The Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt has unveiled a National Carrier Policy in order to address an “uncertain and challenging world”.

In her maiden speech at the Royal United Services Institute Sea Power Conference, she also confirmed that she was “not going to be shy about asking for more money”.

The Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt recently said “we should decisively increase the proportion of GDP we devote to defence.”

“Any additional funds would of course need to be for new capabilities and not simply plugging gaps in existing plans,” Mr Hunt said.

Mordaunt pushed back against suggestions that defence spending should rise to 4% of GDP, instead saying the number should be driven by capability requirements.

Her new carrier strategy will, among other things, ensure the UK has “one carrier at readiness at all times”.

“If our future fleet is to respond to growing future demands we need to do much more. We have done a great deal to drive out inefficiencies in defence, but there is more for us to do” she said.

She also criticised previous Strategic Defence and Security Reviews, saying “What is the point of methodically reviewing threats and tasks, formulating capability and then not delivering it?”

Mordaunt pledged to “end the vicious cycle of undelivered SDSRs”.

Follow Henry Jones on Twitter for live updates throughout the day.

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Jas
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Jas

Show me the Money!

andy reeves
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andy reeves

why spend billions on two carriers, then say we can make do with one?

andy reeves
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andy reeves

the 2% gdp defense spend target is all too well understood however we trumpet on about meeting our obligation, the national audit office reveals that the u.k spend is infact1 . 8% someone cooking the books again?

Steve Taylor
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Steve Taylor

With only 2 hulls how many do you expect to available? We really stretched the operation of 3 Invincibles to the point where only 2 were really available.

Robert Blay
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Robert Blay

They mean one is always available inbetween refits and maintance periods.

Patrick O'Neill
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Patrick O'Neill

Two is the absolute minimum to ensure one is always available, or we end up like France with huge gaps when CDG is in refit. I am slightly confused by this ‘new policy’ as the I thought we already were committed to keeping one available

Paul T
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Paul T

I read with interest what Jeremy Hunt said the other day – perhaps there is now room for optimism with regards to Defence spending,it just needs the Chancellor to follow suit.Emphasis on the Carriers is good but please can the Government get real and give them all the Escort and Support Ships and Aircraft they will undoubtably need,to conduct Carrier operations around the World on a shoestring is not only foolish its potentially dangerous too.

farouk
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farouk

From the Daily Mirror: Defence Secretary drops big hint UK shipyard will win new Royal Navy support deal Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt dropped the biggest hint yet that a UK shipyard will win a £1 billion deal for new Royal Navy support ships. Unions welcomed the signal, which fuelled hopes the Government will back British workers by awarding the bumper contract to a UK consortium. Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, the Cabinet Minister said: “It’s long order books and steady drum beats in our yards that strengthen our supply chain and bring down the overall cost… Read more »

Peter Shaw
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Peter Shaw

Fingers crossed it happens. I agree with Penny that we need a new partnership between our shipbuilding industry and government i.e. cost efficiency with quality build for a commitment to a steady drum beat of activity. This then helps our industry compete in the civil sector too against massively subsidised French, Spanish, Italian and German shipbuilders.

andy reeves
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andy reeves

we need yards that can produce and produce faster accepting the delivery rate from the clyde yards, 4 years for an o.p.v? just not good enough.

Grey Stuff
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Grey Stuff

Yawn… the OPV’s were placeholders for when MoD would begin T26. The programme was aligned with T26 and not how quickly an OPV could be built.
Sometimes we should celebrate retaining a national strategic capability of designing and building complex warships, but that clearly doesn’t suit every ones narrative!

4thwatch
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4thwatch

We need a kind of Navy Building Law that plans 25 years ahead so we can train industry, workers, designers and budget for the principal security of realm. Used to be planting Oak Trees and the press gang. Well the same basic rules still apply, except it took 100 years or more for an Oak tree to be useful, and the press gang grew resentment!

Gavin Gordon
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Gavin Gordon

Could be a win-win gambit if the current ministers of defence & foreign policy keep stirring this issue, aside from any PM aspiration they may have; i.e. whoever wins the next election is going to have the unions either backing them up or on their back.

Expat
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Expat

I’m not actually worried about the UK ship building industry, we will be build ships in the 2040s. But as for our fast jet production I can see that dying out within 10 years as theirs simply not enough orders for the Typhoon and Tempest is not planned until the 2030s. Unlike naval vessels we’ve actually been able to export fast jets.

Paul T
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Paul T

Expat – Best case scenario,the MOD orders another batch of Typhoons,with the current and hopefully future export orders to keep the production line going till Tempest is ready to start production.Realistically not going to happen but it would provide a seamless transition without any skills gaps aka what happened with the Astute Subs.

4thwatch
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4thwatch

Please!

Peter Shaw
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Peter Shaw

Look you can’t have a “One carrier ready policy” if your type 45 destroyers are all tied up with propulsion problems….also you need more frigates…and attack submarines…really we mean “one carrier group policy”

Mark
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Mark

Sorry Am I missing something? Yes there might be two or three tied up at the moment and yes I thought the propulsion problems are being sorted over perhaps a couple of years but I think you might be exaggerating a little Peter?

Steve Taylor
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Steve Taylor

Plus making sure we only buy one variant of F35……

JohnHartley
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JohnHartley

Well, if it was down to me, the UK would operate F-35 A, B & C. If a STOBAR conversion was doable for QE/PoW, perhaps with AAR if it gets sorted, then 8 to 10 F-35C on each carrier would be good. So 24 F-35C for FAA, 50 F-35A for the RAF, leaving the remaining 64 as F-35B.

Steve Taylor
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Steve Taylor

If it were up to me we would be operating CTOL. But we are where we are. Our outside Europe defence capability needs to be centred around the carriers. If we are involved somewhere long enough to need a land based air capability we have Typhoon.

Chris H
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Chris H

@JohnHartley – Forgive me asking but why do you think a variety of F-35s will a) be more cost effective or b) more battle effective? And where does an F-35C offer more in overall operating flexibility than an F-35B and a bit OTT for the RAF? Or are we talking discrete fleets unique to one force? So back to the bad old days? And as for the RAF why on earth would it buy F-35As when it already has F-35Bs and Typhoons integrated? For starters although we as a country benefit from every F-35 sale we benefit more from a… Read more »

Lusty
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Lusty

The Type 45’s are achieving a fantastic level of operations. Currently three are at sea (HMS Duncan in the Med, HMS Defender taking part in exercises off Scotland, and HMS Diamond active in UK waters), and HMS Dragon has just returned from deployment. HMS Dauntless is emerging from a major refit, and HMS Daring is currently undergoing a ‘strip out’ before the work to overhaul her propulsion system begins. Having 4 out of 6 in an operational ready capability puts the RN in a good place, and will allow them to operate a carrier. I think we can all agree… Read more »

JohnG
Guest

Good post lusty, thanks for the ship locations. I’m always interested what UK ships are where. As far as the original posted comment is concerned, there will be enough ships to put one 45 and one 26 with each carrier. The way I see it, the carrier effectively pairs up with the 45, so you aren’t loosing that deployment, and if they either forward base some 31s if they only have 5 or get numbers up to 6, that will free up one 26 to go with each carrier. Astutes are limited, but with 7, that does effectively give one… Read more »

Airborne
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Airborne

Spot on lusty, if anything the availability and operational rate for both the type 45s and type 23s have increased significantly. And it’s down to decent kit operated by professional and skilled people! We need more ships and more people, will we get them? Probably not but let’s hope Penny can ask for more pennies!

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Yep good post Lusty.

Chris H
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Chris H

@Peter Shaw – Except all our T45s are not tied up let alone for propulsion issues are they? And its a matter of record that no T45 has failed to complete a tasking due to propulsion failures. The Andrew are rather good at getting their ships back into operation. And given your comment I am not sure you understand what “one carrier at readiness at all times” actually means. We have two to allow planned and other refits and upgrades and crew rotations to one while the other is at sea. But we can put two ships into battle at… Read more »

Herodotus
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Anyone Know if the QE class is fitted with lifts other than hanger ones for aircraft?

DaveyB
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DaveyB

I don’t think Stannah got the contract?

Gunbuster
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Gunbuster

yep,

Weapon lifts from the magazines to the flight deck and hangar. There is I assume a personnel lift to the bridge(its a flat top thing) and there are stores lifts.

Herodotus
Guest

Yeah, it was access to the bridge I was thinking of. Assume there is also one for the rear block…or are aviation types deemed fitter than the average matelot?

Harry Nelson
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Harry Nelson

They had a “skippers lift” on the INVINC class, presume requirement still exists on QE??

Lusty
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Lusty

She does have a small lift next to the aft aircraft lift, going directly to the deck.

Unsure if she has any for the Bridge, though she doesn’t have the luxury of HMS Protectors spa!

Will Dutton
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Will Dutton

Asking decisively for more money is different in what way? Either the MOD asks for the money or it spends it anyway, with little idea of where the funding comes from. We lack mass in the navy, constant SDR’s have not helped, Conservatives are having a laugh if they think are the party of strong defence. Not that Labour are much better. Both take no view on our proper realistic place in the world is and then making our forces relevant to that view. Its constant politicking……

Harry Bulpit
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Harry Bulpit

we don’t need extra money we just need better management. 1st remove the deterrent and pensions from the budget and give it the treasury, 2nd start reducing are top heavy force and start replacing over paid and useless admirals and majors with cheap and useful privates and seamen and instead of paying literal billions in R&D and bribes on over engineered expensive crap lets just starting buying things of the open market. CV90 and M4 are prime examples as opposed to Ajax and SA80A3.

chris elgenia
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chris elgenia

Sorry, doesn’t removing deterrent and pensions costs effectively mean more money, actually the opposite of your opinion?
Not paying R&D is the same as buying off the shelf overseas kit, lets try all US missiles/planes why not try Huaewi for comms kit, surely save more and they bribe us! Bonus…

Harry Bulpit
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Harry Bulpit

No because its not more money going to defence. That remains the same at 2% its getting the treasury to pay for their part. Just as how we should be charging the French to use our chinooks and the foreign office the use of are aircraft in disaster relief. And yes buying of the shelf is exactly what i mean. Buy known and proven kit like the CV90 owned buy BAE and in use with several countries.

Trevor
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Trevor

The origins of the Ajax is as old as the CV90. I do not see how either of them can be said to be off the shelf or not.
Likewise the SA80 has evolved in just the same way as the M4.
As I recall the Germans wasted loads of money on a flashy space age rifle.
For lovers of bullpups the French army have one but spent decades designing and then having to perfect it.
Who is to say we need to save money by using someone else’s kit.

Harry Bulpit
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Harry Bulpit

The Ajax is based on a Spanish/Austrian IFV called ASCOD. but so much has been changed that its almost like Challenger 1 and 2 completely different and new vehicles. Also its costing over a thousand pounds per gun to upgrade the sa80. where as the us army has brought a load of new M4s for $500 each including scopes I believe.

Steve
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Steve

I assume this is more of a PR decision. They would be heavily critised if they ordered a whole load of new riffles and then in a few years changed them all for higher calibre ammo. This way they can argue it was an upgrade for an existing riffle and not a replacement.

However we can’t compare the two prices directly, since we don’t know what else is part of the deal such as services etc and also the US would have massive economy of scale advantages over us.

Harry Bulpit
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Harry Bulpit

Good point

Paul T
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Paul T

Trevor – The H&K G11 was a marvel of engineering,it was ready to be introduced into the Bundeswehr but the fall of the Berlin Wall and the expected costs of reunification killed it,nothing more than that.

Trevor
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Trevor

Was it really that good as advertised…? Ammo? The complicated bolt (144 parts)?
Caseless ammo will probably arrive in due course.

Paul T
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Paul T

It was developed to the point of introduction,all the issues were sorted,as I said it was just a victim of history.Interesting video by Ian (Forgotten Weapons) on youtube about it.

Trevor
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Trevor

Yes. I have seen the video.
My point going back to this is that it’s not straight forward just taking things off the shelf and other countries go to great lengths to develop their own kit.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Isn’t this just another re announcement?

The whole point of buying two was to have one ready for use at all times.

Apart from that, keep it going. Williamson said lots of positive things too.

JohnG
Guest

My thoughts too Daniele.

Henry Jones
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Henry Jones

I thought similar. Mordaunt was VERY clear though that it is a NEW policy. She didn’t elaborate on the details.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Thanks for the article Henry. As always, the devil is in the detail!

peter french
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peter french

Well ,good on her

Dave Anderson
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Dave Anderson

Saying one carrier ready at all times is as we suspected, one in a state of readiness (mothballed) and one active, interchangeable crews as it were, as in the case of Albion and Bulwark!

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

To be fair that has been the case since SDSR2010. The graphic released at the time showed clearly 1 Carrier and 1 LPD ready 1 of each reserve.

andy reeves
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andy reeves

could have gone 2nd hand and bought a carrier from the yanks, but noooooooooo we’re the royal navy we don’t do 2nd hand, even if it is a good thing for the nation.

Steve
Guest
Steve

I don’t think that would have been realistically viable. The US carriers require much higher crew numbers and any 2nd hand buy would have come with extensive refit costs and older gear requires way more in tlc than newer gear.

What worries me is that this announcememt effectivelt confirms one will be mothballed, sorry placed in extended readiness on a rotation scheme.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

And that they are Nuclear powered!

Trevor
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Trevor

What 2nd hand one would that be?

Steve Taylor
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Steve Taylor

I didn’t know they had any going spare. Crewing one CVN would take up all the RN’s available manning……

Sometimes I do think an America class would have suited us. But redesigning it for our manning levels would have been impossible to the point where designing a new ship would be easier.

Jonathan
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Jonathan

There is no way we could run an old US carrier, the on costs over its life would burn any capital savings and more. Our carriers are bonkers cheap compared to what other nations have paid. They are also probably the most cost effective carriers out there re oncost.

Megaroutex
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Megaroutex

Yes not surprised but Gavin Williamson mentioned they could be deployed together and with LPD’s if necessary… although unlikely of course

Mark
Guest
Mark

Daniele – whilst I can see both ships spending a while alongside I can also see 6-7 moth trips around the world globe trotting whilst flying the flag. The money has been spent on the ships. No point in buying, insuring and taxing a car and then keeping it in the garage? Conservatives will look weak and happy to waste money if they do that.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

It would be excellent if both are in use. The PM did say both would be crewed but where is the air group coming from?

We barely have enough Merlin as it is for the QEC Air wing, OCU, deterrent and ships flights on the tailed T23’s. And the F35B buy may be reduced.

The existing aircraft would either need to be split between the two, the USMC use it, or it would be a LPH with Merlin HC4 and Chinook.

Mark
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Mark

My gut says there will be no reduction in the the buy rate for F35 unless Labour take power. I can see much testing of RAF interoperability with the carriers on F35B. Surely the Americans will be invited onto POW for a while again in the interests of interoperability. The capital programme is stretched but if we are creative and the politicians don’t mess things up – perhaps we can get through this. Am I being too optimistic here?

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

No, one must always be optimistic.

Chris H
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Chris H

I think we should understand that there is no plan for PoW to be ‘mothballed’ as it has a full (sea) crew so its not like Albion / Bulwark with one crew swapping ships. As for the air crews well that comes from Marham where they all come from. By the time PoW is operational I understand the first FAA squadron will have been stood up. What also seems to have been forgotten here is that for some years the USMC will embark a squadron of F-35Bs complete with maintenance and air crew on to QE. Now whether this will… Read more »

Simon
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Simon

Quick point: one “at readiness” is not the same as “one deployed” (e.g. Invincible).

One carrier bobbing around and always available if the balloon goes up. The other carrier can then be made available as quickly as possible (as it will be in bits). I would expect a two-year rotation cycle. Hopefully using a clever partial crew replacement rota similar to the Echo class.

Rokuth
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Rokuth

As I understood it, the reason why there were 3 Invincible Class ships was the way the ships rotated. While one was on patrol/duty, the second would be in the docks undergoing upgrades and repairs, and the third would be working up/ training for going on patrol/duty. That way one ship is always available. With only two ships, there will be a time when the RN will not have an active carrier. Within NATO, that capability gap would be filled by the French carrier, as they have done previously. No doubt the New National Carrier policy will cover how this… Read more »

Meirion X
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Meirion X

That is why the RN needs a LPH replacement for HMS Ocean! LPH to be deployed if there is No main carrier available.
With A capability to embark a few F-35b’s if necessary.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Hunt is suggesting the boost to defence spending should be for new capabilities, not plugging gaps. Any offers as to what should be considered a new capability and what should be prioritised?

NSM and 5in for Type 31?
10 Type 31s?
An F-35A ‘bomber force’ in addition to F-35B?
Littoral support ships?
Non nuclear submarine fleet?
Aster NT Block II for Type 45?
Another Astute?

Paul T
Guest
Paul T

Paul – NSM likely,5 inch for T31 not so much.T31 still needs clarification re final design.F35a- maybe but lots of mileage left in that debate. Littoral Combat ships – no idea .SSK -makes sense but no home grown designs available of any note .Aster NT – a must in my opinion.Another Astute – good option but hard to see where it would fit in the current build schedule,just my thoughts.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

My own two pennyworth. NSM is essential for a credible Type 31 but I would settle for the 4.5 in in the meantime. And Aster NT is the way to go for Type 45. Regarding SSK maybe we could jump on the Aussie project?

Rokuth
Guest
Rokuth

Isn’t the new Aussie SSK a “de-nuclearfied” French SSN design?

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P