It was reported earlier in the week that Brazil and Chile were considering purchasing Royal Navy warships, the MoD has denied this.

An MoD spokesperson said:

“We can categorically confirm that there has been no engagement with either Chile or Brazil in respect of early sale of Type 23 Frigates or the two LPDs.”

Most notably reported by IHS Jane’s Navy International, it was claimed by the outlet that Brazil and Chile have “quietly been given notice of the potential availability of RN frigates and amphibious ships”.

Janes report that UK officials have “discreetly advised” that some of the frigate fleet in addition to the two Albion class landing platform docks could become available due to budget cuts.

Recently we received a press release from the MoD claiming that the Royal Navy is “growing for the first time since the Second World War”. Make of that claim what you will.

This comes not long after the Brazilian Navy reportedly sent a proposal to pay for helicopter carrier HMS Ocean in instalments.

According to Brazilian journalist Roberto Lopes in an e-mail to us, the ship’s cost to the Brazilian Navy is fixed at £80.3 million pounds (312 million of Brazilian Reais).

Commander of the Brazilian Navy, Admiral Eduardo Leal Ferreira, claimed that the price of Ocean seemed “convenient”.

HMS Ocean is the UK’s only helicopter carrier and the fleet flagship of the Royal Navy. She is designed to support amphibious landing operations and to support the staff of Commander UK Amphibious Force and Commander UK Landing Force.

According to someone we spoke to currently on-board the vessel, there are rumours that this is one of a number of possibilities:

“People have been talking about what will happen to the ship after 2018, there were rumours that the vessel might be sold to another navy but there’s been no mention of what navy that might be.”

The helicopter carrier was constructed in the mid-1990s and commissioned in September 1998.

This comes not long after recent Government and MoD press releases regarding the Royal Navy made claims that the Royal Navy is “growing for the first time since the Second World War”, those claims have now vanished.

In one of the most notable releases republished across a few government pages regarding the naming of HMS Medway (the cached original can be found here), the Government claimed:

“The OPV programme is sustaining around 800 jobs in Scotland at BAE Systems and is maintaining the vital skills needed to build the new cutting-edge, anti-submarine warfare frigates, the Type 26s, for a Royal Navy growing for the first time since the Second World War.

However, in the most recent version, that claim has rightfully been edited out and only a quote by Fallon remains making a similar albeit not as outlandish claim.

We even tweeted about this earlier in the Month.

It would appear that standalone references to a growing Royal Navy have decreased across the board with the remaining examples that we could find being included in quotes by officials and therefore, not really all that removable.

Earlier today, we reported on potential plans to cut the number of Type 23 Frigates (one of the type is pictured at the top of this article) in Royal Navy service, read more about this here.

Recently, we drew attention to claims made by multiple ministers, MP’s and other officials that continue to insist the Royal Navy is growing.

 

This isn’t true according to the the UK Armed Forces Equipment and Formations document released by the Government detailing statistics on vessels, land equipment and aircraft of the armed forces. It states:

“At 1 April 2017 there were 73 vessels in the UK Armed Forces: 64 vessels in the Royal Navy and nine in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA). This is a reduction of three vessels since 2016 following the withdrawal of three RFA vessels: two Small Fleet Tankers and one Forward Repair Ship (RFA Diligence).

Patrol Ships (18 Inshore and four Offshore) make up the largest proportion of Royal Navy vessels, with 22, as shown in Chart 1 below.

The total number of Destroyers and Frigates (19) as at 1 April 2017 are also in line with SDSR Joint Force 2025 commitments.”

Further, according to the Defence Select Committee, the UK has a “woefully low” number of warships. Chair of the committee Dr Julian Lewis advised earlier in the year that the Government risked leaving the country with fewer than 19 frigates and destroyers.

“The United Kingdom will then lack the maritime strength to deal with the threats we face right now, let alone in the future. We are putting the MoD on notice that it must not let this happen.”

Additionally, Sir John Parker the author of an independent report on the National Shipbuilding Strategy, has indicated that the frigate fleet will fall below 13 frigates unless the Type 31 Frigate build starts soon, something that appears unlikely for a project described by a minister this month as still in “early pre-concept phase” with no design having yet been chosen.

Julian Lewis asked during a Defence Select Committee session on the National Shipbuilding Strategy:

“So what you are saying—and this is a critical point—is that unless we start building the Type 31e frigates in parallel with the Type 26s, there is little chance of not reducing below our existing figure of 13 frigates all told.”

Sir John Parker responded with one word:

“Correct.”

13 frigates are due to leave the service at a rate of one a year between 2023 and 2035. There remains serious concern about the funding and timetable of the fleet that will replace them.

There is also fresh speculation that the Royal Navy will lose the two Albion class landing platform dock vessels. Among other speculated cuts is a reduction of 1,000 to the Royal Marines and the retirement of two minehunters and one survey vessel.

The loss of more ships isn’t growth, no matter who is tallying it up.

42 COMMENTS

  1. What really is the point of defence select committees, no matter what problems or gaps they highlight, nothing gets done about it.

    • Robert, the point is so that when something goes wrong, the government and MoD can’t pull the “we were never advised that the gap should be filled” card. It’s a way to ensure they can be held accountable, although it would be preferable if the government listened to them before any major disaster.

  2. If they built a like-for-like replacement then it would be a good idea. Think of the ongoing spares supply including the training and support for the next 15 or so years.

  3. Letting other countries know that ships will be for sale is not the same as having talks with them.

    More spin and lies from the MoD under Pinocchio Fallon.

  4. It depends what you mean by the word “engagement”, I am sure their has been no official talks between representatives of the UK and Brazilian governments. However their has probably been chatter on unofficial terms along the lines of “if these ships became available would you be interested?”

    Cuts are coming as the MOD struggles with its finances, but I don’t think any decisions have made let alone approved

    • engagement is an odd word to use in this context, so i’m pretty sure it is being used to hide something, otherwise why not use ‘discussion’ or another everyday word.

      I wonder what engagement means.

  5. Nothing new here, just a lot of use of words like “speculation”, “claimed” & “rumours”. All a bit meaningless really.

  6. Sack phil jones !!!! Sack half the admirals they only think of themselves ! They are not pro navy they are leeches bleeding us dry .

  7. From the tone of that rebuttal we can see that the amphibs are certainly gone… they just haven’t shopped them around for buyers yet.

    • I don’t think so. As another poster mentioned the saving would be minimal and the fall out losing the capability bad. Cut the RM by 1000 and the savings start to add up

      I’m hoping the appalling press means we lose some escorts instead.
      We also have several light infantry battalions ripe for culling.

      • You have to remember that the cuts were agreed by all 3 forces, which means if 1000 RM are going and potentially 2 or more ships, it means that at least that amount of savings will be made from the RAF and Army. Considering the Army doesn’t have many high single cost items, you can expect to see a lot more than 1000 soldiers go.

        • Culling infantry battalions is one worst mistakes you can make. People keep trying to say “the Army can be regenerated quickly in wartime.” That is only true if you think of soldiers as cannon fodder and bullet stops not professionals. Proper NCOs and infantry officers take YEARS to to hone to their best in peace time.
          Their are however bus loads of command rank officers in all services who need to be given walking papers. Not to mention half the MOD civilian staff could go without being noticed.

          • All true. My point re infantry battalions was made on the situation, with 31 Battalions in the army, only 11 are assigned to front line deployable brigades. 1 supports uksf. 3 act as garrison units. 3 are for Royal or Public Duties. 4 or 5 are being shredded to become defence engagement units with much of their manpower re assigned, leaving 7 or 8 left.
            The endless defence cuts to the army influenced by the “capbadge mafia” and the government’s policy not wanting to lose capbadge names due to the bad publicity sees the army with too many infantry battalions and not enough of the combat support arms like signals, engineers, artillery and the like to actually combine these battalions into effective deployable brigades.
            So the “joined up thinking” mod wants to cut highly trained Royal Marines yet we have battalions of soldiers forming no part of our deployable brigades and with not a single combat support arm regiment supporting them.
            These battalions could be reduced and the manpower used to create additional signal engineer and artillery units.
            Looking at 16AA Brigade as just 1 example, it’s supporting arms have all been reduced to the point it’s component battalions cannot be supported properly.
            The sane is true with 3 Commando Brigade.
            Both of these elite formations should be properly resourced.

          • Also true. I have a tendency to forget how many UK units are kept on the books just to avoid the PR mess of having their colors cased.

      • I’m not sure the savings would be so minimal. I underestimated Google and an old post on ThinkDefence that I thought I would never be able to find came up as the top result on my very first search so here it is…

        http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/05/rn-rfa-ship-annual-running-costs/

        It’s the annual running costs, I assume for 2015 given the date of the post, for RN & RFA ships. The Albions top the list by some margin – more than 50% more expensive than a T45 which is the second most expensive on the list.

        • “The average annual costs of operating only include those which are directly attributable to the Ship’s Unit Identity Numbers e.g. Personnel Costs, Fuel, Port Visits, Travel & Subsistence etc.”

          An LPD has a lot more people on board hence the additional costs.
          Add to that the AGRM landing craft crews who are co opted to the ship when embarked and the cost of any embarked Booties and a Battle Staff then the costs are going to be more.

          A fairer comparison would be fuel usage and maintenance but those figures are not given.

          • I take your point but I’m surprised that the higher crew complement on HMS Ocean didn’t push her further up the list.

            Still, one thing the list shows is that a modest costs saving isn’t something that is going to protect the Albions. Look at how far down the list of running costs RFA Diligence was and the minimal cost savings from decommissioning her didn’t save her from the chop.

  8. If there are any cuts to armed forces then let them fall on highest ranking officers. We do not need a general for every infantry battalion or an admiral, rear admiral or commodore for every ship.
    surely the current size of armed forces should mean
    3 admirals, 4-5 rear admirals, 7-8 commodores and about 40-45 captain ranks.
    instead the RN alone has nearly 200 of these ranks, ditto the same in army and RAF respectively.
    Then there are civilian contractors and MOD personnel we do not need to have over 100,000 civilians on MoD payroll supporting an armed forces of only 180,000 personnel (including reserves).
    It is not just the MOD guilty of this flagrant inefficiency councils, education and NHS are full of non jobs and ridiculous titles.
    NHS has patient flow managers in most hospitals that are paid £35-43k per annum and are not even professional nurses or have any understanding of clinical issues. Some trusts have teams of these people equalling -+25 posts, enough to open up and run a hospital ward or two extra. These are in addition to the clinical site team, who are professionally trained and do understand clinical issues.
    we need to take a surgical knife to the public services, cut off the waste and then use the savings to pay for more on the frontline. More nurses, more police, more hospital beds, more teachers, more airmen, soldiers and sailors and more equipment.
    if only Mrs may would give me a call. I would do this job for free!

  9. Ok – so at the risk of sounding silly – there should be no reason to cut headcount as both the army and navy are below their target headcount anyway – if we are seriously looking at cutting our largest elite force (silly but lets discuss) then surely we would be better moving the whole RM force to the Army who are 4k personnel short anyway. This would mean 8-9k marines (inc reserves) moving under army command and the army transferring their 4k headcount shortfall in return.

    This would mean a rebalancing of force but would also mean that the Army has a force closer to 87k, but fully resourced and the navy get between 2-4k additional heads that it will need to recruit. We can then take the long overdue step of merging all the elite battalions into a single Commando Division of 4 high quality brigades totalling 22k personnel, which in turn ensures our special forces have a secure pipeline of talent and the UK has an elite force that can be deployed by sea, land and air.

    We need a single force structure – as I genuinely do not believe anyone with any logic would reduce their best assets when 1) they cannot recruit open positions anyway, 2) have inferior troops across the whole force 3) have a government who have a tendency to want high quality elite/special forces that they can boast about.

    Royal Marines, like the paras and Gurkhas do not grow on trees and the qualities required for these individuals would seem to be rarer these days than ever before.

    If your force structure has open headcount then like any other organisation – you should lose that headcount until times get better – not reduce your most potent asset.

    • Update – as of Sept 2017 the 3 services have a shortfall in trained strength of 7k personnel, so really there is no need to make anyone redundant, unless of course the MOD and service chiefs believe we do not require fighting fit elite personnel.

    • I’m not sure about the single force structure as I think it takes away the sense of belonging?
      I do think you and Daniele are right about fighting infantry. If we are at the point where we can only put 20-25,000 people in the front line then let’s have them in three or four self contained, well equipped brigades based on the best of what we’ve got and that’s the RM’s, the Para’s and the best from 16 A A B. together with the best equipment that money can buy.
      While we at it let’s divest ourselves of the 300 or 400 senior ranks that really cannot be necessary in this day and age.

      • I take your point and think that it does need careful thought. I think we are now at a point where we have a single elite force (let’s call them commandoes for the sake of it).

        Other parts of the military have had to merge and now these two can merge into a single commando Force. My personal preference is to make the paras a smaller Force as part of SFG and for no direct entry going forward. The Royal Marines would become our commando force and you would then have a 3 tier elite of RM commandos, paras(SFG recon) and SABS (special air and boat service).

        This way we keep the skills and sense of belonging as well as a career path into special forces. The commando force can expand to a 4 combat brigade division and provide a full air sea land capability at the required scale.

        For me I think the current situation is demoralising and we need a major organisational change to stop the rot and it needs to be top down with the leaderships taking their share of the cuts.

        • I think there’s a very sound idea coming together here. What do you reckon our chances are of convincing the powers that be ?!

  10. I agree, if it s about Naval manpower then transfer the Royal Marines to the army.(I say this reluctantly) .Then the RN can get extra man power.
    Three thoughts on reducing the cash problem.

    1) F35B order just 70 , RN only. RAF then orders additional Typhoons and Hawks.

    2)
    The real cash issue is Trident renewal, personally, I wouldn’t renew Trudent. This will enable additional Astutes and Type 26s , and if we want a minimal deterrent, then orders F35A with free fall weapons. Minimum Deterrent.

  11. The problem is the top bass never think as a collective, they always focus on their part of the equation.

    In their heads, if you move the marines from the navy to the army, it means something has to go the other way or the navy loses out, there is no ‘that is better for the overall armed forces’.

    As the 3 services get smaller and smaller, it might be time to ask why we need 3 seperate services, since they act collectively, why not just merge them all into one armed force structure that is designed around a single view.

    • It would involve cutting a lot of top bass, and job cuts across various political regions, which means it would never happen.

      • Time to take the plunge on this. We can get so much more by creating 6 all encompassing cross functional divisions that are self sustaining and have clear leadership, all controlled and supported by a 7th core division for logistic training etc…

        The logic is becoming inescapable now in my opinion.

  12. Yes i think you’re point about moving the Marines to the Army is a good one.. would cause controversy but i think with the shrinking numbers of personnel could be a good move for many reasons. So possibly by 2025 you could have 2 armoured infantry brigades, 2 strike brigades, 1 air assault brigade and a commando brigade as things stand.. equivalent to two divisions you could say but also needing to push the trained army reserves up to that figure of 30,100 personnel at the same time.

  13. “We can categorically confirm that there has been no engagement with either Chile or Brazil in respect of early sale of Type 23 Frigates or the two LPDs.”

    Certain then.

  14. Politicians of all hues are lying b******s. Well done to the campaigners for showing them up for what they really are. The government is a cesspit. They cannot be trusted.

  15. For Brazil or Chile to buy something has to be in their defense budgets, because they do not take the trouble to find out where that money is going to come from before throwing this kind of information.

  16. The usual smoke and mirrors from the MOD, who believes them certainly not our potential enemy,s who laugh their socks off when these claims are made. We are being taken for granted by the Government who insult our intelligence and put the Nation at risk.

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