Let me start the summary by saying I am not an offshore or geotechnical expert, just someone interested in the subject. This series of posts should be viewed in that context, an interested party with no great expertise!
I make number of assumptions that would need to be tested, even assuming the basic premise of the proposal is correct, which is equally open for debate.
We should absolutely recognise though that such expertise does exist, and exist in the UK and Europe. Whether that is in military bridging, port construction, offshore engineering or geotechnical surveys, Europe has a rich vein of research, technical and engineering capability as a result of decades of experience in the oil and gas and renewables industries which to mine for solutions.
It is in these organisations that we must look for solutions, not BAE or Lockheed Martin.
Increment 1 is achievable within the context of a UK only defence budget. The equipment described is all commercially available off the shelf and apart from maintaining a high readiness survey capability, not especially challenging from a personnel perspective. There may be some additional personnel but with some reprioritisation and imaginative use of reserves and contractor could be achieved without breaking the bank.
It would however, deliver a step change in port opening capability in response to requirements for expansion or repair of existing locations.
Given the dual use nature it might even provide some opportunity for a bit of trickery re the DFiD disaster response budget. I know this is often raised as the great white hope of anything vaguely related to defence logistics and I would certainly not be opposed to this kind of thinking, surely it can’t be that difficult, we really do have to get better joined up across Government departments for dual use capabilities.
Increment 2 on the other hand, is extremely ambitious.
Yet for all the ambition embodied by the Increment 2 requirements it is achievable. All of the technology solutions described are commercially available, absent is new materials research, software integration or cutting edge fabrication.
Is it affordable within the MoD’s budget, probably not.
This means it would need to be a shared solution with individual nations taking budget and operational responsibility for the individual components.
Impossible, no, difficult, yes.
As Europe seeks to become, even a little, more self-sufficient in military enabling capabilities some shared or pooled arrangement would also be worth exploring with NATO and/or European allies.
Across Europe there is a wealth of experience in every single aspect of both concepts, collectively it is an area where Europe leads the world.
Exploiting this expertise, maximising Europe and NATO’s soft power, providing a unique and worthwhile military logistics capability in an area that is likely to see increasing demand seems a good decision to me.
So there you go, hope you enjoyed reading and commenting on this series as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Table of Contents
Although the images are much compressed and there is no video, this series is available in Scribd