The plan to base a Type 23 Frigate in the Gulf will likely follow the same method used to station minehunters in the region, with the ship’s company flown out to take over the vessel on a rotational basis.

The current British presence in the region is based primarily around Operation Kipion, a long-standing presence to promote ‘enduring peace and stability in the region’, and ensure the safe flow of oil and trade. A permanent presence of 4 minesweepers forms the Mine Countermeasures element of this tasking with a Bay class vessel acting as mothership.

At the RUSI Sea Power conference Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“In the Gulf we have our new naval support facility in Bahrain at Juffair, and our commitment to the port of Duqm in Oman, all of this signals we’re investing heavily in the Middle East at a time of unprecedented uncertainty.

And I can today announce that we will be extending that commitment by sending T23s to the Gulf from 2019 as an enduring presence.

Over in the Asia-Pacific, for the first time in recent memory, we will have three Royal Navy vessels in the region supporting our allies and we’re continuing to strengthen our bi-lateral relationships with Royal Navy helicopters deploying off the French Jean D’Arc, our submarine working with the US – HMS Trenchant in the High North and our Royal Marines recently training with the US Marine Corps in Guam.

We’re weaving a web of partnerships, demonstrating our global reach and world class capability.”

Britain is consolidating a new support facility in the Sultanate of Oman, a historic British ally and partner. Alongside HMS Juffair, the Duqm Port facility is set to enhance Britain’s military capabilities in the Middle East and wider Indian Ocean and the use of the new support base and a Type 23 frigate is a step change in British naval capability in the region.

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Riga
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Riga

Someone has very high spirations when the best we can do is send a mine hunter to escort foreign vessels through the Channel. Will it be a TAS?

Could this be a way to undermine any suggestions of further cuts in the T26 order?

Andy G
Guest
Andy G

An armed drone can do this.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

I don’t really care what vessel we use to escort foreign warships through the channel. In fact a rivers is perfect for the job, waste of a frigate or destroyers time and fuel. I would rather the RN spent its money and major surface warships time on areas that actually make a difference to our influence and security. The Russian navy would piss themselves laughing if we tied up a major warship just for when they decide to toddle up and down the channel.

maurice10
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maurice10

This is clear evidence of ‘Global Britain’, which should result in an increase in principle surface vessels. The Defence Minister has made references to a possible increase in the fleet, and ‘Global Britain’ will not be able to deliver; if the fleet remains at currently planned numbers.

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Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Have other major powers done this before and flown crew out to station?

What are the issues?

I know we do it with Clyde but not a major warship?

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Forward deployment looks like the future model for global presence. Why waste time on long sea passages to get on station?
https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/mounts-bay-completes-maintenance-period-in-charleston/#respond

Pacman27
Guest
Pacman27

Hi Daniele

I believe the GErmans do this as a matter of course and the LCS of the USN all have several crews assigned.

So it is a current operating model that seems to work

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Ok cheers Pac.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

A statement of intent and good news. I am guessing the ship selected will have Wildcat with Sea Martlet and Sea Venom and Sea Ceptor to look after itself and maintain sea control in the face of possible Iranian surface, air and missile threats.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

And a non tailed 23 too?

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Be interesting to see which ship is selected. Do the TAS ships normally sail with Merlin?
I seem to recall from somewhere 2019 was the ISD for Sea Venom.

Sceptical Richard
Guest
Sceptical Richard

Nice to see but yet another commitment to place even more stress on equipment, logistics/supply chain and personnel without increasing resources. Typical politician type of thing to announce. And the Service Chiefs keep saying yes to everything and people keep haemorrhaging from the service…

Paul
Guest
Paul

Agree we need more of everything but surely by basing it out there it actually decreases stress on whichever vessel is selected and the wider frigate fleet i.e. less time spent in transit.

Nick Bowman
Guest
Nick Bowman

In time, we should position Type 31s in the Gulf and Indian Ocean where the submarine threat is not as significant. That will release our Type 26 and 45 ships for carrier escort and ASW duties closer to the U.K.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

1SL already implied as such in the Gallipoli speech a few months back.

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

Have they found an additional 6 frigates down the back of a very large sofa that we know nothing about?
Principle is sound but the current defence reality is something amiss at the moment.
First build 10 type 31 frigates then forward deploy.
Leaving the 8 type 26 as our carrier escorts and ASW units.

Helions
Guest
Helions

Why not keep several of the youngest 23s and use them as the forward deployed vessels even as the 26s and 31s are brought online? I understand the manning challenges and cost but even the USN has decided to SLEP even the oldest ABs to keep fleet numbers up.

Cheers!

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

The maning problems are extream, the RN literally cannot man another major warship hull at present. All this talk of extra hulls is just pretty but meaningless words. Even one extra hull as planned will be impossible without some major work on the training pipelines for the people that make ships go, getting the right people will be a lot of effort and about 500 more bodies.

Helions
Guest
Helions

Manning is most definitely the critical factor here and getting crews trained up will take years. However, that time is now available since it WILL be years before the new vessels come online. HMG should turn on the taps NOW to have crews ready and manning increased by the time each new ship is commissioned into the fleet.

The USAF is facing such a cockpit shortage that we’re recalling 1000 retired aircrew (voluntarily for now) to man staff jobs to free up more personnel for the squadrons…

https://www.military.com/dodbuzz/2018/05/24/air-force-could-recall-many-1000-retirees-active-duty.html

Cheers!

Lusty
Guest
Lusty

All sounds very impressive, and of course, the RN is doing a superb job with the numbers they have. But one can argue that the current fleet is stretched far too thin, particularly with regard to escorts. Should we look at increasing T26 numbers? Probably. SHould we look at increasing T31 numbers? Most definitely. 8 of each would replace the T23 like for like (remember the 3 sold to Chile?), and help take the stress off of the current fleet. Increasing that number further would obviously be even better, particularly if we can push for that magical 30+. Of course,… Read more »

Helions
Guest
Helions

Very interesting look at previous peacetime buildups for both our navies…

http://cimsec.org/peacetime-naval-buildups-difficult/36492

Cheers!

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

Right then its finally been anounced. The RN has been forward basing 4 x MCMV in Bahrain for many years. Every six months they do a rip out and crew swap. Pre and post swap the vessel undergoes a number of audits on equipment , performance and capabilities. When the new crew takes over they carry on just as the old crew did. Day to day maintenance is done by the crew. More in depth maintenance is done by the Fleet Support Unit who also do a 6 month stint in country. Any indepth or specialist maintenance is done by… Read more »

Riga
Guest
Riga

Have a like and informative.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

As ideas go it’s not a bad one then.

Helions
Guest
Helions

Nice rundown!

It’s cheaper for the USN to keep its forward deployed 7th Fleet vessels in Japan for most of the same reasons. Plus it’s subsidized by the Japanese govt. Those Middle Eastern nations we protect should do the same.

Cheers!

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Thank you for, as usual, the informed explanation.

This is a win win all round then it seems.

PKCasimir
Guest
PKCasimir

Bahrain is the HQs of the US’s Fifth Fleet. The ships assigned to it vary but to say that a T23 based in Bahrain would be the most powerful warship in the area is just plain ridiculous.
Further, only Brits would think that the basing of a T23 in Bahrain matters one iota in the balance of naval power in the area or that it actually has any real purpose other than for an undersized, undermanned Royal Navy to pretend that it is still a global force.

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

No thats not what I said. “A T23 based in Bahrain will mean the RN has the most powerful warship based in the area by a long way” No USN vessels such as Arleigh Burkes are based in Bahrain, Dubai, Doha or anywhere else in the Gulf. They may be part of the 5th fleet but they are not based in the 5th fleet area of operations. The only vessels permanently assigned to 5th fleet are Cyclone Class, Avenger class, Mk 6 PBs. The BDF have a OHP which is their flagship and is a capable vessel, but a T23… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) Gunbuster – You have to realise that there are two sorts of Yanks – People like ‘Helions’ who can enter into discussions, add helpful information, be constructive and enjoy a bit of banter. But then very sadly there are idiots like PKCasimir and Elliott who are just gobby Yanks who for some odd Redkneck reason see any statement by us Brits as some sort of insult and a challenge to their patriotism. Which they then weaponize with added Hollywood history. Their attention span is incredibly short and they have this remarkable ability to be able to write but… Read more »

Pacman27
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Pacman27

We have circa 80 combat vessels with an average crew size of 100 and I would go with 4 crews for each vessel. 1 on station, 1 working up, 1 R&R and 1 on shore duties. This would give us a requirement for 36000 sailors (inc command) which I think we could all agree would probably be where the service needs to be. This is a 50% increase in current levels but as gunbusters will probably point out the service is losing skills as it just isn’t offering the right blend of career and work life balance that is needed… Read more »

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

You can do that with 3 crews or less. You also don’t need to cover every vessel in the fleet. Ships in refit only have a few people onboard mostly engineers. Operators get skill fade sat in a dry dock not doing OPS Room stuff. Ships based in “Home Fleet” for lack of a better description don’t need 100% manning. If you where assigned to do GP duties you could bring in the relevant skill sets if required. If you are not doing ASW why have TAS Apes onboard? No helo assigned to you then you don’t need a flight… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) As usual an informed comment Gunbuster. There is nothing wrong with having ships with as few crew as needed (by crew I include rotations). New and future ships like QE, 26 and 31 all have or will have proportionately fewer crew than their predecessors. I know its an extreme comparison but QE will put to see with some 1600 crew + air wing. The new Ford Class needs 4,500 and they think that is being efficient compared to a Nimitz. (No criticism inferred of either ships just talking crew numbers here). When an economy is delivering high employment… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) ** 1600 crew incl. air wing **

Pacman27
Guest
Pacman27

Understood Gunbusters, but it does allow for us to plan to have enough of everything we need and keep everyone happy, and obviously its a rough average (carrier 800, Patrol ship 20).

I dont want people like you leaving, because you dont get the right work life balance and pay/benefits. Right sizing the force is key to this.

I think 32k sailors (not inc Marines) is where we need to be in reality.

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

The issue with 32 k is where do you employ the people who are shore side. The Maintenance Groups in the dockyards are a shadow of their former selves. They are now “Partnered” with the civilian BAe/Babcock staff. On the catering side the use of Pay as you Dine, run by civilian companies means that there are less jobs for chefs. Ops room and CIS departments also have few shore side job opportunities. Standing on a main gate checking ID does not a happy Jack and Jenny make. Anyway most of that work is done by MOD Plod. Lots of… Read more »

Pacman27
Guest
Pacman27

Gunbusters, I think change has to come and the service needs to have shore position rotations that allow for this. It’s part of an overall retention package that keeps knowledge within the force but also keeps it fresh and relevant, making sure it is an employer of choice. You raise good points on engineers, but isn’t there also a shortage of cooks in the RN isn’t there? I take your point on the outsourcing of roles, but this is short sighted in my opinion, as it takes away the ability to have working rest periods and to have a working… Read more »

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

Sea time varies between branches and rates. Junior rates do more sea time than senior NCOs and WOs. Normally a sea job on a ship is a 3 year draft. In that time onboard the ships management team need to ensure that the time away from base port and time in base port comes in at 660 days away or less per 1100 days on the ship in a rolling 3 year period. So to achieve this you have standard leave periods and additional time where you may be off the ship doing courses or in the squad system ashore.… Read more »

David E Flandry
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David E Flandry

The RN had about 36,000 personnel, including marines, in 2010 before the Strategic Defense Review(AKA cuts) of Cameron and Osborne. People were hoping the RN would actually be strengthened a bit…..

Keithdwat
Guest
Keithdwat

I’m sorry, Jeanne D’Arc, the cruiser that was decommissioned in 2010, or is it the name of an operation or something? I’m sure there’s a reason