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Plans to scrap HMS Caroline may be scrapped

Plans to scrap HMS Caroline may be scrapped | Royal Navy | Scoop.it
Launched in 1914, she retained the status of being the second oldest ship in royal naval service at the time of being decommissioned in 2011, second only to the HMS Victory as well as being the last First World War British ...
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British sailor still missing

British sailor still missing | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

A British sailor has gone missing in Dubai while his ship, HMS Westminster was docked there for a visit, the Royal Navy says.

 

Leading Seaman Timothy Andrew MacColl, 27, from Gosport in Hampshire, was last seen getting into a taxi at 02:00 local time on Sunday 27th May 2012 after a night out.

Mike McNamara's insight:

Timothy MacColl has now been missing for over 2,000 days or over Five and a half years!!!


Our thoughts continue to go out to his wife Rachael and Family who are still waiting for any news of his whereabouts.


Will he ever be found?


MOBILE Users: - Please scroll down for more of today's News

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UK Govt Owes it to the Navy & the Nation to Wake up

UK Govt Owes it to the Navy & the Nation to Wake up | Royal Navy | Scoop.it


Far from 2017 being the ‘Year of the Royal Navy’ – as suggested by the UK Govt and RN top brass – it turned out to be an annus horribilis (despite the welcome arrival of the first new super-carrier).

The Service has become engulfed in reports of a sex and drugs scandal in a nuclear missile submarine while also being threatened with cuts that will lop off key elements of its amphibious warfare force. There are also serious fears that badly needed frigates will soon be discarded and a survey vessel is also to be axed. In addition to the discarding of ships, there is the rumoured loss of more than 1,000 Royal Marines.

Above and beyond all this there is something else at work. There appears to be a serious decline in confidence and purpose in some of the RN’s people. This isn’t surprising after nearly 30 years of material contraction that has seen the British fleet reduced to less than half what it was in the late 1980s.

The majority of British politicians of today seem woefully out of touch with the fact that the naval environment has moved on from the more benign era of the immediate post-Cold War. We are now living in an ever more dangerous world in which serious threats at (and from the) sea are expanding rapidly. Terrible new sea-based conventional weapons can sink ships, destroy trade and also devastate cities. Yet the politicos at the helm of the Royal Navy’s omnishambles – which really started with the dreadful errors of the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) – utterly fail to understand all this.

Britain needs to field a fighting fleet that can wage war with vigour. It needs to be capable of destroying the enemy while large enough to take losses and survive to fight another day (and the days and weeks after that). There are serious doubts it can still go in harm’s way for any length of time.


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Claim navy was chasing Argentine sub 'completely untrue' says MoD

Claim navy was chasing Argentine sub 'completely untrue' says MoD | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

The Ministry of Defence has denied claims that the Argentine submarine that went missing with 44 crew members on board was being "chased" by a Royal Navy helicopter.

The claim was made by the sister of one of the sailors on board, who said she received a "strange" message from her brother Roberto Daniel Medina in the days before the vessel lost communication.

The second sub-officer is alleged to have sent her a Whatsapp message saying the ARA San Juan submarine was being tracked by a Royal Navy helicopter close to the Falkland Islands, Ms Media told Argentina's La Gaceta newspaper.

He told her: "On Monday an English helicopter was looking for us, and yesterday the Chileans, there has been a lot going on."

Ms Medina said she is making the message public so that it can be included in an investigation by federal judge Marta Yanez.

But an MoD spokesman said today: "This story is completely untrue."

The San Juan was last heard from on November 15 after disappearing about 300 miles from Argentina's southern coast following a battery failure.

Despite an multinational search to find the submarine and its crew, the vessel is yet to be found and its crew are feared dead. Experts said the crew only had enough oxygen to last up to 10 days if the submarine remained intact under the sea

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Interesting 'stir it up' story?
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Head of the Royal Navy will fight for our Royal Marines ‘every step of the way’

Head of the Royal Navy will fight for our Royal Marines ‘every step of the way’ | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

The head of the Royal Navy has vowed to fight for our Royal Marines “every step of the way” following fears that up to 1,000 commandos could be axed.

Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, said the Royal Marines are just as vital to UK defence today as they have ever been during the corps’ 350 year history.

Speaking at the annual Gallipoli Memorial Lecture at the Royal United Services Institute in London last month, he said: “The Royal Marines are an inseparable part of our naval family, and as Head of Service I will fight for them every step of the way."

His comments come amid fears the Government is considering scrapping Plymouth’s amphibious assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, as well as up to 1,000 Royal Marines.

He warned that today's Armed Forces "must work in an increasingly complex battlespace", adding that there are almost 500 submarines operated by 40 navies.

"You don't need to look very far to see rising and resurgent powers flex their muscles," he said.

"It's now clear that the peaks of Russian submarine activity that we've seen in the North Atlantic in recent years are the new norm.”

He said the new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers – like nuclear submarines – are strategic instruments, indicative of an ocean-going Navy and a global maritime power, and will sit at the heart of joint and coalition operations.


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A peek into Indias top secret and costliest defence project, nuclear submarines

A peek into Indias top secret and costliest defence project, nuclear submarines | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

India's top secret nuclear submarine project reached another decadal milestone last month with the launch of a second ballistic missile submarine, the Arighat . On November 19, Union defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman cracked the auspicious coconut on the fin of the submarine in the drydock of the Ship Building Centre (SBC) in Visakhapatnam in a low-key ceremony. Following this, the SBC's drydock was flooded and the submarine quietly floated out. It will be at least another three years before the navy commissions the Arighat.

The event skipped the high-profile public ceremony of the Arihant's launch in 2009 even as the four-decade Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project to field a series of ballistic missile firing nuclear submarines is now moving at a furious assembly-line pace.


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Plymouth at risk of losing 1,400 sailors and submariners

Plymouth at risk of losing 1,400 sailors and submariners | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

Plymouth is at risk of losing more than 1,400 sailors and submariners in the coming years if proposed cuts to the city’s fleet go ahead.

Devonport-based amphibious assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, as well as the survey ship HMS Scott, could be scrapped in order to free up sailors for the Navy’s new aircraft carriers, according to reports.

Up to 1,000 Royal Marines could also be axed as part of the ongoing National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review.

The potential cuts could leave Plymouth with few frontline warships and would have a significant impact on the region's economy.

When fully operational, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, which is currently undergoing maintenance, have crews of about 300. HMS Scott has a crew of about 60.

The threats come at as Plymouth prepares to bid farewell to all of its submariners and the Royal Navy's flagship.

HMS Ocean, which has a permanent crew of about 300, is due to be decommissioned early next year.
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The damning verdict: What scrapping Plymouth ships would mean for our economy

By 2020, Plymouth's three Trafalgar class submarines will be relocated to Scotland – resulting in the loss of about 450 submariners.

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Plymouth MP calls for the next generation of frigates to be based in Plymouth

Plymouth MP calls for the next generation of frigates to be based in Plymouth | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

A Plymouth MP has called for the next generation of Royal Navy frigates to be based in Devonport following fears two of the city's most capable ships could be axed.

Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said he wants to see all the new Type 26 and Type 31 frigates based in the city.

It comes amid fears Devonport's amphibious assault ships, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, could be scrapped, as well as up to 1,000 Royal Marines.

Mr Pollard is backing The Herald's Fly the Flag for Devonport campaign urging the Government to provide reassurance that Plymouth will continue to play a prominent role in the future operations of the Royal Navy.

Last month the Government announced that Devonport would gain an additional Type 23 frigate amid a major shake-up of the current fleet, meaning that over the next five years Plymouth will become home to all eight Type 23 anti-submarine warfare frigates.

The moves will see some new additions move to Devonport - while others currently based in Plymouth will be transferred to Portsmouth during a five-year period from 2018.

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Lizzie, meet Big Lizzie! Queen steps aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth

Lizzie, meet Big Lizzie! Queen steps aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

The Queen was today presented with a cheeky cake of her and a sailor holding up an 'HMS Me' sign after she officially welcomed the UK's new £3.1billion HMS Queen Elizabeth into the Royal Navy.

Her Majesty, 91, was seen giggling with Princess Anne when the pair attended the special commission ceremony of the 65,000-tonne vessel, known as Big Lizzie.

At 280 metres long and with an estimated half a century working life, the huge behemoth aircraft carrier is the most powerful warship ever built by the UK.

The Queen, Princess Anne and First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones today attended the ceremony along with 3,700 guests in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

She was wearing a purple outfit and arrived on board using a specially installed lift to bring her up to the hangar for the occasion and was shown around by the ship's commanding officer Captain Jerry Kyd.

Prime Minister Theresa May had been due to attend today but cancelled amid ongoing talks over Brexit.

Giving a speech today, the Queen said HMS Queen Elizabeth is a 'true flagship for the 21st century'.


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Queen pays tribute to the Royal Navy during ‘historic’ Portsmouth trip

Queen pays tribute to the Royal Navy during ‘historic’ Portsmouth trip | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

Accompanied by the Princess Royal, the monarch arrived on board HMS Queen Elizabeth at Portsmouth Naval Base using a specially installed lift to bring her up to the hangar for the occasion. Wearing a purple outfit, she was led on board by the ship’s commanding officer Captain Jerry Kyd.


In a speech to the 3,700 guests, she trumpeted the abilities of the navy and said: ‘We are gathered here in Portsmouth today just a short distance from HMS Victory, a flagship of our seafaring past and a reminder of the debt we owe to the Royal Navy which for more than 500 years has protected the people of this country and our interests around the world.


Like HMS Victory, HMS Queen Elizabeth embodies the best of British technology and innovation, a true flagship for the 21st century. ‘The most powerful and capable ship ever to raise the White Ensign, she will in the years and decades ahead represent the country’s resolve on the global stage.’


She also praised the service personnel who will crew the carrier and said: ‘As the daughter, wife and mother of naval officers, I recognise the unique demands our nation asks of you and I will always value my special link with HMS Queen Elizabeth, her ship’s company and their families.

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'Amphibious ships and Royal Marines essential for UK defence'

'Amphibious ships and Royal Marines essential for UK defence' | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

Centuries of amphibious warfare skill and reputation could be lost for ever in the latest round of defence cuts, leading military experts have warned.

The Royal Navy is considering plans to axe Devonport-based amphibious assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark.

There are also claims that 1,000 Royal Marines could be made redundant.

The threat to the future of the UK’s amphibious capability comes at a time when major powers such as Russia and China are building up their own amphibious forces, Lieutenant General Sir Robert Fry, former Commandant General of the Royal Marines, told the Commons Defence Select Committee yesterday.
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One of Hartlepool’s most iconic attractions will welcome visitors for free

One of Hartlepool’s most iconic attractions will welcome visitors for free | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

Fans of the The National Museum of the Royal Navy are in for a treat on Thursday, December 7, when the museum welcomes visitors for free to celebrate the commissioning of the Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier in Portsmouth.


Her Majesty The Queen will commission HMS Queen Elizabeth, the newest aircraft carrier class to be welcomed into the fleet in Portsmouth Naval Base on Thursday. The National Museum has its headquarters alongside in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.


The museum’s sites nationwide will also be carrying the free entry offer to mark the occasion, which includes Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton; HMS Caroline, Belfast and Portsmouth Historic Dockyard including HMS Victory, HMS Warrior 1860 and partner attractions at the Mary Rose and Action Stations.


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The limits of ‘global Britain’

The limits of ‘global Britain’ | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

Whether or not Brexit was a wise move for the United Kingdom, British efforts in the aftermath to push the case for a ‘Global Britain’ are both sensible and inevitable. Britain is right to remind itself and others that it remains, among other things, the world’s fifth largest economy, a member of the UN Security Council and of the nuclear club, and a significant player in many global activities. An increased British diplomatic and economic presence within the Indo-Pacific is a welcome development.

But the accompanying promises of greater military engagement in the Indo-Pacific and elsewhere do not ring true. Britain has still to come to terms with its own military limits and the extent of the decline in national power from its age of global empire and global reach. Its armed forces have gone far past the point at which their capabilities are aligned with rhetoric of this sort.

For example, the recall of a defective Type 45 destroyer from a planned Gulf deployment means there is currently no major surface combatant east of Suez, or even one outside UK home waters. The absence of such units from east of Suez is the first time this has been the case since at least the Falklands war of 1982. The total concentration of major surface warships in and around Britain is even more significant, in that it breaks a continuity of overseas deployments that is hundreds of years old.


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Former head of Royal Navy seriously worried about possible cuts in Plymouth

Former head of Royal Navy seriously worried about possible cuts in Plymouth | Royal Navy | Scoop.it
A former head of the Royal Navy has told ITV News he's seriously worried about the impact of possible cuts in Plymouth.

It follows speculation that the Devonport-based amphibious ships HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion could be axed under cutbacks being considered by the Government.

Admiral Sir Jonathon Band says the fleet is integral to the navy's capability.

The former First Sea Lord says the level of cuts to naval forces is "a really really serious issue".

There has been strong opposition from Plymouth MPs and members of the armed forces towards any possible cuts.

HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion have a combined 26 years of service.

The amphibious warships are used to land and support ground forces, primarily Royal Marines, on enemy territory.
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Russia could cut off internet to Nato countries, British military chief warns

Russia could cut off internet to Nato countries, British military chief warns | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

Russia could pose a major threat to the UK and other Nato nations by cutting underwater cables essential for international commerce and the internet, the chief of the British defence staff, Sir Stuart Peach, has warned.

Russian ships have been regularly spotted close to the Atlantic cables that carry communications between the US and Europe and elsewhere around the world.

Air Chief Marshall Peach, who in September was appointed chair of the Nato military committee, said Russia had continued to develop unconventional warfare. He added that threats such as those to underwater cables meant the UK and its allies had to match the Russian navy in terms of modernising its fleet.

“There is a new risk to our prosperity and way of life, to the cables that crisscross our sea beds, disruption to which through cable-cuts or destruction would immediately – and catastrophically – fracture both international trade and the internet,” he said.

The warning came a fortnight after the centre-right thinktank Policy Exchange issued a report saying 97% of global communications and $10tn in daily financial transactions were transmitted through such cables.

The report, written by Conservative MP Rishi Sunak, cited US intelligence officials speaking about Russian submarines “aggressively operating” near Atlantic cables. Sunak added that when Russia annexed Crimea in 2013, an early move was to cut the main cable connecting it to the rest of the world.


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We need a bigger Royal Navy, NOW!!!!!
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'The year of the Navy' could see more cuts to fleet

'The year of the Navy' could see more cuts to fleet | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

It was supposedly 'the year of the Navy', at least according to Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.

The Navy fleet welcomed the new £3 billion aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, into the port in August. It was then commissioned by the Queen on 7th December 2017.

But there's still a £25 billion pound hole in the defence budget - the RAF and Army have already been reduced - and more Navy cuts could be on the way.

The number of full-time navy personnel has gone down from 35,000 to 29,000. The fleet had 31 frigates and destroyers in the year 2000. It now has 19.

Our reporter Richard Jones has been assessing the state of the navy at the end of an eventful year.

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Royal Navy veteran spent 25 years making making scale model of HMS Ark Royal

Royal Navy veteran spent 25 years making making scale model of HMS Ark Royal | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

A Royal Navy veteran has really gone to sea with his model of a famous ship which has taken him 25 years to build and is 12 feet long.

Dave Fortey, 51, has devoted half his life to making his replica of HMS Ark Royal, the iconic former aircraft carrier.

He started in 1992 and used the original Ministry of Defence builders plans to scale down the 1:72 model.

He also carried out painstaking research to make sure every inch was accurate and to scale.

His 85kg model was designed with the help of the original MoD builders plans and only does it contain replicas of planes, helicopters, towing vehicles and fire extinguishers, but it also features rust and weathering, scorch marks on the flight decks and smudges and marks on the aircraft.


His 85kg model was designed with the help of the original MoD builders plans and only does it contain replicas of planes, helicopters, towing vehicles and fire extinguishers, but it also features rust and weathering, scorch marks on the flight decks and smudges and marks on the aircraft

He sought advice from a dock engineer, the late Will Borrows, and scoured reference books and old photographs.

His finished ship, which weighs 85kg, contains mini planes, helicopters, towing vehicles and fire extinguishers.

It will be officially launched to the public at the London Model Engineering Exhibition at Alexandra Palace next month.

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UK defence secretary fights to protect his budget

UK defence secretary fights to protect his budget | Royal Navy | Scoop.it
When Gavin Williamson was appointed UK defence secretary last month, questions were asked about how he would stand up to Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad. Instead Mr Williamson appears to have started with a rather different target: British chancellor Philip Hammond.

The tension between the two ministers has broken into the open, creating one of the more remarkable cabinet feuds since Theresa May became prime minister. At stake is Britain’s ambition to remain a global military actor — and Mr Williamson’s apparent determination to rise to the top of the Conservative party.

The trigger for the face-off between Mr Williamson and Mr Hammond is a £20bn funding black hole at the Ministry of Defence. This issue is expected to come to a head in a sweeping review of the UK’s defence and security strategy that is due to be finalised early next year.

Those who have worked with Mr Williamson — who at 41 is the youngest member of Mrs May’s cabinet — warn against underestimating him.

After serving as a key aide to former prime minister David Cameron, Mr Williamson last year ran Mrs May’s campaign to become Tory leader. She rewarded him with the position of Conservative chief whip, and he went on to negotiate a crucial deal with the Democratic Unionist party this summer under which its MPs agreed to prop up Mrs May’s minority government at Westminster.
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‘Destroyers’ engine woes will be fixed for carrier’s first mission’

‘Destroyers’ engine woes will be fixed for carrier’s first mission’ | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

ENGINE woes plaguing the Royal Navy’s £6bn destroyer fleet will be fixed before Britain’s new aircraft carrier comes into service, a top naval officer has said. Commodore Andrew Betton is confident problems with the propulsion system of the Type 45 fleet will be history by the time HMS Queen Elizabeth takes on her first mission in 2021.


The £1bn-a-piece air defence destroyers will form a ‘critical part’ of the nation’s new carrier strike battlegroup. Made up of frigates, destroyers, submarines and a host of aircraft, the group will operate alongside the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.


Cdre Betton – who is in charge of the carrier strike team – said there is no need to worry about the abilities of the destroyers, which have previously broken down while on deployment.


Earlier this month, HMS Diamond was forced to cut her deployment in the Gulf short following issues with her engine. Cdre Betton said: ‘The carrier strike capability is a critical part of our future navy. ‘Type 45 offers us a world-beating capability. The propulsion challenges we are facing with them are understood.


Plans are in place to rectify them.


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HMS Queen Elizabeth commissioned into Royal Navy

HMS Queen Elizabeth commissioned into Royal Navy | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

The first of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth has been commissioned into service.

The Queen formally welcomed the 65,000 tonne vessel, the Royal Navy’s newest and biggest ship, into service on Thursday - the same day the Plymouth Herald launched a campaign in a bid to prevent the Government from axing two of Devonport's most capable warships.

It's feared that amphibious assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark could be axed in a bid to free up sailors for HMS Queen Elizabeth and the second carrier, HMS Prince of Wales.

As it stands the future flagship, which will be based in Portsmouth for its estimated 50-year lifespan, will never visit Plymouth. When the two ships were ordered, there were calls for one, or both, to be based in Plymouth.

But one issue, experts observed, was that fleet headquarters is based in Portsmouth and that top ranking officers “like to look out of the window and see their ships”.

Another, more acute point, was that the River Tamar simply isn’t deep enough to accommodate a ship of that size.

HMS Queen Elizabeth has a draught (the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull) of 11 metres.

That’s far bigger than the ships that currently navigate the river. HMS Ocean, which is based at Devonport, has a draught of 6.5 metres. Brittany Ferries’ Pont Aven has a draught of 6.8 metres.

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I was invited on the Royal Navy's newest and most powerful aircraft carrier — here's what it was like

I was invited on the Royal Navy's newest and most powerful aircraft carrier — here's what it was like | Royal Navy | Scoop.it
The arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth has been the military story of the year in Britain — and this week was an important landmark, the moment it formally joined the Royal Navy.

The new aircraft carrier, along with its sister vessel HMS Prince of Wales, is meant to spearhead a new generation of British hard power. Business Insider was invited on board to learn more about the event — read on to find out what we saw.
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Our new aircraft carrier could sink the defence budget without firing a shot | Richard Norton-Taylor

Our new aircraft carrier could sink the defence budget without firing a shot | Richard Norton-Taylor | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

Today the Queen commissioned her namesake, the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, the largest ship ever built for the Royal Navy. She will be followed soon by Prince Charles, who can be expected to commission the navy’s second large carrier, HMS Prince of Wales.

The carriers were described to me by a former chief of defence staff as 'vulnerable metal cans'

The navy top brass are very proud, of course. The first sea lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, recently described the aircraft carriers and Britain’s fleet of nuclear missile submarines as “strategic instruments, indicative of an ocean-going navy and a global maritime power”.

In reality, the carriers and the new fleet of Dreadnought submarines are irrelevant to Britain’s security needs. They are of no use against terrorism, described by successive prime ministers as the most serious threat facing the country, or against cyberwarfare, which also preoccupies security chiefs. The carriers, like the nuclear missile submarines, are status symbols.

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Brazilian government authorises purchase of UK’s HMS Ocean

Brazilian government authorises purchase of UK’s HMS Ocean | Royal Navy | Scoop.it
Brazil’s Ministry of Defence on 1 December authorised the navy to begin efforts to purchase the UK Royal Navy’s HMS Ocean landing platform helicopter (LPH).

The Brazilian Navy requested this authorisation in early 2017 after a decision to retire its NAe São Paulo aircraft carrier, and after the Royal Navy said the LPH could be available for sale once decommissioned in March 2018.

Ocean would be inspected by Brazilian Navy officers before that, while authorisation from the US government is also being requested as the ship has some US-built components.

The UK Royal Navy’s HMS Ocean helicopter carrier may next be heading to Brazilian service. (Crown Copyright/UK Ministry of Defence)The UK Royal Navy’s HMS Ocean helicopter carrier may next be heading to Brazilian service. (Crown Copyright/UK Ministry of Defence)

The Brazilian Navy’s plan is to finish the deal in 2018, overhaul the ship in 2019, and have it operational by 2020.
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All Six Royal Navy Destroyers Now In Port After HMS Diamond Returns

All Six Royal Navy Destroyers Now In Port After HMS Diamond Returns | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

MoreA Royal Navy destroyer has returned to base after being forced to cut a mission to the Gulf short following a mechanical breakdown.

The crew of HMS Diamond was welcomed home by friends and family as they sailed back to Portsmouth Naval Base.

The Type-45 destroyer spent three months in the Mediterranean before having to end her deployment because of "technical issues".

A navy spokesman said:

"She was due to head to the Gulf for a nine-month deployment but returned to her home port early after experiencing technical issues.

"During her time away, the ship's company had a demanding and diverse programme of events - taking command of NATO Standing Maritime Group 2 in the Mediterranean when HMS Ocean was retasked to deliver disaster relief in the Caribbean”

Commander Ben Keith, Diamond's commanding officer, said:

"While it is earlier than planned, it was fantastic to see all of our families waiting here for us on the jetty. Everyone on board was incredibly excited.

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Behind the fanfare, cuts are sinking our military

Behind the fanfare, cuts are sinking our military | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

THE bands will play, cheering crowds will wave Union Flags, and for a moment or two it really will seem like Britannia still rules the waves.


When the giant new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is formally commissioned into the Royal Navy on Thursday by the sovereign after whom she is named, all will be pomp and ceremony. Hearts are likely to stir at the raising of the White Ensign before the £3bn carrier sails from Portsmouth and the ship takes her place in the grand British naval tradition.


But the ceremony represents a kind of charade, because the cheering and the playing of Rule Britannia cannot obscure the fact that this country’s defences are in a mess, which is a damning indictment of the Government.


Just how big a mess will be underlined this afternoon, when some very distinguished retired soldiers give evidence to the Defence Select Committee about proposals for cuts to the Royal Marines and their ability to launch assaults from the sea. Among them is Major-General Julian Thompson, who speaks with absolute authority on the subject having commanded the British forces which charged ashore on the Falkland Islands in 1982.


He, like many senior officers past and present, has been sharply critical of the possible cuts, but they are only the tip of the iceberg. THE bands will play, cheering crowds will wave Union Flags, and for a moment or two it really will seem like Britannia still rules the waves.


When the giant new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is formally commissioned into the Royal Navy on Thursday by the sovereign after whom she is named, all will be pomp and ceremony. Hearts are likely to stir at the raising of the White Ensign before the £3bn carrier sails from Portsmouth and the ship takes her place in the grand British naval tradition.


But the ceremony represents a kind of charade, because the cheering and the playing of Rule Britannia cannot obscure the fact that this country’s defences are in a mess, which is a damning indictment of the Government. Just how big a mess will be underlined this afternoon, when some very distinguished retired soldiers give evidence to the Defence Select Committee about proposals for cuts to the Royal Marines and their ability to launch assaults from the sea.


Among them is Major-General Julian Thompson, who speaks with absolute authority on the subject having commanded the British forces which charged ashore on the Falkland Islands in 1982. He, like many senior officers past and present, has been sharply critical of the possible cuts, but they are only the tip of the iceberg.


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Linda Pearson: How arms companies influence the Trident debate

Linda Pearson: How arms companies influence the Trident debate | Royal Navy | Scoop.it

AFTER more than a decade of debate and controversy, Westminster MPs voted overwhelmingly to continue the UK’s submarine-launched nuclear weapons programme in July 2016.

All but one Conservative MP and a majority of Labour MPs agreed that the Trident programme is "essential" to the UK’s security and the government should replace the country’s four ageing vanguard class nuclear-armed submarines. Only 117 MPs voted against the government's motion, including 58 out of 59 of Scotland’s MPs, compared to 472 in favour.

There are many reasons why so many UK politicians favoured Trident renewal. The perceived need to maintain the UK’s self-identity as a nuclear weapons state, with "a seat at the top table", was a significant factor. Another was the bipartisan desire to maintain the country’s status as "number one" ally of the United States.

This requires the UK to adhere to US national security policy and to maintain a "significant power projection capability".

Another important factor was the influence of arms companies involved in the UK’s nuclear weapons programme.

Commercial imperatives

Military budgets fluctuate but nuclear weapons contracts provide arms companies with a steady, long-term source of revenue. BAE Systems' shipyard at Barrow-in- Furness is the only site in the UK which is licensed to build nuclear submarines and Rolls Royce is the UK’s only manufacturer of the submarines’ nuclear power reactors. A decision to renew Trident therefore offered guaranteed revenue for both companies.

It is UK Government policy to maintain an indigenous nuclear submarine-building industry. The capability is deemed to be so crucial to Britain’s national security that the government "could simply not countenance sourcing [it] from overseas", as the 2005 Defence Industrial Strategy put it.

BAE and Rolls Royce used this to their advantage, arguing that regular orders of submarines were needed to sustain the industry and maintain the UK’s "sovereign capability".

BAE submitted to the House of Commons Defence Committee in October 2006 that if there was a gap in production following the completion of the astute class nuclear-powered submarines in the 2020s, "the loss of capability and expertise is likely to be irreversible".

BAE’s managing director, Murray Easton, further warned the committee that such a gap would have a "catastrophic impact" on Barrow shipyard’s ability to design and build nuclear submarines, and therefore on the UK industry as a whole.

Similarly, Rolls Royce submitted that a gap in production would be "likely to have increasing impacts on Rolls Royce capabilities and dedicated manufacturing facilities", and that "[t]he wider supply chain would also be significantly impacted".

Military budgets fluctuate but nuclear weapons contracts provide arms companies with a steady, long-term source of revenue.

This position was endorsed by the defence committee in its report on the "manufacturing and skills base issues" related to Trident renewal, which stated that "[i]f the government wants the UK to continue to design and build nuclear-powered submarines, it will be essential to maintain a regular rhythm of submarine construction".


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Uncertain future of UK assault ships raises fears over naval capability

Uncertain future of UK assault ships raises fears over naval capability | Royal Navy | Scoop.it


More First as a fisherman and now as the skipper of a tourist cruiser, Sid Currie has witnessed first hand the slow and steady decline of Plymouth’s Devonport naval base in south-west England.

“Yes I am very worried about the future,” he says after returning his boat and a large group of warship enthusiasts to a landing dock next to the Mayflower steps, the site where the pilgrim fathers set sail for America nearly 400 years ago.

“This dockyard used to employ nearly 30,000 people. You need to bring the big ships back here. If you keep running it down, you won’t get it back again.”

As Theresa May’s government seeks to finalise a sweeping review of the UK’s defence and security strategy to partly tackle a £20bn funding black hole at the Ministry of Defence over the next decade, much of the recent focus has fallen on Plymouth and its deep rooted connections to the Royal Navy.

Devonport is the largest naval base in western Europe, employing 2,500 people and providing the maintenance and support headquarters for the UK’s nuclear powered submarine fleet as well as more than a dozen assault ships, frigates and back-up vessels.
Royal Navy cuts

But with the defence ministry committed to spending £31bn on renewing the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent submarines and £6.1bn on two new aircraft carriers — the first of which will be officially commissioned into the navy by the Queen in Portsmouth on Thursday — concerns over cuts elsewhere are growing.


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