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Telegraph: "New Aircraft Carriers 'White Elephants With Dinky Toys On Top'"

White Elephants?

"White elephants"? I suspect these particular "Royal Navy insiders" are neither "Royal Navy" nor "insiders". It looks as though someone has trawled a few Defence 'thinking' website forums and lazily assumed that the most vociferous critics have some sort of bona fide connection.

The Times and Telegraph headlines certainly bear no relation to Chris Parry's paper which paints the carriers in a favourable light even in their bastardised form; just not as capable or versatile as a CTOL version.


War Hero
The Former Director speaks out, wonder why he wasn't so vocal when he was the current director?
Just thinking aloud here:
1. You must be very senior or connected to know what he was saying and to whom in private.
2. There are rules & permissions required for speaking to the press, especially for 2* up. Like it or not, politicians and other civilians have primacy.
3. When CP was active, CVF was in a different place.
4. I may be wrong but I don't recall C&D -whatever their brief- being any more influential in procurement decisions than the Gosport RNA uckers team.
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War Hero
He might have a point???? When I last saw all the mighty through deck cruisers, at various ports, before two of them departed to Turkey. They had little or no cabs onboard, sometimes 5 harriers, or other times just 4 Merlins and a couple of Lynx, or no CAG at all?? She is just in commando role now !! .:\\\\\\\') They were the days before the recession hit us and Dave C and Mr Hammond came along ^_~
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Thought it may have been interesting then couple lines in Chris Parry says............. Lost interest blokes a a complete tool_

Rear Admiral Chris Parry CBE happens to be one of the sharpest "tools" in the box. Go back and read the article in its entirety. Don't be swayed by the ludicrously misleading headlines or the gratuitous addition of an incongruous soundbite by some fictional "naval insider".

The Former Director speaks out, wonder why he wasn't so vocal when he was the current director?

In fact, he was vocal to the point of ruffling quite a few feathers; his frustration was one of the reasons for his premature departure from the RN which resulted in the sad loss of a refreshingly reforming character with stacks of talent.
Those of an older vintage might enjoy reading the following pocket biography of Rear Admiral Parry's father, written at the time of his unexpected death in October 2006. It goes some way to explaining his son's dedication to the Royal Navy and its historic role in ensuring the nation's security, together with his questioning attitude, lust for challenge and classical interests:

Cdr John Jenkyn Parry OBE RN

John Parry entered the Royal Navy as a Boy Seaman at HMS St. George, on the Isle of Man, at the age of fifteen in June 1945. He retired voluntarily from the service in February 1980.

He was a very well liked man described by his fellows as cheerful, enthusiastic, fit and sober, helpful to all who needed his help, always ready to step in to assist others if he could, giving level-headed advice.

John was born in Hampton, Middlesex on 7 August 1929. He described his father as an entrepreneur. His first ships were the cruisers HMS Leander and HMS Cleopatra. A keen sportsman and a good footballer who by the age of twenty had been advanced to Petty Officer, he was in 1952 selected for a commission, subject to qualifying as a Fixed Wing Pilot. He failed to achieve the flying standard required and, declining the opportunity to become an Observer in 1953, he took the only other avenue to commissioned rank available at the time which was on the Special Duties List. This needed additional qualifications, which he obtained, and he was promoted Sub-Lieutenant in 1956. While gaining his qualifications he served in HMS Cygnet.

Having played football for the RN he also played for Corinthian Casuals, Harwich and Parkeston, and while a Commissioned Gunner in 1956 for Tooting and Mitcham FC in the Athenian League.

Between 1956 and 1960 he served in HMS Obdurate, HMS Chieftain and HMS Tyne, then the Home Fleet flagship. He qualified as a Clearance Diving Officer in 1960 and was promoted to Lieutenant the same year. His first CD job was with the AUWE Diving Team at Portland. He completed the Long TAS Course in 1963 and served as TAS Officer in HMS Brighton until 1965. He was a Staff Officer Instructor at the SD Officers’ School until 1966, when he attended the Royal Naval Staff Course. Having passed the Ship Command Examinations in 1967 he was promoted Lieutenant Commander.

From 1968 until 1969 he was the last Staff MCD and Officer-in-Charge of the Malta Clearance Diving Team.

He served his first term in the MOD at the Staff MCD desk of the Directorate of Naval Operational Requirements until, in 1971 he was appointed Head of the Minewarfare Section (IMW) of HMS Vernon. He became the MCD Training Officer (MCDTO) in Vernon in 1972, before taking a sabbatical at Essex University in 1973/74.

He was the Commanding Officer of HMS Reclaim between 1974 and 1975, a period of his service that he particularly enjoyed, carrying out many and varied operations, including a helicopter recovery in foul weather and before the Russians could snatch the wreckage, and in 1975 he was promoted Commander.

Between 1975 and 1978 he served his second spell in the MOD at the Staff MCD desk of the Directorate of Naval Warfare. This was a rewarding period for him and he was involved in two projects that captivated him; the 1976-77 operation to recover the Gateway of Diocletian and the Temple of Augustus from the submerged Island of Philae in Upper Egypt; and Operation Rheostat III, when, as Commanding Officer of Naval Party 1006, he conducted the critical mine clearance operations of the approaches to Port Said, Egypt between 1 April and 14 May 1978, with a team of largely inexperienced young Clearance Divers from HMS Vernon, under testing conditions. He was appointed an OBE in the New Year’s Honours in 1978, for his exceptional service in general and particularly for his work in DNW over the previous two years.

His last appointment between 1978 and 1979 was in NATO as the Staff Officer Operations to Commander, Eastern Mediterranean.

He was also the most highly educated member of the Clearance Diving Branch; his desire to educate himself starting late in his career. While working in the MOD in 1969, and staying up in London during the week, he decided to fill the nights productively with study. Having achieved the entry requirements, he went on to Essex University in the 1973-74 academic year and was awarded a B.Sc from London University and an M.A. from Essex University in 1975.

After leaving the RN he worked in academia, firstly at Liverpool University from 1980 to 1989, as a Senior Administrator for Student affairs and Part-time Lecturer, being awarded an M. Phil. by the University in 1988. He moved to Southampton College of Further Education in 1992 as Senior Administrator. Between 1989 and 1998 he was an Honorary Senior Fellow in the School of Archaeology, Classics and Oriental Studies of the University of Liverpool. He retired from paid employment in 1994 and researched for his Ph.D, which he was awarded in 1999, aged 70. His interests were in Ancient History, Classical Art and Archaeology; his research involved the Greek and Roman civilisations.

He married Joan in 1952, who survives him with their two children, Christopher and Ann. Rear Admiral Chris Parry CBE, currently Director General of the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre at Shrivenham, brought him immense pride.


War Hero
An excellent article (the full pdf one, not the Telegraph misrepresentation) I thought. The main thing for me is that it reminds us of what we 'could have', "if sustained with adequate resources and innovative conceptual development". As neither 'adequate resources', nor 'innovative conceptual development' can be taken for granted in today's RN, I think that the article should be made compulsory reading for everyone in Leach Building.

As for Chris Parry. I worked for him when he was COMATG. He has, some faults (as we all do), but his intellect and willingness to speak out and be controversial, even when serving, are/were not among them.


Lantern Swinger
'Dinky Toy' carriers unfit for sea battle

Article in the Sunday Times where Chris Parry, former director of doctrine at the MOD warned that the lack buddy/buddy refueling would restrict the usefulness of the upcoming carriers. He published a longer article criticising them in the RUSIJ.

Now I always thought the beauty of carriers was you could actually move them closer to the target if necessary. I don't think lack of buddy/buddy restricted Harrier in the Falklands although I know Argie Skyhawks found it useful


War Hero
Financial Times

Military at loggerheads over carriers

By James Blitz, Defence and Diplomatic Editor

Even as the first of Britain’s two new aircraft carriers rises from the dry docks in Rosyth, debate over how they will be used and whether they are needed continues to rage among military chiefs and experts.

The Royal Navy has long argued that the new ships – Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales – are essential if the UK is to project military power against potential adversaries.

But in the run-up to the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, some senior figures inside the Ministry of Defence questioned what purpose was served by having these mammoth vessels.

Critics argued that the two carriers were an out-of-date symbol of cold war power, at a time when the world was moving to a new era of conflict that might be dominated by counterinsurgency, terrorism and cyber warfare.

They argued that the vessels would be increasingly vulnerable to attack from specially designed anti-carrier missiles being developed by the Chinese.

They pondered, too, whether the UK really needed these ships at a time of serious austerity in defence spending. After all, the US – with whom Britain would be allied in almost any conceivable conflict – has 11 carriers of its own.

Yet, in the past two years, the argument has swung decisively in the Royal Navy’s favour.

“Now that both ships are in build, the debate is not so much about whether we need them” says Lee Willett, of the Royal United Service Institute, a think-tank. “Instead, the argument now is about other issues, such as whether or not both should be fully operational, how many aircraft they should have on board and how many different roles they can undertake.”

The carriers won the day in 2010, partly because there was no alternative. BAE Systems, the main contractor for the ships, warned David Cameron ahead of the 2010 strategic review that thousands of jobs would be lost and three shipyards closed if the government scrapped the previous administration’s plans to build both ships.

But other factors have since boosted support for them. The absence of a British carrier in the 2011 war over Libya was widely judged to be a military weakness. The RAF had to fly its jets out of southern Europe bases. This meant longer flying times, higher fuel costs and greater aircraft attrition.

Moreover, carriers are clearly back in vogue among the world’s defence ministries. Many leading military powers – China, India, Brazil and Russia – are investing in them. In part, this reflects an assessment that a new era of state-on-state warfare – for example in the South China Sea – may be around the corner. It also reflects a belief that carriers – far from just flying aircraft – can also be used effectively for a wide variety of other functions such as carrying troops and helicopters.

Many experts believe the next big challenge for the Royal Navy will be to define far better how it can use its carriers on a wide range of operations.

“These extremely large ships have a range of potential uses beyond that of simply being a launch-and-recovery platform for fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft,” Rear Admiral Chris Parry, a former naval commander, wrote in a recent article for RUSI. “Carriers can operate throughout the spectrum of crisis from combat operations to humanitarian relief, as demonstrated admirably in recent years by the USS Abraham Lincoln off Indonesia in 2005 and the USS Carl Vinson off Haiti in 2010.”

In his view, naval commanders must now clarify the wide ranges of potential uses to which the new vessels should be put.

Military at loggerheads over carriers -
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