Royal Navy: Sunk! (Corrected)

24.10.08

Categorie: Alliances, Naval |

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It takes a profound institutional meltdown to make the Pentagon look like a tight-run ship in comparison. Leave it to the British Ministry of Defense to allow just such a catastrophe in the U.K.’s senior service. In the roughly 15 years since the end of the Cold War, the Royal Navy — once one of the leading navies — has lost all of its fighter jets, one of its three small carriers and half its submarines, destroyers and frigates.

The service hit rock bottom with the news this month that there are just five active Type 42 destroyers to perform air-defense for the entire fleet. “Three Type 42 destroyers – Exeter, Nottingham and Southamptonhave been ‘parked up’ in Portsmouth at ‘reduced readiness’ up to two years before they were due to be decommissioned,” The Telegraph reports.

Meanwhile new procurement has stalled: current shipbuilding supports a long-term fleet of just six destroyers and six attack submarines (pictured) to escort two large aircraft carriers and a single amphibious assault ship (correction: plus two smaller amphibs) and perform all the other missions that reasonably should be expected of a supposed world power. There is no viable plan for replacing the current, backbone force of 17 frigates.

The U.K. will have less than $30 billion to invest in shipbuilding over the next decade. With a single new Type 45 destroyer costing some $2 billion, available funds won’t stretch far. The current front-line fleet numbers around 80 vessels; within a decade, that might shrink by half. Critics question the wisdom of investing $8 billion in new, large carriers if that means letting the rest of the fleet — and indeed the very escorts the carriers will need — sink away.

(Photo: Daily Mail)

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20 Responses to “Royal Navy: Sunk! (Corrected)”

  1. Stuart Anderson says:

    haven’t you heard from the UK Nu labour government the RN is in a massive ship-building programme, a programme that is likely to be worth some £14 billion over the next 10-15 years. What they forget to tell you is that the carriers cost £5 billion a Type 45 £1billion and an attack sub £1.5billion and rising. The defence budget just doesnt have enough appeal for voters and so no other political party in the UK will do anything different. The army are top of the spending list, then the RAF and the RN is catching the left over money. Sure there are 2 new shiny aircraft carriers going to be built but the RN will have to ask the RAF for some planes to fly off them and we all know how well that has been going under joint force harrier! I think this year HMS lusty had 4 uk harriers on her deck for 2 weeks. The UK is just hoping everything on the high seas stays calm and if it doesn’t we will run to the USN for help.

  2. James says:

    Certainly the RN is not in a good state. That said lets get some facts correct.

    We have 3 Assault ships…..

    …okay :)

  3. Ian says:

    This doesn’t take account of the fact that our frigates suck and the new destroyers’ missile systems could be overwhelmed very easily- a total warload of 48 missiles for an air-defence ship is laughable. Oh, and we don’t have any effective helicopter lift- a couple of dozen Chinooks. Yet they spend billions on Merlins when they could buy L/M model H-60s from the US for very little.

    I hate our defence procurement people. I’d suggest we shot them, but using British weapons pretty much guarantees their survival!

  4. ElamBend says:

    In a decade or so, India will have larger navy.

  5. [...] About Five for Fighting 10/24/08 * Royal Navy sunk? [...]

  6. Harry Toor says:

    Aka: >Attack Here

  7. Aaron says:

    2 words: buy american. aegis destroyers are only 2 billion. comparable to the type 45 but with better armament. a british submarine fleet of 6 subs? and how much were the development costs?

  8. Prestwick says:

    Oh god, please don’t let the “buy ‘off the shelf’ American” brigade hijack the conversation. It simply isn’t as easy as saying “hay guyz, let buy from U S in A 4 cheep, lol!” Seriously.

    It doesn’t cost “only” 2 billion for an Aegis destroyer, there are extra costs for refitting the ships with native British equipment, engines, weaponry and then theres the time, money and effort required to persuade the body of geriatric paranoid idiots known as the United States Congress to approve the deal and agree to British requests to access sensitive American technology. Hasn’t the Joint Strike Fighter program taught us anything?! We were on the verge of pulling out six months ago!

    This is simply down to sheer incompetence at the MoD for 1) cost cutting by cutting the fleet to the bone 2) letting costs in developing the new Type 45 run out of control 3) refusing to adapt to change by sticking to out of date development plans which, despite at least three defence reviews, are still 25 years out of date!

    Buying American won’t solve the problem. Being smarter and more strict about spending and how you nurse your existing fleet will.

  9. [...] Our allies are suffering due to their lack of preparedness: Royal Navy: Sunk! (Corrected) Friday October 24th 2008- It takes a profound institutional meltdown to make the Pentagon look like a tight-run ship in comparison. Leave it to the British Ministry of Defense to allow just such a catastrophe in the U.K.’s senior service. In the roughly 15 years since the end of the Cold War, the Royal Navy — once one of the leading navies — has lost all of its fighter jets, one of its three small carriers and half its submarines, destroyers and frigates. [...]

  10. Systems Adict says:

    Have to agree with PRESTWICK. The UK has been stung too many time buying American. We HAVE to do it ourselves, we can’t rely on our allies to bail us out, we need to get back to the mentality that built the empire & the Royal Navy.

    TAXES !

    It’s about time British society started to face up to the fact that we need to start funding our military, just as we did in the 1700′s.

    Not the most popular idea, but it’s needed if we want to remain a “world power”, rather than an advisor in the global playing field.

  11. madprof44 says:

    From this American’s perspective, all too many Brits trust that world order is naturally peaceful, disruptions to it generally the fault of the US. Of course some on their side of the pond recognize the degree to which stability (in the Gulf and the Pacific in particular) are due to American resources and resolve. But they don’t seem to have much of a voice in national strategy. And even they seem to have missed the massive change in American perceptions over the last decade.

    What will Britain do once the US begins to pursue our purely national interests? Those international institutions in which they place so much hope? Try and get others to fund them. The door to disengagement, the desire of so many Americans, is unlocked, even half-open, the post-war security consensus having broken down. With fewer resources we will be better off concentrating them in the Pacific (where we’re wanted) and it will be up to Europe (where we’re not) to deal with Russia and the Middle East (where we’re hated). Just how much of a voice does Britain expect to have once Europe begins to confront these issues? Not much of one, one suspects. With a broken and castrated Royal Navy (and a population seemingly stuck in 1935) their freedom of action will be reduced to an occasional clearing of throats while others decide their fate. It is a shame to see this once proud and independent people now placing their hopes in dreams of a world order that has no chance of surviving in its current form.

  12. Bob says:

    Since when is Britain a “world power” again?

  13. Flt Lt Gale says:

    I disagree in saying our Naval vessels suck. On the contrary our RN vessels in some cases are far more capable an adaptable than their US counterparts.

    The Type 45 is a very capable vessel…or would be more so had it been fitted with harpoon as standard. It’s radar is actually much more sophisticated than the ageing Aegis system and can actually superpass the Aegis system in terms of capability.

    The problem with the RN is not the the quality of the kit they have but the amount of kit required to perform a role. The Type 23 and Type 45 are superb vessels…we just need more of them!

    The UK is the only European country that maintains a high level of expensive equipment in all three services. No other country has as fingers in each pie as we do. Unfortunately something has got to give with rising defence costs.

    We need a smaller but much more sophisticated Navy than before. The problem is that when cuts are made the money is not re-invested back into the armed forces to make it better. Lose a vessel and the savings are ploughed back into the treasury and not into the armed forces.

    The US is also in a similar situation with many of it’s assets. It might not be readily apparent but there are some huge issues of fatigue across the entire USAF and US Navy.

  14. tim says:

    As a proud english man all I can say is that Gordon Brown has repeatedly betrayed the Armed Forces along with the MOD procurement system and BAE . We should be like the Israelis and buy more US systems and just modify the electronics . We need more subs , and some aegis plus a ton of Tranis UCAV to fly off the carriers and assault ships . Small mean and lean !

  15. Stuart Anderson says:

    Here s a perfect example of how the government think they are doing the best for the navy but they are really screwing them from behind. Its a response from No 10 about a petition asking for 10-12 destroyers to by built

    The Government is committed to a £14bn programme of investment over the next 10-15 years that will ensure that the Royal Navy remains one of the world’s most powerful navies and will be fully capable of meeting the security challenges of the 21st century. This includes a major programme of investment in new warships which, as well as the Type 45 destroyer, includes the two new aircraft carriers, the new highly advanced Astute class nuclear attack submarines and the development of the Future Surface Combatant which is due to replace the Navy’s current Type 22 and 23 frigates towards the end of the next decade. In terms of overall Defence spending, we are currently in the longest period of sustained real growth in the Defence Budget for over 20 years. In real terms, the Defence Budget will be some 11% higher by 2010/11 than in 1997.

    The Government confirmed in June 2008 that the option to purchase a seventh and eighth Type 45 would not be taken and that there would be no additions to the six ships currently on order. The Type 45s, the first of which, HMS Daring, is due to enter service in 2010, represent a huge increase in capability over the Type 42s that they replace and are the most capable air-defence destroyers ever built for the Royal Navy. Since their original inception, the operational environment has changed considerably. Allied to this, advances in technology are expected to improve capability and availability of the ships making the Type 45 a far more capable platform than originally envisaged.

    I like the bit about Since their original inception, the operational environment has changed considerably. Does that mean when the type 45 was started in 1999 cuase i think theings are worse now than then or is it 1992 when we went for Horizon project with france and italy or is 1985 when we were part of NFR-90. As usual the UK government picks it words very carefully. we want 12 Destroyers and while ur at it can we have half the fleet back that we gave up to get 2 CVF’s!

  16. Flt Lt Gale says:

    Of course costs are spiralling but then that is down to bad project / procurement management. The bill for this should be placed on the engineering firms and not the treasury. Fining companies for unrealistic targets is now a matter of course. This should also apply to BAE et-all.

    As a small country we cannot sustain huge fleets in a Navy, large armoured units in the army and modern fighter jets in the Air Force as well. Something has to give but a proper review of strategy is what is needed.

    Where are we now and where will we be in 20 years is a difficult thing to project but certainly ships like the Type 23 are adaptable. They may not be as good in one particular area but like the US OHP Class the represent good value and are superb in any task thrown at it.

    The Type 45 is a tougher choice but there is no reason by we should not have at least 10 vessels in this class operating with the carriers to provide inner air defence. The Type 45 should be fitted with some sort of SSM capability like Harpoon to ensure she too is capable of being a true multi-role vessel.

    is the Royal navy too big? No I don’t think so but I do think the Type 42 should have been retired long ago.

  17. [...] Royal Navy: Sunk! [...]

  18. eric james says:

    Britain cannot afford to spend any more on its armed forces. Buying cheaply abroad has helped to finish off British industry. Poor countries which have to buy everything from abroad cannot afford large powerful navies.

  19. [...] Great Britain has offered some of its dwindling number of warships to help blockade the Med and prevent smugglers from setting up alternative, sea-based supply routes. But using expensive warships to deter smugglers in speedboats is a losing game. The long-term cost makes such a blockade unsustainable. Abu Ubeida is right: Hamas will find a way to re-arm. And that’s why this isn’t over. [...]

  20. Matt says:

    Why did Britain need those 2 huge carriers? I think they would have been fine buying something similiar to the new Italian multipurpose carrier (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavour_(550)). You guys could have gotten 2-3 of those and some more Daring class escorts.

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