The Royal Navy Needs Better

How about a couple of headlines to start with

Britain cannot ensure food supplies because we only have 23 warships, senior Tory warns

Britain needs a bigger Navy, and fast to combat Russian threat

Both have seen the light of day recently, read them here and here

The first, from outgoing head of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, James Arbuthnot, and the second can be laid at the door of another MP, Tom Watson.

I don’t even know where to start with this drivel, the prize quote from Mr Arbuthnot

If someone wanted to close the Suez Canal, it would be really quite easy to do. I don’t know how many days food or fuel we have but we will certainly find the price of everything going up quickly. If I wished ill to this country, it is what I would do. Goods, food, fuel come to us by sea, much of it through the Suez Canal. We need to be able to protect our supply lines. We have abolished all the warehouses we used to have and turned them into shi-shi flats. And we have got no stocks of food or fuel or essential goods to last us for any reasonable length of time.

That the RN is too small is not open for debate, that all the services are suffering from cuts is hardly news, they are all too small and suffering from cuts.

We all know this.

But invoking the specter of starvation because someone can easily close the Suez Canal shows a serious lack of understanding of the shipping industry, global economy, a likely multi-national response and the desire of the nation state of Egypt to stop itself from going bankrupt.

As for Tom Watson, please, the Russian Navy might be able to do a bit of show pony but is hardly such a threat that we should all be shitting ourselves.

If this is the level of advocacy for more surface vessels then the RN should be worried.

Politicians wishing for stronger armed forces should be able to do much better than we are an island you know and the Russians are coming.

 

PS

What exactly are shi-shi flats

 

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Pat Thompson
April 13, 2014 5:08 pm

shi-shi :- AKA Sheik, classy overpriced and contemporary

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=shi-shi

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 13, 2014 5:22 pm

I thought it was chi-chi, as popularised by Coco Chanel?

The Andrew certainly need better uniforms. Currently, they look like binmen. And as for the hats, God save us. If it’s a beret, they look like a one-eared spaniel, if it’s a baseball cap they look like a third rate Chicago hoodlum, if it’s a peaked officer’s hat they look like a diseased mushroom.

And they salute like they are trying to hide something. Shifty.

John Hartley
John Hartley
April 13, 2014 6:21 pm

Given how dependent the UK is on imports, then yes, the RN needs more escorts. Back in the 80s they had 50, but now under 20. Most think around 30 is the minimum safe number.
As for RN uniforms, if you got a gay designer like Jason Conran or Jean Paul Gaultier, I bet they would come up with some sexy sailor uniforms. Be interesting to see which Jacks liked it & which were too alarmed to be seen in public in it. Would probably have to stay off the pies to look good in it, so would be an anti-obesity measure.

Derek
Derek
April 13, 2014 6:32 pm

This has it all, ignorant, idiot politicians and a complete failure to understand financial reality. Both Tom Watson, and James Arbuthnot are complete lunatics, the former being especially dangerous due to his support for the Leveson anti-free speech legislation whilst the latter is a deluded old fool who is fortunately standing down.

However, it does come with the continued misunderstanding of Russian military strength that has characterised so much of the smug ranting of the internet commentariat. The Russian Navy may have been a rusting laughing stock a few years ago but that is increasingly not the case, this childish and uninformed dismissal is deeply foolish.

Topman
Topman
April 13, 2014 6:50 pm

I guess in Oz they’ve binned one size, only too big left…

The Other Chris
April 13, 2014 7:02 pm

@TD

Being able to guaranteeing secure shipping with potential trading partners being amongst the top reasons!

x
x
April 13, 2014 7:03 pm

@ Topman

What you have remember is that under that uniform she is naked. ;)

It is the slides and name tag that ruin it.

As I said there are worse uniforms. Look at this hardy bunch of death dealing war fighters. Some nation’s navy had a close call because this nobby style wasn’t adopted. I wonder who they could be? I think that they have M16s and not Tavors is a clue…….

http://h8.abload.de/img/10s42o.jpg

Derek
Derek
April 13, 2014 7:04 pm

TD,

Same old denial I see. The reality that so many here refuse to accept, and for no reason other than the brutalising effect it would have on their egos, is that the Russian Navy is rapidly heading towards being the largest in Europe whilst the state funding it is a demonstrable threat to European security (unless you think all those exercises with the Baltic states and Poland as targets are just good old fashioned fun).

The Russian Navy is the single best justification for RN expansion, not that such a thing is on the cards, because it is an instrument of a state with hostile intentions towards NATO and the EU and increasingly capable. The failure to realise this is a product of Europe’s collective amnesia regarding the realities of hard power and deterrence- the same amnesia which left the European political elite shell-shocked as Russia annexed Crimea in a weekend and continues to destabilise the rest of Ukraine.

Peter Elliott
April 13, 2014 7:32 pm

@TD

Just becasue the verbiage from the pollies is shite doesn’t mean the proposed actions are wrong.

We probably do need to be uparming all our armed forces now (not just the RN) not becuase of the threat today but becuase of th threat horizon in 5-7 year time.

Don’t get distrcted by who is and isn’t smug.

:p

Topman
Topman
April 13, 2014 7:35 pm

@ x

‘It is the slides and name tag that ruin it. ‘

Well there’s that and the fact the shirt’s about 4 sizes too big.

Observer
Observer
April 13, 2014 7:42 pm

Derek, time for you to learn Russian don’t you think? The repainted Red Hordes are going to overrun Europe and march on to London soon to demand your surrender, no? So you might want to get in on the ground level of the (inevitable) change in management.

Think it through. What do the Russians really want?

bigdave243
bigdave243
April 13, 2014 7:44 pm

I’m in complete agreement that our armed forces should spend more money and up arm etc etc. I’m biased as i’m currently serving and love the military.

However the Russian Navy maybe the single largest in Europe, and despite recent investment, frankly against the combined strength of the rest of Europe not to mention the USA it would get smashed into the nearest scrapyard.

There are certain people on here who might consider that hyperbole, but despite any numerical advantage they (the Russians) may hold, they are still technologically overmatched by the navies of NATO. They shouldn’t be underestimated, but now should we overestimate them.

Anyway, I think the point that TD was making, is that any nation that tried to blockade the Suez would fail, very quickly and very badly as to do so would be against the combined interests of alot of countries, not just the UK. So although as a stand alone Navy we may not be as powerful as we once were, we are not without friends and not without teeth.

Anyway, that’s my 2 pence worth

x
x
April 13, 2014 7:58 pm

@ Topman

Um. Yes. It is too big. I am not that into fashion.

{x exits stage left. Gnashing his teeth about walking away from such a rich vein of comedy for the sake of forum harmony and his respect of Topman.}

Observer
Observer
April 13, 2014 9:08 pm

“Britain cannot ensure food supplies because we only have 23 warships, senior Tory warns”

Interesting. That’s the same number we have. lol

Oh dear, how shall we ensure our food supplies too?

Disclaimer: Poster is not responsible for any logic sensed in replies. Only sarcasm is guaranteed.

derek
derek
April 13, 2014 9:28 pm

Observer,

Glad to see you keeping up the grand TD tradition of putting words in peoples mouths. Distortion was always one of your unaccomplished specialities.

What Russia wants is clear and has been clear for the best part of a decade. It wants a chastised NATO, preferably with the US so irritated by its former European allies that it loses interest in the region, and territorial expansion to encompass land it feels belongs to it. For the UK the choice is simple, does it stand by the treaty arrangements it has made or does it not. It has demonstrated in the case of Ukraine that is probably won’t. For those countries, notably in Eastern Europe, where liberty remains a valid cause it will be fought for- but Britain is not a free and democratic nation and its form of government is disturbingly close to that of Vladimir Putin’s so any commitment to NATO will be purely legalistic rather than moral.

elizzar
elizzar
April 13, 2014 9:32 pm

Whilst Russia’s current sabre-rattling / territory grabbing is concerning, I feel a much more ‘real’ justification for the need of increasing the size of the RN is the actual threats to our sovereign territory, namely Argentina re: the Falklands and Spain re: Gibraltar. Both have done more in the last few years to threaten the UK than Russia, and both would benefit from knowing the RN is big enough and agile enough to respond to any serious threat if needed. The new aircraft carriers are a step – assuming we have any planes to fly from them – but we should never have gone below an escort fleet of ~30 ships; OR, if that is judged ok by the informed military commanders, we should have patrol ships / RFA doing Caribbean drug busting or African anti-piracy patrols whilst our war-fighting ships (urgh, I apologise) are in our own waters either on patrol, exercise or refit. It is, after all, the primary duty of the government to protect the integrity of the country, not that anyone seems to remember this these days.

Observer
Observer
April 13, 2014 9:35 pm

Heil Mein Fuhrer!

Here’s your foil hat, Derek. Your new suits will take a while, they need to fit in all the extra buckles.

Observer
Observer
April 13, 2014 9:44 pm

Actually Elizzar, even if you have a dual tier of “fighting” and “non-fighting” ships, your fighting ships will also end up doing anti-piracy patrols. The reason why they use high end ships for jobs like that is because the main thing that those ships are designed for, murder, mayhem and destruction, is not an everyday occurrence. This means that most of the time, those ships are sitting idle with their crews idling too. It’s more economical and makes more sense to run an anti-piracy patrol/training exercise than to have ships and crews idling away.

Only time it is worth keeping ships idle is if you have a large reservist capability for war but too little material building capability, then you MIGHT find it worthwhile to keep ships in mothballs. You will still get a problem with unused, aging ships though, if your “war” happens 60-70 years down the road, all your investment might end up becoming obsolete when you really need to use them. Or worse, have to replace them. $$$ *cry*.

x
x
April 13, 2014 9:54 pm

Didn’t whomever is in charge in Ukraine renege on their deal of February 21st with whom ever was or is president to restore the 2004 constitution? Their names confuse me and I don’t care to learn who is who because they are all self-serving idiots.

I am not sure we should be rushing to aid a country that swaps leadership and constitutions more frequently than the BBC changes its seasonal TV schedule.

The country, ha! there’s a joke, we are talking about wasn’t even a country 20 or so years ago.

My country has been a going concern 927AD within the same borders.

Personally I am beginning to think the East Europeans should pack up, go home. and put up the Iron Curtain; they are nothing but trouble. If the Germans want war so they can subsume the Ukraine economy to sure up the Euro the perhaps they should go to fight it. And I think if the Americans are stupid enough to elect a tit like Obama they can pivot back home too.

Worry man
Worry man
April 13, 2014 9:57 pm

I agree that the politicians statements are overblown and supposing the Red army will threaten UK looks improbable. However the real concern is that Russia has now changed borders and undermined territorial sovreignty of a number of states (Ukraine, georgia) by use of military force and does so knowing it can do so unchallenged and unhindered. This changes the rules of the security game outside direct NATO countries and whatever size navy we have, we won’t use it anyway to intervene. This new playbook would appear to the concern worth worryig about since it also sends signals to others creating a much more volatile, dangerous international climate. I dont pretend to offer any solutions because I cannot think of any, but we should be concerned.
Fair?

Worry man
Worry man
April 13, 2014 10:06 pm

By the way the source of cash to spend on Russian military modernsation and the leverage Russia enjoys both are about gas. I recall TD saying this on many posts, so perhaps the only solution is for UK and European countries to sort their energy mix and sources, buy US LNG now and to get those Thorium reactors going and stop buying Russian gas. One small problem with this is our politicians ability to deliver on this…….

Challenger
Challenger
April 13, 2014 10:27 pm

Their are many good reasons to want to see a larger Royal Navy and more money spent on defence in general but i agree that securing trade routes isn’t (at least in isolation) one of them.

The sort of guff people like Arbuthnot and Watson spout shows how out of touch and ill informed they are and how dangerous it could be to the RN if this kind of ignorance becomes the dominant voice on the matter.

The Russian Navy is certainly receiving investment, and maybe in 10 or so years it will be a more credible adversary but to say it’s an immediate and dangerous threat to the UK is to take the worst case scenario and ignore the fact that the UK wouldn’t face the Russians in isolation.

In terms of RN escorts i think the best argument for more hulls in the fleet which often gets overlooked and seems hard to get across to the average onlooker is to have a few more units than technically needed to provide some elasticity and ease the pressure on the deployment/maintenance/training cycle and account for possible accidents or other unforeseen events.

If 19 frigates/destroyers can just about cover all of the current standing commitments now we really need a few more to be safe, otherwise we are going to have serious problems both in the short-term if one does an HMS Nottingham and in the long-term with ships being worked far harder than they were ever designed to be.

Observer
Observer
April 13, 2014 10:51 pm

Challenger, hear, hear.

In a spot of future planning, how would you try to “contain” Russia? Trying to match them ship for ship is obviously a losing proposition, they have the resources of 1/4 or a continent to draw on. Ironically enough, maybe the best lessons we can get are not from the US, but are from people that plan to fight on a similar disadvantage AGAINST the US, basically a small vs big situation. From Iran, we get boghammer/small ships tactics, from China, we got a ground based long range anti-ship rocket system.

Of course, the UK is unique in that it needs to secure the Atlantic for convoys from the US, so it does need some long ranged capable ships, but for close in defence of Europe itself? Might a system similar to the Chinese DF-21 be useful to the UK and much much cheaper than a fleet of corvettes for local defence? Or missile armed “boghammer” variants designed to fight against someone larger?

Interesting to see what new wrinkles people will come up with in the future.

Jules
Jules
April 14, 2014 3:55 am

Vidar SSK and Visby…

He He He…

Make Sweden an offer, then we can screw em up by bunging all kinds of useless crap on em!

MikeKiloPapa
MikeKiloPapa
April 14, 2014 5:19 am

@bigdave

And how much of that impressive combined european high tech fleet could we actually equip with its full complement of weapons and ammunitions ? …my guess is half…at most .

So we might be able to “smash” the Russian navy …..for an hour …and then we run out of ammo !

If people knew the actual state of european missile inventories , they would weep.

Observer
Observer
April 14, 2014 5:36 am

MKP, we already went through the weeping stage when discussing the Type-45 destroyers.

We know.

Especially the Harpoons. Fitted for, but not with. :lol:

And be fair, dave did include the Americans in the vs scenario.

Jim
Jim
April 14, 2014 6:30 am

Four of the Type 45s are getting the Harpoons off the Type 22 batch 3s, As one 45 will most likely always be in refit etc, there will always be one of the six fitted for but not with.

jedibeeftrix
April 14, 2014 7:51 am

@ Observer – “maybe the best lessons we can get are not from the US, but are from people that plan to fight on a similar disadvantage AGAINST the US, basically a small vs big situation. From Iran, we get boghammer/small ships tactics, from China, we got a ground based long range anti-ship rocket system.”

That would be totally counter to the pursuit of our activist foreign policy.

We cannot project with boghammers.

Simon257
Simon257
April 14, 2014 8:15 am
Rocket Banana
April 14, 2014 8:25 am

TD,

“When the Russian Navy is actually a real threat, as in ways and means, then fair enough, you can justifiably wipe our collective smug grins off our collective smug faces but running around crying wolf because the Russian Navy has had a bit of investment over the last few years, building up from its practically derelict state, is hardly cause for a pre war style re-armament is it”

If they hadn’t just invaded Crimea I’d be with you on that one.

Observer,

Thinking about ship “range” and small-ship tactics it might be worth bearing in mind it is a few thousand clicks from Portsmouth to Alexandria. Our interests lie a long way away :-(

The only value in short-ranged (small) ships would be to police the North Sea and perhaps (usefully) the Norwegian Sea. A more localised “North Sea Fleet”? Sort of solves the MPA problem with the GIUK gap too.

Obsvr
Obsvr
April 14, 2014 8:45 am

Buy food from the French farmers, take delivery thru the Chunnel. Job done. Simples :-)

But watch out for a Russian desant operation near Calais.

The Other Chris
April 14, 2014 8:59 am

The channel tunnel doesn’t have the capacity.

@Simon

Or buy an MPA fleet that can cover the North and Norwegian Sea’s as part of its taskings then coordinate with Scandinavia and Benelux coastal and brown water assets?

Observer
Observer
April 14, 2014 9:16 am

Simon, Russia isn’t invading Ukraine, it’s “unknown paramilitary groups”. :)

And the reason they resort to this is because they do NOT have an army capable of long term projection of power or COIN ops. Their armed forces is only down to half a million men spread out on 2 fronts. They have to use small units because that is all they got.

Topman
Topman
April 14, 2014 9:19 am

@x

Sorry if I seemed a bit sharp.

I couldn’t stop thinking that jacket fits her like a 12’x12′ :)

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
April 14, 2014 9:24 am

Most of our food imports come from the EU and more stable areas such as New Zealand. The agricultural industry in Europe is all networked to each other and so it would be hard to cut our food imports without doing some damage to other countries economies, which by the law of averages would be European.
Would article 5 be invoked if such a move was made?

comment image%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.theapricity.com%252Fforum%252Fshowthread.php%253F28519-Waking-up-to-food-security%3B826%3B592

The Other Chris
April 14, 2014 10:32 am

Informational:

Only 18 million tonnes passes through the Channel Tunnel (2013). Estimates are that it is currently at half PX/freight capacity.

Compare to 500 million tonnes (2012) via ports, of which 95 million tonnes is domestic (port to port or single port service i.e. oil rigs).

Only 2.3 million tonnes moved via air (2013).

No solid information on how under capacity ports/airports are. Likelihood is way under given the sheer volume of visibly underused piers and harbour sides still exist around the coast.

Doesn’t matter who we trade with – Europe, Scandinavia, Ireland, South America, USA, China, Commonwealth – almost the entirety of it enters or leaves via a port in the UK regardless of source or destination.

AIS Live Maps are always a fascinating lunchtime diversion:

https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/

x
x
April 14, 2014 11:22 am

@ Topman

It’s alright. I bet it gave you and the chaps something to talk about over the Lemon tea and crisp breads during elevenses………

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
April 14, 2014 11:38 am

One thing to be said for Russia’s seizure of Crimea they managed to get 57 ships(from a possible 61 in the Ukrainian Navy) out of it. All of them are dated yes, but they are all similar if not the same to current Russian vessels and come with all the support infastructure in place and most importantly cost nothing.

Topman
Topman
April 14, 2014 11:40 am

@ x

err ok, I think.

ps
Crisp breads is that like a cracker?

x
x
April 14, 2014 12:15 pm

@ Simon257

Just read it. Typical thread of his really. A lot of words to say in a patronising way we can’t afford them and the MoD is trucking along just fine.

I don’t think you can compare T14 with anything afloat today. Though classed as a second rates I would say they were more third rates comparable to the projected third rate coastal gun frigates that never left the drawing board. Even the single purpose frigates (T41, T61, and Whitby) had some GP capability. The closest thing we have day to the T14 is the Merlin. T14 was all about extending the screen nothing more.

How the Castle class were too large to be a traditional OPV I don’t know. They seem ideally suited to their intended role which was protecting the North Sea oil fields Large Sea King capable flight deck etc. And considerably smaller than the Rivers too that don’t have a flight deck….

To say that the RN couldn’t find work for a class of 6/8 diesel frigates with a crew of 60 + RM det of say 16 is a bit short sighted. The main cost saver for me would be going for diesels over GT and unmanned engine room. A hull mounted SONAR , Sea Ceptor, a 5in and LINK would be a significant capability; admittedly a local not area capability but let us not forget that manoeuvre is the most fundamental weapon of war. A Merlin capable size hangar and flight deck doesn’t mean a Merlin has to be carried. Somewhere between the Danish Iver Huitfeldt (that is hull not the fit out) and the Singaporean Formidable class there is an ideal. Larger the better as it means bigger bunkers. Hull numbers matter still and 19 is too few.

He could have saved himself by pressing for TAS for all the T26 as that is a waste of money and hull.

x
x
April 14, 2014 12:19 pm

@ Topman re cracker

Well that’s what the RN would have. What goes on in the messes, ready rooms, and workshop kitchens of the RAF I don’t know.

{ x leaves the stage through by dropping a trap door. }

Observer
Observer
April 14, 2014 12:30 pm

x, he didn’t say that he wanted to cut numbers, all he said was that in cases of frigates, it’s the bigger the better, and argues for an all up, all deployable into high intensity combat fleet instead of a dual tier.

There are pros and cons to that approach, but he has some logic to it and that by itself is worth considering.

x
x
April 14, 2014 12:37 pm

@ Observer

I never said he said he wanted to cut numbers.

I think his logic is flawed because he uses terms slightly incorrectly to reinforce the thrust of all his posts that the MoD is fine, the RN is fine, and that civilians should stop questioning.

Observer
Observer
April 14, 2014 12:41 pm

x, where did he say everything was fine? I missed that part.

The Other Chris
April 14, 2014 12:41 pm

I don’t read it that way. To me he’s saying if we’re going to build more, don’t go two-tier.

I think he’d be quite happy if we built more T45/26 capable vessels.

Observer
Observer
April 14, 2014 12:47 pm

I read it the same way as ToC, he proposed a line of approach to fleet composition, not an apology for current fleet structure.

Simon257
Simon257
April 14, 2014 1:07 pm

@ The Other Chris
The big reason that their is not a big uptake on sending Freight Trains through the Chunnel is that it is extremely expensive.

You can’t sent Hazardous Goods through the tunnel either. As their has been talk of reinstating the Cross-Channel Train Ferries!

If our Glorious MP’s were really worried about Fuel and Food Security. You would have policy’s such as:
Storing Five years worth of Grain for Human and Animal Consumption or stop using Arable Land to grow crops for Fuel. Or letting prime Farm land being turned into Housing or Golf Courses. Or closing our last remaining Deep Coal mines. (I really can’t see how it can be more expensive to mine British Coal, when you are importing it from a Russian Mine using Two Trains, one Ship, two Docks to get it to a Yorkshire Power Station. When one of the pits is less than 5 miles from FerryBridge Power Station!) And most importantly, not letting the Loonies from the Green lobby having any say whatsoever on Energy or Food Security.
Rant over!

The Other Chris
April 14, 2014 2:47 pm

Point being, even at full capacity, 36 million tonnes through the Channel Tunnel is a fraction of what moves through the ports.

dabews
dabews
April 14, 2014 2:54 pm

“Mr Arbuthnot is standing down at the next election, and hopes to land a job in the defence industry.”

I almost stopped reading at this point. Discredits everything he has to say. Worrying that after 9 years as Chairman of the Defence select committee the best reason for increasing the size of the RN is to protect the Suez!

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
April 14, 2014 3:08 pm

TOC,
‘Doesn’t matter who we trade with – Europe, Scandinavia, Ireland, South America, USA, China, Commonwealth – almost the entirety of it enters or leaves via a port in the UK regardless of source or destination’

I believe it is the other way round, the fact that the vast majority comes through ports is immaterial. If someone was to blockade the UK then they would be interfering with the economies of a few of G8 members and some second tier big hitters, and non of them would be happy losing even 2-3% from their economies. I believe that if someone was going to be blockading us then it would not be a simple tizzy fit between two nations but a pretty big affair that probably has a lot interested parties involved as well.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
April 14, 2014 3:53 pm

A couple of quick points on fuel security, a) we should abandon coal as quickly as possible, gas and nuclear are the way forward. b) we buy less than 1% of our gas from Russia, it is the rest of the EU which has a problem in that regard, and c) I am pretty sure our gas from Qatar doesn’t come through Suez but rather has to go round.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 14, 2014 3:59 pm

@Engineer Tom

Even the Q-max LNG tankers heading for South Hook transit Suez.

Jules
Jules
April 14, 2014 4:03 pm

“The only value in short-ranged (small) ships would be to police the North Sea and perhaps (usefully) the Norwegian Sea. A more localised “North Sea Fleet”? Sort of solves the MPA problem with the GIUK gap too.”

Thats what I think Simon!

I’d rather Warships and Subs than tooling around in a glorified Airliner trying to attack things that bite back a lot harder!
Thats why I said Vidar and Visby (Or at least a visby that could land a Lynx!)
If were going to end up with Triton fair enough but anything with a decent range can go and look, point the North Sea Fleet (Like the sound of that!) in the right direction and then bugger off! Plus the corvettes and subs could end up being an integral part of MHPC or MHP or MCP or MCH or whatever it is now? Corvettes and Subs need less crewe and everyone thinks the Sub fleet is too small anyway.
Bottom line is, it’s all kicking off again and we need to up gun and build things to keep the Russians at bay and keep the yanks happy or they’ll go swanning off with the French again just like 1776. I wish we didn’t have to care what the Americans think but we do and thats that, Six Visby’s and six reasonable SSK’s would keep the Russians tied up in knots forever and a day!
or anyone else for that matter…

Kent
Kent
April 14, 2014 4:03 pm

@Engineer Tom – Abandon coal? Put the stokers ashore without a pension? I know! Put sails on those masts!

Oh! You were talking about in general, not necessarily on Royal Navy ships…my bad.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
April 14, 2014 4:18 pm

@ APATS

Really that surprises me, I thought they were much bigger, but still in a war situation they could go round, it would be more expensive but then again we would be at war and hence willing to pay for the gas.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
April 14, 2014 4:43 pm

Assuming that things have gone sour enough that we are alone against an enemy, how large and powerful would their fleet need to be to blockade us effectively?

And with NATO on side, how large and powerful would their fleet need to be to blockade Europe?

John Hartley
John Hartley
April 14, 2014 5:33 pm

During WW2 when the RN had 270+ ships, the Germans came close to starving Britain with only 6 U-boats in the Atlantic at any one time. Imagine what 6 well crewed/captained SSN or AIP SSKs could do now. If on the first day of war, an oil rig, cross channel ferry, container ship & oil/gas supertanker were torpedoed around the UK coast, how many foreign owners would risk sending their ships to Britain? We are in no position to be smug.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
April 14, 2014 5:43 pm

I was’nt being smug it was a genuine question, I was wondering against our fleet what would be rquired to blockade us?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
April 14, 2014 5:59 pm

@Engineer Tom – abandon coal of which we have 300 years worth underground and under our control to concentrate on gas which we mostly need to import, some of it from far off places potentially run by people who hate us and want to kill us? Not sure that fully meets my requirements for energy security I have to say…

With you on nuclear though :-)

Hartley – a very good point, especially when such attacks properly coordinated could leave us struggling to identify the perpetrators convincingly enough to persuade our European “Allies” to do anything but sit on their hands and enjoy our discomfiture…my own assumption being that they mostly hate us almost as much as anyone else… :-(

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 14, 2014 6:15 pm

@TD

Actually if 6 SSKs belonging to anyone who may represent a threat all started to behave abnormally and showed increased signs of readiness never mind all the other combat indicators and intel signs, I would expect us to be doing more than acting shocked :)

Rocket Banana
April 14, 2014 6:21 pm

“…modern intelligence infrastructure…” – Ha! You don’t even have MPA. You won’t have a clue what’s sinking your ships!!!

“…storm shadow and TLAM’s on their way within days…” – Dream on! You’ll struggle to go the distance with your pitifully short ranged, non-bombers and your silly 500km Storm Shadow that would require a forward AWACS presence to operate which will be shot down by our S400s. Oh, don’t bother with your TLAM. They’re too easy to spot (not much fun) and can be shot down by one of our 672 air defence aircraft or one of our several thousand S300s.

You’ll need a proper SEAD campaign in order to do anything to us. Something you just cannot do because the chaps in charge of your military are idiots. :-)

wf
wf
April 14, 2014 6:35 pm

@TD: actually, it would not be immediately apparent who’s SSK’s they might be. And with loud denunciations of the UK as a warmonger from the Russian Federation, who will doubtless remind all and sundry of the possible nuclear escalation, I rather doubt we would be flinging TLAM (if we had any left!) and SS anywhere. With a loadout of two per Tornado, I wonder whether even a maximum effort strike would succeed in giving anyone a headache.

Assuming that the rest of NATO would be riding to the rescue immediately would be a tad foolish. Having along with the Obama administration, wholly invested in the theories that a) George W was responsible for everything wrong and b) that all that expensive war stuff would never happen again, no one will ride to anyone’s rescue until the facts on the ground have changed.

As was said when the Baltic’s were originally annexed back in 1940, it would then be an internal matter :-(

If you want to deter, you need to deploy forward something substantial. It has the bonus effect of complicating the Russian efforts elsewhere: they really don’t have all that much to go around

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 14, 2014 6:40 pm

@TD

I mean the Russians have seven kilos between their 3 Fleets in the western hemisphere. We update last known activity of every Russian and non NATO submarine on earth, daily. Would we miss the Russians getting 6 of them operational. Then 2 of them transiting the Baltic and then throught the Danish islands and out through the Kattegat and the Skagerrak whilst one has to transit the Bosphorous then the Straits of Malta or Messina followed by the STROG. The N Fleet units simply have to move south of the GIUK gap.
Yet they are going to work these boats up, arm and deploy them without NATO noticing or tracking them?

For any other nation it becomes even more difficult and the indicators become even more noticeable.

We are strictly in the realms of Patrick Robinson here.

x
x
April 14, 2014 7:13 pm

How good is the over oggin performance of the microwave cooker in the nose of Typhoon?

Rocket Banana
April 14, 2014 7:55 pm

TD,

The site’s been looking very good recently. You made the right choice dropping Disqus.

Just a minor point but would a bit of bold on the commenter / thread be a good idea on the “last comments” page?

Sir humphrey
April 14, 2014 8:04 pm

One of the fascinating things about writing is the very different ways in which people read the same article. For instance, my intent was to write something saying ‘light frigates not right for rn, this is why and that actually bigger is better – but there is a risk that we are running hot on what we have’. It’s interesting how others have seen this as an apology for mod policy – which the article is certainly not intended to be.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 14, 2014 8:29 pm

Simon, are you winding us up? I’m pretty much in total agreement with APATS, we’d spot them. I’m a bit less sanguine about our national ability to do something about it, but the blame for that is with the systemic delay imposed by Westminster, not anything that Main Building might do.

The Other Chris
April 14, 2014 8:49 pm

@x

Stand by for someone to talk to you with great conviction about inverse squares… or maybe this will put them off? Who knows.

Rocket Banana
April 14, 2014 8:52 pm

RT,

Of course I’m winding you up, and yet, I am also very suspicious of the belief that we know exactly what’s going on all the time. The Americans wouldn’t be so paranoid about China if that was the case!

This nation is always caught with its pants down. Ill equipped to deal with the surprises that come our way and overly complacent that we’ll “muddle through” or “cross that bridge when we come to it”. If at some point Johnny Foreigner decides to invade, blockade or extort us or our overseas territories and we respond succinctly, and in the understated way I’ve been brought up to believe we do things, then I’ll change my view.

As it stands I simply don’t think NATO has the edge without shored up finances and fully protected supply lines.

x
x
April 14, 2014 9:08 pm

@ TOC

Yes. No. Interesting. Um. No.

You mean for convoys? When I said screen I meant hull numbers collectively at a time when sensors were poor and weapons had little reach.

Actually the reason why convoys worked was more due to the gaps, the empty ocean, rather than the the numbers of ships increasing for little visible increase on the perimeter. During WW2 only 1 in 10 convoys ever saw a U-boat and massacres were rare (and mostly not mascaras); the was surprising little difference in ship losses between convoys with little escort and one with a full cream screen. Ha that rhymes.

wf
wf
April 14, 2014 9:14 pm

@Simon: we used to be able to muddle through because we had a margin, and most of all we had the attitude that nothing would beat us. Now we spend our time whining how nothing is possible. Not sure it looks so good now :-(

Mark
Mark
April 14, 2014 9:45 pm

23 warships did that torpedo fired at devonport sink half the fleet!

Ah the Russians, I thought that’s why we’re keeping trident I mean it has no other purpose but that.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 14, 2014 9:53 pm

Here’s a test. Do our current PM and CDS have more or less balls than Maggie?

I don’t think the answer has been “yes” since 1982, when I was too young to vote. But it’s a good question to ask every 5 years.

Waylander
Waylander
April 14, 2014 9:55 pm

The Russian Navy only have 22 major surface combatants eg
1 Kirov heavy cruiser
1 Kara class cruiser
3 Slava class cruisers
13 ageing destroyers
4 frigates

Sure they have a lot of corvettes and they plan to replace their old escorts with the new 4,500t Admiral Gorshkov class GP frigates, but even then it will hardly be a leviathan.
The French only have a dozen “first rank” frigates/destroyers and the Germans the same, even India which is investing heavily in it’s navy still only has about 20 escorts.
Also worth remembering that the RN cut it’s escort fleet in order to fund the building of two 70,000t fleet carriers, which will dramatically increase it’s capability and give the UK a lot more influence and prestige than another half a dozen frigates would.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
April 14, 2014 10:09 pm

‘The Russian Navy only have 22 major surface combatants’

So they are a peer threat to ourselves, but not to NATO. And am I right to assume they have no qualative edge over our equipment and TTP’s?

Observer
Observer
April 14, 2014 10:13 pm

Just a little nitpick. The German blockade almost starved the UK because the continent all the way to France was occupied too. If Europe is not occupied territory, I think it might be possible to elk out enough food to survive from the continent itself.

Edit:
DN, for now. Reports are that they plan for a 100 ship navy in the future, with 4 carriers. Assume 20-40 years for it to work out.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
April 14, 2014 11:24 pm

@Observer – Ample time for us to do the same then – although I’d be happy with three strong carrier groups, a number of well armed cruisers to show the flag – and rather a lot of SSN.

I am now diving, zig-zagging and varying depth… :-)

More seriously, what does actually worry me is that NATO is beginning to look a little like spalling concrete…much the same on the outside, until the rust in the underlying structure passes the point of no return and starts to break it up…and once the process starts, it accelerates quickly. For me the Crimea business is the first visible rusting crack…

GNB

Chris.B.
April 15, 2014 12:08 am

To follow what Observer said; “Just a little nitpick. The German blockade almost starved the UK because the continent all the way to France was occupied too. If Europe is not occupied territory, I think it might be possible to elk out enough food to survive from the continent itself.”

Around 85% of all meat and 80% of all dairy products consumed in the UK are currently generated domestically. By value almost half our food is produced domestically, with another quarter generated by Holland, France, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Denmark. A significant chunk of our imported foods are things like fruits and nuts that can’t be grown here.

Dare I say it, we might have to ration or go without certain things like Tea or Coffee in the event of a blockade, but broadly speaking we should be ok.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
April 15, 2014 12:41 am

B – Fair enough, but the domestic energy security might be a bit more of an issue…although personally I’m very fond of steak tartare, I have a very efficient multi-fuel and an old fashioned barbecue. Rather tricky when the lights and power go off in high rise (and no doubt chi-chi) apartments all over the country though…

Meanwhile over on the Telegraph Admiral Zambellas and others have written to Salmond suggesting his defence plans may be a little far-fetched…attracting over 200 comments in 3 hours …mostly from SNP types saying he is talking complete rubbish, and even if he wasn’t they hate the English and hope their independence will destroy us…

They are going to make really charming neighbours come 2015…I only hope somebody is planning to secure Faslane and anything else we really need as soon as the votes are counted…

GNB

Chris
Chris
April 15, 2014 6:42 am

ChrisB – “Go without coffee”? “Should be OK”?? Your world is so different from mine….

GNB – When Salmondland the isolated Scotland pops into existence on our northern border and all things British are expelled, would that make all Scots living in the UK non-EU migrants? Like others of that ilk would they be required to return to their own country? And be ineligible for the generous UK benefits? Unless of course they could claim asylum from brutal SNP persecution. Or would the continued payment of UK taxpayer-funded benefits to Scots be just one more ‘right’ unilaterally declared by Salmond?

John Hartley
John Hartley
April 15, 2014 8:12 am

When I was a fresh faced youth brought up on Bond films, I might have believed in British Intelligence warning us of potential danger. They failed in 1982, then the 1990 Kuwait invasion, then 9/11, then 7/7, so my confidence is no longer high.
My first day of war scenario could be done by 2 SSNs. Say they leave Vladivostock, take the short cut under the Pole & arrive North of Britain. One goes East & torps an oil rig, then a container ship off Felixstowe, then a Dover-Calais ferry, before scooting into the Atlantic , round Africa, across the Indian ocean & home. The other goes West, torping a container ship off Liverpool & a tanker off Milford haven before scooting into the Atlantic, a brief fraternal stop in Cuba or Venezuela for fresh food, then around the Cape, across the Pacific & home.

a
a
April 15, 2014 10:01 am

During WW2 when the RN had 270+ ships, the Germans came close to starving Britain with only 6 U-boats in the Atlantic at any one time

Six? Where are you getting this from? They were putting multiple wolfpacks of twenty-odd boats each up against convoys in 1943. HX229, HX229A and SC122 were facing fifty-three boats.

Oh, don’t bother with your TLAM. They’re too easy to spot (not much fun) and can be shot down by one of our 672 air defence aircraft or one of our several thousand S300s.

We could always disguise them as Cessnas flown by West German teenagers. Historically, those have been able to penetrate the most heavily-defended airspace in the world.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
April 15, 2014 10:33 am

– It’s the torrent of hatred from the SNP supporters every time somebody publishes a pro-Union article or suggests that some of Salmond’s thinking may be a little far-fetched that alarms me…I am beginning to see a real potential for attacks on English people resident in Scotland in some of the comments I read…probably whatever the outcome of the vote is.

OK, they are trolls…but I see no evidence of any effort from their own side to constrain their more immoderate remarks…and a perfect willingness to stoke up the rage to win more votes.

GNB

x
x
April 15, 2014 11:14 am

Chris B said “Around 85% of all meat and 80% of all dairy products consumed in the UK are currently generated domestically. By value almost half our food is produced domestically, with another quarter generated by Holland, France, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Denmark. A significant chunk of our imported foods are things like fruits and nuts that can’t be grown here.”

Beyond this there is thorny issue of waste.

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/nov/07/food-waste-uk-latest-report-key-findings

John Hartley
John Hartley
April 15, 2014 11:14 am

If you watch “Das Boot” there is a moan by the captain that there are only 6 U-boats in the Atlantic yet 2 nearly managed to collide in rough seas. That was not fiction. Most of the Battle of the Atlantic documentaries say the same. U-boats were ignored by Hitler in favour of battleships, so their numbers were low to start, then became a priority for the Germans to build & the allies to sink/bomb. Yes, during the “happy time” U-boat numbers were up & they were able to operate in Wolfpacks, but before & after that, their deployed numbers were small.

Waylander
Waylander
April 15, 2014 11:19 am

@DN
Russian nuclear subs missed a generation of development, so they cannot be as advanced as the Virginias and Astutes.
The main weakness of the Russian Navy is it’s force projection/amphibious capability eg
3 Alligator class landing ships built in the 1960s-70s and only 3,400-4,000 tonnes, even smaller than the old Round Table class.
15 Ropucha I & II large landing craft of similar vintage, 2,200 t – 4,000 full load.

That compares poorly with the RN/RFA’s amphibious and sealift capability never mind NATO:

1 Commando carrier (Ocean as Lusty decommissioning) 21,000 t
2 Albion class LPDs – each 19,000 t
3 Bay class LSDs – each 16,000 t
4 Point class RoRo/sealift ships – each 23,000 t
Also worth listing the RFAs with quite good aviation facilities
RFA Argus – 28,000 t 3 landing spots, 1 lift, 4 hangars, can operate 5 Chinooks, Sea Kings or Merlins
RFA Fort Victoria – 33,000 t 5 Sea Kings or Merlins, 3 in hangar
RFA Fort Rosalie class (2 ships) – 23,000 t 2 landing spot, one above hangar, up to 4 Sea Kings.
Plus the QEs and Tides in build, and the planned Solid Support Ships.

That’s why the Russians want the Mistrals.

Post Soviet collapse they seem to have difficulty designing and building large surface ships (probably because the large shipyards were in Ukraine) , the refit of the Admiral Gorshkov for the Indian Navy was a fiasco, both new classes of frigates in build are quite small the Grinorovich 3,850 t and the Gorshkov 4,500 t, the new large destroyer program (project 21956) keeps getting pushed further and further back, and of course they had to order the Mistral LHDs from the French, even though they are quite straight forward vessels.
Also they are planning to refit some of their mothballed Soviet era cruisers, instead of designing a new class, so I doubt they will be building large fleet carriers anytime soon.

x
x
April 15, 2014 11:56 am

@ Waylander

Don’t forget you have to factor in Russian (Soviet) doctrine on amphibious warfare which is totally different from ours.

You can’t compare a Ropucha with an Albion class. It is like comparing a SWB Transit with an articulated lorry.

@ John Hartley

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Hunters-1939-1942-Volume-Hitlers-ebook/dp/B0071ZR5Q4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397561976&sr=8-1&keywords=clay+blair+the+hunters

and volume 2 as well.

The 2* review of the first book is a good review. Apart from I would take a different tack. During WW2 when information was scarce who could blame our (great) grand parents for thinking that the you could walk from Cornwall to New York on the outer casings of U-boats? Again this feeds back in talk of food self sufficiency and waste and HMG controlling consumption of food and fuel and material. In hindsight yes the Germans had little chance of winning. At the end of the war technologically the balance of detection and stealth I think were balanced. The post war trials of what the Germans had in the pipeline did rightly frighten the Allies but all that did was spur us (the West) on to greater technological feats. Remember we (the West) wargamed against our own SSks which were as every bit as good if not better than the Soviet equivalents and we continued to improve. As I said somewhere above that is why T14 made it down the slipway because though we had made advances hull numbers matter. The Admiralty assess the threat and made the right choice. ** That is why I think the ability of escorts to carry helicopters should be maximised whatever the bleatings of some here.

** Compare again with the third rate gun frigate that never left the drawing board because the threat it was designed to counter, Soviet FAC in the North Sea, would never have appeared.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
April 15, 2014 12:15 pm

“Russian nuclear subs missed a generation of development, so they cannot be as advanced as the Virginias and Astutes.”

I wouldn’t be as sure. they didn’t build a generation of boats, true. However that doesn’t mean they stopped learning from open source and “other” methods over the last twenty years though. Alternative view may well be that they missed an interim generation and went straight to exploiting what they learned. However, they will suffer the same skill fade affecting western ship and sub designers, so may end up getting there slower.

As for why they wanted Mistral, I’d suggest it has very little to do with a Top Trumps comparison with the RN capability. Generally you buy an amphibious capability to be able to land troops along a coastline of interest (Baltic, Black sea, North Pacific islands). You’re more worried about anti-access threats stopping you, not someone else’s amphibs.

No country with a relatively short coastline ever bought an amphibious fleet just to defend the motherland….

a
a
April 15, 2014 1:17 pm

If you watch “Das Boot” there is a moan by the captain that there are only 6 U-boats in the Atlantic yet 2 nearly managed to collide in rough seas. That was not fiction.

“Das Boot” actually was fiction. Just saying. That guy on the screen in the captain’s hat was not a U-boat captain; he was Jurgen Prochnow, who is an actor.

There is a handy chart here of the number of U-boats on patrol at any given time during the Battle of the Atlantic which shows, frankly, that you are talking toot. http://uboat.net/ops/combat_strength.html

Simon257
Simon257
April 15, 2014 1:58 pm

A
Das Boot may have been a work of fiction, but it was based on a real sub. In which the author had gone onto patrol with.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lothar-Günther_Buchheim
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_submarine_U-96_(1940)

The Kreigsmarine did put more than 6 boats at sea at any one time
http://www.uboat.net/ops/convoys/battles.htm

Observer
Observer
April 15, 2014 2:17 pm

I wonder how much space can you save on a long endurance DE midget-sub, say a month or maybe 2 of deployment time, 2 tubes, 4-6 rounds per tube, 12-18 men, maybe 500 tons +/-? Something like a larger, longer endurance version of midget submarines. Pocket submarines?

Concept idea, not sure how well it would work in practice. For all we know, the baseline equipment would already drive weight past 500 tons and would be so large that it would be no different from a normal sub but with less crew, but until some numbers are crunched, who knows?

Maybe we can go to pocket subs the same way there used to be pocket battleships. It would help against someone who might outnumber you. Smaller, more numerous, shorter ranged.

Observer
Observer
April 15, 2014 2:26 pm

TD, I was looking at exactly that, but not much details on the SMX-26. The Andraste is more informative, but it is a bit dated IIRC. No AIP.

Waylander
Waylander
April 15, 2014 3:10 pm

@X
I was just pointing out the Russian Navy’s inability to project force at distance. Regardless of Soviet doctrine on amphibious warfare, they obviously want to create a more western style amphib capability. In the same way that the Chinese and Indians are building/leasing LPDs.

@Not a Boffin
I just listed the RN amphibs to illustrate how limited the Russian capability is,
the Russians wanting the Mistrals is nothing to do with the RN of course, it’s because of the problems they had in Georgia, to increase their ability to deploy forces in the Arctic, and because of the lack of capability in their own shipyards.
Although the deal to buy the Mistrals has not been universally popular in Russia, the shipyards say they could have easily built similar vessels, and the Russian military are apparently not too keen on them either, due to the small air group, problems with operating large Russian helos, lack of armament, too much space used for cruise liner type comforts and amenities, and there was a problem with them operating in the Arctic north.

Tubby
Tubby
April 15, 2014 3:12 pm

Not getting in between you and a but I think you have misunderstood the last link you sent through, as it shows the number of U boats attacking a convoy, not the number of U boats on patrol which is a’s link. Not quite sure which period of the Battle of the Atlantic you and a are debating , but taking both your and a’s references on uboat.net then at their peak in about March/April 1943 there are just shy of 160 U boats on patrol, and you can see very large numbers of U Boats attacking convoys of ships heading to England from Canada, for example on the 17th March 1943 convoy SC-122 has 50 ships attacked by 43 U boats in three “wolfpacks” with loss of 9 ships.

Chris
Chris
April 15, 2014 4:14 pm

Gloomy – interesting parallel with Eastern Ukraine then, where there is a sense of quiet support for the pro-Moscow factions from the other side of the border? Thus you might conject the lack of SNP criticism of the more strident aggressive pro-independent lobby demonstrates a degree of SNP satisfaction that they are aiding the separatist vote? That’s not a comfortable thought; making use of thuggery to expedite political desires has never ended well.

x, Waylander – I hope there are those whose job it is to monitor other nations who know exactly what capability the likes of Russia Korea or China might have to step up materiel manufacture and to mobilize forces; to an amateur onlooker these states and those like them are difficult to assess with accuracy. Worth remembering that Russia has in the past switched huge resources over to building up the military. I’m not saying such an action is likely, but its probably as well not to dismiss this capacity out of hand when deciding what Russia can or cannot do with its armed forces?

Waylander
Waylander
April 15, 2014 4:38 pm


Another reason Russia opted for the Mistrals is because their shipyards were at full capacity, so if they had been built in Russia, it would have meant less escorts
under construction. Russian shipyards can’t build modular ships either.
The Baltisky Zavord yard went bankrupt around the time the Mistrals were ordered, so that may have been a factor as well.
They also wanted the technology transfer command and control systems etc.

Interesting though rhetorical comments by the Russian Admiral Vysotsky on the Georgian operation and the capability the Mistrals would add.
“the Mistrals would have enabled us to open up a second front in Georgia in 2008” ……
“they would have allowed the Black Sea Fleet to accomplish it’s mission in 40 minutes not 26 hours, which is how long it took to land troops ashore”.

x
x
April 15, 2014 5:00 pm

@ Waylander

I think the Mistrals are more about moving troops and equipment than amphibious warfare per se.

I think what will see if the South China Sea situation goes hot is nations scrambling to put flags on everything and anything that shows above low water.

In a way that is what Fearless and Intrepid were all about. Toddle across the North Sea. Find a nice fjord to hide. And then to act more as a floating command centre for all the RFA and STUFT and the force ashore.

Only the US can do proper amphibious warfare in terms of equipment. The Falklands were more a demonstration of how a good core fleet of well worked up escorts, backed up by carriers, are enablers that allow less able or specialised ships to fill the gaps.

Soviet amphibious doctrine such as it was was all about making hops behind the enemy’s front lines to cause disruption.

monkey
monkey
April 15, 2014 5:05 pm

With regards to an ‘enemy ‘ making life difficult to shipping , is there any information anybody having some of those long term loitering seabed based weapons platforms the USA proposed? Such a weapon could be deployed and emplaced covertly months or years before any planned military venture is actually got under way.
They are after all a relatively simple concept of a torpedo/cruise missile in a water tight tube which simply waits for a command from a sub/ship/aircraft to be deployed and given its target.

John Hartley
John Hartley
April 15, 2014 5:37 pm

David Mason writing on WW2 submarine warfare is my source. Karl Donitz pre war plan was to have 300 U-boats operating in wolfpacks, one third deployed, one third in transit & the final third refitting. Raeders Z plan for naval expansion saw Germany having completed 300 submarines by 1943. This was the number Baltic wargames in 1937 indicated were needed to defeat Britain. However, Hitler took them by surprise by starting the war in 1939. At the outbreak the Germans had only 57 of the planned 300. Of these, 30 were small coastal types. So that left only 27 for roaming further out. As the war developed, the Germans built more U-boats, but 62 were sent to the Mediterranean. They had some success sinking the Ark Royal, Barham & Galatea, but all 62 U-boats were lost.
Of course the design of U-boats improved. The type XXI sailed out on operations in April 1945, a year later than planned. If Germany had type XXI s available in April 1944 then D-Day would have been a lot more difficult.
However, historical, ifs & buts, do not change the fact that the UK is vulnerable to a hit & run attack from a couple of SSNs should a hostile power decide to do so.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 15, 2014 6:13 pm

@JH

“However, historical, ifs & buts, do not change the fact that the UK is vulnerable to a hit & run attack from a couple of SSNs should a hostile power decide to do so.”

Any idea, how may Non NATO operational SSNs there are actually are? Actually running just over 20.

The Chinese have between 4-5 running and the Russians 17-20 but less than 10 of those in the Western Hemisphere. the Indians have 1. Now we may or may not keep a very close eye on what these vessels are up to and yes as an opening shot of a war it may even be possible but what would not be possible would be to do it and pretend somebody else did.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 15, 2014 6:22 pm

Interesting APATS.

Did you mean SSK? Or 20 SSN, with further numbers of SSKs? I assume the former. Rather worrying if the latter.

x
x
April 15, 2014 6:27 pm

And then there is question of how well those Chinese boats are being driven.

Waylander
Waylander
April 15, 2014 6:49 pm

@X
Image and prestige are probably a factor as well, these quotes are from a piece on a Russian defence blog.

“Russians are more interested in having a large LHD style ship that can cruise the globe (without tugs following) implying that they are still a great power”…

“Admiral Kuznetsov goes into refit in 2017, that means the Russian Navy will have only one capital ship Peter the Great”…

“also for evacuation of Russian citizens…..look at Libya the French used Mistral, Russia had to hire a ferry and flew jets to evacuate citizens, what if the airport had been closed?”.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 15, 2014 6:51 pm

@RT

No, SSNs only. SSKs are far more common. Between Northern Fleet, Baltic Fleet and the Black Sea Fleet the Russians have 11 SSNs and 7 or 8 SSKs. which sounds alarming until you consider that.
US COMSUBLANT has 22 US SSNs. We have another 7 and the French have 6. So 35 NATO SSNs and these can be supported by our NATO Med Allies (Portugal, Italy,Spain,Greece and Turkey) who field 36 SSKs between them and further North The Netherlands, Germany and Norway with a further 14 SSKs.

x
x
April 15, 2014 6:54 pm

@ Waylander

Yes I suppose. I see it more from a practical point of view. I don’t find Mistral that impressive.

Waylander
Waylander
April 15, 2014 7:31 pm

@X
The Juan Carlos class LHD is a larger more capable vessel, and of course has the advantage of being able to operate as a light carrier with Harriers and in the future F-35Bs.
Personally I think the Mistrals are too small at just 20,000 t, they are jack of all trades master of non, smallish air group and not that much space for vehicles and equipment, LHDs are only viable if they are large 30,000 – 40,000 t ships.

x
x
April 15, 2014 7:49 pm

@ Waylander

The JC/Canberra would be ideal if it could carry 2 x LCAC/L-CAT.

The Mistral is slow too compared with USN vessels.

Brian Black
Brian Black
April 15, 2014 8:08 pm

Talking of mini-carriers, the Cavour’s recent world touring trade and defence exhibition was widely trumpeted as a success. The ship also carried a civilian medical group that provided treatments at various locations, and industry picked up the bill. The only minor problem I read about was that the show was without the Italian’s defence minister for a few days while visiting Africa, due to their musical-chairs system of government.

About time we had a new yacht to do the trade and diplomacy thing. Maybe a good enough reason to get both our carriers operational. One to strut its stuff as an F35 carrier, one to take the best-of-British show on the road.

Won’t need quite so many expensive stealth jets then. Take just the one Lightning for the airshow end of the hangar; fill the other end with JCBs, pork pies, and Only Fools and Horses DVDs – or whatever it is that we make nowadays.

Observer
Observer
April 15, 2014 8:09 pm

x, why compare it with USN vessels? It’s not like Russia is going to be in a joint ops with the US any time soon, and they need to fit into the RUSSIAN conops, not the American one.

And I don’t think any landing ship can fit 2 Zubrs. Those things are big.

Brian Black
Brian Black
April 15, 2014 8:10 pm

There’s a recurring logic employed here, that the standing tasks stretch the Navy, so the Navy needs more ships, and of course they need to be frigates because a ship that is not a frigate can’t do the same war tasks as a frigate.

It’s a mistaken logic, to determine the make up of a wartime fleet by looking at the peacetime taskings.

We should look at the wartime requirement for escorts, for our one carrier / amphibious group; and if they can’t meet the routine standing tasks that interest the government, then build cheaper and perhaps more specialised vessels to perform those additional tasks.

If 19 escorts is sufficient for the warfighty task group, then being stretched on peacetime deployments should not be used to justify more frigates. If there was cash for more Navy, then procuring and locally basing OPVs or logistics ships for regular tasks could free up more of the fightier ships for flexing in the Gulf or wherever.

If the French can operate a carrier and amphibs with about a dozen high-end escorts, then perhaps 19 frigates and destroyers is too many for the Royal Navy.

If we could manage with those eight ASW T26, and the cost and manning of the five GP ships could be translated into a greater number of corvettes / OPV, or logistically leaning vessels, then why not have a two-tier fleet?

The other recurring idea, that a corvette or OPV has no utility in war, presupposes that you know what the Navy’s next war looks like. Smaller vessels may be able to operate in areas that the frigates and destroyers can’t; and they could still potentially be a useful addition to a task group, even if they only carried a single purpose mission kit rather than the broad range of guns and gizmos on the larger ships.

Observer
Observer
April 15, 2014 8:29 pm

BB, more importantly, you should also focus on the jobs that they plan on doing. The French are not as devoted as the British to keeping the Atlantic convoy routes open. That may be a failing on their part, but it does explain why they got lesser commitments than the UK and why the are able to meet it.

x
x
April 15, 2014 8:32 pm

@ Observer

I said I wasn’t impressed with Mistral. Obviously the Russians like them or they wouldn’t have bought them. And who said anything about Zubr? Firstly I was talking about the Juan Carlos / Canberra and secondly I said LCAC,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landing_Craft_Air_Cushion

and I said L-CAT,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engin_de_d%C3%A9barquement_amphibie_rapide

Observer
Observer
April 15, 2014 8:38 pm

x, and why would the Russians be using an American LCAC? If you are talking about a Russian context, then they should be using THEIR LCAC, not an American one.

Like the movie Firefox, if you are considering Russian buys, you should “Think in Russian.”

Rocket Banana
April 15, 2014 8:47 pm

Wrong thread :-(

Mickp
Mickp
April 15, 2014 8:52 pm

@brian black, that is the conundrum indeed and one frankly where I change my mind every 5 minutes. If we are set on a war fighting capability of one carrier task group then I would argue the minimum number of high end vessels could be in the range 12 to 18. However, once we set about building the T26 I don’t think we should look at another class’s of ‘light frigates or corvettes’ just flex the number and equipment fit of the T26 to suit DPAs. Go for true economies of scale. At top end if and only if an increased threat is perceived then we could end up with 12 T26 top end Asw and Tlam, 6 AAW variants to supplant T45 and say 6 bare bones fitted for but not with versions for routine standing tasks and war reserve. A very decent run of 24 based on one core hull. Add perhaps 6 opv(h) for FI and Uk eez and that’s as big as I can see the fleet ever needs to be. At the lower end, 9 full Asw versions and 6 bare bones T26 possibly. Where would I be really happy? 2 CVF (both active) 6 T45, 12 T26 ASW/ TLAM, 6 T26 GP, 6 OPV (H). Oh and most importantly 9 to 10 Astutes and 3 ssks.

Rocket Banana
April 15, 2014 9:09 pm

BB,

I completely agree that the fleet should be built around what is needed for a war situation, so here goes…

Task Force at 7500nm.
2 T45 + 4 T26 with the CBG/ARG.
4 tankers on route at all times providing approx 16,000 tonnes of fuel every two weeks.
2 Bay on route at all times delivering a couple of sabre squadrons or other stuff every month.
Each of these supply ships escorted by a T45 or T26. These are used to roll-on/roll-off the “on task” ships as their missile stocks cannot be RASed.

Total requirement is for 12 active/available escorts.

We therefore need about 18 to guarantee the 12.

Plus 1 for good luck.

TaDa :-)

x
x
April 15, 2014 9:21 pm

@ Obsever

Right in my original post at 18:54 I said,

“I don’t find Mistral that impressive.”

At 19:31 Waylander said,

“The Juan Carlos class LHD is a larger more capable vessel, and of course has the advantage of being able to operate as a light carrier with Harriers and in the future F-35Bs.”

and then he said,

“Personally I think the Mistrals are too small at just 20,000 t, they are jack of all trades master of non, smallish air group and not that much space for vehicles and equipment, LHDs are only viable if they are large 30,000 – 40,000 t ships.”

At 19:49 I replied to first paragraph,

“The JC/Canberra would be ideal if it could carry 2 x LCAC/L-CAT.”

And then I went on to say in reply to his second paragraph,

“The Mistral is slow too compared with USN vessels.”

Which takes me back to my comment at 18:54.

We weren’t talking about the Russians. We had move on. When I talked about LCAC’s and L-CAT’s I wasn’t even talking about Mistral.

Brian Black
Brian Black
April 15, 2014 9:26 pm

Well, if 19 is the number, Simon, that’s where we should stop building them.

If it takes more ships to cover the routine taskings that interest the government, then pick up cheaper vessels to put in the Caribbean and South Atlantic on a permanent basis.

Observer
Observer
April 15, 2014 9:35 pm

x

Wow you switch tracks faster than a CD player on random and fast forward.

That was one(?) post for a change of topic. :P

So be it then.

I actually don’t mind smaller landing ships, you can spread them wider for more tasks or concentrate them for heavier punch. Their biggest problem actually comes in their maintenance costs. Cheaper to maintain one large LHA than 4 smaller LHDs.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
April 16, 2014 6:06 am

@Simon,
these two will have to be able to split at times “2 T45 + 4 T26 with the CBG/ARG.”
– there’s the one for luck (more likely in the dock…)

@BB,
are we arguing a case that is already proceeding? Those 3 OPVs on order; or are they a straight replacement for the Rivers?
– if so, why would the HMG have switched from leasing to direct ownership, just to phase them out?

APATS has normally all these ships tallied up; but then again, if the case is merely for bridge building (in ship building!), it may be more elegant not to state the purpose/ likely missions.

Just curious. In my books the RN does punch above UK’s weight, whereas the other two services are close to shrinking below the level of being significant (notable exceptions being SF and some enablers, like ISTAR, strategic airlift and AAR capacity… enablers alone won’t make the day, though, and the jointness with France has gone all quiet. Lots of jointness with the US, which explains much of the skew in the current/ emerging force structure).

Repulse
April 16, 2014 6:19 am

We should be gearing up the RN to be able to support 2 deployed RFTGs at the extreme, bit like the 30,000 troop deployment for Army 2020.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
April 16, 2014 7:02 am

I agree as one of the two might have to be bobbing up and down by someone’s coast for a good while, as a deterrent (the Italians built a 6 month endurance without a port call into their ship; the Germans had a similar requirement but don’t know if they ever got around to ordering their ship).

But what would the two RFTG requirement entail? I assume you mean without using the one and only carrier for a commando carrier to get the second group constituted?

Rocket Banana
April 16, 2014 9:19 am

Repulse,

We can just about deploy two RFTGs – just not sustained with a vulnerable supply line.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 16, 2014 1:36 pm

I think the premise of Brian’s post is flawed for 3 reasons.

1. It assumes that standing tasks would cease if we went to a war footing. far more likely that the AOR would be in one of the areas and other tasks would continue.

2. It assumes the tasks can be achieved by lower capability units. Possibly APT(N) but the rest require FF/DD level capabilities.

3. it assumes the French have it right. The French cannot deploy a CBG and an ATG into a multi threat environment separately as they do not have sufficient escorts. They accept this and alos plan that a 2 TG op would be a coalition op and work closely with the Italians. I would expect to see a CBG based around CDG and an ATG based around Cavour from the Franco Italian efforts.

We are just about and should be scaled to deploy the RFTG whilst maintaining standing commitments and deploy 2RFTGs into an area of 1 commitment whilst maintaining the rest. T45 availability would be a worry and if we had to deploy 2 RFTGs it would hopefully be for a coalition op where we could utilise a Dutch De Zeven Provincien, German Saschen or even a 6th Fleet Arleigh Burke or 2.

Repulse
April 16, 2014 6:01 pm

: I guess the flexibility of the RFTG could be that it’s either. The extreme case in my view would to plan for a Falklands 2 assuming an Argentina of the same relative strength as 82. Could be that both carriers could be run in a multi-role configuration in that scenario.

Repulse
April 16, 2014 6:07 pm

@APATs: Mainly agree, but two points:

– Would we have the luxury of having FF/DDs or even tankers for all standing tasks? Wouldn’t it be better to have a few more MHPCs to cover things?

– The problem with designated AAW and ASW platforms leads to the key asset issues you describe. Would be better in my view to have a single Burke class.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 16, 2014 6:14 pm

If the task requires an FF/DD now then surely it would require at least that if not more when we were potentially “distracted” with assets tied up elsewhere.

You do not get any change from £1.2 Billion pounds for a Burke :( T26 will offer a vastly improved local AAW defence but not an area AAW Defence it will however be a superior ASW platform to an Arleigh Burke.
The question then becomes do you spend the money required yo equip every platform with an area AAW capability which is only really required when escorting other ships.
There are pros and cons to both but I am pretty comfortable with our theory, simply aware that 6 T45 hulls would be stretched to provide escorts for 2 TGs.

Rocket Banana
April 16, 2014 8:21 pm

APATS.

Not nit-picking, just a question…

2. It assumes the tasks can be achieved by lower capability units. Possibly APT(N) but the rest require FF/DD level capabilities.

Why would CTF150/151 require a FF/DD level capability (other than for range/endurance)?

Seems we’ve reneged on NRF1 and NRF2 of late – is this true?

Observer
Observer
April 16, 2014 8:34 pm

Simon, it is for tasks that come AFTER CTF 150/151. You’re not going to do CTF 150/151 taskings forever.

The point is that you can assign a more capable ship to an easier job, but you run into problems assigning a less capable ship to a more difficult job.

Besides, the RN has assigned the Fort Victoria to the job, so it’s hardly tying up a major combatant now is it?

Rocket Banana
April 16, 2014 8:45 pm

Observer.

Doesn’t that just demonstrate the lack of need for a FF/DD for some of the taskings?

Fortunately it’s not a reason to go and build more ships as (as you’ve so aptly demonstrated) some of the tasks can be undertaken by RFA ships.

Personally I’m happy with 18 (or so) escorts until we need presence in other areas of the world, like the Chinese play areas and Arctic ocean.

Observer
Observer
April 16, 2014 9:37 pm

Simon, so all frigate/destroyer fleet, leave the piracy and narcotics patrols to the RFA. Problem solved.

All things should be this easy. lol.

Repulse
April 16, 2014 10:08 pm

APATs: Sorry, I though the whole point of using FF/DD’S for certain tasking was not that they were needed for that task, but that it allowed them to be utilised in peacetime? Or am I mistaken?

Brian Black
Brian Black
April 16, 2014 11:03 pm

We do have tasks that could be covered by lesser ships.

The Navy’s getting three new OPV, stick a 76mm on the front end and pack a couple off to the south Atlantic. That’s one spare frigate.

Send Clyde, with its cannon and flight deck of to a Caribbean berth to chase smugglers. Hangar the chopper on the accompanying auxiliary. That’s another spare frigate.

That other new OPV with a 76, by the way, can we park it somewhere in Scotland so that there’s something on the scene a little quicker the next time a Russian aircraft carrier bobs along?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
April 16, 2014 11:12 pm

@BB – No need to worry about Scotland – the SNP will be doing the job far better than the RN ever have by 2015 – Salmond said so, so it must be true…

GNB

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
April 16, 2014 11:14 pm

@BB, that was the kind of thing I had in mind when I said “is it a plan already being progressed”.

So, according to BB the 3rd ship will need extra thrusters, so that instead of being in Scotland, it can be in GIB, pushing the Garda boats with its side, rather than ramming them (both sides in the NATO, afterall!).

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 17, 2014 2:49 am

@BB

The problem with your 2 OPVs in Southlant with the non existent 76MM is that you have just taken away a whole lot of C2, ASW and AAW capability. Also sends the wrong message.
The helicopter is the most useful feature in the Caribean ops so if we are going to have an RFA there permanently why bother with Clyde, you also rob us of a lot of numbers and skills required for hurricane season.
We tracked the Russians from North of GIUK gap and unless you wish to make FRE a non FF/DD job you have only created a new task.

@ Simon

I assume you mean SNMG1 and 2 as part of the NRF and no we do not contribute but considering their typical programme of 1 East of Suez where we already are and the other on the exercise cycle in Europe to which we contribute is it required?

Our E of Suez units tend to spend more time on Kipion than Kalash, Fort Victorias primary reason for being there has notjing to do with chasing pirates. The FF/DD presence likewise.

In recent years the logic behind deployments and reason for the presence has driven an FF/DD level presence.

Repulse
April 17, 2014 6:01 am

Another question, following on from TD’s comment. With Russia being more bold around the artic, would we need the APT (N) further north?

Also, if the OPV (H) had even a telescopic hanger, would it need a RFA? Surely, bulk relief supplies could via commercial channels?

x
x
April 17, 2014 6:52 am

What be OPV (H)?

Rocket Banana
April 17, 2014 6:56 am

Just a quick comment but I’ve noticed that for a while we’ve generally had a destroyer and SSN per capital ship and a frigate per RFA.

If we drop to 2 CVF + 2 LPD as capital ships and 2 Wave + 4 Tide + 3 Bay + Argus for the RFA then we might only need the 8 T26-ASW with this model.

Is it just luck that the escort numbers match the fleet in this way or is the assumption that each ship should be escort-able?

I feel uncomfortable about this as it leads to too few escorts for sustained projection.