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“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.”

HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark.

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.

38 COMMENTS

  1. Rather than sell off these ships I would suggest (again) they are placed in readiness reserve, until such time the MOD budget is stabilised (laugh). Then, and only then, should they be sold? Though a ‘state of readiness’ still costs money, the UK could retain these valuable assets in the event of a crisis or a new government?

    • Nope. They need to be used. Trained on. Trained for. Part of strategic defence for the Northern flank inc Norway and Iceland.

      • I don’t believe Putin is interested in Iceland or Norway. He must know that such a move would quickly escalate into a nuclear confrontation with Nato. But he will continue asymmetric warfare against the Ukraine amd similarly against any of the Baltic states where he can foment pro Russian nationalist movements which ‘justify’ Russian ‘volunteers’ helping the ‘nationalists’. We need to do more of what we are doing, putting troops, Typhoons and MBT in the Baltics and Eastern Europe to show solidarity and prevent their democracies being undermined. iMO Putin wants unfettered access to Kaliningrad so expect an action replay of the Crimea and its access to the Black Sea.

        • Putin ” Bosnia (1992 – 2007)
          ” 2004 unrest in Kosovo,
          ” 2004 Georgia, Adjara crisis
          ” 2006 Georgia, Kodori crisis
          ” 2007-present Civil war in Ingushetia – Chechnya
          ” 2008 unrest in Kosovo
          ” 2008 Russia-Georgia war
          ” 2009-present Insurgency in the North Caucasus
          ” 2011-2013 North Kosovo crisis
          ” Syria (2012)
          ” 2013-present Euromaidan and pro-Russian conflict in Ukraine
          ” 2014 Crimean crisis
          ” 2014-present War in Donbass
          Putin again 3M22 Zircon, a russian hypersonic missile that will travel 4,600 miles per hour — five times the speed of sound — and will have a range of 250 miles. That’s just three minutes and 15 seconds from launch to impact.

          Sea Ceptor missile : 2,300mph, range: 15 miles
          ===
          In comparison, the Royal Navy’s Sea Ceptor missile, which is designed to destroy incoming missiles can only travel 15 miles and hit top speeds of 2,300mph.
          https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/202588

      • Money is the issue and not ignoring the elephant in the room, MOD budget shortfall. No, place the ships in readiness, which would be much preferred over watching them sail off to another navy.

    • lets just bin it all, have one uk defence force joint special forces,the R.A.F including the army air corps and the fleetair arm. an elite regiment of the paras and marines. the army has had to amalgamate regiments, its worked, so why not the rest?

  2. No Maurice you are simply wrong. These ships are a KEY defence capability and have to be retained alongside the entirety of the Royal Marines brigade.
    Money and personnel to run these vessels has to be found. If that means increasing taxes then so be it, or heaven forbid we stop sending £14 billion a year abroad in foreign aid, whilst cutting our national defences and armed forces capabilities back to nonsensical levels.
    We need to be regenerating and enlarging the Royal navy not suffering even more foolish cutbacks. Mark my words as a nation we will regret it if we allow the government to do this. We are heading for trouble and likely military defeat because of all the cutbacks our armed forces have already suffered and even more and now proposed. Just when you think it cannot possibly get any worse May and Hammond ensure it does.

    • So, you would rather rely on schemes of monetary generation, that stand as much chance of becoming a reality, as Boris becoming a Bolshevik! Not an impossibility, but highly unlikely. My proposal addresses the burning issue of the moment, and that is a crippling financial shortfall at the MOD, that ain’t going away anytime soon. Currently, the Marines look vulnerable along with the two ships, so I recommend we place the ships in readiness. Let’s face it, if a major crisis suddenly requires well-trained Marines, they could be called up from civilian life. However, the two assault ships would be gone and the UK would have to ask an alliance member to provide such vessels.

      • maurice – Your idea is totally logical and Mr Spock would be pleased but you cannot use logical thought in the political environment.
        I wasn’t being discourteous so let me explain:
        If you ‘park’ these two ships then the mandarins in the Treasury will, after a suitable time, seize on the simple fact (to them) we have shown we do not need them. Unless we have been invaded. These people do not understand ‘being prepared’ and the need to keep complicated bits of kit working and a crew trained to make them work when we DO want them to. How much did it cost to restore Bulwark from ‘deep store’? The Treasury will only pay that once.

        No we MUST keep them and every other ship in full active service. Even if that is trips to ‘fly the flag’ in Outer Mongolia. That way we keep the ‘not needed’ genie in the Treasury’s bottle.

        • You have faced me with a rethink after your response. Is it not sad, those vital components of our defence are subject to the ‘Eton Factor!’ I once had a colleague who had a huge brain and became very successful, yet he always approached political issues, with cynism and negativity. I clearly remember him applying the ‘Eton Factor’ during the Falklands war. No matter what argument you raised in defence of the British effort, he would always give out a controlled but short snort. ‘The bloody British Empire is dead and we should stop playing the superpower.’ The fact his countrymen and women were risking their lives and rescuing the Islanders was irrelevant. Just pay the Argentine to help them with the transition and stay out of it. The current British media act in a similar fashion by always finding negatives in any UK achievements. So you are right, we need to somehow keep our defence forces safe from this odious, supercilious, attitude, but it must be so entrenched, that it may never be tamed??

          • That is one of the reasons I watch as little media as possible and I advise others to do the same.

  3. US Navy LPD-17 or LX(R)…..Reliable and proven platforms; would ensure interoperability with USN/USMC and could possibly be licensed to be built in the UK. That said, UK has the same issue as the US: where do you find the money for more ships…..

  4. That’s all very well, but the RAF taking swingeing cuts to the F-35 order and the army taking troop reductions of 12,000 while the RN emerge unscathed from the cuts doesn’t really work, does it?

    • Sorry Paul but if something has to give it is the army. You have forgotten we are an island. Of course we could just find a few quid and keep what we have because in terms of expenditure it is small change.

      • Ok, so let’s have the debate. I reckon the highest risk to the UK in the near term is Putin’s ambition to recover states in the Baltic and eastern Europe ‘lost’ to the Russian ’empire’ and to gain unfettered access to Kaliningrad. Ukraine is the model – divide and separate. So I would place imcreasing troops numbers, armour and Typhoons in the Baltics and Eastern Europe as my no 1 priority.

          • So you would deploy F35Bs to Estonia at an airbase that would be a first strike target in a country that would be overwhelmed in 48 hours. Why not put them on a ship that can move hundreds of miles in a day and is protected by ships and submarines. Even better how about you send a few tomahawks via an SSN the most potent weapon system the UK possesses.

        • Paul bearing in mind Germany’s expenditure on defence is well below the magic 2% and they show no sign of being worried or taking any action against the threat of Russian aggression can you explain why the UK many more miles away should reduce its core maritime capabilities to prop up the defence of eastern Europe.
          Our puny army even if increased by 25% would be overwhelmed by the shear weight of numbers. Our battlegroup presence is very similar in concept to our stationing of troops along with the US in Berlin during the cold war. It showed resolve to defend a country but in real terms NATO then as now would need to go nuclear very quickly. When our spending was at 5% at the height of the cold war we had enough real warfighting resources for just a week or so. You are living in dream land if you think the UK has the will, money or capability to act as a major player on the continent. We cannot even recruit 82,000 soldiers. Our aim should be to support NATO in Europe and provide a quick reaction capability. Currently providing small battlegroups is just right and does not require us sacrificing the rest of the military to pay for anything greater.
          I am also afraid given our current crop of politicians if Russia walked into the Baltic states tomorrow I am not sure we/NATO would lift a finger. The bluff is would the Russians dare against a nuclear armed NATO i.e The US. Even if we funded and stationed a well equipped UK armoured division on the continent this would not make any material difference to this equation.

    • the argument that should not even be made at this point because NONE OF THEM SHOULD BE GETTING CUT ANY FURTHER.

      This is all insane. It has got to stop. Arguing among each other in the divide and conquer manner about “he’s getting cut so that person should too” is part of the problem. All three services need to be telling govt that enough is enough now. It’s been 20 years of non stop cuts and a complete gutting of capabilities under this Tory Govt especially.

  5. Until we grasp the nettle of deciding what our strategic priorities as a nation are, and then determining what force mix that requires we then need to fund it appropriately. If not we will forever salami slicing a budget that doesn’t fit. There may be need of an a mighty big bbq for the sacred cows tgat could be slain as a result.

  6. Very impressive chatter but are any of you making a difference? One poster is even making recommendations but to whom? Very impotent indeed. You would all be better placed campaigning for what you want.

    Under legislation approved in 2015, the UK government is legally required to spend 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) on overseas development assistance (ODA), popularly known as foreign aid. A lot of that is used to secure overseas contracts. Think it should be cut? Then campaign for as much.

    Or as an alternative, spend hours in circular arguments here.

    • It’s called debate and discussion TH. Have you truly run out of so little to say that your now attacking people simply discussing defenses matters simply because they aren’t sitting at the table?

      You really reach new lows every time you open your mouth.

      • And every time you open yours, your spelling and grammar drops to a new low. Please don’t embarrass yourself by campaigning. You would show yourself for what you really are.

        • TH – And when you attack ‘the man not the ball’ (ie the point in discussion) “You would show yourself for what you really are”

          Which is, for the removal of all doubt, a pedant little spelling nazi with a rather too developed and unjustified sense of superiority

          And please do run a grammar check on my English ….

          • If you read carefully, you will see that others always attack me first. To be expected from neanderthals I suppose.

    • Good. So do I. And I also took part in the rally to save the NHS attended by thousands. Perhaps those believing in greater defence expenditure should consider doing the same.

      • TH – ‘save the NHS’? From what exactly? Its huge inefficiencies that make it a big black money pit that never stops demanding? Despite that fact you Lefties never like to discuss the problems that are actually not of the NHS’ making. They are due to exceptional demand on the A & E departments in Winter and the inability to move elderly patients out of wards and into care / respite homes. When the Tories offered a reasonable solution to fund elderly care it was shouted down by the Corbynistas, vested interests and the Liberal Left and it damaged them electorally. The electorate seemed more interested in Corbyn’s sweeties then May’s reality check. So be it.

        But the other reality is the NHS has become to some extent the ‘International Health Service’ because it isn’t structured to ask the right questions and then get paid from those who do not qualify for free health care. Like foreigners for example. Add in the extra demand from unplanned for migration and you make a bad situation even worse. health care is a key part of our infrastructure and if we cannot control migration then we shouldn’t be too surprised at the outcomes.

        The NHS has also now become the first, rather than the last ‘in extremis’, port of call for people with a cut finger needing Elastoplast rather than go to a GP or, God forbid, look after themselves.

        For someone who gobs off endlessly about the £45 Bn defence budget and throws around your Taxpayer Alliance credentials it is rather ironic that you shed that diligence when it comes to the £124 Bn a year (and rising) NHS budget.

        In short you demonstrate the classic selectivity of the Left ….

        • I have never voted Labour or Lib Dem in my life. So your comments about me being left wing are a little silly aren’t they?

          • TH – To use one of your own favourite expressions: ‘If you read carefully’ you would see I didn’t actually accuse you of voting in any way whatsoever or accuse you of being ‘left wing’ either.

            I said ‘you demonstrate the classic selectivity of the Left’.

            Do keep up. But as usual all we get back from you is either Ad Hominem abuse or crude attempts at diversion. Its why I (and I suspect others) treat your posts with an attitude of something between humour and disdain

        • Chris, there is something we really need to be campaigning against. Over 20% of Britain is a foreign race (20% non white back in 2011 from the census), and they are still letting more in. A few and no one would have been bothered but it has went too far. Can anyone imagine China, Korea, Thailand, Pakistan, Japan, etc. being over 20% a foreign race and still letting more in? We cannot go along with this any longer either.

          • What are we going to do, just keep allowing immigration until we are outnumbered in our own country?

  7. Of course if all Nato relies on is the nuclear option then Putin knows we won’t use it just because he walks into the Baltic States.
    With out a strong conventional deterrent nuclear is useless.

  8. With the MOD wanting to save money why are we cutting a elite fighting force? can some one please explain to me why the RAF Regiment has not been done away with, the army could take up that role with a normal infantry Regiment? allowing the RM to do what they do best fight anywhere in the world with minimum support.

  9. Is there anyone left who wants to reverse the trend in the decimation of the Royal navy that has continued year on year since the Falklands war? http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2016/11/andrew-wood-we-cant-keep-running-down-the-navy-by-stealth-and-pretending-that-nothing-has-changed.html

    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/202588 Prevent the cuts, please re-post this link, prevent MP group think that cutting assets is sensible or sustainable – keep HMS Ocean / HMS Bulwark / HMS Albion / all the mine hunters / The 1000 marines / The type 23s / Sustain the R & D and replacement ship building projects – http://www.military-today.com/navy/type_054a_class.htm http://russianships.info/eng/today/ http://petitionmap.unboxedconsulting.com/?petition=202588
    https://www.globalfirepower.com/countries-listing.asp

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