Statements made by the government explicitly claim that the Royal Navy is growing, but are those claims accurate?

Many ministers, press releases, official statements and the like over the last year or two have been found to contain the phrase “a growing Royal Navy”. Former Defence Secretary Fallon was always especially keen to stress that the Royal Navy was growing.

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).

It gets a little muddier though as Guto Bebb, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, recently responded to a written question in Parliament, outlining the fleet size.

“Based on the records held, the number of Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliarysurface vessels in each of the last five years was:

YearNumber of Vessels

This would appear to show a sharp decrease in hulls since 2013 and in the period when claims of “a growing Royal Navy” were shouted from the rooftops however Bebb added that current planning will see the number of hulls in the fleet increase:

“On current planning assumptions the number of Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary surface vessels in the next five years is:

YearNumber of Vessels

All this does however is highlight that the fleet size is only playing catch-up with where it was five years ago and even then, isn’t going to surpass the 2013 figure.

Mark Lancaster, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, said:

“For the first time in a generation, the Royal Navy is actually growing. It grew in manpower last year and will continue to grow over the next couple of years, and not just in manpower—the size of its surface fleet is also growing. The latest of the offshore patrol vessels arrived in Portsmouth only this weekend.”

According to the Defence Select Committee, the UK has a “woefully low” number of vessels. 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 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. That, I must say, fits in with the projections I have seen and it follows from that, therefore, that we have to consider the best way of building two classes of frigates in parallel, rather than in succession.”

Sir John Parker responded with one word:


In conclusion, the Royal Navy technically is growing if you can only remember as far back as a couple of years ago but it should be noted that the numbers are playing catch up to where they were five years ago and aren’t going to exceed the 2013 fleet size.

The Royal Navy, overall, has shrunk in the last five years.


  1. It is also growing in tonnage…Yes we have less ships but we now have heavier ships.
    Statistics…make them read what you want.

    • why is it the government e.t.c think that a new o.p.v is anything to be chuffed about? these yachts should be armed to the teeth. then there may be something in it. as for the t 31 the sooner details are published the better, personally i think the t 31 will NOT be the means of increasing front line vessels as every one hopes it will be.

      • A Royal Navy presence is just that a presence, such as a patrol boat escorting a Russian carrier through our waters, any shot of vodka thrown in anger is an act of war, so the craft need not be armed at all in that instance.
        In anti-pirate role they would be sufficiently armed, although they rarely ever seem to be in that role.

    • we’ve ships that should be armed. for example the archers were designed for a 20mm cannon the albions are seriously big ships there is more than enough space for missile/ torpedo systems and a main gun to be fitted. as for the carriers no missile defence/offensive capability, thats another design screw up.

      • No it is not, it is a choice. The carriers do not requirte a PDMS as that is provided by the escort. And putting missiles or torpedoes on the LPDs is just silly.

        • That’s just silly.
          The Carriers need to have a realistic chance of defending themselves. They certainly needs to follow the USN carriers with layered defence including an Anti Torpedo system and PDMS.
          Pardon the expression but for UK to assume the present arrangements are adequate suggests arrogance.

        • We all know that there will be times when the carriers are acting alone, this is almost a certainty as it was with the Invincible class. In times of war I am sure carrier battle groups will be deployed, but anyone attacking us is going to do it “pearl harbour” style and take out our key defence in their first strike.

  2. Time for a UK frigate partnership, along the same lines as the Aircraft Carrier Alliance building hull sections in multiple locations across the UK. The Type 26 sections could be built and fitted out in Scotland and the Type 31e could be built and fitted out in an English Yard spreading the work and increasing the skill sets needed to build these ships across the UK.

    The Type 26 order needs to go back to 12 to 13 hulls as the Type 31e specification as planned is not a comparable replacement for the Type 23’s they will be replacing.

    If the UK ordered 10 to 12 of each class then the RN frigate fleet would have a very bright future indeed.

    This would be possible with a relatively modest increase in Defence spending over the next decade.

    In the current climate maintaining Defence spending at around 2% of GDP is likely to become politically impossible.

    • There is no planet on which the RN would be able to ‘man’ (please forgive the sexist term) that number of hulls.

      So what do we need?:

      Yes, up-gun the OPVs – they are perfect for all of the constabulary duties. If they are successful perhaps add another 4 or 5. These are realistic hulls with added survivability and are considerable ships.

      Invest in rotary surveillance devices – these should be on all OPV, T26, T31, T45 and even on other ships.

      Bring the RFA into the RN – it is ridiculous to have two different bureaucracies – these ships are fantastic and provide excellent support for RN and other Navies

      Ensure we bring in the new fleet support ships

      Build three/four new Marine support ships – buy them from the US with two hovercrafts for – proven track record (San Antonio Class Amphibious transport ships) or design and build our own.

      Lose the Bays, ocean, and LPDs

        • Nope its not.
          When i joined people looked at the RN as a secure job for life or at least to the 12 year mark with the option to sign for another 10.
          Now people join up with the intention of doing 5 years and getting out. And they do just that.

          Years ago the RN had a great recruiting drive that was aimed at what was termed as minorities. It failed dismally. Lots of uniform changes to account for cultural requirements. Turbans instead of Berets for Sikhs etc…when I talked to Sikh kids about it they had no interest in joining up. Their cultural ethic was get a good education, work hard in further education and get a job that did not involve the RN.

          Poor terms and conditions, over stretch, a really bad pension scheme, poor MQ Accom ( although single Accom has improved dramatically), poor pay, the list goes on and on.
          Why would you want join up now?
          I used to recommend it …not anymore though

  3. I would say to Mark Lancaster that credibility in Government is at stake. After Salisbury especially there needs to be an immediate demonstration of intent to defend the UK. He should order an additional River 2 OPV. Action this day.

    • Seeing as Russia have around 80 submarines, I would have thought an order of asw platforms would be better than a toothless patrol vessel surely?

        • To make a T31 just basically ASW capable you can add another 100mil to the price.
          Quietening down the on-board equipment.
          Bow sonar
          Changes to the command system
          Additional Air weapons
          Torpedo Tubes (Not worth the effort)
          Additional crew billets
          Towed array??

      • It wouldn’t really matter if Russia had a 1000 submarines. The moment an act of war occurred between us and them, its NATO verses Russia+ and is handed over to the diplomats. Warfare between our countries is a thing of the past. If one ship was sunk it would escalate very quickly.
        To that end, we are dealing with smaller countries in ship to ship warfare, or even non-countries as in pirates, fishing violations, etc

      • I suppose Type 21 minus the aluminium, GT’s and torpedo tubes and plus Sea Ceptor and MTU diesels = Type 31. We need to decide on the gun for these and crack on with building them.

  4. Paul and TH. I think you both make a good point We need to free up all serious warships but can I suggest that we just keep the Batch 1 River class and make the A/S platform an AIP sub. built under license. Half a dozen for service in the North Atlantic ?

    • Yes, also a good idea.
      My point was really about the need for a prompt assertive response of some kind. Not the same as a knee jerk reaction of course, but something which is compatible with current strategy and programs, that is useful, doesn’t screw up the budget and can be delivered quickly.
      Keeping Batch 1 Rivers is the fastest thing we could do. Even an announcement that we are retaining just one of the Batch 1 Rivers and up gunning it to 30mm would help.

      • I would say that if we do get an increase to the budget, I would like to see a fleet of 8 or so diesel electric small subs combined with a asw version of the T31 purely for North Atlantic patrol and deterrence. Then an uplift in P8 and QRA numbers if money allows.

        • Agreed on the AIP subs, the UK needs to get into the diesel electric game fast to rapidly get sub numbers back into the teens ASAP.

          Only 7 SSN’s is simply not enough to defend the UK, if we can agree on that, apart from building a fleet of AIP subs does anyone have a better idea to increase UK sub numbers in the next 10 to 15 years?

        • We had them, they were the Upholder class, we built them, then sold to Canada. Submarines are very limited in tasking, very expensive in everything else. I can see why the Government or even the admiralty is not keen on building lots of them. At £250 million for a type 31, I am hoping that we get a good load of them once international sales are boosted enabling cheaper sourcing and bulk purchase.

      • size wise the batch 1 rivers are comparable to some of the corvettes. a refit with a 76mm guna couple of torpedo launchers a small a/a system, or towed array. could at least make them useful

        • Think I would go the other way. Retain the Batch 1s as they are until you can build another 3 up armed Batch 2/3’s with hangars in place of the crane – Black Swan sloops?

      • Respond against who, Russia?

        If they did it, they knew they would be caught, and hence would be expecting us to respnd as you suggest.

        If they did it.

        • As I understand it the nerve agent has some kind of Russian print. So of Russia did not do it then they are responsible for manufacture and custody of the substance. It may be the latter and we should signal that we are open to discuss the ‘rogue’ possibility and provide samples.

  5. Can someone who knows the pipeline better than me, show the addition and reductions to the fleet over the coming years. Obvious additions are the OPV B2’s, PoW and the Tides/ Not sure when the next Astute is due.

    • Audacious should be joining the fleet later this year, with the rest expected with 2 year intervals. Ajax is expected around 2024 if everything goes to plan.

      I’m struggling to actually find an in service date for the T26s at the moment, everything seems to say “early 2020s”. The most optimistic date I’ve found is 2021, although that may just be the launching of HMS Glasgow, not her commissioning. I’d expect her to be in service from 2023 at the latest though

      The plan for the Type 31s is one every year, starting in 2023. Optimistic? Perhaps, but definitely doable, especially the Leander concept as its based off a design BAE have already built

      • Strangely enough the net loss since 2010 is a fair bit smaller than the seven years prior to SDR 2010 and the quality of the new ships is far better.

          • Grammar school education Paul? Calculus and logs and trig and……bafflement… least in my case.

          • Yes. Sadly it didn’t manage to knock the sarcasm out of me…
            Agree your point about quality. Smaller fleet is ok up to a point if available to deploy numbers are maintained.

  6. It’s clearly important to keep the pressure on in the public eye to preserve the budget and even increase it. But numbers of hulls somewhat misses the point of capability. Take the RFAs, they augment the warship fleet, and make them more effective and sustainable. No point having a destroyer that fires off a few missiles and then has to go back to base to replenish and refuel.

    And look at the splendid QE carriers at a toal cost of £6-7 billion, how many “average” frigates or destroyers are they worth, in a compact but balanced fleet, 3 each compared to the T45, 10 each compared to a T31? If just they were converted to a nominal hull value, that’s 10-20 for an extra 8-18 average hulls.

    And how many average hulls are the T45 worth each, considering they’re capable of tracking and targettng up to 2,000 aerial targets, how many “average” air defence frigates are they worth each – 3 perhaps? For an extra 15 average hulls in total. Then there’s the expensive but hopefully world class T26, not to mention Astute which even impresses the Yanks.

    So the combination of adequate support ships and very capable warships, not forgetting the F35-B and the Merlins is in itself a “force multiplier”. The “average hull” equivalent count might be 150, or even higher.

    I like what we have, or will have, as long as it’s balanced and stays balanced. It’s fit for purpose.

    • To be honest Dads army I dont subscribe to the “our kit is better than the rest” argument.

      T45 is woefully under armed and cant defend itself properly never mind attack anything of size. Many of our European allies have comparable ships that have better fit out and can do the BMD thing as well (Huitfeldt class is certified BMD I believe, FREMM is excellent, F’s are Aegis etc etc.). I would also say its pointless tracking 2000 missiles if you only have 48 VLS and no way (CEC) to communicate and manage other ships in the fleet to create a screen.

      I am not saying our kit is poor – but nor is it worth 3 of other peoples, thats a mistake the US learned in Vietnam and ourselves in the falklands.

      We desperately need to up arm the whole force (not just navy, land as well) and then start to build more platforms.

      F35B managing Taranis Magma UCAV’s would be a prime example of where we could do a force multiplier and maybe get ahead of the game.

      • I’ve got to admit I did wonder what’s the point in tracking and targetting all those aerial targes if there’s limited ability to actually do anything about them all! OK for peacetime, but any sizeable conventional war could be a problem.

        Yes’ I’d go with the arm up neccessity, problem is will the RN.

      • My understanding is that Type 45 isn’t designed to attack anything but rather to defend itself and a carrier task force against air attack and anti-ship missiles. In this context I would swap out some Aster 15s for Camm and add a dozen more VLS for Aster 30 Block 1 NT to give protection against intermediate range ballistic missiles. As regards ASW self defence why not carry Merlin rather than a Wildcat and for surface threats upgrade Harpoon to Block 2. Leave land strike with Tomahawk or its replacement to the Type 26 and Astute. I would be tempted to up arm the River 2s to a 57mm.
        We seem to be slow starters when it comes to networking to create a screen. I think Sky Sabre does this. Maybe there is not the same perception of threat at sea. I would be tempted to put a 57mm on the River 2s to give some AA defence and significantly more punch.

        • This is where I have a real problem with RN doctrine. An asset must first be able to protect itself from all threats before it can impose itself. It can’t do any of the fancy stuff if it is sunk by a sub or even another destroyer that does have some offensive capability.

          The whole of the RN surface fleet is inadequately armed for even a mildly capable force (SAN formidable class would probably sink a T45 in a 1 on 1 interaction).

          Sorry but we are just not being sensible with this layered defence model, especially given that 1. We don’t have CEC and 2. Subs and swarms have a horrible habit of getting through at which point you must be able to fend them off.

          • First I have to confess I have no service background so I can’t really argue the doctrine thing. I understand your argument but doesn’t it lead to specifying unaffordable all purpose Arleigh Burke type ships?
            I’m thinking chess analogy OPV = pawn, type 31 = bishop, type 45 = queen etc. Position your pieces sort of thing.

          • I wish this doctrine was different, we need to be able to field cheap, autonomous platforms that can carry weapons into battle. You could mount VLS or equivalent on a barge, or maybe a semi subersible and just have it out there.

          • There is a great article on float on float off platforms on TD and having never heard of them before, its a real eye opener.

            I would swap out our Point class for these in future and fit them for task as discussed in this article.

            Great option and well researched (as always by TD)

      • 48 SAMs is plenty for 1 vessel. We only fired about that many in the entire Falklands War. No point in having 400 VLS cells when you can’t fill them all or you get sunk before using them all. Not sure how the Type 45 can’t defend itself, it is designed to stop air attacks and has the worlds best radar and SAM system to facilitate this. 4 of the 6 ships also have Harpoon (same as Type 23). They are poorly equiped for fighting subs but since they are not intended for that who cares? They do have SSTD decoys and can carry a Wildcat or even a Merlin to help prosecute subs and or small boat attacks. They are single function ships that are not intended for general warfare only for throwing an AAW bubble around other ships. I would rather have 6 Type 45 and 8 Type 26 than anything else. Type 45 is a better AAW platform than the Dannish ship and Type 26 will be better ASW ship than a FREMM. You are right that a Type 45 is not 3 times better than say the Dannish destroyer but they don’t have 3 for every Type 45 they have 3 all together (half our number). The French will end up with 2 proper AAW destroyers and 2 less effective FREMM conversions. other nations destroyers may have more weapons but they all have less of them, France – 4, Spain – 3, Australia – 3, Denmark – 3, Italy 4 (2 without VLS).

        • David I Don’t think you can say it is better than the danish Huitfeldt class as that has been shown to be bmd capable and it is half the price.

          A T45 is not a terrible ship, but let’s not get carried away 10 FREMM or 6 T45 cost about the same I know which I would have.

          I guess where I am at is that I would prefer an all rounder, which incidentally I believe the T26 will be – as I see it being capable in all 4 realms of naval warfare, especially once the radar is upgraded. So we are getting there just want to ensure we don’t all get carried away with the argument that our kit is so much better that we don’t need as many – we do, scale is important and we need 30 escorts in my opinion.

          • Hi Pacman,the Type 45s are certainly better than the Dannish ships which are not as cheap as people seem to think. The Iver Huitfeldt class advertised cost does not include most of the weapons and sensors which where recycled from previous ships. They are also built largley to comercial standards and lack the survivability of a true warship. The Nils Juel was delivered in 2014 with a 2nd hand 76mm gun in place of the desired 5 inch piece, its CIWS and MK41 vls where both uncertified for over a year after delivery. Even the not really up to standard damage control system was incomplete on delivery and the secondary steering controls where not fitted at all. They even had to add 20 crew to each ships compliment to man the things properly. I can’t see the appeal of all round ships like the US Burkes. AAW and ASW are fundementaly incompatible. AAW requires a very high mounted radar and ASW requires a very quiet hull each of which is a huge cost and design driver. How much do you think a Type 45 would have cost with Type 26 level noise reduction measures on top of everything else? or a Type 26 with Sampson/Sea Viper? Then there is also the issue of having your AAW screen out of position chasing a sub when an air attack hits or your ASW ship launching lots of loud SAMs when a sub is approaching. We do need some depth but I would settle for 24 escorts and an 8th SSN, cheers.

  7. Would it not be better to get what is supposed to be in service actually in service. Too many recent ships have tech problems and are laid up awaiting repair. Rather than quoting me totals of ships ,tell me now exactly how many capital ships are currently seaworthy from that total. I bet it less than 50%

  8. Pleasant field is somewhat correct although even if entire fleet was working we would still have inadequate numbers.
    The type 45, needs about £200 million each spent on them.
    Mk41 vl missile system and missiles. Upgrade the main gun with 5 inch and fit RAAM or sea ceptor for point defence missile system.
    Also would like the RN to fit the Italian anti torpedo anti mine rocket system fitted to their FREMM class. A point defence against Russian subs.
    It is high time the RN increased its fighting power.

    • Eh no they don’t. £200 million is a huge sum, what are you planning to fit tractor beams? 2 8 cell MK41 vls (strike length) and the associated fire control upgrades to launch weapons from them is about £25 million. CEC capability is also about £25 per ship so £50 million spent so far. Project Napier work already planned is about £250 million total or £41 million per ship. So for £90 million you can fix the engines add MK41 vls and upgrade the tracking software for BMD engagements. Even if you include the cost of 16 Aster 45 or SM3 for the new vls and 8 new ASMs to replace Harpoon (LRASM is £2 million a shot) it will not cost anywhere neqar those sums.

      • In a posting above you want us to have single purpose escorts and carriers with no self defences. This is a recipe for disaster; one which history teaches us the RN does all too well.
        Under present arrangements if your T45 or T26 gets knocked out or breaks down you are left with no option but to scuttle back home. Our bluff might be called because there is no SSN present.

  9. $7bn in savings announced by Hammond yesterday. Suggest he spends all of that on defence. Upgrade or replace Sentry and an extra type 26.

  10. One other thing is that the RN has to get away from its rule of three which belongs in the pre-Cold War era, it needs to be more like a rule of two, and even then the non-operational half to be far quicker getting back into service at need.

    If that means more money spent on bases, repair refit and maintenance facilities, and base infrastructure then so be it, and work on reducing the working up cycle as well.

    • 3 Crews to 2 ships is the way to go, this allows the ships to be sweated a bit more without tiring out the crews and their families. Even a 1 on 1 off crew system is better than what we currently have. This would require a change – The crew would have the name – not the ship, which would change name with whatever crew was in it – at the end of the day its the crew that makes the ship which is otherwise a grey bucket…

      The other thing is the crew probably has to become more involved in the ships maintenance as it used to be – but as I am not a sailor (never have been) , this is somewhat an intuitive guess and not something based on fact or knowledge.

      • Yes, more crews and make more of them, plus increase R&R and shore leave at the same time, maybe hot-shifting crews in theatre with just a day or three undeploying.

        If there’s a recruitment problem, the RN need to make it more attractive.

        • No hot swapping – essentially 8 month tours with 4 months working up /uk waters and then 4 months in theatre before returning the ship for the next crew to take over and repeat. Means that each crew gets at least 4 months shore every year and 4 months close in. Clearly this will need tweaking but you get the gist of it, far better harmonisation – better life and hopefully retention.

  11. Manpower for the RN needs to increase. Some of the “efficiency savings” previously made need to be looked at. Handing over roles to private contractors may be cheaper in terms of money spent, but if that means that someone leaves the Navy due to a lack of time spent at home, then all the time spent training them is wasted. I know there will always be operational considerations that require folks to be away. But there needs to be a decent amount of shore and at home postings.

  12. So what do we need?:

    Keep the T26/T31 order the same

    Yes, up-gun the OPVs – they are perfect for all of the constabulary duties. If they are successful perhaps add another 4 or 5. These are realistic hulls with added survivability and are considerable ships.

    Invest in rotary surveillance devices – these should be on all OPV, T26, T31, T45 and even on other ships.

    Bring the RFA into the RN – it is ridiculous to have two different bureaucracies – these ships are fantastic and provide excellent support for RN and other Navies

    Ensure we bring in the new fleet support ships

    Build three/four new Marine support ships – buy them from the US with two hovercrafts for – proven track record (San Antonio Class Amphibious transport ships) or design and build our own.

    Lose the Bays, ocean, and LPDs

  13. I think I’m coming to the conclusion that the T31e has to be at least ASW ready for when there’s budget for a future upgrade, which means that needs to be in the design from the beginning, along with extreme modularity. All for the initial price of £250 million, it’s not asking for much after all 😎

    • Type 31 will not be designed to be a quiet hull towed array ship. The RFI asks for FTR a bow sonar. Don’t know how much they cost but if you carry a Merlin HM2 as well you have a good ASW platform. We could use more Merlins. Think its a matter of keeping the faith.

      • Yes, we need more Merlins. Not easy getting a cost, but I’ve a vague memory of seeing it estimated some time ago at £100 million each all in including upgrade. Not cheap!

          • Costing is so difficultl to do. You can get, made up figures, a £3 billion upgrade on 30, then a £1.3 billion on 24, then a £300 million on 28, and you wonder what state they’re all in, how m uch each one actually cost, and what would be the cost if you had to replace new at today’s prices? With any luck it’s MOD Defence Secretary sleight of hand to fool the Treasury into giving more money than otherwise it would.

            Then of course you get an OPV which might have cost £116 million but does that include everything fitted, and if it hadn’t been for the TOBA what would it really have cost (but is there an offset cost already towards the T26), and you have this huge hunk of bristling hull which gets everyone’s attention that maybe cost £120 million, getting oohs and ahs from some people including some of the more intelligent media, with some helicopter sat on an unhangered deck with the relatively small insignificant almost unnoticed helicopter that quite likely cost more than the entire ship, and actually justifies the ship’s existence.

            Ho hum.

  14. As far as I see it the problem with the lack of hull numbers regards the Destroyer and Frigate fleet can be traced back to poor decision making going back years,it seems to take an excruciating amount of time to get new classes of Ships from paper to the water.When the MOD started looking for an eventual Type 42 replacement we joined the NFR90 Project (failed) then we joined the Italian/French Project Orrizonte ( Horizon) again that failed although obviously a lot of work spent on that was used to good effect in the Type 45’s.The Type 22’s were an improvement on previous Frigate classes due to the fact that they seemed to have plenty of room for upgrades and growth,but in the post peace dividend climate they were simply scrapped or sold after relatively short service lives.The Type 23’s have been a definite success,although not sure if losing 3 to Chile for peanuts was a good idea.As for the Type 26 Frigates again the powers that be have spent the best part of 20 years faffing about and getting sidetracked by the GCS concept instead of actually getting around to building the things – the first steel should have been cut 15 years ago,the fact that it took till last year is simply a mickey take of mammoth proportions in my opinion,we could (and should) have had them all in service by now.

  15. Get Rosyth involved – use the English and NI yards which helped with the QE class.

    We can build 2×31 and 2×26 a year this way

    MARS ships should also be built in the same way at the same time

    Spread the build, spread the expertise, spread the workers

  16. The Mars ships are critical to the future of the RN and I am not sure they have worked that out yet.

    If we want mor warships something has to give and that something is the amphibious and mhvc fleets and ultimately the OPV’s.

    mars need to act as a LPH/LPD/SSS and probably a hospital – the only design on the market I see close to that is the Karel Doorman. 8 of these and we have a real capability, standard platform and release a number of platforms to make way for more escorts and subs.

    We can’t do everything like we used to – but we can do most of it as well with a bit of good old British ingenuity, A KD style built on the Tide hull with ship to shore connectors, 6 merlins and a 2k lane mètres as well as SS is a just what we need.

  17. I can’t help thinking that there must be a way to up arm the River2 and reclassify as corvettes. If possible, the cost should be a fraction of a new ship and yet would give a decent increase in numbers and capability.

    I would think something like a RIM for self defence and an upgraded sonar and you have a decent escort for less vital ships, such as supply ships. I assume the onboard helo could handle the depth charges/torpedos to go on the offensive against subs/ships

    • I do however suspect the reason it hasn’t been done is the fear of it resulting in a cut in the high end escorts, which should be stupid thinking but clearly isn’t.

  18. Our first priority should be the maintenance of one robust carrier battle group in home waters, able to deploy in extremis with six or so first-rate escorts within a week or ten days of the order. We also need to be able to sortie four SSNs in about the same time frame. I think we should be able to do that, and support the force with appropriate RFAs.

    Our second priority should be the deployment of a small squadron of lesser ships to the Middle East ona semi-permanent basis. This strategy would enable us to focus our main assets at home. Type 31s and mine sweepers would be perfect for this Middle-East force.

    I see everything else as gravy. OPVs should be useful for fisheries protection and constabulary duties. Amphibious ships would useful only for small unopposed landings and disaster relief. I don’t think they could be considered essential. In short, I’m happy with the direction we are going providing we build all the Type 26s, the seventh Astute and at least five Type 31s.

    If there were extra money, I’d build more Type 31s but I’d equip them with powerful radars to serve as pickets for the carrier group.

  19. Think differently.
    Imagine for a moment you could create a Navy from scratch
    imagine you have a country with great intellectual skills and potential
    Imagine you have limited Human Resources
    Imagine you regard the safety of those limited human resources as paramount
    Imagine your only concern is capability and effectiveness
    Imagine you possess an open mind to ideas with potential
    Imagine you backed some of those

    Perhaps adopting the way companies such as google see the world, a world where AI and machines take care of more and more tasks could solve the basic issue


    Machines are expendable, dependable, and most importantly politically defendable.

    FINALLY, BEFORE EVERYONE POO POO’s all this with valid reasoning around the need for humans, because machines can’t possibly have the capacity, remember the likes of steve jobs and what they have created…from a standing start. anything is possible if you think differently.

    • I think it is important to have people in the loop and for us to ensure we have humans making key decisions on life and death, but I do think automation can help our country (not just the military) be competitive with those countries who have a larger population and to this end agree with your view.

      The UK can be super competitive again, if it adopts automation faster than any other country – not just militarily but across all aspects of life

  20. For me, priority for any extra money if we get it has to be subs and anti sub platforms. Russia has 80 or so subs, we have 6/7 and limited asw frigates. How could we stand a chance, even as good as astute is reported to be.

    • More subs would be good but there would not be sailors to man them. Say we had a fleet of 6 diesel subs for UK waters and that 3 would be available at any one time. Now consider adding that to our current sub hunting resource in the North Atlantic: say, half our Type 26 fleet plus the coverage of one or two of the Astutes plus the capability of 7×24 hr coverage from a fleet of 9 Poseidon P-8’s plus Merlin HM2 on QE and a fleet of OPVs and Type 23//31 capable of refuelling the Merlins. Diesel subs would be a nice addition but I think we have got the priorities right with the P-8s.

  21. In regards to escort numbers/ lethality, I see the way forward in automation as I have previously stated. I see a T26 as a mothership, controlling a couple of automous mini attack subs patrolling below, air surveillance with a mini crows nest function from ship launched aav’s, and then something based on Rolls Royce’s autonomous boat concept fitted with additional mk41 and seaceptor tubes tagging alongside as a missile barge for protection against saturation attacks. This would provide a hugely effective and lethal mini escort fleet all delivered from one capital ship. We have all the technologies in development, just need a big push to bring it all together and would be more cost effective AND lethal than just building more hugely expensive high end capital ships that soak up years of build time and manpower we just don’t have. That is my dream….


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