Pompey News: "1SL Warns That The Royal Navy Faces Losing Its Credibility"


War Hero
The Times


"We must fight to stay credible, says Navy chief"

Britain must commit to using its two new aircraft carriers and replace its nuclear deterrent or fall out of the first division of global military powers, the head of the Royal Navy has warned.

In the first public shot across the bow by the head of one of the three Armed Forces before next year’s defence review, Admiral Sir George Zambellas said his service faced “the fight of our generation” to ensure it remained credible.

The Navy needed to keep a mix of warships, submarines, fighter jets, Royal Marine vessels and surveillance aircraft at a “sensible and credible level of scale”, the First Sea Lord said in a speech last week.

“Make the Royal Navy ‘un-credible’, and we cease to be a first division player,” he said. “Our responsibility to the Navy we command and lead, our responsibility to defence, and our responsibility to the nation we serve, is to fight to deliver a credible Navy.”

The intervention is the first by Admiral Zambellas since the impact on the Navy of cost-saving cuts — the product of the last defence review — was singled out for concern in December by General Sir Nicholas Houghton, the head of the military.

Robert Gates, the former US Defence Secretary, has warned that Britain risked no longer being a full military partner for the United States because of the capability that has been lost.

The most controversial decision of the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review was to freeze for at least a decade the Navy’s ability to operate aircraft carriers armed with fighter jets.

Two carriers are being built in Scotland, with the Queen due to launch the first vessel,HMS Queen Elizabeth, this July even though it will not be fully operational until the end of the decade. The fate of the second £3 billion vessel, HMS Prince of Wales, will be decided in the next defence review, which takes place next year after the general election.

Options under consideration will be either to use both vessels on a rotation — one at sea and the other based off the UK for maintenance and training — or to mothball or sell one carrier.

The number of F-35 fighter jets that will fly off the carriers is also in question. The Government has committed to buying 48 — one carrier could carry three times that number — but has yet to place an order. Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, said last week that the first order of 14 planes was “imminent”.

Admiral Zambellas, speaking last Thursday at Trinity House, London, to an audience of sailors and two Defence Ministers, indicated that anything less than keeping both aircraft carriers was not a credible option.

His words appeared similarly unwavering about the need to maintain a continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent.

The Conservatives support a £20 billion plan to buy four like-for-like nuclear armed submarines, but the Liberal Democrats are not convinced, with alternative options ranging from scrapping Trident to cutting the fleet to three.

Admiral Zambellas said Britain had a responsibility to “deliver our [nuclear] deterrent and to deliver proper carriers”. “I choose my words carefully: proper carriers, not just hugely flexible levers of military power, but strategic instruments of national political and diplomatic power too,” he said.

The First Sea Lord welcomed a commitment by David Cameron last month to a “full spectrum” Navy, which he said should include “proper carriers with credible numbers of jets, properly supported... credible numbers of people”.

His comments appeared relevant to another key decision for the Navy about the next generation of frigates to escort its carriers and nuclear deterrent. The combat ships also enable sailors to perform a variety of other tasks, such as counter-piracy work and protecting Britain’s shipping lanes. The Ministry of Defence has yet to finalise a deal with BAE Systems on the construction of 13 Type 26 frigates — a move that was expected by September but may also be pushed back to form part of the next defence review, according to analysts.

Admiral Zambellas delivered his speech as the Navy, Army and RAF prepare to argue their case for funds at the 2015 defence review. The Ministry of Defence needs to secure a larger budget if it is to deliver the Armed Forces that are currently envisaged by 2020.

The First Sea Lord said the strategic landscape was changing as Britain prepared to end more than a decade of land-based operations with its withdrawal from Afghanistan later this year. “Our strategic direction will be re-defined as our nation emerges from recession, blinking into the sunlight of global opportunity,” he said.

“We must argue relentlessly that if we want to be a credible nation, then we need a credible Navy.”"

We must fight to stay credible, says Navy chief | The Times

Let's hope that this doesn't degenerate into the usual inter Service backstabbing session; and I note that Adml George hasn't attempted to do that. I trust that CGS and CAS will follow his lead on that.

Arguably, the salient point is that if the Defence Budget was raised to 3% of GDP, it isn't exactly unaffordable.


War Hero
Maybe this thread should be renamed, "First Sea Lord's Portrait Gallery."

Reference what 1SL is saying, the last three 1SLs said the same sort of thing. The first of them ( Admiral West) is still saying it.
...........Words are cheap George, actions are expensive. If you want a credible future Navy you had better find a way of retaining some of the people currently heading for the "Exit Door" and soon - future platforms without "SQEP" personnel are hardly credible