Type 23 Frigate HMS Montrose is to be forward-deployed in the Middle East.

According to the Royal Navy, the Plymouth-based will be based in the region for more than three years, although her ship’s company will rotate to the vessel and home again beginning in Spring 2019.

“This forward-deployment serves two purposes – to demonstrate the UK’s commitment to maritime security in the Gulf while also ensuring those on board can enjoy more stability in their home lives.”

Commander Conor O’Neill, Montrose’s Commanding Officer, said:

“It’s been a really interesting challenge to get ready for this deployment and one that everyone on board has risen to.

While crew rotations are nothing new to the Royal Navy, manning systems on this scale are something different and it’s presented a real chance to employ a bit of creativity and use our problem-solving skills. 

We’ve got an incredible deployment ahead of us – we will cross almost every ocean and sail around the world before we reach our destination. There is plenty to look forward to.”

In a release, the Royal Navy say that Montrose will deploy for ‘defence engagement activity’ and maritime security operations prior to arriving in the Gulf before arriving at the newly-opened UK Naval Support Facility in Bahrain.

79 COMMENTS

    • Hi Daniele
      And me 🤓, but Gunbuster probably got there first.
      After years of having no vision or strategy the RN have finally been allowed to get their house in order.
      Global Britain here we come, but in a very British way – slowly and with many slip ups on route, but we wouldn’t have it any other way 👍🏼
      On a more serious note this, if true, cements our position within the Middle East, specifically with regard to naval activity. Up to 4 MCMV, 1 support vessel and an escort all working into a regional 1 star headquarters.

      Despite Brexit 🤪 (guidance and wording kindly provided by the BBC Business team and the FT)

      • Morning
        I think it’s aomething that will be looked at, depends on how The government want to push the “Global Britain” brand.
        Forward deploying another GD frigate east would be no back thing, you would have a Gus crewed ship and a Pompey crewed ship abroad at all times, good for the manning plot of anything.
        Nothing permanently east of Suez in a while now, this would also enforce the 5 powers agreement and give HMG a footprint that it could expand on.

    • Morning
      All T26 will be based at Devonport, they will become the core ASW fleet. Devonport will then become the centre of excellence for:
      ASW
      Amphibious Warfare
      Sea Training (FOST)
      Hydrography
      My only concern is will the number of ships be enough to sustain the base?

          • Matelots and the RN are not that important in Guz anymore. The Uni has over 20K students and thats where the money into the community comes from…Look at the city center, loads of new build high rises for student accom and very little of anything for the local people.
            On the plus side because students are skint having paid out for the expensive accom that they live in, there are plenty of good deals in pubs for cheap food and a pint !

  1. And meanwhile the Dutch Government has committed a new Frigate to the UK Carrier Strike Group on a permanent basis as discussed here:

    https://thinpinstripedline.blogspot.com/2018/10/going-dutch-royal-netherlands-navy-and.html

    They are already doing FOST out of Portsmouth and Devonport on a regular basis and handle non nuclear submarine training. A friendship typified by the Dutch Marines band on parade with the USMC and RM Bands on the occasion of Beating Retreat at the 350th celebrations of the RMs.

    So far from being excluded by EU and associated nations as we leave the EU it appears that old allies like the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal don’t forget who their military friends are or where their best security interests lie. France of course looks inwards.

    (And yes I know Norway isn’t a full member of the EU)

  2. Ahh back when we had an eastern fleet! And western fleet or just Fleets! Must have been great for Navy fans back then!! Anyway We should have based HMS Argyll or another ASW frigate then atleast the ASW suite could have come in handy. But I supose it’s a cost saving exercise having a GP frigate, and basing it there saves even more money in traveling costs. We do have the mine hunters based in the area and we should now permanently base atleast 1 frigate in the region at the Royal Navys new base..

    • I think it may have been Gunbuster on here that previously explained how ASW is a completely different ball game in the gulf due the lack of depth and business of the waterways etc… all can cloud the sonar report. Basing a GP there may very well have been a conscious decision? Thanks.

    • Passive ASW in the Gulf is not good
      Its around 60m deep for the most part…you can see subs from the air with a TV camera and some clever filters and processing.
      The salinity conditions and shallow water mean active is better suited than passive. With a tail out at full stay and doing a slow speed run the tail sinks down. In the Gulf thats not good…there are to many wrecks, pipelines and oil drilling paraphernalia down there to get snagged on.

  3. There is nothing stopping the RN having fleets and I think we do need to move back to this model.

    An 8 fleet model is something we can and should adopt

    2 carrier groups of 10 ships (1 QEC, 2xT26, 4xT31, 1 JALS, 2FFT) = 20 vessels
    4 Standing Task Groups of 9 ships (2 T26, 4 T31, 2 JALS, 1 FFT) = 36 vessels
    1 Submarine Fleet (11-14 vessels) = 14 vessels
    1 deep maintenance fleet = 10 vessels

    (JALS is joint amphib and stores ship, T26 = current high end escort)
    This equates to 80 major ships – very similar to todays fleet but minus with a massive standardisation across platforms, In the meantime, we can supplant T26 with T45/T23 and the T31s with MCM and OPV’s.

    I personally think this is the direction of travel (certainly hope so anyway) and then you can rotate through tasking over a period of 3 to 4 years, placing each fleet in a location to achieve this.

    That’s my hope anyway

    • Pacman. Would you really want to see type 31 operating with the carrier? 2 asuw specialists (with aaw I think your saying too). That’s not enough high end escorts for my liking. At least 2 aaw and another 2 asuw would be the minimum for me for routine tasking. Sorry if I’m getting you wrong.

      Target than standardised fleets if prefer bespoke groups for each theatre, with a alternating, roving, high end CBG.

      So a gulf/Indian Ocean task force out of Bahrain (couple t31, bay, MCM, opv), far East taskforce out of Singapore (couple t31, astute), Falklands (opv, t31), Carribbean (bay, opv), Home including SMG1 – astute, couple t31s , rest opv, a t26, a t45.

        • Anthony,

          I have no problem with T31 being deployed with the carrier group personally, as long we also have 2 T26 in attendance. 4 T31 offering an outer perimeter (hopefully with Compact C4 but certainly with Wildcats and 2 T26 (45 short term) operating either flank of the carriers is quite a shield, but the flexibility of this model is you can mix and match dependent upon operation.

          How and where you deploy I will leave to other, but ultimately I see a home fleet (maybe training up to a deployment overseas), and then 3 standing task groups. With a carrier group floating as you say. To double crew, the Navy would need circa 32k personnel (which can be done by transferring RM to Army and taking headcount from Army, who cant fill it anyway).

          I do think we need more ASW assets and I am all for refreshing the internal layout of the T23 hull (say like spartan systems design) and creating a new fleet of T23’s updated, as lots of people on this forum tell me its still a great ASW hull and platform, and surely the RN own the rights to it, so why aren’t we using it for T31?

          The beauty of the T31 is it should have a reasonable standard fit, and has space to take on task specific kit (like CC4, MCM etc) as required. In my view it makes for a great outer defensive ring.

          So there is flexibility and ultimately value value for money and if we get plenty of enabling systems like mine countermeasures, shciebel 100’s, Compact C4’s, CB90’s etc that is how we make the most of these fairly low cost platforms.

          I really dont see a viable alternative for the RN it needs to go big on T31 and the enabling systems now – as it will take years to change the fleet.

          • I’m no expert but two type 26 with towed array would need to be operating at distance from the carrier to detect and chase down submarines and so couldn’t also be positioned for air defence of the carrier. If positioned for air defence then they can’t optimise their asuw capability. Also the type 31 won’t have towed array so would be heavily reliant on Merlin dipping sonar. Type 31 should be able to engage surface targets but the f35 would be more effective in this role due to its range and speed. So I think it’s only credible to have 2-3 t26 and 2-3 t45 escorting the carriers and auxiliaries.

  4. I said it before and I’ll say it now. This is why Ocean should have been retained… Serving as a mobile RFA tender for forward deployed assets… Would have been worth far more than what was realized in the sale to Brazil…

    Cheers.

    • You dont need a forward support tender in Bahrain …there is now a dedicated Naval Support Facility (UKNSF…dont call it HMS JUFAIR what ever you do!).
      It has jetty space, workshops, warehouses, command facilities, accommodation , messing facilities and admin. Everything that Jack and Jill need on a deployment to the ME.

      Dilly when she was available did provide a floating engineering support facility but it was container based. Ocean (and Dilly) was mechanically , and I use a commonly used Naval Engineering term here , shagged. The cost of keeping the obsolete machinery going was just not cost effective.
      As stated elsewhere, in Oceans case the crew was going to be used on POW anyway.

      • Tough this was a sensible move for MoD (N) being slightly old fashioned and a bit weary of the Middle East a ‘depot ship’ does have the advantage of being able to move if things go south. But landside infrastructure is cheaper I suppose and things never go wrong do they? 🙂

      • I understand and have to agree with the overall economics of the situation Ocean vs land facilities. However, in a bad situation the Ocean could have been moved offshore and become 2 acres of sovereign UK territory – the naval station cannot and is at the whims of those who run the country – now and in the future… To my way of thought, the military advantage of a mobile ship and aviation tender not encumbered by the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” far outweigh the cons here. Then I’m not a bean counter either… 😀

        Cheers!

    • This old nugget again, HMS Ocean like pretty much all Royal Navy vessels doesn’t meet basic habitability standards for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. RFA vessels require individual crew cabins of a minimum size with a large window among other things.

      The RFA does not have the personnel to go about crewing a vessel like Ocean anyway.

  5. Would love the RN to go back to fleets, with an eastern fleet based in Bahrain covering everything east of suez and a western fleet doing the Med and Atlantic.

    • That would require a large enough navy to warrant establishing separate fleets. As it stands, 4 MCMVs, an auxiliary, and a frigate do not a fleet make.

        • But do we need fleets…

          Bespoke task forces in Falklands, Carribbean, gulf, far east… Designed to meet the local need. For instance constabulary, disaster relief, minimal presence, usually as part of an international effort.

          A contribution to standing NATO maritime groups and also uk coastal defence.

          If we can add to that a high end CBG that can deploy as needed. Job done.

  6. Ocean was worn out , it was increasingly hard to get spares and exspensive to maintain her.
    She was built with a 15-20 year life span and the navy used her hard .
    Would had been nice if they had replaced her but the navy lacks the manpower.

    No one should forget the enormous damage that the Boy George Osborne inflicted on all 3 services and the defence budget in the name of austerity and compounded by shoving the cost of the SIA/pensions/nuclear deterrent and vanguard replacement into the defence budget when they had previously been paid out of the treasury special funds to make it look like we spend 2% on defence when it is actually 1.6% once you remove the above.
    All 3 services have been hollowed out and are no longer seen as long term career paths due to the Boy George Osborne actions .
    Our present defence minister admitted that the Mod needs at least another £3 billion a year to undo some of the damage done by the Boy George and ideally needs a budget of 3.5% of GDP to build a balanced armed forces.

  7. Taa Daa!!!

    Its a GP version but has had the latest updates to the weapon systems.
    It has not got the new DG Sets so it is going to have to keep using the old Valenta’s
    It will have a Wildcat as well

  8. To think there was a time not so long when we built ships just for this role.

    A modern T81 would look somewhat like the Leander design for T31. If we built just three T31 for that job it would be worth buying that smaller ship design so freeing T26 for the blue water work.

  9. Royal Navy says the ship will cross three oceans on its global deployment. Presumably this means that it will sail to South Atlantic and then cross the Pacific before heading for Bahrain across the Indian Ocean. .

    • Maybe, unless somebody is confusing the Med’ with an Ocean!

      If you’re right, it sure would be nice to see a Frigate down South again, albeit briefly.

    • Of course if the RN do a FONOP through the SCS next year, it might not get to its new home with tensions the way they are at the moment.

  10. Hi folks, it must be upsetting for our proEU friends, to see continued cooperation with UK and EU partners despite us leaving them behind. Good to see common sense prevailing despite all the negative media about UK not being in the EU club. Life goes on! Many thanks to the Dutch and support great to see articles like these.

    • Really. Or are the Dutch simply hedging their bets?
      New massive supercarriers come into service with a nation about to leave EU club. Dutch scared of military repercussions of said reasonably powerful militarily nation leaving the EU club. Dutch promise activate to the QE battle group. And the UK is supposed to be grateful?
      Surely this is just what a NATO nation and ally should do. We have been embedding our warships with US flagship carrier battlegroups for decades.
      Nothing new there.
      I would be much more impressed if our Dutch “friends and allies” actually help the UK and EU come to a mutually beneficial trade deal. Ideally one that recognises the UKs independence, sovereignty and right to self determination outside of the EU.

    • Why would we Pro Eu types be upset to see continued cooperation with our European partners as per long standing defence agreements?

      What upsets us is anti EU types inability to see the success of European partnership via the EU that has massively benefited our nation! We are also frustrated at the massive loss of sovereignty as we leave one of the most powerful trade blocks on the planet and move to begging any deal we can get off anybody that will let us have a few scraps!

      • Plenty of pros.

        Far too many cons.

        As for begging to get FTA….deary me. We are a big market we don’t need to beg.

  11. Is the crew and therefore their family going to based out in the middle East. Or will they simply rotate with different crews?

  12. What is this obsession with fleets? Its an admin structure to run things, not a means of fighting the enemy. Its ironic that many people who think the solution to getting more ships is ‘cut officialdom’ are desperate to increase officialdom by re-establishing ‘fleets’…

  13. Its not until you understand the number of Brits in the middle east do you realise how important a military presence is. Anything went pear shape and there’s 100,000s to evac.

    • Morning
      How is this playing in the US, specifically at the Pentagon and at Norfolk?
      Would the US look again at FF(X), now that is recognised that it is probable that this platform represents cutting edge surface ASW technology.
      How hard is BAES pushing this on the hill?
      Are they speaking to the yards with regards build?
      Time to find out if their is a USN desk officer in the T26 programme office……

  14. Good Morning Lee,

    The USN is in an enormous hurry to get the FF(X) into the water to cover a gaping shortfall that can’t be filled by the LCS. The first order is expected to be placed by 2020 and the first delivery is expected by 2023. This accelerated delivery schedule is the primary reason the USN is looking only at designs in the water now. It effectively knocked the T26 out of the run since it existed in design only. Also, pricing probably would have worked against it as well. The “sail away” cost being sought is ~ 900 million a copy and a USN version of the T26 would have far exceeded that with all the customary bells and whistles added.

    For the price, an ASW optimized AB could have been designed and built in yards that are running hot with AB orders. However, those yards (H.I. and Bath) are backlogged and it would have taken taken years to insert an ASW AB into the build schedule. The design needs to be built in other yards not only to stay on schedule, but to keep them in business – which is getting critical since so many defense contractors are going / gone under.

    I have no doubt that the USN would have given the design a very hard look if it had been in production already but the cost issue would probably still have sunk it. I personally think the FREMM design has a very good chance to be selected. Does everything looked for and the cost per hull is dead on. I would be very pleased to see a U.S. T26 escorting a USN CSG or doing a photo sail with RN, RAN, and RCN units but I don’t think it’s going to happen… With headlines like these:

    https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/2170452/prepare-war-xi-jinping-tells-military-region-monitors-south

    The USN is in an enormous hurry to play catch up. I think the moral of this tale is: “Don’t get caught with your skivvies down…”. You might get your hindquarters bitten.

    Cheers!

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