UK 'at risk of sea-borne attack'

#1
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8054491.stm

I saw this today and was intrigued as to how the MOD would spread out the six frigates and two patrol boats around the coast. They would probably rope in all the University patrol boats to assist but even then it would be a mean trick. I should imagine the majority of police boats would be RIB's with limited capability and capacity. So is there a significant threat, because I can think of at least a dozen sites vital to the UK.
 

Andrew_1980

Lantern Swinger
#2
I was watching vids on youtube lastnight of the hippycamp next to faslane and one cropped up of Greenpeace supposedly blockading a trident sub from re-entering the base.. climbed onto the barriers (or whatever they are called) and found it slightly concerning that anybody could get that close without being stopped. The Police didn't even seem to do anthing. Say one of the hippies goes a step further over to 'radicalism', taking 'action' into their own hands, or the group is infiltrated by whoever with bad intentions, what's to stop some kind of attack happening in that case? Just a scenario I played over in my mind..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mF1fBc67o4E
 
#3
Work is under way to provide other government departments with guidelines on how to request military assistance in areas such as counter terrorism
Bearing in mind the total pain in the bum that Aid to the Civil Power has traditionally been, uptake on that proposal would be quite interesting. It would certainly shine some interesting light on the "Emperor's clothes".
 

Purple_twiglet

War Hero
Moderator
#5
"Bearing in mind the total pain in the bum that Aid to the Civil Power has traditionally been, uptake on that proposal would be quite interesting. It would certainly shine some interesting light on the "Emperor's clothes". "

Too true - but more importantly, MOD has spent years trying to get out of the MACP business on the grounds that we're not funded and resourced to do it. We finally get the OGDs to accept this, and up pop a committee of MPs demanding we roll the clock back - thanks guys!
 
#9
Some background may be useful. The document that sparked all the news articles was the Defence Committee's Sixth Report - The Defence contribution to UK national security and resilience. This section is particularly relevant:

House of Commons said:
Maritime security

40. When we took evidence from Lord West (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Security and Counter-terrorism) on 21 October, we asked a series of questions about specifically maritime aspects of national security.[48] It became clear that no single organisation had comprehensive responsibility for the maritime environment. Individual agencies have "prime responsibility" for different areas, and Gold Command rests with the relevant agency (e.g. in the case of pollution, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency). The co-ordination of a response to a major maritime accident—such as the sinking of MV Napoli off Dorset in 2007—is co-ordinated by 'SOSREP', the Secretary of State for Transport's Representative. There appears to be no equivalent role designated for security incidents. Lord West admitted that the "tapestry in those offshore waters is highly complex".[49] It is not immediately obvious to which Secretary of State a security SOSREP would report.

41. We were also concerned at the limited resources that seemed to be available: The Minister of State for the Armed Forces told us that the vessels available for coastal protection amounted to two frigates, three river-class offshore patrol vessels and a minesweeper.[50] We decided to take further oral evidence on maritime security, and invited representatives from the Transport Security and Contingencies Directorate (Transec), the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to explain in greater detail Lord West's 'complex tapestry'.

THE NEED FOR GREATER OVERSIGHT

42. We asked our maritime security panel whether they thought there was a case for greater oversight or control of the functions that their organisations currently fulfil. Speaking on behalf of Transec, Ms Tompkinson told us that "we have got very good procedures and processes in place which enable us to co-ordinate".[51] Mr Clark from UKBA agreed, saying that "connection and co-ordination at a senior level and a strategic and tactical level is good".[52] Nevertheless, ACPO's Mr Hogan-Howe conceded that "there are things that sound, I agree, on the face of it to be confusing, we seem to be potentially disorganised, but it works well".[53] We are pleased that on an operational level, the relevant organisations say that they work together effectively. What concerns us is not the operational aspect, but strategic oversight and ministerial accountability.

43. Despite our witnesses' assurances that the present arrangements for maritime security in the UK did not need improving upon, we understand that a review may in fact be underway. We request that the Government updates us on developments in its response.

RULING THE WAVES?

44. A supplementary memorandum from the MoD gave a more precise answer to the questions we asked the Minister in October in relation to the number of vessels in the water. It stated that on 21 October 2008, the day we took evidence from the Minister of State for the Armed Forces and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary from the Home Office, the following vessels were tasked specifically with supporting the strategic nuclear deterrent and maintaining the integrity of UK waters:

Three Type 23-class frigates;
Three Hunt-class minesweepers;
Two River-class offshore patrol vessels; and
One support tanker.

45. The Minister of State's description of about six ships specifically tasked with national security was thus fairly accurate. However, a further 13 vessels of varying classes were "in the sea and around the UK's waters" on the day we took evidence, and presumably available if needed.[54]

46. Six dedicated Royal Navy ships did not strike us as very many. However, the evidence given by our maritime security panel on 27 January 2009 revealed a motley collection of sea-going vessels engaged in one aspect or another of preserving the UK's maritime security. According to Chief Constable Hogan-Howe, ACPO's lead officer for maritime and air support policing, estimated that there were "around 115" vessels contributing to maritime security, of which a third were MoD vessels.[55]

47. We have established that the Police have "of the order of 70 vessels".[56] The MoD Police has "a maritime capability consisting of approximately 50 vessels" able to support other Police forces if needed.[57] The Coastguard has "five inshore patrol boats currently in commission: one in the Thames Estuary, one in the Solent, one in the South West and two in Scotland, one on each coast".[58] The UK Border Agency has five cutters, as recommended by the National Security Strategy. However, Mr Clark revealed that the cutters were in fact "capacity that was there within the Customs Group [of HMRC] but it is now part of the UKBA set of interventions".[59] They are deployed on the basis of "sensible and reasonable judgments and decisions on the basis of the risk and the threat".[60]

48. We have learned of the contributions being made by several organisations to national security in the maritime environment. We do not question their competence or intention, but the extent to which they are properly resourced and co-ordinated. Vessels have been acquired by different agencies at different times for different purposes. At the same time, we are concerned at the level of action being taken to address identified threats to aspects of critical national infrastructure, such as ports, and that what assets are available for the purposes of maritime security tend to be largely reactive forces.

49. Some Members of our Committee recently witnessed the excellent work done by the Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines at Faslane in protecting vessels in transit along the Clyde, an operation developed in response to an identified threat. We feel that there is a strong case for developing a deterrent capability in relation to threats to civilian maritime targets. It need not necessarily be resourced by the military, but we are not satisfied that an intelligence-led approach is sufficient.
George Savile said:
To the question, "What shall we do to be saved in this world?" there is no answer but this, "Look to your Moat."
Unfortunately, the corporate memory is dim as we've been around this buoy countless times before. Although the main slant in the old days was on the threat of sabotage to ports and anchorages handling NATO reinforcements, this issue was addressed often in such articles as Look to Your Moat - The Defence of the Home Base (nothing to do with MPs' sleaze), published on pp 95-104 of Vol 72 of the Naval Review in April 1984:

Naval Review said:
...Many people have heard of the 'Offshore Tapestry', but definitions vary. To my mind the generally accepted version, [the protection of] Fishing and Offshore Energy, is too restrictive, certainly in a period of tension. The controlling authorities must then take account of the movement of independent merchant ships and ferries, offshore energy support vessels and fishing vessels, with naval surveillance and mine counter-measures operations superimposed. In the air, increased air-defence and surveillance sorties will conflict with the already high level of civil airline and helicopter sorties over the North Sea. Altogether an intricate and complex tapestry requiring skilled coordination. Standard peacetime procedures at sea allow each vessel or craft to go about its business completely independently of the others, obeying the international rules for safe navigation: positive direction is limited to port approaches. HM Coastguard provides an information service for those who want to use it...
The Port Headquarters (PHQ) organisation, including Naval Officers in Command (NOICs), Mine Countermeasures Local Liaison Teams (MCMLLTs), Naval Control of Shipping Officers (NCSOs), Port Divers and Harbour Defence vessels manned by the now defunct Royal Naval Auxiliary Service (RNXS), has been disbanded while close, frequently-exercised cooperation with civil maritime and air organisations (a valuable force multiplier for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes) seems to have dried up too. When the need arose, many of these posts were filled by Reservists and retired officers holding dormant appointments. I'm sure that some of the contingency plans for port and harbour defence can be dusted off and modified but who is going to do this and where are the personnel, vessels and infrastructure needed to fulfil the tasks? Yet another victim of inadequate Defence funding, it seems.
 
#10
Isn't this a role crying out for the RNR to fill.

This could free the few regular ships (if they are at sea or more likely in mothballs or URNU boats) to protect the fleet.
 

Purple_twiglet

War Hero
Moderator
#12
"Isn't this a role crying out for the RNR to fill. "

Given that the RNR is at full stretch doing deployments in sandy places, and also has no seagoing personnel beyond upper deck sentries, probably not!
 

witsend

MIA
Book Reviewer
#13
Andrew_1980 said:
I was watching vids on youtube lastnight of the hippycamp next to faslane and one cropped up of Greenpeace supposedly blockading a trident sub from re-entering the base.. climbed onto the barriers (or whatever they are called) and found it slightly concerning that anybody could get that close without being stopped. The Police didn't even seem to do anthing. Say one of the hippies goes a step further over to 'radicalism', taking 'action' into their own hands, or the group is infiltrated by whoever with bad intentions, what's to stop some kind of attack happening in that case? Just a scenario I played over in my mind..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mF1fBc67o4E
The fleet protection group, booties that charge up and down the jetties. They spring into action on hearing the callsign marine ronjeremy.

If I remember right this was a couple of years ago and they got as far as the boom and had their publicity stunt. They were arrested along with crew from the mother ship that sailed up the loch. Heard a dit with the crew arrested Jack had to man the ship while the crew were in cells.
 
#14
witsend said:
The fleet protection group, booties that charge up and down the jetties. They spring into action on hearing the callsign marine ronjeremy.

If I remember right this was a couple of years ago and they got as far as the boom and had their publicity stunt. They were arrested along with crew from the mother ship that sailed up the loch. Heard a dit with the crew arrested Jack had to man the ship while the crew were in cells.
Someone you and I know well was that man that manned that ship.

Oh, and isn't it Machine Rolex?
 
#15
Joint_Force_Harrier said:
We get invaded daily from Calais and the government do nothing, what new? Why risk the sea when lorries, trains and planes bring them in?
Good point JFH, and the muppets doing the checks in Eurotunnel shouldn't be let out without adult supervision, you can smuggle just about anything.
 
#16
Purple_twiglet said:
"Isn't this a role crying out for the RNR to fill. "

Given that the RNR is at full stretch doing deployments in sandy places, and also has no seagoing personnel beyond upper deck sentries, probably not!
Well thats Saturday and Sunday covered!
 
#17
Joint_Force_Harrier said:
Purple_twiglet said:
"Isn't this a role crying out for the RNR to fill. "

Given that the RNR is at full stretch doing deployments in sandy places, and also has no seagoing personnel beyond upper deck sentries, probably not!
Well thats Saturday and Sunday covered!
PT - how many are mobilised up north FPGRM ?? 100 ish out of a total of 2,500 in the RNR. 8O Granted the mobilisation stretches into 2012 (not that those people will be in the RNR then trust me :lol: )

So what about the other 2,400 ?? answer on a postcard to MoD, fairytail street, london. :D
 
#19
Joint_Force_Harrier said:
Purple_twiglet said:
"Isn't this a role crying out for the RNR to fill. "

Given that the RNR is at full stretch doing deployments in sandy places, and also has no seagoing personnel beyond upper deck sentries, probably not!
Well thats Saturday and Sunday covered!
Only half day sun day I'm affraid. Well we do have a proper job to go to in the morning :D
 

Purple_twiglet

War Hero
Moderator
#20
Bisley - most RNR mobilisations aren't with FPGRM - we've got plenty of other people in other parts too. Once you add in the problem of sustaining the reserves for the long haul (namely legislation preventing mobilisation more than once every 3 years) then the numbers drop quickly.

People have to remember that the RNR is either a one shot "get everyone going" or a long haul "drip feed". Its a lot harder to sustain this effort as getting 30-40 volunteers every 6 months is more difficult than it sounds. This is not a drip, but a reflection of the difficulties faced in generating reservists.
 
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