In a significant development for the Royal Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced a shift in how naval readiness is reported.
The announcement came in response to a question by Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, John Healey MP, and was delivered by James Cartlidge, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence.
Historically, the MoD reported the number of days each Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship spent at sea. However, following a comprehensive review, it has been decided that ‘sea days’ will no longer be the standard metric.
“The review also considered the ever-changing threat environment to ensure that the information published remains appropriate and does not prejudice the security of the Armed Forces. The MOD considered security as part of its review and has determined that sea days are no longer appropriate for publication, therefore henceforth, the MOD will publish “readiness days” rather than “sea days” data.”
I’m not sure why, either. But still, the MoD will use ‘readiness days’ to provide what it calls “a more accurate” reflection of operational effectiveness and capability.
Understanding ‘Readiness Days’
‘Readiness days’ encompass the days when ships are available and delivering operational impact, irrespective of whether they are at sea or docked. Cartlidge explained, “This is a significant step in ensuring our naval metrics accurately reflect the modern operational realities. Readiness days will capture the true essence of our naval capabilities, even when vessels are not at sea.”
Here’s a table showing Royal Navy and RFA Surface Fleet Readiness Days, 2013-2022.
- Afloat Support: 2013 – 2487.2 days, 2022 – 1192.8 days.
- Carriers: 2013 – 365 days, 2022 – 599 days.
- Frigates, Destroyers, and Offshore Patrol: 2013 – 6633.8 days, 2022 – 5757.8 days.
- Inshore Patrol: 2013 – 730 days, 2022 – 368 days.
- Littoral Strike: 2013 – 1904 days, 2022 – 1473.8 days.
- Military Data Gathering: 2013 – 1670.2 days, 2022 – 1431.8 days.
- Seabed Warfare & Minehunting: 2013 – 4692.2 days, 2022 – 2869.2 days.
Examples of Readiness Days
- Frigates stationed in strategic locations, like Norway or the Gulf, ready for immediate deployment.
- Offshore patrol vessels in the Caribbean or Africa, prepared for disaster relief operations.
While the shift to ‘readiness days’ is presented as a move towards greater accuracy and transparency, there is speculation that it may also be a strategic manoeuvre to avoid negative publicity. Historically, reports of Royal Navy and RFA ships spending zero days at sea would lead to adverse headlines and public perception issues.
By adopting the ‘readiness days’ metric, the MoD might be cleverly sidestepping this problem. Although officially attributed to security concerns, some analysts express doubt, suggesting that the change serves more as a public relations tactic than a response to security needs.