The Current Fleet

Do you think downsizing of the Fleet is detrimental to current operational capabilities?

  • No, it's needed and about time.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Dont really know.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Fck off you army wnkr, and stop asking questions!

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
Hi all, i'm army, and i've come straight accross from Arrse. I've always liked the navy and respect what you boys get up to etc etc.

I always cringe when I hear about more ships getting mothballed, and being a traditionalist, like the idea of having the Navy as a senior sevice, and the 2nd largest in the world- this leads me to my question:

(1) To what extent has the navy been downsized?

(2) What carriers do we still have active?

(3) Do you think that any downsizing has been detremental to the Navys operational capabilities (i.e wrong) or do you think its is needed, and a small modern elite fleet is the way forward?

See my thoughts on this at the link F169 gave.

In a nutshell, too small, too few platforms and over-reliance on monolithic technology solutions.

Loss sensitivity becomes too great to risk using the assets.
With regard to the Government's much vaunted shipbuilding programme and boast of 28 ships delivered, this point by Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con) during the recent debate in the House of Commons is particularly valid:

If I had to put a subtitle to this debate, it would be “The Mystery of the Phantom Fleetâ€. We have been told repeatedly today, as we have been told previously by none other than the Prime Minister—so it must be true—that we are engaged in the largest shipbuilding operation for many a long year.

I have been looking into the Government’s record on ordering ships, because that is what we should be concerned about. It is not so much the question of what ships are coming into service today and have done during the past few years, but those that we can expect to come into service in the future because they have been ordered in the course of the present time.

If I asked hon. Members how many ships had been ordered by this Government in the past five years, how many would they say—half a dozen, a dozen? If they were a little sceptical, they might say only three or four. Well, I can enlighten the House: the answer is one—an offshore patrol vessel is the only to have been ordered by this Government in the past five years.

Let us look back at the Government’s orders during the entirety of their time in office. During that period, they have ordered 16 warships, consisting of six Type 45 destroyers—originally there were supposed to have been 12, then eight and now six, and there are grave fears, as we have heard, for ships seven and eight—four landing ships, two survey ships and four offshore patrol vessels, including HMS Clyde, to which I have already alluded. Of those 16 vessels, 10 may be described as major units. However, nearly all were ordered some years back.

The Government are talking about a great shipbuilding programme; could they mean the future carriers? All I can say to them is that I would like to help them out at this point. They should get on with it, place the order for the carriers and we will do our bit to carry forward their tonnage and certainly agree that the Government have that great shipbuilding programme under way. However, the Government show no sign of ordering the carriers.

Let us compare that with the last eight years of the past Conservative Governments and what was ordered in the way of warships then. It does not quite compare to one offshore patrol vessel: two ballistic missile submarines, three nuclear powered attack submarines, nine frigates—including one, HMS Grafton, that this Government sold for a pittance when it was only nine years old—seven minehunters, two oilers and a survey ship. If I stopped at that point, one would think that a pretty good record by comparison, but I have not even mentioned the largest warship in the current Royal Navy, the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean and the two assault ships, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, for whose coming into service the Government are happy to claim credit. However, the ships were, of course, ordered under the previous Conservative Government.
Still bearing in mind this Government's boast that it has delivered 28 new ships, I have had a stab at the balance sheet:

Trident submarine (1) VENGEANCE - replacement for Polaris submarines RENOWN and REPULSE.

Type 23 frigates (2) KENT, (3) PORTLAND, (4) SUTHERLAND and (5) ST ALBANS built but this more than offset by sale of sister ships NORFOLK, MARLBOROUGH and GRAFTON to Chile, sale of Type 22 frigates LONDON and COVENTRY to Romania, SHEFFIELD to Chile, sinking of BOXER and BRAVE as targets, sale of BEAVER for scrap, sale of Type 42 destroyers BIRMINGHAM for scrap, and decommissioning of NEWCASTLE, GLASGOW and CARDIFF pending their disposal. Hopefully, six to eight Type 45 destroyers are being built (only four to date) but all eight remaining Type 42 destroyers EXETER, SOUTHAMPTON, NOTTINGHAM, LIVERPOOL, MANCHESTER, GLOUCESTER, EDINBURGH and YORK are due to decommission within the next seven years. This means only 10 front-line escorts (four Type 23 frigates built plus six Type 45 destroyers building) to replace 21 escorts lost by the year 2014.

LPDs (6) BULWARK and (7) ALBION - long-awaited replacements for FEARLESS and INTREPID.

LPH (8) OCEAN - long-awaited replacement for previous BULWARK and ALBION.

Ocean Survey Vessels (9) ECHO, (10) ENTERPRISE and (11) SCOTT - long-awaited replacements for HECLA, HECATE, HYDRA and HERALD.

Falklands Island Patrol Vessel (12) CLYDE - replacement for LEEDS CASTLE and DUMBARTON CASTLE.

Fishery Patrol vessels (13) TYNE, (14) MERSEY and (15) SEVERN - long-awaited replacements for ALDERNEY, ANGLESEY, GUERNSEY, JERSEY, LINDISFARNE, ORKNEY and SHETLAND.

Sandown Class minehunters (16) PENZANCE, (17) PEMBROKE, (18) GRIMSBY, (19) BANGOR, (20) RAMSEY, (21) BLYTH, and (22) SHOREHAM built but this more than offset by sale of sister ships SANDOWN, INVERNESS and BRIDPORT to Estonia, downgrading of CROMER to a training ship, sale of Hunt Class minehunters BERKELEY and BICESTER to Greece, and decommissioning of former NI Patrol Sqn ships BRECON, COTTESMORE and DULVERTON pending their disposal.

P2000 training boats (23) RANGER and (24) TRACKER – replacements for various decommissioned training boats.

16 metre patrol boats (25) SABRE and (26) SCIMITAR – replacements for various decommissioned patrol boats.


So, over the period 1996 to 2014, I make this something like 34 ships to replace at least 59 but am open to correction. I know quantity isn't everything but the downward trend in numbers is as dramatic as it is depressing. I haven't considered the ASTUTEs but I expect someone else can supply the equivalent figures for SSNs.

As for whether any downsizing has been detremental to the Navy's operational capabilities, think future conflict without host nation support for our troops and aircraft and work it out.
Excellent post Naval Gazer, a very illuminating read. Lets hope there are still a few journalists hanging around out there!
Re. Naval Gazer's mention of SSNs:

Last new one was TRIUMPH in 1991 !!!! Since 1996 we have lost SPLENDID, SPARTAN, SOVEREIGN. SUPERB is not far behind and will be gone before ASTUTE is in service. Still we'll reach a point in a few years when we can't decommission any more because we won't have anywhere to put them.

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