All at sea

Deadmanwalking

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In a big break from my usual reading habits i was browsing the Guardian today and came across this article.

It concerns the proposed mothballing of 4 Royal navy Destroyers. This is in line with the new defence plans to cut back on bulk in the armed forces and replace with new light, mobile forces.

Anyones thoughts on this?
 

Brynn

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Now what Foreign Superpower are they gunna sell them to?
 

xane

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Brynn said:
Now what Foreign Superpower are they gunna sell them to?
There's only one "foreign superpower" and they have enough ships thanks.

You mean what "foreign tin-pot dictatorship" are we going to sell them to prior to negotiating a regime change ?
 

DaGaffer

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Deadmanwalking said:
In a big break from my usual reading habits i was browsing the Guardian today and came across this article.

It concerns the proposed mothballing of 4 Royal navy Destroyers. This is in line with the new defence plans to cut back on bulk in the armed forces and replace with new light, mobile forces.

Anyones thoughts on this?
Not really surprising tbh. British forces (like it says in the article) are designed mainly as a subset of NATO (e.g. American) forces anyway (and not just at sea; we've got big capability gaps in the Army and RAF that are filled by the Americans, while we do specialist stuff they don't bother with much, like low-level interdiction). Modern frigates and destroyers are generally about carrier protection/asw or are missile carriers, and we don't really need either, so we shouldn't get too emotionally attached to them. Of course if the Russians or the Chinese ever got frisky, there's a pretty long lead-time to build up a decent navy...
 

Deadmanwalking

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DaGaffer said:
Of course if the Russians or the Chinese ever got frisky, there's a pretty long lead-time to build up a decent navy...
If they ever get "frisky" ships won't save us.
 

Vae

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It depends how you look at the situation.

I don't see any details of when the 4 destroyers are to be mothballed but given that the type 45 destroyers (anti air) are due to enter service at the tail end of this decade any reduction in naval power is likely short term.

As it is at the moment the Royal Navy is rather outdated/outmoded. The threats is was designed to protect against are very diminished and any future conventional conflict is likely to to involve us "plugged" in as part of the US force as the uK armed forces are uniquely able to do. The frigates are designed to be anti submarine of which there is a very low threat: India and Pakistan have a few noisy diesel subs, Russias navy is almost non-existent now and the only other significant force is China but then they again have mainly old diesel and electric subs.

The destroyers are designed to be anti air which is a potentially more significant threat but again the coverage from land bases and the likelihood of action alongside the US covers any lack of air defense. In addition as the type 45 destroyers come online and the existing aircraft carriers are replaced by the 2 new larger carriers with Joint Strike fighters the air defence increases again.

Conflict today is tending more towards littoral warfare such as in both Iraq wars and Bosnia. In those situations the significance of the frigates and destroyeres is greatly reduced. During peacetime those ships tend to be more involved in anti fisheries/drugs roles and goodwill visits all of which it could be argued could be done better by other means.
 

Deadmanwalking

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Those 2 new larger carriers are infact not as big or high-tech as planned. And the existing "large" carriers are to be turned into amphibious (sp?) support vessels. Much like the HMS Ocean is at the moment. Escort carriers i think are the correct term.

The whole focus is shifting from big, heavy and ultimately immobile forces to lightweight, mobile and relatively hard hitting. Destroyers are still used (currently anyway) as the launch point for Royal Marines and a few other specialist troops during operations. Any reduction of this capability is not going to be a good idea.

But like you noticed it is still only at it's idea phrase so will take some time to actually happen, if it does at all.
 

xane

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The Navy has always been a victim to aircraft technologies, a ship is a poor defence against aircraft/missile, unless the ship itself, or one nearby, is the target, even then it is unlikely to survive a persistant airbourne attack.

The power in the mobile strike force of the US Carrier Group is being diminished, as missile technology becomes better and the range of air delivered munitions improves.

The US is looking at hypersonic transport technology right now. With high speed bombers originating from the homeland that can hit any target in the world within a few hours, the need to project military power via the navy becomes redundant.

When you no longer have ships then the enemy submarine also ceases to become a threat, so a knock-on redundancy occurs with anti-submarine ships.

The only real excuse for a navy is the transport of heavy equipment, and the reasons for that are getting fewer every day, again because of precision strike weaponry.
 

Deadmanwalking

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As i pointed out above. The actual strike capability of ships may not the defining factor for their existance anymore, but they still play a vital role in military operations.

Sending a missle or payload to a target is relatively easy, but try sending a few hundred heavily armed nutters the same way :)

Even for landlocked countries this still rings true. The US spent alot of political power and time gaining access to bases and resources within nearby countries. The navy allows striking at a target without the need for these bases and all the hassle associated with them.
 

DaGaffer

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xane said:
The Navy has always been a victim to aircraft technologies, a ship is a poor defence against aircraft/missile, unless the ship itself, or one nearby, is the target, even then it is unlikely to survive a persistant airbourne attack.

The power in the mobile strike force of the US Carrier Group is being diminished, as missile technology becomes better and the range of air delivered munitions improves.

The US is looking at hypersonic transport technology right now. With high speed bombers originating from the homeland that can hit any target in the world within a few hours, the need to project military power via the navy becomes redundant.

When you no longer have ships then the enemy submarine also ceases to become a threat, so a knock-on redundancy occurs with anti-submarine ships.

The only real excuse for a navy is the transport of heavy equipment, and the reasons for that are getting fewer every day, again because of precision strike weaponry.
It'll be thirty years before a hypersonic plane is in service, although your overall point stands, except, subs will continue to be a threat as the Chinese are almost certainly development missile boats, which is one reason for the flurry of naval expansion in the far East. Satellites will do some of the ASW work, but you'll still need anti-sub ships/helicopters in conjunction with ASW planes.
 

DaGaffer

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Deadmanwalking said:
As i pointed out above. The actual strike capability of ships may not the defining factor for their existance anymore, but they still play a vital role in military operations.

Sending a missle or payload to a target is relatively easy, but try sending a few hundred heavily armed nutters the same way :)

Even for landlocked countries this still rings true. The US spent alot of political power and time gaining access to bases and resources within nearby countries. The navy allows striking at a target without the need for these bases and all the hassle associated with them.
True, but you don't a frigate or destroyer to fulfil that function; you really need a small carrier or transport ship. Carrying marines is very much a secondary function for a frigate, and not one it does particularly well; if its lightly armed special forces you need, a C17 can do the job far better and more quickly and if you need to deliver heavy equipement such as tanks, you need bigger ships anyway.
 

Vae

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Although the 2 new larger carriers may not end up as large as planned (40,000 tons) they will still dwarf anything else in the fleet (and still be dwarfed by the US carriers) where the current aircraft carriers are the largest at 22,000 tons (In actuality they are pocket armoured carriers rather than full aircraft carriers).

Although, as the previous poster mentions, the advent of the hypersonic bomber will affect warfare a lot there will still be a need for a carriergroup as a mobile airfield for operation in areas where there is no friendly land base. It also acts as a local C&C HQ
 

Deadmanwalking

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Once again yeah. But what it all comes down to is the timescale of all of these new ships and if and when the old ones are to be mothballed.

Before these two new carriers come along we will have to manage with what will become the escort carriers. The current solution for marines are tiny, helicopter carriers which while surfice just don't handle enough equipment to do the job as best as possible.

While alot can be said for planes as a means of delivering men and equipment, they just don't have the same threat or operational flexibility to compete with choppers and landing craft.
 

xane

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DaGaffer said:
It'll be thirty years before a hypersonic plane is in service, although your overall point stands, except, subs will continue to be a threat as the Chinese are almost certainly development missile boats, which is one reason for the flurry of naval expansion in the far East. Satellites will do some of the ASW work, but you'll still need anti-sub ships/helicopters in conjunction with ASW planes.
During that period aircraft and missile technology will improve anyway, right now the range of a single ALCM already extends to 1500 miles and the aircraft that carries it extends that range even further, over time this will improve and diminish the need for transport.

The Chinese have already improved on their missile technology with space exploration, it is perfectly reasonable to assume they could launch ICBMs towards us anyway.

If you don't have any ships, then submarines no longer pose a threat, so the ASW requirement goes away, the enemy can float his underwater boat as much as he likes but he wont find any targets.

Submarine launched ICBMs are a different matter, they are more likely to be hunted by other submarines, not ASW ships.
 

Tenko

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I've copied this article from the times as it will not be available from tommorrow. It details the curent Sea Lord's preference for which naval programs he feels most necessary. In it he mentions the mothballing of the destroyers.

Sea Lord picks his site for battle over Navy cuts
By Michael Evans, Defence Editor






THE head of the Royal Navy indicated yesterday that he was resigned to having a smaller fleet of warships, and that older vessels would have to go.
However, Admiral Sir Alan West, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, drew a line in the sand over potential cuts in the Navy.

Speaking on board a British frigate moored in the Thames, next to the Schroders London Boat Show, the admiral spelt out the four priorities which he gave every indication that he would fight for when the issue of cuts across all three Armed Forces comes up later this year.

The list in his order of preference was: the two planned large aircraft carriers equipped with joint strike fighters, the first of which is to be in service in 2012; the fleet’s nuclearpowered attack submarines of which there are 12; the amphibious force of assault ships for the Royal Marines; and replacement Royal Fleet Auxiliary support vessels.

Of these priority items, there still remain doubts about the eventual size of the new carriers. Final decisions are not due to be announced until April.

Sir Alan said that as far as he was concerned, he expected both carriers to be 55,000 tonnes. Anything less than that would make it difficult to maintain the capability which he considered crucial: for each carrier to be able to carry 36 of the new joint strike fighters, and for each of those fighters to be capable of completing three sorties every day.

BAE Systems, the prime contractor for the carrier programme, has already given a warning that a ship of that size would cost £4 billion, not the £3 billion allocated by the MoD for the two vessels.

Sir Alan said he did not know whether the decision was going to be on time or not, although he said it was possible the programme would have to be dealt with “in a different way”. He gave no further clues what that would mean.

The submarine fleet of 12 boats is also facing an uncertain future. While there is no doubt in the Government’s mind about the effectiveness of nuclear-powered submarines, many of which are now armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, there may be pressure to cut back on numbers.

Sir Alan acknowledged that he had no idea at this stage what would have to be cut because the MoD was still engaged in negotiating with the Treasury over spending limits.

Once it is known how much money is to be made available for procuring equipment and for basic running costs, he and the other Service chiefs will have to decide where sacrifices should be made.

Following publication of the Defence White Paper in December, the Service chiefs are on notice that the Government wants to spend more money on high-tech intelligence-gathering systems and sees less of a need for older equipment and weapons platforms that were designed orginally for the Cold War.

Sir Alan gave no hint of how many surface ships might have to be scrapped or mothballed, but he indicated that the axe would fall first on the older destroyers, the Type 42s.

The oldest of these are HMS Cardiff, HMS Newcastle and HMS Glasgow. These ships are armed with Sea Dart antiaircraft missiles which first came into service in the 1970s.

He also predicted that the Navy would not get the 12 new Type 45 destroyers which were initially proposed to replace the old Type 42s. Six are being built which he welcomed. “But I wouldn’t bet on getting all 12 Type 45s,” he said.

Sir Alan admitted that his Service, like the other Armed Forces, faced having to “take the pain” of cutbacks. “We have to cut our cloth . . . ,” he said.

However, he could not predict whether this would mean ending up with a smaller Navy than France. But even if this was the result, he said, the Royal Navy would still have a better capability than the French.

Sir Alan said the achievement of the Navy to deploy 33 ships to the Gulf on time early last year for the campaign in Iraq could never have been matched by the French Navy.

He also said that the Navy would still be able to carry out a Falklands-type campaign, when dozens of ships, including two aircraft carriers, were deployed 8,000 miles to the South Atlantic in 1982 to liberate the Falkland Islands from occupying Argentine troops. He hastened to add he was not anticipating a similar operation against Argentina in the future.

The Navy chief was speaking on the occasion of an announcement about a joint partnership between the Royal Navy, the French Navy and the British yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur to promote maritime events within the framework of the centenary celebrations of the Entente Cordiale in April.
From this I see a role of surface ships being solely for the defence of the carrier group, a role they are a match for against all but the most technically efficient opposing force such as say China or even India in the near future.

Moving a carrier group to a hotspot is faster than moving ground based aircraft and is therefore much more useful.

Things like the US FALCON program are a very long way off being deployable with long range conventional bombing with the like of the B2 being the only current alternative.
 

Deadmanwalking

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The list in his order of preference was: the two planned large aircraft carriers equipped with joint strike fighters, the first of which is to be in service in 2012; the fleet’s nuclearpowered attack submarines of which there are 12; the amphibious force of assault ships for the Royal Marines; and replacement Royal Fleet Auxiliary support vessels.
Great! So we nuke em with subs first then send in the Marines :(
 

Cdr

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Deadmanwalking said:
Great! So we nuke em with subs first then send in the Marines :(
Where does it say nukes would be used first?
 

Scooba da Bass

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I think he read nuclear powered and got excited.

Anyway, our navy is beginning to follow the US thinking where Carriers are used pretty exclusively with support vessels as backup, not that it matters since I really can't imagine a situation in which a massive navy (or indeed army) is required.
 

Deadmanwalking

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Cdr said:
Where does it say nukes would be used first?
Nuke in the Shock and awe way. The subs will be used for the launching of cruise missles. And no i didn't read nuclear power and 'get excited'. But hey patronising remarks makes scooba feel all nice and big.
 

TedTheDog

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xane said:
There's only one "foreign superpower" and they have enough ships thanks.
Actually, the bottom feeders running the US Navy have announced in the last week that they intend to expand and modernise the fleet considerably. The fleet is currently 296 vessels (everything in the USN) and they're aiming for 375. They'll pay for this expansion primarily through personnel cuts.
They obviously need more toys to play with.
 

Jonaldo

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I think it was just the phrasing :) using the term 'nuked' when discussing warfare would suggest you meant using nuclear weapons.

I don't see losing these ships as any great disaster, although I think we may be taking the peaceful standpoint of several countries for granted at present and shouldn't reduce our military too much.
 

RandomBastard

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I doubt they would be sold, more likly to be decommisioned and not replaced as is the tradition.

However I think its a bad thing. The royal navy does more than to project military power onto the world (its out last avenue of that anyway), it also helps in anti drug ops and protects countrys in the british protectorate.

Lets not forget that there are also legititmate reasons why we might need a war machine in the future.
 

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