Royal Navy Review

December 31, 2018

Back in 2007 we focused our defence policy on the RN as the priority for an island Nation that is reliant on sea-borne trade and keeping sea-routes open.  This was not intended to be to the detriment of the RAF or Army and implied that defence spending needed to be increased.  The policy proposed an alternative approach for providing a deterrent to nuclear attack and a reassessment of the submarine service.  The decline of the RN was evident and needed to be reversed; and that decline has continued under all governments.  Our solution was for a naval shipbuilding programme and a positive review of the RN amphibious and aircraft-carrier capability.  Last year it seemed that out foresight had been rewarded with the approval of the National Shipbuilding Strategy.  Unfortunately, the Government did not put its money where its mouth is.

The further decline over ten years is stark.  The submarine service retains the nuclear deterrent of four Vanguard class boats.  Then, just one Astute class boat had been completed, with seven Trafalgar class and two Swiftsure class boats still in service.  Now, in addition to the Vanguard boats, there are four Astute and three Trafalgar boats.  The building rate is snail paced and will max out at just seven boats.  This will be followed by the four Dreadnought class trident missile boats to replace the Vanguards.  There is no sign of any plans for Astute batch 2 or a B class boat.

The situation with the escort fleet is even worse.  Ten years ago the first Daring class destroyer had been completed, complemented by eight Sheffield class destroyers, thirteen Duke class and four Broadsword class frigates.  Now, there are six Daring destroyers (instead of the intended twelve) and still thirteen Duke class ships.  Under existing plans the escort fleet will max out at nineteen vessels.

Ten years ago the amphibious and carrier fleet consisted of three carriers (one in extended readiness) and one landing platform helicopter ship L12 (L13 had not been constructed) complemented by two landing platform dock ships (L14 and L15), with RFA vessels in support comprising two landing logistic ships, four landing dock ships and six sealift ro-ro vessels.  Now we have one carrier (Queen Elizabeth still working up, with Prince of Wales due for completion in 2019) and two LPDs (Albion and Bulwark), complemented by three auxiliary landing dock ships and four ro-ro vessels.  Vessels have been sold off to the Brazilian Navy and Royal Australian Navy, and for commercial use.  This is a sorry state of affairs, compounded by the fact that the QE and PoW carriers are now also intended to operate as landing platform helicopter vessels.

All this has happened even as politicians have embarked on a grandiose global strategy that reverses the 1968 Wilson Labour Government withdrawal from east of Suez.  So, fifty years on, it would be irresponsible for the Government not to properly fund the RN and the Naval Shipbuilding Strategy.

For a more detailed Review, we rely on the reputable Save the Royal Navy website:

https://www.savetheroyalnavy.org/a-year-in-review-the-royal-navy-in-2018/

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Brexit and the Border

February 25, 2018

So much for the concept that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” as the Brussels Eurocrats blow with the wind.  They are now demanding the December Agreement be framed in a legal binding format before talks can commence on the next phase of Article 50.  Following the 2016 Referendum we warned that they were making the rules up as they went along and so it has proved.  The pity is that May’s Government has allowed them to dictate the whole process in a desperate attempt to get a bespoke trade deal.  Following the 2017 General Election, and her fall from grace, we again warned that she had put Brexit in jeopardy.  Man does not live by trade alone, there are other things that are much more important.  Unfortunately the political class, who are using every trick to undermine the Referendum result, continue to sow the seeds of confusion.  Apparently we did not know what we were voting for in the Heinz Referendum.  According to them there are fifty-seven varieties of Brexit and we must have another referendum to decide which one we want.  We are being nudged towards a second referendum, just as we predicted.

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Bordering on the ridiculous

January 2, 2018

What is a hard border and what is a soft border?  Of all the issues thrown up by the UK exit from the EU the easiest to resolve was and is the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.  Both territories comprise the Island of Ireland, with its own distinct economy, that is dominated by the agricultural sector on which Great Britain is reliant.  There is a shared history and family links cross the border, extending across the Irish and Celtic Seas to the other Island.  The troubled relations between the two Islands has never been better.  The Good Friday Agreement [aka the 1998 Agreement] that brought peace, also brought the time and space to foster a greater understanding of the other side, to a degree of reconciliation that many could never have imagined.

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Words

December 12, 2017

Words are important, they are what people live by.  “I keep my word” or “My word is my bond” are hallmarks of someone who can be trusted, usually a person who is honest and has integrity.  They say what they think and mean what they say.  They are becoming a rare breed, but they still exist.  In everyday situations promises are kept.  When promises are broken so are reputations that can never be repaired.   Politicians are not noted examples of the breed.  In Parliament their speech is protected by privilege, but they can be held to account because they are recorded in Hansard.

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Hotel California

November 10, 2017

Welcome to the Hotel California.  Such a lovely place, Such a lovely face.

Plenty of room at the Hotel California.  Any time of the year, You can find it here.

They livin’ it up at the Hotel California.  What a nice surprise, Bring your alibis.

And she said, “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device”.

“Relax”, said the night man, “We are programmed to receive.

You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave”.

In 1977 the Eagles composed and recorded their most famous hit.  The above abridged lyrics were written in a drug fuelled community with their original meaning a bit hazy.  It is now generally accepted they related to growing up and living in the LA hedonistic culture; and about trying to escape that life-style.

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Save the Royal Navy

September 30, 2017

There is nothing wrong with the armed forces that an injection of sustained funding cannot cure.  While some sectors of the public services have been protected over the last seven years – if in monetary terms rather than real terms – the Defence budget has not been deemed important enough to warrant the same treatment.  This is fundamentally unfair because that budget has been the subject of sustained cuts for more than twenty-one years.  Politicians like to term this as the peace dividend.  With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Communism, together with the breakup of the USSR, we were told that ‘peace had broken out’ and the money could be better spent.  Come 2010, and the start of public spending cuts, no account was taken of the previous cuts to the Defence budget.  The Treasury would counter that the MoD capital spending plans were too ambitious and had not been properly costed and budgeted for, resulting in the fabled black-hole that was swallowing taxes intended for the forces basic current spending.  Someday, someone with inside knowledge will write a book revealing the real facts.

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Gibraltar 2

September 27, 2017

Gibraltar’s 50th Anniversary National Day was an outstanding success, with the video message from Prime Minister Theresa May being warmly received.  Viewed objectively it fell well short of what was required.  This was a one and only event, at a crucial time when the future direction of the British Overseas Territory is uncertain.  In the previous post we set out the first five points of action that we asked the PM to initiate.  The two points relating to the Royal Family visiting Gibraltar still need to be demonstrated.  On three of those points she has failed to deliver and so we can judge with some accuracy what the real level of committment there is from the Office of the PM and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  It does not look good.  She failed to attend in person and as far as it is possible to ascertain she has never visited the Rock.  No matter how detailed the briefings she receives, they cannot match seeing at first hand what the problems are and hearing directly from Gibraltarians what their experiences are; be it delays when crossing the border of up to five hours or being harassed by Spanish State vessels when they are fishing in their own British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.

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