Shrinking Navy

Seaweed

War Hero
Book Reviewer
1. I gather there is a NATO squadron busy circumnavigating Africa, presumably spreading joy wherever it goes, which contains warships from US, Canada, Germany & others but NOT the RN. Whether this is because we haven't a ship to spare or we have sized up that chatting up African states is a waste of time, money & diesel oil of course I don't know. Ask your MP!

2. I believe that many civil servants (and voters) only see warships as toys for naval people, and are unable to see the RN as a vital power and influence projector for the UK; let alone that one day we might need to defend ourselves at sea AGAIN.

3. The new EU treaty will effectively strip us of our power to act alone and the politicians wish to make sure that this is so.The common EU foreign policy will be to give Gibraltar to Spain (regardless of the rights of the Scorps to self-determination under the UN Charter) and to give the Falklands to Argentina (ditto). In both cases this is motivated by a desire to take us down a peg for showing the rest of Europe up by standing up to Hitler in 1940, and for finally wrecking the Napoleonic dream of a continent subjugated to an unelected dictatorship.

4. When Admiral Luce resigned as 1SL there was a picture in the paper the next day and that was the end of it. A noble gesture of no tangible effect at all.
 

bucket

Badgeman
FLOODQ said:
If its true I'm afraid after 30 plus years service I'm off to Spain to live!

An island nation without a navy - hopeless!
Hear Hear! I may be joining you - 2 1/2 yrs to first pension point think it may soon be time to go!
 
OSLO said:
That's what comes from not having a single member of the Cabinet who ever served in uniform, much less a dark blue one. Add to that the anti-RN sentiment that Brown left in the Treasury, and you have a drive to cut the RN back. But with a population who seemingly don't even care when we're fighting a bloody war (literal, not metaphorical), what is the Government to do? The electorate was dumb enough to vote them in at the last election. Let's see what the next test at the Polls shows us.
To most of the population, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are remote side-shows, news of which is usually buried inside newspapers or follows the latest antics of overpaid celebs on TV. They haven't affected the price of fish or anything else in the shops although a few people appreciate they have kept down the price of oil.

I predict the next test at the polls will show the same head-in-the-sand disinterest in defence that was prevalent among politicians and the general public when disarmament was rife during the lead-up to the First and Second World Wars, Korea and, indeed, the Falklands. However, the next time we will lack the trained reserves and infrastructure to be able to regenerate our forces in time of need. We have already 'sold the family silver'.

One way of inviting trouble is to dismantle your own defences. Few people in 1934 imagined that another world war was only five years away; after all, it had only been 16 years since 'The war to end all wars'. Now we have politicians prescient enough to dismiss any possibility of major conflict within the next ten years. Such is the arrogance of those who have no time for history or its lessons.
 
The key to the manner in which the Navy is being treated is in BR1806. A significant cornerstone is Joint operations; the RN contribution. The CVFs will be central to achieving that aim; and very good it will be too. Inevitably, without new money (not simply slicing the defence cake differently), they are going to distort the Maritime (Naval in old money) component of the Budget. Hence the erosion of DD/FF strength (and the "bigger, more capable" argument is rather weak). Traditional "blue water" Naval presence will likely be sacrificed. After all, NATO/EU/USA will gladly cover the gaps, won't they. We are all "partners" and "citizens" of the so called global village, aren't we?

For those of you with more sense than to pay good money for it here http://www.amazon.co.uk/British-Maritime-Doctrine-Ministry-Defence/dp/0117729108 , I transcribe the salient points in Chapter 1 here:

A Joint Approach

Maritime doctrine as discussed in this book is not simply ‘naval doctrine’.
While this edition of BR 1806 has been edited at the Maritime Warfare
Centre under the auspices of the Naval Staff in the Ministry of Defence and
is, in that sense, a single-Service statement of doctrine, it is not, nor could it be, concerned solely with matters of a naval nature. The maritime
environment is inherently joint
. Air power is as vital to operations at sea as
it is to the conduct of military operations ashore. Naval forces themselves
exist to influence events ashore
; they have never operated strategically in
an exclusively naval environment. This book is not, therefore, about ‘sea
power’. It is, rather, about the maritime dimension of joint operations. An
air force fighter aircraft and an army infantry battalion may well be
components of a maritime force because the word ‘maritime’ refers to the
environment in which they are operating, not to that institutional part of
the UK’s armed forces that might be providing them.

Since the Cold War the focus of maritime attention has shifted towards
littoral operations in support of operations ashore (arguably this
constitutes a return to pre-Cold War circumstances). For this reason there
is an increasing emphasis placed on joint operations and the concomitant
need for each Service to understand the modus operandi of the other two.
Joint operations in the littoral present a complex mix of opportunities and
challenges that will at times be difficult to meet. However, the Royal Navy’s
traditional flexibility of approach and its instinctive reliance on initiative to
achieve maximum effect sit very easily with the manoeuvrist culture that
guides military operations today. Both the joint approach and manoeuvrist
thinking are essential elements of the British Approach to Military
Operations articulated in BDD.

Despite the shift of focus towards the littoral, it is important that the deepwater environment and the continuing need to be able to conduct open
ocean sea control operations are not neglected. For example, the
submarine threat may have changed but it has not disappeared. The UK’s
maritime forces must retain their ability to carry out effective antisubmarine
warfare (ASW) operations, especially in support of ballistic missile carrying submarine (SSBN) deployments but also in the often (though not necessarily) shallower waters of the littoral. Maritime doctrine at all levels reflects operational imperatives in deep water as well as in the littoral.

At the moment, if it's not for somewhere hard and sandy, it's secondary and dismissable. Charlie Chan and Ivan won't be a problem within the life of this or the next Parliament (we hope). If we need a real Naval capability, your average politico or voter will sincerely believe we can just go out and buy it; rather like new kitchen.

It's interesting that only last week the commercial exploitation of the ocean floor was topical, with brave remarks over UK PLC staking its claim. At this rate, we will be hard pressed to secure our rightful interests beyond Rockall!
 
P_o_L is the Maritime Doctine effectively saying that dominating sea areas, and shipping lanes is not, and never has been an aim of Naval Operations?

Effectively saying that the Royal Navy is now solely an asset for expeditionary forces, providing shore defence, being a ferry service and operating solely for the benefit for land forces.

In a country where, as has been said before, some 95% of all trade leaves and enters this country by the sea, surely we need to be able to defend that trade, if we do not have surface, sub-surface, and at sea-air power combatant vessels and aircraft, how will we be able to defend that vital trade?

At a time when both the Russian forces seem to be re-finding their feet, and China becomes increasingly powerful both economically and (in spending at least) militarily, surely we need to ensure that we have the means to defend and dominate shipping and sea areas.
 
Potential_Officer said:
P_o_L is the Maritime Doctine effectively saying that dominating sea areas, and shipping lanes is not, and never has been an aim of Naval Operations?

Effectively saying that the Royal Navy is now solely an asset for expeditionary forces, providing shore defence, being a ferry service and operating solely for the benefit for land forces.

In a country where, as has been said before, some 95% of all trade leaves and enters this country by the sea, surely we need to be able to defend that trade, if we do not have surface, sub-surface, and at sea-air power combatant vessels and aircraft, how will we be able to defend that vital trade?

At a time when both the Russian forces seem to be re-finding their feet, and China becomes increasingly powerful both economically and (in spending at least) militarily, surely we need to ensure that we have the means to defend and dominate shipping and sea areas.
The latter part of the passage quoted from BR1806 does contain this sentence:

Despite the shift of focus towards the littoral, it is important that the deepwater environment and the continuing need to be able to conduct open ocean sea control operations are not neglected.
 

bobc

Badgeman
My thoughts are that they are planning to eventually merge the forces into a single UK Defence Force, along the lines of the Canadians. They've binned the Sea Harriers and are going to put RAF Harriers on the new carriers. They're in the process of merging the separate services' rules and regs (QRRN etc.) into one. Therefore it follows that they're looking at more cost-cutting by having one uniform, one admin staff, only one of this, that and the other etc. Make sense or am I being paranoid?
(But remember: just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean that they're not out to get you!)
 
letthecatoutofthebag said:
thingy said:
No minesweepers!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We've not had 'sweepers for a while - the sweep gear was removed from the Hunts in the last couple of years. However, we do retain the capability to hunt mines with sonars - in effect the Hunts have become SRMHs. If you think about it, the concept of sending a ship with 40 or so souls on board into an area known to be crawling with mines isn't exactly a good concept in this day and age. There are various plans for the future that involve either mine clearance from the air or by unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) that could be carried by frigate or corvette sized vessels. Ultimately, the potential loss of life caused by sending a ship to sweep for mines in the "old-fashioned" way is no longer acceptable.

However, IMHO, I think even if a "mine clearance capability" can be borne in FF/DD the loss of MM sized vessels is not desirable. Their utility is not simply measured by their ability to hunt mines especially in these days of MSO.
Contributor Mode

L T C O O T B

You are of course making an assumption that there is a DD/FF which is not part of the CV Task Force Air Defence Group. It would appear by the time the two CV's are completed we will have in the water by way of DD/FF's 6 or 8 Darings so who is going to launch the mine sweeping drones and do all the other things.

Nutty
 

maggie

Banned
letthecatoutofthebag said:
thingy said:
No minesweepers!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We've not had 'sweepers for a while - the sweep gear was removed from the Hunts in the last couple of years. However, we do retain the capability to hunt mines with sonars - in effect the Hunts have become SRMHs. If you think about it, the concept of sending a ship with 40 or so souls on board into an area known to be crawling with mines isn't exactly a good concept in this day and age. There are various plans for the future that involve either mine clearance from the air or by unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) that could be carried by frigate or corvette sized vessels. Ultimately, the potential loss of life caused by sending a ship to sweep for mines in the "old-fashioned" way is no longer acceptable.

However, IMHO, I think even if a "mine clearance capability" can be borne in FF/DD the loss of MM sized vessels is not desirable. Their utility is not simply measured by their ability to hunt mines especially in these days of MSO.
But where are these mines we could be sweeping if we had mine sweepers? Most WW2 mines have self-destructed with rust. Where are the present day ones situated?
 

Seadog

War Hero
Moderator
Norman, if your imagination was half the size of your ego, you'd know where the new mines are/likely to be. Don't make me delete your bone posts before your next suspension is Command Approved.

thingy wrote
No minesweepers!!!!!!!!!!!!!


But of course, we can use merchant vessels instead!
Auxiliary minesweepers when required come from the fishing fleet, not the merchant fleet. 'We' (I wasn't there) used them in 1982 down south.
 
Naval_Gazer. You are right but note that the

it is important that the deepwater environment and the continuing need to be able to conduct open
ocean sea control operations are not neglected
is presented as a secondary consideration. Later in the piece it arrives at sustainability and refers to MARS (Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability). One would imagine that this is a trendy name for a solid stores support RFA but closer examination indicates that it should encompass support to deployed Land and Air assets. In fairness, for initial resupply, it's a good idea but if one fights an amphibious war on a budget, it will gravitate to sustained resupply and will limit support to concurrent Naval operations.

maggie You are right: there is no current work for the minehunters. Remember, though, that the opening phases of TELIC needed mine clearance of the approaches to Basra. We mustn't forget that mine warfare is cheap for the layer but costly for the clearer. Currently, the RN is second to none in counter mine warfare. That level of proficiency isn't inherited genetically. It has to be acquired over the years by solid hard work and commitment. In short, it's hard work and expensive to maintain; but a monumental task and extremely expensive (and you can't buy it in a shop!) to re-acquire. Ironically, the clear promotion of littoral operations implies the need for a strong counter mine capability.

This document
http://www.modaf.com/files/MODAF Concepts and Doctrine Deskbook v0.1 29 Jul 05.pdf is 2 years old now; but no older than BR1806. Regrettably, as I read it, there is a large amount of froth, positive spin for the Joint Nirvana and, frankly, obfuscation. Maybe I'm standing too close to it; I don't know.

I'm not sure that we would be stupid enough to re-live the CAF experience; to a point. I think the miniscule saving on a "joint" uniform will not be proposed. A British Armed Forces with Maritime (currently called Fleet), Land and Air Commands could be at the back of the minds of the bright young things at the top (and I think we are talking MoD Centre and Treasury here). Either way, I see Naval capability pretty low down on the Government list of investment priorities. At the moment, the Navy needs to be both capable of deploying the Independent Nuclear Deterrent and supporting expeditionary (land) warfare. Anything else is not an immediate requirement and can be drained to fund other more fashionable capabilities.

We are still a World power and there people inside the "system" that hate that. Slowly but surely, they will get their way.

P S

letthecatoutofthebag. I can't disagree wth you. I must learn to type faster.
 
letthecatoutofthebag. Sorry, you are right. I was reponding to maggie's bald claim, as I read it, that there was no home need for mine clearance. Had I known it was Norman! bugger.
 

Karma

War Hero
letthecatoutofthebag said:
We are concentrating too much on the word "capability" - we present our requirements to the MoD in terms of, for example, "Future Mineclearance Capability" or "Future Air Defence Capability" (not sure of the exact terms used, but you get my drift). We make no use of the words platform or indeed ships.
Capability should include the capacity to deliver the output across the strategic scenarios. So capability should drive numbers, although that assumes that the acquisition system joins up and considers the process in an integrated manner. It frequently doesn't, IPTs stovepipe so there is little inter-solution integration with the associated efficiency and effectiveness improvements. The MDAL rarely influences stakeholder management or programme communications planning.

As such the bean counters seek to concentrate capabilities on fewer assets/ platforms to reduce cost.
Indeed.

One criticism I would make of the Customer 2 community is the tendency to divorce itself from acquisition, absolving themselves of responsibility and allowing the beancounters to hold sway. Distance and unreasonable, ill thought through, requirement demands also don't add to C2 credibility, which doesn't help.

I appreciate that someone in the DECs or IPTs will counter with its not as simple as that and that its also down to increasingly expensive new technology but either way we end up with fewer ships doing the same number of tasks.
Cost growth of the solutions certainly plays a part in affordability, but the lack of engagement from C2 is certainly an issue. We, and the RN is not alone in this, have handed off control to those who don't understand the complexity of delivering effect.
 

Seadog

War Hero
Moderator
Capability should include the capacity to deliver the output across the strategic scenarios. So capability should drive numbers, although that assumes that the acquisition system joins up and considers the process in an integrated manner. It frequently doesn't, IPTs stovepipe so there is little inter-solution integration with the associated efficiency and effectiveness improvements. The MDAL rarely influences stakeholder management or programme communications planning.
Spoken like an SO2 Karma. I thought Greek was difficult but it has nothing on the jargon (as opposed to slang) coming out of Fleet! It took me a few passes to get it. Or are you taking the pi$$?

Fleet jargon, worth a 'value stream' of its own.
 
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