The Atlantic Conveyor #Falklands30


This is a reprint and refresh of an older post on the story of the Atlantic Conveyor, one of many incredible stories to come out of the conflict.

Atlantic Conveyor before conversion
Atlantic Conveyor before conversion


The Atlantic Conveyor was built on the Tyne by Swan Hunter and delivered to Cunard in 1970 as part of their contribution to the Atlantic Container Line consortium.

At just under 15,000 tonnes she was a hybrid container and RORO ship. These were revolutionary designs at the time, combining RORO and container storage in a single vessel and were designated the G2 class

Atlantic Container Line G2 Cutaway
Atlantic Container Line G2 Cutaway
Atlantic Container Line G2 Schematic
Atlantic Container Line G2 Schematic

ACL are still in business, read about their history here.


I won’t go into much detail here, there are plenty of sources online for that but this early phase is best characterised by this quote;

Don’t make yourself too comfy mate, we’ll be back.

Unknown British Royal Marine [as leaving, to Argentine guard, following Operación Azul]


One must remember in 1982 UK forces were configured for ‘Cold War’ NATO tasks and expeditionary capabilities did not have the same priority as given to the expected Warsaw Pact thrust into Western Europe. In order to support the logistics effort a number of civilian vessels were therefore requisitioned under the Ships Taken Up From Trade (STUFT) system. Other vessels were chartered and in total just over 40 civilian vessels of many types took part in the conflict.

After some preparation, 4 Chinook helicopters from 18 Squadron RAF were detached to RNAS Culdrose to support the task force by ferrying supplies to the ships including a 7 tonne bearing. Radar Warning Receivers were fitted and discussion on how they would be transferred South commenced. The plan was to deploy 4 aircraft to the Task Force and one at Ascension and it should not be forgotten that the Chinook had at that time, only been in service for a short time.

Harriers and Sea Harrier users started preparations, the Harrier GR3 was fitted with radar warning receivers and even modified to carry and fire the Sidewinder air to air missile.

14th April

After a meeting at the MoD on the 14th during which the concept was evolved, the Atlantic Conveyor was designated to carry a number of Harriers and helicopters, the Harriers were to replace expected combat losses.

The Atlantic Conveyor was therefore not an aircraft carrier conversion in the typical sense but a transport vessel for replacement harriers.

She sailed from Liverpool the day after.

16th April to 5th May

After arriving at Devonport on the 16th conversion started immediately.

Modifications included covering the container hold with steel plates and creating a system of shelters and equipment stores using ISO containers (I knew I would be able to squeeze containers into this post) both on deck and in the hold. Existing accommodation, showers, kitchens and other facilities ion the ship would support the extra embarked personnel and the on deck containers were used to store fresh water to wash the seawater residue off the aircraft, oxygen and other essentials.

The decision to use the Atlantic Conveyor for other stores was taken on the 17th and 20th of April, after the initial concept had been approved. Thus, no additional magazine capacity was installed with the 600 cluster bombs, rocket motors, anti-tank missiles, grenades and small arms ammunition stored in normal containers, this would have a significant bearing on the aftermath of the attack.

A wide variety of things like a tent city, stacker trucks, 12 Combat Support Boats, specialist spares, munitions and more or less our entire stock aluminium matting for temporary airfield construction were loaded.

Helicopter and Harrier operations were also tested and confirmed, surely an incredible feat, just to remind you of the time scale, 10 days.

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The short time in which the conversion went from concept to reality demonstrated how close working relations between military and civilian personnel could achieve stunning results.

The 4 Chinooks were flown to the Atlantic Conveyor, rotor blades removed and the airframes protected with Dri-Clad covers and corrosion inhibitors.

At 4pm on the 24th, the ship left Devonport and after a period of further loading and testing the newly installed RAS gear, she arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on the 2nd of May arrived at Ascension Island and offloaded some stores, including one of the Chinook helicopters.

Atlantic Conveyor Replenishment at Sea
Atlantic Conveyor Replenishment at Sea

7th May

The Sea Harriers and Harrier GR3’s, after record breaking single seat ferry flights from the UK, were flown onto the Atlantic Conveyor and covered with the same Dri-Clad bags that protected the helicopters.

RAF Harrier GR3 being refuelled by a Victor tanker en route to Ascension
RAF Harrier GR3 being refuelled by a Victor tanker en route to Ascension
RAF Harrier GR3 at Ascension
RAF Harrier GR3 at Ascension

8 Sea Harriers and 6 Harrier GR3’s were to be carried South.

A number of different sources cite the 5th of May as the date when the aircraft were loaded but a day here or there is not significant for the purpose of this post.

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One Sea Harrier was kept on ‘Deck Alert 20’ in the anti shadower role to protect against the Argentine Air Force 707 reconnaissance flights with tanker support provided from Ascension for a short period should it be needed.

Atlantic Conveyor sailing SouthAtlantic Conveyor sailing South

18th to 24st May

After rendezvousing with the Task Force, the Harriers were disembarked to HMS Invincible HMS Hermes, with all the GR3’s going to Hermes. They would of course had to take off vertically, a difficult manoeuvre from a rolling deck.

During this period the Atlantic Conveyor stayed in close proximity to the Battle Group, providing helicopter support in which 1 Chinook and 3 Wessex were used. The Chinook crews broke new ground, the aircraft was still in its introductory trial period..

Atlantic Conveyor sailing South with Wessex on the rear flight deck
Atlantic Conveyor sailing South with Wessex on the rear flight deck

The one Chinook used was the famous Bravo November, flown off the small rear deck. Because of blade clearances the ships rear ramp had to be partially lowered as can be imagined by looking at the image above , still, must have been quite hairy flying.

Stores and munitions were also transferred and a Lynx embarked as a hot spare.

With the Harriers no longer on board, the main mission of the Atlantic Conveyor had been achieved.

25th May

The Atlantic Conveyor was signalled to be ready to move to San Carlos Water under cover of darkness to disembark all helicopters at first light. Preparations continued including moving stores to disembarkation points and ground testing of some of the remaining helicopters.

2 Super Etendard’s of CANA 2 Esc approached from the North after refuelling from a Hercules tanker.

The call ‘Handbrake’ was received on board the RN ships, indicating a detected Super Etendard radar emission.

At 19.40, Emergency Stations was sounded by the Atlantic Conveyor’s ships alarm.

A number of warships including HMS Alacrity deployed chaff countermeasures but whilst lured into the chaff cloud the missiles flew through it and detected the Atlantic Conveyor.

There is some difference of opinion on whether one or two missiles hit the Atlantic Conveyor.

The official Board of Inquiry stated two and three diary extracts from the HMS Brilliant website would also seem to confirm that.

Our weapon systems locked onto both the missiles and tracked them all the way in but they were unable to engage them because they were out of range. She was on fire within minutes of being hit and it was getting dark we were told to get in as close as we could and pick up people in liferafts. We picked up a life raft with about 24 in while we were doing this about five floated past, they looked dead a couple had put there survival suits on wrong and were floating feet up. I think they were picked up by helicopter. It was a terrible feeling knowing it could have been you and so it goes on.


The Captain put the ship into defence watches at 7.30 but I stayed in the Ops Room and we had an EW detection of Etendard radar at about 7.40 then shortly after this an unknown contact to the NW. We then saw them – contacts double (obviously missile release) as the missiles started in. The system immediately acquired them and the T.V. monitors showed them heading some 5 miles NW of us toward the Atlantic Conveyor. The missiles were so close together they were both on the same T.V. monitor. They were v. low and v. fast. We saw them hit the middle of the “Conveyor” and the explosion seemed to go through her and out the other side.


While the rescue attempt were being carried out on Coventry two low aircraft were spotted at about 26 miles away from the force. They released Exocet missiles at 23 miles All the ships fired Chaffe which is just bits of silver paper it worked for a second but the missiles locked on again straight into the stern of the Atlantic Conveyor. Our weapon systems locked onto both the missiles and tracked them all the way in but they were unable to engage them because they were out of range. She was on fire within minutes of being hit and it was getting dark we were told to get in as close as we could and pick up people in liferafts. We picked up a life raft with about 24 in while we were doing this about five floated past, they looked dead a couple had put there survival suits on wrong and were floating feet up.

The Board of Enquiry stated the following;

ACO hit by two Exocet, port quarter level with after end of superstructure, 10-12 feet above waterline. Missiles entered C cargo deck in vicinity of lift shaft. Ship in a port turn passing through approximately 90 degrees at the time

Between then and 20.10, when the decision was made to abandon ship, the damage control and fire fighting continued, despite a number of systems failing. HMS Alacrity came alongside to attempt boundary cooling and RFA Sir Percival also stood off the port quarter to render assistance.

The light was fading and sunset marked at 19.58.

Ammunition was dumped overboard but at 20.05 the fires were assessed as being uncontrollable with a high risk of spreading to the forward hold where considerable quantities of kerosene and cluster bombs were stored.

Shrapnel was reported to being seen coming through the ships sides as ammunition was exploding.

There is often a debate about the difference between military and civilian ships in terms of design, damage control being one of the principal differences. The document below is from the Board of Inquiry highlights those differences.

Despite the valiant efforts of those involved 12 men lost their lives.

3 were lost on board and 9 after entering the water. 22 were rescued from the forward deck using helicopters and more from lifeboats. 137 out of  the 149 on board were rescued which is obviously a great credit to all involved and testament to the calm and orderly manner in which the ship was abandoned.

I thought this, from the London Gazette was fitting at this point in the post.

Captain Ian Harry NORTH, Merchant Navy. On 14th April 1982 SS ATLANTIC CONVEYOR was laid up in Liverpool. On the 25th April she deployed to the South Atlantic converted to operate fixed and rotary wing aircraft and loaded with stores and equipment for the Falkland’s Task Force. This astonishing feat was largely due to Captain North’s innovation, leadership and inexhaustible energy.

SS ATLANTIC CONVEYOR joined the Carrier Battle Group on 19th May 1982 and was immediately treated as a warship in most respects. Almost comparable in manoeuvrability, flexibility and response Captain North and the ship came through with flying colours. When the ship was hit on 25th May Captain North was a tower of strength during the difficult period of damage assessment leading up to the decision to abandon ship. He left the ship last with enormous dignity and calm and his subsequent death was a blow to all.

A brilliant seaman, brave in war, immensely revered and loved his contribution to the Campaign was enormous and epitomised the great spirit of the Merchant Service

The last lifeboat was recovered by HMS Alacrity at 23.00.

A few comments from the earlier article on Think Defence

The conveyer was with us as we had been cross decking harriers and kit all day. I can remember the action station alarm going off and the urgency in the voice of the person sounding the alarm and we knew it was close. When I closed up to my action station I got kitted up I opened the weather deck access door for a peak to see what was happening. I could see her clearly ablaze especially around the super structure lads running up and down the deck donning there once only survival suits and going over the side as she was that close to us. Then all the helicopters started closing in on her and winching up the lads out of the water and from the life rafts. I knew several of the lads who were on her and they were brought over to us. It seemed quite funny at the time in a strange way and we were taking the piss out of them (gallows humour I suppose) then I can remember looking at them and seeing the shock in their eyes and the reality of what had just happened to them sank in. Had she not taken the hit would it have taken us?

Hermes 82 – TD Commenter

I was embarked on the Conveyor (848 NAS) at this time. There has always been a debate as to whether we were hit by one or two missiles – it doesn’t really matter I guess, despite gallant efforts there was nothing we could do to save her. The lone question I have always carried with me is, if she was so important to the success of the landings, why weren’t we better protected?

Peter Burris – TD Commenter

I was spreading the rotors of the Wessex 5 just aft of the forward flight deck when we were hit. A scary time for a young 19 year old, but recently my mind has been blown away by a fact that I read in the “Board of Enquiry” of the sinking of the AC. I was rescued by a Wessex 5 of 845 squadron “YD” XT459. I didn’t know this until last week when I read the report. In December 1983, I was on operation “Clockwork” in northern Norway, left hand seat in “YD” when we spiralled in nose first from 1200ft. I’m in shock that the same aircraft rescued me, then 19 months later nearly killed me!

Phil Russo – TD Commenter

I was on the Alacrity at the time we had detected the Etendards and had fired chaff resulting in the conveyor being hit. we spent the next few hours first tied up alongside trying to fire fight and rescue survivors but it was too rough and we were getting smashed together. We then stood off and put swimmers in to rescue survivors and recover some of those less fortunate.

Stevey – TD Commenter

Certainly brought back a few memories for me! 54 merchant ships were taken up from trade (STUFT) to assist the armed forces during the South Atlantic conflict. 43 sailed for the South Atlantic with Merchant Navy crews and Naval Parties embarked, before the Argentine surrender on 15th June

Commander Nick Messinger RD** FNI RNR Retd – TD Commenter

Was serving aboard HMS Alacrity at the time. As I recall the Exocet(s) were aimed at us andor the carriers, but we sent up loads of chaff which confused the missile(s), which carried on past us and then, as programmed, they hunted for the next large object which happened to be Atlantic Conveyor, about a mile away from us? Alacrity was first alongside, and as Stevey correctly stated, it was far too rough for us to stay alonside for long, especially as it turned out that the Alacrity’s hull was already in poor condition due to the battering it took down south. I recall vividly hauling some bodies on board, we had nowhere to store them, so we had to temporarily stow them in one of our ammunition stores. It was another terrible day, coming only four and two days after losing two of our sisters, Ardent and Antelope respectively. Morale was pretty low for a time. Dave “Bungy” Williams WEM(R)1

David J Williams – TD Commenter


26th to 28th May

A Wessex helicopter from HMS Hermes photographed the still burning ship the day after the attack.

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On the 27th at 50305 5451W the Atlantic Conveyor was again sighted and although the bow section had been completely destroyed by exploding cluster bombs and fuel, a decision made to attempt to bring her under tow.

Atlantic Conveyor under tow by the tug the Irishman
Atlantic Conveyor under tow by the tug the Irishman

Despite repeated efforts to tow using the tug, the Irishman, she sank in the early hours of the 28th of May.

Three containers were sighted floating at the position where it was assumed she sank.


In addition to the huge volume of stores, 3 Chinook, six Wessex and a Lynx helicopter were lost, including their specialist tools and spares. The remaining Chinook, the famous Bravo November, would be kept flying with borrowed tools and improvised engineering but one thing was certain, the route to Stanley would be carried out on foot.

The full BOI report can be found here, which includes an extensive narrative and a great deal of supplementary information including information on how the explosives, ammunition, bombs and other hazardous stores were stowed.

Although the loss of the Atlantic Conveyor ultimately did not change the result of the campaign the loss of two things were to be acutely felt.

The first and obvious one was the amount of vertical lift available to land forces, although Sea King and Wessex could both lift sling loads they were in no way comparable to that of the Chinook. Personnel transport using helicopters were also much fewer than the Chinook. With only one Chinook available, priorities would mean that this would be largely used for supporting the Light Guns. No large scale move of infantry forces by helicopter was now possible and most of the troops had to walk (tabbing or yomping depending on the colour of your beret) up to fifty miles across East Falkland, from San Carlos to Stanley, before starting the main attack, a feat of arms that is still notable today.

The impact of a shortage of helicopter lift on the decision to attack Goose Green and the subsequent tactics is interesting to debate but the most significant impact would be the decision to send 5th Brigade to land at Bluff Cove and its subsequent losses.

A second, but less widely discussed impact of the sinking of the Atlantic Conveyor was the loss of the Harrier Forward Operating (FOB) equipment and stores. Using scrounged materials the Royal Engineers completed an improvised FOB at Port San Carlos on the 2nd of May and whilst providing a vital ‘pit stop’ for both Harrier GR3’s and Sea Harriers it was at nowhere near the capacity of the one by now sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic.

If a more capable FOB could have been established earlier, following the planned 25th/26th offloading of the Atlantic Conveyor it would have provided an operating base for the Harriers much closer to land forces and vessels near the Falkland Islands. Pure speculation of course, and maybe a spot of what of revisionism but the impact of this on subsequent ship losses and casualties would have been significant.

On 11th June the British troops mounted a brigade sized night attack on Argentine positions in the mountains surrounding Stanley and three days later, after more heavy fighting in the area, the Argentine garrison surrendered.


There remains to this day a question of why the Atlantic Conveyor was not provided with a suitable escort, with Sea Wolf and not equipped with any self-protection, beyond GPMG, such as chaff launchers.

After the BOI report was released in 2007 the newspapers printed the headline grabbing news that Atlantic Conveyor was left defenceless over concerns about legality.

From the Times, December 11 2007

A helicopter-carrying merchant ship that sank with the loss of 12 men after being hit by two Exocet missiles in the 1982 Falklands conflict was unarmed and unprotected because Ministry of Defence lawyers feared that it was illegal to fit a commercial vessel with weapon systems, according to newly released classified documents

The full text from the BOI report is below

I would tend to veer towards the very short time period for conversion as a critical factor but that is just a personal opinion.

The point about a shortage of suitably equipped escorts is critical.

The decision on what to protect, carriers or the Atlantic Conveyor, must have been an agonising one to make and one should never seek to second guess that process.

Not considering the Atlantic Conveyor a High Value Unit was maybe an error but we should also avoid any criticism, difficult decisions have to be made and there is no doubt about the value of the aircraft carriers. What would have more effect on the outcome of the operation, the loss of a carrier or the loss of the Atlantic Conveyor?

It is an interesting subject to discuss but it is very easy to understand the decision making process.

However, with a greater appreciation of the value of the heavy lift helicopters, perhaps the Chinooks could have been offloaded sooner?

Also, if the commander(s) also appreciated the value of the FOB, enabling both Harrier and Sea Harriers to operate from the Islands with obvious endurance benefits, would subsequent outcomes been different.

Despite seeing with perfect 20:20 30 year hindsight vision, I do wonder if not providing the Atlantic Conveyor with sufficient priority was indeed, a mistake.


The Atlantic Conveyor had a less well known sister ship that also took part in operations in the South Atlantic. The Atlantic Causeway was pressed into service in the same time frame but with a different set of modifications. Requisitioned on the 4th of May and taken to Devonport on the 6th she was converted to carry, operate and support helicopters.

The conversion differed from the Atlantic Conveyor in having a large hangar forward and improved aviation fuel handling facilities

Atlantic Causeway sailed on the 14th of May with 28 helicopters and arrived in the Total Exclusion Zone (TEZ) the 27th of the same month, disembarking her aircraft and stores in San Carlos Water from 31 May.

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During the operation she received 4000 helicopter landings and refuelled aircraft 500 times, an impressive feat for a conversion and restoration that cost £2million.

From Hansard;

HC Deb 22 December 1983 vol 51 c424W 424W

Mr. Dalyell asked the Secretary of State for Defence what has been the cost of converting the Atlantic Causeway into a ship capable of carrying helicopters.

Mr. Lee The Atlantic Causeway was taken up from trade and converted to transport aircraft and stores during the Falklands emergency. She has since been restored and returned to her owners. The total cost of conversion and restoration was about £2 million.

That particular aircraft in the picture below is FMA 1A 58 PUCARA A-515/ZD485/9245M, now an exhibit at the RAF Museum, for a full history, click here

Atlantic Causeway and a Chinook unloading the spoils of war
Atlantic Causeway and a Chinook unloading the spoils of war
Atlantic Causeway and a Chinook unloading the spoils of war
Atlantic Causeway and a Chinook unloading the spoils of war

Two other similar and arguably even less well known vessels were similarly converted, the Contender Bezant and Astronomer.

Contender Bezant was utilised as an aircraft transport, ferrying helicopters and harriers on deck.  Following purchase by the MoD in 1985 for £13million she was converted to an aviation training ship at the shipyard of Harland & Wolff, Belfast, with the addition of extended accommodation, a flight deck, aircraft lifts and naval radar and communications suites.  She is now effectively an aviation support ship operating aircraft from her former container deck with the RORO vehicle deck converted to an aircraft hangar.  A Primary Casualty Receiving Facility was added before Argus was sent to participate in the 1991 Gulf War.  Another role of RFA Argus is that of RORO vehicle transport with vehicles carried in the hangar and on the flight deck, a role she performed in support of United Nations operations in the former Yugoslavia.  During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Argus was again present in the Persian Gulf as an offshore hospital for coalition troops, earning the nickname “BUPA Baghdad”.

MV Contender Bezant
MV Contender Bezant
MV Contender Bezant
MV Contender Bezant

MV Astronomer was another civilian container ship pressed into service for Operation Corporate. Originally owned by the Harrison Line she was converted and departed the UK on the 8th of June 1982.

In December 1982 Astronomer was leased by the Ministry of Defence and underwent further conversion during which she was fitted with the Arapaho system, a flight deck and hangar facilities for trials.

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She was later commissioned into the Royal Fleet Auxiliary as RFA RELIANT in late 1983.

RFA Reliant
RFA Reliant
RFA Reliant (Image Credit - RFA Nostalgia)
RFA Reliant (Image Credit – RFA Nostalgia)
RFA Reliant (Image Credit - RFA Nostalgia)
RFA Reliant (Image Credit – RFA Nostalgia)

RELIANT’s first deployment was off Lebanon in 1984 in support of British troops in Beirut. She was later redeployed to the South Atlantic to act as a Helicopter Support Ship. However RELIANT soon proved the Arapaho system unsatisfactory, she could not support AEW (Airborne Early Warning) helicopters and 70 containers were needed to support five AS (Anti Submarine) Helicopters.

In 1986 she was decommissioned and returned to Merchant service.

The tremendous versatility of the Harrier was demonstrated a year later with an unplanned conversion of the Spanish cargo ship Alraigo

Bravo November

No story of the Atlantic Conveyor would be complete without some reference to the one that got away, Bravo November

During the attack on the Atlantic Conveyor, Bravo November was moving netted cargo of Lynx spares and was therefore still in the air, after being ordered to hold position for a short period the helicopter returned to HMS Hermes.

The large Chinook on the crowded deck of HMS Hermes caused some problems for aircraft movement and consideration was given to sawing the blades off and stowing below or even dumping it over the side in best Vietnam fashion

Thankfully, these options were eventually discounted and the next morning it was refuelled and flown to Falkland Islands.

A good account of Bravo November can be read in the 18 Squadron Association newsletter, click here including the amusing note that when it landed on the Falkland Islands, Bravo November had a grand total of 18 flying hours logged.

In the same newsletter a mission is described in which it carried 28 men and two 105mm Light Guns in the cabin, plus another Light Gun slung, must have been a tight squeeze!

Bravo November Chinook Falkland Islands 1982
Bravo November Chinook Falkland Islands 1982

Another mission included carrying 81 fully tooled up Para’s to Fitzroy, yes, 81.

From commencing operations until the Argentine surrender, Bravo November moved 1,530 troops, 650 POW’s and 1,600 tonnes of stores.

It is difficult to see how the Royal Artillery could have kept up the intense Light Gun firing rate without the heavy lift provided by Bravo November.

Ship Borne Containerised Air Defence System (SCADS)

After the conflict some consideration was given to extending the concept of converting merchant vessels for aircraft operations, one such study was called SCADS.

Shipboard Containerised Air Defence Systems (SCADS)
Shipboard Containerised Air Defence Systems (SCADS)

The September edition of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) News described the system, dubbed HMAS Lego.

Of course, they don’t publish magazines like this anymore, see if you can get past Page 3

The article starts by introducing the need for the system because the UK had decided not to sell the RAN HMS Invincible after all.

The utility of the Atlantic Conveyor and her sisters was clearly recognised and working with the Atlantic Container Line the MoD created a number of working concepts and tests, the ACL Generation 3 (G3) CONRO design even had its own dedicated MoD Radio Room.

ACL G3 with Mexeflote
ACL G3 with Mexeflote
ACL G3 amphibious operations
ACL G3 amphibious operations
ACL G3 with helideck
ACL G3 with helideck

RFA Reliant would also see service supporting the UK contingent (BRITFORLEB) of the UN Multinational Force (MNF) in Lebanon between 1982 and 1985, Operation HYPERION.

RFA Reliant off Beruit in support of UN MNF  (Image Credit - Flickr Dave Ireland)
RFA Reliant off Beirut in support of UN MNF (Image Credit – Flickr Dave Ireland)


In June 2007 a memorial to those lost on the Atlantic Conveyor was unveiled at Cape Pembroke, the most Easterly point on the Falkland Islands, near the now disused lighthouse.

Atlantic Conveyor Memorial
Atlantic Conveyor Memorial

Up until that point she was the only vessel sunk in the conflict without a memorial.

The memorial features a propeller and shaft that has been aligned on a magnetic bearing of 62 degrees to indicate the point, 90 miles out, where the MV Atlantic Conveyor finally came to rest.

In 2008 the Protection of Military Remains Act (PMRA) 1986 was extended to include the Atlantic Conveyor

A Lighter Note

Thought I would end this post on a lighter note, an urban myth perhaps, but a good one.

Because it was not absolutely clear what stores were on board, it was said for years after the sinking, every enterprising Quartermaster (QM) in the British Army seized the opportunity and indented for equipment that supposedly ‘went down on the Atlantic Conveyor’

The amount of kit thus claimed would have been enough to fill several Atlantic Conveyors.

The best one I heard was that some old tentage, still on the books from Boer War, was finally written off as being lost on the Atlantic Conveyor!





Fast Air UK

The Army Rumour Service

Britain’s Small Wars

Imperial War Museum

RAF Web Site

Some of the images are seen in any number of locations so it is difficult to pin down the originator, as usual, thanks/apologies to those I haven’t managed to get permission from in advance

  1. wf says

    The reason why Thatcher tried to get Pinochet released. And why AEW is so important for naval task forces

    Growing up where I did, I met a few FAA pilots. One was on the Atlantic Conveyor. He never discussed it with me, but my parents said his wife reported that the RN was no longer the “fun” job afterwards: he stayed in, but it was more duty than anything else.

  2. Jed says

    Great post TD, great post.

    My Yeoman instructor at HMS Mercury was a AC “survivor”. My very good friend was first mate of the Irishman and got the OBE (or BEM ?) for the salvage efforts.

    In 87 when I deployed to the gulf on an a Hunt Class MCMV we got a ‘radar warning receiver’ and “Barricade” chaff and flare launchers – cheap, simple, easy to operate systems – perhaps if they were around five years earlier AC might have dodged the bullet ? Of course fitting her with guns would have made no difference – although a RAF Reqiment friend once noted that early in 82 the US Army in Germany had just retired a whole battalion of towed 20mm Vulcan air-defence systems – the same gattling gun as used in Phalanx, but with optical sights and a small tracking radar – take the wheels off and weld it to the deck ? Hindsight eh ……

    Really when you consider the kit she was carry, she was about as much as a High Value Unit (HVU) as the carriers, could we not have found a Seawolf equipped Leander or T22 to act as “Goalkeeper” (very close escort).

  3. ArmChairCivvy says


    The first article was not bad, I can see why the “sequel” was worthwhile.

    I can now, again, take FBOT’s “designs” seriously. Also, wf’s link is astounding (the gvmnt managed to silence the media at the time).

    Just a small detail: those wave-breakers (in the photos), were they for the on-call Harrier not to be washed away, or for all of what was on deck (well wrapped-up)?

  4. Peter Elliott says

    Amazing what can be acheived in a short time when the pressure is really on. What was done then could plausibly be done again.

    OTOH a purpose built ‘Aviation RFA’, or even a very austere planned conversion, would have: damage control, magazines and mounting for CIWS.

  5. Gareth Jones says

    Excelent post TD!

    I mentioned damage control being a weakness in my Auxiliary Cruiser concept. DK Brown said the main problems with civilian ships were access hatchs below the waterline/low in the ship and their fire control water mains: they are kept in a dry stae and water pumped through when needed. In a warship, particulary a Carrier, the mains are always kept full, so requiring special anti-corrosion treatment.

    These problems would be difficult/expensive to fix in existing ships but could be built in to new builds, perhaps with the government paying any extra expense? The government have done similar in the past.

  6. Alex says

    That Jose Pinera link is interesting. Note the French being helpful (routing via Tahiti?). Mind you I have some doubts summed up in this map. Easter Island is about 590 miles out of C-130 range from Papeete, and that’s without making any effort to flight-plan properly with alternates (although, where exactly is an alternate for Easter Island? I presume LAN Chile just tanker enough fuel in their 727s to go back to the mainland). Bora-Bora is even further.

    Also, we’d never have heard the last of the RAF having a lay-over in Tahiti.

  7. Topman says

    ‘Also, we’d never have heard the last of the RAF having a lay-over in Tahiti.’

    Oh I don’t know about, bet it’s not a patch on Bermuda…

  8. Alex says

    Actually, a bit of thought and Google Erf…Mangareva/GMR is about 1000 miles from Papeete and 1600 from Easter and there’s 6000 feet of runway. Or if the French were being implausibly nice, Mururoa, although it’s not as helpful being about 280 miles West.

  9. DominicJ says

    “their fire control water mains: they are kept in a dry stae and water pumped through when needed. In a warship, particulary a Carrier, the mains are always kept full, so requiring special anti-corrosion treatment.”

    The Falklands war was only seventy something days.
    How much would they have corroded in that time if ept full?

  10. Hugh says

    Great post. Thanks.

    “The amount of kit thus claimed would have been enough to fill several Atlantic Conveyors.” – CPO Pertwee would have been proud…

  11. Gareth Jones says

    @ Dominic J – I have no idea but sea water is surprisingly corrosive…

  12. Fat Bloke on Tour says


    Any thoughts on the capabilities and performance of SeaCat?
    How well did it do in 1982, did it shoot down any aircraft?

    My view it was RN trendy vicar to get an short range AAW missile onto some hulls.

    Would the previous generation automatic 40mm gun been more use in San Carlos Water?
    From memory this was a huge gap across both land and sea forces, the lack of an upmarket, modern and capable small / medium calibre AA gun.

    Regarding the ship itself you can see design in action, you could see that the merchant ship conversions got better over the month, with the AC’s being the poorest and the most limited.

    Also the lack of modules and chunks in the build process shows in great detail that it was 30 years ago, so much seems to be being carried out on deck rather than the workshop or build hall.

    Another point is the size of the AC, almost toy town by today’s standards which then limited the capabilities of the conversion plus the fact that the AC was a strange container / RoRo hybrid.

    Finally, finally was a conversion of a large VLCC to ever discussed?
    It would have been much more capable and flexible plus Loch Long was full of idle ships.

  13. Gareth Jones says

    RE: SeaCat. I’ve heard the RN was not overly happy with the SeaCat; one third hand account I heard suggested it was the ideal answer to Stukas…

  14. x says

    SeaCat was often referred to SeaMouse.

  15. Phil Darley says

    Just seen Dauntless setting sail for the Falklands. Seems to be missing her Phalanx CIWS!

    I wonder why that is?

    Do we think she is also short on Aster missiles as well?

  16. wf says

    I think neither Sea Cat or Tiger Cat (thankfully!) shot down anything. Blowpipe scored 1 hit for 95 launches with the UK, and also shot down a Harrier for AR. Sea Wolf managed 2-5 kills for 8 launches, Sea Dart 6 for 26. Rapier scored 1-5 for 40. SAM’s had a bad war, but Sea Harrier and Sidewinder did very well, with 20 for 26

  17. Chris.B. says

    Really good article boss.

    Re; Sea Cat
    One confirmed kill of a Skyhawk by Type 12 HMS Yarmouth, who had a surprisingly active campaign. Also a Sea Cat was listed as a possible in a kill of another Skyhawk, though a Rapier and Blowpipe both have claims to that kill.

    Sea Wolf – 4 kills,
    Sea Dart – 7 kills,
    Rapier – 1 confirmed,
    Blowpipe – 1 confirmed,
    Stinger – 2,
    AA fire – 4,

  18. ArmChairCivvy says

    Hi Phil D, RE
    “Seems to be missing her Phalanx CIWS!

    I wonder why that is?”
    – RN has contracted for conversion of the Phalanxs to the B standard (different barrels, armour-piercing ammo to deal with surface targets…)
    – I wonder if a couple at the time is sent back to the factory (anyone know?)

  19. ArmChairCivvy says

    Hi wf,

    You point out Sidewinder (no doubt was there), but wasn’t one of the emergency help measures to ship AMRAAMs straight out of the USA?
    – I think it was on the 59 minute Max Hastings piece on Falklands that was linked to by Jedi
    – raises the question how could you slot them straight in when integration nowadays seems to take ages

  20. wf says

    @ACC: the US shipped 110 *replacement* AIM-9L instantly so we could raid our existing NATO stocks. AMRAAM didn’t exist at that time, sadly.

    Sidewinder in those days was fairly simple: the physical work had already been done with other variants, and L was designed to be compatible anyway. Even ASRAAM is designed to slot into the Sidewinder launcher :-)

  21. ArmChairCivvy says

    Thanks wf,

    I thought something did not tally up (was it GR7 or 9 that was due to get AMRAAMs, so a huge time gap?)
    – how do you use BVR missiles without a radar, btw? Assumes an AWACS always available?

  22. wf says

    @ACC: GR7/9 was never going to get AMRAAM. Sea Harrier F/A2 had AMRAAM from 1993-2006 :-(

  23. Think Defence says

    Have updated the post with a few bits and pieces including a picture of a GR3 with Sidwinder

  24. BPCs says

    What would have been done, if modern RoRo ship had existed …
    The Mark V class M/V Tønsberg is a nearly 265 m long flat desk with laterialized exhaust :
    A nearly LHA…

  25. x says

    Both Type 12s had a good war. It has been said they were most useful ships down South.

    Shame that Plymouth is heading for scrap heap. Says a lot about us a country.

  26. Fat Bloke on Tour says

    WF @ 11.37

    Blowpipe – 1 from 95 launches.
    Did we ever get our money back from that one?

    We would have been better off firing RPGs at them and hoping someone would have had a heart attack.
    And I thought SeaCat was bad.

    What level of Concept generation / R+D did we have in industry?
    Was this lack of quality known about at the time?
    Or did combat shock the MOD to its core?

  27. wf says

    @FBOT: I think it’s more or a general thing. It’s noticeable that AIM7 and 9 early variants had a 8 and 12% success rate in Vietnam for example. That being said, having a missile like Blowpipe, Seacat or Rapier, you require lots of live training to operate it successfully. I doubt that was ever funded.

    I’m glad combat shocked the MOD. Unfortunately, with the lack of realistic testing for things like Aster, it seems those lessons are wearing off :-(

  28. DMN says

    Wasn’t part of the problem with Blowpipe that it was designed for aircraft attacking head-on, not ones passing right-to-left or left-to-right?

  29. wf says

    @DMN: I know it was sold as superior to Redeye, on the basis it *could* engage head on. It had a relatively slow speed (M1.5) would make all but head on engagements problematic anyway.

  30. Fat Bloke on Tour says

    AAW / Missile Debate

    In San Carlos Water would a well equipped 1945 USN group have been more effective at shooting down aircraft than the 1982 style RN?

    I am thinking lots of 40mm stuff plus the 3″ with a proximity fuze?

    Would a 1945 RN group have fared better under the same circumstances?

    Would a tactic of drenching the air with pre-planned AA fire forcing the AF to fly through it worked any better than the tactics they did use?

    Thinking of the 91 low flying debacle.
    30 years tactics and training wasted in one week of real flying?

  31. x says

    Both the Army and the RN of the time didn’t do AAW very well compared to other European nations. The RN excuse was it would be operating in the deep Atlantic and pop-ups missiles and ASM from surface ships would be the threat. I don’t know about the Army but compared to the Germans with the Gepards and missiles etc. Rapier alone and a few “mandraulic” guns don’t quite cut the mustard with FJ targets doing over 450kts. More autocannon would have helped for sure. More Rapier too. I don’t think anybody quite appreciated the threat. I read that Ardent sent a GPMG back to stores because they thought it wouldn’t be needed. Stories I read of scores of Para’s or RM on their backs shooting their SLRs en masse into the air sounds amusing but to me smacks of desperation. I think during WW2 the Parachute Regiment had 20mm air-dropable Polstens. Lastly as has been pointed out may times the Argentines were very well equipped; it could be argued better equipped than the British by some margin in certain areas. And this can be seen with their army’s, air force’s, and marine’s AAW systems they had TigerCat, Roland, and several modern gun systems.

    The Mk6 mount onboard the Counties and Type 12 is a DP mount but off the top of my head I can’t remember any kills being registered to that system. Remember this was the mount fitted to the T41 and T61 AAW, respectively AAW frigate and fighter direction frigates.

    The thing is with SeaCat is as a first generation system it’s poor performance was to be expected. Oddly enough the system which SC could have said to have replace called STAAG was actually pulled from service along while before. STAAG was a gun system. Just as the first of a new breed will suffer from poor performance it seems the last of a breed will suffer too due to being over complicated.

  32. Jim says

    The army has not moved on much from 82, still has rapier, GPMG not sure what the present status of Starstreak is.

    Air defence orders at the time were fully elevate turrets aim into the centre of the position and open fire. The idea being an attacking aircraft had to fly over the position and through a cone of fire.

    Even if it would have worked then, these days with Brimstone, Hellfire etc there is very little chance with the equipment we have.

  33. x says

    @ Jim

    Well they procured StarStreak didn’t they for point defence? A heavy machine gun is sub-marginal for jets. There is an argument that guns give a very positive boost to the morale of those being attacked because they have the opportunity to hit back at the enemy. But the actually affects of the HMG or MMG are negligible.

  34. ArmChairCivvy says

    As x says, a heavy bde (to be used in a schwerpunkt, rather than in a territorial defence, role)even in a conscript army would have something like
    – half a dozen tracked AD cannon units, each with their own radar
    – 2-10 Crotale or similar units mounted on wheeled armour
    – a central unit to utilise any networked radars in the area
    – 20-ish shoulder launched missile teams
    – 20-ish less mobile light cannon units, networked to the radars but also to their own supporting troops dispersed across the area being defended

    I guess all the AD assets (Rapier, Starstreak, no cannons) are currently with one RA unit and even if all of it would go with a brigade to be deployed, it could hardly match the level of defence described above
    – is the assumption of air superiority under all circumstances “water proof” enough for maintaining only a “Center of Excellence” from which to ramp up if lead time will allow?

  35. ArmChairCivvy says

    Hi x,

    Yes “Well they procured StarStreak didn’t they for point defence?”, but how many are left?

    Rapier is not much more than point defence, but at least the current one is very performant, sharing a lot with Seawolf
    – but can only be used when static (unlike Starstreak)

  36. John Hartley says

    Rather than retire Starstreak/Stormer, can it be modified to carry 4 LMM on oneside & 4 Starstreak on the other?
    That way it can deal with land or air threats.
    A couple roaming around Mount Pleasant would ruin any Argie Para drop.

  37. x says

    @ ACC

    Yep. Rapier is no Patriot that’s for sure.

    My understanding was Rapier was a divisional weapon. While StarStreak was deployed to defend important positions like bridges etc.

  38. ArmChairCivvy says

    yes, divisional when defined in a very narrow way (because it was/is static when ready for use): command posts, supply nodes, airfields and the like that do not move every day
    – compare with the next step up: SAMP-T aka Aster, for theater defence

    Starstreak can of course protect anything, but conversely, it was/is the only thing to give to formations on the move

  39. x says

    ACC – yep

  40. wf says

    In a normal world, Starstreak and Rapier would, with their limited range, be battalion point defence weapons, while CAMM/Aster would be at the brigade level and Patriot/Bloodhound would be divisional assets. We have ended up with almost nothing in the locker, even after a really close shave in the FI. Doesn’t say much for either the RAF or the RA….

  41. Jim says

    Land Anti-Aircraft defence is a neglected area in most armies. They seem to have taken the position that its just not worth the expenditure. The last time the British Army/RAF did not have air superiority must be in France and Egypt 1940-41 and at Arnhem in 44 and we all know the result of that one.

  42. x says

    @ Jim

    In 1944 the Allies had complete air superiority to boot.

    @ wf

    That is why I struggled to call Rapier a divisional weapon. As you say every brigade should have had such a system.

  43. Chris.B. says

    Oto Melara seem to have been thinking about this issue.

  44. James says

    The reason the Army has got very little effective AD kit is because

    (1) AD is seen pretty much as a joint responsibility, with budget and programmes flowing to whichever capability or service is seen as being able to best achieve the desired effect.

    (2) AD is not very sexy in the Army, reinforced by the RAF saying they are Biggles on steroids and the Navy trying to rescue something after being largely irrelevant for 30 years.

    (3) The last time the Army faced an air threat was in 1982, and even then apart from Bluff Cove it was mostly from Pucara. Wheras the Navy lost ships, so went hard at AD afterwards.

    We are currently spending around £11 billion on another layer of air defence capability beyond the T45 which is itself costing about £6.5 billion. It is interesting to note that only around one third of this combined cost of approaching £18 billion would ever be in a position to actually do any air defence for any future operation.

    In addition to the nearly £18 billion on CVF, JCA and T45, the RAF also brilliantly specified that Typhoon be specified as initially an air defence aircraft, as opposed to a useful jet that is optimised to drop bombs, which is what is actually needed. The programme costs are so far predicted to be about £20 billion.

    So we will be spending something like £38 billion in total on Air Defence assets over a period of about 20 years.

  45. x says

    Well even with total air superiority after D-day it still took best part of a year to push the Germans back to Berlin.

  46. Mike W says


    “I guess all the AD assets (Rapier, Starstreak, no cannons) are currently with one RA unit”

    I don’t think so. The last article I read seemed to suggest that StormerHVM was still with 12 Regiment RA and that Rapier was still with 16 Regiment.

    @John Hartley

    “Rather than retire Starstreak/Stormer, can it be modified to carry 4 LMM on oneside & 4 Starstreak on the other?”

    I don’t think all the Stormer HVMs are being retired. In fact, the last I heard was that those remaining were to be upgraded. They have been seen recently on Salisbury Plain. There has also been some talk recently about the Army thinking about fitting LMM to the vehicle. One advantage would be that it could also be used in the ground role.

    However, in the light of a recent press article, all this might have changed. I am still very concerned about the assertions in that “Sunday Telegraph” article. I just wish we knew what was happening.

    wf is quite right when he says that we have almost nothing in the locker.

  47. wf says

    @james: I’ve got no quibble with the budget. It’s just we don’t seem to be getting enough for the money :-(

  48. James says


    you caught me half way through an exercise of trying to identify when the British Forces have last faced a peer air threat. Battle of Britain is looking good at the moment, but I need to do some further checking.

    More importantly, looking forward I am really desperately trying to work out which other nation may in the next 50 years constitute a credible air threat. I’ve got a resurgent Russia launching swarm style cruise missile attacks, but that’s about it so far.

  49. James says

    My bet is the £38 billion spent on Air Defence will never ever be used, thus putting it into CASD levels of VFM.

  50. Peter Elliott says


    Of ocurse we faced a Russian air threat during the cold war. The fact that it didn’t crystalise doesn’t mean it wasn’t a real threat. By that token the money spent preparing to meet it can’t be written down as altogether wasted.

    (Similar things could be said about CASD. Just becuase we haven’t incinerated anyone doesn’t mean we aren’t getting VFM: quite the opposite.)

    Other peer air threats: Malaya, Singapore & Crete. All in 1941. If you don’t count Korea as part of the cold war you could say we were there and that there was a peer air threat.

  51. x says

    @ James

    What about China? According to one frequent non-British commentator here I am nut job for pushing the Chinese threat a good few decades hence. You don’t want to be in X’s Numpty Club do you?

  52. ArmChairCivvy says

    Hi James,

    How about Korea when SeaFury was about the best that could be pitched against Mig-15s (I am not counting the RAF guys who were trained in America and flew Sabres).

    Yes, jointness in this area is a fact and I actually read a Joint Doctrine or something, which had been put together in the time between the Falklands and Aster coming into service
    – made a big play about radar capabilities now being better against land clutter than in the days of the SeaDart… a bit misplaced, because without AEW in any form, land cover (regardless of clutter) will still work.
    – telling, too, that there was no updated edition (may be there is, but not in public domain)
    – anyway, the whole thing (not a bad doc) smacked of encyclopedia style of writing rather than reading like a doctrine

  53. Peter Elliott says


    Also the underying point: do you believe in deterrance?

    Or does all military spending have to result in someone’s day being spoiled to count as VFM?

    Lord Fisher wasn’t actually hoping for Jutland when he built the Grand Fleet. He was hoping to prevent it.

  54. All Politicians are the same says

    The Army are getting CAMM(L) are they not? Which will offer a step change in capability. James, Korean war, Falkands war (imagine we did not have AIM9(L). Suez with Egyptian Mig 15s?
    Typhoon will develop and as it was already used to drop bombs and fly CAP during OUP you lose your bet.
    Plus if you can envisage succesfully every strateigic shock which may occur in the next 50 years you are not doing well you are a legend.
    To illustrate some 50 year gaps between conflicts.
    1876 siege of khartoum, 1916 battle of the somme.
    1895 Jameson raid, 1945 atomic bomb on hiroshima.

  55. ArmChairCivvy says

    And soon every vehicle, especially those with a hatch on top, will have a shotgun as standard issue
    – do you have to make the pellets bigger to improve the range against micro-UAVs? Or can you have some sort of group-saboted round, a bit like the HVM sp

  56. ArmChairCivvy says

    …spears (was the last word; sometimes the website just decides to do things on its own)

  57. x says

    Any who CVF is for dropping bombs on the Third World types without indoor plumbing not AAW or sinking ships; especially not the latter……..

  58. Jim says

    X @ 8:39 pm

    During Market Garden they drew a line on the map which no Allied CAS aircraft could cross. The paras were left at the mercy of German air attacks. The US airborne even opened up a forward airbase which was intended for CAS aircraft however the RAF took control of it supposedly for evac flights, refusing permission for the fighter bombers to use it.

    They may have had air superiority elsewhere but not over Arnhem where German aircraft were free to attack at will.

  59. James says

    No one will convince me we do not need AD, so I am glad no one is trying.

    Equally, no one will convince me that AD is essentially a protecting function. It should never be the main strategic effort.

    Examples such a Korea mean nothing now, being 60 odd years ago.

    In a world of limited budgets, you have to apportion resources according to probabilities and threats.

    Can anyone name a conflict in the next 10 years in which we are likely to face a credible air threat? No, no one can. And that has been predictable for the last 20 odd years since the end of the Cold War.

    So, given bugger all credible threat, I say let’s spend some money on what we are actually likely to do. That is not the same as spend zero money on AD. Equally, it is not the same as the RAF and RN engaging in a financial orgy of ridiculously over-spending every penny we have not got, to face down a threat of some elderly Super Etendards or iranian Tomcats.

    And guess what? Even if we did take some risks and are slightly caught out, we might lose a few planes. Well, shit happens. That’s war, and don’t anyone fucking dare tell me I’m being flippant, because I’ve served in a few.

    We have lost nearly 1000 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last ten years, and we don’t find £38 billion being spent to avoid a couple more deaths, do we?

  60. x says

    @ Jim

    Did the Germans have much flying kit left?

  61. x says

    @ James

    The figure I see banded about for the cost of Iran and Afghanistan wars is some £20billion.

    And with deepest respect the Army has, despite some very advanced kit and considerable fire power, had their arses handed to them by a group of amateurs wielding a long arm 30 years old than than the SA80 and whose comm’s kit can be bought from Phones4U. I am wondering if they sit in their caves wondering how we can spend so much for so little.

  62. All Politicians are the same says

    James, Yes we have lost over a thousand soldiers in iraq and Afghanistan in wars of choice, not defensive wars! I have op toured in both, doing complement jobs, Iraq twice and if I want to call you flippant I will!
    What would you have spent 38 billion on in order to avoid deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan? Maybe invading Iran etc in order to pursue those nasty insurgents even further.
    We are spending money on core defensive capabilities, because they take time to develop and introduce into service and the world changes.
    Korea means nothing now, well incase you havent noticed they are firing missiles which the Japanese are threatening to shoot down. Would we deploy to aid South Korea? More likely than spending another decade with an insufficient Brigade getting blown up By IEDS somewhere hot and dusty.

  63. Peter Elliott says

    “Can anyone name a conflict in the next 10 years in which we are likely to face a credible air threat? No, no one can”

    Here goes: Eurozone economic meltdown leads to political meltdown; far right regime seizes power in Spain; attack on Gibralter; Typhoon threat to our relief force. Done.

    I recognise that inventing future conflicts is easy and working out how to prioritise spending is hard.

    If you could go back to 2001 what one critical piece of procurement would you have funded to save some of those 1,000 lives? Stryker perhaps.

  64. ArmChairCivvy says

    Hi James,

    I agree “I say let’s spend some money on what we are actually likely to do. That is not the same as spend zero money on AD.”
    – I was writing in the present tense about a Centre of Excellence, because my belief is that very soon that might be the case (one, dedicated RA Rgmnt, both training small detachments like the RM, but also ready to deploy whatever kind of asset might be required in the field)
    – btw, SeaCeptor has been contracted but the land-based version is still far from it?

  65. Ace Rimmer says

    James, I’m not going to try and convince you, but I would repeat a suggestion I made on another thread, where I asked why even with our current technology, no-one has put forward a fire and forget MANPAD that is flexible enough to be used on both ground and aerial targets.

    I’m thinking of a Stinger look-a-like that also has Javelin ATGW capabilities. Good enough to take out ground targets, flexible to point at the sky if the sh*t hits the fan.

  66. All Politicians are the same says

    AR Whilst at a slight tangent to your point, paprently star streak can penetrate 1M of armour at 6km. It takes 5 seconds to cover 6km so at 1km it would take approx 0.85 seconds and impact at a speed of approaching mach 3 so whilst not precisely fire and forget the next best thing.

  67. Fat Bloke on Tour says

    James @ 10.01

    You ask about things that could have been done to reduce the casualty rate in Iraq / A/stan?

    Boxer – the great white hope that actually delivered.

    Proper understanding of mine resistance from the start rather than tarting up trash and ignoring the rest of the world.

    Invest in some proper light infantry tactics and stop treating the grunts as armed mules with huge rucksacks.

    Learn from your mistakes.

    I am not saying it would be easy but the BA is a much reduced force after its time in the ME / CA.

    The current military love in with the mass media including the tax avoidance parts does the BA no favours, the last 10 years in history will read as being the Boer War that we lost.

  68. ArmChairCivvy says

    Hi Ace

    Here comes:
    out to 5 mls, 200mm armour, only Mach 2 though (against HVM Mach 3; but I trust the warhead more than the kinetic power of HVM)

  69. Mr.fred says

    I feel I have to step in to point out that Starstreak cannot penetrate 1000mm of armour steel. Basic physics should indicate that a Mach 3, 300g projectile cannot substantially outperform a Mach 5, 5kg+ projectile (120mm APFSDS)

  70. All Politicians are the same says

    MR F, dont shoot the messenger, I had heard people talk about it and found some stuff online.

  71. Jim says

    ACC “The system can hit targets flying as high as 16,500 feet.” and theres the problem, how many attacking aircraft are flying that low. What height were Typhoon and Tornado dropping Brimstone at over Libya ?

  72. Jim says

    Is it not planned to park a T45 on the Thames during the Olympics as we don’t have a creditable land based AA defence system.

  73. ArmChairCivvy says

    Hi Jim,

    Part of layered defence, of course, present in great numbers in the vicinity of high-value targets or the main area of ops
    RE “as high as 16,500 feet.” and theres the problem,how many attacking aircraft are flying that low”
    – just takes off the option of fast-and-low, to get under the longer ranged defences
    – you can still get under, but if the distributed* sensors tell where you are approaching from… that’s why Boliden has the head-on capability (they claim it is unique, but then again, everyone will have to come out with differentiators in marketing speak)

    *mainly people, but what they’ll need is an instant channel to the central node (and voice is no good, because aggregation will need to be instanteneous, too).

  74. wf says

    @Jim: they are planning on installing Rapier and Starstreak in various parts of London :-)

  75. Mr.fred says


    I’m not having a pop at any one person, but common sense should be applied to all information, especially that found on line.
    1000mm RHA is superior to almost all dedicated anti-tank weapons. The penetration method is known and the kinetic energy of the Starstreak darts is easily calculated. It is more than likely that 1000mm is a typo that has been repeated without anyone making a critical appraisal. If the figure was 100mm RHAe, then that would be believable.

  76. Gareth Jones says

    RE: Type 41 Frigates: “Designed as an Air Defense Frigate utilising the Common Frigate Hull concept she was armed with two twin 4.5″ Mk VI gun turrets…
    It was hoped the 4.5″ with automatic loading would combine the rapid rate of fire of the 4″ with most of the punch of the 4.7″

    Sadly it did not. The automatic loading mechanism was so prone to jamming that the gun had to hand loaded, although it still retained some automated handling the rate of fire the designed specification of 24 rounds a minute was cut in half and left the barrage capability of the Type 41 sadly depleted…
    In total defiance of all the lessons of WWII she carried very little light AA, being fitted with only the amazing STAAG system, a twin 40mm gun mount that weighed in at a boggling 15 tons…
    Lynx remained operational until 1982 but was not reactivated for the Falklands war, an odd omission as her twin turrets would have been very useful for NGS and air support in the cramped waters of San Carlos.”

  77. Gareth Jones says

    RE: SAM’s as ATGW’s. I have heard about Stinger (and the Russian copies) already being used as such, the IR seeker looking on to hot engines, etc. As that is usually a weak spot in the armour a mobility kill might be possible? Also I recently read that the USAF has updated their Sidewinders to attack ground attacks of opportunity.

  78. Mr.fred says

    One stumbling point with conventional SAMs and AAMs being used against ground targets is that they are typically proximity fused, so they will airburst some distance from the target. Dangerous against softskins* but not AFVs, which will be armoured against airbursting artillery shells.
    Starstreak and similar are a bit different, being both command to line of sight, so they go where ever you tell them to, and Starstreak itself is impact fused only.

    *if it is the target that initiates it and not, for example, a tree.

  79. Gareth Jones says

    Perhaps more dual/multi-use weapon systems would be desirable?

  80. x says

    @ Gareth J

    Well the T12s were supposed to have the twin 3in gun QF in the Mark N1 mount. Mk6 is described as semi-automatic. After that vid young Chris posted I have hankering (speaking to way too many Yanks at the moment) for one of those Oto 76mmm being fitted onto the T45s. Imagine if space could be found back aft for another mount? Who ever designed T45’s upper works needs flogging; the more I look the crapper the class’ general configuration becomes.

  81. SomewhatInvolved says


    That’s a tad harsh. Most of the design is signature reduction measures. Not sure where all this up-gunning has come from what you’re suggesting seems unnecessary. 45 has a very capable layered defense with Aster and Phalanx, and effective surface gun power in 4.5″, ASCG and Phalanx.

  82. SomewhatInvolved says

    The only change I would have made is to have the Phalanx fore and aft instead of on the beams – gives better 360 coverage and both can bear on an abeam target.

  83. Jim says

    With a Phalanx at the bow you can also turn towards the threat giving a smaller target.

  84. x says

    @ Somewhat

    A good flogging never hurt anybody! Really I am only a tad unhappy with the design. And if what I wrote didn’t read with hint of tongue in cheek I must be losing my touch.

    Any way I agree with you up to a point about the positioning of Phalanx because as you say of arcs. But I also think the “experts” those people who we naughty armchair admirals often try to second guess are probably right to put them on the beams. If you note the Italian Horizons have a 76mm on the hangar roof to cover those arcs that concern you. And by chance replacing the Mk8 as I just joked with a 76mm would also cover those arcs as well as being useful for the rare shot across bows policing type job. I do think the Mk8 is getting a bit long in the tooth now compares with 5in (127mm) and 76mm guns. As we know there were other plans for the gun system for T45 but to save money HMG went with Mk8. And the same could be said of Phalanx; it too is getting a bit old. Though one could ask why wasn’t the T45 designed from the get go to take a larger CIWS as the trend seems to be towards bigger guns in that role. Indeed one wonders where all the Goalkeeper mounts are from B3 T22 and Invincible. So really I don’t understand how you can say adding an extra gun back aft in the place where you would have a gun and indeed just asking for a modern gun system to replace the 40 year old plus gun system (Mod 1 mods to one side) on a new class is really “up gunning”. You make it sound like I was asking for 3 x triple 8in mounts. The Italians don’t think 3 x 3in guns are excessive. The Zumwalts will have 4 mounts (2 x 155mm, 2 x 57mm) You are very much a product of your service; a service where anything that shoots real ordnance is to be look on warily!!! (BTW that was a joke…….. )

  85. x says

    @ Jim

    The missile will go for the thickest part of its target. And it will be coming down a bearing. Better for it to run into a stream of 20mm solid slugs.

  86. Anixtu says


    It seems likely that Goalkeeper is being gradually retired in favour of standardisation. The only ships mounting it that are here for the long term are the LPDs, and I can’t see the RN retaining those four mounts in service with everything else toting Phalanx.

    If the service must standardise on one CIWS, Phalanx is the only practical answer.

  87. x says

    @ Anixtu

    Yes I know. :) I suppose with RAM and laser weapons using the Phalanx chassis it may be a good decision. Though it being a decision made for economic more than for technical reasons I would hardly crow that the RN have made some super astute choice based on profound understanding of AAW requirements over the next few decades.

  88. Peter Elliott says

    Would Phalanx be able to handle an incomming brahmos? India and Russia are talking of selling the missile so its not a far fetched scenario in the medium term.

    If we did upgrade to SeaRAM would this replace Phalanx or would we need to find mounts for both?

  89. SomewhatInvolved says

    Phalanx is going to be the RN’s default CIWS – Goalkeeper is being phased out and will eventually be replaced by Phalanx on LPD’s once enough remanufactured 1B’s become available. Phalanx 1B is extremely effective with its TV and thermal imagers and it is dual role anti-surface and anti-air. They’re not on Dauntless because she is not going to be shooting down any Exocet or Super E’s on her deployment, so not mounting them saves us having a pair of mounts beaten up by Southlant seas. It’s also a political statement. Phalanx is east of Suez fit only now – that is both a cost saving and a reflection of the likely risk to ships.

    The only real shortcoming of the Mk8 is range and accuracy in the land attack role. It is still an effective ASuW weapon when used with the GPEOD or manual directors, and can be fired at very close range if required, i.e. ASCG/Phalanx ranges. Greater weapons cover aft might be a consideration for the swarm type threat, but the T45 design was penned before such threats became credible. Perhaps there will be a nod in that direction in the final shape of T26.

  90. SomewhatInvolved says


    Smaller visual cross section perhaps, not necessarily a smaller radar cross section. The brightest radar flash of any ship design is the bow, stern and beams where you have big flat surfaces to bounce it back.

  91. x says

    Can you see T45 being used on the gun line? I suppose with fewer and fewer escorts it will happen. But I also suppose MoD(N) will argue it won’t happen enough though for them to invest in something like Vulcano.

  92. Peter Elliott says

    For me we need to face the fact that the gun is now a secondary weapons system and settle for ‘good enough’.

    Any funds we can rake together to improve our Land Attack and Anti Ship missions should be directed towards the VLS: presumably someone on our side is developing multi-role Mach 3 and Mach 7 missiles to complement TLAM?

  93. jed says

    Anxiatu, SomeWhatInvolved et al

    Lets get one thing straight, Phalanx as an anti-missile CIWS is obsolescent and has been for nearly 20 years – the longer barrels and improved ammo mean nothing and are unlikely to take down anything other than cheap Chinese knock off’s of the Styx, or early model Exocets. Against an FGA with a half decent rocket (such as our CRV7) it does not have enough range – BUT with it’s improved optics and improved manual command modes it is a good anti small boat swarm weapon system.

    If the budget would allow then levering the investment in the mount by converting to SeaRAM would be a good idea.

  94. Peter Elliott says

    To sharpen the question I would say we should be installing Sylver 70 or Mk 41 VLS into both T45 and T26 before we spend a penny a sexy new rapid fire gun with guided ammunition.

    1 This will allow us Storm Shadow / TLAM

    2 We can integrate a new AShM into the VLS eliminating the separate Harpoon firing system.

    3 When the Americans develop a Brahmos clone it will be launched from a VLS and not a gun.

  95. Peter Elliott says


    Agree on SeaRAM, but would you also retain the Phalanx gun for the small boat killing mission? Could both weapone be squeezed onto the same radar mount?

  96. Chris.B. says

    Definitely prefer to see money go to new Sylver A70 cells before anymore gun upgrades (can’t see the Mk.41 making an appearance on T45 because of Aster) but I think the gun issue has merit in the long run with the new Volcano ammunition, as demonstrated by the video linked to by X.

    Perhaps when the Type 45’s come in for a refit they could be given both if the proper funding is set aside for it now (stop laughing).

    The question is with the Type 26, whether you go for the full 5″ gun or with a 76mm (3″) to try and save a bit of cash and space in the short run. Still got 30km of range plus a supporting role in air defence.

  97. Observer says


    One of the post mission observations of anti-piracy patrols off the Gulf of A. that was published is that in OOTW ops, a smaller gun is more flexible for use in that role. If you were to design a pure warship out to kill other ships or NGS, 5″ would be worth it, but for things like shooting up the engine of a hijacked tanker, a smaller, hyperaccurate mount is better. After all, you want to recapture the ship, not send it sky high :). The paper recommended smaller mounts with a High/Low ROF control, low ROF for OOTW “sniping” shots, high for threats and to tear up other warships. Will have to see how that works out.

    The American Brahmos “clone” is the Waverider project.

  98. All Politicians are the same says

    Observer, Like the ASCG 30mm mounted on T23 frigates perhaps? Waverider is a “hypersonic flight test bed” which will undoubtedly contribute to future missile technology is not a missile in itself. It is effectively an engine demonstrator, in some ways far more sophisticated than Brahmos but without any seeker head tech etc at the moment.

  99. Observer says

    APATS, the 30mm would work, but I believe the original question was 5″ or 3″. And no, not talking about willy size.

    I never said the Waverider was a missile, I said it was a project, though I can see how the misunderstanding came about. The Waverider has potential to become a missile, but that is years in the future, not to mention the design goals were different. Brahmos was a missile from the get go. Waverider was designed to test the hypersonic concept as a vehicle.

  100. Observer says

    Sorry was interupted.


    Why I mentioned the Waverider was that that is the most likely hypersonic project that a missile can grow out from, and if any Brahmos II competitor is going to appear, it’s going to be from here. Lots of work to be done for that to happen though.

  101. All Politicians are the same says

    We do have a fascination with Brahmos on these pages. Yes it goes fast and at 300km it goes a reasonably long way. Couple of questions.
    1. Who has it that would want to fire it at us?
    2. how good is the seeker head etc? Could we maybe jam it using active off ship soft kill?

  102. Observer says

    APATs, it’s being offered on sale. That’s what’s worrying. And the reason why there is a facination with it is that you hope for the best, but actually try to prepare for the worst, and a Mach 7 HV AShM is probably among “the worst” that anyone can think of. Look on the bright side, if you can defend against it, anything lower than that is going to be “yawn..” worthy.

    Coming from Singapore, our “friendly neighbour” Malaysia is considering them for their new frigates. Can I worry now? :) Which ironically is one of the reasons for going down the “stealth” ship pathway. Can’t shoot what you can’t see.

    As for ECM, that is also where the speed worry comes in. There is simply so much less reaction time to power up ECM and figure out how to spoof the missile than if it was slower. Not to mention seeker heads can be swapped fairly easily, or even have multi-mode intergrated seekers nowadays. I’m not sure if anyone got a cheap AESA radar onto a missile yet, but the ability to evade jamming + a TI function to counter chaff clouds is going to be hard to stop.

  103. All Politicians are the same says

    Observer, The hypersonic version is still a concept. Not being able to shoot what you cannot see is a very good point why it is difficult to exploit the full range of ASMs you literally fire it at where you think the enemy are or where they were.
    Without wanting to get a visit from people to my door, as long as you know what the threat is responses are pre planned so you are not working out how to do it.

  104. Observer says

    APATs unless you have a realtime orbital surveillance system over an area, which the Chinese are doing (Beidong) in conjuncture with their BM shipkillers. Of course, figuring out how to crack this nut isn’t really time critical as I seriously doubt anyone is planning to invade China in the near future.

    Actually, 300km is a fairly short range, considering we were talking about TShMs with ranges of up to a thousand kilometers. Same problem though.

    “threat is responses are pre planned so you are not working out how to do it.”

    And once they know you know, they’ll do something and hope you don’t know that they know that you know…. :P

    It’s always a race between defences and weapons, most telling being the CIWS (Phalanx/Goalkeeper etc) and counter-CIWS missiles (Onyx/Mosquit etc) and counter-counter CIWS missile missiles (SeaRAM etc)

  105. All Politicians are the same says

    Observer, Indeed the biggest threat comes from an unnaounced suprise attack. Once you are at war then you can do things about satellites and surveilance and launchers etc.
    The problem with such races is that they are very rarely ever tested. They are however extensively modelled, simulated and exercised.

  106. Observer says

    And you know what they say about simulations vs reality. :)

    About pre-planned responses, you also have to assume that you know what the enemy is going to do. Guess wrong, and there is a chance of kissing a 5B pound ship goodbye. Add to the problem multi-function seeker heads, which function are you going to jam? TI? Radar? Both? The person programming the shot can simply be choosing modes based on whim or dice, which is why time to figure out what mode is being used is so critical.

  107. Observer says

    “Observer, The hypersonic version is still a concept”

    Just did some checking. Yup, it’s still a concept, they only just finished final design testing this year. Probably will only see it out next year.

    Time to hide. :)

  108. All Politicians are the Same says

    Observer, you are a pessimist. Computer modeling and simulation have come a long way and you can actually make it harder than real life.
    Hypersonic Brahmos end of the decade, neither the Indians(indigenous fighter and MTB) or the Russians have a great track record with really advanced stuff.
    Again without going classified, there are some very good indicators which mode a missile is using.

  109. ArmChairCivvy says

    Hi APATS & Observer,

    Good discussion going.

    Yakhont, Brahmos and Brahmos II are evolutions, each being the previous generation, in that order.

    Because “the West” has had these kinds of missiles on a fairly low development priority, there are now three in parallel development in the US:
    – the mentioned sea-based hyperstrike, which will have a huge range
    – two more: subsonic & stealthy, going low all the way vs. a supersonic one going up and then diving

    The latter two will come to the Critical Design Evaluation soon , and only one will proceed (will be with us way before Perseus, anyway).

    The hyper-thingy is a derivation of the Global Hyper Stike, and as you report the technology is still being proved.

  110. Observer says

    APATS you misunderstood.

    Live fire test for the ground launched version was completed this year, operational 2013. Air launched and ship launched to be tested next year 2013. I wasn’t being flippant when I said next year.

    You underestimated them by 5 years. Indians can do good stuff… provided their politics let them. And luckily for them, the Brahmos was fairly untouched from the rest of the massacre the politicians did of their armed forces.

  111. ArmChairCivvy says

    Hi Observer,

    I think you are mixing up the versions; this man here comes with all the bragging rights
    – the interim development is putting the first version on AIP subs (still to be built; how many years are they behind with the Scorpenes which we meant to come out of the box and help to tool up the industry to produce their own designs)
    – the latest test (March) was just to confirm that the first generation is good for coastal defence, too, and two army rgmnts will receive it

  112. x says

    @ APATS

    Though I am concerned about us stopping them I am just as concerned about us sinking them too. :)

  113. SomewhatInvolved says

    I think there is too much worry going into the Brahmos threat. It may well be on sale, but it is not cheap and will be relatively difficult for second and third world navies to afford.

    Phalanx will be almost useless against it because of sheer mass and velocity, but then the majority of threats we face are not fifth generation hypersonic battering rams but third and fourth generation Exocet and Styx derivatives manufactured and developed by China. Those can still be countered effectively with systems like SeaWolf and Phalanx.

    That said, even the SeaRAM will struggle to knock such large weapons out of the sky at such close range. What you need is a high-g capable manoeuvring SAM coupled with an advanced radar mounted high up to detect, classify and indicate the threat in good time to destroy it. The design philosophy behind Aster and Type 45. I still absolutely maintain that T45 is the most capable AAW warship in service and could easily handle a salvo of Brahmos or similar. SeaCeptor (such an awful name) has a range advantage over SeaRAM so ought to be able to deal with the same threats at the minimum range.

    Not enough credit is given here to soft kill capabilities, i.e. decoys and jamming. We deploy the Mk251 Active Decoy Round in RN service as well as a number of other decoys. All of them are significantly more capable than most people on this site would credit them with. In fact I’d go so far as to say soft kill right now was more effective than hard kill.

  114. SomewhatInvolved says

    Anyway, India and Russia aren’t tooling up to meet the Western threat, but the Eastern one. If ever a Brahmos is fired in anger, it will probably be at a Chinese target not a Western one.

  115. ArmChairCivvy says

    The CEO’s statement I linked to was not clear on the “not for sale” – was it regarding B I or B II (in the case of the latter, there is nothing to sell for a good while still)

  116. Observer says

    Off a wiki reference

    “BrahMos II land variant design has been completed and 4 Land to Land test variants are ready to be tested. Rest of the variants will be tested in the successive years of 2012-13, design is projected to be completed by October 2011 [67] and will arm the Project 15B destroyers of the Indian Navy. In Russian navy project 21956 Destroyers are most likely to be equipped with BrahMos II. [68]”

  117. Observer says


    That’s true, but I really like my AA to be able to handle all threats. Besides, if it’s done once, you can bet others will follow or copy, so it’s good to try to be a bit ahead on the curve. Astor and the Ceptor (there goes English spelling) do seem to be good for the job. SeaRAM? 8km is about 4 sec at Mach 7. Not very promising. Decoys and ECM? Might be worth a look too, but remember, radar jamming only works until AESA gets built in. Think the Japs already have an AESA missile.

  118. Mark says

    Heat, dynamic pressure, drag and flight control software issues are several orders of magnitude greater for hypersonics at sea level compared to high altitude (which we currently can’t do) and at high level are orders of magnitude more difficult than super sonic travel. Hypersonic vehicles flying in none space re entry trajectories in earths atmosphere are IMO a generation away at least in any useable form.

  119. x says

    Somewhat said “Not enough credit is given here to soft kill capabilities, i.e. decoys and jamming. We deploy the Mk251 Active Decoy Round in RN service as well as a number of other decoys. All of them are significantly more capable than most people on this site would credit them with. In fact I’d go so far as to say soft kill right now was more effective than hard kill.”

    Reminds of a story I read about a USN commander visiting a T42. He was shown quickly around the weapons on the weather deck and was a bit underwhelmed. He was then shown to ops and given a comprehensive talk on all the various electronic gizmos and all their mind bending capabilities. At the end of tour he turned to his hosts and said “Gee you guys no exactly when you are going to die..” The reason why, supposedly, HMG funds a navy is to inflict violence on other nations not to field the missiles and armaments of other nations. You can argue that all these systems, soft kill or hard kill, is that they aren’t perfect. There is always a margin. Isn’t the FI War a lesson in how temperamental “modern” systems can fail (either for technical or operator derived reasons) and result in sip’s being lost?

  120. Phil says

    “Not enough credit is given here to soft kill capabilities, i.e. decoys and jamming.”

    And this is why we must all here recognise that our opinions and comments and above all, criticisms must be tempered with the realisation that we don’t and cannot know everything.

    For example, one might criticise the RN for not having enough CIWS yet soft kill may be far more effective as is said and our ships as safe as they can be with it. But because we cannot know about its abilities we cannot comment on it. Which skews the whole debate.

  121. SomewhatInvolved says


    The Falklands was a long time ago, and supposedly ‘modern’ systems failed on both sides (Argentine bombs and ASW tactics?). There were a lot of lessons learned from the mistakes that were made, and I’d like to think that analysis process is better today than ever. Besides, we took a blue water navy optimised for North Atlantic submarine hunting and effected an amphibious invasion of defended territory against a capable aggressor, so no surprise things went wrong. Atlantic Conveyor could have survived the Exocet raid if the escorts had placed their chaff better.

    Warship design, like everything else, is always a compromise of affordability against probable threat. The RN has elected to follow a certain philosophy in its warship design which compared to some navies may seem inadequate, and to others overkill. We’re in the midst of an update process (SWMLU, 997, Aster/Sampson, SeaCeptor) that will allow us to deal with the newest generation of threats as well as the old, and the soft kill systems are not being ignored. Harpoon may be old and slow, but it is still quite difficult to defeat by all but the most modern navies. None of it is perfect, but it could be a lot worse.

    Funny how a USN commander would make such a comment. After all it was a 42 that shot down the Silkworm that was heading for the Missouri in GW1 whilst its escort was busy shooting at chaff (although to be fair it would probably have just bounced off the Missouri).

  122. Paul says

    Anyone have a deck plan for the latest generation of Ro-Ro such as Tonsberg etc particularly where the hoistable decks are in relation to the weather deck and how much height there is from weather deck to first fixed deck

  123. Phil says

    “Isn’t the FI War a lesson in how temperamental “modern” systems can fail (either for technical or operator derived reasons) and result in sip’s being lost?”

    Embrace the chaos.

  124. x says

    @ Somewhat

    Well the Silkworm was old and slow. :)

    I used to work on high end IT kit equipment. In qualitative terms it was several factors beyond the quality of your typical good quality PC and was looked after by highly trained and experienced
    technicians and that stuff failed. And it was doing zero knots in a controlled environment without anybody firing at us (often!) I admire your confidence in your equipment perhaps my background doesn’t make so sanguine in the ability of IT systems to remain on line 100% of the time.

    As for Harpoon I have argued the same. But remind me how many of the latter are screwed down on to Dauntless deck at the moment? You may say there is no real threat and I would agree. But then we are not that far of arguing why send any ship at all aren’t we?

    I under stand the RN philosophy concerning EW over kinetic capabilities. But perhaps I find it a bit too subtle. I wonder how many ships have sailed over the last two decades or so with even some of those electronic wonder weapons switched off, not fitted, or not working? Further in terms of system costs for the likes Harpoon we are talking what less than one percent of the total platform cost? And I am also told not to underestimate the abilities of the large far eastern navies. But if you are comfortable with a growing mismatch not only in firepower (size and speed of missiles and numbers afloat) and growing EW capabilities of potential enemies who I am to argue? :)

  125. jim30 says

    Cracking article TD and a particular thanks for the link to the RAN News! Oh if only Navy News were similar ;-)

  126. x says

    @ Phil re chaos

    I accept the chaos that is what is worrying me.

  127. Phil says


    What would you expect from such a conflict? Almost any situation that involves humans operating under pressure, with unknown and potentially disastrous outcomes equates to chaos on some level.

    Now take 30,000 odd thousand humans, put them in almost a hundred ships, and move them from the environment they trained in and from the threats they expected to face into new and extreme environments and new threats and I can’t imagine the situation would have turned out to be anything other than chaotic at times.

    All the assumptions about the threats, environment suddenly become latent errors that can precipitate disasters when taken into a new context.

    So you have a Navy structured to fight on the high seas mainly against submarine threat having to engage aircraft with clutter from land masses and on attack profiles not expected.

  128. SomewhatInvolved says


    There’s a difference between sending a warship minus a couple of deployment extras to a low threat environment, and not sending one at all. As I’ve always tried to point out, warships are diplomatic tools not merely warfighting ones – the political furore over Montrose being turned away from Peru is a case in point. Dauntless will have been tasked to do any number of things, from exercising with the Falklands air defence organisation (for which she is superbly equipped) to diplomatic visits to Brazil and other countries, and lots in between. She is still a deterrent in many ways, even if she is not fully scaled up to take on the Argies single handedly.

    Articulating the non-warfighting capabilities of warships is always a tricky one to get right, and I’m not particularly well equipped to do it. However, a cocktail party isn’t just about the junior watchkeepers getting a free G&T! (waiting for the comeback on that one!!)

    Our IT is rather shocking. But that’s the result of years of separation between the defence industry and civilian technological advances. I think the gap is getting smaller, but as always with new tech the more advanced it is, the less likely you are to be able to fix it when it breaks. I don’t think we can really afford to be too dependent on a Dell or Thales technician, so it does take time to select systems that aren’t so advanced we can’t maintain them. Anyway, we don’t need supercomputers just yet – even a Pentium II does the job!


    As always it’s how you deal with chaos isn’t it? Kit is one element, training very much another. I do think however that we are moving in the right direction and increasing our littoral survival capabilities.

  129. x says

    @ Phil

    I think we are talking about conflicts to come no the FI War so much. Perhaps having read a huge amount on the FI War that is why I am not so confident in electronic systems and our lack of firepower. We have to assume I suppose that China is despite our dependence on iPads and takeaway food they are the (potential) enemy that has to be countered. The Argentine navy scuttled back to port after losing one ship in a war where 3 SSNs and an SSK at sea to counter what was then a 3rd tier navy. We have fewer units now and I don’t think China will be as easily subdued as their quality and numbers grow over the next few decades. I suppose we will hide behind the USN. As I said understand the RN’s EW/soft kill game plan but it is very defensive in nature. I think the Chinese will catch up in that area and will have invested in a range of kinetic capabilities too. Only one has to get through. But the chances of one getting through are increased if you have more weapons to start with. Every European nation has put their principal AAW to sea with ASM missiles (and ASW fit out); heck there are even pictures of of the new Danish escorts with 16 Harpoon tubes. It is hard to reconcile the RN being right and the Chinese, Indians, Russians, and other Europeans being wrong. It is about a range of options.

  130. x says

    Somewhat said “There’s a difference between sending a warship minus a couple of deployment extras to a low threat environment, and not sending one at all. As I’ve always tried to point out, warships are diplomatic tools not merely warfighting ones”

    Yes I know, this is the choir you are preaching too! :) The point for discussion isn’t what warships get used for 98% of the time. The point up for discussion is 10 years from now in the Indian Ocean when the balloon has gone up whether the RN has options available to inflict damage on the enemy or just to field fire. I am not specifically talking about the Falklands situation. That was just a vehicle to hang the discussion off. As I have just said to the boy Phil it is hard to reconcile what “we” do against when others seems to be taking a different tack. I will say again I do understand, as much as somebody in my position can, the RN’s approach to EW. I know in many ways the RN is still world leaders in that area. And I do appreciate the subtly of the idea.

  131. SomewhatInvolved says

    Anyway x, we’re all assuming that the RN will be involved in such a conflict. If it happens, I’m certain it’ll be India vs. China and we will be bystanders, maybe getting involved to protect our own interests but not much more than that.

  132. All Politicians are the Same says

    Observer, You are getting block II and Brahmos 2 confused mate.
    X, Any situation likely to involve Ship to ship combat with a peer opponent is not going to involve the RN in isolation and would allow sufficient time for integration of a plug and play ASM missile onboard.

  133. x says

    @ Somewhat

    Perhaps. But if we are not to fight China and other potential threats like the Argentines are really none threats one could ask who do you think who the RN’s potential opponents are?

    @ Apats

    As I said being able to attack the ships of others is a pretty fundamental capability for a navy to have isn’t it? Surely this is taking sharing or mix and matching capabilities a bit too far?

    And yes I understand that plugging say the likes of Harpoon into a T45’s system is trivial. So trivial I wonder why the RN has done it before send Dauntless south.

    @ Both

    I am waiting James to appear and say the pair of you are basically arguing the navy is an irrelevance!!!

  134. All Politicians are the Same says

    X,Dauntless is down South in a defensive posture. Adding Harpoon(an offensive missile) for the first time to a T45 before sending it South would have been siezed on by the mad Argy woman.

  135. jed says

    So many comments to catch up on due to the time difference! Happy Easter every one……… so where to begin:

    * 76mm versus 127mm (or even 114mm) – as we are not, and probably will not ever by using any medium calibre gun to ‘disable the engines” of pirated merchant ships it is a moot and indeed rather silly discussion. Even with Vulcano rounds 76mm does not cut it for a Navy working for a government obsessd with intervention and “power projection”

    * Hypersonics – Waverider has nothing to do with either of the two funded DARPA projects for next gen AShM for USN/USAF – one of which is supersonic VL for ships, other is subsonic and stealthy for air launch.

    As noted Waverider may eventually feed into the “Prompy Global Strike

  136. jed says

    Arrgh sorry, Android tablet issues with comments box! As much as i have always disliked “Pompey” the idea of a Hypersonic missile for dealing with it is abit over the top :-)

    * Supersonic threats are bad enough without worrying about non existing Hypersonics, and yes that is the whole point behind T45 weapons system – but as SeaCeptor will require either a reasonably sophisticated radar or passive threat warning system to cue it, there are many vessels in RN / RFA that would benefit greatly from SeaRAM

    * EW / soft kill – when I joined RN immediately post FI we were behind the USN SLQ32 systems, by quite away. UAA1 and onwards were excellent passive radar threat warning systems but Type 670 jammer was a crude piece of kit, which was thought to be good against Silkworm, but would attract an Exocet via ‘via home on jam’ ! The 675 which replaced it was a highly sophisticated deception jammer, supposedly as good as any yank kit – it is now out of service, and I don’t know if we have replaced it’s capabilities. Rocket launched off board jammers have replaced the Lynx be used in anti-missile mode, for which it carried a jamming pod (can’t remember the designation).

    * AESA missile seekers – of course they can be jammed or confused, it is just more difficult!

    * multi-mode seekers – their are countermeasures for IR seekers, but rocket launched parachute IR flares no longer cut it, but ships have the power for laser based active IR / optical countermeasures. RN got caught out by the press as far back as mid 80’s when we had manually aimed continuous wave laser blinders – i seem to remember the controversy being that these were against the Geneva Conventions, and our response being that they were only for use against Iranian TV guided Mavericks, not the pilots of the F4’s launching them………. honest!

  137. Phil says

    There appears to be some schizophrenia here sometimes.

    The MoD is berated for cost over-runs and project time slipping. And yet it is also often berated, especially in warship design, for not having every bell and whistle on every vessel.

    T45 is an AAW unit. It does not at present need a ASM. If and when it does, it can be fitted. In the meantime there is no need to take up a finite pot of money maintaining and deploying a weapon system that has been fired a handful of times with mixed success. I have no doubt that T45 will eventually have a ASM fitted, when it needs it. In the meantime an awful lot of money will have been saved and hopefully spent on better more core roles for other kit and units.

  138. x says

    @ Apats

    I don’t think many Argentines or British know Harpoon from a drain pipe. I appreciate what you mean by defence posture.

  139. SomewhatInvolved says


    Oh that’s a good one! However, I can safely say I have no idea who our future opponents are.

    Having been given a great introduction to future threats by the Joint Services Staff College, it’s safe to say that over the next forty or fifty years there will be any number of different and diverse threats emerging. I could go on for hours. But the bottom line is – nobody knows (maybe I should hold up a little card like in QI!). Because of that, our outlook must be to be flexible and adaptable to crises, able to scale our efforts from peacekeeping through to full scale but localised conflict. This applies to ALL arms of the military, not just the RN. It must encompass an ability to defend our interests across the globe (be they territories, access routes or resources), and be interoperable with all nations but prioritising those with similar global capability – i.e. US and France. Call me a traditionalist but that screams maritime-centric strategy to me.

    It got rebuffed when I mentioned it last time, but I stand by the DCDC’s document ‘Global Strategic Trends – out to 2040’. Read the executive summary if nothing else – it does a pretty good job of trying to read the tea leaves. Maybe TD could do a piece on it – it’s a guess, but as well informed a guess as can be.

  140. SomewhatInvolved says

    Jed, the future Maritime Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (MIDAS) will encompass all aspects of missile defence in a fully integrated system, including laser dazzle. In development now. On another note entirely, chaff is almost out of service, will be fully eliminated by the new Mk 217 radar decoy next year.

  141. Observer says

    APATs go do a Google search.

    I’m well aware of the difference between Mk 1 Version 2 and Mk 2 Version 0.

    Might want to check up on more source material. A lot of it says the Mk 2 Land attack version is out.

  142. x says

    @ Somewhat

    I don’t know! I come here campaigning for a 1000 ship nuclear powered navy are you professionals can’t come up with somebody to have a bun fight. :)

  143. jed says


    I disagree, if a warships ‘standard’ fit should include Harpoon, then that should be carried at all times, having a vessel of that size, cost and complexity be no threat at all to other vessels beyond Lynx directed 4.5 inch fire is absurd.

    Do you honestly think El Pesidente Loco is going to change her message based on whether not the Imperialist pigs warship is carrying a specific weapons system ?

  144. Phil says

    The trouble with documents like that, is that whilst they can sometimes grasp mega-trends, they just don’t foresee significant events.

    Pick any 40 year period in the 20th Century and compare the world at the start and end of them. No way anyone could have predicted anything except in the very broadest terms and even then the lack of detail makes it almost useless. You can’t explain the trouble in the Middle East without knowing about Israel and you can’t understand Israel without knowing about the Holocaust.

    So many things wrong with documents like that.

    Interesting but not very useful.

  145. SomewhatInvolved says

    Hey jed, she’ll just make something up anyway, like a Vanguard doing a patrol around the Falklands! Controlled, no doubt, by the imperialist pig-dog conqueror William Wales…

  146. SomewhatInvolved says

    Okay Phil, so what’s the alternative?

  147. All Politicians are the Same says
  148. All Politicians are the Same says

    Jed, had it been fitted I would not have taken it of f but it was not. Politically fitting it when we didn’t for daring going to the Gulf would have been an own goal.

  149. Phil says

    “Okay Phil, so what’s the alternative?”

    There isn’t one is there. That’s why they are written. Because nobody can do anything else but somebody must do something by God!

    Short to medium term you can have a good crack at but like weather forecasting the further out you forecast the less reliable the forecast until its almost useless.

    Roll with the punches and try to be adaptive. Which I think is what SDSR said wasn’t it – in my post run confusion adaptive posture springs to mind.

  150. Mark says

    I would agree with Phil. Type 45 had that nice surveillance upgrade recently which was much more useful I would like to see the oto 127mm gun incorporated but other than that it’s helicopters covers the other things. I would also say the day of the dedicated anti ship missile is probably over that’s why I particularly like the Norwegian JSM. We could use it on everything from lynx,/merlin to ships to f35 and get a missile land attack capability to boot as well as save the development budget for other things.

  151. SomewhatInvolved says

    Okay, so these things are written because we ought to have something? Cynical, like it, but for a cynical piece of guesswork it (and other assessments) still make a reasonable hash of assessing what we will be facing in future. Better than nothing I say.

    Adaptive posture is absolutely right though – can’t argue with that. Difficult to put equipment to that formula however.

  152. x says

    @ Somewhat

    No I read it last time. Isn’t this the doc’ that says the other side not might as bound to laws and conventions as Western states?

    @ Jed re defence posture

    My trouble is that the only thing Dauntless can do to any extent is AAW down there. But the Argentines haven’t any serious capability in that area. My point has been if they wanted to make a nuisance of themselves (in a less than war scenario) they might as well stick to seaborne operations. It isn’t hard to come up with some scenario where there is Mexican stand off over say over fishing or oil exploration where we end up with the T45 and Argentine ships in the same patch of ocean facing each other down. And in that type of scenario T45 becomes a very large OPV which happens to have a world class AAW system. If it comes to an exchange of shots between a T45 and a Browne the latter has the upper hand. I am not talking about sophisticated OTH engagements. I am talking about hull on hull, up close and personal. And in that scenario SSNs don’t count for much either. I don’t find it hard to imagine a “Cod War” for oil and fish right down there.

  153. x says

    @ Mark

    Isn’t about a dedicated ship missile. Most of the large Western missiles aren’t purely ship missiles. Harpoon can be ship, submarine, and ‘plane launched. I just want a missile, any missile, I am not fussy.

  154. All Politicians are the Same says

    X, In that instance harpoon counts for nothing either! Should we design an armoured cruiser just in case? Or as we would do simply maintain our position and ensure they are the give way vessel in any ROR situation and dare them to be that stupid and take a shot.
    The minute they shoot first all that Political sympathy they have built up dissapears.

  155. Phil says


    It has a stab. But really, what can we learn from it?

    It says there will be climate change, okay, but in what way?

    It says power will shift from west to east, but what does this mean for us and maybe it won’t, perhaps something will happen to shift it to somewhere else or perhaps there will be an innovation that stabilises world power centres.

    It says that ideology will remain resurgent, that’s human nature and akin to using the fact that the world rotates on its axis and thus there will continue to be the need to conduct some operations in the dark.

    They are interesting, but they don’t tell us much, and what it does tell us is vulnerable to innovation and events.

    It just seems a pointless document for an institution to bother itself with. You can’t use it for planning assumptions or equipment programmes beyond the very, very broad such as there will be night and day, people will still fight, power centres will shift, water will remain wet and broadly where it is at the moment and there will continue to be humans in urban and non-urban settings.

  156. SomewhatInvolved says

    x, appreciate the vote of confidence! But the Argies aren’t going to go toe to toe with a 45. Are their Mekos even working? At sea? Worked up? Armed? Are their Exocet working or are the boxes empty or full of seawater? Have they been maintained? Are their guns working? All sorts of combinations which, given the dire state of the Argentine military as a whole, suggests even they aren’t that stupid.

  157. Phil says


    Why would a multi million pound state of the art, brand new AAW destroyer be involved in some sort of Cod War type scenario when we have a patrol ship down there for exactly that sort of stuff? It would be criminal to put the vessel into that sort of scenario.

    Personally, the RN needs more second rate vessels for that sort of stuff and keep the big boys to do big boy jobs.

  158. Mark says

    That’s true x but as I’ve mentioned before we’ve fought several wars and sunk a navy in the process and never once fired a ship launch anti ship missile in anger (nor have any of are allies) and while that’s not necessarily a guide for the future it’s a strong indication to me it’s not a high priority or a likely used weapon.

  159. SomewhatInvolved says

    Phil, I do disagree with you there. I’m not holding it out as the blueprint for the future, but on the sort of timescales it takes to procure military hardware it is necessary. If it takes 15 years to develop a new class of ship, build it and get it into service, what is that ship going to be doing in its lifetime? You have to at least try and look further ahead. The same document fifty years ago might have predicted the downfall of Communism, but would still have identified the single Cold War threat, the global politics surrounding it and perhaps more besides.

    Anyway, it tells me that we aren’t going to be facing a single threat, that there will be rising threats to our energy supplies, trade routes and overseas territories, that instability will rise instead of spreading democracy and prosperity, and that the Eastern powers will gain greater influence. It tells me that we should therefore be prepared to intervene in a wide variety of conflicts and that our ships should be able to operate globally, without local support, be able to survive the initial stages of a conflict, observe and report. We need the ability to project that influence almost anywhere, which for me means a carrier strike capability. The littoral is increasingly important, for resources, population and the impact of rising sea levels. So yes, it tells me that maritime forces are increasingly important and land forces are less so, from which you can make major planning assumptions for your armed forces as a whole.

    Okay, so this is not about which missile needs to go on which ship, or how many guns we need. But it does mean building more frigates and fewer cruisers, having fewer armoured land brigades and more amphibious/manoeuvre focussed forces, and air power that is not tied down to land bases.

  160. Phil says


    I don’t disagree it gives us a broad understanding of what is likely to happen but I argue that the understanding is so broad that it just does not add anything to the current equipment planning process which frankly is still often dominated in Navy terms by a conflict that is close to being 40 years old and which came out of bloody nowhere.

    The document boils down to the facts that there will continue to be global instability, there will continue to be Malthusian pressures on humanity and states and there will be climate change. I guess someone has to say it somewhere, but that’s about the utility of it.

    Equipment programmes etc are as likely to be influenced and destroyed by domestic politics and events as anything global.

    Which brings me to my other point. This document is so saturated in politics that it is probably useless. I imagine that there are some very sensitive shorter term forecasts classified as SECRET which make sensitive political points about certain trends and states that could never be put in a public document without several pairs of knickers getting into diplomatic twists and the media creating an hysteria.

    I just think it is an interesting document, that documents some basic trends that may or may not happen. The only trend in that document that will WITHOUT DOUBT occur is the prominence of ideology in political relations and human events. Everything else is open to some great event disrupting it or an innovation or innovations taking place that change trajectories.

  161. Phil says

    “So yes, it tells me that maritime forces are increasingly important and land forces are less so, from which you can make major planning assumptions for your armed forces as a whole.”

    Which is another thing wrong with this type of document. It is interpreted and consumed in the context of our biases, prejudices and life-world.

    I read that the human population is becoming increasingly urbanised, which will mean larger armies…

    If we synthesis my view and your view we arrive at no great conclusion, we arrive at the current status quo.

  162. x says

    @ Phil

    Perhaps because that is all we have? In the 70s the RN had to use state of the art ASW escorts for patrol work during the Cod Wars. You could even say I suppose in a way that the US sends carriers to fight for oil. The way things develop and happen at sea is different. It being a global common you find that there is a certain freedom from immediate scrutiny and that frictions can come to the fore. Even between supposed allies. Do you remember the Turbot War of 1995? And then going back into the mists of time various coming togethers of Soviet and USN ships. The sea is a complex environment.

  163. Phil says

    “Perhaps because that is all we have?”

    It’s not though. We have a patrol ship and soon an ice patrol ship down there for that sort of close in stuff.

    France had the correct long term model, we had the correct medium term model of Navy. Who was right? Most of France’s Navy would have been useless in a Cold War fight, and now most of our Navy is too expensive and precious really to do the most numerous roles.

    The Navy needs second-raters and plenty of them, produced in flotilla’s, continuously, like the destroyers of old.

  164. x says

    @ Mark

    Well as I have said before the RAF hasn’t shot down a ‘plane since WW2 should we do away with them also? Simply saying we haven’t done something before when the systems are deployed by other states is no excuse for us not to have our own weapons. One of the reasons why states have armed for forces is to deter. Are you arguing for us to remove every system we haven’t actually used in the last 60 years or so? I don’t think many ASW helicopters have sunk many submarines, should they go? It is an empty argument.

  165. Phil says

    “It is an empty argument.”

    Not in the context of finite resources. And there’s no need to stretch the argument to absurdity. Balancing money and capabilities is a pre-requisite for an effective force.

    Note that the Tornado F3 Sqns went down to 3 for example just before Typhoon came into service and Tornado remained relatively prominent.

  166. Mark says


    It not an empty argument we’ve actually been in to wars were we where required to sink ships and we didn’t use that capability and nor has anyone else since the capability was fielded on a ship everything else you talk about has been used in one shape or another for what it was designed for. The rafs fj platforms are air and ground capable and have been used as such. Same cant be said for harpoon

  167. x says

    @ Phil

    You do realise that the Falklands’, South Georgia’s, and South Sandwich Islands’s EEZs cover several million square kilometres of ocean? And that has to be policed by APR(S), FIGS OPV, and HMS Clyde. Are you saying that if some dispute or engineered incident occurs we send an OPV or civilian OPV to face down something like a Browne with 5in gun and 4 x twin 40mm Bofors? We may live in a world of instant worldwide communications and international laws and conventions and treaties but the sea is a different arena. Why do you think Russia plays out silly scenes like planting flags on the ocean floor? Or China does what she does out in the South China Sea? The sea is legally is a complex environment. You can say there are borders at sea with territorial waters and UN backed EEZs but it isn’t like the land. Even with GPS etc. the idea of national ownership is abstract. The sheer remoteness can embolden certain states and other actors. Look at the Iran/Cornwall incident or the Gaza Peace Flotilla. If those incidents had happened on land (I know just humour me) do you think they would have happened as they did? Basically both involved agents of one state inferring with those of another state. No the sea is complex and different.

  168. x says

    @ Mark

    It is called proportionality. During the Cod War the RN could have sunk the Icelandic coastguard in a afternoon. As for my RAF example lets take it the extreme then and say they didn’t need air-to-air missiles then are you happy with that? If we didn’t anti-ship missiles why did the ruddy RN by them and continue to send them to sea after the Cold War? It is an empty argument to say we haven’t used it in the past lets get
    rid of it. The past is a different country.

    @ Phil



    I am done here. I have said it in the past and was stupid and came back.

  169. Mark says


    Can you point to single example of anyone using a ship launched anti ship missile? I can point to numerous examples of air to air combat in wars we’ve been involved in and in which we’ve used the capability as a country single service nonsense is just that.

    We sunk the Iraq navy twice pretty much and not once used harpoon or Exocet we’ve removed the Argie navy and never used harpoon I think we even engaged ships in Libya and used neither, it’s also on type 23 which would be in any task group if such a threat presented its not needed on type 45. Thats the difference we’ve actually sunk ships in several campaigns and not used harpoon if you can’t see that difference then there isn’t much point arguing.

  170. All Politicians are the same says

    On a lighter note, do you know that Turbot, along with Megrim and Brill are the only 3 left eyed Flatfish?
    ASMs will continue to exist you only need to look at how many are being developed all around the world. They have not been a priority of RN and USN given the lack of a peer threat and the massive air and sub surface superiority enjoyed.
    this may change in the future and a ASM come back on the agenda.
    In that case the UK outlook would almost definitely be to buy an off the shelf plug and play capability.

  171. All Politicians are the same says

    Mark, If you cannot tell the difference between those campaigns and Ship vs Ship on the open ocean then I would not criticise others too much.
    First to answer your question The Isareli DD Eilat was sunk in 1967 by 2 Styx missiles from Egyptian PP(G) in the Med in 1967.
    The Iraqi navy consisted of brown water patrol craft with no AAW capability, sunk by air and organic helo ops.
    The Argentinian navy returned home after Belgrano was sunk by an SSN, can you guarantee that every time. They also only had short rand MM38 on their surface vessels and would have had to close the force.
    Only Libyan vessels engaged were sunk alongside by air strikes.
    Since WW2 western navies have had a huge superiority which has made any engage ment of them in Blue Water a suicidal prospect. The Soviets may have tried it but that is it.
    Today however with ship numbers falling our ability to concentrate force is less. Combine that with countries ability to procure ASM technology and mount it on cheap platfroms and the rise of countries like India and China as true blue water navies and you see that actually the chances of an open water engagement are becoming higher than at any time since the end of the cold war.

  172. SomewhatInvolved says

    APATS, agree completely. However, what is the probability that the RN is going to be caught up in such a shooting war? Blue water engagements are going to be likely between the Eastern powers, rather than against us directly. However, to all I would still remind you that Harpoon is still an effective antiship missile, very difficult to defeat and we still have sufficient numbers of them. China and India don’t have anything like as capable as Aster, so for now the status quo works.

    As always though it’s never going to be as easy as a true blue water shooting match. The likely territory for such conflict is going to be somewhere like the South China Sea, where air power, coastal batteries, mines and all the other tools of littoral warfare still apply.

    The NSM is looking like a very good bet for future operations given its dual role, advanced targeting and ability to be deployed from aircraft as well as ships, not to mention being the apparent weapon of choice for the USN. However, as Phil pointed out it will be difficult to justify on grounds of cost. NSM could potentially do the same job as Storm Shadow in the land attack role, and therefore I would expect a conflict of interest to erupt given the stake already held in SS.

  173. Mark says

    Apas I am not critising anyone we continually get type 45 is under armed because it doesn’t have harpoon which must be rectified immediately when plainly no such threat exists where such a capability would be required or be allowed within any likely roe outside of ww3 or with positive identification of what were shooting at. The Falklands was in essence a blue water conflict initially and we didn’t use the capability. Do you expect a type 45 to take on such a force on its own.

  174. All Politicians are the same says

    Mark, The Falklands was never a blue water naval conflict, we escorted an amphib force, the Argentineans sortied lost one ship and went home.
    I have not said that the lack of ASM on T45 must be rectified immediately but have pointed out why it will become more important as time passes.

  175. Brian Black says

    Harpoon Block II has a worthwhile land attack capability, with a longer reach than the 4.5″ gun. To me, it seems a higher priority system than the gun for a region like the Gulf.
    And the mk8 itself doesn’t strike me as the best choice of gun for Type45 anyway. A 76mm Super Rapid -that could tackle small and relatively close vessels and aircraft, and provide point defence against ASM that may slip through the sooper-dooper missile net- would IMO have been a better choice; as well as a ship design that allowed for an aft mount too.

  176. All Politicians are the same says

    BB The utility of NGS was one of the success stories of the libya op. Gadaffis forces knew that if they hid from the aircraft they would drop a couple of bombs and piss off. the beauty of NGS especialy with 2 units was the ability to suddenly shell a target, then switch ratget and come back to the first one. They did not know how many shells would be fired or where.
    Daring has Phalanx 1B installed for her Gulf deployment and 30MM, this allows 4.5 to be retained.

  177. SomewhatInvolved says

    Brian, curious that you use the phrase ‘higher priority’ for the Gulf region. Are we expecting to engage in imminent land attacks in the Gulf region?

    You are right though – the old 4.5″ isn’t the best choice for the 45. 5″ would be better, but as always cost comes first. Anything that can defeat the missile defences of a Type 45 isn’t going to be bothered by a 76mm gun.

  178. Chris.B. says

    Blimey X, put the coffee down fella!

    I think perhaps a better analogy of what x was talking about would be to look at the CASD. We’ve never used it, ever. But it’s recognised as a key part of our current strategic make up. Just because we haven’t ever fired it, doesn’t mean we should just bin it.

    Same with Harpoon. Had the Argie Bargy fleet come out to fight even after the loss of Belgrano, then Harpoon might have come in handy. And lets not forget that firing a Harpoon could be used as a tactic in a serious situation (argentine boat firing on a trawler, oil vessel) just to force a defensive reaction and drive someone away, even if the weapon itself doesn’t strike home.

    I would say it has as much utility for a ship down south as the AA missiles.

    And just one quick point….


    The literal dictionary definition of “Littoral” is “a coastal region”.

    “Littoral” is a buzz word used by the USN to trick Senators into handing over $4 billion dollars for what is essentially a f**king pleasure yacht.

    It’s Coastal.


    Coastal warfare. Coastal zone. Coastal combat vessel.


  179. Brian Black says

    Hi, SI. No, not expecting imminent land attacks in the Gulf – the Iran war is pencilled in for early 2013. Just that it seemed to be discussed as a purely anti-ship missile – and the Gulf simply because of the Iran situation.
    And also, with what APATS said about NGS, I think the scarcity of T45 and the criticality of its fleet air defence role makes it unlikely to be the ship of choice for coastal bombardments of low value targets; a more selective use of the longer range Harpoon seems a more suitable land attack method.

  180. Peter Elliott says

    What worries me is that if SSN is our ship-attack weapon of choice we now have so few of them. We can’t guarantee to have one on station in an attacking role or even in theatre. The same can be said of airpower especially in dealing with the unexpected. A carrier or amphibious group has a long logistic tail and the FJ can’t overfly all of it. Escorts bringing up RFAs need to be able to deal with other navy’s ships as well as their warplanes. As such the ability of our surface escorts to carry a potent AShM may become more important again.

    Harpoon’s penetration and range do not compare well with Airstrikes and SSN attacks so we have tended to use the latter first. If we had the capability to pack a long range Mach 3 AShM into every VLS then it would again be a much more attractive option compared to SSN and Airstrikes – particularly if the SSN or CV is a thousand miles away when the threat appears.

    “we’ve actually sunk ships in several campaigns and not used harpoon”

  181. Brian Black says

    On the use of a 76mm gun for point defence; a 76 could be complementary to Phalanx considering how often swarm attacks are discussed on here – swarms of anti-ship missiles, swarms of fast attack craft, and swarms of killer UAVs. Wouldn’t hurt to double down on the near and many defence, particularly if like me you see limited utility in a 4.5″ on a T45.
    There’s also the question of stopping power of Phalanx, as touched on earlier. The larger calibre, combined with guided ammo options, makes it a worthwhile consideration.

  182. Chris Werb says

    US warships have launched Standard in surface to surface mode against the Iranians – presumably they airburst to chew up the upperworks. Later Burkes were not fitted with Harpoon which may indicate their satisfaction with a non-over the horizon solution. Sea Slug Mk 2 and Sea Dart both had a surface to surface capability and it seems a shame that Aster doesn’t. On the bright side, Sea Cepter will have a surface to surfave capability. Harpoon Block II has a distinctly limited land attack capability. It would make a lot more sense to deploy a dual purpose weapon like NSM pending whatever hypersonic sci-fi AShM eventually materialises (I’m not holding my breath!).

  183. Chris Werb says

    PS, there is a very interesting (8 year old) thread on the last RAF kill over on here:

  184. James says

    @ Chris Werb, interesting thread.

    So, the RAF last shot down an enemy aircraft in 1948 (less a few RAF pilots on exchange to FAA or USAF). And yet someone thought it was a good idea to order Typhoon in an initial air-air only configuration.

    I hope that Biggles realises his sole useful purpose in life is to move some mud in support of Joint aims, or fly ISTAR, refuelling and transport missions. It would leave a lot more of the defence budget to spend on things that are actually useful, and stand more than a theoretical chance of actually being used.

  185. Jed says

    Phil said:

    “The Navy needs second-raters and plenty of them, produced in flotilla’s, continuously, like the destroyers of old.”

    What for exactly ? Who made us the worlds coast guard ? In the SDSR HMG committed to meddling in other peoples business for the so called good of the realm – I beg your pardon, I mean they committed to expeditionary warfare. This is the nearest thing we have to a ‘grand strategy’ – so what good are these flotillas of “second rate” vessels in meeting the published governmental strategy for the use of Britains armed forces ?

  186. All Politicians are the same says

    James, I agree on the Typhoon case. This link explains the Plitics etc behind it very well and the fact that the initial planning was done under Cold war assumptions hence the initial emphasis on the Air to Air capability.
    As for the uselesnness of fast air you should remeber that the reason we did not have to shoot anyone down in Iraq and to alesser exten Former Yugoslavia(believe USAF had kills) is that the opposition tend to fly their aircraft to the nearest neutral country rather than get massacared. Without the capability to deter them like this or engage them they would instead of flying to a neutral country spend tehir time dropping bombs on our ground forces.

  187. Chris.B. says

    The over arching moral of the Typhoon story being; “design and build your own kit, and don’t get tangled in a web of politics with other nations priorities etc”.

    Or the opposite of the F-35 plan.

  188. jackstaff says

    Chris B.,

    Amen. Well, bilateral can work — Jaguar was a nice piece of kit in her day even though the French nobbled Jaguar-Naval — but that’s about it. Buy off the shelf with caveat emptor or get it done yourself.

  189. wf says

    Regarding ship based SSM, I think the strongest current justification for Harpoon would probably be the profusion of missile armed fast patrol boats. Since it costs almost nothing to shove on some surplus Harpoon onto T45, I find it hard to understand why it just isn’t done…

  190. ArmChairCivvy says

    Hi Chris B @9:01,

    “….. IT’S COASTAL!!!! NOT LITTORAL!!!!

    The literal dictionary definition of “Littoral” is “a coastal region”.”
    – yes, literally, but littoral operations are with power projected from the sea, and if any land action is involved – other than airstrikes – potentially extending up to 100 km inland
    – coastal operations are pretty much to the water’s edge, so much less multi-demensional

    So the words may be close but when you translate it to capabilities there is overlap, but notable (and expensive) differences, too?

  191. ArmChairCivvy says

    Hi James, as these ” move some mud in support of Joint aims, or fly ISTAR, refuelling and transport missions.” can readily be agreed (need to add SEAD to be enable all of these on a sufficient and timely basis),
    – what is the capability you would actually delete (kit-wise) when we reach the 107 Typhoons number, all of which multi-role?
    – I see the path we are already embarked on coming pretty close to what you call for (carrier air extra?)and only as a matter of rationing upfront cash and also trying to avoid putting brand new planes back to remanufacture as many of the future capabilities are slated to be ready for use only from 2015 onwards
    … by the way, is it a coincidence that so many of them fall onto the break-point from old to new Parliament?

  192. Mark says

    Surely missile armed fast patrol boats are the bread and butter of lynx and sea skua(and it’s follow on) which type 45 carries. The target maybe to small for harpoon to engage it especially in coastal areas. But must likely we aren’t allowed to shot at things we don’t positively identify harpoon is over the horizon engagement. I mean we’ve come out of the last 2 conflicts were ship Bourne surveillance and naval gun fire proved decisive to naval conflict and were scan eagle and or a 5″ gun would offer huge benefits in both ground and anti ship roles and we want to spend money sticking a one trick pony of a harpoon anti ship missile on type 45 (we don’t have block 2)when no threat exists to use it against.

    Apas if sinking a ship 200miles from land and having mpa and helicopter sweeps over hundreds of miles of ocean is not considered blue water naval warfare then the uk will never be in blue water naval conflict.

  193. Gareth Jones says

    @ wf – I remember reading on of the USN/TSSE’s simulation reports about squadrons of escorts re-opening the straits of Homuz; lots of caveats, like not factoring in air forces on both sides, etc, but came up with some interesting conclusions. One of which was at least 8 SSM’s per escort for dealing with the larger FAC and corvettes which the helo’s might have difficulty with. (Lots of helo’s/UAV’s also important for dealing with the FAC’s without/small AAW capability, submarines, and passing on location of enemy). Also useful was DP gun and PDMS. Biggest factor was numbers; the better the escort the less numbers you needed but assuming you were going to take losses (crippled as well as sunk)you still needed a large number of vessels, 12-14 IIRC.

  194. Gareth Jones says

    RE: SSM’s and effectiveness. This document believes the advantage lies with the attacker (page 60):

    It also breaks down all 300 Anti-Ship missile attacks into 3 categories: 1) Defenceless targets like tankers, etc: 90% hit rate with extensive damage but usually ship did not sink.
    2) Defended targets, mostly FAC vs FAC during ’73 war: 25% hit and sunk, however, all losses were Egyptian and Syrian.
    3) Targets which could of defended themselves but didn’t (Sheffield and Stark, etc): about 65% of missiles hit defendable ships, 6 ships sunk, 16 put out of action.

  195. ArmChairCivvy says

    Hi GJ,

    I have read a similar thing (now we don’t know if it was the same report), but anyway (on the same lines as you are saying) the most effective ship (part of it being affordability, to have such numbers available *on station* ie. relatively small units far away from main bases)
    – was… an upgunned Visby; your mention of min. 8 ready to fire anti-FAC/ corvette weapons?
    – they did not include Streetfighter as it did not exist as a ship, only as a concept, but the idea with both is pretty similar (Visby can more readily be optimised for different roles)

    So a clear-cut result, and the USN proceeded with something quite different (even though configurable), ie. the LCS

  196. Gareth Jones says

    For those interested in AShM effectineness and have some time on their hands…

  197. SomewhatInvolved says

    Chris B, sorry mate it is Littoral. We have been using the term for many years, and it is firmly embedded in our doctrine. The littoral region is defined as ‘coastal sea areas and that portion of the land which is susceptible to influence or support from the sea’ so it involves much more than just the sea. You can define it in a number of ways (e.g. TLAM has a 1000nm range, so the littoral technically can be up to 1000nm inland) but for maritime planning purposes it is limited to the continental shelf, or 50nm from land whichever gives out first.

    Typhoon is a classic case of ordering something without thinking about it. The RAF was so focussed on the Cold War that they specified something so detailed it couldn’t be considered for anything else. However, in all fairness a proper dogfighter (which Typhoon is) cannot expect to be in any way optimised for air to ground combat – the difference in requirements is significant. The only reason Typhoon has an air to ground capability at all is GPS guided weaponry which can be dropped from a safe height. So we ought to give them some credit for squeezing a capability out of Typhoon at all.

    Mark, good point on over the horizon targeting. The targeting restrictions today are so tight that its almost impossible to see weapon release being granted in anything short of full scale war.

    wf, no such thing as surplus Harpoon. Harpoon is still an airframe like any other, that spends its life stuck in a tube, full of fuel and jostled around by rough seas. It has to be maintained. All of that isn’t cheap and we’re broke. There aren’t spares to go around. Type 23 is our primary anti-surface platform so they are prioritised for them.

    ACC, of course decisions are postponed to the next Parliament. Nothing like making difficult/controversial decisions at the start of yr term when nobody can stop you!

    Finally, Gareth – the Iranians have lots of antishipping firepower but evidently little or no air defence. Quicker and cheaper to knock them out with fast air – Maverick being a particular favourite.

  198. Phil says

    “Who made us the worlds coast guard ?”

    Our Government. As I have argued many times before on here, that is the way it is going to stay.

    There is no evidence whatsoever that we are going to go down another path anytime in the next decade at least.

    And second rate vessels would be able to do all of the Navy’s standing tasks right now, at far less cost probably and without drawing away first rate units from contingency pools.

    Why the hell we are using modern destroyers and ASW frigates to hunt down pirates in rubber dinghies for example? Or running down drug runners armed with at best, RPGs?!

    These tasks are all to do with national defence and nothing to do with being the worlds coast guard.

  199. ArmChairCivvy says

    Hi SI,

    That description fits Paveway IV nicely
    ” However, in all fairness a proper dogfighter (which Typhoon is) cannot expect to be in any way optimised for air to ground combat – the difference in requirements is significant. The only reason Typhoon has an air to ground capability at all is GPS guided weaponry which can be dropped from a safe height”
    – but howabout Brimstone… are we going to need to retain the Tornado as a CAS aircraft? All these stories from Libya that Typhoon could launch it, but needed a Tornado to help with targeting?

  200. Mark says

    While typhoon was conceived as a air dominance fighter it does have a lightning 3 targeting pod to allow any air to ground engagement it wishes. The only problem with typhoon is paying for block software updates to release weapons and paying for pilot training to allow them to remain current in independent targeting which was achieved last summer. More internal range would have been nice but conformals will correct that. After all f15s done pretty well as strike platform

    Phil you could say buying more river class boats(hms Clyde) with a 57mm gun would be your vessel.

  201. SomewhatInvolved says

    ACC it’s a good question. I don’t know what the firing profile for Brimstone is, but I suspect it isn’t too high up. The targeting issue is possibly down to the laser designation requirement for dual-mode Brimstone – have they integrated a laser designation capability onto Typhoon yet? Probably not – hence Paveway IV (would have written that earlier but forgot which was which!).

    Whichever way you look at it, laser designation or low altitude launch, it brings Typhoon down into the weeds where it would be vulnerable to ground fire, MANPADS, AA fire, whatever. I’d be willing to bet Typhoon doesn’t have a defensive aids suite optimised for ground based systems.

    Will we retain Tornado? Probably not. More likely we will take a capability ‘holiday’ until a) more money is spent on Typhoon to make it truly air-to-ground capable, or b) F35 comes into service. Pros and cons of either are abundant!

  202. Topman says

    @ SI typhoon was designed from the beginning as being capable in both roles. Pw4 and brimstone have no issues with typhoon since they aren’t cleared and the trials haven’t started.

  203. Gareth Jones says

    @ ACC – the report I’m vaguely remembering quite liked the Turkish Milgem Corvette/Frigate as an off the shelf design. The Visby had a few flaws but if you added a helicopter (or two), and a PDMS I believe they came out best… Will have to try and find it now…

  204. Gareth Jones says
  205. Phil says

    “Phil you could say buying more river class boats(hms Clyde) with a 57mm gun would be your vessel.”

    We need sloops! With helicopters. Useful for a huge range of missions.

  206. SomewhatInvolved says

    Topman, are you sure about that? I’m pretty certain Eurofighter was conceived as an air superiority fighter. Ground attack capability was added after the design was finalised. Good if we can find a definitive answer online – Wikipedia not good enough!!

  207. ArmChairCivvy says


    HMS Clyde a bit too flimsy, this one a bit too fighty (hence has a big crew), but has a huge range
    – something in-between, and then the less global but still globally deployable BAMS -derivative for the combined patrol/ mine clearing requirement
    – there we go: one project with the French, another with the Spanish (even though the latter is rumoured to be looked at by a bigger number of European nations); both cheap as chips relative to T26

  208. Topman says

    yes pretty sure. It was in the air staff requirements. Typhoon not only replaced the f3 but jags and phantoms.

  209. ArmChairCivvy says

    HI GJ, yes the same study.
    Upgunning, without going to improvements that might need structural changes:
    Visby 13 13 x 200 =
    Freedom 13 13 x 500 =

    Against 5 combined threat scenarios (pretty much using all OpFor assets in different ways), a Visby based force would deliver the same effect, with the same number of units, at less than half price.

    What is missing is
    – the much lower operating cost of Visby
    – the much longer time on station by LCS (size difference)
    but these two factors counter each other, and you can fit a lot of $200m units into the $ 3.9 bn difference, to allow for the necessary rotation

  210. Think Defence says

    One of the greatest myths about Typhoon is that somehow we bodged a ground attack capability on as an after thought

    Typhoon has a hugely complex background but whilst there is no doubt it is optimised for air dominance there was always, from the very beginning, the requirement for it to provide significant ground attack capabilities.

    We accelerated these recently but fundamentally it is a swing role fighter, although optimised for air to air

  211. Mark says

    Yes it was I think ast 403 that lead to typhoon in 1982 which was originally to have stovl capability in an ast which goes all the way back to 1972 to have air supremacy and ground attack capabilty to replace jaguar and phantom in west German airforce.

  212. ArmChairCivvy says

    This story
    runs out well before today, but is very good for the early days

  213. IXION says


    Our politicos,(aided and abetted by Nelsons square jawed offspring,) have written us in as the worlds coastguards, of course not by actually buying any ships that would be suited; that would be silly….

    It remains a source of horrified facination to me, that any naval post on TD, Even ones pointing out:-

    1)The essentially fuckwitted nature of the drawing up of the original requirement,
    2)The subsequent cutting back untill the requiremetnas it is likely to be realised, was beyond a joke.
    3)Followed by a Laurel and Hardy standard of implimentation.

    Still resolves into a ‘we must have two they must have f35’ (or even more weirdly ‘Sea Typhoon’) and a round robin discussion on our amhibious requirements…

    It’s like some kind of script!

  214. John Hartley says

    Future Clydes could copy the liner QM2 & have a thicker steel hull capable of coping with freak waves & giving a 40 year service life.

  215. Jim says

    ACC seems like your looking at something like the old RN Peacock class ships. They were armed with the Oto Melara 76mm.

    Image close up

  216. Waddi says


    Never used, still sitting I think in Barrow docks.

  217. Gareth Jones says

    @ ACC – the LCS’s are actually quite bad RE: endurance, particulary if using their top speed.

    Endurance could be provided to the Visby’s by a Coastal (Littoral) support ship, perhaps including helicopter support and maintenace? Something like TD’s SIMMS acting as Depot ship/Tender?

  218. Brian Black says

    Hi, Mark. “we don’t have block 2 [Harpoon]”. A bunch of countries -inc. Japan, Australia, Korea, Singapore- have jumped onto the back of a US purchase for this year; we could have taken advantage of that deal in time for next year’s Iran war.
    “most likely we aren’t allowed to shoot at things we don’t positively identify harpoon is over the horizon” Just because the ship can launch from o-t-h, doesn’t mean they’d be firing blind. The USN’s BAMS RQ-4 operates in the Gulf and around Iran from Diego Garcia – and Saudi, UAE, have good MPA in the region – the ship’s own helis can spot too. Relying on embarked helicopters’ anti-ship capability is fine, but even with two Lynx I’d imagine they’d average 6 – 8hrs coverage per day. Harpoon is also a larger, more powerful, class of weapon than SeaSkua – better able to take on the bad guy’s larger frigates.

  219. Gareth Jones says

    @ Waddi – Thanks for the link; lack of helicopter support (Hangar/maintenance) might be a draw back but like I said a support vessel might help with that. As they were built by BAE would they comply with RN standards, for example, accomadation?

    Would Brunei be willing to sell cheap to get rid of them?

  220. ArmChairCivvy says

    I picked the Floreal for cross-breeding with HMS Clyde for
    – its extreme range
    – extreme stability (not only to stay on station but for helo ops)
    – and permanent helo facilities

    So you go from the 2 kt to 2.5 to 3 kt, but still cheap as chips (mainly civvy standards). The piccie was of the Moroccan version, with 76 mm OTO (much more versatile across different uses than any bigger gun)

  221. Gareth Jones says

    USCG cutters share similar capabilities; unfortunately latest versions are very expensive. They would also need SSM’s and PDMS added. The French Sentry frigates have I believe two Exocets currently and no PDMS?

  222. Brian Black says

    That kind of depot ship concept seems a much more efficient solution for LCS, Gareth Jones. Moving support facilities -like stores, helicopter carriage and maintenance, hospital facilities- to a central hub potentially allows for smaller, cheaper, and more nimble vessels to fill the jobbing roles.
    We need packages like that to tackle all the less than war stuff we regularly do -policing embargoes, counter narcotic, counter piracy patrols, mine countermeasures, etc- as well as delivering the shallow water fighty capability.

  223. ArmChairCivvy says

    Hi GJ,

    That’s what wiki tells us (no PDMS). There is a decision in principle that all French navy ships will have this as point defence
    – in 2, 4 or 6 mount (also if there is a more versatile area defence SAM onboard)
    – this particular one is remote controlled
    – the Finnish navy has developed the 6-mount further so you just plug in the missiles or a twin-gun as needed, both remote controlled (1700kg for the gun config and 2200kg with 6 missiles)

    So for a patrol frigate:
    – 76 mm rapid (not necessarily DART)
    – PDMS, rather than ASM
    – helo
    – and torpedoes for self-defence, when the helo is otherwise occupied

    … still cheap as chips (except the helo part)

  224. ArmChairCivvy says

    Agreed with the thoughts about a SIMMS or a more specialised depot ship
    – for the special circumstances of the Gulf, especially Hormuz, all that needs to happen onboard is refuelling and possibly rearming. Land bases are so near that several helos can fly on a rota, providing 24/7 cover and swapping with the next one coming in from a land base
    – let’s remember that a Visby is just one 1/5th of the size of an LCS, so they should be used as a squadron, not individually in the main

  225. Gareth Jones says

    @ Brian – two links for you:

    Bi-modal navy (USN but can scale it down for RN)

    Maritime force for “Phase Zero” (MSO, DR/HA, and forward presence)

  226. Waddi says

    Re Gareth,

    I believe Brunei is wanting a high price for them, hence they have not sold. There is some kind of deal with Lurssen who built Brunei’s latest OPVs, “sell at this price keep half the proceeds” etc. which is keeping the price at unrealistic levels. Given the River class is “leased” there might be scope for a similar deal? However, I would guess the MoD bean counters would look at the specification/running costs and suggest using them to replace 3 T23s,and as nice as these look I would rather have the T23s.

  227. Gareth Jones says

    @ ACC – Didn’t know that; RN ship would have Sea Ceptor? (Really awful name…)

  228. Gareth Jones says

    @ Waddi – agreed. Extra hulls might be useful, if the extra logistics/support isn’t too expensive, but replacing type 23’s would be a mistake.

  229. All Politicians are the same says

    Waddi well said, the problem with getting these sloops and corvettes is they would replace frigates and destroyers the FF and DDs can do Somali pirating and also their proper jobs. smaller units cannot do frontline tasks. The bean counters will not sanction an increase in hulls.
    As I type the 3 western controlled task Groups operating against piracy consist of 17 units, being careful not to go into specifics. countries represented are France, Uk, Spain, Turkey, Denmark, Portrugal, Italy, Netherlands and Germany.
    Units by class and number. AOR 3, DD 1, FF 11, OPV 1, LPHD 1.
    So it is not only the RN that are using escorts. the Russians and Chinese are also using frigates.

  230. Phil says

    What is the MHPC project then? I thought that was to replace the patrol vessels and mine hunters with a common vessel? Just scale it up to a sloop with a chopper and a hanger.

    Keep 19 first raters.

  231. Peter Elliott says


    I get the impression they are keeping very quiet about the ‘second rate’ project until such time as T26 is signed off for 13 hulls.

    Reasons obvious but futile.

  232. Chris.B. says

    @ ACC, @ SI

    The dictionary definiton of Littoral is that area of the coast encompassing the high and low water marks. Suggesting that the “Littoral” extends to the same range as a TLAM is nothing but hyperbole.

    By its definition the Littoral is a very small body of water. Now if you want to talk about the land environment over lapping with the maritime, like a beach assault on the coast of some country, then we’re talking coastal.

    “Littoral” is a perfect example of the bullshit bingo used to flog expensive kit to people who don’t know any better, e.g. politicians.

    Perpetuating it does nobody any service.

    I don’t know why this annoys me so much to be honest. I think it just stems from working for several companies that have imported American management techniques, which usually results in slogans and catchphrases being substituted for legitimate, critical thought.

    Like, “why the are spending $4 billion or so on a class of ships designed purely to operate along the coast line, despite this being the most dangerous operating environment for modern warships?”

  233. Phil says

    We want second rate and we won’t wait!!

  234. All Politicians are the same says

    I am sceptical about MHPC. trying to be all things to all people. Mine Hunters have to be virtually non magnetic and uber quiet. patrol Vessels are interested in sea keeping, endurance, accomodation and to a lesser extent speed. Survey vessels operate a variety of launches tec and UUV as would an MCMV but not an OPV. We all talk about remote MCM detection but you cannot do a leadthrough with a remote vehicle. Too diverse in my opinion to be done with a single hull.

  235. Phil says

    @Chris B

    I whole heartedly share your disgust of management speak and Americanisms and sounding sophisticated for the sake of it. But even I yield to Littoral.

  236. ArmChairCivvy says

    Hi GJ @7:49,

    I doubt that an OPV can take all these: 76 mm, VLS and a helo deck + hangar.

    Manufacturer’s blurb from Jan 30 seems to suggest otherwise re Sea Ceptor/ CAMM; they say that it slotting in with the T23s (they already have a VLS!) is proof of the system being deployable even on a 50m OPV (albeit perhaps above deck)
    – a helluva point defence; 25 km around you!

  237. All Politicians are the same says

    ACC, It is a smaller missile than sea wolf as well, so you can quad pack it in a single VLS sea wolf tube. A really small 4 cell silo suddenly give you 16 missiles out to 18NM!

  238. ArmChairCivvy says

    Hi Chris B,

    See what a reasonable guy I am; I scaled it down by 9/10ths “Suggesting that the “Littoral” extends to the same range as a TLAM is nothing but hyperbole.”

    But try to say coastal-naval-operations-possibly-but-not-necessarily-making-use-of-amphibiosity
    … and in no time at all you will love “littoral”

  239. ArmChairCivvy says

    Hi APATS,

    I am not doubting that it is a good system, it is designed to handle saturation attacks, is very compact (thus giving the numbers the quoted threat takes to handle)… it is even cheaper (in service) than SeaWolf

    I tried to find physical dimensions before writing my @8:20 post:
    – “76 mm, VLS and a helo deck + hangar”
    – all of it to go onto a vessel less than 100m long
    – what do you think? I would be glad if there is a way

  240. All Politicians are the same says

    With CAMM and a smaller vessel you could also go VLS without the Silo, like the box launchers either side of the funnels on a Canadian halifax or the vertical launchers either side of teh hangar on a MEKO for ESSM.

  241. All Politicians are the same says

    ACC It could certainly be done, look at the Israeli SAAR 5, lose the forad pahalnx and replace with 76mm, stretch by 4 or 5 m if required, decent stabilisers and maybe all diesel ptopulsion to increase range, swap the big barak cell forad out which will free up space for the 76mm replacing phalanx and replave with smaller CAMM silo, 6 or 8 cells giving 24 or 32 missiles.

  242. Brian Black says

    CAMM-Land six pack launchers look quite modest on the back of a truck, I imagine above-deck SeaCeptor could be bolted to many little ships. The land concept is for cheap and simple launch units that can have targeting information piped in from external sources via data link. So perhaps small patrol vessels could be equipped as AA picket ships without needing an expensive sensor suite of their own.
    Hangars on small vessels rack up costs in equipment and manpower; if operating in a small ship flotilla, much better to centralize all that in one support vessel. Also, a hangar is a considerable top weight for a small vessel, and might impinge on weapon systems or increase draught. A heli deck for refueling and support of air ops, and for onboard delivery, is handy though.

  243. Chris.B. says

    @ ACC

    “But try to say coastal-naval-operations-possibly-but-not-necessarily-making-use-of-amphibiosity
    … and in no time at all you will love “littoral””

    Or here’s a novel idea, we could just say “coastal”.

    As in “operations on, near and over the coast line”.

  244. SomewhatInvolved says

    Or we could say littoral.

    Make up any definition you like. We use littoral in the military. Hence the doctrine bit. Like it or lump it, that’s the definition.

    I did say TECHNICALLY the littoral extends to TLAM range, no need to hang me on that one. I then gave you a perfectly valid definition for maritime planning purposes.

  245. Jim says

    An OPV sized ship could have a Schiebel Camcopter S-100 instead off a full sized manned helo. They can be fitted with two Lightweight Multirole Missiles have an endurance of six hours and a ceiling of 5,500 metres. Other weapons should IMO include a 76mm forward, 20mm, and GPMG for guns. There must also be several Type 22 six round Sea Wolf launchers available which could be converted for SeaCeptor.

  246. James says

    It appears that there is a group of muppets who want the UK to cancel the £45 of debt Argentina owes us that they used to buy some ships and helicopters that they used to invade the islands.

    The mind boggles at several levels: why the hell we loaned the money to start with, why Argentina should be forgiven anything given current Presidential rhetoric, who the bloody hell these British moaning minnies think they are with their “campaign”, and why on earth they have not yet been punched hard in the mouth.

  247. James says

    £45 million, not £45. Although I would not forgive Carlos Fandango £0.45.

  248. All Politicians are the same says

    James, I do believe you have discovered the first thing that we can all agree on.

  249. Chris.B. says

    @ SI

    “Make up any definition you like. We use littoral in the military. Hence the doctrine bit. Like it or lump it, that’s the definition.”

    Like “Warfighter” I guess. That one goes down a treat around here.

  250. wf says

    Have all AR govt ministers indicted for war reparations, minefield clearing etc, and make them subject to Euro arrest warrants when they leave office :-)

    Don’t see why lawfare should apply one the one way….

  251. Gareth Jones says

    @ Brian – DK Brown envisioned a squadron of sonar towing corvettes based around a helicopter carrying destroyer; the baseline corvettes would operate a Merlin but only from a flight deck. The destroyer would operate 3-4 of its own Merlins but also maintain the corvettes Merlins. In his very long range corvette, 50% bigger for more endurance and sea-keeping, there was a hangar but deep maintenance would still be performed by the destroyer.
    I see something similar (not exactly the same) being useful for both MSO, forward presence even DR/HA and war roles such as ASW, convoy escort, and the scenario above for re-opening the straits of Hormuz. Modular sensors/weapon systems would be useful.

  252. Brian Black says

    I suppose that for something similar on a budget, Gareth, you’d have to lose the corvette’s hangar for starters, and go for a more functional hub vessel rather than a destroyer; something like a civilian off-shore support vessel but with a sizable hangar and a flight deck – slower to deploy perhaps, and maybe more suited for control of particular zones and forward presence rather than convoy escort. But you’d not have to worry so much about the corvettes’ endurance if the hub vessel was big enough to supply and refuel the little ships.
    Modular sensors/weapons would certainly keep costs down further, but would still allow the package to be used in a more fighty role; don’t need a massive hull to mount a couple of Harpoons, and then the flotilla of little ships would pose a real threat.
    The idea leads into that concept of distributed force elements, and the inherent survivability of the system as a whole by not putting all your eggs in the same basket.

    There maybe isn’t the money for that sort of thing at the moment, but if ever things improve, the Navy should perhaps spend extra cash on modular systems like that rather than having an unsustainable bulge in the conventional escort fleet.

  253. Gareth Jones says

    @ Brian – I do believe a two tier fleet makes sense; beef up the current escorts to be multipurpose battleships they nearly are, forming your Carrier task group/battle fleet, and a second tier of many less capable but cheaper platforms. I have been looking at the idea of reforming Coastal forces command and bringing back FAC. They certainly would need support when away from home waters but again plug and play sensors and weapons could make them scalable from Anti-piracy (carrying a boarding team) to strait of Hormuz (pair of Harpoons and Starstreak?).

    Interesting off the shelf vessels:

  254. JWD says

    will FASGW be in service in time for ‘Iran 2013’?

  255. Gareth Jones says
  256. Brian Black says

    “multipurpose battleships” – The Type45 is arguably a capital ship in its own right, GJ.
    The air defence umbrella it provides could well be critical to the continuation of a task group’s mission; and if given the TLAM it’s been intended to carry, it will have a strike capability far beyond the scope of many other navies.
    Escort escorts might seem odd at first, but a light corvette that could apply a bit of speed to interdict and check out approaching small boats, for example, could be an important addition to a task group. A corvette can take on risks, but in the extreme, its loss would unlikely be critical to the overall mission.

  257. Gareth Jones says

    @ Brian – you appear to be advocating a return to the battlefleet/screening fortilla division.If the screening ships can also o MSO, theatre co-operation, other day to day stuff as well it could be plausable…

  258. Gareth Jones says

    @ Brian – talking about screening forces reminded me of this old concept for the USN; obviously have to change the particulars (i.e. we don’t have CVN’s, etc) but what do you think about the concept?

    Pages 10-17.

  259. Brian Black says

    My thought behind that particular example of the interdiction of small boats is the footage you increasingly see of boats approaching warships – sometimes nosey fishermen, sometimes provocative Iranians; and you end up with the little boat almost alongside, with MGs trained on it but perhaps within the minimum engagement range of many of the fancier systems, and certainly close enough to do some nasty damage if they did have a hostile intent.

    Some smaller corvettes would help avoid the problem we’re creating, where the few ships we have are so important and expensive that a task group’s mission faces collapse if one is dissabled in any way. It does fit in with the ideas of low intensity warfare at sea and of shallow water ops, as mentioned in that document (it’s the LCS sollution before it grew out of control). And of course, any such vessel should be capable of filling a variety of roles, not just screening a fleet.

  260. Think Defence says

    Just added a handful of additional images

  261. Alan Erskine says

    I’ve seen pictures of the Atlantic Conveyor after the bows were blown/broken off. Could you please put some images of that on your page?

    Yours sincerely

    Alan Erskine

  262. Björn Kristiansson says

    Very interesting site, thanks a lot for making it. Just wondering at what depth the wreck of AC lays at?
    Hope You understand my grammar, I´m swede, not fluent in english. Neither there isn´t so much info in swedish about the Falkland Conflict and the vessels being used.

    Regards, Björn.

  263. Observer says

    Alan, I don’t think the bow was actually broken off, the ship died by burning, not massive structural failure.

    As you can see here, the bow’s still intact. It sank while they were trying to tow it back to shore.

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