Tag Archives: warships

The Next Generation of Royal Navy ships

I was sent this recently by somebody in work… I don’t endorse some of the comments (especially the Captain Hook line), but the gist of it is sadly accurate…

Details have been released regarding Britain’s introduction of the next generation of fighting ships: The Royal Navy is proud of the cutting edge capability of the new fleet of Type 45 destroyers. Having initially named the first two ships of this class HMS Daring and HMS Dauntless, the HM Ships naming committee have, after intensive counselling, renamed them HMS Cautious and HMS Prudence. The final four ships are to be named HMS Empathy, HMS Nervous, HMS Timorous and HMS Apologist.

Costing £750 million, they have been designed to meet the needs of the 21st century; in addition to state of the art technology, weaponry, and guidance systems, the ships will comply with the very latest employment, equality, health & safety and human rights legislation.

They will be able to remain at sea for several months and positively bristle with facilities. For instance, the new user-friendly crow’s nest comes equipped with wheelchair access. Live ammunition has been replaced with paintballs to reduce the risk of anyone getting hurt and to cut down on the number of compensation claims. Stress counsellors and lawyers will be on duty 24hrs a day, and each ship will have its own onboard industrial tribunal.

The crew will be 50/50 men and women, and balanced in accordance with the latest Home Office directives on race, gender, sexuality and disability. Sailors will only have to work a maximum of 37hrs per week in line with Brussels Health & Safety rules even in wartime! All bunks will be double occupancy, and the destroyers will all come equipped with a maternity ward and crèche, situated on the same deck as the Gay Disco.

Tobacco will be banned throughout the ship, but cannabis will be allowed in the wardroom and messes. The Royal Navy is eager to shed its traditional reputation for “Rum, Sodomy and the lash”; out goes the occasional rum ration which is to be replaced by Perrier water, although sodomy remains: this has now been extended to include all ratings under 18. The lash will still be available but only by request. Condoms can be obtained from the Bosun in a variety of flavours, except Capstan Full Strength.

Saluting officers has been abolished because it is elitist, and is to be replaced by the more informal “Hello Sailor”. All notices on boards will be printed in 37 different languages and Braille. Crew members will no longer be required to ask permission to grow beards or moustaches – this applies equally to the women.

The MOD is working on a new “Non specific” flag based on the controversial British Airways “Ethnic” tailfin design, because the white ensign is considered to be offensive to minorities.

The newly-renamed HMS Cautious is due to be re-commissioned soon in a ceremony conducted by Captain Hook from the Finsbury Park Mosque who will break a petrol bomb over the hull. She will gently slide into the water to the tune of “In the Navy” by the Village People played by the Royal Marines. Sea Trials are expected to take place, when she sets out on her maiden mission. She will be escorting boat loads of illegal immigrants across the channel to ports on the south coast.

The Prime Minister said that “While the ships reflected the very latest of modern thinking they were also capable of being up-graded to comply with any new legislation.

His final words were “Britain never, never waives the rules!”

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New additions to Navy Days 2010

Several new additions have been made to the list of ships due to appear at Navy Days 2010, taking place in Portsmouth Dockyard from 30 July to 1 August.

HMS Gleaner is the smallest vessel in the Royal Navy, measuring just 14.8 metres and with a crew of five. Normally based at Devonport, he role is to survey the waters around the UK coastline.

FS Cormoran

FS Cormoran

The French Ship FS Cormoran is the first Foreign naval vessel to confirm her attendance. Normally based at Brest, the Fishery Patrol vessel has a crew of 19. She is a farely frequent visitor to Portsmouth Harbour on her Channel patrols.

So far the following ships are due to attend: The Type 45 Destroyers HMS Daring and HMS Dauntless, aviation training and casualty receiving ship RFA Argus, Type 23 Frigates HMS Richmond and HMS Westminster, minehunter HMS Cattistock, Fishery patrol vessel HMS Tyne, and now HMS Gleaner and FS Cormoran.

Regular attendees will be hoping that more ships are added, and soon. Whilst no aircraft carrier will be presen due to refits, operations and mothballing, the Navy really should try to get one of the landing ships Ocean, Bulwark or Albion to attend. A lot is being made of the two new Destroyers, but no matter how new and shiny they are, Destroyers are never going to be crowd-pullers. And this is especially important at a time when the Royal Navy is facing cuts and needs to work on its public profile.

Lets hope that some interesting foreign ships confirm to attend, otherwise its starting to look pretty feeble compared to Navy Days past.

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Contract signed for next phase of Type 26 warship project

The MOD has recently signed a contract with BAE systems for the Assessment Phase of the Royal Navy’s planned Type 26 combat ship, the next generation of British warships.

A joint BAE-MOD team will work on designs for the Type 26 class, which are due to replace the Type 22 and Type 23 Frigates by the end of the decade. The Type 26 nomenclature has been used, as the Type 24 and Type 25 Frigates were projects that never left the drawing board. By giving the project a formal Type name, the MOD is making it seem that much more of a reality.

According to the official MOD press release, the purpose of the Assessment phase will be to ensure ‘…that the necessary capabilities identified during the Strategic Defence Review are incorporated into the Type 26 design’.

The published key design aims for the Type 26 are for a ship that is:

• Versatile – able to undertake a number of roles;
• Flexible – to adapt to the changing needs of defence;
• Affordable – both in build and support through its service life;
• Exportable – designed with the international market in mind.

I have long thought that these ships will be very important to the future of the Royal Navy. The design aims seem to be broadly sensible, and of course affordability will be important in the current economic climate. That the Assessment phase is largely dependant on the Strategic Defence Review may seem worrying, but it is also pragmatic – there is no sense in forging ahead with a project that may be cancelled or radically altered. And ship design and procurement needs to work within the broader strategic context.

The Royal Navy is currently far behind many of its allies where smaller escort ships are concerned – the Danish Absalon and the Swedish Visby classes are examples of this. Its crucial that the Type 26 is delivered.

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Portsmouth Harbour tour #2

There were a couple of foreign warships in port this weekend, so I thought I would take the chance to go on the Pompey harbour tour and take some pics!

FGS Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

FGS Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

FGS Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is a German Frigate of the Brandenburg Class, and its the first time a ship of that class has visited Portsmouth. They’re very impressive ships with a 76mm main gun, Vertical launch anti-air missiles and exocet anti-ship missiles, as well as Rheinmetall 20mm cannons. They’re currently underoing an upgrade and the Vertical launch missiles are being replaced with Sea Sparrow, and the Exocets with RBS 15 Mk.3. Interesting how she looks like a German warship – high, stacked and mean looking.

HNLMS Johann De Witt

HNLMS Johann De Witt

HLMS Johann De Witt is a Dutch Landing Ship. Launched in 2007, she is from a class of two ships. She can accomodate numerous landing craft, which use the stern dock to embark troops. She also has a large flight deck and hangar for up to 6 Lynx helicopters. She can carry 611 marines, 170 armoured personnel carriers or 33 Main Batle tanks – a impressive sealift capacity. The Dutch Navy and Marines can form a joint task force with the Royal Navy’s amphibious task group, so she could well operate with British ships. She’s very similar to the British Bay Class. Unlike the Bay Class however she has good self-defence – 2 Goalkeeper guns and 4 Oerlikon 20mm cannons – and the Bay Class lack a hangar.

HMS Manchester

HMS Manchester

HMS Manchester is a Batch 3 ship of the Type 42 Class of Destoyers. She’s looking her age now and her and the rest of the class are due to be replaced as the Type 45 Destroyers come into service. The Sea Dart missile system is pretty much obsolete now compared to the Sea Viper, even if it hasn’t yet been fully proven in trials. Notice also how shes longer than the earlier Type 42′s – they proved to be very poor in rough seas, so the later ships were lengthened. But this would have cracked the hull, so they had strengthening fitted along their sides.

HMS Iron Duke

HMS Iron Duke

HMS Iron Duke is a Type 23 Frigate. She has a 4.5inch main gun, Sea Wolf verital launch anti-air missile system and Harpoon anti-ship missiles. They were originally designed as anti-submarine ships for the North Atlantic, but nowadays are more likely to be seen fighting pirates and drug-smuggles. The Iron Duke performed well in the Carribean last year, but is a Cold War anti-submarine frigate the best ship for fighting drug smugglers? She has a proper warship name though, named after the Duke of Wellington. My Great-Grandad served on the First World War vintage Iron Duke, a battleship.

HMS Invincible

HMS Invincible

Finally we see HMS Invincible, the mothballed Falklands veteran aircraft carrier. She was withdrawn from service in 2005 – technically she is in ‘extended readiness’. Not sure what the Navy means by this, as if you look on Google Earth you can see her propellers on the flight deck – I don’t think shes going anywhere anytime soon. She’s probably been robbed of parts to keep her sister ships Illustrious and Ark Royal running. My dad worked on Invincible when she first came into the Dockyard, many moons ago. She’s due to be towed to the breakers yard later this year.

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Type 45 Destroyers face further worries

The Portsmouth Evening News for today includes an in-depth investigation into the problems that are plaguing the Royal Navy’s new Type 45 Destroyers.

Reportedly the Navy is planning to take old Phalanx close-in weapons systems from old Type 42 Destroyers as they are scrapped and fit them on the Type 45′s. Why they were not planned to have a close in system such as Phalanx or Goalkeeper in the first place defies logic and demonstrates the extent to which Ministry of Defence procurement policy is about cutting costs at the expsense of lives. The Falklands War demonstrated that even modern weapons systems are not 100% reliable, and was exactly the reason why close-in weapons systems were fitted in the first place.

Sources have also admitted that they are still no closer to establishing why the Sea Viper missile system has failed in 50% of its test-firings from a barge off the south coast of France. News that the Phalanx system is to be fitted to the Type 45′s might suggest that the Navy is planning to deploy the Daring’s without Sea Viper operational – given the shortage of escort ships there is a real prospect of a 7,500 ton, £1billion Air Defence Destroyer being used as a patrol boat, with an add-on close in weapon system in place of a defective missile system.

New reports have also surfaced regarding the Type 45′s new communication system, which is intended to allow them to see what other ships are doing and to co-ordinate action. Apparently the cut from 12, to 8, and then to 6 vessels was not important, we were told, as 1 ship could do the work of 2 or 3 anyway. Yet, unbelievably, a contract has not even been placed for the CEC (Co-operative Engagement Capability) system. The MOD procurement department is yet to decide whether the system will be ordered from British or American suppliers.

These new reports cast a dark shadow over MOD policy. That ships were planned without standard close-in weapons systems, that the main missile system is not yet operational, and that the ship’s main computer system has not even been ordered yet, beggars belief and could suggest that it will be a matter of years before they are able to perform their intended role in the Fleet.

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Guide to the Royal Navy 2010

Guide to the Royal Navy 2010

Guide to the Royal Navy 2010

I picked up this booklet yesterday, published by Warships International Fleet Review. It makes for very interesting reading. If you are interested in the Royal Navy and Defence issues I would highly reccomend picking up a copy, but I think it is worthwhile summarising the key points.

The editorial introduction sets out the running themes. The Royal Navy’s ability to act as a global force is on a knife edge, still having a fleet that can deliver Government policy and defend British interests, but its ability to do so is stretched almost to the point of fragility. This has been caused by relentless cuts, particularly in the number of hulls and retiring the Sea Harrier early. The Navy is so overstretched that it is unable to deploy beyond its standing commitments in the Gulf and the South Atlantic. The prime cause of this overstretch is the reduction in the criticial mass of numbers of Frigates and Destroyers, the workhorses of the fleet. RFA vessels have recently performed patrols that should be carried out by Frigates.

At one point the Foreign Secretary, David Milliband, promised a British Frigate to patrol off Gaza to prevent Hamas receiving arms – it later transpired that none was available. Perhaps we could borrow back the three Type 23 Frigates that we sold to Chile recently at a knock down price? A classic example of the Government expecting our armed forces to do twice as much, but with half as much resources.

The Guide argues that Labour has never been serious about funding armed forces, and particularly the Navy, but has shown an eagerness to commit them to action without investing in them. While the ongoing operation in Afghanistan is quite rightly taking priority at present, it would be very dangerous indeed to close our minds to more long term needs. Billions of pounds has been pumped into shoring up banks, while the comparatively cheap insurance policy of sufficient armed forces falls by the wayside.

Another startling Government policy is the giving of millions of pounds to India in order to eradicate poverty, while the Indian Navy embarks on spending Billions of pounds on a new Nuclear Submarine programme. British Foreign Policy may change for the better if the astute and intelligent William Hague becomes Foreign Secretary, but with ranks of former Army and even current Territorial Army officers on the Conservative benches, the Navy looks in for a rough time in the upcoming Defence Review. The expected appointment of General Sir Richard Dannatt as a special adviser on Defence will reinforce this Army-bias considerably. Already, stories have sprung up in the press arguing against the new Aircraft Carriers and Nuclear Submarines.

Britain and the Royal Navy clearly needs new Aircraft Carriers, new submarines and new Frigates. If, the Guide argues, the Government decides to scrap the current schemes for these ships, it will merely have to come up with alternatives.

Finally, the overarching argument seems to be that the next Government faces a stark choice, that has been avoided for some time – does Britain wish to be a player on the world stage? If so, we need to invest in the Royal Navy. If not, then Britain faces a future of irrelevance, inability to safeguard citizens, protect trade or play its part in securing international stability.

There are several interesting features. The first, by David Axe and based on a visit to HMS Portland while on anti-piracy patrol in the gulf of Aden, argues that cuts in the Navy would undermine security in the region. The Royal Navy’s much vaunted professionalism would be at risk if the amount of ‘sea-time’ was cut due to a reduction in ships.

An interesting article by Usman Ansari argues quite succintly that with the Navy’s move towards having less but more capable ships, a less technological but more numerous foe could easily swamp the fleet. Also, there is a startling revelation that many of the Type 23 Frigates, designed as anti-submarine vessels, do not carry towed array sonar as a costcutting measure. Therefore even the decreasing amount of ships flatter – certain ships only have certain capabilities. The potential for being caught out does not bear thinking about.

Dr Robert Farley suggests that the special relationship between the US and British Navy, whilst still strong, has come under question in recent years. In particular the US has questioned the Royal Navy’s fighting spirit after a number of embarassing incidents. US Naval figures have also been dismayed at the continual decline of the Royal Navy, and this had led to doubts as to its capability to contribute to operations.

Dr Lee Willett discusses the strategic value of Nuclear submarines, both of the attack variety and ballistic missile. Again, a reduction of hull numbers will lead to a fall in capability, and mean that replacements for the Astute Class would need to be ordered much sooner than expected due to overstretch and over-use.

Falklands veteran and air warfare expert Sharkey Ward offers some stark opinions regarding the new Aircraft Carriers and the F-35. Both projects are crucial to the UK achieving its policy of maintaining an effective expeditionary task force. With new carriers and a naval air wing, the UK will always be able to operate independently of the US, something that would not have been possible in recent years. Many developing nations have purchased the advanced MiG Flanker. Interestingly, Ward argues that the combined Carrier and F-35 projects can be achieved at less cost to the UK than the Eurofighter project – if so, this represents good value for money indeed.

Dr Dave Sloggett argues that it is crucial that a mix is found in the capabilities of the planned FSC Frigates. I reported some time ago on the C1 and C2 sub-classes that are planned, demonstrating the wide range of roles expected of the Frigate fleet.

The Guide also includes some new, exciting computer images of the new class of Aircraft Carriers, including on the flight deck and inside the aircraft hangar. Finally, this interesting publication finishes with some interesting interviews with Naval Officers and ratings, several book reviews and nostalgic articles too.

An essential read if you want to keep on top of whats happening with the Navy, interested in Defence or just generally like reading about ships.

‘Guide to the Royal Navy 2010′ is published by Warships: International Fleet Review, RRP £5.50. I picked up my copy from WH Smith.

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BAE systems to create plans for new Frigates

An artists impression of the Future Surface Combatant

An artists impression of the Future Surface Combatant

BAE Systems have signed a £3.4m contract to create designs for the Royal Navy’s next generation of Frigates, the Portsmouth News reports. Staff at BAE are working on two designs under the Future Surface Combatant Programme, called the C1 and C2.

C1 is larger than the current Type 23 Frigates, and provides air defence for Carrier groups, but also has a small ‘mission dock’ – not unlike the dock on assault ships – for the rapid launching of small, fast boats. The second design, C2, would be more of a general purpose vessel, designed for patrolling and other duties. Plans are said to be taking shape for ten C1′s and eight C2′s.

Project Director Brian Johnson said: ‘Subject to MoD approval at later stages, we’ve got an outline plan that would see the first ship launched in 2016, and then one ship a year enter service from 2020 or 2021. They would be expected to have a 25-year lifespan, so would be in service until 2050.’

It is a much needed boost to the Royal Navy to have this project advancing. It is arguably more important than the planned new Aircraft Carriers, as 95% of the time it is the Destroyers and Frigates that are out around the globe patrolling the seas. While designs are not the same as signed contracts, at least something is happening.

There are a few areas for concern, however. Why is an air-defence Frigate being planned, when we have the Type 45 Destroyers that are supposedly designed for protecting the new Carriers? And why are we only having six of them, wouldn’t it be better to have say 8 or 10, and just have one class of General Purpose Frigate? Or are the C1 Air Defence Frigates a cheaper alternative for the cancelled Type 45′s?

The C2 design sounds encouraging. A smaller, more general purpose Frigate would be far more ideally suited to tackling small and fast suicide boats and Somali Pirates. The mission dock sounds especially capable.

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