Closing Comments

Let me start the summary by saying I am not an offshore or geotechnical expert, just someone interested in the subject. This series of posts should be viewed in that context, an interested party with no great expertise!

I make number of assumptions that would need to be tested, even assuming the basic premise of the proposal is correct, which is equally open for debate.

We should absolutely recognise though that such expertise does exist, and exist in the UK and Europe. Whether that is in military bridging, port construction, offshore engineering or geotechnical surveys, Europe has a rich vein of research, technical and engineering capability as a result of decades of experience in the oil and gas and renewables industries which to mine for solutions.

It is in these organisations that we must look for solutions, not BAE or Lockheed Martin.

Increment 1 is achievable within the context of a UK only defence budget. The equipment described is all commercially available off the shelf and apart from maintaining a high readiness survey capability, not especially challenging from a personnel perspective. There may be some additional personnel but with some reprioritisation and imaginative use of reserves and contractor could be achieved without breaking the bank.

It would however, deliver a step change in port opening capability in response to requirements for expansion or repair of existing locations.

Given the dual use nature it might even provide some opportunity for a bit of trickery re the DFiD disaster response budget. I know this is often raised as the great white hope of anything vaguely related to defence logistics and I would certainly not be opposed to this kind of thinking, surely it can’t be that difficult, we really do have to get better joined up across Government departments for dual use capabilities.

Increment 2 on the other hand, is extremely ambitious.

Yet for all the ambition embodied by the Increment 2 requirements it is achievable. All of the technology solutions described are commercially available, absent is new materials research, software integration or cutting edge fabrication.

Is it affordable within the MoD’s budget, probably not.

This means it would need to be a shared solution with individual nations taking budget and operational responsibility for the individual components.

Impossible, no, difficult, yes.

As Europe seeks to become, even a little, more self-sufficient in military enabling capabilities some shared or pooled arrangement would also be worth exploring with NATO and/or European allies.

Across Europe there is a wealth of experience in every single aspect of both concepts, collectively it is an area where Europe leads the world.

Exploiting this expertise, maximising Europe and NATO’s soft power, providing a unique and worthwhile military logistics capability in an area that is likely to see increasing demand seems a good decision to me.

So there you go, hope you enjoyed reading and commenting on this series as much as I enjoyed writing it.


Table of Contents


Case Studies

The Normandy Landings

The San Carlos Landings

Umm Qasr


Current Capabilities

UK amphibious Doctrine


Mine Countermeasures

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD)

Amphibious Assault and Logistics

US Amphibious Logistics

Making a Case for Change

Increment 1


Survey and Initial Operations

Repairing and Augmenting the Port

A Summary and Final Thoughts on Increment 1

Increment 2


Existing Solutions and Studies



Shore Connector

Wave Attenuation

Closing Comments



Although the images are much compressed and there is no video, this series is available in Scribd



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August 30, 2015 7:50 pm

Awesome work, this really sets out the art of the possible.

A couple of things you could have strengthened your case with

(1) A quick comparison of what throughput (TEUs/vehicles/Tonnes) can be achieved through an improved port rather than a beach

(2) The proportion of ports/jetties which could be ‘open for business’ with Increment 1 improvements for a Bde size intervention is incredibly high. Why try and seize a beach when you can seize and improve a small port in an undefended area ?

August 30, 2015 8:39 pm

Another truly momentus piece of work sir, we’ll done !

I have been doing a lot of reading recently on Ship To Obkective Manouvre and the USMC / USN doctrine for littoral Manouvre etc and while the idea of capturing a port, getting it working after it has been booby-trapped or battle damaged etc seems like a very sensible approach, it is also one that could be incredibly vulnerable so it ultimately depends on the type of operation. It would perhaps make sense for European NATO nations that will never have the USN / USMC assault capabilities to perhaps concentrate instead on a max of battalion sized battle group raids as a national capability as on paper at least UK/NL, France, Italy and Spain have this; and then to develop in conjunction the port rehabilitation skills. As you note, such skills clearly have a secondary disaster response use case too.

The Other Chris
September 1, 2015 7:33 pm
Reply to  Think Defence
stephen duckworth
September 2, 2015 9:09 am

A video on the Quartermaster Corps from the late fifties or early sixties on the breadth and depth of military supply. The Quartermaster Corps does not supply munitions.

July 29, 2016 1:41 am


You’ve rightly identified that ports come in all shapes and sizes, not to mention specialities.

Trouble is you are assuming that the port is undefended. One thing about ports is their generally excellent infrastructure connections to the interior, which would tend to make them easily reinforceable. How big a port would you expect to be able to take and hold with a likely maximum of three battalions available? It wouldn’t be a city, that’s for sure. Maybe small town as a maximum?

Taking the port itself would be non trivial I think! Especially with light infantry having little artillery support.

I suspect most deep water ports are in or adjacent to cities, especially in the developing world. There might be hundreds of barely used ports in the UK but I doubt this is the case in the wider world.

Pablo Raggio
Pablo Raggio
December 11, 2020 8:56 pm

Awesome!; Im not a scientist or logistic spec but this subject is very interesant (for me); I begin read think defence about normandy 1944; however the machinery and hardware lists are excelent; Go ahead!!!; Congratulations; Pablo Raggio

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