Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced a series of moves which will see the Royal Navy’s eight Type 23 anti-submarine warfare frigates all based in Plymouth, while the remaining five general purposes frigates will be based in Portsmouth.

It was also announced that the base port changes will take place during unmanned maintenance and upkeep periods over a period of five years, starting with the move of HMS Richmond from Portsmouth to Plymouth in 2018.

Rear Admiral Chris Gardner, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Ships), said:

“This move will bring benefits to the whole fleet of Type 23 frigates, bringing ships of the same purpose together in one place. I want to reassure all our sailors that we will be managing the base moves as efficiently as possible, minimising the disruption to our people and their families.

The base port changes have been planned to occur during unmanned upkeep periods over a period of five years, to ensure a smooth transition of our people and maximise the benefits to our operational readiness.”

The re-basing of ships will see Devonport become the focus for surface anti-submarine warfare support.

From 2023, the Type 23 frigates that will be based at each naval base will be:

Her Majesty’s Naval Base Portsmouth

HMS Argyll, HMS Lancaster, HMS Iron Duke, HMS Monmouth, HMS Montrose.

(Previously: HMS Lancaster, HMS Iron Duke, HMS Westminster, HMS Richmond, HMS Kent, HMS St Albans.)

Her Majesty’s Naval Base Devonport

HMS Westminster, HMS Northumberland, HMS Richmond, HMS Somerset, HMS Sutherland, HMS Kent, HMS Portland, HMS St Albans.

(Previously: HMS Northumberland, HMS Somerset, HMS Sutherland, HMS Portland, HMS Argyll, HMS Monmouth, HMS Montrose.)

38 COMMENTS

  1. I will be amazed if the proposed cuts to defence are enacted – the way it is going it could bring this government down. Too many MP’s and Lords not happy. There is really nowhere for this govt to go on defence apart from additional funding.

    It is totally unacceptable that we enshrine the foreign aid budget but do not do anything for justice or defence, which are the primary roles of government after all.

      • They will if and when the torys and hopefully other partys MPs start speaking up more loudly
        I cant understand the mentality of the cuts when we have a resurgent Russia Iran flexing its muscles NK as well and look at what China is doing
        13 billion
        What this country could do with that money
        I do feel sorry for some of the things that go on in this world but i find that the most needy countries can find enough money for weapons to fight amongst thereselves

        • There was a surprisingly large number of MPs at defence Qs today from all sides which was encouraging – as was the threat from a number of Tories of rebellion.

          We’ll see how they stand up to pressure from the whips to back down…

          • Labour’s completely lost the plot the Tories have gone daft on their ridiculous aid budget and cuts to public spending so VOTE UKIP INSTEAD!

  2. I don’t know how things will work out with the review next year but with the pressure being placed on the Government cuts may not be as deep as originally proposed.. ‘fingers crossed’ let’s hope!

  3. By the sounds of what is coming out of the news, it is possible some of these frigates might also find themselves a new country / name as part of their port move.

      • of course it’s speculation, anything coming out of the news is speculation until confirmed by the government.

        however i am beginning to think it is likely. there has been huge back lash on the Albion cut and so i am expecting them to survive now, which means something else expensive has to go and a cut of 2 out of 13 frigates will look like a smaller cut than 2 out of 2 Albions.

        • If it is cuts then it will all come down to standing commitments and how best to deliver those. The 2087 capability has to be maintained so if efficiencies within the fleet are to be achieved then the GP tasking will be looked at and how those standing tasks can be fulfilled.
          There will always be a ready FF or DDG in U.K. waters.
          Hurricane season will always have the LPD(A) on task and could be replaced out of season by a River 2.
          East of Suez has been catered for with an ASW 2087 equipped 23 so that is done.
          A 45 will go back to the gulf in the new year.
          Ocean/Albion will get an escort, probably T23 with ASW kit.
          What other standing tasks are there?
          South Atlantic? Take the risk or put a Merlin flight on the islands.

          Remember – the RN just do not have the manpower to man the current fleet.

          • I would say a River 2 would suffice for all of the following interception duties ideally, with a helo if there are shore based or RFA facilities nearby to garage it; which I think there would be.
            Caribbean drug smuggling – UK contribution
            Somali pirates- UK contribution
            Mediterranean refugees- UK contribution
            Falklands patrol
            UK waters escort duties

  4. Can I gently remind people that we just had the Budget. The Aid budget was not increased and Defence was not mentioned in particular so the 2% of GDP remains in place and is therefore not in jeopardy.
    Now whether we are spending that money either in Aid or in Defence well let alone wisely is the proper debate…. I would think we don’t.

    • The defence budget is actually rising each year by 1 billion or so to 2019.

      The issue is while it is rising the Treasury are also demanding tens of billions of “”efficiency savings” at the same time.

      Therefore negating the rise.

      • Daniele the defence budget is rising whatever the ‘efficiency savings’ are in addition to not instead of. The main reason the budget is under extreme pressure is because the brass have saved precisely nothing.

    • Agree. The focus should be on what can be managed by ‘defence’; what is in the ability of the MOD and the services to control not what they cannot control. I think a lot of problems to do with value for money stem from what my grandmother would call your eyes being bigger than your belly. I don’t think either the Aussies or the Canadians are going to buy the Type 26. And the current planned 8 (originally 13) will likely be cut to 6. This is Type 45 Ground Hog Day. We don’t seem to be learning. By now we could and should be half way through replacing the Type 23s with 4000 ton ASW hulled Type 31s, not giving Type 23 expensive mid life upgrades and ‘pulling through’ radars, missiles and who knows guns and engines. We are paying to build the ships twice and get them late. This is madness.

  5. A current incumbent of the joint chiefs of staff resigning now, i.e. the FSL, instead of moaning to the Daily Telegraph after retiring to his country seat might just stiffen the sinews of the rebel tories who need more cross party support and who must stick to their guns if we are to avoid a catalcysmic meltdown of our armed forces apart from the RAF who by comparison are in pretty good shape. Two new typhoon sqdns for the loss of three tornado, with two lightning sqdns to come on board in the next few years will leave them with a credible fast jet force in terms of numbers and capability.
    The Navy and the Army alas will continue to wither which is a national scandal and disgrace tantamount to treason. If the amphibious capability goes and the RM’s are culled then it is over. A white elephant trawling the seas with 12 jets on aboard. We will have 26 trained lightning pilots by year end. 26 jets in the inventory is a long way off. 2 FAA and 2 RAF sqdns even further. 138 to purchase? Don’t make me laugh!

  6. I have looked into what the aid budget can be spent on to qualify for the 0.7% and there is nothing stopping the UK providing UK manufactured goods paid for at market rate for humanitarian purposes.

    So that mean ration packs, land rovers, emergency housing (containers or tents) and medicines all delivered by ships and helicopters of the RFA providing humanitarian aid.

    It is our government who chose to give this money away to nations who frankly do not need it. Shame on their wastefulness. Time we provide made in Britain goods and use an expanded RFA to deliver it.

  7. We all , meaning those with any ounce of knowledge on defence, cannot tolerate or allow any further cuts to our precious armed forces.
    No to 2 type 23s being sold off to chile
    no to Albion or bulwark being sold off or put into reserve,
    No to cutting the Army to a smaller size then Belgium’s army. 72,000 soldiers is not enough to provide a viable deterrent force to Russia or any other potential foe.
    No to reducing the size of the type 26 frigate order
    No to not ordering any less than 10 type 31 frigates
    No to reducing F35B order.
    No to reduction to Ajax armoured vehicle order
    No to scrapping any further challenger 2 MBTs.
    We as a nation have a simple choice defence forces that are viable and funded ir withdraw from the world and not fulfill our allegiances or commitments.
    How to fund defence? Simple put up taxes, or better still cut foreign aid budget.

    • I think the mistake is to keep looking at Russia. No one really thinks they will attack and so why spend money on a insanely low chance of getting that wrong.

      The focus and the debate should be held looking at afgan/iraq/libyia/Syria style wars and why a number equipped and under manned armed forces was connected to why they didn’t go to plan, not 100% but certainly a contributing factor. These types of war will keep coming back and so we should be gearing for them and calling for funds to help with that.

  8. Morning
    Couple of things.
    Aid budget is not going to be cut. However much people believe it should be cut, it won’t. The government have pledged 0.7% of GDP and that is here to stay. As one of the only countries in the world that actually meets the 0.7% target we get extra soft power leverage.
    We all get involved in platform numbers sometimes forgetting that we do not currently have the trained manpower to man the kit we have. No point in having something if it is never used.
    In 2010 the capital cost of CASD (Continous at Sea Deterrent) was passed from the strategic reserve to the MoD. As mentioned in parliament yesterday, this anomaly needs to be corrected.
    The MoD purchasing arm (DES) and the Royal Navy are no longer responsible for the purchase of the sub surface fleet (SSBN and SSN). A new agency has been formed to do that. That agency I would suggest reports directly to the cabinet office, who are also responsible with the treasury for the “reserve”.
    Remove the CDEL cost of the STRATEGIC deterrent from the MoD core and return it to the centre. RN would still pick up running costs.
    Once that has been done you are better able to manage the shape and size of your conventional forces, potentially also reducing the capital budget and increasing the resource budget.
    Yesterday it was reported that the Army were operating well under the 82,000 threashold. MoD mandarins will argue that if you cannot maintain your trained strength then it should be cut to match what you can realistically maintain.
    These mandarins are those that give advice to ministers, balanced on departmental needs, not just the needs of the single service.
    Industry are still lobbying to build more things, they are a strong voice and they will not go away. Most of their non-executive directors and in some cases chief executives are former senior military or MoD civil servants. What does that tell you.

    Some of the MP’s in parliament yesterday were former young officers who left the services early. They would have been told early in their careers whether they were destined for greatness within the service they had joined, it they just tow the line. They didn’t want to and left and decided becoming a member of parliament would be a better way to serve.
    Some of them you saw yesterday, in parliament, reminding those in power, those mandarins at the MoD, those senior Generals – we have a voice and we will be heard.
    Morning all

    • Morning Lee

      As usual – I agree with your analysis, but will add that the UK can and should decide to spend its Foreign aid budget on providing Humanitarian aid only.
      We have thousands of surplus land rovers being sold at £25k each, sell them to DFID and ship them out. Likewise £500k worth of ration packs were wasted last year – these should also be sold to DFID with 6-12 months left on the pack and distributed.
      We should immediately put the Bays and Argos into a humanitarian force that provides medical support and supplies and perhaps has MSF or the Red Cross onboard. Then if a situation arose where the UK needed these vessels for other purposes – at least they are there and available.
      Lastly – this humanitarian force will need a fleet of helicopters – The Puma force would be great for this, allowing the MOD to buy a set of Ospreys or more Merlins.

      British industry could also benefit through providing water filtration systems, solar power, generators, and containerised homes (which would have been great for the Caribbean and really shown some commitment.

      These are all choices our govt can and should make – instead we give money to support girl bands in Africa, that to me is just an insult to every serving person injured or killed in the last 30 years due to lack of or unsuitable equipment.

      If we are to commit to it – fine – but lets be smarter than we are in making sure the UK is actually a benefactor of this spending.

      • Your ideas are so sensible Pacman.
        So bloody sensible the idiots above could not possibly do something as obvious as prioritise their own.
        They are only interested in targets.

    • Regarding manpower I still think the army could lose some manpower with some of that being spent on more sailors for the RN.

      We have 31 Infantry Battalions with only 12 assigned to a deployable Brigade with associated supporting assets that enable that brigade to function.

      The RAF Regiment could be another resource.

      This is where Pacmans idea of merged forces would help as manpower would be used to best serve the force as a whole rather than each CoS defending their individual fiefdoms.

      That said, I’m still against the idea as service identity and ethos are important.

      • Hi Daniele

        I do think a single force structure is inevitable – but dont see why the embedded functions would lose their ethos. My structure would see 16 combat Brigades creating 4 Land Divisions, with a further 2 Divisions covering the Carrier Groups and then 2 further divisions for core logistics and a Brigade for CnC.

        Each of the 4 Land Divisions are exactly the same and have all air, naval, cyber, SFG and land forces and equipment they need to deploy and rotate in 4 yearly cycles, with each brigade rotating annually through that 4 year cycle. The CBG’s are also standalone “expeditionary forces” and are 1 on – 1 off. The final 2.5 Divisions are core support for the 6 working divisions.

        We have to get away from the relatively small volume of personnel who are deployable and we need to get competition going through our forces again. I think quite simply that 8 Divisions of 30k personnel (all arms) and a Joint command of (10k) including Civilian personnel is adequate and would in fact give us more punch than now.

        We would still have corps ( medical, engineers etc), but the Battalions is where it will be at with a deployable combat Battalion coming in around 900 “infantry”.

        64 combat battalions is surely enough for all badges + 8 RM Battalions for the CBG’s.

        Time for a change and organisationally the British Army is stallion WW2 mode.

      • Evening
        Manpower and the units they sustain, especially Army and RM units, are extremely politically sensitive to “manipulate”.
        The last time that was really done was “Options For Change” and it took GW1 so finally settle that issue down.
        It is suggested that, within the corridors of the MoD, they believe that the same effect can be delivered by fewer trained officers and men/women than are currently declared (82,000).
        I believe these numbers fluctuate between the 55,000 to 60,000 mark.
        None of MoD’s standing requirements have been reduced, no commitments relinquished so they must have theory behind their reasoning.
        It is known that the Army could not for example man the 220 or so CR2 tanks that it declares in its ORBAT. It has also been highlighted that some of the CR2 fleet have not been used since being withdrawn from Telic 2 – they are still in desert paint. Remember CR2 did not deploy to Afghanistan, the Dutch and USMC provided armoured mobility to U.K. forces during that period. That is just one platform. We insist however we have the full regimental structure in place to sustain all 220 CR2, structures the Army, by their own declaration – cannot man.
        So what is to be done?
        There are those that believe that the Army should be increased in size, more manpower, more equipment and more weapons. What would we do with all the extra manpower? HMG haven’t got the courage to deploy them, the Army can’t recruit them, the only people that will benefit are those that build the toys that end up sitting in yards, still painted in yesterday’s war waiting to be of use.
        One of the reasons you join the military is the promise to see the world, broaden your horizons. I remember seeing Army adverts showing this off. You don’t join the Army to sit around in the U.K., having exercises cancelled, accommodation not maintained and being treated by the Govt as the 4th emergency service. Who would want to join that?

        • All fair comments

          But that’s where we are now we are pulling out of Germany.

          There is the possibility that overseas deployments for a Brigade could be Cyprus, Falklands, Belize, Middle East, Canada, but ultimately it is becoming more difficult to deploy abroad as we are not really wanted.

          It’s one of the primary reasons I believe we need a single force structure based on these rotations, we are becoming a defence force based in the UK around some very large bases and will re-in force Europe if required. Therefore I think Apaches are more suitable for us than a large tank force as speed to continent will be critical and our allies on the mainland need to have a large tank force.

          It’s where we are now and as you know I am a fan of the USMC organisation and its integrated super bases and think the UK should commit to at least 8 super bases, not all of which are in the UK.

          • The army is going down that route already with Super Garrisons, and the way things are going we would not need 8 as our 5 Brigades will mostly be based at the garrisons below.

            Aldershot.

            Salisbury Plain Training Area ( SPTA ) Bulford / Tidworth / Perham Down / Warminster /

            Catterick.

            Colchester.

            As for the RM of 3 Cdo they are spread around several sites – Condor / Bickleigh / Norton Manor / Stonehouse / Chivenor but most of these will be closing and, while nothing is announced yet, I’d guess at another “Super Garrison” at HMNB Devonport.

            Personally I’d like to see Chivenor retained too as it has an active runway, a strategic asset.

    • Think you have that wrong
      Is not the T-31 an ASW ship?
      In which case they should be based at Devonport
      If you read what the DS says he wants the same type of ship in one base rather than a mixture
      Seems reasonable

      • Only the T-26s are dedicated ASW. It’s a crime that we have so few ASW vessels being a maritime hub, so dependent on sea trade. T-31 has a lesser ASW capability.
        A modest submarine fleet could cripple UK trade very quickly. Self-sufficiency in then UK is vastly more removed than it was before WW2.

        The article tiltle should say “SOME type 23s will be moved to Portsmouth”.

        • TBH I am not convinced we need a 150m platform to look for submarine, surely something smaller is better suited.

          I really think the T31 is best suited to ASW from a size perspective and the T26 is actually our version of the Burke class and will become the T45 replacement over time.

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