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Leeds in the Littoral

Type 23 Frigate HMS_Sutherland_(F81)_MoD

Ones of those amorphous definitions that seem to change depending on your viewpoint is the ‘littoral’

Whilst catching up with a spot of Twitter this evening I saw this being re-tweeted

Importance of the littoral : 61% of world’s total Gross National Income comes from within 100 km of the coastline

Why not 200, or 5, or 5?

So, off to Google Map Tools.

Two other definitions

1. A coastal region; a shore.

2. The region or zone between the limits of high and low tides.

So by the Tweet definition, proclaiming 100km as within the littoral, it would seem the residents of Leeds are now in a coastal region.

Is this another example of using dodgy and misleading statistics to reinforce a point of view, clutching at straws in order to desperately make your perspective sound impressive or just a reasonable statement of fact?

We are an island as well you know :)

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316 Responses

  1. Littoral…

    Ugh, that word just gives me the creeps. I put it up there with “Warfighter”.

  2. Ever been to Nebraska?

    Seriously though, this is meaningless, the point is that the Global economy depends on the sea, even something manufactured in Nebraska would be exported by sea.

  3. Lies! Lies and statistics!


    I blame the US, they could not possibly tell their people that they were constructing something so plebian as a “patrol vessel” or a “corvette” or a “frigate” for the low, low price of 450M USD, without research cost, 1.8B with. So they had to build “Litoral Combat Ships” used best against asymetrical threats, piracy and budgets, mostly your own.

  4. Compared to much of the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Eurasia Leeds is very close to the sea. One of the little ships in the HM’s pageant was a steam tug from Yorkshire’s river network. Of course on the other side of the hill there is the Manchester Ship Canal. In the south west we find Gloucester is an inland port thanks to the Gloucester and Sharpness/Berkeley Canal. And the Thames goes the other way. The whole island isn’t just close to the sea but riddled with ship canals too.

  5. TD,

    no idea how you use Google Map Tools, but surely the better graphic is to overlay various 12.1nm offshore sea ranges onto a map. i.e. range of Chinook with a bellyful of Royal on board, NGS reach inland, coverage of CORMORANT, etc. You could expand the definition to come up with just how far offshore QEC would need to be deployed for safety so that the CAP is more of a 40 minute commuter run for a 10 minute workday and 40 minutes back, and even the Andrew reckon it is ridiculously too far.

  6. @James

    TD was complaining about the tweet defination being too broad and sneaky, it wasn’t him defining “litoral”.

    Don’t do a Cleopatra and maul the messenger. :P

  7. Dunno – seems like a dodgy definition on the face of it, but it shows what you can accomplish with an even slightly decent naval presence in the enemy’s littorals… in a *really* demoralising ‘So you think you’re safe do you?’ kind of way.

    On the odd occasion when I’m stood outside Leeds train station smoking tabs, I’ve felt totally secure that I could laugh in the face of any puny frigates that might be sailing off Southport or wherever: Pretty sure me and my fellow commuters never dreamt that a single nefarious frigate could rain a few hundred Vulcano rounds on us over the next quarter of an hour or so, if it wanted.

    That might cure a few potential foes of their sea-blindness eh?

  8. It highlights that you are never further than 70 miles form the sea in the UK.
    Compare that to 1030 miles in N America. 570 miles in Australia and well over 1000 in Asia.
    Perhaps a better illustration of the importance of the littoral is shown by the lights at the link below.

  9. Without wishing to turn this into another semantics argument, the problem I’ve always had with the term “sea-blindness” is that it implicitly assumes (or is used in such a context) that the solution to “sea blindness” is to take to the high seas with a large naval force.

    In the scenario above involving raining Vulcano rounds, the solution could be many things, many of them non-floating based.

  10. Chris.B.: Yup, the phrase sea-blindness does usually get used as part of an argument that then goes into trade, then SLOC and EEZ protection, then global SLOC with big beautiful fleets of aircraft carriers, and so on, but it doesn’t intrinsically contain that whole argument chain whenever it’s used.

    What I meant above is sea-blindness also includes fairly deeply (they think) in-land folks thinking that they’re perfectly safe from any attack from the sea, as long as they don’t go too near to anything that might merit a visit from a scarce ship-launched SSM.

    I’m as far from being sea-blind (all definitions thereof) as it’s possible to be, and know far more about naval weapons than most of your average punters, but I was honestly a bit shocked that all of the places where I travel, which all seem like pretty epic train journeys apart, and all totally landlocked, could all be hit by a Vulcano from a pair of cheap-ass frigates; one off Southport, one off Grimsby. I imagine that most folks would be even more shocked than I would if the Vulcanos started coming in, all over the place to cause maximal demoralisation [I refuse to use that horrible phrase, but you know the one I mean?], with the frigates’ big magazines.

    Just to be clear:-

    I’m not on about anybody doing that to us, but thinking in terms of somebody (maybe us) doing that to somebody else, equally ‘Sea? lol whatevs – it’s miles away!’ but with less ability to do much about those pesky frigates than we have;

    I’m not suggesting that the best defence against such a tactic is to have a Grand Fleet patrolling your waters;

    I am saying that I’ve always been in favour of the ol’ 127/64; and this post of TD’s has made me appreciate it even more as an additional tool in the military box (and the usefulness of having some stuff operating in the enemy’s littorals).

    BTW, unless anyone else does first, I’ll have a dig around to see if there are any official military definitions of littoral/littoral ops, and why the 100km/61% GNI figure (I guess that there’s a big GNI drop off after that 100km point?).

    APATS: Cheers for that Nightearth link – interesting.

  11. I think a more useful tool is to take one ship with asm and place it in the choke points of the world with a chart showing what goes through there. That might make the point to people what the ocean means to them.

  12. @tsz52,

    I get where you’re coming from. Throw in TLAM and things get even deeper.

  13. Until you realise that if you are in ER 76mm range, your frigate is also in MRLS/155mm range, then it becomes a duel.

  14. Pfah – away with your puny 76mm. Anyway, that’s why all these new spangly ships designed to operate in the littorals are made of aluminium – the land artillery shells just pass straight through without detonating… or something…. :P

  15. One can see how,

    ‘An future front line littoral warfighter, using effects based opperational concepts’

    Might find that definition useful (sorry Chris B):)

    Surely this is a case for horses (or definitions) for courses?

    Littoral, in a millitary sense should surely mean those areas of the land mass, overwhich a marine based opposing force can effectivly opperate. ]

    Therefore littoral means different things to different naval forces.

    For the USA Nimtzes and all, then yes the whole uk is littoral.

  16. @tsz

    The Vulcano is 76mm. Unless you meant the upsized 127mm one. :P But the 76mm one is more common.

    And the Freedom LCS is made of aluminium/steel components mix, which has been speculated to be the cause of some of the hull cracks(different expansion rates). Oh well, shit happens.

  17. Observer,

    a fairly one-sided duel. The floaty little boat needs some STA of its’ target, which may not be easy to obtain unless it is blindly firing at a grid and last week’s satellite imagery. It is a lot easier for the land-based force to track the ship by radar or eyes on, and coordinate fires from as you mention 155 or GMLRS, plus send land-launched munitions at it. And send out some patrol boats with ATGW if AShM or AH are not available.

    I’m pretty sure that any little frigate underneath a bombardment of GMLRS, 155mm HE, and inbound missiles is going to blink first. The paintwork is going to get seriously scratched.

    Raises an interesting question. What would be the effect of 40 rounds of 155mm HE with impact fuses hitting a modern frigate, and ATGWs the hull? It probably would not sink the boat, I guess, but how disabling would it be in terms of combat systems, personnel, damage control water pipes, and communication antennae? I think it could probably take the ship out of action, at least.

    If so, it is another calculus. The frigate would probably need base dockyard repair, and certainly not able to function effectively as part of the overall effort, so it is “effectively sunk” as far as that conflict goes. 40 rounds of 155mm cost less than £50,000, and can be precision fired out to about 35 miles. Too much of naval doctrine assumes that the floaty little boats operate without OPFOR having a say in matters.

  18. …actually, make that 1 second delay fuses. A 155mm HE shell that penetrates to a compartment or passageway before exploding is going to cause some serious overpressure in confined spaces. 40 of them would be pretty devastating internally to personnel, systems and controls.

  19. When it comes to geography our minds are still walking around the African savannah and only moving a few miles a day.

  20. I wrote this one because the tweet had the words ‘go navy’ at the end. Typical pro navy cheerleading from we are an island crowd that distort stats to build up the importance of maritime forces. I don’t disagree on the importance of the oceans but like to see balance

  21. “Is this another example of using dodgy and misleading statistics to reinforce a point of view, clutching at straws in order to desperately make your perspective sound impressive or just a reasonable statement of fact?”

    I see nothing wrong with the notion per-see, tho by no means am I defending the given definition of 100km.

    I also see nothing wrong with the word ‘littoral’ itself, as pointed out elsewhere it seems to be an established term in British defence lexicon.

    What is the littoral?

    Is it the landward depth to which naval assets can deploy comprehensive ‘effect’?
    Ie the aggregate of NGS, tac-tom, and naval air, in which case you might plausibly argue it was in the region of 80km…..

    Is it the landward depth to which an amphibious task group is expected to penetrate in a 72 hour mission as per British ‘doctrine’?
    Ie the presumption of an unopposed landing in hostile country, followed by up to 40km of manoeuvre deemed necessary to support objectives…..

    I’m not being prescriptive here, quite obviously I have made the examples up, but……. I see no problem with defining the littoral.

    In fact, I would be very surprised if we haven’t, purposefully using the term to define the limits of naval effect!

  22. @James: I’m not a massive fan of NGS against modern opponents, but come on. I daresay a single 155 would have a very significant impact on a destroyer, but getting that impact would require a sea search radar and a hell of a lot of 155mm/GMLRS since the target is moving, and this would be against an opponent with the ability to shoot down such shells if they were getting close. To both get the rate of fire required to saturate the defences and to compensate for both the inaccuracy of dumb shells and the lack of terminal guidance, I reckon you would need a regiment, and that isn’t cheap. A radar and some truck mounted ASM’s on the other hand would be very effective.

    As for ATGW from small boats, launching a Javelin (MILAN would be impossible due to the unfortunate tendency of the sea to move during guidance) from within 2.5k of an alarmed destroyer, would be optimistic at best. I am a massive fan of Keith Mills, but he wisely drew in the Guerrico before opening fire, who’s captain seemed to assume he was invulnerable.

    Vulcano seems like a great replacement for the 4.5, especially with a few SF teams ashore who can supply the GPS locations of every bunker and trench in advance of a landing: much faster and cheaper than sending aircraft.

  23. Fire kills ships dead and forever. Anything else just makes holes.

    Torpedo’s excepted.

  24. wf,

    obviously this is all conjecture, but I made the example merely to illustrate that life is not entirely one-sided, and that OPFOR has a say. I lose track of the amount of times I have been subjected to Powerpoint briefings illustrating some fantastic networked capability (either Fires or comms networking) in which everything is interconnected and working perfectly and nothing goes wrong. I’ve even given a few of them myself, to my shame, both in green or in a business suit. Life is not like that, in reality.

    So if you sail a frigate nearish to the enemy shore and try to put it into action, OPFOR is going to get pissed off and reel out whatever he’s got to try to stop you. It may not be doctrinally correct or how we would do things, but then he’s not us.

    A patrol boat with a Soviet ATGW bolted on is a threat, as are 4 of them in a converging arc. Aim the ATGWs at the arse end of the boat, and the chances are that CIWS may be overwhelmed by volley fire, and bang, your rudder or prop shaft has taken damage, and you are stopped in the water or sailing around in small predictable circles. If each patrol boat only fires 4 missiles, you’ve got 16 incoming in volleys, and the likelihood of a leaker increases substantially. So, assuming OPFOR gets lucky, does the Captain RN of the floaty little boat feel his chances of surviving mission kill have significantly decreased?

    The cunning patrol boat commander would also order one of the boats to fire directly at the visible CIWS, and they are not armoured. You may think that is an unlikely scenario, except that is exactly what the Iranians train for.

    As far back as 1998, BATES had a mode for predicting movement and reverse engineering a firing solution in 4 dimensions for AS90: the three geospatial dimensions, plus a “firing now!” time to ensure that all rounds landed on target at the same time. BATES was pretty crap software, but the maths is universal and not that hard, so we can’t expect OPFOR not to be able to do the same.

    I’m not predicting complete ruination of the littoral doctrine, merely observing that OPFOR gets a say, and that floaty little boats are very susceptible to unconventional attack.

    I have no doubt at all that a proponent of the littoral doctrine will quickly come back and declare such a scenario inconceivable, much as the Captains of Repulse and Prince of Wales probably did in December 1941.

  25. Pretty ignorant statement…I assume New York city produces (or should it be now produced?) a healthy chunk of the USA’s GDP, but almost all of it from tertiary/services…

    As mentioned, all it does is make people realise how small an island we are, but without reminding people that most of our GDP comes from the tertiary services…not trade/the seas, it would have been wiser to mention the amount of food/resource inports from the sea the UK needs, not GDP.

    Ahhh the ‘go navy’ and ‘fly navy’ stickers… always fun to zap over.

  26. James,

    “You may think that is an unlikely scenario, except that is exactly what the Iranians train for.”

    Don’t you think we train to counter what they openly train for? Haven’t you noticed the autocannon and MGs that festoon every warship and auxiliary? Haven’t we discussed swarm attacks on here before?

    In the NGFS scenario why have they been allowed to get close enough to an FF/DD to launch ATGWs? Why (other than overly restrictive ROE) were they not taken out by carrier air, or the FF/DD’s helicopter or medium calibre gun?

  27. It is nice to see this is all viewed from the perspective of how we make money and not protecting the population.

  28. My God man!

    Money is happiness and progress!

    Anything that interferes in this such as rest, family and bodily functions is an enemy of the state and an enemy of progress. Have a word with yourself.

  29. @James: all agreed. I’m just not a fan of the “it’s so simple, fifty quid and some duct tape and will be useless” tendency. It’s not quite that simple.

    ATGW are useful if you are within 2-3 km, and the sea is going to have to look like a millpond for you to target CIWS or VLS silos from a small boat. It’s is an issue if your ROE is overly restrictive or you are being stupid, but not otherwise. Artillery is designed (and conversely it’s maths) for targets that don’t move, hence the howitzer economy and advantages of high ballistic arcs.

    Repulse and POW were sunk by very conventional air attack, against which ship mounted AA was insufficient. An argument for carrier air…tssk, you’re slipping James :-P

  30. Anixtu,

    it depends on how you see the start point. You see it as “all weapons cleared for immediate use”, I see it as “holy crap, who changed the rules?”. The Iranians were clearly able to get one over on HMS Cornwall with patrol boats, so let’s not assume it cannot happen, particularly when the hostages were taken in international waters, well out of range of the bristling MGs you refer to, but well within the 5 km range of the ATGW mounted on the Iranian patrol boats, far less the torpedoes on the 3 Iranian MTBs that stood back one thousand yards in their own waters. And not even the ship’s helicopter to give support. What happened there was an example of unconventional tactics by OPFOR, and the Andrew did not see it coming, nor had any effective defence. You can say the same for the Captain of the USS Cole.

    Clearly, an institutional cockup by the Andrew and an individual gross failure by both the OIC the boarding party and the Captain of HMS Cornwall, who instead of being imprisoned which he clearly should have been, for quite a few years and lose all his pension rights, was moved “to a post where his talents and experience can be used to best effect” i.e. yet another typical MoD establishment cover-up and failure to address the real flaws in thinking.

    Please don’t come back and tell me that lessons were learned and that it could never happen again, because that is risible. What will happen next is something different, and the Andrew will be caught out again.

    It’s not an anti-Navy position, because the Army or RAF are equally capable of making stupid mistakes. It’s just that in the context of this thread, it is littoral warfare we are discussing.

  31. One thing I am amazed we haven’t seen emerge in recent designs for small craft and ships that expect to be within small arms and ATGW range is armour.

    I know the Royal Marine ORC’s have Dyneema panels and there is localised lightweight armour on others but if we look at the US experience in Vietnam they had small craft that definately went in harms way and real combat experience saw the development of a range of boats but what characterised pretty much all of them was armour of varying types.

    Have ‘we’ tossed aside that hard won experience

    It is the same as another pet subject of mine, gun shields.

    We have repeatedly got rid in peacetime and had to refit in conflict, time and time again

  32. Well the Libyans used both 155MM self propelled artillery and MLRS against Ships during OUP and never got closer than 500M. Though apparently that was quite exciting!
    The problem they had was targeting and the Ships manouvering. That and the fact that they generally got some 4.5 from the RN 100M from the French or some fast air down their throat pretty quickly.
    Those were duels fought at almost visual ranges. A frigate 30NM offshore would require a radar antenna height of 100M to detect it. Move the Frigate 50Nm offshore and teh coastal radar need to be 300M high. add in a bit of live time satellite or a UAV and it is a decent first strike option against the radar installations and any coastal batteries.

  33. wf,

    Repulse and POW sunk by, on that day, very unconventional air attack. That’s the issue.

    You’d be surprised at what patrol boat ATGW can do. DERA managed to take out small floating pallet targets with Milan at Rosehearty Bay from a leased PB-sized small boat in Sea State 4, and that was back in 1986. They scored 11 hits – on a f*cking pallet, not a frigate – from 15 missiles fired. Milan was hardly that advanced in target tracking and guidance either. I don’t know about you, but Sea State 4 is distinctly non-millpond to me, especially onboard a smallish PB hull.

    (‘Twas a trial for both Commachio Group and School of Infantry, onboard operators from both units)

    Also, artillery fire is perfectly capable of firing on predictive targets, as opposed to static ones. It’s only dam geometry and a stopwatch. You can probably get the software to work it all out in an iPhone these days.

    Lots of fairly conventional, maybe even complacent thinking going on here…..

  34. APATS,

    you also assume all advantages with the frigate. OPFOR is perfectly capable of hoisting a radar several thousand meters into the air over his own coastline. Moving the frigate from 30-50 nms offshore degrades the frigate’s mission much more than it does OPFORS’s capabilities.

  35. James, Of course arty can fire on predictive targets but the whole point in a ship moving under fire is that it is not predictive. Alterations of course and or speed every x seconds is the order of the day.
    I have read the trials papers and the results of the Maritime Warfare Centre Green paper which has a matrix of sea states weapons systems embarked on certain platforms and accurate firing ranges. This forms a response matrix.
    Trust me lots of people take this very seriously. Anti FIAC drills both as part of a scenario with build up and completely unannounced form a good part of a Ships pre deployment training.

  36. James, It then becomes a beautiful SAM target. Ships have never really been capable of taking on shore installations in a pounding match but their strength has always been that they can move and are inherently harder to locate than fixed shore emplacements.

  37. APATS,

    Hmmm, overall I believe the balance of advantage is with the coastline. If OPFOR starts chucking different threats simultaneously, life gets tricky on the floaty little boat.

    So far we’ve got:

    Radar for tracking. Several radars.
    UAVs launched easily from on shore. The Iranians now have UAVs with TOW-type missiles.
    Artillery batteries with software for firing on moving targets. Several batteries no doubt, up and down the coastline.
    Patrol boats with decent enough ATGW, 4-5 km range. Lots of them.
    MTBs with 10 km range torpedoes. Also lots of them.
    We haven’t spoken yet about SSKs or sea mines, particularly those with some autonomy or reverse engineered from CAPTOR. Or the upgraded SILKWORM missiles.

    All of this happening right here, right now in the next likely OPFOR, who also possess a choke point in Hormuz.

    Going to be a brave Captain RN in his floaty little boat who thinks his Merlin and a Skynet connection gives him an advantage.

  38. Observer – ref:

    “The Vulcano is 76mm. Unless you meant the upsized 127mm one. :P But the 76mm one is more common”

    Well actually the 127mm came first, then 155mm and only recently did they announce development of a 76mm version, which I don’t believe has finished testing yet – in fact I am not sure any version is actually “in production” for the Italian or any other nations forces – yet……

  39. James, we have gone from a shore battery on the coast to the whole Iranian ORBAT! I do not believe that would take a brave RN FF/DD CO but rather a foolish one.
    The answer to that threat is that right here and I mean right now in that AOR are the Abraham Lincoln and Enterprise with their associated Battle Groups. Coalition Air forces at Al Udeid in Qatar. 5th Fleet and coalition assets in Bahrain, a few subs plus anything we stage out of Diego.

  40. APATS,

    as there were when HMS Cornwall had her face rubbed in the shit.

    The point being that if you are Iran, you play a different game. You get coy on the boundaries you claim, you get underhand on things like mines, you don’t play NATO rules, you go for small, cheap and expendable threats like swarm attacks using PBs and ATGW, you play the casualties game, you obfuscate in the UN, you sell oil cheap to the non-permanent members of the UNSC and oil very cheap to the veto-wielding Chinese.

    Hornblower is meanwhile seriously under-equipped, and also trying to plan things like the friendship visit to Muscat in 2 weeks time.

  41. @James: I stand corrected. My only experience with Milan was using the simulator built into the FP and I found it fiddly enough (don’t like twist grips!). At what sort of range were they firing?

    Still lairy about artillery striking moving targets, especially given recent experience. I’ll put that into the “if desperate but don’t base your defence policy on it” box. I hope my previous ideas re the applicability of ATGM in unconventional scenarios convince you I’m not just ruling options out :-)

  42. James,

    Indeed but you continue to change the goal posts slightly. If we did decide to attack Iran I was pointing out the forces available for the job. The original discussion was about Frigates being used to shell littoral areas. Cornwall was the Iranians beating their chest and us maintaining the status quo as the priority was to continue rebuilding the Iraqi Navy and providing security for the Oil Platforms in the NAG before handing them over. We were never going to bomb or shell Iran over the incident.

  43. APATS,

    but that’s you trying to get both sides to play by our rules (much as I do with the children when they argue). All Iran wants is freedom of national manoeuvre (i.e. f*ck off from our 12 mile area), and freedom of threat (see what we can do in the Strait of Hormuz). She doesn’t want to take on the USN. On the other hand, if a frigate starts shelling some coastal installation, she’ll be on street fighter rules. And I do believe that in a much deeper intellectual manner than we’ll ever achieve, she will have studied the capabilities and also political constraints of likely enemies and built her forces to suit.

    Incidents like the Cornwall are nothing more than them testing the boundaries to see of reactions at both tactical military and political levels, for fine-tuning. Sadly, the Andrew let us down big time with Cornwall, hence my view that a treason charge should have been considered for a number of senior officers over that incident. It could have been seen coming from months out. Instead, we sent some tearful little boys and girls out on some motorised dinghies.

  44. James, A singleton frigate is not going to start shelling Iran! It may well however shell pirate bases in Somalia and did indeed shell targets ashore in Libya. With extended range guided ammo its ability to do so will be increased. As even guided shells are cheaper than missiles then it offers a useful option.
    With the UAE pipeline to Fujaraih opening in the next week, Iran is quiclly becoming the only Gulf country without any means of by passing a closure of the Straits of Hormuz.
    As for the Iranian forces capabilities, an awful lot of tri service multi national red cells have done plenty of work as well. Iran would of course get a vote, the enemy always does but whether that vote would be any more succesful than lbyas or Iraqs is open to question.
    Hopefully such a situation can be avoided!

  45. If that had been a two vehicle cavalry patrol moving in a disputed area then under the same circumstances surrounded and outnumbered by a similar equipped “enemy” with heavy units close by the outcome, considering the British way, would have been the same.

    Post GW2 the MoD handled security poorly in the upper Gulf. Labour’s “us too” foreign policy was never matched by the necessary hardware. And as I have said the RN doesn’t produce “soldier sailors” which is what needed in such operations. (Really these things should be left to Royal but they can’t be picking up Army slack and doing their real job.) We needed 6 to 8 of these or something similar,

    No way would HMG stump up for such nor would a 1SL ask for them either firstly because it isn’t the RN way and secondly I fear there is no “imagination” in the Service.

  46. The advantage that nations like Iran also have is they do not necessarily have the same approach to thing like cluster munitions.

    Whilst conventional tube artillery against a rapidly and unpredictably moving ship might be difficult to get a hit with, can the same be said against rockets with bomblets.

    Didn’t we used the characterise MLRS as being able to take out a grid square?

    If you put a ship inside a km by km square, as an example, would it be able to escape damage, would that damage be enough to render it a mission kill?

  47. @James: you’re thinking all the right things IMHO vs the Iranians. I might have included Shkval rocket assisted torpedoes as something that worried me too. But as always, major coordination of a swarming assault in time will require quite a bit of chatter, giving us an opportunity to preempt if we’re awake.

    The crux would seem to be ensuring our ROE are sufficiently aggressive. Perhaps we could do our own out of the box thinking to engineer an incident that would justify an expansion in the ROE. Or perhaps the Israelis could supply one for us :-)

  48. @ TD, Do cluster munitions operate in the same manner when they hit water as land though? Is it he sheer amount of munitions or the manner they react and splinter on impact? Someone on here will know!

  49. @ wf & TD

    I think if we ever do have an exchange of fire with China one of the reasons we will loose is because they don’t play by our rules. When that happens there will be a lot of intellectual stress in the command staffs of the West. Staffs inculcated with Western liberal ideals through out their education and professional careers. They will have to reconcile their idea of civilisation against protecting it using methods and practices that sit outside the idea
    itself. One hopes if that day arrives there remains enough military back bone to deal with the problem and the politicians. The idea of an equal opportunities military armed with less than lethal weapons and served logistically by Eddie Stobart, commanded from Brussels or Berlin (I get them confused) leaves me feeling a bit queasy.

  50. @x: agreed. There’s an awful lot of “oh, this won’t happen because no one does it anymore” thinking going on. But we see that all the time here

  51. APATS,

    there is a prox / airburst setting on (G)MLRS.

    I seem to be in a lifelong position of playing the red commander. I recall once when I was asked to do so for a police exercise as part of an anti-terrorism course for the constabularies of NW England. My opening serial of machine gunning a school playground in Preston at break-time to divert attention and resources was ruled out of order by the senior DS – this was a couple of years pre-Dunblane. So was my Plan B of setting firebombs in a shopping mall in Lancaster. Apparently, these incidents would have been considered “Regional Emergencies” and thus attract every police resource going (that was sort of my point), leaving nothing available for any response to my other dastardly plans. It’s really quite sad that is how the coppers thought in 1993, or that a notional exercise scenario of 6 committed terrorists could completely stymie a whole region of the UK. And just in case anyone reading this may have some emotional reaction to Dunblane, I am sorry to cause that and emphasise that the exercise preceded those tragic events by 2 years, and that I am the father now of two children myself.

    Nevertheless, have you not noticed that large piece of Iranian coastline “outside” of the Straits of Hormuz? Or the serious investment the Iranians are making to create a new port from scratch?

  52. James, That is the job of the red commander. Why else do we consider the “enemy most dangerous COA”?
    The problems the Iranians have is that 90% percent of their oil has to go through Kharg Island onto tankers and south. They have not started construction of a pipeline South of Hormuz yet and estimates of construction time are 2 years.

  53. Iran doesn’t need to worry about exporting oil by sea if they ‘close the straits’. It will not be an option for them, regardless of where their export terminals are.

  54. APATS,

    two years is not so long in the grand scheme of things, particularly while the west is obsessed with Eurobonds and elections. An Iranian strategic push (which it appears to be), coupled with a lack of planning permission issues, lots of Chinese money and lots of cheap immigrant labour can get quite a reasonable port going in 2 years, I would have thought.

    Oddly (maybe completely unlinked), most western NATO nations are going to be balls out extracting kit from Afghanistan in 2 years, and not very balanced to respond to Mr Angry Mullah.


    Iran has built up 4 years of credits through oil exports, and has a strategic reserve of 12 months of medicines, food and locally stockpiled oil for power stations. Yes, the international community could make life difficult with sanctions and blockades, but the country is actually self-sufficient in food and water. Is the west self-sufficient on oil?

  55. @ wf said “oh, this won’t happen because no one does it anymore”

    I do find it amusing it when some here argue away almost all possible engagements. But I am just a silly civilian what do I know?

  56. James, depends on the reaction from the West, If Iran shutting Straits of Hormuz and attacking any Western Shipping transiting on the Omani side is seen as an act of war then it actually has about 12 hours worth of stockpiles, 14 hours for re attacks. As for removing kit from Afghanistan, that is land kit and I am not sure anyone really wants to try and occupy Iran.
    About 11 million barrels pass through Hormuz every day,a lot of it goes East. pipeline capacity is about 8 million though most hardly utilised. Could Iran keep them shut long enough to cripple Western economies (more than we already are)?
    I for one hope we never find out.

  57. AAPTS,

    that’s why the most stressing scenario is some for of big argument, threats and so on, but stopping short of war. Sends oil prices skywards, doesn’t involve bombing, causes the west huge angst and problems with running quasi-peace enforcement operation, but not being allowed by the international community to completely shut down Iran.

    Why would Iran want to go to war with the west, which it would lose, when it can slowly grind the living will out of us? They can cost us bucket loads more difficulty than we can them, short of war and with the west playing nicely according to ROE, and them playing along only enough to prevent the first TLAM strike. Particularly if they have the Chinese veto in their pocket (and China not very happy with the US at the ‘mo, what with the rebalancing of the US fleets etc, plus holding about a third of US foreign debt that they can afford to dump at less national cost than to the US).

    That’s why Israel is a strategic card for the US. At a nod from 1800 Pennsylvania Avenue, the Israelis can cause a war in a difficult situation. Just ramp up the nuclear rhetoric. Then the rest of us can throw away the peacetime ROE and get stuck in properly.

  58. James,

    “Is the west self-sufficient on oil?”

    Most of the world is not self-sufficient in oil. Everyone has an interest in keeping oil flowing through the Straits. Not that it matters to a global market, but most of the oil exported from the Middle East goes further east, not west.

    For Iran to take action against shipping in the Straits of Hormuz is immediate regime suicide. At least until they get nukes, then it gets more interesting.

  59. Wasn’t there an exercise a while ago where some fiendish Red kept sinking the Blue carrier, and kept being over-ruled and disqualified every time he did so: “Nope, the enemy wouldn’t do something so not cricket – try again… nope, they wouldn’t do that either… nope… look, you’re ruining this exercise!”

    Must admit that my two frigates with 127mm Vulcanos being a complete pain in the arse was from a not too nice and fluffy ROE point of view, like: “Over the course of the day, we will hit all of your major railway stations, at random, with a random number of shells, a random number of times. We really don’t want to hurt anybody, so we suggest that none of you use your railways today.” Next day you add something else to the declared target set, and so on, with your big magazines. Not really after doing much damage, and hitting large targets that you can’t really miss from OTH, but with a lot of economic/enemy morale damage.

    Kind of a given that you’ll have taken out the other guy’s SSK’s and airforce etc first, and have established a watercraft exclusion zone. And that it’ll be more useful against soft and pampered types with developed and fragile (‘efficient’) infrastructures.

    A country might be able to weather the storm of a handfull of available TLAMs, but the above would be really annoying, since it’s cheap and relentless.

    I don’t particularly have anything against railway stations, by the way [except for f**king Manchester Victoria… grrr…], but I tend to use Leeds railway station a fair amount, but not much else in Leeds; so Leeds = connecting train to me.

  60. James, Iran is self sufficient in crude but not refined products and without those, its ability to feed and water itself plus sustain a viable economy is compromised

  61. Tsz 52 It was a US exercise, mostly computer simulated and US based but massive. Simulated an invasion of a Gulf like state! Red Commander used motor bike messengers and flags on mosques etc to set up a coordinated attack using suicide aircraft and small boats that wiped out most of Blue Force. Exercise was reset. Blue Force had some valid complaints, was not allowed to set up an air and surface exclusion zone and had to disable SPY radar within certain range of merchies, it can cause a TLF. Blue did however move his forces inside a “choke point” and limit his “sea room”. Valuable lessons learned all round.

  62. Tsz52,

    unfortunately the ruddy lawyers have got in the way. Post WW2, threatening that sort of action against civvies is going to get you a war crimes rap.


    I’m fairly sure that Iran has got the stock of the refined products, not just the wells and ability to pump. I saw a presentation by FCO supported by Min Ag ‘N Fish that in their river deltas, they have sufficient agricultural capacity to keep going on a surprisingly healthy diet for more than a year. Problem for us, it’s a big old country, and the population not enormous. Not for no reason they were the cradle of civilisation, where agriculture was invented and the Golden Crescent, etc. What used to be good was that it was all in the west, alongside Iraq. But then we left Iraq, and the Shias in eastern Iraq got friendly with Iran. Oh bugger.

  63. Hmm… if I were to be asked to mess up a frigate from a coastline, my 1st response would be to reach for my 155mm/MLRS and see if I can get some TOT fire with airburst rounds. Doesn’t have to kill it 1st, just seriously scratch the superstructure, more specifically, the radar. If any guns/exposed Harpoon tubes/personnel get damaged, it’s a bonus.

    Once it’s blind, own time, own target, carry on with PBs and ATGMs, even if you have to fire them from shore.

    Yes it may take 2 regiments, but artillery is more common than frigates, and it’s hardly one use.

    So, no. No solo lone ranger frigate going in for a gun run. You want to do this, you use carrier air to “sanitize” 80km in of most artillery 1st, then sail the floaty little box in.

  64. James, Iran is in the weird position of being a massive exporter of crude oil but still imports 30% of its required refined products due to a lack of refining capacity.

  65. Observer, Agreed a Frigate would lose a slug fest every time. Where it is useful would be its ability to simply follow a shipping lane 30Nm offshore transmitting only on I band Nav radar, receive the satellite GPS locations for fixed batteries then simply program the command system to put 5 or 10 rounds on top of each fire and simply reverse coure in the aftermath to be a blip in the opposite lane surrounded by merchant vessels. Of course one of the targets would be anything monitoring shipping and observing the course reversal.
    That is how I would play it.

  66. APATS, no doubt, but if they’ve had the foresight to stock up on what they can’t produce themselves….? As I believe they have.

    Oddly, thinking in strategic terms, Iran’s CofG is in keeping western gloves ON. We are pussies with ROE. There’s a huge amount of flex the Iranians can exploit while our gloves are on, but only 2 weeks until we force regime change when we take our gloves off. Slightly sub CofG, there’s their relations with other nations who like their oil, and with borders to all sorts of (from a western perspective) dodgy neighbours who will quite happily look the other way, we westerners don’t really rule the roost apart from at sea.

  67. James, I guess only man at Mossad, CIA and MI6 have any real answers to the stockpile questions. Agree ref COG, as long as they play by their rules and we by ours we are at a serious disadvantage, if we played by their rules with our kit then they are on a hiding to nothing.

  68. APATS,

    hence my thinking on the strategic role of Israel. “Cry Havoc! And let slip the dogs of war”. Israel turns a difficult ROE-embuggered situation into a war winning one with a single, US-enabled air raid. I really would not be surprised to learn that any Israeli raid was in fact much easier than Osiraq, because this time there’d be all sorts of US aircraft lining up to give them sips of fuel and C2 and ISR en route. And flying over Saudi, Iraqi or Turkish deserts, all mostly US airspace controlled, who’d be there to tell the tale?

  69. In 2009 the Israelis practiced an AAR mission out into the Med using F15K, F16s and AAR assets to the exact range of some of the Iranian facilities.

  70. APATS: Cheers for the info on that exercise – much appreciated.:)

    James: Re lawyers and ROE, for sure. However, there will be some countries who will be able to be in a position to do such things before much longer, and will cheerfully do so, so it’s worth thinking about.

    And, I have very little faith in the better side of human nature, and almost none in what passes for ‘lefties’ these days – when the chips are down (ie the ‘lefties’ themselves – rather than just some other poor shmucks – are directly and personally affected, as they will be one day), then they’ll be spitting bile and venom, and crying out for blood and vengeance, with the best of ’em. Like most things driven by ‘the left’, these (completely hypocritical) current ROE of our bizarre era are just the passing fad of the day. Only take a couple of Guardian articles to turn their entire ‘thinking’ round.

    [Spot the bitter, reformed lefty….] ;)

  71. Fly there? PFFTT, you guys are so old fashioned.

    Open secret, Israel has already gone gloves off with Iran’s nuclear program.

    Cyberwar. From the comforts of an air conditioned room.

    Of course, there were a few magnetically fixed “surprise packages” to the cars of key nuclear research personnel too. Less risk, lots of deniability.

  72. Ah but Observer you are looking at the magician’s obvious hand, being the public wailing and deliberately not very subtle attacks on the nuclear programme.

    What Israel does not have is the capacity to achieve is regime change. Their role is to cause the war, not to end it.

  73. TD: I don’t know what daft things your Twitter folks were Twittering, but maybe I’m just being dense in not seeing the problem… all of the MoD docs I’ve looked through consistently go back to this [and I’m sure that you’re a lot more familiar with them than I am]:-

    “The DCDC defines the littoral as those land areas [and their adjacent sea and associated air space] that are predominantly susceptible to engagement and influence from the sea. This may typically be thought of as being those areas within 100 km of the coast. It is likely that up to 60% of humans will live on or near coastal regions by 2040. DCDC Global Strategic Trends, Edition 3.”

    The Black Swan II doc then cites this definition and extends it a bit:-

    “a. Littoral Complexity. By 2020, over 80% of the world’s
    population will live within 100 miles of the sea. At present 147 (over
    75%) of member states of the UN, are coastal states. Most of these
    states have extended their jurisdiction out to sea, in many cases as far
    as 200 nautical miles or more. Most human maritime activity –
    shipping, fishing, hydrocarbon exploration etc – is currently conducted
    within a 300-mile zone. This means that a substantial proportion of
    the world’s economic and political activity is being conducted in a
    narrow strip of land and sea (the littoral) on average no wider than 300
    miles. Not only will the littoral be threatened by the consequences of
    climate change, it will also face the effects of extreme weather and
    other natural events, all of which will have a negative impact on these
    heavily populated littoral regions.”

    This includes Doctrine docs that are Joint and general (not just concerned with the boys playing with their toy boats in the bath), so shouldn’t that definition’s authority be enough for anybody interested in UK Defence?

    I’m not one for slavishly bowing down to authority or anything, but that seems a perfectly reasonable definition to me… what am I missing? I mean on a core definition level, rather than whatever strange arguments people might develop from this definition (‘Bring back Battleships!’ or whatever), which are separate?

  74. The traditional definition of littoral has been the area between high and low tide, or at least the immediate area beyond.

    All of a sudden it has been hijacked and perverted by those that want to promote investment in mritime capabilities.

    We now seem to be at 300miles

    So that means the Royal Navy now has an interest and influence over everywhere in the world except the central Amazon, a couple of mud huts in the middle of Africa, the bible belt in the states and a two dozen goat herders in central Russia.

    Come on

    Its like people blathering on about the percentage of food that comes by sea and ergo, we need a stronger Navy at the expense of the other services, conveniently forgetting that the vast majority of that percentage is actually across the Irish Sea, North Sea and English Channel and it isn’t a stronger Navy that we would need to secure that but a couple of dozen coastguard ships and a team of armed rozzers

    Its the distortion and misrepresentation that I don’t like, not the definition per se

  75. TD Please the area between high and low tide is known as the inter tidal zone. The littoral zone may include the inter tidal zone but often expands far further.
    It does not alter the fact that the USN has been able to influence the “Expanded Littoral” area for the last 30 years and that whilst a sufficiently powerful naval force can project power be that organic assets, missiles, troops, air etc within that area which non maritime capability cannot absolutely guarantee.

  76. The problem I have with the massively expanded definition of Littoral is that by that technical definition a tank coloumn zooming up a highway 75 miles paralell from the coast is “delivering warfighting effects in the littoral zone”. All of a sudden every battle zone in the world, of almost all kinds, has become littoral. The Libyan rebels, in their push to Tripoli, were technically “fighting in the littoral” per the Twitter definition given above.

    This is one of the prime reasons I support the term ‘Coastal’ or ‘Coastal capable’, because it neatly and more explicitly defines the intended purpose of ships that are designed to operate within sight or near sight of the shoreline without confusing the issue by bringing the capability of weapons range into it.

  77. Well I think Royal Marines should be renamed “Littoral Warfighters”! However I am not going to tell them just write an anonymous point paper and forward to MOD good ideas club.
    On a serious note I do not see what is wrong with the term coastal. I am sure that when I did Geography eons ago there was a book that split up the US all the way across into traditional zones starting with the intertidal zone on one coast and ending with the same zone on the other.

  78. @ APATS

    “Well I think Royal Marines should be renamed “Littoral Warfighters””
    — I’m going to hold you personally responsible if this happens.

    “On a serious note I do not see what is wrong with the term coastal”
    — That’s the spirit.

  79. Honestly, I’m not being a nobhead and would fully support other, more precise, terms being used but I’m not seeing how the definition being changed (if it was) is all to some nefarious pro-naval-power purpose.

    It’s not some Twitter’s definition, but the DCDC/MoD definition, used in plenty of Joint documents. It’s also the Joint Doctrine DOD definition [from ‘Joint Operations’]:-

    “(3) Littoral Areas. The littoral area contains two parts. First is the seaward area from the open ocean to the shore, which must be controlled to support operations ashore. Second is the landward area inland from the shore that can be supported and defended directly from the sea. Control of the littoral area often is essential to maritime superiority. Maritime operations conducted in the littoral area can project power, fires, and forces to support achieving the JFC’s objectives; and facilitate the entry of other elements of the joint force through the seizure of an adversary’s port, naval base, or air
    base to allow entry and movement of other elements of the joint force. Depending on the situation, mine warfare may be critical to control of the littoral areas.”

    Do the other branches of the UK and US Forces not agree with these definitions published in the Joint docs? Are the MoD and DOD secretly massively biased towards the Navy, and warping definitions to devious pro-floaty stuff purpose?

    Does the history and timing of the word’s definition’s evolution matter? I’m looking into it for laffs, but I don’t think it really matters – we are where we are, and all that. But that definition will become increasingly apt when some of the newer kit all starts to come together and be deployed and integrated properly (eg it will apply to solidly and persistently supporting future rebels, pretty far in-land, as they push to their Tripolis, from everything frigate upwards).

    So you can’t really argue with the definitions’ authority, but I’d agree that it should be sub-divided a bit more, and be qualified by stressing some kind of high persistence when including naval forces in the mix: You can hit even deeper with your handfull of TLAMs (add another 1000km to the definition), and a SLBM can hit anything – Woo! Everything’s in the littoral! Go Navy! :P

  80. TD

    I sense your frustration over ‘littoral’!

    But is this not a huge self opening can of worms?

    You earlier commented on how ‘strategy’ in the UK sense had come to mean overseas power projection.

    The ‘Strategic raiding crowd’ with whom I believe you disagree, but whom I put myself alongside, see it in those terms; but does not your own ‘influence squadrons’ in part at least adopt the idea of power projection?

    Land warfare wise: –

    The very definition of projection, means it is comming from somwhere, (being project from point a to point b). In this case (and given the impossibility of moving heavy equipment by air): If we or anyone else wants to go anywhere ‘tooled up’ with even medium armour then it means going by sea.

    So if we go by sea and we do not want to rely on an available friendly port. we have to be ready to use and old phrase for this, indulge in ‘forcable entry’.

    Given the reach of modern weapons TLAM, Elephant based air power,or even the range of a 155 mm gun landed over a beach, once you get involved with land and air forces does it stop being littoral?

    Is littoral the reach of the weapons on frigate? In which case if it has TLAM is that 1000 KM?

    BTW IMHO you are absolutely right about armour it is quite silly how many of our ‘professional soldiers sailors and to a lesser extent airmen’ (or at least those who buy our ships and vehicles) seem to opperate under the delusion tha the enemy will not be shooting back. Or of he does so it will be on clearly defined terms. Do not the japanese coast guard have armoured patrol boats?

    In short war is war, and I cannot see a situation arising in a fight starting and then a British force commander saying ‘sorry chaps our littoral concept says we can only shoot 10 miles inland, the enemy has retreated to 11 miles so we have to stop now cos it;s not littoral anymore’

    I think, the modern fashon for the word littoral started with the USN’ realisation that short of it’s carrier air groups; much of it’s navy was great for sailing arround the pacific crushing other enemy fleets but not much use in tidal waters; chasing ‘ yahoos in speed boats’ or going after sneekily laid mines.

    Or was at least, stupidly over spec, and even vulnerable if it tried it.

    So it tried to creat a ship and an opperational concept callled littoral. The ship is joke and their concept of it worse, but the idea that the need to get up close and personnal with an unfriendly cost line is not….

    James re the red commander thing.

    I explained once toa medium racking police officer my plan by which s dozen or so commited, but crucially unarmed men, who would not have to engage in attention seeking chemical buying stunts, etc; could create chaos and disrupt the UK for days, in effect bring the country to a stop. Either as an end in itself, or to totaly tie up the uk’s security forces whilst their mates did something more bloodthursty and spectacular.

    Their response after few minutes thought. was a heartfelt,

    ‘ Bloody hell don’t go spreading that about’!…

  81. The problem is that the definition has gradually been expanded over time. What was once a term that was used to accurately describe a fairly narrow band of surface vessels has since grown out of control, erasing the principle meaning and becoming far too vague and all encompassing. It’s now gotten to the point where you might as well not use the word Littoral at all, because practically everything military that floats now fits the term ‘Littoral’.

    This is why I personally hate it so much, because it’s become just another bastardised piece of catch all management speak, as opposed to what it was originally intended for, which even then I feel could be better summed up with the use of the word Coastal.

    And the word is associated with Navies predominantly because they’re the only ones that would use it. The air forces and ground forces I suspect have little interest in Littoral Combat Ships, unless it’s how to launch from them or blow them up.

  82. The traditional definition of littoral has been the area between high and low tide, or at least the immediate area beyond.

    With respect TD, you’re making yourself look a bit foolish with misplaced pedantry. The “littoral”, as a noun, has always meant “the region lying along the shore” – my Shorter OED gives an example of “The towns along the Mediterranean littoral” from 1828. You’re thinking of a specialist, technical term from zoology, the “littoral zone” which does indeed refer to the intertidal zone but is not a general coinage. To give an example, the intertidal meaning of the adjective is in my Shorter OED but not in my Pocket Oxford.

    In any case, the military are quite entitled to come up with their own specialist meanings or jargon, just like physicists use “impulse” or “momentum” to mean something a bit different to the meaning in common use.

    And those bits of jargon can change to reflect military reality – just look at how a destroyer now means a 16,000-ton NGF platform or a 10,000-ton air-defence ship, very different to past incarnations. Perhaps a better example is the wet side of the coast, “green water”. Noone expects green water to be literally green, as per a dictionary definition of green. But back in the Cold War it was militarily useful to talk about that area 200-300nm from land that could be reached by tactical land-based air. Then it was sort of made obsolete by the USSR’s development of bombers with long-range ASMs, the whole ocean turned “green”. It now seems to be making a bit of a comeback in a new guise, that bit of the sea where it’s too dangerous to send capital ships (qv James’ points above) – hence the USN developing specialist stealth units like the Ohio SSGNs and the Zumwalts.

    So the littoral means the region lying along the shore. Yes 100km is an arbitrary figure, but it’s militarily relevant – a lot of navies have weapons with a range of 100km plus a bit of sea room. Think C-802, SS-N-25, NSM, SOM, Harpoon, LRLAP, Vulcano in the 127/64LW – and it’s within range of helicopters, Marine raiding parties etc. Yes, weapons like Tomahawk and Sampson make that kind of distinction irrelevant as the Badger/Backfire made greenwater irrelevant, but they are high-end weapons, a C-802 is within the capabilities of the likes of Hezbollah. I know some of those are anti-ship missiles, but the original SLAM showed it’s relatively easy to convert such weapons to hit land targets – and there’s all sorts of corvettes and FACs that can carry Harpoon or similar, and could potentially carry a SLAM-type weapon. If these days Leeds can be hit by mid-range navies like Thailand and Turkey, then I don’t think it’s particularly controversial to consider Leeds part of the zone that is subject to action from the sea.

  83. El, TD isn’t annoyed at the definition, he’s annoyed at it changing to suit an agenda. You are correct in saying that definitions shift with time, and that understanding needs to shift too, but in the case of “litoral”, the agenda is specifically from the USN and their need to justify the LCS program along with it’s overoptimistic “studies”.

    Do you seriously think Northrope’s study of “7 LCS can replace 20 ships in antipiracy” is realistic? I have my doubts.

    In all honesty, I’ve not heard of the word “litoral” for the last 20+ years, now it’s all the “fad”.

    Damn double speak and politically correctness. And damn salesmen playing with the English language.

  84. @ Observer,

    “In all honesty, I’ve not heard of the word “litoral” for the last 20+ years, now it’s all the “fad”.”
    — Precisely. It’s just become a buzzword, its orginal meaning and context shattered for the conveniance of a sales pitch.

    @ El Sid,
    “With respect TD, you’re making yourself look a bit foolish with misplaced pedantry”
    — Not really. As Observer said, the point is that the term is being expended far beyond it’s original meaning. In addition, TD’s rough explanation of the term is technically accurate.

  85. See, I think the definition has just naturally expanded in line with new technologies. If you think of it as coastal and everything directly tied to the coast (economically and militarily), then with crap comms (flags) and short ranged broadsides it was pretty much a narrow coastal strip for a long time.

    Now we have fishing boats going out further and oil/gas drilling platforms tied to shuttle runs to the shore (out to ~200 miles) going sea-ward, and superior comms/intell/targetting etc land-ward, with longer ranged weapons to make use of that, and helos and whatnot, pushing that distance out too.

    So I’m happy with that definition given in the Black Swan II doc [though not too happy with the Black Swan II], since it reflects our current reality. If anyone would prefer different terms than ‘littoral’ to mean ‘the coast and everything directly tied to/influenced by it’ then let’s hear ’em. I think it’s useful as a focusing device to remind folks of the economic importance of dominating that ~300 mile strip, yours and the enemy’s; and if the best way to do that is with tanks, artillery, blimps and flying boats (and none of them silly ships) then so be it.

    I’m tracing official uses of the word back in time, to check out whether there really is some agenda driving the change (expansion) in definition, but not really seeing one, and the LCS programme seems to have had very little to do with it (it came later)… needs more digging.

    On the other hand, the directed subversion of meaning is the bane of the age, and there are plenty of management/marketing/media words that give me the red mists [can’t even watch a TV or read a paper any more], so I’ll try to remember to not use the word when conversing with TD and Chris.B.

    On the other other hand, cheers x for that link – made me chuckle.

  86. Things is, oil rigs and gas platforms tend to be considered ‘out to sea’ (or even offshore. Or even offlittoral). They can just as easily be served by helicopters 30 miles inland as ones based directly on the coast. I just don’t think it helps to use Littoral to describe things that are covered more accurately by other terms. All it does is to serve to confuse issues that should be straight forward for the sake of a cool sounding piece of terminology. Once you start broadening the term too much it loses much of its significance and becomes just another generalisation that is used to sweep aside difficult questions about just where a piece of kit is supposed to fit in, and what its role is.

  87. “They [the offshore platforms] can just as easily be served by helicopters 30 miles inland as ones based directly on the coast.” Yup, which is why the definition is correct to expand both inland and out further to sea. You can hit that servicing helo 30 miles inland on the tarmac (without injuring anyone) in numerous ways now, and you directly, adversely affect a platform ~200 miles further out to sea. The expanded (I’d say evolved) definition encompasses that tight inter-connectedness of the things in that broad region (that has the coast roughly in the middle).

    Economically, and therefore militarily, the term had to expand to include the increased sea territory a country was legally allowed, from gunshot distance to the comparatively recent Territorial Waters, then even more recent EEZ laws. The enemy’s littoral is now all of this, plus the range of your ‘guns’ inland as it always was:-

    “112. In the physical sense, the maritime environment comprises the High Seas and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) (through which warships enjoy high seas freedoms and from which their aircraft enjoy rights of overflight), and territorial seas in which warships may exercise innocent passage, which does not include the right of overflight. The littoral, a vast, highly complex, and immensely diverse area, comprises EEZs, territorial seas, and land territory. The sea covers approximately 70% of the earth’s surface, nearly 80% of the world’s population lives within 100 miles of it (and this figure increases each year) and over three quarters of member states of the UN are coastal states. All coastal states have extended their jurisdiction through national maritime zones, in many cases including EEZs to as far as 200 nautical miles. Most human maritime activity – shipping, fishing, oil exploration, etc – is currently conducted within those 200-mile EEZs, to which warships and submarines have unrestricted access and presence to conduct exercises and routine operations. This means that a substantial proportion of the world’s economic and political activity is being conducted in a narrow strip of land and sea on average no wider than 300 miles. This narrow band, referred to as the littoral and is defined as those land areas (and their adjacent sea and associated air space) that are predominantly susceptible to engagement and influence from the sea.”

    So that’s another MoD (military) definition and explanation, we’ve had TD’s useful technical oceanographical/zoological one, and a dictionary one; is there a legal one, since that might be important? I’ll have a look later.

    Anyroad, honestly Chris, I know I’ll never convince you or TD on this; but I think it’s handy to have a single word that encompasses all of the above (and the complementary DOD definition further above), it seems to have evolved naturally to me and doesn’t obscure or over-simplify anything [and I don’t think it sounds cool either].

    Like I say, I’ll try to avoid using the word when conversing with yourself, but to help me out, would you mind listing the more accurate terms that you’d prefer in breaking the above lot down into its major bits?

  88. Coastal = on or around the coast, stretching a few miles inland and a few miles out to see.

    Anything further inland than that is inland. Anything further out to sea is perhaps Maritime, sea going etc.

    The way I see it, a “Littoral vessel” is a definition of where the ship operates or can operate unlike other vessels, to separate it from vessels that are intended for more high seas operations. By encompassing such a large area I just think it only serves to tread over areas that are beyond the competence of the word to describe.

    To go back to an example I used earlier, lets say a tank rolls by that helicopter base that is serving the oil platform and knobbles all the helicopters. Does that mean the tank is engaging in land warfare or littoral warfare?

    By opening such a broad scope to the word, we’re creating loop holes that can be used to dupe unwary politicians for a start. I just think it’s an unnecessary piece of vocabulary to introduce. It has such a narrow realistic usage, and has basically just become a throwaway, catch all term. It seems everything these days is Littoral.

    It’s become another pointless buzzword.

  89. I’d give “Litoral” as the 12 km territorial zone all countries are limited to. 200 miles is the EEZ, not litoral.

    Coastal would be 12km + 40 (conventional cannon range 30-40, no rocket shells).

  90. “A tank rolls into the surf and becomes a “coastal patrol craft””
    — Now that I would like to see. The army presenting to parliament it’s plans for a new dual role combat vehicle that transitions from main battle tank to littoral combat ship, and all for just £2m.

  91. “Coastal = on or around the coast, stretching a few miles inland and a few miles out to see. Anything further inland than that is inland. Anything further out to sea is perhaps Maritime, sea going etc.”

    That doesn’t sound like a precise, or useful term for military application……

    Same problem with observers, re 12nm, why create another word to say eez?

  92. Seaside. Like it

    As I have said a few times it is not the definition that concerns me but the way the term has been hijacked to further an agenda.

    It’s not pedantry

    Not sure I buy the argument about developments meaning reach from the sea has extended and the term should now be changed to suit.

    How far inland were we doing ngs on d day, sixty years ago, or heli assault in the late fifties at Suez.

    I call bullshizzle on the whole thing by the usual vociferous naval lobby that think they hold the keys to the nations strategic survival and future and should therefore define pretty much every part of the globe as being within their ownership.

  93. Someone here mentioned that if weapons reach from sea is the deciding factor, then with ballistic missile subs, it would mean the whole world is litoral.

    Come to think of it, then the stratosphere is litoral too!

    Litoral Combat Typhoon anyone? Litoral Combat Challenger? Litoral Combat Warrior?

  94. @ TD

    In IR the oceans are classed as global commons . 12nm out our sovereignty ends. After that it really is no man’s land. All that range of cannon stuff rhubarb defining sea borders. Of course these days cannon reach a lot further. And missiles further still. Of course if modern weaponry can reach out over the shore to the sea the same class of weapon reach out from the sea over the shore to the land.

    Using a global commons mean no problems with borders or air space. Post WW2 even with the supremacy of the US Western allied states still at times chose for their political ends chose to exercise their sovereign rights to exclude the US from using their territory. The international state system is anarchic, all are equal, and to trespass against your neighbour sets precedents that legitimise the possible actions of others. The seas are vast and offer a freedom of action to states beyond that when operating on land.

    Now in 20 years time I don’t think China will have an army sitting across the Channel. I don’t think SLEP Typhoons will be chasing Chinese aircraft out of UK air space. Could they have an SSN or SSGN cruising about the North Atlantic? May be. Out of three it is the most plausible. “Legally” (international law, got to laugh…) the Chinese could have a destroyer nearly circumnavigating the UK 365 days a year if they so choose. Of course what protects us if our irrelevance more than our supposed top ten military might. It is strategic reach. The demonstration of reach can be quite a shock, google John Paul Jones.

    Armies don’t have strategic reach; especially armies from island nations. HMG can send a frigate to those Islands now, it can’t send a battalion. We can send a frigate to shell the bases of Somali pirates; we can’t send a battalion on its own to raid those base it will need the support of others to achieve that end. In an era of military tokenism and a growing to aversion casualties (especially in those adventures will ill defined goals) shelling or bombing may not be only the preferred option but the only option.

    No campaign in modern terms has been purely a land or maritime affair. What dictates which group a campaign belongs to depends on which element the majority of fighting was done and just as important the element through which the the majority supporting logistical effort is made. James is right that without the Marines and those Army bods the FI War wouldn’t have been to a rapid conclusion. Man lives on the land. But without the ships, the carriers, the escorts, merchant men, repair ship, and oilers the Marines and the Army friends wouldn’t have got there. I think some here do understand that a ship can be fought just by moving and being there and that naval warfare is a lot more subtle than shoving 9inches of steel into the belly of the enemy. (Though I think the modern RN seemed to have taken that subtly perhaps a tad too far……)

  95. @ Observer re Littoral Planet

    Well 2/3 of the Earth(?) is covered in sea water.

    Humans are 75% water.

    Inconvenient truth time…… :)

  96. x has already made this point, but Leeds is a river port and one of the reasons so much of the Industrial Revolution happened in Yorkshire was that it wasn’t that far from navigable water in one direction or the spate/flood/whooshy sort in the other that provided power before the steam engine.

    You can get a vessel of several hundred tonnes up to the Motorway City of the 70s and IIRC one of the oil companies regularly did or does move products that way.

  97. @X

    I’m a littoral area? I declare myself closed to foreign shipping.

    “Armies don’t have strategic reach; especially armies from island nations”

    Hmm… wonder how the allies reached Berlin. Their armies don’t have strategic reach, so they couldn’t have marched there. I also wonder why most of the Reich’s units ended up on the Eastern Front, can’t possibly be because of the Red Army, no strategic reach. Or why NATO ended up stationing units in Germany during the 1970s, there was nothing that was possibly a threat.

  98. If we are talking about rivers, well, thats the domain of the Royal Engineers so the RN had better suck it up :)

    As Phil said earlier, things can get silly very quickly and no one ever wins a definition argument.

  99. @ Alex

    Well the UK was the only country to start industrialisation without railways.

    I could have also spoke about ships on the Trent, Weaver, and the Nene.

    100 years ago nobody would have questioned the navy. The world hasn’t shrunk. It is just as complicated politically as it was back then, The majority of stuff still gets moved by sea. We don’t have Imperial possessions to police. There is no 2 million man army sitting in central Europe. The danger areas are well outside Europe. Our new potential enemy is hemmed in geographically,is as dependent on the sea as any other, and our, the West’s, major advantage is the quality of naval forces as it can’t compete in troops numbers. Yet to suggest that the navy is more important than the army well that is just daft…….

  100. @ Observer

    There are parts of Germany close to London than most of Scotland. It doesn’t take a day to drive from the Channel to Berlin. Those allied armies sat on a supply chain that ran from the ports of northern Europe, across the Atlantic, and all the way to the US. The need to capture ports to support the advance wasn’t of trivial importance. And post was the major NATO allies in Germany sat on war reserves in just the same way as if they were in garrisons back home.

    If you are suggesting that an army could march all the way to Mozambique, takes all its stores with it, fight the Chinese say, and march all the way home again well then good for you because that is what war will be in the middle and late 21st century. Wars fought at great distances and wars that will need to be fought now and not in 6 months time.

  101. Wars fought at great distances and wars that will need to be fought now and not in 6 months time

    Guess we had better invest in C17’s and Typhoons then :)

  102. “Those allied armies sat on a supply chain”

    And the RN and the RAF that you claim has strategic reach does not need supplies?

    “wars that will need to be fought now and not in 6 months time.”

    What’s your hurry?

    I think you missed the point X. The point was the term “littoral” is being prettied up and getting a facelift in the recent years for the justification of the creation of a single (2 actually), overpriced, undergunned piece of crap that delivered less than expected and now requires the finely tuned propaganda machine to give reasons for it to live and for certain managers and back-room admirals not to get the chop.

    Guess which piece of crap? Hint: It has Littoral in its’ name.

    PS: Irony: saying 100km with the coastline is important when the “unit that should not be named” doesn’t have anything that can reach that far.

  103. @ Observer re Soviet

    Last time I looked most of Great Patriotic War was fought in the Soviet’s own country. They didn’t pack their army up, move several thousand miles outside the USSR, and then fight a war. The US fought a maritime campaign in the Pacific. And were able to move an entire army across a contested sea to fight in Europe.

  104. “cough” Berlin. “cough”

    So… most of the Eastern Front was fought in Russia. Imagine that. Wonder who were they fighting that moved their navy or airforce there? Can’t be the German Army…

    “Inconvenient truth time……”

    Back at you dear. And you’re still missing the point.

  105. Well from June 41 to July 44 equals 36 months.

    And July 44 to April 45 equals equals 9 months.

    So the majority of the Soviet war was fought in the USSR.

  106. @ Observer re “Inconvenient truth.”

    No I am not missing the point. Perhaps I am not just as concerned as rushing to support the site owner’s position as you evidently are?

  107. X,

    you are still using the word “strategic” in the sense of “a long way away”, which it doesn’t mean in a military context. If you want to say that floaty boats can travel a long distance because there’s lots of wobbly blue stuff about, and seas and railways or motorways don’t mix very well, then say so.

    The only thing strategic that is integral to the RN is the CASD, and that is a political weapon that the RN carry about because it’s less risky than having it in immoveable silos or taking off from immoveable airfields.

    Oddly enough, the Soviets moved 58 divisions from their far east to stop the Germans at Moscow, when Hitler has mis-estimated Soviet reserves and transferred some of his forces to the south. Perhaps he was looking to see if the Soviet Navy were capable of acting as a strategic force, and concluding correctly that they were not. They came by rail. 4,500 miles, in 1,702 trains. Not a single floaty little boat involved.

  108. @James

    Strategy is to define goals and pursue them through application of adequate ressources.

    I can hardly see, that being pushed back to Moscow was a strategic vision the Soviets had in WW2. Neither did they when Napoleon invaded. They met – by sheer luck – an enemy even more blundering in the strategic theatre. Had the Japanese declared war on Russia instead of the US, which was clearly the german intent behind the alliance, the Russians could have been defeated.

    Also, the Soviet example is simply not applicable to the UK or any other Western nation. Russia never was a country dependent on sea trade. What pattern do they follow to achieve global reach to achieve strategic goals? They send ships to Syria, Cuba and Venezuela. What is India or China doing? What is Brazil intending to do?

  109. Trading space for time is a well known fact about Soviet strategy in 1941. Depth was her greatest strength.

  110. Guys, chill pill. Supporting and Supported Commands can change during an operation never mind a war. After Dunkirk SLOCs were crucial to the survival of the UK. The war in the Pacific could not have taken place without a huge Maritime effort.
    The Russians were kept in the war to a large extent by Convoys round the North Cape. German supplies were affected by strategic bombing. D day could not have happened without the maritime and air supremacy supplied by Allied forces.
    Once the Soviet situation had stabilised and their industrial capacity had been built up and Allied forces were established in France it became a land war.
    Different areas are crucial at different times.

  111. McZ,

    “strategic” is an adjective applied to “effect”, in the doctrinal definition Britain uses. “Strategy” is a political game. Neither are to do with distance.

    When people come onto TD and start talking about the RAF and Navy being strategic with heavy implications on great distance, they betray some ignorance as to how things are normally considered.

  112. As for Russia, Brazil, India etc. Navies are the easiest way to demonstrate power in a relatively non threatening manner. A Port visit by a Carrier Group can be seen as diplomacy and is actually good for the local economy. The presence of the warships also sends the message that says “look at the military muscle and global reach I have” in all spheres. You cannot send an armoured Brigade ona goodwill visit in the same way.

  113. @APATS

    Actually you can, depending on the conditions in the area. A commander of a British Brigade in Rwanda in 1994 would probably get a couple of million votes for president if he ran. :)


    Do you even KNOW what the topic is? I’m not reacting to TD’s post. I’m reacting to some /facepalm comments from some of the posters. Though I really shouldn’t be surprised at nonsense coming from a guy who already once self-declared that he doesn’t read posts and just slaps out comments. As others have also noted, you seem to think “I read it in a book” is a good substitute for real life and actual practice. “Army has no strategic reach”. Bullshit.

  114. @ Jedibftrx,

    As someone who lives on the Coast, I’m perfectly happy with that definition. I’m pretty sure that if you pulled most private soldiers/sailors/airmen to one side and said “what is the Coast?” they would give you a fairly accurate and consistent description. How many people could accurately define “littoral”, either per the dictionary definition or the expanded definition being used now? Is not correct communication and understanding one of the building blocks upon which military action must be built?

    @ X
    “Wars fought at great distances and wars that will need to be fought now and not in 6 months time”
    — Well that rules out amphibious warfare then ;)

    “100 years ago nobody would have questioned the navy”
    — And nobody is questioning the value and existence of the Navy now. What people are questioning is the constant volleys of rhetoric from the worlds loudest “silent service” trying to usurp the entire defence budget, confusing having a navy with the navy being the be all and end all of defense.

    Now 100 years ago nobody questioned the navy because the Navy was one of three to four that were a level above everyone else. It’s size and power was significant. Now… not so much. The Americans are the pre-eminent navy of the world and nobody is even close to matching them. You could combine our navy with the French Navy and the US would still laugh at such a force.

    The world is different x. During Nelsons day, the only way to keep an eye on the Atlantic ports of France was with frigates that could warn of enemy sailing. By the second world war they’d been replaced by maritime patrol aircraft.

    Now here we are in the 21st Century. The number of maritime threats, and I mean actual threats that could realistically go hostile, is greatly reduced. Our energy supply chains are mostly with Norway, and our food chain relies mostly on Denmark, France and Ireland. If you exclude some of the more “luxurious items” like imported fruit and New Zealand Lamb, Britain imports really not a whole lot from outside the EU (part of why the EU was established).

    The reality is, we’re just not as dependent on the Navy as we were 100 years ago. We don’t need a huge naval presence. The force we have now is reasonably suitable for the tasks we ask of it.

    As for Germany vs Russia in WW2. Blimey, that’s really not the best example of armies lacking mobility. The Germans pushed all the way to Moscow and then the reverse occured later on. Quite the distances being covered in that one.

  115. Chris B whilst 75% of our imported Oil comes from Norway, 85% of our LNG comes from Qatar. Due to lack of storage and the manner the grid is set up we are only ever 2 or 3 LNG tankers not arriving from lights going out and people getting cold.

  116. APATS,

    that’s probably an argument for more storage, at least in strategy terms. Not for more floaty little boats. Probably considerably cheaper as well.

    Although the thought does bring to mind the Andrew operating a gas storage terminal on the east coast near Hull, if they want to make a case that they are important for continued gas supply.

  117. Other than the long march to Moscow and back to Berlin, “strategic” is not simply moving there and back, an army can have “strategic” effect even if it is stationary. For example, the presence of the Red Army on the Eastern flank caused 150+ divisions to be stationed there, leaving the Atlantic Wall weakened. Think it was 7 divisions in Normandy only? This is a “strategic effect” of an army on a flank, the drawing of units away from other sectors. In fact, wasn’t this the basic idea behind Gallipoli too?

    As James said, “strategic” isn’t simply walking there and back, it’s also how an “army in existance” or “fleet in existance” can affect operations in the large area.

  118. James, I made no argument ref a Strategic Solution merely a correction to a point in a Chris B post. There should be more storage. I have no requirement to make an argument for more ships HMG do that for me by conjuring up new bloody tasks whilst cutting hull numbers.
    Interestingly enough on tasks and manning Atherstone and Shoreham are currently conducting the long journey to Bahrain to swap out 2 of the on station hulls. The only asset of any service in the Gulf that the US actually requires as it cannot replicate the capability.

  119. @ APATS

    I’m not sure as LNG is quite that significant (less than 25% of imported gas). There is a lot of fear about the possibility of LNG going East and not West due to higher returns, but the US is currently producing a glut of the stuff thanks to the amount of fracking and the like that is being done there now. Australia isn’t far off becoming a major player either.

  120. APATS,not very often I disagree with you, but am going to do so on the LNG issue. Do you really and hnoestly think the energy regulatory bodies, who have a statutory duty to ensure continuity of supply, would allow the UK to be 2 or 3 ships away from the lights going out.

    That is exactly the kind of Save the Royal Navy/PTT nonsense that I am always railing against, it sounds convincing but it is plain wrong.

    Hasn’t stopped them scaremongering though, a bit like claiming the littoral (and by definition, naval) domain extends 6,000 miles inland

    Have a read of this


  121. I’m quite sure we hold much more than that in reserve. We have several months of POL in the pipeline and in storage at any one time.

  122. Chris B, we could replace it in the open market but enjoy 50% higher bills! The problem is that we did not guarantee future pricing for more than 25% of the stuff we buy from qatar and then Japan had to make up its Nuclear short fall. Govt and energy security are mutually exclusive.
    I read some other stuff I cannot link to but I am not exagerating the importance of the Qatari tankers.

  123. @TD Also note that I did not advocate an increase in size of the RN but an increase in storage capacity. Just because people use facts for their own devices, (1 SL) do not lump us all in the same basket please.

  124. Current UK LNG gas storage is 36643929056 KwH which is a bit less than total storage capacity. No idea how long that would last.

  125. We only use Gas to produce about 40% of our domestic energy. Of that, around 50% is derived from UK domestic sources and the bulk of the rest comes from Norway.

  126. So total storage capacity if everywhere was full is 58 billion kwh. I believe each household uses on average 1800 or so kwh of LNG a year so enough for 20.3 million households for a year. I believe there are 22 million households in the UK so if the average figure includes all households whether or not they actually use gas total storage capacity is about 11 months at normal consumption right this second. About 15 months say if we filled the whole storage system right up. Fag packets calcs.

  127. Phil,

    odd sort of figure: I’d have thought it would be in cubic metres or something, not consumption.

    I found on Wiki a LNG carrier with a capacity of 135,000 cubic metres. Assuming that’s an average, how does our storage convert into numbers of carriers, and therefore days of supply?

  128. APATS, fair points, I absolutely appreciate we tend to agree on most and wouldnt lump you in with those clowns for one second, but the UK is only 3 tankers away from the lights going out is typical of the loudest silent service in the world (good description Chris) lobby groups, who you know I tend to be rather critical of !!!

    Your Telegraph link is 3 years old, honestly, go and read the two TD articles I linked to

  129. APATs I got those figures from the national grid website and they are from gas day 10 June 2012, ie today. Unless I’m being a mong with my sums the reserves are large.

  130. In fact reading about gas that entire article looks like complete and utter bollocks.

    Gas balancing alerts are issued not because there is not enough gas but because gas can only be moved around the system at 25mph which means it can take up to 23 hours to move the entire length of the transport system. So balancing alerts are issued because the gas can run out in localities due to the speed it can be moved around.

    Storage seems more than adequate even accounting for severe winters, the problem is getting gas where its needed fast.

  131. The best source is straight for the Gov.

    Having double checked, the gov seems to think that we use gas for 42% of our energy production, much of which we produce domestically. LNG comprises just 25% of gas imports. That hardly sounds like a killer to me.

    The you have coal which we don’t use that much purely because of the environment. If national security was at stake, I’d imagine we would ramp the crap out of it.

    Of course all this belies the more important point, that we need to become more energy efficient as a nation. Energy usage can be cut more quickly and more dramatically than extra capacity can be built.

  132. RE “Oddly enough, the Soviets moved 58 divisions from their far east to stop the Germans at Moscow, when Hitler has mis-estimated Soviet reserves and transferred some of his forces to the south. ”
    – that’s why the most important battle in the East ended *the day before* Germany invading Poland; the Japanese land invasion force, surrounded by the Soviets, surrendered (small detail: by that time 98% were dead as Imperial Elite Divisions do not surrender)
    – anyway, the point is: Strike South planning took hold in Japan from there on, and Stalin with his good sources could take the gamble with those 58 divisions (without them, Moscow would have been taken)

  133. I dont doubt we are dependant on gas imports but the vast majority are via a number of pipelines from Norway and Europe, LNG is important and will likely increase in importance, the majority of that LNG currently comes from Qatar into South Hook but as the US and Canada become net exporters of gas due to shale I suspect we will do more trading with them.

    I know we can somethimes get bogged down in the detail but the point I am tryinng to make is that facts can be distorted to fit an agenda, its the same with food imports.

    I think we can all agree that energy efficiency, diversity of supply and more storage are good strategic investments

  134. What I love about the people on this forum is our inability to agree on anything but rarely fall out over it.

  135. RE ” the Comacchio Group, then the Fleet Protection Force” that has now been renamed one of the Commandos used to have this tasking, not operating, but protecting along with off-shore assets:
    “Although the thought does bring to mind the Andrew operating a gas storage terminal on the east coast near Hull, if they want to make a case that they are important for continued gas supply.”
    – absolutely no idea if anyone is tasked theses days

  136. “What I love about the people on this forum is our inability to agree on anything but rarely fall out over it.”

    Windmills? I happen to think they look quite nice in the countryside, so b*gger the NIMBYs.

    On the other hand, they’re crap at producing electricity reliably, and global warming is a fantasy.

    So more windmills, just for prettiness.


  137. “On the other hand, they’re crap at producing electricity reliably”

    No they’re not, they are more consistent and reliable since if its windy now it will be windy in 10 minutes whereas other power generation facilities can trip.

    Energy definitely needs to be diversified and nuclear should be a corner stone of it.

  138. Hi APATS,

    At least they self deploy, RE “Atherstone and Shoreham are currently conducting the long journey to Bahrain to swap out 2 of the on station hulls. The only asset of any service in the Gulf that the US actually requires as it cannot replicate the capability.”
    – USN has 4 of theirs on station, and the next four (may have arrived by now?) had to be lifted on a bigger ship, rather than crossing the ocean (or two!)

  139. ACC, I like teh Avegers as Ships, big comfortable and much better sea keepers but as MCM platforms, not so much.

  140. A Littoral windfarm? Is it 100 miles out to sea or 100 miles inland? ;)

    Nuclear gets my vote, along with mandatory energy efficiency requirements and better investement in tidal power.

  141. “if its windy now it will be windy in 10 minutes”

    Won’t this mean it never stops blowing ever? It’s like saying “if it’s raining now, it will be raining in 10 min” means it never stops raining?

    The problem I see with windmills is that they produce so little energy, and you can’t ensure continuous supply, unless you build it near Parliament.

    I’m wondering how reliable would hydro turbines be if placed at one of the major ocean currents?

  142. Hi James,

    I sure agree with you “odd sort of figure: I’d have thought it would be in cubic metres or something, not consumption.”

    I found on Wiki a LNG carrier with a capacity of 135,000 cubic metres”
    – however, in energy trading the prices seek equilibrium (as long as there is reasonable degree of substitution between different liquid, gaseous and solid forms) and therefore the quoted figure makes sense for planning under different scenarios (price impacts vs. avoiding need for rationing, which would turn out very expensive indeed because of lost production)

    Phil’s point about the speed of flow is also very relevant, not just nationally, but because the pipes from the Continent are miniscule (this is not true for those from the North Sea anymore; Norvegian gas landing at a UK terminal, straight from source, seems somehow counts as domestic?).
    – just to put this in perspective “So total storage capacity if everywhere was full is 58 billion kwh. I believe each household uses on average 1800 or so kwh of LNG a year so enough for 20.3 million households for a year. I believe there are 22 million households in the UK”
    – the pipe that runs from Russia to Germany (mostly on the seabed of the Baltic) can supply 68m German households… now there aren’t 68 m households in Germany, but we will never get the benefit (even in prices!) as there is so precious little transfer capacity

  143. The wind doesn’t switch off in the same manner as a power station tripping. This is what I meant. How dare you my Sunday evening imbibing has not affected my ability to communicate!

    But yes you’d need to literally cover half of the UKs area with turbines to meet current energy demands. Renewables are very diffuse which is their main problem.

  144. RE ““On the other hand, they’re crap at producing electricity reliably”

    No they’re not, they are more consistent and reliable”
    – the effective utilisation of UK windmills runs at 17% (much higher in southern Spain/ Portugal, where the wind speeds/ directions are more consistent, over longer periods of time (I do know they turn, to seek the wind)

    – they put some 25 down onto marsh land near me, calculations were all wrong, and the much bigger cemento shoes required now affect the foot print so much that it will become “green” only after 25 years of use

    – and the RAF do not like the off-shore windmills’ radar interference?

  145. How about this as a curve ball then

    In ten years time Canada and the US turn into net exporters of LNG, the UK, with its extensive regassification and transmission infrastructure becomes a major transhipment point for North American LNG into Europe, thus reducing dependance on Russian and Middle Eastern supply

    How does this change the strategic picture and Future Force 2020?

    Given that

    a) none of the crystal ball gazing from numerous think tanks and government sources saw the emergence of shale gas
    b) the rapid advances in battery and energy storage technologies, again, forseen by very few

  146. BTW it had been bugging me, but is it “litoral” or “littoral”? Single or double-t? I could have sworn it was single-t.

  147. When do I get my medal for person most likely to pursue small remark in a post and drag the topic, off-topic?

  148. Goodness boys, all I said is that the windmills are pretty…

    now, if you could put some form of EO sensor on most, and a radar on some of the bigger ones, and on just a few a LMM 6-pack. Don’t worry about 24/7 electricity generation for the sensors, because apparently that’s all guaranteed by the wind, and indeed the MoD can sell off spare electricity to the National Grid in some form of reverse PFI.

    For the offshore windmill proponents, that’s most of your QRA and MPA needs sorted, particularly if you’ve got North Sea SOSUS installed on the underwater bits….

  149. I thought the problems with windmills was there pretty crap when you really need them. Take winter a year ago really cold temps think this is caused by high pressure in the winter which usually means it very still and calm with max demand from consumer. Commercial customers are usually the main user in gas not the households and they get effected first and tend to get grumpy. Think I remember the bbc doing a think on energy which said the uk only kept about 7 days worth of oil and gas inshore.

    Does the US definition of littorial not just coincided with the range of if assets in had on its carriers. Eg pre osprey it was 50m now it’s 150.

  150. APATS,

    “The only asset of any service in the Gulf that the US actually requires as it cannot replicate the capability.”

    What do Hunts do that Avengers cannot?

  151. Excellent! Do we actually have it, “extensive regassification and transmission infrastructure” as in ” the UK, with its extensive regassification and transmission infrastructure becomes a major transhipment point for North American LNG into Europe, thus reducing dependance on Russian and Middle Eastern supply”

    RE How does this change the strategic picture?

  152. Anixtu, On paper nothing, the sonars and command systems on the Hunts and Sandowns combined with the fact that we have taken MCM more seriously than the USN, who do not exactly send their varsity to man them simply make us better at it. The Avengers are decent MCMVs in the same way that an F16 is a decent fighter and with their autonomous mine disposal system they have progressed. They can also sweep which we do not do anymore. They are decent platforms just not world class.

  153. I had an idea earlier that didn’t seem like total rubbish on later inspection! It seems appropriate to put it on the littoral thread for want of anything better.

    A few weeks ago I asked about the Archer class and fast patrol boats in general, as in how they are holding up and if they will get replaced. A couple of people (I forget who) said that a larger and more capable coastal and river patrol would be a good idea.

    I agreed, and browsing the web earlier I thought how about the Roussen class?

    It’s a BAE design so no real costs there. A British version could be built, with a very small crew and minimal weapons, probably just a 30mm and a couple of machine guns. Perhaps 10 or so around the UK and 2 in Gibraltar, not so much for RNR, more to act like a sort of coast guard.

    I know it’s not exactly a massive priority right now, but in my head at least it sounds like a good idea. What do folk think?

  154. Challenger, Have been to sea onboard HS Daniollos doing some training for the Greek Navy. In their Greek “super vita” configuration they are quite formidable platforms. RAM launcher, 76MM, MM40 Block 3 and 2 30mm cannons that have manned pods like star wars gunners! 35 kts but shallow draft, ideal in and around the Aegean not so certain about the UK. Proper ops room with nice electro optics for target ID and gun control, Link 11 and a 3D surv radar. Yet a completely useless and dangerous to launch sea boat arrangement.
    Maybe we should buy them off the Greeks? My honest opinion without putting a downer on your idea is that they are too big and complex for what we require and their shallow draught and rubbish sea boat arrangements would further hamper their normal use around the UK of boarding and MSA.

  155. Tried to edit my last post but ran out of time I guess.

    On reflectionI would buy 4 from the Greeks as they are. Put 2 in Cyprus reestablishing RN Cyprus Squadron at Akrotiri Mole and giving us a couple of punchy capable assets in the Eastern Med.
    The other 2 to Gib, ideal for STROG escort duties and it would wind up the Spaniards.

  156. Windfarms? Just… no. On top of the Pennines and much of the mountainous parts of Wales and Scotland, by all means. But in general, na.

  157. Ref: Wind Turbines

    On December 21st 2010, which was one of the coldest days of that year. Of the 7000 plus UK Wind Turbines, only SEVEN were turning! All other types of electric generation were Maxed out.

    It cost 3 times as much to produce 1 Megawatt of Power from Wind Farms as it does from a Coal Power Station.

    Also when the Wind does not blow or the wind is to strong so that the Wind Farm cannot generate Electric. The Wind Farm Owners are still Payed through subsidies. Although they say that they are being Payed not to produce Electricity! No Fossil Fuelled Or Nuclear Power Station is payed not to produce Electricity!

    This is why our Electric Bills are so High!!!!

    The fastest response Power Station in the UK is Electric Mountain Hydro Electric Power Station in Snowdonia.. Where it takes Ten seconds from receiving the command from National Grids HQ to it producing Electric. It takes a couple of days to get a Coal Fired Boiler back on line, before it can produce a single watt!

  158. Hi APATS and Challenger,

    Going back to that earlier discussion, I agree with this “On reflection I would buy 4 from the Greeks as they are. Put 2 in Cyprus reestablishing RN Cyprus Squadron at Akrotiri Mole and giving us a couple of punchy capable assets in the Eastern Med.
    The other 2 to Gib, ideal for STROG escort duties and it would wind up the Spaniards.” as for the number and location of assets, but not on the kind of asset
    – what we need is 2+2 fast intervention boats
    – they also need to be big enough so that someone just pulling aside cannot intimidate them, or thwart the mission

  159. @All Politicians are the Same +ArmChairCivvy

    Yes on further reflection I can see that the shallow draught may not be a good thing in our turbulent waters. I was mainly tempted by the ‘off the shelf’ British design because I think with these sort of simple, small ships you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, saving money by picking up a pre existing design is the sensible approach.

    However yes, perhaps some sort of middle ground can be found with a ship which is a little smaller but has improved sea keeping abilities, anyone know of any current designs out there that fit the bill?

    I like the idea of picking up 4 of the Greek ones for Mediterranean tasking, the way things are going they will soon be auctioning off anything and everything worth a few quid anyway!

  160. What is the need for the STROG escorts? I’m not familiar with the military aspects, but am familiar with the geography. There are hundreds of commercial ship movements through there daily, and no surface or air threat. The escorts recommended have no ASW capability. So what are they going to do?

  161. @James
    If someone says 2 years for something to happen in Iran, I would assume 4. Things happen slowly there – not least because of the sanctions. They’re well aware of their strategic weaknesses but have struggled to overcome them – they’ve been desperately trying to construct new refineries to fix their dependence on imported product, but they’re not there yet. They also had a big push to fuel their cars on compressed natural gas, again that seems to have happened much more slowly than planned. “Is the west self-sufficient on oil?” The issue is more with Asia, but yes the world could survive without Iranian oil, although the OPEC cushion is a bit tight. Without oil through Hormuz it does get a problem – not so much the direct oil supply to the West, more the price rise needed to reduce world oil consumption by 10+%. Strategic reserves could help for a bit, but not forever.

    @tsz52 – the exercise you’re thinking of was Millennium Challenge 02 – there’s a fair bit out there on the web. Rather than your “two frigates with 127mm Vulcanos” – how about two ordinary-looking container ships with a few hundred Klub-K in containers? “Don’t mind us, we’re just on our way to Teesport and Liverpool”.

    TD’s rough explanation of the term is technically accurate.
    I’ll repeat myself – The “littoral”, as a noun, has always meant “the region lying along the shore”. Littoral as an adjective _can_ be used to mean intertidal, but it’s not the main meaning, it’s a specialist usage. That’s black-and-white from the OED, I’m not sure we can debate that much further – the title of this post is “Leeds in the Littoral” and it’s simply not “technically accurate” per the OED for that noun to mean intertidal.

    Incidentally the OED prefers littoral, but allow litoral – the original Latin word had one L but later Latin and French and Italian had two L’s.

    It does go to show the confusion that can arise from different disciplines using the same word in different ways. And I disagree with @TD’s complaint that people are redefining things at random “Why not 200, or 5, or 5?”. There’s obviously something distinct about coastal areas from an economics POV – the entire Inca Empire was based on someone figuring out the logistics to bring together anchovies from the Humboldt Current and spuds from the high Andes, combining protein and carbs improved their diet exponentially, 2+2=37. So it’s useful to talk about the economies of littoral regions, even if it’s always going to be somewhat arbitrary where you cut things off. The economists are fairly consistent in using 100km from the sea as the cut-off in their world. There’s a good reason for that, major port cities aren’t always on the “coast” as such – eg Hamburg is about 80km from the sea under the definitions used by the EU statistics people. So unless you start redefining Hamburg as part of the interior, or introduce massive fudge factors, then noone’s going to use 5km or 50km(??) in their definition. Sure, you could say that 59% of GDP comes from within 96.5km of the sea, or 63% of GDP is within 104.234km of the sea, but 100km is a useful – albeit arbitrary – distance to use.

    Separate from that, I share TD’s frustration about people trying to use a stat about the littoral in the economics sense to draw conclusions about the usage of a ship that’s littoral in the USN sense. We don’t want to hit 61% of the world’s GDP, because our enemies may not leave their industry in the “right” place – just think of the last big bash against the sausage-munchers, we wanted to hit the Ruhr and Ploiesti. If Iran wanted to hit our nuclear reactors, it’s easy – most of them are on the sea (barring a few exotica in Berkshire etc). If we want to reciprocate, then places like Arak are less accessible from the sea (and present interesting challenges in terms of tankers etc).

    But save the rants for that kind of stuff, not for the basics of how economists do their definitions.

  162. On gas storage – UK gas consumption is about 3,200 billion cubic feet (bcf) per year. Our storage is concentrated in one facility, Rough, which is 117bcf – there’s another 30-40bcf scattered across some smaller ones like Hornsea and Aldbrough. So storage is about 18 days of consumption on average – but that could be 10 days at peak winter consumption. Except it’s not quite that simple, you can’t just turn on the tap. Reservoir-based stores like Rough can only release gas slowly – Rough may be 75% of our storage but it can only deliver about 1.6bcf per day, or about 10% of peak winter demand. So it’s suited to meeting the normal gap between summer and winter demand, but it’s not very responsive to short-term shocks.

    Cavern-based storage has better deliverability but tends to be limited to 15-20bcf or so. LNG storage is also quick but limited in size and is expensive. To give you an idea of costs, Aldbrough cost £290m for 12bcf of cavern storage, Caythorpe will cost £1.8bn for 86bcf of “slow” storage. Think of it that building storage for 1 day’s gas in winter costs about the same as one Type 26, four Typhoons or mebbe 60 tanks.

    Just generally, you need to be wary of statistics relating to UK gas, just because the situation is changing so fast – 10 years ago we were still exporting gas, by 2015 we could be importing 70% or so. It’s an enormous strategic shift.

    hydro turbines be if placed at one of the major ocean currents?
    Aka tidal stream – the Pentland Firth is the main resource in the UK. Trouble is that the technology is barely at the prototype stage, and the best guess is that it will be really, really expensive – like £250/MWh, compared to current wholesale prices of £53/MWh. Some onshore wind goes down to £30/MWh, but now that the best sites have been used, new projects are typically coming in at around £70/MWh – and new nuclear would probably come in around the same as onshore wind. (@Simon257 – Drax paid £33.30/MWh just for fuel in 2011, include capex and you’d probably be looking at £50/MWh if you built Drax from scratch. Onshore wind is not 3x the cost of coal.) The one big advantage of renewables is that almost all the cost is up front, so you’re locking in your costs now, whereas you have to think what fossil fuels might cost in 25 years time.

    On the radar front, the electricity companies have funded some of the cost of shiny new TPS-77 radars at Trimingham and elsewhere, to end RAF objections to nearby wind farms. Vestas has also used RAM from QinetiQ to make a “stealth” windmill :

    We’re already becoming a transhipment point for LNG, just because we have a more functional gas market. However I wouldn’t believe all the hype about North American shale gas. I think in the next few years some of the overexcitement will die down as reality strikes – in many cases the actual costs of shale gas are nothing like the “cheap gas” that has been promised, and the resource is proving to be not as big as was first hyped. For instance, the USGS recently downgraded the Marcellus Shale from 410 trillion cubic feet to 141tcf. For comparison, US annual consumption is just under 25tcf/year – it starts to look like plenty for domestic consumption but not so much left over for export.

    Sure, shale and other tight gas will be an important part of the world’s future energy mix, but Europe may well be a bit of an LNG backwater, it will mostly go to the Pacific. The main reason is that there’s still a lot of gas in Siberia, and a huge network of paid-for infrastructure to get it to Europe, so the Russians will just undercut the world LNG price. As the most flexible form of gas, LNG is always the most expensive – the spot price is currently about 100p/therm, compared to a UK wholesale price of 55p/therm. You want to avoid LNG if you possibly can.

    The Avengers arrived a few weeks ago, ID had a pic. Interestingly one of the commenters there suggested that the existing Avengers would not just take the same flo-flo back home, but would stick around the Gulf until after the US election. Still, it’s a good argument for replacing the Avengers with a ship that can self-deploy…like the LCS. The other interesting thing about that deployment was that Pembroke, Ramsey and Lyme Bay were accompanied by the Invincible. No, not that one, T-AGM-24 – a Missile Range Instrumentation Ship. In other words a bloody great floating radar optimised for detecting ballistic missiles. I wonder why the US wanted one of those in the Gulf at the moment…

  163. @ El Sid

    I worked for National Grid Gas for a number of years in operational support.

    My first winter one morning the older chap I worked for came checked the weather on the BBC for our “patch” (as the gas men call their areas) and said that as the temperature was going to fall below 5C late afternoon all hell would break would be let loose. Come 0430 and all hell had been let loose. Despite the mains replacement programme the gas transmission system limps along. It is fragile in other ways too which I won’t comment about.

    Another thing to consider is that unlike say electric or water after a loss of supply you can’t just fill the pipes and just start using appliances. One day an IPGT had problems that caused an estate of 800 houses to go off supply. To get them back on took the best part of two days and all the spare technicians we had not just from our patch but from across our region. Purging systems with nitrogen and relighting pilots lights plus safety procedures means getting one property back on isn’t a five minute job. Multiply that by millions of homes in the UK (never mind blocks of flat and properties that aren’t simple) plus factories (which includes bakeries) and you are looking at a real mess.

  164. Hi James, RE : STROG
    “There are hundreds of commercial ship movements through there daily, and no surface or air threat.”
    – many of those hundreds are tankers
    -_Al Qaida in N. Africa? Whatever their shortname is, maybe it is for Maghreb
    – think of a speed boat or anything, full of explosives, rammed into one of the oil tankers
    – that’s why I am emphasising speed (there is good surveillance in the strait; not just to pick up subs, but even a swimmer’s head is visible as soon as he/she starts the approach across the strait (obviously an exercise to escape from Alcatraz as the current is so strong)
    – the size is also of essence, for not to be intimidated by the Spaniards… officially both sides are there to stop “tobacco” smugglers and are under the NATO S. Atlantic Command (which, at least in wartime, will be in Gib!)

  165. James,

    “What is the need for the STROG escorts? …no surface or air threat.”

    Al Qaeda attempted a surface threat in 2002.

    El Sid,

    USNS Invincible has been a regular visitor to the Persian Gulf for some time. Her presence is not a new development.

  166. Deck chairs for the next war… anyone?
    “agree on ‘at the seaside’ then?

    Very English “

  167. RE “shale and other tight gas will be an important part of the world’s future energy mix, but Europe may well be a bit of an LNG backwater, it will mostly go to the Pacific.”
    – that is right as the sources being developed are on the “wrong” side of the continent
    – just wait for what is going to happen with the deposits in Jordan/ Israel/ Cyprus

  168. RE ” I wonder why the US wanted one of those in the Gulf at the moment…”
    – can put it into the Gulf, to be able to keep the shooters out of the confined waters
    – can afford to lose it, not a super-duper cruiser, though
    – the UAE et al will soon have their own THAADs, not just the dinky Patriots

  169. @ ACC / Anixtu,

    my point is that if Al-Q or whoever want to launch an attack on a commercial ship, there’s very little a PB tied up in Gib can do about it. The PBs don’t escort the commercial shipping, and even if they did there’s little they could do about some fast speedboat attack given ROE. If there was intelligence to suggest such an attack might be made, there’d be something rather more threatening than a PB sailing about.

    In reality, what % of a Gib PB’s time is spent on actively STROG escort tasks? I’m suspecting it is going to be close to zero. And if there’s int of a proper threat, do we think that sorting it out is going to be left to a junior young Lt RN on his first command?

  170. James, All RN shipping in and out of Gib is escorted. Territorial waters are patrolled. All Army assets are escorted through the STROG. The Gib ROE profile for escorts is very robust. The command of something like a Roussen would be a post Frigate Ops tour command qualified LtCdr.

  171. APATS,

    is the escort more capable than the RN vessel being escorted? If not, it would seem a little pointless.

    Are the “Army assets” (I’m presuming that will be wagons on a Bay or similar) escorted by something serious? They certainly were not a decade ago, when we sent Sea Crusader through STROG repeatedly on the Bosnia run. What used to happen was that a signal would be sent to FLEET and cc to Gib saying she was coming through at a certain time, and a really small floaty little boat would set out from Gib to see her by. No one drew up great CONPLANS for speedboat attacks, and the little escort could not have done much about it anyway due to ROE.

    What these “escorts” appear to be is just an excuse for a sea day, which in a larger sense epitomises the Andrew’s problem of seizing on any excuse to remain relevant. It’s getting more desperate with each year.

    There are probably only a couple of crunchy naval tasks going***, and several dozen excuses for a navy.

    *** Being CASD, the Atlantic frigate, and possibly the MCMV and Survey boats. Everything else is just fluff, including the cocktail party visits. Honestly, the RM are more vital to our defence than the Andrew.

  172. James, I would imagine the threat profile was different during the Balkans era than now which is I think (anyone can correct me on this) that the patrol boats were formed into a squadron at Gib and Cyprus. Even if those URNU boats are small and not powerfully armed they can provide a visible deterrent and afford a bit extra time to react.

  173. James, It all changed post 911. Every single Army asset deploying to the Gulf in 2003 was escorted through the STROG as were the US assets. Duties shared between initially HMS Cumberland relieved on station by HMS Westminster and USS Donald Cook. What your statement illustrates was simply poor planning and threat assessment.
    I dare say I know more about the STROG escort ROE than you do. It is specifically written for the task. As for being more capable in certain areas yes. Armed gib police boats and the 2 ex NI boats there just now are more capable of maneuvering at high speed an intercepting small craft than a larger ship when it is restricted by busy shipping and limited sea room. The US provide a similar service on entry to Bahrain, C/S Scruffy. They have an absolutely charming young female sailor who traditionally greets ships first port entry on station from the bow of the rhib next to the 50 cal wearing shorts and body armour which she then opens as they cross your bow. Welcome to Bahrain!
    What these escorts are about is having the correct assets in place to provide a service.
    Tasks are decided by HMG and post Afghanistan the only crunchy task the Army will have left is the RIC in the FI.
    As for defence the Army have never ever been required to defend the UK as the RN and lately the RAF have always ensured nobody ever went feet dry. For attacking Muslim countries at the behest of the US, army every time!
    I do not actually believe that last paragraph but you sometimes make ridiculous inflammatory statements and I was simply responding in kind.

  174. TD, The Gib squadron was formed in 1985 when the RAF rescue launch squadron were disbanded although the rescue launches themselves transferred. They then went to P2000 and currently the ex NI boats. They provide a SAR service as well as patrolling territorial waters and escorts.
    Cyprus Squadron was formed in 2003. They provided an escort for the tanker at Akrotiri mole and a night SAR capability as the RAF Gryphon helos based in Akrotiri have no night winching capability over water. They went as a cost saving measure.

  175. On ROE, the ROE in both Gib and the FI is so robust that when I was involved in training those units a few years ago we had to write a training ROE. In order for future career development and to allow escalation and exploration of Command thought process we used our version. The ones they actually have basically allow, threat(CO discretion), yes/no take!

  176. APATS,

    ;) Always fun to wind up the Andrew, and heavens, they need winding up….

    but, serious point on STROG. There’s lots of seaway, the RN ships have helos, the patrol boats have got some machine guns. What good are they? If I were Hornblower tasked with getting from Portsmouth to Sirte PDQ in one of the Andrew’s best boats, I would not be hugely worried about STROG, or about a little PB commanded by a spotty youth sailing out from Gib offering me an escort. No, instead you time the run for dark o’clock, all of the matelots on action stations and every weapon manned, and do it at max revs, then half an hour later you are clear. Little PB left bobbing in the wake, and mostly useless.

  177. James, The escort of RN ships is generally done on entry and exit to Gib itself. The whole bay is full of anchored vessels to hide behind and pop out with my 40 kt speed boat full of explosives. The PB sits in the wake with the large rhibs covering the other arcs. Onboard wepon systems are also manned.
    The current Gib sqdn boats do not escort vessels through the STROG itself hence why I said the Roussen would be ideal. A 35kt 500 tonne patrol boat with a 76mm rapid fire gun 2 30MM and mountings for 2 50 cals can offer an RFA or STUFT ship a proper escort.

  178. @James

    Not in broad daylight where everyone is stood to and the MGs manned and every little dinghy that approaches you can be seen and warned off or alternately filled with holes?

    I would think night would give a greater chance of someone coming closer to your ship to do a mischief.

  179. Observer, It is a question of balancing the OPFORS greater difficulty in identifying and targetting you at night vs your greater difficulty in identifying and targetting them. Given modern forces use of NVGs and EOD lots of COs prefer to do it at night.

  180. APATS,

    if Gib itself is such a potential problem, then don’t bother and just go balls out in the frigate for 20 miles through the straits themselves. Pull in at Marbella for the cocktail party if the Admiral really wants to put his white mess kit on and for a whole load of whistling action from the Bosun.

    The Gibbos don’t really have much of a choice if the Andrew starts by-passing them. Where else are they going to go?

  181. Observer,

    radar, and NVGs. Sort of stuff Al-Q speedboat invisibility, or if they don’t then we’ve got a serious problem.

    Oddly, last time I was down there (and also offshore), there were lots of noises through the night of “cigarette boats” running illicit fags from Africa to Europe. Probalby also the wacky baccy as well, or worse. There could be a bit on an ROE embuggeration with that.

  182. James, wait a minute? So anywhere that there is a potential threat we just do not go anymore? You see the problem with Marbella is it does not have a Z berth(cleared for Nuclear vessels). It also does not have a massive munitions depot. I never said that Gibraltar was a massive problem but surely mitigating any threat is what we get paid for. MOD armed police routinely escort all vessels in and out of RN dockyards as that is the point of max vulnerability and they are available.
    For commercial Ports the threat assessment is looked at and a FP posture agreed. each Ship should will have a document in force detailing the different FP postures in relation to weapons to be manned and ops room manning etc.
    The favourite name I have seen was Bulwarks ‘Op Bristle” a plan for max self defence without deploying any assets offship. The 4 LCVPS were kept in their mountings onboard but each rigged 2 50 cal facing outwards for 4 each side. A Javelin team was deployed on Flyco roof aft. The 2 30MMs on the bridge roof were manned. Port and Starboard side both had 4 GPMGs and 3 Mini guns to provide 360 degree coverage.

  183. @APATS

    Re: Op Bristle

    Now that is what I was talking about. :)
    Personally, I prefer running in daylight, increased reaction time, lots of time to wave off accidental traffic, increased accuracy (depth perception) without NVGs from manned guns, less chance of accidentally running something over.

    *And I’m scared of the dark.* :P

    And honestly speaking, better some warship getting hit than a crude carrier. No country needs an oil slick offshore. Unless they can sell it as a tourist attraction?

  184. APATS,

    I’m quite intrigued by this nuclear powered frigate that needs a special dock in Marbella. Why didn’t we think of this before?

    Not sure what the purpose is of a port visit in Gib anyway. It’s only about 1,000 nm from Pompey, so the tanks are only showing “not quite full” on the dashboard. The Gibbos aren’t going anywhere nor getting less loyal. What’s the problem with making a full speed run through STROG, and bypassing the Genoese bloodsuckers completely, then pulling in to Marbella for a proper party where Kylie will probably turn up?

  185. James, It is traditionally used for Submarines but had I posted that someone would have corrected my terminology. As for visits to Gibraltar, well for starters we do not pay for berths or services there at commercial rates. Often a ship will actually take on ammo in Gib, it serves as a base for the ranges of Gib where a lot of NGS and missile firings occur. Politically it makes statement to the Spanish.
    Oghh and most importantly you have to get in a rock race! Best cure for a late night in the Casino is running up the rock at 0730!
    I sense some hostility? Did you have a bad time there?

  186. What about buying some of the Flyvefisken class second hand? Would give us a secondary MCM/ASW capability as well if we buy the modules/produce our own?

    Edit: Sorry – clicked on a link and was taken to the fourth page rather than the fifth; conversation moved on a bit – was refering to the idea of beefier patrol boats.

  187. APATS,

    not really a bad time in Gib, but more an experience of feeling completely fleeced financially. You can’t move in the place without someone trying to charge you money for services at completely rip-off prices.

    But that’s all a bit far from my original point, which is a suspicion that the case for “needing” an escort through STROG is over-made, which deepens when you discover that the escort is a poxy little PB. Other solutions are available, ranging from “don’t bother with an escort”, through to “run the STROG at night at ramming speed”.

    Plus, I suspect there are easier targets for the Al-Q speedboats, being the several hundred commercial vessels daily that don’t have an escort.

  188. AQ’s 2002 operation was specifically aimed at warships.

    FF/DD are fine. It’s amphibs and auxiliaries that are vulnerable.

  189. @James
    ““strategic” is an adjective applied to “effect”, in the doctrinal definition Britain uses. “Strategy” is a political game. Neither are to do with distance.”

    You miss my point. A strategy is a combination of setting goals and resourcing ambitions.

    The UK has a goal which is simply to keep an influential power in the world despite being put (by choice) to the periphery of Europe, which itself is being put to the periphery of the world. Clearly, the UK is vastly dependent on influence abroard. Ask BP, Rio Tinto, Shell, HSBC, BAE, Rolls-Royce.

    So, what are the remaining cornerstones of influence, apart from purely economical ties, which are dependent on free movement of goods?

    One is the seat in the UNSC. We have used this seat at two occasions in the last 11 years to invoke an extended land war, which has lead to decreased reputation. While the air- and naval-campaign against Libya has helped a lot. Before someone wonders what we bring to the FPDA, it is precisely this seat.

    The second mainstay is the Commonwealth of Nations, at least if we are farsighted enough to accept this (or what institutional body would fit for Sri Lanka or Burma?). The main weapon here is the DfID. When asked what we could provide in terms of security or military, what would each of these countries choose? Occasional, reassuring warship visits, maybe including an army batallion for two-week execises, or the same batallion delivered by air, or baracks?

    So, we speak of strategy fitting into current post-heroic and post-imperial reality.

    Btw, ‘littoral’ is a definition made by the US joint chiefs to define the expected future hotspots not only of naval warfare. Look at Irans and North Koreas sea-denial capabilities, and you will find this focus rather vindicated.

  190. McZ

    “you will find this focus rather vindicated.”

    How so? The latest US LCSs are estimated to be totally unsurvivable in an anti-access area and with the latest Chinese Cap-ship killers, the US has switched to a more “standoff” strategy. They are not “getting into” the litorals, they are conceeding the close range envelope to the defender.

    Just a casual check in the last decade would show that most of the media drama involved with the word “litoral” has not been about strategy but about a specific class of ship and many people trying to justify the construction of something over budget, over time and under performing.

    Other than Iran, I’ve not heard much on “litoral warfare” involving N.Korea and China, 2 of the 3 “hotspots” on the US radar. So, no. It is not strategy. Just marketting.

  191. I really cannot get my head around LCS, not certain that some really clever but creepy guy has not just invented a need and a solution in the same sentence both of which belong to his company. I would love to see an effects based review where they justified the requirement and the means by which they would fill it in a more operationally beneficial manner than current and other planned assets.

  192. @APATS

    Grumman did a “study” claiming that 7 LCS can take over 20 conventional ships in anti-piracy in the Indian Ocean, but I really have my doubts on that study. My guess is they took a fixed amount of space and ran ships through the area to see how many ships it took to “sweep” the area. The LCS of course has the paper advantage, having an obscene theoretical top speed. Unfortunately, pirates don’t work that way, a “fishing boat” when you are passing by might go for different “fish” when you leave. You need persistant surveillance, not just touch and go.

  193. Essentially the LCS is just an under sized Albion with a gun and a higher top speed, plus about $300 million of unnecessary cost.

  194. Having built the first Seaside Combat Ships, the USN is indeed reviewing how they will be operated. The Independence class seems set to become a straight swap for the Perry class frigates – a conventional escort used in lower threat areas, defending supply lines for example, or used as a supplementary escort in the main battle groups. Only, where the Perrys were intended to be a cheap minor frigate from the start, designing the Independence class will have been a massive waste of money – I expect to see the later ships of that class losing some of their unnecessary speed to reduce costs, and perhaps gaining a more permanent mission fit to meet that escort role, rather than swapping out mission modules as envisaged.

  195. Observer, I share you doubts, anti piracy is about a persistent foot print.

  196. Brian, That would make an LCS a massively expensive less capable OHP. The true test in the mission suite, If that fails they will be scrapped. remember an OHP was designed as an ASW FF

  197. I can’t help noticing the similarities between the Seaside Combat Ship and the Black Swan 2 concepts and the big differences, essentially speed and cost. If the LCS had been designed with a more moderate speed (say 35kts, give or take) it could have been cheaper and have more endurance; a common buy with the USCG might also have been on the table.

  198. El Sid: With you on the Klub-Ks: I’m always mindful of things like that, but this isn’t the forum to discuss such things is it? ‘No one would ever do anything like that would they, lol?’

    Observer: Whatever dastardly agendas are being pushed by the self-evidently effective pro-sea power lobby in altering the definition of littoral, I honestly think you’re off track in thinking that the Little Crappy Ship has much to do with it *now* (though might have a while back).

    You’ve pointed out yourself a couple of times how utterly unsuited the ship is to effecting much in the littoral (especially with the expanded/evolved definitions), and I think that a fair few folks ‘up there’ have noted this themselves. If it was all about LCS marketing then the definitions would be written really differently.

    This is the US Joint (not just USN/USMC) DOD definition:-


    (DOD) The littoral comprises two segments of operational environment: 1. Seaward: the area from the open ocean to the shore, which must be controlled to support operations ashore. 2. Landward: the area inland from the shore that can be supported and defended directly from the sea.
    Source: JP 2-01.3.”

    Not too LCS-friendly. The definition encompassing the EEZ and ~100km inland is the UK Joint (not just RN/RM) MoD one. This is also not very LCS-friendly, but even if it was, why would it be set up to market a foreign ship that we have no interest in buying (praise the gods!)?

    I think that you’re attributing too much influence to some failed programme that only has a sliver of support at the top of one country, which will only keep decreasing as those ‘Transformational’ types get gradually shuffled off, and increasingly scarce money stops getting thrown into black holes. Wouldn’t be too surprised if the whole thing just gets considered to be a test-bed, canned, then radically re-done incorporating ‘lessons learned’ at some point in the near future.

    * * *

    TD: Can I ask again: Has the BA or RAF gone on record as disagreeing with our newer definition of littoral, distanced themselves from it, and attempted to get it changed? Given that it’s so obviously driven by the fiendish RN lobbyists (and yeah, everybody takes fiery bird and large carnivorous fish bloke *so* seriously – they’re in no way a complete laughing stock that many just simply hate, despise and avoid), then if not, why not?


    The aforementioned wankers seem to be increasingly seen as running some kind of false flag scam… I’m certainly coming round to that idea, judging by what happens now whenever anyone tries to sensibly talk about sea power in any way. Best to just boycott them, then get your objectivity back, then this aspect of Defence can be discussed properly in good faith. Angry reactions against them are just playing their game (whether face value or false flag), and you should never do what the enemy wants you to do, which you are;

    Imagine when yourself and some of the others here of a similar mind accuse and dismiss folks who want to sensibly discuss aspects of sea power of being PTT followers, what an insult that is when chances are they hate PTT more than you do. Imagine that whenever you mention SIMSS, or anything like that, folks scornfully accused you of being a Lewis Page fanboy (he suggested something similar a while ago [I don’t read anything he writes now, or PTT etc]), and laughed you out of town every single time. Then you have to constantly spend more time defensively saying what you’re not saying (‘What, you can’t possibly be comparing me to the likes of Lewis Page, come on fellas… no, I hate Lewis Page honest… no this isn’t really like his proposal, no…’), than what you actually do want to say. See how far you get trying to discuss SIMSS sensibly then;

    What we have now is an unprecedented ability to both benefit from the horizon (defensively or in achieving surprise) and overcome its limitations in C4ISTAR, and a huge jump in weapon reach and precision (and helo range/payload etc). This is what’s allowed the definition to evolve naturally, and it’s extremely, extremely Joint. It’s another world from the baby steps of helos in Suez or NGS in WWII, and its time is now (well, and near-future).

    In your map above, sitting off Southport, NGS from WWII through the Iowas (*Battleships* with their BFGs) in the early 90s would have involved flattening a few streets in Preston (Bolton would be way out of reach) to take out a single terrorist’s house. Now a *frigate* can precisely take out a terrorist’s house in Leeds with her puny little MCG. That’s just guns on ships. OTH networked Joint forces working in unison, further inland and out to sea, is the real big deal difference… ummm ‘game changer’ *cough*.

    It’s a good definition to reflect current reality (and particularly aspiration), even if ships only play a minor part in supporting such a Joint op.

    You’ll also note that, despite the new and improved definition being obviously pushed by them cunning and influential RN-lobbyists that are *everywhere*, that they’ve actually pushed a fairly self-defeating definition, where the defence of our littoral (and the littorals of our Dependent Territories) is concerned. The most cost-effective ways of defending them (according to the new definition) extremely obviously sideline the RN, in comparison with the other Forces and agencies, as several of you have pointed out. Since you’re so convinced that there’s a pro-RN agenda, could you explain why they did that?

    I’m usually the first to be cynical and paranoid, but I call bullshizzle on there being a pro-RN (or pro-LCS) agenda here.

  199. @tze

    It was with the LCS marketting. Unfortunately it seems to have now taken a life of it’s own. This is also helped along by anti-LCS and pro-LCS partisans. The “pros” will wax on and on about how the “litorals” are important, the “cons” will expand the “litoral” definition to show how unsuitable the ship is.

    The 100km guy is most likely a “pro” who shot himself in the foot…

    Seriously tze, I have not heard “litoral” as a term in more than 20 YEARS. All of a sudden, it’s a fad. And fads don’t start themselves. Someone is to blame.

  200. Hi APATS. RE
    “I would love to see an effects based review where they justified the requirement and the means by which they would fill it in a more operationally beneficial manner than current and other planned assets.”
    -Rebalancing the Fleet, Proceedings, November 1999, Vice Admiral A. K. Cebrowski, USN, and Captain Wayne P. Hughes, Jr., USN (Ret.). It had all the right ingredients… and after that it has gone spectacularly wrong (because of gold plating?)

    – The New Navy fighting Machine (GoogleDoc) is an ONA funded study in which nine members of the Naval Postgraduate School faculty attempted to develop a force structure that reflected the three Sea Service Chiefs’ vision in “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower”.
    – The above proceeded by building an illustrative fleet on paper. The study builds upon the Streetfighter debate of 10 years ago and develops a force structure on a budget that gives the US Navy options for executing strategy in war time or peace time.
    – Thus, the study looked at the SCN budget and divided into three parts: 10% for strategic platforms – this would include SSBN but also AEGIS BMD/ 10% for green water platforms – this would be a littoral battle fleet/ 80% for blue water platforms – this dominates both the doctrines, concepts, specs and the procurement (up to) today
    The study concluded with 12 recommendations

    Galrahn on has then done some work on these recommendations (he was also invited to USN simulation-based war games to test the original (not the original-original, but the one reheated in 2010) concept… we don’t seem to get those invites, somehow)and I very much agree with what he came up with (for that 10% of the overall budget):
    400 Inshore Patrol vessels similar to the US Coast Guard Defender class boat.
    160 Offshore Patrol vessels similar to the Australian Armidale-class patrol boat.
    30 Coastal Combatants similar to the Swedish Visby class corvette.
    12 Fast MIW vessels similar to the Norwegian Alta class minesweepers.
    12 Gunfire Support vessels similar to the Finish Nemo Navy program except bigger, with AGS.
    12 ASW Inshore vessels similar to an ASW dedicated Sa’ar 5 class corvette
    12 Global Fleet Station vessels similar to the vessel recommended in the often discussed NPS GFS design study (PDF).
    8 Light Aircraft Carriers similar to the Italian Cavour class but dedicated to VSTOL aviation.
    2 Coastal Combat Tenders intended to support 10 Coast Combatants a piece.

    The link let’s you read quite a detailed rationale (and loadsa good comments. It all being a blog, and the thinking & ensuing discussion not being restricted too much of what actually has been decided for)
    – for those who don’t have the time to dig into the second-order links, behind the one quoted above, the opening broadside of the study is a good one “Early in the twentieth century, the introduction of the torpedo and mine pushed the battleship’s domain to seaward. Starting with the Russo-Japanese War and culminating in World War I, battleships and other surface warships were sunk in significant numbers off enemy coasts. The modern analog to the first wave of submarine and mine attacks is the missile—not as lethal in terms of sinkings, but equally fatal in terms of a firepower kill… The foundation of understanding twenty-first century littoral warfare starts with the missile threat from the land or fast attack craft.

    Experimentation with green water vessels is cheaper, faster, and more tolerant of mistakes. Improved designs should emerge rapidly and at affordable costs.”

  201. RE: Gareth Jones says:
    June 12, 2012 at 23:50

    Agreed. You get about four Visby’s or these for the price of one
    – talking about littoral combat
    – the US LCS designs had to incorporate fast interception missions in the vastness of the Pacific (they are not only 3-4 times the size now, but alsobenefit from that in the way of endurance, in comparisons with the above cited examples)

  202. And, before going back to us and the RN budget, the difference between the two platforms I compared with LCS is that Visby has a full ASW suite, and a lesser emphasis on ASuW

    Operating in the littoral (or having to stay well out):
    “”With the coastal environment being the one more likely to operate in during future conflicts, you need to have as much reaction time as possible if you’re putting £1bn ships in harm’s way,” the commander said.
    The £500m CEC programme is aimed to provide fire control quality sensor data integration into a single composite data source for use by multiple CEC ships and airborne units for direct and remote missile engagements.
    “With the coastal environment being the one more likely to operate in during future conflicts, you need to have as much reaction time as possible if you’re putting £1bn ships in harm’s way.”
    The programme, which has already spent £45m, would further reduce the UK Navy’s ability to operate alongside US ships.

    UK defence equipment minister Peter Luff had told Parliament in January 2012 that the £1bn Type 45 destroyers would be fitted with CEC in 2018, valued at £24m for each ship, and followed with estimated 13 future Type 26 global combat ships.”
    – source: 11 June–enemy-attacks

  203. Observer: Cheers for calling me ‘tze’. :) Point is that it might have all kicked off with the LCS, and I’ll agree that folks jumped on the ‘me too’ littoral marketing bandwagon (and horribly so in some cases), but as it stands now (which is what matters) the Joint DOD or Joint MoD definitions of littoral:-

    Have almost nothing to do with the LCS (in fact all but excluding it);

    The MoD Joint definition does not especially favour the RN (and especially so in terms of defending the littoral, which now includes the vast EEZ – favours RAF MPA yeah?);

    Show where it’s at in terms of priority in defence and projection, in that interconnected region; so is useful now whatever marketing BS might have spawned it initially (language evolves, and don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater).

    The definitions could still use a bit of work though [it was me who mentioned the SLBM – I was being a bit cheeky and reductio though]. :P

  204. Cheers tsz, as I said, it took a life of it’s own. I still feel like biting the marketting “genius” who inflicted this torture on us though, along with the guy who came up with the term “warfighter” (as opposed to what? Peacefighter?)

  205. ACC said “Visby has a full ASW suite, and a lesser emphasis on ASuW”

    How does a 57mm and 8 ASM compared with just a 57mm in LCS come in as a lesser emphasis?

    Or did you get the ship’s the wrong way round?

    Or is the Swedish maritime doctrine of supporting land operations yet another thing I have written down in half a dozen places yet have failed to comprehend?

  206. Seconded.

    But x, if you point me to one of these places, I will try to respond
    “Swedish maritime doctrine of supporting land operations yet another thing I have written down in half a dozen places”

  207. Hi, APATS. “The true test in the [LCS] mission suite, If that fails they will be scrapped.”
    The funding is in place and block-buy contracts signed for the first dozen of each LCS class. The contracts would be difficult and expensive to undo, and that’s before states’ job lobbyists get involved, so the USN will have LCS come-what-may, though perhaps not the 55 ships planned.
    The mine hunting kit seems to be giving them problems atm. Dropping that role for a dedicated MCM vessel might be a way of cutting the second block-buy – an ots design though, just to get them in time. And twelve ASW Independence class would be an expensive way of replacing OHPs, but hey-ho, got to use them for something and nothing else is there to fill the hole. I think the Freedom class is more secure though, not ideal, but they need the numbers of the next purchase.

  208. Which one of the two is it that is experiencing alu problems in the hull?
    – keep the other 12 for the Pacific interdiction role… the very opposite of littoral!
    – keep those 12 close to shore (surely you can go fast in calmer waters?)
    — 4 for the Malacca Straits
    — 4 for Hormuz
    — the other four on rotation, or around Bab el Mandeb

  209. It was the Freedom I believe.

    ACC yes you can go faster in calmer waters. Unfortunately, “calmer waters” also contain things like reefs and sandbanks and shallows.
    It’s going to be hilarious if the Litoral Combat Ship became the Litoral Combat Tank :P

    TBH though, the LCSs in the Malacca Straits are a bit of a headache for us. Technically, we’re supposed to be neutral between America and China, basing the LCS here really stretches the definition of neutral to near breaking point. The US harping on it also isn’t helping, just brings the imbalance more into the public eye. Wonder if we should offer to station 4 PLAN corvettes to balance it out?

  210. @X

    You have to burn it to ashes, mix in water, then pour it into the cable. :)

    ACC will then gather the fragments and dry them before reassembling them like a jigsaw.

  211. The Street Fighter 2010/New Navy fighting Machine document is very interesting and though specifically about the USN I think certain ideas could be taken on by the RN/RM. For example, would 10% of the RN budget for Green/Brown water (seaside/punnting?) be a good investment for the nation, considering gaining access to the coast is considered important/vital? If so do we purchase something like the list of craft mentioned above, obviously in far less numbers, or would different craft suit our needs better?

  212. If we take the amphib fleet (also the moth balls part of it) and all copter support that is not specifically ASW, I wonder how close to 10 % we would get?
    – of course, quite a different profile from the missions envisaged in The Street Fighter 2010/New Navy fighting Machine document

  213. Observer,

    interesting on the neutrality posture – I was not aware that Singapore was in that position. Can’t be easy. I would suggest buying cash dollars, some US Eagles, and ensuring that your transferrable skills are recognised by the US Immigration Department. Maybe even a 2 year exchange posting so that you can test the water with Mrs O and the kids.

    You always need a Plan B.

  214. Baynunah are a very good design. I like that is a good helicopter facilities. But a second mount back aft would probably more useful than a hanger. And the aviation support handled by a depot ship/mother ship/flotilla leader.

    I always think somebody within the IDF has a deep understanding of how a naval gun fight pans out by having the 76mm in the Z position.

    Further I think the Baynunah are too small for a navy from a little island a long way from anywhere. If we need a “gunfighter” it needs to be able to move with and support the fleet.

    A better solution for the RN would be something like the BMT Venator.

    A 5in mount at A. Two 57mm on each beam (in the illustration where the RIB davits are found.) A third 57mm at Z. Back up by tertiary mandraulic 30mm and heavy small arms.

    Big enough to move with the fleet. More than adequate fire power.

  215. @ Gareth Jones,

    if access to the seaside is considered vital, why would you only want to spend 10% of your maritime budget on it? Should be more like 90%. Wasteful wannabe-USN stuff like CVF and jets come later, once you’ve done the important stuff.

  216. Tsz52, thoughtful comments; I don’t think anyone has gone on record as disagreeing with any definition but then I haven’t looked and as I have said a few times, it’s not the definition that vexes me but how as soon as anything like that is mentioned, however remotely, certain characters are all over it like a tramp on chips. It niggles me.

    The tweet in question didn’t actually come from those flame covered birds but from one of their fellow travelers but I don’t think mine was an angry reaction, just pointing out the absurdity of it. I even asked them, no reply of course, they never do. As for them being a false flag, you are wrong, however much that might seem like the only logical choice, as if admitting the reality is actually too hard to comprehend, people really do think like that, they really do make submissions to the HoC Defence Select Committee and they really do have a very vocal campaign to convince everyone the RN is a victim and it is all so terribly unfair.

    I don’t mind discussing the transformative nature of modern land attack weapons as compared to yesteryear and how that might actually change things, in fact, if you look back through a few posts I have often wondered how a navalised ATACMS with its 300km range and ability to accurately deliver a military significant payload at that range could have a serious impact on things so I am not at all blinkered to the possibilities.

    Your circular argument about asking why ‘they’ would promulgate an argument that sidelines them is interesting but to be honest, I don’t think they are that aware!

    You might not think there is a Pro RN lobby but I do, I actually think this is a good thing, but, and here is where we may part company, I don’t think that the lobby should be pro RN at the expense of the others services and use wholly inaccurate claims, which they are, and do.

  217. LCS and aluminium problems – both types. Freedom is mostly the structural problems you usually get when giving a fairly large and high performance warship a steel hull and aluminium superstructure (nobody ever learns…). From some publicly available info, there *might* also be corrosion problems where the two different metals meet.

    Independence was corrosion where the steel engines meet the aluminium hull, which was completely and routinely avoidable, down to a dodgy maintenance issue due to one corporation sulking (following the letter of the maintenance contract rather than the spirit of it).

    Visby: Hard to talk about what the lovely Visby is because there’s what she was intended to be, and what she actually is due to lack of dough and the dreaded FFBNW. She’s really, really far from any incarnation of what she was intended to be at the moment.:(

    MoD’s paddling in a near-peer’s seaside doctrine seems to be ‘Go Big, go Joint, or go home.’ Piddling about with little aluminium boats doesn’t seem to have much to do with it. [I’m not taking Black Swan II too seriously.]

    Observer: Agreed on ‘warfighter’. I don’t mind ‘war fighting’ (two words) as much though (to distinguish it from constabulary work etc). Interesting about your neutrality problems at the moment – I always like to keep up with what’s going on in Singapore: I’ve got a tonne and a half of admiration for you guys.:)

    TD: I’ll martial my thoughts and reply to your good self later.

  218. TD: There’s certainly a pro-RN lobby, but I don’t think that they’re as influential, effective (judging by results) or as ‘reds under the bed’ style *everywhere* as folks like yourself seem to think. What they are is a crap joke who get on most people’s nerves. Even when given a totally open arena and a captive audience, they still can’t ‘sell’ the RN properly to the media/public [abolition enforcement, abolition enforcement, abolition enforcement! FFS! Come on!]. They’re just rubbish incompetents.

    How bad must they truely be when the more sensible folks who love them floaty things, and the RN particularly (though not to the exclusion of anybody else), wish that ‘they”d all just f*ck off and die!? ‘They’ are more hated by sea power advocates than you, believe me, because ‘they’ have all but killed the ability to debate this properly by queering the pitch so much.

    It’s exactly the same mechanism in play as (just for example) the impossibility of sensibly discussing multi-culturalism because then the debate is killed by your having to prove that you’re absolutely not a racist (and you’re insulted by the accusation that you might be something so disgusting), and you never get past that point: here you never get past the point of proving that you’re absolutely not a ‘them’ follower (and you’re insulted by the accusation that you might be something so disgusting).

    I’ve seen it loads here and elsewhere. That horrible not-debate that I got sucked into on another thread (that I left out of respect for everyone else here, though it still rankles that I did that) all started because my comments were being viewed through a ‘he’s one of ‘them” lens.

    The other day on this thread, a serving officer who has consistently demonstrated his ability to think Joint and put Defence ahead of a particular Service mentioned the gas tanker problem and it was immediately in with the ‘Aha! ‘Them’ argument!’, though he was personally doing nothing of the kind; which then did what it always does which is unfairly put him on the defensive and have to justify himself: ‘No I’m not arguing that more ships is the optimal solution, yes storage might be a better solution, no I am not anything to do with ‘them’ and it’s insulting to be tarred with that same shitty brush (though he put it more nicely)’. Why should he have to keep doing that? Why hasn’t he earned enough respect and benefit of the doubt yet that a ‘them’ agenda won’t be assumed in his statements, so that they can be read at face value? Guilty until proven innocent is BS: Debate can’t happen without good faith.

    In your reply to me you wrote [my starry emphasis]: “You might not think there is a Pro RN lobby but I do, I actually think this is a good thing, but, ***and here is where we may part company, I don’t think that the lobby should be pro RN at the expense of the others services and use wholly inaccurate claims***, which they are, and do.”

    Why on earth do you think that we might part company on that? Because I love the RN (and RM and RAF and BA, as it happens [I’m a working class boy with way more family in the BA than anywhere else]), that means that I don’t value truth, objectivity and integrity, or putting the Defence of the UK above my fondness for ships? I mean seriously, why assume that?

    Bearing in mind that in the post that you were replying to, I’d made it pretty clear that I hate, despise and ignore ‘them’, think that they’re a laughing stock, and referred to them as wankers; then really really why did you imagine for even a second that we might part company over “I don’t think that the lobby should be pro RN at the expense of the others services and use wholly inaccurate claims.”? Course not mate – that’s why I fu*king hate them. :)

    It’s this going on under the hood – your (and those of a similar mind) reaction to these strokers, and seeing their shit *everywhere* where it isn’t – that led to that 1SL interview dodgy (IMO) interpretation of yours, the comments you got and that ‘Accusation of Bias’ malarkey last year. It’s not that you’re biased against the RN, but that you’re so fed up with ‘their’ BS that you see it everywhere, and respond accordingly. So it makes you seem less objective than you actually are, and makes it hard for others to get a fair crack at sensibly debating anything that involves sea power (beyond the conventional and minimal anyway – yes you have loads of posts about the RN, but that isn’t what I mean).

    It’s much more ‘their’ fault than yours, but you’re still playing ‘their’ game: if false flag by making it pretty much Just Not Worth It trying to discuss certain aspects of sea power even here; if face value by confirming that the poor RN really is embattled on all sides.

    False flag: Dunno. Haven’t quite made my mind up yet, though I’m sure that anybody with enough authority and investigative heft would turn up some interesting things were he to do the ol’ follow the money thing. Wish somebody who could would, and expose them; so that I could talk about my take on the role of sea power in future UK *Joint* doctrine without being tarred by their shitty brush every time.

  219. Hi tsz, I wonder about what features you were specifically thinking with this “Visby: Hard to talk about what the lovely Visby is because there’s what she was intended to be, and what she actually is due to lack of dough and the dreaded FFBNW. She’s really, really far from any incarnation of what she was intended to be at the moment.:(”
    – yes, the limiting of funds was criminal (but they got the hulls into water, rather than cancelling)
    – they have now been through 5 incremental “upgrades” and the only thing I am aware that is missing from the original spec is the Umkhonto SAM installation (it was cut before they decided cutting their fighter fleet down to a hundred; a reasonable trade-off at the time but does not look that sound now)

    The yard is now part of a German group (just like the AIP subs production going that way, too). They advertise a Visby+ and an even bigger version.

    Finally, (to put into context what could be gained from such a “stretch”) in that Strait of Hormuz simulation that both GJ and I have been linking to, Visby came out as v good VFM, but also received two recommendations (how feasible w/o the “stretch?):
    1. Improved ASuW capability,basically more guns as you will soon run out of missiles when dealing with a swarm attack (a bit like x’s 3×57 above, on a bigger hull though)
    2. Two helos, to have one up all through for ASW (can help with ASM, too, but small helos are carried, so multiple payloads perhaps not an option)
    – this one is interesting from the RN point of view, too. Baynunah (of UAE)don’t need the aviation support handled by a depot ship/mother ship/flotilla leader, as they don’t venture that far from the home shores. Any RN frigates/ destroyers deployed there can gain a two helo capability by flying them in rotation from Oman and just filling up and rearming on the ship?

  220. Hi (again) tsz,

    Isn’t this a contradiction? “MoD’s paddling in a near-peer’s seaside doctrine seems to be ‘Go Big, go Joint, or go home.’ Piddling about with little aluminium boats doesn’t seem to have much to do with it. [I’m not taking Black Swan II too seriously.]”
    – you and I seem to agree with that leaning in the doctrine?
    – its incarnation is in ‘Single Task Force’ – TD had a tread about it under the Future of RN thread? And also in the retaining of amphibiousity as a capability
    – if all your escorts are dispersed across the seven seas – in want of those little alu(?) boats – how feasible would it be to put that task force together with any meaningful speed?

  221. I think you have misunderstood on the parting ways comment. I didn’t mean that you think the RN should be emphasised at the expense of others, like the chumps, but that we differ in our view of their existence or not. I think you doubted it in a previous post, thats what I meant.

    Sorry for the misunderstanding

    That said, you might think they are ineffective and I would tend to agree with you now but they were very active across multiple media channels, submissions to the Defence Select Committee and other channels so they were definately informing opinion and continue to try and do so.

    There is no doubt they are viewed by people who know about these things as chumps but it is not they that we should be worried out, as we know, decision makers don’t always listen to sensible advice (or get it) and it is these people that they target with their seemingly sensible views.

    In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king

    Hence, why I try and counter some of their more obvious nonsense and will continue to do so.

    Maybe I have become over sensitised to it all, not sure, perhaps I need to get back to talking about bridges and metal boxes!

  222. @ TsZ – “There’s certainly a pro-RN lobby, but I don’t think that they’re as influential, effective (judging by results) or as ‘reds under the bed’ style *everywhere* as folks like yourself seem to think.”

    I also don’t believe that the naval lobby is quite so Bilderberg as TD seems to imagine, however, that its public effect accelerates so quickly to take such a wide hold in the media is the result of public sympathy.

    “We are an island you know” are not just words trotted out by retired admirals to the Daily Mail, they are the reality as recognized by the nation.

    It is effectively a public mandate, and it colour’s the expectations and tolerances the public have to military action and its costs.

    The Navy has had Trafalger and Falklands
    The RAF had the BoB
    The Army was looking for its own modern legend in the absence of Commie hordes in the Fulda Gap and they thought they had found it in Iraq & Afghanistan.

    Sadly, the legend must be bred in the public consciousness and the public rejected protracted and nasty counter-insurgency wars that had no heroic (and bloodless) cavalry charges, and no tangible ‘victory’ that could be (swiftly) wrapped in a flag.

    It’s unfortunate given the heroic job by the army, especially since it has achieved it end (in iraq at least), but its called tough-shit.

    It’s the way the public rolls, and has rolled for some centuries.

  223. Really, it’s starting to sound like someone needs to slam all the service heads together, kick their arse, and toss everything back under one HUGE joint umbrella.

    When they said the 3 services are supposed to fight together, I think they meant against an external opponent, not each other.

    Maybe an Expeditionary Corp? An independent fighting unit needs 3 things. Sufficient ground forces (armour-heavy and light, infantry, artillery), sufficient air cover, sufficient shipping and naval defence. Enough work for all 3 to go around.

  224. @ jedibeeftrix

    A week or so back I would have banged out a couple of paragraphs broadly supporting what you said. But to be honest it isn’t worth doing.

  225. @ Jedibftrx,

    I’m not sure where you think the public mandate against Counter Insurgency campaigns comes from? Not saying that we should dive into another one headlong at the earliest opportunity, but if you’re referring to last election then Afghanistan was very low on the list of reasons why marginal/swing voters went against Labour. Very low.

  226. @ X – “A week or so back I would have banged out a couple of paragraphs broadly supporting what you said. But to be honest it isn’t worth doing.”

    No indeed. The result is happening anyway, and will do so regardless of the furious denunciations in the media.

    @ ChrisB – “I’m not sure where you think the public mandate against Counter Insurgency campaigns comes from?”

    Did you miss the half million people marching against “da-nasty-warz” a few years back?
    or the collapsing public support for britain acting as a great power courtesy of chatham house a few months back?

  227. @ Jedibeeftrix

    It isn’t the cuts. I just think commenting to great length or thinking about this stuff really is worth any effort. Comment a little as interested is piqued. But wholesale drawn out philosophical discussions just aren’t worth it. We won’t change anything. All a bit futile really.

  228. “Did you miss the half million people marching against “da-nasty-warz” a few years back?”

    — Out of a population of about 62,000,000. And what did they achieve? Nothing. Half a million people might look impressive on the march but in the grand scheme of things it’s nothing.

  229. Chris B, you have to remember that the Conservatives supported Afghanistan so there was no real alternative in term of voting. imagine the current coalition Government sending troops in against anyone not camped at Calais. Massive demos on the streets, Lib Dems leave coalition, labour oppose deployment, vote of confidence and a massive Labour majority in subsequent General Election.

  230. Mate, I am quite an amateur Political observer. Labour would oppose an intervention in a heartbeat if it won them votes. It would be the death of the Lib Dems. Considering Labour already has a 14% poll lead a GE would be a foregone conclusion. Personally I am not in favour of that but that is what would happen.

  231. The Lib Dems have shown one thing for certain; they will play ball on major issues to stay in power. Besides, they likely wouldn’t have a clue, indeed none of us would, when a counter insurgency campaign was about to begin. The one in Afghanistan was triggered in 2001. We were caught in the long game without even realising it.

    The cause will dictate the support. In 2003 everyone thought Saddam Hussein had NBC weapons, because that is what they were told. The US Congress believed that Saddam could transport Anthrax and deploy it on US soil, because that is what they were told.

    There was cross party support for Libya. If Syria became worse and evolved into a slaughterhouse and the UN agreed to intervene, it would take a very brave politician who voted openly against intervention.

    And nobody in their right mind likes Ed Miliband.

  232. When it comes to governments the people have short memories, have little understanding of how the system works, and have little appetite for voting.

  233. Chris B, Syria will/would be a Libya style op. No requirement for western ground troops. The rebels are doing well with smuggled Arab and western weapons. there is a difference between air strikes, and troop interventions. Air strikes would be a vote winner troops on the ground in syria massive vote loser.

  234. I understand that an Syria intervention would, at this stage, be a Libya style operation. I’m hypothesising that if it turned into a Rwanda style massacre then you might have to get in there and do the business on the ground.

    Now how would the public make the choice of voting? They wouldn’t be asked. Nobody would deny that deploying ground forces to prevent a massacre was a worthy use of our armed forces. Even if Syria stayed at the current level and an intervention on land was conducted, it would be small and painted to the public (and the Lib Dems) as a quick win type of deal with just a small force left over to maintain peace, the same way that Afghanistan and Iraq got themselves into a tangle.

    Nobody goes into a war thinking that they’re about to get involved in Counter Insurgency. It just naturally evolves and by that time the public has little say in the matter.

    On top of that, fundamentally, the economy is a bigger driver of voting trends than the armed forces. A government doing well financially could probably get involved in as many land wars as it pleased.

    The British Public is, generally, simply not interested that deeply in the armed forces. Even Afghanistan, while opposed by some, is supported by others.

  235. A few air strikes and some ships on the horizon meant Libya was a situation where we could keep our hands clean.

    Syria wouldn’t be anything like that. Any kind of meaningful contribution would have to go further, as in troops on the ground, and I very much doubt it would be a few months and ‘bye bye we’re off’.

    It’s a snake pit, one that anyone has to think long and hard about before getting involved in.

    I am appalled by what’s going on there, and I lament the ineffectiveness of international politics in attempting to stop this kind of horrific bloodshed. However I am equally a realist, you need to have the resolve to see it through and I really don’t think anyone does.

  236. x: Don’t give up mate.

    ArmChairCivvie: I think that the two-tier Italian/French model is worth looking at: the more numerous OCPVs/Sloops that free up your FFs/DDs for the top end stuff. But it’s been discussed loads, and I don’t really have anything further to add (except please not aluminium).

    I’m always extremely guided by what those in the trade say, and it seems to be ‘Please God, don’t swap our GP Type 26s for twice as many sloops!’ pretty often, with at best ‘Hmmm, might be worth looking at’. Haven’t come across anybody in the Service saying anything glowing about the idea, anywhere, so am leaning towards the sloop ‘solution’ probably not being the right answer.

    Re: Lovely Visbys, we’ll see what Version 5 actually is after fitting and testing. If it all goes as advertised then they’re finally starting to match their brochure description. But no SAMs (as you mentioned) nor seaside ASW rocket launchers (a bit of a useful speciality for that region) right? Are they getting the mine clearance stuff?

    I’d be really interested to know how their exotic structural materials bear up when the craft are scaled up to proper small ship size, and how they resist fire and kinetic damage.

    I read every post attentively but don’t click on every link (much as I’d absolutely love to, if I had more time) – would you mind dropping that specific link again about the Hormuz simulation, cheers?

    TD: Cheers for clarifying the parting company comment – I’m with you. For my part, sorry if it seemed that I was suggesting that there was no nefarious lobby (there really is, for sure): I was doubting their actual significance (and omnipresence) rather than existence.

    It’s right to oppose ‘their’ BS specifically, but not too helpful (to anyone except ‘them’) to napalm and cluster bomb anyone else who says anything even superficially similar to ‘them’. It’s not too hard to tell the roughly three groups apart:-

    1 Dyed in the wool ‘them’s impervious to all reason: Expose, calmly refute with facts where necessary, otherwise ignore;

    2 Well meaning souls who don’t know no better who’ve been exposed to ‘their’ influence: Calmly and gently win them round with facts (and easy on the scorn**);

    3 Folks who do know their stuff, hate and despise ‘them’ (probably more than you do), but genuinely have a different view on sea power than the mainstream: Debate with in good faith: Assume that they’re not a #2 and especially not a #1 unless they demonstrate otherwise.

    **Not being holier than thou here, since I’ve lost my temper with ‘SH is only $53M’ or ‘Should have bought Burkes – they’re better and cheaper than Type 45s’ folks a fair few times – but I shouldn’t have and regret that I did (it pushed them back into their false pre-conceptions rather than winning them round). My rambling away on another thread about Euro-route vs Mk 41 was me being guilty of assuming what was being said, rather than reading at face value – we all do it but it’s best to aspire not to, for the sake of proper debate about this important subject. Sorry about the silly Mk 41 ramblings folks – won’t happen again.

  237. @ Observer – “Maybe an Expeditionary Corp? An independent fighting unit needs 3 things. Sufficient ground forces (armour-heavy and light, infantry, artillery), sufficient air cover, sufficient shipping and naval defence. Enough work for all 3 to go around” – Couldn’t put it better myself; I also like the idea of an expeditionary command and a defence command (trying to avoid using the term “homeland”).

    @ Jedi – bearing in mind the idea above, shouldn’t the Falklands be seen as a triumph for all the services

  238. @Chris B

    “Nobody goes into a war thinking that they’re about to get involved in Counter Insurgency.”

    Then “Nobody”‘s an idiot. The writing was always on the wall that after the war comes the problem with control, which was why I have always avocated that Iraq and Afganistan should have been hit, regime change, and run raids. There is no point trying to prop up what is seen as a puppet government and if it could not survive by itself, it would also fail in the months/years after any pullout.

    As for WMDs, no, a lot of us are not that stupid, we knew that at most, all Sadam could have was possibly one or 2 chemical warheads, for a few reasons. I suspect the main reason he got wacked was that he probably slipped a few bucks to A.Q, which, after 9-11, got looked at in a very bad light. Added to all the other reasons to take action (need to look post 9-11 proactive, heel digging in weapons inspection, pre-chewed, need to set an example etc), he was just the right patsy for the job.

    SOP for the Singaporean Army- Keep the damn hell AWAY from enemy civillian areas unless 1) you have a VERY good reason or 2) you’re with Civ Relations. Our most likely enemies (who will not be named) are nationalistic and religous zealots (one zealot, not 2), so bunging your troops into an enemy civillian area is either a recipe for 1) your troops to get mobbed or backstabbed or 2) mass civilian deaths from defensive fire, which would go down really well with the media. Not.

    I have never understood the facination of putting troops into close proximity to possible walking bombs.

  239. Me, you, and half the country may not have believed he had WMD (that’s the phrase I was looking for earlier), but then me, you and half the country didn’t have the vote to decide whether we went to war. The people that needed to be conned, sorry, convinced, were, and the public was sold various lines ranging from WMD to AQ to torture etc and every other sin that could be brought up, some of it true and some of it not.

    Labour survived the next election, despite things already looking bad in Iraq. The economy and the general lack of effective opposition played a part. Iraq barely got a look in.

    I don’t think anyone suspected that Afghanistan was going to become what it did. I think most people believed Iraq was going to be another wham, bam, here’s your new interim government and a few training staff, organise your own elections, keep the oil flowing, and be eternally grateful that we freed you, thank you mam.

    Libya, while stable now and probably likely to stay that way (ish), still has the potential to descend into bloody infighting and civil war. If it does, someone will have to go in and pick up the pieces, and that means us and the French for a start.

    Nobody plans a counter insurgency campaign because you need an insurgency to happen first, and nobody knows if and when you’re going to get one. They’re like headaches, they just appear. Obviously they’re more likely after a bump on the head, but not inevitable.

  240. “Nobody plans a counter insurgency campaign because you need an insurgency to happen first””I don’t think anyone suspected that Afghanistan was going to become what it did.”

    Er… the history of Afganistan doesn’t set off warning flags? Past behaviour of conquered nations? French Resistance? Soviet invasion of Afganistan?

    Chris, if that “someone” can’t bloody predict something that is so obviously going to happen, I won’t trust him to cross the road without becoming windshield splatter.

    Maybe it’s just experience. These whole messes were US led and they haven’t really had a balls to the wall terrorist organisation in their country for, well, a long long time. Europe and Asia still have their serious terrorist organisations.

    Think back a bit, GW2 was purely a US invasion, the other countries got involved only after they went in and stayed. I know that at that time, many suspected the UK only got involved because they were US allies. Afganistan was a bit more international.

  241. Fella, show me someone who correctly predicted that Afghanistan would descend into Counter Insurgency? Show me where you predicted it?

    Why not? Why wasn’t it obvious?

    Because previous campaigns in Afghanistan have been about dominating the territory and bringing it to heel. This was supposed to be about the opposite, eliminating the Taliban and driving out AQ, freeing Afghanistan from an oppressive regime as opposed to trying to impose one. Then getting out of dodge.

    And for five years basically it was ok. It had all worked pretty well. Then things started to go a bit tits up. It’s the same story that repeats over and over, and the reason it does is because there is no way to predict it. UN peacekeepers still operate in areas of the Balkans, even after all these years, but there has been no wide scale insurgency there.

    You can’t predict what people are going to do. You can guess, sometimes with a reasonable degree of education, but nobody has the crystal ball skills to expect that in five years time the Taliban will be back and this time they mean business.

  242. Hi again tsz,

    The upgrades include the qualification of Robot 15 anti-ship missiles, equipment for landing and refuelling of helicopters, equipment for mine hunting and mine destruction, additional weapons, the HF 2000 radio system, and additional sensors.

    Designed for mine countermeasures and anti-submarine warfare (ASW), the 72m-long Visby-class ships features a suite of ASW equipment, 127mm rocket-powered grenade launchers, depth charges and torpedoes.”
    – the first one (the Class namesake K31) is back in the water, and all 5 will have the “new” config by2014

    Switching to a steel hull surely would shave off 30-40m of the $180 unit cost? There would still be more stealth left than in other recent designs.

    What I would do is to use a Visby as a command ship for a squadron of Haminas. They have the Umkhontos,too, so if you look at the world map, you could string such a squadron between Stockholm and Finland, and operate (ASuW, ASW, counter-mine) within their self-provided AD bubble
    – now, move that to other restricted (green, not blue water) areas of operations, like Bab el Mandeb, Hormuz, Malacca Straits…

  243. Having seen the body bags coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan it would be a no brainer for Labour to realise that opposing ground troops in Syria will be a vote winner. Let the Turks and Arabs sort it. We will offer the use of our Cyprus bases and some Ships and Aircraft. Nick Clegg should cease on it as an opportunity to win back some of his core voters and withdraw from the coalition. The Tories know this and that is why we will not see Uk ground troops deployed in any upcoming Med/Arab spring conflict.

  244. “And for five years basically it was ok.”

    Oh really? I don’t recall a period of time where it was “ok” at all. The coalition was losing troops at about a hundred per year, it’s only recently that this numbers spiked. It wasn’t “no insurection until now” it was “low level until now”. Big difference, and reflective on adaptation, not lack of fighting.

  245. Ok Chris, I’ll throw you a freebee on this one. There is going to be an increase in attacks in Afganistan starting this month till the end of maybe November. Just wait for the news.

  246. @ Gareth Jone – “Jedi – bearing in mind the idea above, shouldn’t the Falklands be seen as a triumph for all the services”

    In reality, yes, of course. It was very much a triumph for HM Forces of all stripes.

    But that does not matter a damn where it really matters; the hall of public opinion.

    Public consciousness of the war was:
    The RN departing Naval bases in force (soldiers waving from the rails)
    Submarines patrolling the Falklands waters (and sinking Argie warships)
    Aircraft carriers defending the fleet and the beachhead (harriers galore)
    RM storming ashore and gloriously yomping to victory (amid derring do)
    Black buck raids (if you’re lucky)
    Tabbing Paras and other Army stuff (if you are lucky)

    It was short
    It was sharp
    It was decisive
    It was glorious
    It was noble

    The public loved it.

    Run the same calculation for Iraq and the recent years of Afghanistan, and understand its impact.

  247. RE “Let the Turks and Arabs sort it.” Can’t remember anymore what the arguments were that Turkey was using when they blocked the NATO action on Libya for a while?
    – now it is on their doorstep; will the line remain the same?

  248. @ jedi when you say you don’t think long term campaigns will happen again, what sort of time frame are you thinking of?

  249. @ Jedibeeftrix re public perception of FI

    RN got ships sunk. Even RFA were RN.
    RN (in the mind of a surprising number) sunk an Argentine ship full of conscripts that wasn’t a threat.
    RAF flew Harriers (and all the helicopters)
    RAF Black Buck missions were perhaps the most important of the war.
    Army beat the Argentines.

    If the war had been fought a decade earlier and the Corps a commando or two bigger there would have been no need for the other two.

    But there were RAF pilots flying from carriers shooting down planes!!!!!!!! Yes only because FAA FJ cadre had been eviscerated over the previous 15 years due to cancellation of CVA. In 1971 Eagle was carrying 26 FJ plus fixed wing AEW. And Ark was carrying the same number. 26 wasn’t far off the total number of Sea Harrier available.

  250. @ topman – “jedi when you say you don’t think long term campaigns will happen again, what sort of time frame are you thinking of?”

    let’s clarify this a little:

    when i talk about protracted and nasty counter-insurgency wars being a thing of the ‘past’ I am talking about the following:

    1. elective warfare in support of geo-political ambition/responsibility as an SC member.
    2. accepting that the army is going to need until 2020 to properly recover from ten years of non stop, theatre wide, warfare (with another two to come).
    3. recognising that past ability to do both punitive-interventions and enduring-stabilisation is no longer affordable, and the SDSR(+) has explicitly opted for the former over the latter.

    so, if the eurozone implodes and Mediterranean society collapses in a manner akin to iraq, then yes, we’ll be back in the counter-insurgency game big style. but, that is not elective warfare, it is our doorstep and thus obligatory.

    my view has been set out since before the SDSR was published, and its holding up pretty well:

  251. happy to agree X, with the detail, but not at the notion that the FI wasn’t a shining momemt for the RN as far as the public was concerned. in a way that the other two services could not capture for all that they deserved it.

  252. @ jedi i’m not trying to trip you up or anything. Just after some sort of timeframe nothing before 2020 would that be fair to say?

  253. coolo :)

    nothing before 2020 by necessity
    nothing elective after 2020 by choice
    nothing likely to be obligatory either before or after*

    * unless either europe collapses or china starts absorbing asia

  254. i’d agree with your first line but not much with your second. But i guess we’ll have to wait and see.

  255. @ jedibeeftrix

    I am trying to trim my Navy-uber-alles attitude a tad.

    I imagine the TF leaving and returning were the RN’s high points. The bit in between I am not so sure.

    Take Black Buck verse Alacrity’s dash up Falkland Sound. Which one do the public know about? Which was the most daring? Which one had the bigger impact on the war?


    Take RFA Sir Galahad in Bluff Cove. Grey ship bombed on fire. Footage of bedraggled men clumsily rowing ashore. How do you think that was interpreted by Joe Public. They would have seen another “Navy” ship on fire and heard about the deaths of soldiers by fire. They wouldn’t have known that the Welsh Guards weren’t up to marching across the Falklands. And they would have been ashore if their officers had just taken the advice of senior RM on the scene.


    Take that one stage further. The Guards being there in the first place. 40 Cdo sat on their uppers as reserve in San Carlos. And had to go forward anyway to make up for Welsh losses. Again ask Joe Public about the Guards in the Falklands; Joe Public still thinks RM is part of the army. So if the Guards hadn’t been there, they wouldn’t have been attacked, they wouldn’t have been attacked if they had gone ashore, then needed to call on 40 to make up losses, and yet in the mind of Joe Public the Army won the land war comprehensively without mistakes. All perceptions. Not of it really matters. I would love to see footage of the FI War memorial service straight after the war to see if it was a sea of light blue uniforms as one infamous SHAR pilot would have us believe.

  256. Theres a big schism about to occur between what the UK and US armed forces are to be expected to do, and the rhetoric coming out of the foreign office and state department. The armed forces are being structured to not fight another Afghan. Meanwhile in Syria…

    And we will come full circle. The air sea battle wet dream will once again come a cropper at great expense, humiliation and deaths until we scale up for the effort and then we’ll be appalled at the effort needed and so armed forces will then re structure into air sea battle mark 2 rinse and repeat for the remainder of nation state human history.

  257. “Take Black Buck verse Alacrity’s dash up Falkland Sound. Which one do the public know about? Which was the most daring? Which one had the bigger impact on the war?”

    event for event, sure, a plane flying quite a long way is not recognised today to a fraction of the degree that generic image of convoys of warships setting off and coming home.

  258. I agree Phil, all this strategic raiding, air sea battle stuff smacks of the very latest in military/strategic fashion statements which is exactly the same as the one before the last one.

    Anyone else remember, revolution in military affairs, go fast/go home, FRES, FCS etc etc until you run out of three letter acronyms

    Fashion is a fickle mistress but reality is a constant

  259. “Fashion is a fickle mistress but reality is a constant”

    So true:

    Which of the following statements comes closest to your view?

    The UK should remain a great power, with substantial armed forces and our own seat at the United Nations Security Council as one of the ‘big five’ permanent members: YouGov 49% GB 62%
    The UK should accept that it is no longer a great power, cut its defence budget significantly, and in due course give up its seat on the United Nations Security Council: YouGov41% GB 22%
    Don’t know: YouGov 10% GB 15%

    a constant decline as we gradually turn into good little post-war europeans.

    too many more of those and i will be on the door to welcome you to 2025 when Britain’s self-defence constabulary spending just 1.2% of GDP becomes a reality.

  260. TD. “Fly light, die early”. Looking at current events I think we may be looking at a no fly zone over Syria in next few weeks. The Iraq no fly zones never had specific UN approval and the US is becoming increasingly frustrated with the Russians.

  261. @ jedibeeftrix

    I don’t know. This year how many documentaries have you seen about the RN’s orbat in 82? And how many have you seen on a set of particular RAF missions? How many documentaries do you see on the RM’s actions compared to Parachute actions at Goose Green or Guard’s action on Tumbledown? Everything to do with the RN that is shown is about ships sinking.

  262. APATS I have a sneaky suspicion Phil is right on this one. Most of the armed forces of the US and UK are exhausted, not physically, but equipment wise and political/electorial will wise. Rough guess? I’d rate the No Fly Zone as a 30% possibility. It’s more likely Syria will have to look out for itself. Worse thing that the UN can do is probably just sanction the country.

  263. APATS,

    You may well be right about the no fly zones – they seem to be an automatic first step. I’m sure some country will ask for them and there’ll be debate and consideration. But I wonder what good they will do? I don’t know anything at all of course about what’s really going on in the country, but from what has been on the news it seems the biggest threat to the people is from tanks and artillery, not the Syrian AF.

    Also, enforcing a NFZ may be very problematic. Syria has an extensive AD network*** which is fully operational, so that would need to be taken out first, and that means an air effort much bigger than Libya. I suspect it’s doable if the west can mobilise enough top end FJ, Cyprus is close enough, the Turks may offer facilities, and so on, but to me it sounds a lot more crunchy than Libya.

    *** Shameless cut and paste from Wiki. hope it’s accurate!

    “The Syrian Air Defense Force controls twenty-five air defense brigades, each with six SAM batteries. It is equipped with 650 static SA-2, SA-3 and SA-5 launchers, 200 mobile SA-6 and SA-11 launchers and over 4,000 anti-aircraft guns ranging from 23mm to 100mm in caliber. There are also two independent SA-8 and SA-10 SAM Regiments, each with four batteries of 48 mobile SAMs.”

    Elsewhere it states that they also have SA-15 and SA-22, and are 40,000 strong.

  264. @ X – “I don’t know. This year how many documentaries have you seen about the RN’s orbat in 82? And how many have you seen on a set of particular RAF missions?”

    I confess i am at a disadvantage here as i don’t have a tele, but no doubt you are right.

  265. Like Phil, Topman and APATS have been saying I think a no fly zone over Syria is an increasing possibility, though it’s obviously a big step that can’t be taken lightly. Anything other than real resolve to sort the situation out is a rather pointless waste.

    Syria is a different ball game altogether from Libya, needing a firm and large scale effort to have any meaningful effect. Dealing with their air defence capability alone, before anything else occurs would take a show of strength beyond what we saw last year.

    A UK commitment would have symbolic value but I’m not sure how decisive anything could be without serious US capabilities in the vanguard.

  266. Also I am curious about basing in a potential no fly zone scenario over Syria.

    I know the RAF base in Cyprus is sizeable, but surely their is a limit to what it can accommodate, as in not anything near enough for the campaign as a whole.

    If Turkey drags it’s heels then what else is their? I’m guessing US and French carrier groups in the eastern med?

  267. If they have Gadflys and Gainfuls and Gauntlets, you won’t only need aircraft, you’ll need missile bombardments to suppress the air defences or your airpower is going to walk into a buzzsaw.

    We’ll see in the 3 weeks to follow, but I am predicting, no NFZ.

  268. aki is pretty big, there’s a few pictures online of all the aircraft there 2003. It’s capable of handleing alot of aircraft. However that’s later down the line. We aren’t doing anything without the mercans and with the isrealis having a close interest i think there is a way to go before we start doing a no fly zone. It would also be a far tougher nut to crack than libya. We’d have to throw in the russians as well i think they are quite happy with the status quo. Haven’t they are a large naval base in syria?

  269. Following on from Challenger’s thoughts on basing space, realistically, what could the west generate in air terms if Turkey decided to sit this one out and not offer any bases?

    Presumably, all of the C3 / ISTAR / AAR stuff would fly from Italy or Crete to allow the FJ to concentrate in Cyprus.

    The US might put up 2 carriers with the embarked air wings – 6 total FJ Squadrons. France and Italy the same, but only 2 more Squadrons. The 2 Cyprus airbases might be able to host 5 more squadrons each, of which the Brits put up total 3. 18 FJ Squadrons (6 US, 1 French, 1 Italian, 3 British, presumably the rest from Denmark, Norway, Germany, etc). Is that enough for the campaign? It sounds as though it could be.

    The problem comes with just one nation from the P5 not putting up any FJs, or only volunteering C3 assets. As soon as that happens, everyone else will sit on their hands. So, as with Libya, it looks like it’s a US/UK/France push, and I’m not sure there’s the appetite.

  270. And importantly, will the American public stand for it after adventures in Afganistan and Iraq? There is going to be great pressure to keep a “third front” from opening up, military resource wise and economy wise. The US may not be taking it as hard as Europe, but it is still hurting from the economic crisis.

  271. @ Jedibeeftrix

    To be honest I don’t know as I haven’t actually watched any of the Falklands 30 stuff. Not really interested in yet more 2 Para at Goose Green, Black Buck, and Bluff Cove.

  272. @ APATS,

    “Having seen the body bags coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan it would be a no brainer for Labour to realise that opposing ground troops in Syria will be a vote winner,”

    — Not if we see more videos and pictures of piles of syrian bodies. Listen to the people in attendance at any BBC Question Time when the issue of Syria comes up. The public is frustrated that we can’t simply repeat Libya (obviously without realising the differences). If there is anything the British public seems to hate more than British deaths, it’s standing by and watching others get slaughtered when they know we could be doing something about it. No party wants to get tagged as the one that was too cautious and didn’t have the balls to act.

    @ Observer,
    “Ok Chris, I’ll throw you a freebee on this one. There is going to be an increase in attacks in Afganistan starting this month till the end of maybe November”
    — So you’ve predicted the fighting season. Well done. Now go and show me the place where you predicted prior to the invasion of Afghanistan that it was going to turn into a bloody counter insurgency. Show me where all the experts were lining up to condemn the invasion, warning that the west would get bogged down in Asia again?

    UK forces had it relatively light compared to the current status quo precisely because they didn’t deploy large numbers or try to get involved in a large nation building campaign. It wasn’t on the agenda at the time.

    You can’t have a counter insurgency campaign without the insurgency, and you never know where the insurgency is going to come from. Nobody goes to war thinking they’re going to get involved in an extensive counter insurgency battle. It gets forced upon them, usually because of their own success in the first place.

    Alternatively I guess we could completely scrap the army except for one or two commando units and a special forces company. Spend all that extra cash on ships and planes. We’ll look sexy as fuck on the recruiting posters, but anytime somebody really needs our help we’ll be reduced to just flying around and sailing up and down watching as the enemy are permitted freedom of movement on the ground, among the civilian population, offering us nothing worthwhile to shoot at.

  273. @James and Observer

    I’m sure a no fly zone could just about be managed using a combination of Cyprus, carriers, some further afield bases for all the ISTAR stuff and yeah obviously getting either Israel or Turkey or both on board would be a major boost.

    It would defiantly be an overwhelmingly Anglo-American and French effort, probably with a smattering of small contributions. It couldn’t really work any other way, and as you say James any major partner dragging their feet would be a serious spanner in the works!

    In a sense though I think all of this chat is fairly pointless, because as you both said it’s very unlikely that anyone has any real appetite for this sort of action. We are weary of war and know how complicated things can become.

    Even the mighty USA would indeed think twice before committing to yet another foreign intervention that has a far from clear outcome.

  274. You do realise I’m on this site only after the invasion? By then, it was pretty redundant to tell anyone that the UN in Afganistan was doing COIN.

    As I have already said time and again, if you couldn’t predict it, you’re not looking hard enough. Or maybe it’s just the region. In almost every country in Asia, there is insurgency or a history of an encounter with insurgency so pardon us if we can see it coming from a mile away. (Thailand-Southern Insurgency, Indonesia-Jemaah Islamiyah, Free Aceh Movement, Phillipines-Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Burma-Karen Rebels).

    It’s only in VERY rare circumstance that you do not get rebellions, 1) War weariness as in WWII, 2) Actions of a charismatic pacifistic individual 3) A government system so screwed up that no one benefited or 4) A conquest where anyone who dissented or benefitted from the old system is exterminated.

    Iraq and Afganistan did not fit any of these conditions.

    Like the “fighting season”, the data is there. You just have to look for it. Starting with Afgan history and habits of A.Q.

  275. Not specifically here on TD, but show me where on Facebook, or in a personal word document or something that you predicted this? Where was the mountain of warnings against this?

    There are none, apart from the very rare opinion piece here and there, because this was supposed to be a 21st Century war. It was gonna be bombs and a few spec ops, with follow on forces to clean out the last remaining strongholds. When it all worked as planned everyone sat back and patted each other on the back at how well they’d done.

    Nobody, not one person, at that point could see the counter insurgency coming because it was all supposed to be over. Now it was just a case of training the Afghan forces to take over and everything would be fine.

    On the face of it Afghan appeared to be epitome of success in modern warfare. There was no evidence that it would descend into what we have today. You’re just looking at it with 20:20 hingsight.

    Same with Iraq. Iraq was going to be all shock and awe, satellites and lasers, a war of weeks ending in total victory over the enemy. No one had a clue what was going to happen following that. Again, with 20:20 hindsight we know that a lot of things could have been done differently to avoid the problems, but nobody at the time suspected that a counter insurgency campaign was about to kick off.

    That’s the big issue with all these fancy air sea battle concepts. They’re just a repeat of the shock and awe, and they’ll end precisely the same way. The difference might be that the UK ends up deploying a single “normal” brigade instead of an over strength brigade. But it’ll still end up deploying brigades to various theatres.

  276. Now, with this in the background “The US might put up 2 carriers with the embarked air wings – 6 total FJ Squadrons. France and Italy the same, but only 2 more Squadrons. The 2 Cyprus airbases might be able to host 5 more squadrons each, of which the Brits put up total 3. 18 FJ Squadrons (6 US, 1 French, 1 Italian, 3 British, presumably the rest from Denmark, Norway, Germany, etc). Is that enough for the campaign” it is easy to understand why winter tourism in Bulgaria has no capacity constraints: in the Warsaw Pact days there were enough runways for 21 sqdrns to do naval strike (AD sqdrns in smaller bases on top of that)
    – without Turkey, a no-goer
    – who wants to light up “the Balkans” anyway, again? Not talking about the latest, but Sarajevo and so on, snowballing into an unpredictable effect

  277. Chris.B.: Maybe the predictions are down to culture and information sources? Back just pre Afghanistan invasion me and most of the folks I chatted with had from little to absolutely nothing to do with the mainstream media but had read a lot of books (especially history and politics), and we all totally nailed exactly what was going to happen. Especially those of us who grew up in areas with enormous and extremely hostile Muslim populations [Oldham in my case: and no I’m not a racist but can’t help but be very aware of the problems]. I can’t prove that, since it was all good ol’ fashioned verbal conversation, and none of us hard working boys could afford computers or internet access back then.

    Are you old enough to have been able to fully understand what was going on throughout the entire Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, by the way?

    For the Iraq invasion I was living in Dublin, working in a shop. Maybe the Irish know a thing or two about this living under (what they perceive as) occupation lark, and insurgency; but there wasn’t a single customer (totally average folks on the street) or mate that I chatted with who didn’t nail exactly what was going to happen there too, or grimace at that whole ‘Shock and Awe!’ rubbish and the hubris of the entire operation.

    ArmChairCivvy: Cheers for the info and linky – might be just what the doctor ordered! I’ll have a good read later. :)

  278. @ tszt52 said “Especially those of us who grew up in areas with enormous and extremely hostile Muslim populations [Oldham in my case: and no I’m not a racist but can’t help but be very aware of the problems].”

    Speak as you find. Speak as you find, my friend.

  279. @tsz

    Really, the writing was on the wall in cases like that. Muslims are VERY emotional, it’s their culture, and I’m not surprised I’m not the only one with the conclusion that the “Coalition” was in for a mauling. Most people I spoke to thought that way too. We’ve been through our own insurgency and we keep a close eye on the ones going on in our neighbours, so anticipating the mess was a real no-brainer. I’m sure the Irish, with their experience too won’t miss the most likely end result either.

    Lost count of the number of times my country has been on the receiving end of “diplomatic” death threats from the surrounding Muslim countries. Becomes a yawn after a while really.


    Predicting Iraq and Afganistan and 9-11 was a no brainer, what was more interesting and profitable was predicting the Economic crisis. I moved my investments to India and China a few weeks before it blew. :P

  280. As I have just posted on another threads and said before, on this site:-I and other like me who could read maps, history, and people, foresaw the total afgahn omnishambles, predicited it and won bets over it. Thsoe professionals who did not were crap at their job.

    As for gulf 2 got dronk with a middle ranking Kevin the day the staue of sdam came down. He was declaring victory, and would I like to come baclk to his place..

    I told him ‘ now the real shit starts’

  281. Chris B

    As I have just posted on another threads and said before, on this site:-I and other like me who could read maps, history, and people, foresaw the total Afgahn omnishambles, predicited it and won bets over it.

    Those professionals who did not:- were crap at their job and should have sesigned or been sacked. Really what is trhe point of having stars on your shoulders if some half assed goid botherer like T0ny Blair esq wants to invade Iraq because Sadfam is ‘evil’! (As attested to by one senior civil servant).

    As for gulf 2 got drunk with a middle ranking Kevin the day the staue of sdam came down. He was declaring victory, and would I like to come baclk to his place..

    I told him ‘ now the real shit starts’

  282. ACC 40% gain actually. Concentration on startup companies and food. Economic crisis it may be, but people still eat.

  283. Well done,

    Was really posting about a “blunt weapon” strategy, which is easy to observe not just in investments,but with the quick turns in defence strategy & posture
    – SR, what is that? Well, it certainly is the opposite of a Global Guardian (if anyone believes in the latter, then they believe in Santa, too)
    – the polar opposites were invented to inform the SDSR debate, as it was clear that cuts were coming and understanding in the broader circles had to be created as to what can *not* be done or achieved

    … I think I will keep my head down in this one

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