More ridiculous calls over Ark Royal name

There have been more ludicrous calls by elected representatives to name one of the new Aircraft Carriers HMS Ark Royal. Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt has written to the Defence Secretary Liam Fox to suggest that one of the new Aircraft Carriers is called ‘Queen Elizabeth, the Ark Royal’.

Ms Mordaunt, who is a naval reservist and sits on the parliamentary defence committee, wrote: ‘It is almost unthinkable that there should be a Royal Navy without an Ark Royal, whatever the historic precedents.’

This quote shows a breathtaking lack of grasp of history. Ships names come and go but the Royal Navy sails on regardless – that IS the historical precedent. The irony is, she talks about Ark Royal being such an indispensable name on the one hand, presumably thanks preceisely to its history – but then says something like ‘whatever the historical precedents’.

A recent poll conducted by the Portsmouth Evening News showed that over 90% of local people – many of them either serving, ex sailors or naval families – thought that the name Ark Royal should be allowed to rest for a while. I quite agree. As I have written before, the Royal Navy has a vast history covering hundreds of proud names – why the fixation on just one? Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales are fine, historic names in their own right. It is NOT ‘unthinkable’ to not have an Ark Royal – the Royal Navy went without one for hundreds of years from the days of the Spanish Armada to the mid Twentieth Century. Why does no one mind about their not being an Illustrious, or an Invincible?

The Royal Navy would get on just fine without an Ark Royal. This myth that Ark Royal is such a historic name only came about thanks to the late 1970’s TV programme Sailor in any case. Soon we’re not going to have enough ships to keep every name that we have become attached to.

I’m not sure why politicians keep banging on about the name issue. I could understand if they thought it might win them some popularity and some votes. But its been proven that the vast majority of people do not mind. Either that or people have enough intelligence to realise when politicians are trying to buy their votes with cheap publicity stunts.

All this effort is being expended by politicians on a side-issue, at the same time as the armed forces are being decimated by Government cuts. The lack of priorities is quite distasteful. Lets forget about names and focus on equipment; on manning; on structures and on funding.



Filed under Navy, News, politics, Uncategorized

54 responses to “More ridiculous calls over Ark Royal name

  1. John Erickson

    Um… maybe something was lost in the translation, but wouldn’t Ms. Mordaunt’s suggested name be rather like calling the Queen a big, fat boat? 🙂
    You are absolutely right, though. Worry about getting the bloody ships built FIRST. Then you can worry about little details like names.
    OR… maybe you need to take a page from our book? Get some corporate sponsors? Wouldn’t you love to watch the launch of HMS “Vauxhall and Barclays presents”? C’mon, guys, ya gotta get into the 21st century! After all, I’ve heard rumours that the next major class of US carriers will be named USS McDonalds, USS Wendy’s, USS Taco Bell, and USS Pizza Hut. After all, these fine restaurants are like shipyards – they build things with bigger and bigger beams…… 😀

  2. x

    Ark Royal isn’t really that an “illustrious” name carrier wise. I would have preferred an HMS Eagle over PoW….

    I don’t know if you are Sky subscriber James but the Discovery Channel is running a good documentary on the Ark at the moment. The last episode featured a USMC squadron flying 12 (twelve!) AV8s from the Ark. The AV8 is a wonderful ‘plane. If the FAA squadrons had had those instead of GR9 it would have been worth keeping Ark. (Actually saying had those is silly, because all we are talking about is a RADAR……)

    I have my copy of Sailor now. I am going to start watching it this weekend…….

    • James Daly

      I would have liked another Hermes and invincible in tribute to the falklands.

    • James Daly

      Or maybe Courageous or Glorious?

    • John Erickson

      Oooh…. The latest UK carriers named after “Fisher’s Follies”? 😀 I’d say that’s a bad idea, but I doubt there’s even 1% of the British population that remembers them as “large light cruisers” rather than as the far-more-useful CV conversions (and far fewer Americans who have even HEARD those names!).
      Sucks to be a historian sometimes, eh? 😉

      • x

        Well it is easy to argue for the first of class for the largest British warship to be named (in a tangential way) after the current monarch. Remember she will be called the Queen Elizabeth, and not the Queen Elizabeth II.

        But I don’t know so much about calling the second Prince of Wales. BTW the last PoW was a KGV class battleship not a battlecrusier.

        The KGVs were no Iowas. 😦 I remember reading in Vice Admiral Louis Le Bailly’s biography about his time in the Duke of York. He invited his USN counterpart over from an Iowa to tour the engine spaces. The American turned up in Khakis and Le Bailly had to find him some overalls for what was going to be a very dirty trip. Halfway round the American cried off due to fatigue; there was more steam outside the pipes than in and the heat was too much. When Le Bailly made the return visit he completed the tour in his shirt sleeves the engines spaces of the American supership were free from (too much) dirt and escaped steam. The engineering powers that be in the RN looked down on jointing compounds as near voodoo and coupled with wartime construction it meant the KGVs weren’t at their best.

        • James Daly

          They were definitely designed with interwar penny pinching in mind, then built with wartime expedience and economy.

          Come to think of it, were any inter-war or WW2 designs any good?

          • x

            The Hunts were OK. As were the Lochs and Bays for what they designed to do.

            The Towns were OK I suppose.

            The ships themselves tended to be a short legged. Their Lordships seemed to have no real interest in AAW; so no powered mounts and few modern machine cannon. (Why nobody here could come with a POLSTEN I don’t know.) I have already mentioned the odd attitude to “modern” engineering practices. I don’t have tell you that unlike the USN in the RN engineers were nearly civilians in uniform. In fact all USN deck officers did some engineering training. And couple that with other unshakable truths like closed bridges sent watchkeepers to sleep because they were too comfortable……..

  3. Here’s an idea – why not worry about skills and capabilities rathr than what ships are called? Not operating fixed wing aircraft from the deck for a decad – now THAT is unthinkable.

    • James Daly

      I think of it more as treasonable – ie, consciously doing something that you know will hurt the country and its people. In all honesty, I would be very surprised if after the 10 year window British lives have not been lost or British interests seriously damaged due to a lack of an aircraft carrier and a naval strike wing.

    • John Erickson

      My concern is for co-operative actions between the UK and US. I can easily foresee the UK leadership relying on US air power for support under the NATO aegis. Meanwhile, an insular, if not isolationist, government takes power here in the states. For whatever reasons, you guys go in, and our leadership decides British blood isn’t worth US treasure (and/or blood). Or worse, we get cold feet and pull out, leaving your lads in the lurch. There’s a lot of people over here who view Iraq as a two-man screw-up – “Dubya” and Tony. It requires little imagination to foresee a populist rabble-rouser coming along to turn some noble deed (like policing a broken-up Libya) into a “here we go again”, and somehow blaming the British government. Americans have gotten so addicted to blaming other people for their own failings. It seriously scares me.

      • James Daly

        Just when the world is at it’s most unpredictable we are at our most unprepared.

        • x

          Forget Japan and Libya. The real sign of the approaching end is the Italians beating the Frogs this afternoon.

          (I have real soft spot for Italian rugby, there are very much my second favourite international team…. )

        • John Erickson

          Italians beating the French? Say it ain’t so! That messes up my whole world view! NOW which World War 2 country can I make fun of? (Other than the US for taking over 2 years to get off our duffs!)

          • x

            If you dig a bit there is quite a bit of “rivalry” between the French and Italians; there is as much niggle between the two as there is between the UK and France.

          • John Erickson

            My favourite has always been in 1940, while the French army in the north was retreating in tatters before the Germans. The Italians decide to grab some southern French territory, but get defeated by the French using fewer numbers! So who can we make fun of, if the “surrender monkey” French defeated the Italians in 1940, but lost to them this year? I’d say Romanians, but I have too much respect for what they’ve done in Afghanistan. Suggestions? 🙂

    • x

      I only fall across pprune occasionally. I find a lot of their comments concerning the RN and especially the FAA verge on bigotry.

      I am very fond of the Royal Navy. But my opinions on ground based vs sea based military aircraft are based on objective evaluations of the RAF’s overall historical record which apart from a few months in 1940 on the whole has been lamentable.

      Look at where we are now. The UK is engaged in a COIN war in Afghanistan. Yet its primary air arm is willing to cut everything to safeguard a class of air superiority fighter with vague allusions to it being multi-roled. Jaguar, Harrier, and Tornado have all bee sacrificed on the high altar of Typhoon. A project many, many billions over budget and so far behind it is deployment schedule that the T1 planes will be soon going out of service. For the cost of Eurofighter Trident could have been purchased twice and the UK could have bought 6 carriers and the associated air groups. The Russians have been caught chasing V-boats around the northern seas but the RAF scraps our only MPA so handful of Eurofighters can chase Soviet-era bombers away that present no real threat at all.

    • John Erickson

      You can blame it at least partially on us Yanks. Our Air Force won’t let the Army have proper ground-attack fixed-wing craft (the A-10 being a glorious exception), but they also won’t build any themselves because they’d take away from the fancy high-flying super-fighters. So the Air Force figures you can hang bombs on an air-superiority fighter (F-15) and make a ground-attack bomber (Strike Eagle). If the Yanks can do it, the RAF can do it, right?

      • x

        One of the RAF came into being was to stop the RN and the Army fighting over aviation. And in a society that produced the likes of HG Wells you can understand there was a “social” pressure to see the exiting aeroplane become the Dreadnought of the skies. But we don’t live in the sky. Everything that an aeroplane does comes about because of a something or a happening on the surface (be it dry land or sea.) It is a level abstraction to far.

        It is easy to see why the USAAF came into being as the potential of the nuclear bomber became apparent at the end of WW2. There would be no need for armies or navies. Of course strategic bombing was a dead concept as soon as the first V2 hit the SE of England.

        People confuse air power and “air force.”

      • John Erickson

        Tsk,tsk. X, the USAAF was the air force under the US Army. It became the USAF after WW2. Silly! 😉
        Seriously, the USAF was absolutely all about the nukes. The Navy created some weird birds (including the A-4 Skyhawk with the 6′ long nose gear, and the huge Vigilante) to try to compete. And your mention of the V-2? The Navy tried launching them off the deck of a carrier. Yeah – a blowtorch trying to slice through the deck, turning into a randomly directed rocket (the pitch of the carrier tended to “tumble” the guidance gyros). Suffice to say, except for subs, the Navy (begrudgingly) got out of the strategic nuke business. I won’t even get into the Army’s flirtation with nukes – weapons whose range was smaller than the blast radius! Oh, the silliness of America’s inter-service rivalry over nukes! 😀

        • James Daly

          weren’t the Iowa class capable of firing 15 inch nukes at one point? Thats a terrifying thought… a magazine full of 15 inch nuke shells…

          I’ve seen videos of the RA experimenting with nuclear rounds, as you say John, madness…

          • x

            In the immediate post was years our own gunners were going ga-ga over battleships with nuclear shells.

            Iowas are amazing. I would love to go to Hawaii and visit the Missouri.

        • John Erickson

          I’d have to check, but I believe they did, although it would only have been a small number, a half-dozen to a dozen at most. I was thinking more of the Davy Crockett, a kind of spigot mortar adaptation of the 106mm recoil less rifles mounted on jeeps. Looked like a miniature “Fat Man”, the Nagasaki bomb. It was lethal to like 20 miles, but had a range of 6 or so. Oh boy, can I volunteer for that duty? And of course, Anzio Annie, our cross-country version of the WW1 railway guns, mounted on a pair of truck chassis. Compared to them, launching a V-2 off a carrier seemed downright sane! 😀

          • James Daly

            Did you ever hear about the stay-behind nuclear munitions that Britain developed in the 60’s? They were essentially mines meant to be buried in the German battlezone in the Cold War in the event of a NATO withdrawl to the channel coast. The problem is, they found that if buried underground the mechanism would get too cold and could malfunction. Therefore some bright sparks at the Atomic Weapons Establishment devised a plan whereby chickens were kept above it to keep it warm!

            I think a thread on bizarre nuclear weapons is in the offing…

          • John Erickson

            I knew about the landmines, but not the chickens. (I’ll avoid jokes about eggs in one basket or bird-brained ideas. 😉 ) Weird nuke weapons are interesting – just don’t do animal weapons, okay? I get highly wound when discussing the WW2 Russian “dog mines”! I don’t mind talking about naval mammal use, those experiments did have a porpoise! (Rimshot!) 😀

  4. There is a dark blue presence on PPRuNe….and not all of the crabs are hostile.

    • x

      I must have been unlucky. I shall have another poke about one day soon.

      Not all the crabs are hostile? I am curious now….. 🙂

  5. Down for maintenance at the moment.

  6. Working again now…

  7. x

    It could do with a few more sub-forums me thinks, not. 🙂

  8. RN issues are covered in the military aircrew forum…

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