Navy may lose half of its fleet in savings proposal


Dec 2, 2000
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From the Times OnLine:
quote:

Michael Evans, Defence Editor



The Royal Navy may suffer heavy cuts and lose as many as eight warships as a result of an internal review of all spending by the Armed Forces.
Each of the services is drawing up proposals for cutting back on expenditure to present to ministers for this year’s comprehensive spending review, to be carried out by Gordon Brown, the Chancellor.



The Ministry of Defence emphasised that no decisions had been taken on any of the proposals being drawn up by the services.
For the rest of the story, go to 2-2532949%2C00.html,http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2532949,00.html

Comment: The fleet's being cut but the commitments are not, and even look set to grow. Sound familier?
 

Jack Devine

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Jan 23, 2004
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This is one argument that's been going on for a couple centuries. The Sunday Times says that this will put 21 of the RN's 44 ships in mothballs. In addition, the planned new carriers are postponed indefinitely. They're not just gutting the fleet, they're practically killing it.

To be fair, it may be entirely possible that the world is about to break out with peace, love, sunshine, gumdrops, free puppies and a chorus of Kumbayah. Apparently this is what the MoD is betting on.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>To be fair, it may be entirely possible that the world is about to break out with peace, love, sunshine, gumdrops, free puppies and a chorus of Kumbayah.<<

If anyone in Whitehall has a mind capable of believing a proposition like that, then I have a bridge I'd like to sell them. (No cheques please. Cash, and in small unmarked bills!)

The carriers at least haven't been postponed as yet. The article indicated that they're still committed to them. I hope this is the case because if it isn't, it'll probably be the kiss of death for the whole scheme.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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The Treasury has been trying destroy the Navy since the Thatcher years (when the rot really set in). They have been chipping away at the fleet for the part quarter century. To be strictly accurate, the "44" ships referred to are presumably the large surface units - in other words, submarines, MCM vessels, supply ships, patrol boats etc are not included in this figure.
 

Jack Devine

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I've just checked the RN website and under "Fleet Today" they list forty-four warships: carriers, destroyers, frigates, amphibs and submarines. The MCM vessels, patrol ships, and survey ships are not included in that total. Nonetheless, this leaves the fleet with just 23 combat ships including the four Vanguard-class missle subs. That's not much for all that's asked of the Navy. I hope they don't plan on any cost-cutting in maintenance as well.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I hope they don't plan on any cost-cutting in maintenance as well.<<

So do I. I've seen first hand the results of cut rate maintainance and it's not very pretty. It makes for cranky equipment which may not function when you need it and dangerous conditions as well.
 

Jack Devine

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Not very pretty? I can well imagine. From what I've read, that was the cause of the Kennedy failing inspections and now being decommissioned. A very expensive way to save relatively little money.
 

Grant Carman

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Hey, it could be worse. They could be using the Canadian Navy as a model.

No one would EVER want that. It took the Federal Gov't 30 years to destroy the Navy here. With all the talk about the re-committment to all of the armed services, we still have 4 second hand subs (bought from UK) that sink if you submerge them. And they're the newest we've got.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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The Kennedy has a long laundry list of problems, and a lot of it can be traced to the fact that she got short shrift on funding when it came to refits. The return for this non-investment is that half of the propulsion plant and two catapults need waivers to operate because they can't meet standards otherwise.

And it's a moot point since the flight deck itself lost it's certification to operate fixed wing aircraft. The reason is that the mountings that the arresting gear engines are mounted on are so corroded, they don't dare use them.
 
Nov 29, 2004
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I might well be mistaken, but didn't the uk gov plan to decomission its only 2 proper assault ships, HMS fearless and HMS Intrepid in 82, with only the argentine invasion of the falklands saving them?
according to what I have read the task force would have been very hard pressed to land and support the ground troops without these ships.
now the 25 years on and another short sighted disreputable government is set to take
yet another slice out of our navy. If these cuts go ahead It will be interesting to see what we do next time we need a naval presence, (maybe we can hire in a polish/french-other navy?)

just another example of shortsighted self serving politicos trading security and lives to save money.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>but didn't the uk gov plan to decomission its only 2 proper assault ships, HMS fearless and HMS Intrepid in 82, with only the argentine invasion of the falklands saving them?<<

Worse...they were kicking around the idea of selling the HMS Invincible to the Austrailian Navy. The Falklands put the brakes on that one, although at this point, the Austrailan Navy may have been cooling to the idea anyway. A carrier is a very expensive asset to operate.

>>If these cuts go ahead It will be interesting to see what we do next time we need a naval presence...<<

Errrrr...what naval presence? With so few assets available, the Royal Navy will be very hard pressed to maintain even a regional presence near home. At some point, Whitehall's going to have to make a choice. Great Britain has always been a maritime nation, and if she wants to be able to maintain a worldwide presence, she'll need the assets to make it happen. The problem is that money's tight and it doesn't look like the situation is going to change any time soon.
 

Jack Devine

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"It will be interesting to see what we do next time we need a naval presence"
A Filipino man said to me years ago that "We don't need a military. That's what the Americans are for." It may not be polite, but the ability to hurt things and people carries a lot of weight in world affairs. As expensive as the Royal Navy clearly is, it gives the UK a heck of a lot more international clout than a lightly armed nation such as the Philippines. It's difficult to put a price tag on that, but Falklands were an example of how valuable a fleet can be.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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If the U.K. is depending on the United States for defence in it's long term stratagy, then in my personal opinion, somebody in power is smoking some really good whacky weed. While our respective nations are staunch allies, the same financial pressures which the MoD are facing also apply on my side of the pond.

The size of the U.S. military has been in a more or less steady decline since 1988 (The first cuts actually came in the final year of the Reagan administration) and save for the hiccup of the First Gulf War which slowed things up, has been declining ever since. U.S. military doctrine calls for being able to deal with two regional conflicts. With Iraq on one hand, Afghanistan on the other, North Korea making threatening noises, and Iran's nuclear ambitions scaring everyone silly (Whether or not for any good reason is open to debate) that's three regions we have to face right now. Four if you count the sudden interest in Somalia. Somewhere, something is going to have to give. As much as we may want to back up our greatest friend, we won't have anything to back them with.
 

Paul Rogers

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A personal (and pretty much uninformed) opinion:

The Royal Navy was irretrievably damaged when the decision was made to decommission all diesel-electric submarines (the Upholder Class decommissioning was, in itself, a criminal waste of money and resource) and maintain a purely nuclear submarine fleet. I have read numerous accounts describing the Submarine Command Course - aka 'Perisher' - as the best course of its type in the world for diesel-electric boats. Sadly, thanks to Mrs Thatcher, it no longer exists, except in a 'converted' format re: nuclear boats.

For interest, I have linked this account of the Perisher by a USN Officer who attended the nuclear version of the course.
 
Nov 29, 2004
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Well horrible as it sounds, maybe our gov needs another falkland style fright to slap some reality into them, though even then its effect would be debatable.
The RN is more than a military force, to us in the Uk, its part of our nations identity. we lose it and we become just another european state.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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It would be nice if the USN had an equivalant to Perisher. I first heard of the course by way of a Discovery Channel documentary on submarines and their history a few years ago. It's a very tough and demanding course which even some otherwise superlative officers don't survive. The payback for the Royal Navy is that it produces some top notch sub drivers who know their stuff. You do not want to be on facing them in combat. You'll die!

Personally, I think the U.K. government may one day regret the decision to do away with it's diesel boats. AIP technology is going a long way towards minimizing if not eliminating some of their limitations. Further one of the diesel boats greatest strengths is that they are some of the very quietest submarines in the world which makes them incredibly difficult to detect. You won't know it's there until it surfaces in the middle of your battle group (Like what a Chinese boat did...much to the embarrassment of the USS Kitty Hawk battle group last year) or a weapon blows your ship in half!
 

Jack Devine

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Everything I've ever read about the Perisher course supports what everyone is saying. Reportedly it's the most difficult command course anywhere, and getting through it requires some rare skills and abilities. With the freeze on promotions for RN officers just announced, you'll likely see a good number of well-qualified officers opting for early retirement. The Navy is in danger of losing a lot of institutional knowledge that cannot be replaced at any price.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>The Navy is in danger of losing a lot of institutional knowledge that cannot be replaced at any price.<<

And it'll take a long time to reconstitute as well. The irony in all of this is that Great Britain was the model which taught every modern navy how to be a navy. Now they have to ask for U.S. assistance to build their latest class of nuke boats since a lot of the industrial know how has gone away.

Somebody in Whitehall really needs to wake up and smell the coffee. Their navy professionals have been sounding the warnings for years, but nobody in power is listening.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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From the BYM Maritime News:

UK. Naval Base Review keeps Clyde, Devonport and Portsmouth open
quote:

Clyde Naval Base will remain, Des Browne, Secretary of State for Defence and Scotland said: "I'm pleased to announce that Naval Bases at Clyde, Devonport and Portsmouth will lead the Royal Navy and Defence into the future with the new aircraft carriers. We are not only preserving history; we are also writing it.

This announcement today builds on the strong naval maritime heritage in Scotland. This is good news for the Navy, good news for the UK and good news for Scotland."
More at http://www.bymnews.com/news/newsDetails.php?id=12731
 

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