Here’s a good test of Brexit seriousness

A new class of ships for the Navy to support Britain’s aircraft carriers could be built outside the UK as the Ministry of Defence seeks savings in its under-pressure budget.

There are growing fears that three “fleet solid support” vessels to provide ammunition, equipment and food for the new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers will be built abroad.

OK, so that’s the support ships.

But let’s think about the RN and Brexit.

Clearly, if we’re taking Brexit seriously we’re going to leave the Common Fisheries Policy. It’s possibly the one and only EU thing that is even more stupid than CAP.

We leave the CFP we need fisheries protection vessels. Rather a number of them. If they don’t put in an order for a dozen of them sharpish (just to invent a number) then they’re not being serious, are they?

23 thoughts on “Here’s a good test of Brexit seriousness”

  1. The problem is that since loosing our Empire we haven’t found our place in the world, in the old world aircraft carriers were important now they aren’t

    Politicians love the feeling of power that carriers and nuclear weapons give them. Preventing illegal entry and illegal fishing doesn’t give them the same buzz

  2. More stupid than the Clinical Research or Biofuels Directives? It’s a tough call in such a crowded field.

  3. I’m not sure that fisheries protection will remain an RN tasking in the new regime. Although the RN are currently using the River class, “Marine Scotland Compliance” is a civilian agency.

  4. It depends if they’re planning a new “Cod War” with Iceland or not, certainly during the last one (1972-1973), Iceland won every engagement, so pissing away money we haven’t got on fisheries protection vessels does seem a waste of money.

    Especially without a fleet to protect as such.

  5. MoD tradition is to ignore current strategic priorities and do something random and expensive. Fishing protection would be it’s answer to the North Atlantic drying up.

  6. If there is indeed a move to purchase military equipment where it is best and cheapest, rather than always buying British our defence budget would go a lot further.

  7. Sell the carriers. The future of the RN should be subs and small craft.

    Am I right in thinking that the carriers’ intended aircraft is the F-35? Ha bloody ha.

  8. There is a shed load of Turkish marine vessels still unaccounted for, post ‘coup’ by all accounts. Some tugs and long ropes should suffice.

  9. Am I right in thinking that the carriers’ intended aircraft is the F-35?

    Yes.

    Just use a carrier battle group to blow up Spanish and Belgian fishing boats.

    What have you got against the Belgians?

    Anyway, the RN now seems to be using GAU2-B miniguns (7.62Nato gatlings) as part of their anti-piracy equipment. Properly supplied with ammunition, these are entirely fine for dodgy furrin fisherfolk.

  10. Fishery protection craft are easy and quick to build or adapt – the problem is the crew. The RN’s taken some major pain this year (laying up a frigate and a destroyer, dropping some key commitments) because fifteen years of running at 30-50% of manpower deployed on operations, exercises or standing tasks had broken entire branches, wrecked hardware and hollowed out capability.

    Hardware can be fixed but the manpower problem is much harder to fix. When an experienced Petty Officer leaves, that means you’ve got a gap at CPO level coming up; when too many leave in key branches (marine engineering, weapons engineering…) you end up spreading the remaining few thinly: do you take the pain on the deployed ships, on the ships in refit (arguably where the engineers are needed more) or in the training establishments (where they might be most critical)? And how hard do you tighten down on “harmony” (time with family / away from home – the RN’s already got the least generous harmony rules, yet also breaks them most often) before driving even more key people out?

    It’s a death spiral: you cut down the time in port, so key maintenance is rushed or skipped, so the ship breaks down more often, so other ships have to fill the gap, so they don’t get fixed… meanwhile the crews don’t get home to their families, so they leave, so the remaining sailors get shuffled from ship to ship filling in gaps, so they leave too…

    (For context, the Army demanded cuts to the RN and RAF and launched Op ENTIRETY because they claimed to be “catastrophically overstretched” with less than 20%, often less than 10%, deployed and massive support from other services)

    Get a grip and take politicians’ long screwdrivers away, sign a cheque for a billion pounds, and you’ll have ten to fifteen FPVs moored up awaiting crews within a few years. The trouble is, who’s going to man them?

    Case study, one a friend was involved with: the Sultan of Brunei wanted some offshore patrol vessels, and by the time the salesmen from BAE SYSTEMS had finished he’d signed up to three mini-frigates: 76mm gun forward, vertically-launched Sea Wolf Mod 1 SAMs, Exocet Bloc 2 antiship missiles, electronic warfare gear, hull sonar, ASW torpedoes – pretty much equivalent to a GP Type 23 frigate, arguably more so in some areas. This, for a navy of 797 personnel including Admirals, whose existing strength roughly equated to the Dartmouth Training Squadron (half-a-dozen cabin cruisers and a few more open motorboats, adding only a few machine guns and light cannon – the DTS would love to do the same but the safety nazis say no). Brunei hid behind contractual quibbling to avoid the fact that they had absolutely no capacity to even inspect the ships, let alone man then and operate them: in the end they were sold to Indonesia, who seem very content with them.

    Moral: Building ships may not be easy (though FPVs should be) but crewing them needs more planning and more preparation: when you’ve not only turned off the tap but dismantled and sold off the pipework[1], you can no longer expect water on demand.

    [1] The Navy, up until the 1990s, used to maintain the reserve capability to address surges like this (MCM10 would have suited it nearly perfectly): it was eliminated as an “economy measure” because defence was a lower priority than stuffing cash into the bottomless maw of the deity Skoolzanospitals.

  11. SE,

    “Anyway, the RN now seems to be using GAU2-B miniguns (7.62Nato gatlings) as part of their anti-piracy equipment. Properly supplied with ammunition, these are entirely fine for dodgy furrin fisherfolk.”

    I was on the design team for the carriers and had a few of these dotted about my area of the boat. I had to point out to someone that having the ammo locker for a mini gun more than several decks and hatches away from the actual point of use seemed sub-optimal given the rate they chew through it.

    Not sure if they got moved any closer, I lost the will to live and left the project about 6 months after noting it, buy which time I think they had just finished the change request paperwork.

  12. Do you actually need a ship to patrol British waters? A fleet of drones could do the work at a fraction of the cost. Just tell everyone that they have air-to-ship missiles on board. Maybe sink one random Spanish ship so that they know we’re serious.

  13. A fleet of drones could do the work at a fraction of the cost.

    Only if you are talking about using a major warship rather than a much more sensible FPV, with crew with powers of arrest and merely sufficient armament to scare of an idiot who has brought their hunting rifle with them.

  14. And how hard do you tighten down on “harmony” (time with family / away from home – the RN’s already got the least generous harmony rules, yet also breaks them most often) before driving even more key people out?

    That’s hardly a modern innovation – it’s what drove me out in the late 1990s. Whether I was “key” or not, is for others to decide, although I already had the skills and experience (in-role training provided through the RN) that the RN is desperately trying to re-create with the “MRIA” unit.

  15. Jason Lynch

    Absolutely spot on – There is an urgent need for a repeal of Protocol 6 of the ECHR (or abrogation) so that Treason trials can be reinstated with the possibility of the ultimate punishment.The loss of the Royal Navy at the expense of the army of Non-productive Public Sector under Blair/Brown was an act of treason – those responsible need to answer for those crimes…..

  16. Surreptitious Evil said:
    “the skills and experience … that the RN is desperately trying to re-create with the “MRIA” unit.”

    MRIA = Member of the Royal Irish Academy? Is this our secret naval plan, to recruit Irish academics?

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