UK defence issues and the odd container or two

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Think Defence hopes to start sensible conversations about UK defence issues, no agenda or no campaign but there might be one or two posts on containers, bridges and mexeflotes!


  1. Daniele Mandelli

    Changes little. Marchwood will still be used by the MoD as before.

    What I want to know is whether Mcmullen barracks remains owned by the MoD once the port area is sold off?

  2. jim30

    There is very little military need for Marchwood as a military port – what the MOD needs is a port facility with the ability to handle high explosives and ammunition as appropriate. While a useful asset, its also not a capability that if we didnt have now that we’d seek to acquire.

    Far better to let someone else run it, and then on the relatively rare times its needed these days get something done, and also save a fair amount of money into the bargain.

  3. Phil

    Interesting how we seem to be going back toward the 18-19th century model of large scale reliance on private enterprise to sustain our forces. As an historian, I would point out the continuity.

  4. x

    True. I suppose really I shouldn’t be too surprised as reducing Marchwood’s status, a port through which the armour focused British Army shipped it equipment to close Germany, to a return to 18th and 19th century where the Army was little more a gendarmarie point in place once the real muscle of Empire, commerce and seapower, had done their work. No Empire so need for the gendarmarie. You could also say that it reflects the paucity of imaginative at the top of the Army that they are so keen to get rid of one of their only “sea interface” instead of looking of to return a tradition of troopers and shoal draught craft all they want is more armour when the world has moved on. Sad state of affairs really that one of the globe’s supposedly best armies can’t find a valid role for itself. The monies spent on not buying FRES would have bought 4 or sodecent LSTs. Perhaps they should take a look across the pond to have a look sea, whoops, see at the USMC on how to stay relevant?

  5. DavidNiven

    ‘Perhaps they should take a look across the pond to have a look sea, whoops, see at the USMC on how to stay relevant?’

    I agree we need to look to the sea, we should almagate the 3 services and have something akin to the USMC. If we did this we could lose the FAA and the RM as the larger organisations will absorb the smaller. And before we get cries of people don’t join the RAF to go to sea! they would not be joining the RAF they would be joining the UKMC.

  6. Topman

    I wonder if I watched a different video clip? There was no mention of stopping using it or selling the port. It would be leased and a company involved to use and help share the running costs. We just get someone who will use it more to pay the bulk of the overheads.

  7. Not a Boffin

    “It would be leased and a company involved to use and help share the running costs. We just get someone who will use it more to pay the bulk of the overheads.”

    The same model as applied to the Royal Dockyards, with at best mixed results. It’s not like Marchwood is actually blessed with great access routes inland, either. You’ve got a railhead and the A326 to service some limited RoRo berths. Not particularly attractive, particularly with Fawley and Southampton itself on the same stretch of water, hoovering up bulk liquids and containers.

  8. Not a Boffin

    No rail connection to Portsmouth, Guz or Rosyth last I looked. Can’t speak for Crombie or the other Def Munition sites. Thing is – how much container traffic goes by rail? Southampton has a rail terminal, but not sure what proportion of container / vehicle cargo is moved that way.

    The most important thing that Marchwood has is the combination of Ro-Ro berth and explosive licence.

  9. Think Defence

    It is not so much the ISO container traffic at Marchwood that is the issue but heavy vehicles. Using trucks to move them would be very difficult and expensive as in many cases they would be special loads and very disruptive.

    Hence, the rail link is critical to getting vehicles onto or off the site in the first place

    So for me, it is rail links and space for vehicle marshaling that make it difficult to replace, and as you say, the hazardous materials handling capability

  10. Not a Boffin

    We’re talking at cross-purposes TD. I know what the military needs and finds important, I just can’t see what makes Marchwood attractive to a commercial operator. Four Ro-Ro berths, one of which usually has a Point or Bay on it. Potentially limiting quantities of explosives on site at times. Terrible access to the port with the possible exception of the railhead.

    What’s to like?

  11. Daniele Mandelli

    “Can’t speak for Crombie or the other Def Munition sites”

    Glen Douglas has rail access though much is shipped out via the jetty at Glen Malen. Kineton, Ernsettle and Longtown both have rail access, so does Ashcurch, which although not a munitions site I find baffling as to why they want to close it as it has the all important rail link. Bicester has rail access too.

    I don’t think that leasing Marchwood yet keeping it in use will have any impact on Expeditionary operations.

  12. Think Defence

    Ah, OK, from what I have read, the attraction of Marchwood for commercial operators is not the port itself but its large storage facilities, for cars I think

  13. Not a Boffin

    OK that makes some sense. It would get the car import/export volume out of the southern part of the port and presumably all the traffic out of the city centre. Still better hope they deliver/collect to and from Marchwood by rail then. A326 will be a nightmare!

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