“Nor can there be any substitute for the Albion class vessels: the Committee is adamant that no other ships can be used as alternatives without assuming an unreasonable level of operational risk.”
The above excerpt is from the Defence Committee report ‘Sunset for the Royal Marines? The Royal Marines and UK amphibious capability’. Dr Julian Lewis, Defence Committee chairman, said:
“In January, we were told that the Albion and Bulwark were not due to leave service until 2033 and 2034 respectively. That such irreplaceable ships are in line for deletion fifteen years early demonstrates, yet again, the desperate inadequacy of the Defence budget. We must reinstate a target of around 3 per cent of GDP – the percentage which we spent right up to the mid-1990s, long after the ‘peace dividend’ cuts, at the end of the Cold War, had been made.
Gavin Williamson deserves credit for seizing back control of the Defence dimension of the NSCR process; but, ultimately, he will fail without extra funding from the Treasury. Unless he secures this, the Royal Marines will be reduced to a level far below the critical mass needed to sustain them as a high-readiness Commando force.
Nor can there be any substitute for the Albion-class vessels: the Committee is adamant that no other ships can be used as alternatives without assuming an unreasonable level of operational risk.
In initiating the Modernising Defence Programme, the Ministry of Defence now has an opportunity to take a different approach – and to open up these drastic and dangerous proposals to proper Parliamentary scrutiny.”
The report concludes:
“Along with the Royal Marines, the Albion class ships lie at the heart of UK amphibious capability. There is no substitute for these dedicated and sophisticated platforms. Attempts to create stop-gap solutions, with vessels that are not designed for the purpose, will result in the assumption of wholly unacceptable levels of operational risk. We understand that the Royal Navy and Royal Marines will need to adapt, as they move towards what the First Sea Lord has called a ‘carrier-centric future’.
However recent defence reviews have made this adaptation a reductive rather than a constructive process, informed largely by resource constraints and consequential manpower shortages, rather than by any coherent strategic concept or any identifiable operational requirements.”
The full report can be read here.