least 18 months in advance, maybe more. So nothing to do with a defence review. And the RN don’t task assets to influence defence reviews, that’s not how it works.

Steve

They would be very naive if they didn’t. Defense reviews have always been the 3 services trying to justify their expenditure at the expense of the other 2.

Robert Blay

They don’t need to deploy assets thousands of miles from home at great expensive to demonstrate why the need a certain piece of kit though. That’s just a massive waste of resources. And this deployment will have been planned well before a defence review was announced.

BB85

While I agree that this deployment is most likely a coincidence as it would have involved a lot of planning with other Nato countries, the RN will have been planning how to justify its defense needs and expenditure well before the review was announced.

maurice10

The new global RN will need to retain most of its principal ships for the tasks ahead. Policing to ensure free movement of goods across the World’s trade routes, will become an increasing role for our navy, and it’s imperative that the planned new vessels are built in a timely manner.

Steve

Need and will retain are different topics.

David

Unfortunately, so true. UK defence reviews are all about budget savings, dressed up with a thin veneer of reviewing needs.

andy

i dread the day comes when defense has gone and some idiot says defense cuts are needed,because the way they keep going it will happen

r cummings

‘The new global RN’ will be hard-pressed in times of tension or war to deploy a task force of more than 4 warships out of area in addition to maybe 3 guardship frigates. That is neither ‘new’ nor ‘global’ and would not scratch the surface of policing the world’s sea lanes. We only have 30 SSNs and escorts, maybe 20 available for deployment and they need to cover the eastern Atlantic, Northern waters, escort the carrier and so on. Any used to support the amphibious ships would have to be borrowed temporarily from other commitments, that’ how short we are.… Read more »

farouk

I was thinking along simialr lines the other day when I read the story about ‘Cuts’ Say if they reduce the number of tanks, that will result in no need for amphibious warfare ships at a stroke the MOD could get rid of :
Albion
Bulwark
Argus
the three bay class ships.

At a stroke by reducing the number of tanks, the MOD gets to save money, Brilliant eh.

Daniele Mandelli

I suggest you are maybe too sombre. Global Britain was here before Brexit. It means trading with and engaging with the world. It is not linked with expansion of the military. This was so in the 1880s at the height of empire, was so during Britain’s membership of the EU, and will be so after it. Global Britain – the UK, one of the worlds biggest economies, and a UNSC P5 member, G20, G8 member, engaging with the world. English language spoken wide, the language of science, the language of air traffic control. Soft Power, which the UK is top… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

And there you have it! I’m one of them “blinkered” ones you mention.
To me, I just see the positives, which are many, along with the negatives.

Crabfat

All of it well said, Daniele!

The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken

Aye total agreement Dan 👍🏻🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🇬🇧

Robert Blay

Bravo mate. Probably your strongest post to date. Common sense prevails. And the reality of what this country is about, and what we can achieve. 🤙🇬🇧

Daniele Mandelli

Why is it the national psyche to put ourselves down and see total doom and gloom, almost by default?

I lament cuts as much as any but I can see the positives too. The British armed forces are somebody on the world stage. Why else does half the world attend Sandhurst and FOST.

Robert Blay

Exactly! We might not have the biggest Armed Forces, but we have the best Armed Forces. I also dislike cuts as much as the next guy. But we have to be realistic about the cost of defence, and the threats, which are many, but i don’t believe Russia or China has any ambition for a conventional WW3 with the west. What have they to gain from it, apart from global economic collapse, including there own. COVID-19 is a far bigger threat to our way of living.

Meirion X

Unless they both believe, they can beat the West in a conventional war, without resorting to nuclear warpons?

Ulya

Meirion, how could Russia beat the west? If you just look at European NATO members (not US), we are out numbered in everything except tanks, you have more people, military and money, maybe we could take the Baltic states in quick attack while NATO mobilised but to what benefit? No one in Russia cares about them, they add nothing useful, the government would get no support for this and dispite common western opinion that is important. Look where large part of defence money and R&D has gone to, update nuclear force, new SAM and cruise missile, all to counter western… Read more »

T.S

Ulya, wouldn’t it be lovely if both sides could just clearly state that neither has any interest in invading the other! It’s all absurd when you take a step back and look at it. The money spent on each side to counter each others capabilities! It’s almost like it’s a deliberate ruse to breed paranoia and allow billions to be given to the arms manufacturers. Neither side has anything to gain from all out war or taking of territory. Russia is already the largest land mass country in the world.

Harold

Well said!

Meirion X

T.S, it is not really more land mass Russia wants. It is access points of control.
I am sure Putin would really like to have control over Bosphorus Straits, to give unrestricted access to the Black Sea for the Russian Navy, and restricted access for anybody else to the Black Sea.

Meirion X

Ulya, you forgotten all the cruise missile armed warships and long range bombers that Russia has. I don’t know what proportion are nuclear or conventional armed.
Russia could easily launch a pre-emptconventional strike against European targets, without leaving their airspace and waters.
All of Britain’s air bases and ports are vulnerable to attack from missiles launched hundreds of miles away.

Meirion X

A typo again, I ment a pre-empt conventional strike.

Bring back edit function!

Ulya

I did mention cruise missiles, but in those I forgot we have much more than Europeans, but then totally out numbered by the Ami. We don’t have many on ships or bombers, more in submarine and land kalibr M when production speeds up. But like I said before, we have focused on ways to counter western way of war. Personally I have to agree with T.S, it is such a waste of time and resources. How different things would be if we could build trust and mutual respect? Of course I’m just silly girl so what do I know

Harold

Well said Ulya. It’s time the human race grew up and joined in battling what threatens us all, disease, pollution, climate change, food shortages etc. What a mess we have made of this world.

dave12

lol calm down Haroldski I know you are both lovers of the motherland ,maybe Russia should grow up and take responsibility for its actions for once lol.

Meirion X

Yes, Russia does have many cruise missiles that can be launched from warships and long range bombers, Ulya! The Russian Navy has a few newly built cruise missile armed frigates, and newly upgraded vessels, which will include soon the newly upgraded battlecruiser Admiral Nakhimov, which will have 174 launch tubes to launch the different types of Cruise missiles that Russia has deployed over the years, including the Onniks as well. The Russian Air Force, also has the Tu144 Blackjack that can deliver cruise missiles at European targets well out of range of fighter defence units. http://thebarentsobserver.com/en/security/2020/08/russian-battle-cruiser-put-water-after-more-20-years-reconstruction&sa=U&ved=2ahUKEwipiMTRgO7rAhVXVRUIHZ7vAbUQFjAZegQICBAB&usg=AOvVaw3cKsKlJJ4n-M-wYau3PQyW You are right, overall… Read more »

Ulya

Meirion, we have 16 white swans only from memory, not many, look at ships we build, all are small with 8-16 cruise/AshM missiles but I guess when compared to what UK ships carry it is ok but our modern ship numbers are small still, Yasen M is better with 40 missiles and Borei M will be interesting if they ever build talked about cruise missile version, but numbers will be small in both classes. Orlan class is a good example of stupid, old, expensive to operate and upgrade, good for willy waving and pretending we are a world power but… Read more »

Damo

Russia has a history of being invaded so i understand the paranoia. The west had 1945 onwards of the USSR threatening to invade so you can see why we’re all daft.

Meirion X

Sorry Ulya, I missed out a s of https:// on the link.

dave12

Little green men showing up with know national Identification
in a country and poisoning Putins opponents, is what Russia does nowadays, Conventional warfare by Russia would be pointless I agree.

AlbertStarburst

Agree totally Daniele. The Aussie term “whinging Pom” is sadly not far off sometimes.

r cummings

You are certainly not a blinkered one Danielle and consintently have a balanced view on defence ( if a little light on the army component!). Of course we have a global dimension to our national affairs, not least having close on 50 Commonwealth partners and a lot of overseas allies. That was the case before EU membership, during EU membership and no doubt post-EU membership. As you say, it is not a change in defence posture, we will contine to have very limited resources out of area but remain able to contribute to an allied expeditionary force – at leasr… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Understood RC. To be clear I too support the NATO alliance. Though I favour the RN and RAF over the army, I admit. With limited funds they would be a priority, and can be used in both out of area and NATO roles, where’s armour for example is limited.

Harold

But according to some Conservative sources, ‘Global Britain’ does not relate to the military but to trading. As I have said before, don’t get taken in by governmental catch phrases as they are a dime a dozen. ‘You’ve never had it so good’ Harold Macmillan 1957.

Meirion X

@H
So what were Lord Haw, Haw’s catch phases then?

Herodotus

Harold, Macmillan’s ‘catch phrase’ ‘You’ve never had it so good’ was actually a prediction…..he knew full-well that the huge increases in wages and consumer growth could not be sustained….and that hard times were just around the corner (to quote Noel Coward)!And he was proved right…by 1963 the treasury was in shit street….devaluation of the £ Sterling and American loans were to follow.

Herodotus

By the way, did you see what I did in there!

Harold

Indeed it was. And could be startlingly relevant to the times in which we currently live.

Meirion X

Indeed, it is! I guess that people like Lord Haw-Haw are startlingly relevant to the times in which we currently live.

Meirion X

One of William Joyce’s catch phrases, was “The people of England will curse themselves for
having preferred ruin from Churchill to peace from Hitler.”
You could replace name Hitler with Putin, is that right H?

Meirion X

William Joyce was the real name of Lord Haw, Haw the WW2 British propagandist working for Nazi Germany at the time.

Herodotus

You don’t say! I think that you might give a little recognition of contributors knowledge of WW2bon this site!

Herodotus

Anyway, he was certainly Irish not British (James Joyce’s brother)….hence the controversy of him being hanged as a traitor!

Cam

Nicely put Daniele

Bob Hodges

I hope you’re right, but the common denominator running through the previous examples of successful isolation for the UK is ‘competent Government’.

This is something that ALL the evidence would suggest that we have been lacking in for the best part of 2 decades at least.

Steve

Defense cuts are coming, that is pretty certain based on what ministers have been hinting at.

We know from history that the cuts are always balanced across the three services, as they each think selfishly rather than what is best overall.

Therefore no doubt the navy will again lose ships, just a matter of how many frigates will go (guessing 2) and what other ships will go with them.

Harold

They will occur for sure. Dominic Cummings has been seen and photographed carrying defence related literature from the 1980s. He doesn’t care for large, expensive assets and is untouchable, powerful and unelected.

Steve

I am not really sure what motivates Cummings. He has a history of diverting money to tory donors, but i don’t see how that makes him money personally, so not sure its money that drives him. I assume it must just be ego that he wants control.

Steve

For sure its not doing the best for the country, or he wouldn’t’ be diverting cash. Ferry companies that have no experience, PPE from shell companies that never make any PPE, covid testing to an accounting firm rather than NHS, etc etc.

Harold

Sadly you are correct. I have never seen a government quite like this current one.

Harold

I am sure you are correct.

Meirion X

So here is another of those catch phrases for you then, “Putin’s useful idiots”!

maurice10

Size of the navy is important, hence my point on a previous blog. What needs to be recognised is the need to protect our international trade interests and leaving the EU has placed considerable emphasis on this issue. Regardless of which political party is in power the challis of protecting our trade routes will loom large and unavoidable on the treasury’s list of priorities in the next 20-30 years. I don’t claim the UK should have aspirations of becoming a World power, but it should be capable of working independently or in concert with other powers. Currently, NATO does not… Read more »

Steve

Leaving the EU has zero impact on whether the navy is needed or not.

The vast majority of our trade will continue to come from the EU (the worlds largest trading block) and our total trade from the rest of the world will stay broadly the same as before.

That’s not saying that we don’t need a navy, but Brexit has nothing to do with it.

Meirion X

“The vast majority”. Do you mean 90%!

No, wrong, our trade with the EU is still about the 60% mark.

I agree that is still significant!

Steve

Well if you also add the US to that 60% you get 75%. Brexit won’t really impact the amount of trade with the US, governments best case estimates is 0.01% increase through a better deal.

maurice10

No Steve, the game is changing and that’s not just my thoughts but those of the MOD. There is an increased risk of ocean bulling in the coming years, as global trade hots up and exclusive anchorage becomes a growing problem. Denial of shipping routes is a distinct probability as vital produce and minerals become more difficult to source, and superpower navies frustrate free passage. The RN needs to plan for the future where naval strength will guarantee free passage. Brexit does have ramifications in this case as more World markets will be sort by the UK, with a longterm… Read more »

Andy

Actually we have 7 ssn, 6 destroyers and 13 frigates.

Cam

No we only have 6 ssn’s, one trafalgar was cut early wasn’t it? And we will have seven once the remaining 4 astutes are complete though.

Cam

Well I’ll call Frank, Bob and dave who are building the type 26 frigates and tell them they have to start working all day Friday and maybe Saturday too so we can get the ships built a bit quicker! I think the apprentice Lee has done a runner thought!!

maurice10

I know Dave, I’ll have a word.

Robert Blay

Free movement of goods doesn’t need warships patrolling around. Goods have been flowing around the world for decades. Thousands of ships are at sea every day without any cause for concern.

maurice10

Yet!

Meirion X

Did not a British ship got seize last year?

Cam

Yes, exactly.

Cam

There’s pirates that capture ships every year, and we do have warships patroling the sea lanes all the time. And Britain has ships patroling the gulf right now. And do have 4 mine counter ships forward based with a bay… what’s that for?

Robert Blay

Yes, but considering the amount of merchant ships at sea on any given date, the chances of a incident are extremely remote. How many vessels dock in British/EU ports every single day without incident. And RN warships operating in the gulf have spent more time intercepting drug trafficking then ships full of new cars ect. Plus the gulf is still littered with mines from the Iran/Iraq war, hence the 4 vessels.

Steve

We do not have, and realistically no country has it, a big enough navy in 2020 to protect its commercial shipping. Every day there are huge numbers of ships moving all over the world not only moving raw goods but all the luxury goods that we have come used to. The idea of being able to protect commercial shipping in the event of a war, is a pipe dream.

Robert Blay

I completely agree Steve.

Cam

Yeah that couldn’t happen protecting all the merchant fleet, but we can have assets in the problem areas just like the RN has done for hundreds of years.

Meirion X

But like the Police can’t stop every crime, if you focus police resources on specific
areas of reoccurring crime this would reduced it there. So crime on the high seas can be reduced if resources are focus to specific areas of reoccurring incidents.

Pete

Because of the threat of consequences. Ive lived east of Aden for 20 years. From small scale pirates to rouge nations they would steel more if they thought they would get off with it.

Not everyone is nice and lives by the rules.

P

Pete

Naive. As well as the gulf issues that have bubbled and surfaced for decades there are other significant choke points with high maritime threat levels. Straights of malacca and horn of Africa come to mind. In other places despots dont interupt because they know the response from international communities will be harsh because of their capability.

RichardB

I fear Albion may return home flying a paying off pennant, like Ark Royal in 2010. It seems all too likely that the Defence Review will replace Albion and Bulwark with two converted merchant ships grandly called Littoral Strike Ships, and further downsize the Royal Marine Corps under the heading of Future Command Force. Cuts that can be neatly dressed up as modernisation.

Sjb1968

Richard I certainly hope you are wrong because if the LPDs go we are saying goodbye to any real intervention capability because airlift cannot deliver or sustain the same type of force. You also have the question the need for the carriers if you have no capability to insert forces onto land even in the limited way we have at the moment. I also see little point in reducing our elite forces RMs and Paras when our overall military capability is so weak. Their quality in part offsets are lack of numbers. What remains of the British army is sadly… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Agree. The LPDs must be retained, or if replaced with something as flexible equipped with faster landing craft. The LSS at heart were converted merchantmen used as floating SF bases. I support that concept, but alongside not instead of LPDs. They lack the facilities, C3, and storage that a LPD provides.

Meirion X

The Ideal replacements for the Albions, are stern landing ships.

Steve

I am not really sure that Albion’s would ever be used for their intended purpose of a forced landing, that just seems way too risky in 2020. As such i wouldn’t be too disappointed to see them cut, as i feel they are too niche a capability. My assumption is that the land forces would always be taken to a neighboring friendly country and then taken over land to the fight. We just don’t have the raw numbers, to risk putting all our eggs into two baskets of the two albions. Ok there is the falklands scenario, but we can’t… Read more »

Paul C

The LPDs are very vulnerable, along with the Wave class tankers, Scott, Argus, and the remaining MCMVs. Not sure the LSS will ever see the light of day though. It is possible that we will be left with just the Bay class until these are replaced by some form of multi-role support ship in the 2030s.

KPB

3 Cdo Brigade, RIP.

Damo

I sincerely hope not. I know they wear the wrong colour beret and they like to swim but they are a good tough lot.

KPB

I can’t see how they’ll be able to deploy as a brigade given the dispersal these new taskings will involve.

Crabfat

Into the Black Sea? That will tweak the Russians’ tail. Up with this, they will not put!

Steve Martin

I wonder what our astutes are doing at the moment. Could one be tasked alongside these? I would not be surprised.

Tony

Why no tanker support for this task group I wonder? RN has as many tankers as destroyers these days and for a deployment such as this I would have expected them to take a tanker if only to give the RFA crew more experience of task group workings ahead of future carrier deployments. They all seem to be pottering around off the south coast or in Birkenhead……?

John Clark

I would imagine they will pop into Gibraltar to refuel if needed Tony, or perhaps Crete before they head on up into the Black Sea.

Gunbuster

Refuel on port visits as required.
Gib, Nato Fuel Jetties throughout the Med ( Souda bay on Crete is a favourite!), No doubt they will go alongside in places such as Bulgaria, Romania or Ukraine.

Tony

Cheers both. I agree that there are no shortage of stop off points to re-fuel – it is more the practical approach to supporting a task group on deployment and providing more flexibility and the opportunities for the RFA to use the Tides as they were meant to be used, rather than as the FOST tanker or ad hoc use supporting single units around UK.

John

I’ve always wondered the point of such small deployments of marines. From my loose understanding, if you have a group of say 480 embarked on a ship, only half of those will go ashore. I really struggle to see what difference 240 marines could make to a situation. The American Wasp class ships I understand better as they can hold 2000 us marines. Not wanting to be negative but am generally purplexed by this. I suppose, in answer to my own question, you used to have hms ocean, so that combined with say a bay and Albion class ship would… Read more »

John Clark

Two Commando light carriers, combining the dock facilities of the Albion class with the aviation capability of Ocean, would be perfect. 26 to 30,000 tons and operating 24 helos with two large connected hanger decks to make them as flexible as possible. Such vessels will never be built…. Sadly the lip service of using the QE Class for a secondary Amphibious role had now been quietly abandoned. The needed specialist mods now removed from planning, so only used on an ad-hoc basis for Company sized operations will remain. We see an unfortunate continued move towards the removal of Brigade capability… Read more »

KPB

Good post. In some ways, I think the argument can be extrapolated to the MBT discussion. We need to think laterally about where to invest so we can make our opponents’ eyes water, rather than trying to compete on capability when we are no longer able to do so on scale. Unfortunately, I think the run down of RM’s capability to deploy as a brigade really is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It is (was?) exactly the sort of capability that could punch miles above its weight. Being able to deploy 120 – 480 men on a ‘raid’… Read more »

John Clark

I agree KPB, As I have argued in the past, if we keep our MBT force, but pay BAE systems billions to modify just 150, then it ceases to be an effective capability by the simple fact of loss of critical mass, and I would just get rid. There is a reason the Army kept 225 Challenger 2’s in the active inventory. They know its the minimum needed to field a credible force. All it will be is another BAE Sytems money maker, draining cash from the defence budget, to warm over a 25 year old tank that’s creeping towards… Read more »

Steve

If they had designed the bay’s with hangers, they would likely have been the solution.

John Clark

The solution would be HMS Ocean on steroids, displacing about 30,000 tons, built to full naval standards, with full dock well facilities for fast landing craft and masses of fully reconfigurable double deck hanger space for equipment, capable of taking an 850 strong Marine force in comfort (and much more in overload) and operating 24 helos. This is the sort of vessel that should be operating with a full Carrier Strike configured QE class, with 36 F35B’s on board as part of a UK Amphibious task group. A mix of AH64E from the Helo carrier and F35b from a QE… Read more »

Steve

Full naval standard and well dock means huge cost, that is a big no no. What they need to come up with is something that is super cheap but provides a capability that is needed.

John Clark

know what you are saying Steve, but such a commercial build vessel has a short open of only 20 years or so.

John Clark

sorry I got distracted, “operational life” of 20 years or so, so not good value for money at all…

Steve

Yep, but 20 years is past the period that this current government will be in power and so will be another governments problem to pay for the replacement. Short term savings over long term is always the mantra of governments

John Clark

Well, you have me there Steve, I cant argue with that!

its like the old Aviation term first coined by Sydney Cam of hawkers as I recall, ” All military designs have four major forces acting against them, Lift, Drag, Thrust and Politics”.

rec
rec

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-politics-54175481 This could mean SS built in UK plus other new orders Or?

Steve

Just means further delays can be blamed on this decision as everything goes back to the start with new tenders etc, since there wasn’t enough UK yards wanting to tender.

Harry Bulpit

The Littoral response group seems like a good and interesting idea. However I must admit I do think where going to see an end to heavy lift amphibious capacity, and with it the liked of the albinos. Even with my often idealistic approach to defence, I can see we dont have the resources to put together a over the horizon amphibious force. Hell even the Americans struggle with it. Besides with only two commandos available for the role of amphibious strike we don’t have the force structure to deploy anything anyway.

r cummings

We don’t have the resources to retain a full-on amphibious assault group, nor the escorts, F-35s or helicopters that would be needed. The logical answer it seems to me, if either brigade-size landing or battalion- size littoral strike is still militarily feasible, then join with NATO allies to form a NATO amphibious assault group and NATO marine brigade. A northern European force would be feasible and achievable with, say, the UK, Germany, Benelux and Poland each contributing a marine or marine infantry battalion, some assault helos, our Albions and Bays and whatever amphibious ships they have, etc.. A couple of… Read more »

Harry Bulpit

There is only one thing worse then going to war with no allies, its going to war with allies. Politics and the like will get in the ways of such plans.

PaulSergeant

The UK/NL Amphibious Force is coming up to 50 years old, but will it make that? NL has 1 battalion sized unit (from 2) available to deploy as part of 3 Commando Brigade. The NL Navy has 2 LPD’s which I would expect to be used for their own marines, but not under the Brigade command.