Combined Seapower: A Shared Vision for Royal Navy – United States Navy Cooperation

The culmination of a year long study has resulted in the publications of articulates a shared vision for increased cooperation between the Royal Navy and US Navy.

From the US Navy website

WASHINGTON (NNS) — Leaders of the U.S. and British navies agreed on a shared vision for closer cooperation Dec. 11, the culmination of a yearlong effort that will build on a long-standing maritime partnership over the next 15 years.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert and his counterpart in the United Kingdom, First Sea Lord Sir George Zambellas, signed a combined strategic narrative that articulates a shared vision for deeper cooperation between the U.S. Navy (USN) and the Royal Navy (RN).

“The United States and the United Kingdom rely on our navies to project power in critical regions and to protect the freedom of navigation that underpins the global economy,” said Greenert.

The narrative, titled “Combined Seapower: A Shared Vision for Royal Navy-United States Navy Cooperation,” is the culmination of a yearlong effort by a RN-USN study group formed in September 2013 to identify opportunities to enhance ties.

“The narrative provides a strategic vision to sustain and enhance cooperation between our two navies so that we can provide forward presence and be where it matters, when it matters,” Greenert said.

The U.S. and U.K. navies share a common naval heritage and legacy of collaboration since the first half of the 19th century. More recently, a combined RN-USN destroyer squadron staff completed a nine-month deployment to the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of responsibility in April. Royal Navy personnel were part of a staff that served aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and supported the sea combat commander for the strike group.

RN sailors also train aboard USN aircraft carriers as the Royal Navy constructs aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, the lead ship of her class. The United Kingdom currently has 15 pilots training in U.S. Navy units. The two navies also work closely on countering piracy, supporting disaster relief efforts, and fighting terrorism globally.

The narrative builds on these collaborative efforts and includes the following five features that will characterize the RN-USN partnership going forward: interoperability and mutual technology investment; combined aircraft carrier operations; force and capability planning; officer exchanges; and collaborative force management.

“This combined narrative represents a new and exciting opportunity for our two nations to build on shared national interests through the value of credible seapower,” said Zambellas. “It is a powerful statement of our shared maritime ambition, it cements our maritime leadership, and it delivers an even deeper partnership between our navies, to the mutual strategic and operational advantage of both the U.K. and U.S.”

The narrative represents a strong commitment by the U.S. Navy and the Royal Navy to work together to achieve shared economic and security interests in the 21st century. This cooperation will ensure that the U.S. and the UK remain leaders in the increasingly important maritime domain.

It will be interesting to see more details as they emerge in due course but the five key pillars are;

  • interoperability and mutual technology investment
  • combined aircraft carrier operations
  • force and capability planning
  • officer exchanges
  • collaborative force management.

Am I alone in thinking those in the Marine Nationale might be raising an eyebrow or can we all be friends?

Given we are close to Christmas, can we look forward to a joint production of A Penguin Named Jack, perhaps with cheerleaders :)


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December 15, 2014 10:22 pm

So why on earth did we purchase an aircraft carriers without steam or electric catapult .? Surely this would of enabled an even closer co-operation between carrier groups.

December 16, 2014 5:05 am

@ Ray

Because we could not afford it. simples

also their are more USN decks that can operate F35B than F35C. Collaboration on STOVL aircraft is far more likely than CATOBAR aircraft. USMC pilots have previously flown from RN carriers. I can’t think of a single example where USN pilots and aircraft have operated from an RN carrier since we lent them Victorious in 1942.

The Other Monty
The Other Monty
December 16, 2014 7:26 am

In amplification of Martin’s point, the RN will, perhaps ironically, have the best platforms from which USMC pilots will be able to operate – ski jumps, great amounts of space on and below decks, etc..

I would assume that for the planners, that means we bring something slightly more unique and interesting to joint ops than just a mini-version of a US super carrier.

December 16, 2014 7:42 am

Martin, was it a swap (against the Wasp) in any way?

Anyway, puts building an RN base base within an American base into context. Quoting Adm. Greenert from memory:
“Why should we day dream about getting back to a 600-ship navy (from the 300) when we can have a 1000-ship navy?”

Non-attributed (or memory does not serve):
“USN by displacement is as big as the next 13 put together; 11 of those happen to be our partners or allies”
– note partners OR allies. The UK has taken a step up?

December 16, 2014 8:03 am

I wonder if this means that Zambellas knows that we’re only getting a maximum of 48 F-35Bs (just enough for one carrier on a surge) and that a second carrier would either have to only operate helicopters or USMC F-35Bs?

December 16, 2014 8:12 am

This is excellent news as this allows our navy to manage the emerging threat of China while we can trust our European allies to pick up the ball in containing Russia. Hopefully with 3 medium sized European carriers we can move another carrier battlegroup to the Pacific. Of course the MOD might have to buy more then 14 F-35B’s.

With the low number of F-35’s that the MOD is buying, perhaps the royal navy should have gone with 3 50,000 LHDs instead?

December 16, 2014 8:34 am

If you put together resource austerity and building up in an area of focus

Then logically you will get some building down elsewhere.

That’s the essence of this new announcement. Don’t know about MN feelings (quoting TD), but the Anglo-French joint intervention force neatly addresses one back yard that is not among the primary interests of the USA.

December 16, 2014 8:37 am

“The U.S. and U.K. navies share a common naval heritage and legacy of collaboration since the first half of the 19th century.”
It may of ended the first half that way but it didn’t start that way.
I too envisage the Queen Elizabeth carriers being operated more like the USMC ships than the Nimitz class. If both do happen to be available at once that would be great and given enough notice could happen ,all 48 F35’s and a full set of Merlins would be a push though without an additional flat top of some sort. I think Adm Z is limiting his horizons to what is possible with limited budgets than what he would like or what we even need for our limited tasking. This ‘jointery’ is what we buying into with the F35B ,sharing staff,training,doctrinal support,facilities etc hopefully we can extend this to the other F35B purchases as well.

December 16, 2014 8:47 am

” legacy of co-operation since the mid 19th century”

What history books have they been reading ? I think they got their centuries mixed up, mid 20th century would make the statement more congruent.

I suspect the next study will be how the RN carriers can operate in concert with Marina Militare f35B, it makes sense.

December 16, 2014 11:09 am

“What history books have they been reading ? I think they got their centuries mixed up, mid 20th century would make the statement more congruent.”

That would be the US Navy’s Africa Squadron, its contribution (working alongside the RN West Africa Patrol) to stopping the African slave trade. Operating 1819-1861 (in which year the US Navy’s contribution to the fight against slavery took a rather different form). It was a bit of a shit effort, what with large parts of the US government and population (and indeed the US Navy) quite liking slavery, but it was a start.

December 16, 2014 11:32 am

In 1859 when the RN assaulted the Taku forts in China, Commodore Tattnall USN offered to care for the wounded of HMS PLOVER. He later found that some of his sailors “assisting” the RN were covered in powder smoke stains, having joined in the fighting. As his dispatch to Washington said, “Blood is thicker than water”.

Think that qualifies as mid 19th C. cooperation…

Rocket Banana
December 16, 2014 12:39 pm

“Don’t know about MN feelings (quoting TD), but the Anglo-French joint intervention force neatly addresses one back yard that is not among the primary interests of the USA.”

I agree.

You can look at this announcement in a positive or negative way so in no particular order:

1. Is this an admission that we will not have enough F35B and we’ll need an entire USMC airgroup (inc staff) to deploy to our carriers?
2. Is it a long-term strategy to allow the US/UK to maintain more deployed carriers?
3. Is is a way for a future imbalance between USMC amphibs and USN carrier numbers to be corrected?
4. Is it a way to make sure our carriers actually look as though they are being used for something useful?
5. Is it a way for us to validate the scrapping of our amphibious ships and “deploy” RM to USMC shipping?
6. Is it a way to “protect” cancellation of our carriers in SDSR2015 having promised availability to the USA?
7. Is it an anouncement to the international community that we’re serious about all this and are not resting on our laurels?
8. Is is a way of ratifying the numbers of planned F35B procured by the USMC, which is significantly more than is required for the LHDs.

Plently of others…

December 16, 2014 12:40 pm

I’m not sure a few add hoc events of local co- operation when put in the context of century of tension between the USA and British Empire could be classed as a ” legacy of co-cooperation since the mid 19th century” I think it’s way overselling the relationship the two nations had at that point.

The list of tensions and almost wars between the two great powers of the 19th century is long and the fact there was a peace full transition of power between the US and British empires is one of the major miracles of the late19th and early 20th century and does say something profound about the link between the two nations (any other two nations would likely have been at each other like chained fighting dogs).

So my list of what late 19c none co-operation starts with the Trent affair in 1861 and ends with the Venezuela crisis 1896.

Below is a link to a great piece on the transition of power from the UK to the US and give a great insight into why the two nations could publish a joint paper like this at the beginning of the 21st century.

December 16, 2014 2:03 pm

No reason why we can’t surge 36 35 B’s onto the QE or PoW for intensive training purposes.

For active operations, I don’t know, perhaps there might be a 50/50 split on a 24 RNRAF/USMC jet wing on the East of Suez patrol, which would of course benefit from the pooling of assets at Mina Salman.

I can’t see joint interests on the North and South Atlantic, so likely just have 12 RNRAF on the QE’s for whatever ops take place there.

We already borrow engineers from the US coastguard, and chance of a couple hundred more personnel so we can bulk the fleet out a bit?

December 16, 2014 4:15 pm

@ ACC – Victorious was not a swap for Wasp. The USN had lost all its carriers except Saratoga and the badly needed reinforcing in the pacific. Victorious was re named USS Robin

Wasp as far as I know was still operated by USN she was just used to deliver RAF aircraft in the med.

December 16, 2014 4:46 pm

On the subject of Harriers and the USMC having them IIRC that the US army and the USAF were having a spat after Vietnam of only the USAF could fly fixed wing aircraft into combat zones. Obviously the USN would continue to do so but the USMC got wrapped in with the Army so it looked like goodbye to USMC fighter jocks. A clever USMC general had the wording changed to US Army and USMC could operate vertical take off aircraft in combat zones. The USMC then approached us about the vertical take off Harrier and with a lot of help from NASA expanding on ideas to improve the existing design the AV-8B was born. The original Harrier had a design were the wing shape and nozzle positions caused the airflow to go the wrong way round the wing reducing lift , lots of changes achieved a workable fighterbomber.

December 16, 2014 4:47 pm

Martin, I could not let it pass
…not on loan outright, but a swap? I did not mean to claim it as a fact.

When I have some extra time on my hands, will have to check how well the timing coincides (one came in for short but sharp actions, the other one completed a lengthy tour).

Jeremy M H
December 16, 2014 4:54 pm


That story doesn’t add up for USMC. They operated lots of non vtol aircraft during that time.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 16, 2014 5:13 pm

As i have posted on here before the FJ element of the USMC allows massive flexibility in planning and execution of ops. if they did not have AV8B or F35B then they could not conduct something as simple as an embassy evac in a 3rd world country if that 3rd world country had even a few old Migs. They would either have to be supported by a Carrier or land based jets. it is a no brainer.

December 16, 2014 6:05 pm

In the end nothing was changed as far as the USMC was concerned they kept flying Phantoms etc but gained FJ of their own specialist flat tops , not many but as APATS has pointed out gave them that bit extra to get any job done.

December 16, 2014 6:49 pm

” I can’t think of a single example where USN pilots and aircraft have operated from an RN carrier since we lent them Victorious in 1942.”

US Navy jets operated from HMS Ark Royal in 1970/1.

Photographic evidence here

December 16, 2014 8:30 pm

” legacy of co-operation since the mid 19th century”

“What history books have they been reading ? I think they got their centuries mixed up, mid 20th century would make the statement more congruent.”

Well, the cousins operated the former HMS Macedonian in the early 19th century, and in turn we operated the former USS President and USS Essex?

December 16, 2014 10:22 pm

Oh god another carrier junky thread………..

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
December 16, 2014 10:53 pm

– It’s not a full-fat carrier thread, and it’s been days since the last one…I would have thought a Chap with your sensibilities would see the need for a well-managed methadone programme…as part of an overall harm reduction strategy, naturally… :-)

Furthermore, given a gentle steer it might well end up as a collective PhD on UK/US Relations since the War of 1812.


December 17, 2014 1:08 am

The three ships you named are all prises capured in war ( the war of 1812).

If co-operation is shooting at the other side, making them surrender, capturing their ships and refusing to give them back. Then that’s three fine examples.

In the Early 19c the british and US were still at the ” I hate your guts and want you to die if its not too inconvenient” stage of international relationships.

By the mid 19c they had grown to a stage of peer competitors ( this is when you compete but admit they have a right to exist) there was still a “will we wont we” (go to war) edge at key crisis points.

True nation to nation co-operation between the UK and US (One of the few early examples of an international ” ooh we could never go to war with you cus we love you” relationships) started late in the 19th c. This can be seen in the venuesala crisis 1895 to 1896.

Lose interpretation of events:

Venuesala ” get lost British imperialists, this bit of land is ours, we stole it first”
UK ” was that an ant speaking, would you like to get stepped on”
US ” Munro doctrine…… Mumble mumble”
UK ” really darling ?”
US” it’s important to me hunny, let me sort this out”
UK” Well we would normally just Kick the S£&t out of them at this point, but since it’s you”
US to a now confused venuesala ” give them the land or we will kick the s£&t out of you”
Venuesala ” WHAT”
UK ” love you hunny”
US ” love you to”

December 17, 2014 3:15 am

Re-cooperation the Monroe Doctine relied on the RN to police it.

That’s very high level and long lasting.

December 17, 2014 10:57 am


Yes the fact that the UK made the choice to step back and show restraint to cultivate US good will by using the RN to support the Monroe Doctrine, to the point that late in the 18c it would step back and allow a militarily weaker US to act as an arbitrator in its dispute with a South American nation just to keep the US happy. This was one of the factors that turned the two nations into strategic partners.

Another was the US in its key economic growth period ( late 18c ) did not build up its military to its full potential, so not threatening the Canadian boarder and other Uk strategic interests.

In the late 18c you see a pattern of compromises on both sides during board disputes and diplomatic crisis. This was mutual reinforcement of the idea that the the relationship was becoming more important than any specific gain in territory or diplomatic victory.

By the beginning of the 20th century this had developed into the idea that it was inconceivable that the US and UK could go to war. Evidenced by the last British battalion leaving Canada in 1905 (5th battalion, Royal Garrison Regiment)

I just feel if you balance where the two nations were going with their relationship on a time line.

jan 1815 was the last major battle of the 1812 war
Nov 1861 the us boarded the RMS trent ( capturing two confederate diplomats) ( 1860s very high tension due to UK support of confederacy)
1866 to 71 Fenian raids on Canada from US soil ( a blind eye to terrorism ?)
1872 Britain pays 15million in war reparation ( CSS Alabama related)
1895 Venezuela dispute ( tension could have ended in war, UK could not conceive this and gave US its way, in arbitration US then supported most of UK claim)
1895 beginning of the great rapprochement ( The point you begins to see true US, UK some true co-operation and a special relationship developing)
1898 Spanish American war in which the UK drops is Spanish Alliance and diplomatically supported the US.
1899 second boer war in which the US government diplomatically supported the UK, even against popular support for the boers in the US.

So I still think the. Statement ” legacy of cooperation since the mid 18c” is well overstating things with true cooperation at its infancy in in the very late 1890s and maturing during the interwar and postwar period after the 1919 Paris peace conference.

You have to remember there was a significant popular anglo phobic moment in the US in the 19th and early 20th century. The US political establishment went against this at the end of the 19c to start forging the relationship we have now.

December 17, 2014 1:12 pm

Jonathan, I would concur, esp. With this being the point in time when one starts emerging as an empire and the other stops being (perceived by other key actors) an empire that others could not consider challenging, regardless of the way that this challenge would form itself…

“”1898 Spanish American war in which the UK drops is Spanish Alliance and diplomatically supported the US.
1899 second boer war in which the US government diplomatically supported the UK, even against popular support for the boers in the US.”

Would you not say that in the decades prior to that we had a unipolar world, just like we had one for a fleeting moment after the fall of the Berlin Wall?

December 17, 2014 2:34 pm

@ ArmChairCivvy

It’s my personal view that there were a couple of decades of Pax Britannica in which You could argue there was a unipolar world from the end of the Crimean war in 56 up until the empire lost its ecconomic dominance around the mid 1880s.

The big issue is that although the empire had a significant ecconomic dominance it never enjoyed total military dominance in Europe and so always lived with existential threat. Indead you can map the rise and fall of british influence ( since the high Middle Ages) with the perceived or real level of threats to Great Britian. So was there ever a unipolar world during empire ? I’m not sure, but I will step towards the no camp.

As for the post Cold War world, I think people got a bit over excited. The simple truth is Russia never lost the ability to remove the USA if pushed to far ( would they ever engage in MAD is another debate). That left a number of lines that could not be crossed. Can you have a unipolar world if the single dominant power still has to negotiate and limit its ambition. Maybe for a fleeting time preception did overcome reality and make a unipolar world ?

December 18, 2014 4:14 pm

Y’know this “USN/Royal Navy cooperation/best buds” deal is great until you get some moron like we currently have in the White House whose support for any action is solely dependent to whichever group he is pandering at the moment. If he decides he wants to suck up to the “Hispanic” block, he might block any cooperation in the event of a problem concerning the Falklands. Then again, the moron could be in your 10 Downing Street.

If it’s not required by a treaty, it doesn’t really hold water. You won’t always have a Ronald Reagan to hold your coat when needed.

February 20, 2015 1:01 pm

I think the Marine Corps is going to have to decide if it wants it’s own prtvaie TACAIR or all the other stuff the Corps needs like tanks,IFV,etc…because US DoD and budget won’t let them have both, it’s going to be one or the other. It’s true there is a third option of a completely hollowed out force…As an aside, I keep hearing how great F35B is going to be and how it transforms all amphibs into small carriers. Ok, I will go along but there have been reports of how difficult it’s going to be for the Navy to change engines of the F35 and to bring one on board a regular carrier. Even in separate modules, it’s a difficult proposition. How is it going to work out on a small amphib when they have to swap a F35B F135 engine? And how do they get it on-board when they are on the go?

The Other Chris
February 20, 2015 1:22 pm


Using the newly agreed HV-22 which can carry either an F135 or a LiftSystem. If you happen to need both you send two aircraft.

Engine swap outs already occur for the AV-8B+ on the vessels which involves wing removal.

February 20, 2015 1:34 pm


Much bigger job on the F35, needs a lot more kit. I know questions have been asked and trials planned not sure how well it went. It’s not just a case of taking the wing off, the ECU rigs are pretty big, plus issues with ship movement. No doubt on the long list of ‘things to do’.

February 20, 2015 2:20 pm

Couldn’t agree more!
Agreements are made to be ignored when the mood strikes, unspoken agreements are made to be forgotten, A unilateral beech landing by a few thousand marines, mechanised infantry and a tank battalion, with cover from your own Aircraft carrier and Apache’s can be niether…

I miss the cosiness of the Reagan administrations buzzom but your right, no one is really there to hold our coats or hands anymore when push comes to shove

The Other Chris
February 20, 2015 2:22 pm


Appreciate that. The wing removal is in relation to Pegasus swap out on the AV-8B+ which is an utter ball-ache for movement, especially in confined areas, the F135 access is more conventional which should help.

February 20, 2015 2:43 pm

On paper perhaps, but in practice I doubt it. It’s not a deal breaker they’ll figure it out. But the way the F35 engine is removed brings it’s own issues, space being one. Last I heard we were waiting for the USN to do a test removal install of one onboard.

The Other Chris
February 20, 2015 3:28 pm

I don’t envy any of the hangar deck engineers working on either to be honest, especially with the motion.

May 15, 2015 3:51 pm
Reply to  ArmChairCivvy

@ ArmChairCivvy.

If your going to Dream the 1,000-Ship Navy Dream. Go the Extra distance, and Dream the 71,009-Ship WW2 Navy Dream…