SW1 wrote:It’s more than enough to cope. If it weren’t we wouldn’t be galavanting around the other side of the world. It is pointless adding more tails if you don’t have the specialists to operate and interpret that data and the budget to support it.
But the UK wants (and IMO has a responsibility) to be a global partner it also has through its BOTs to provide security outside of the North Atlantic. As such, as you state 8 is not sufficient.
You have a point about resources and skills, but adding 2 additional TAS ASW Frigates should be well within the capabilities of the RN with its current budget with a few years to train up new people - it is about prioritisation and IMO the current T31 in its current form is the casualty.
Ultimately, the RN should be able to muster (with some notice) a credible sovereign globally deployable Maritime Task Force with a combination of Carrier, Amphibious and Land Strike with the associated protection. This is as much about deterrence as it is about harking back to the empire. The combination of a CBG (CVF, 2 T45s, 2 T26s, SSN, Tanker + FSS) and an ARG (LPH, 3-4 LPDs/LSDs, 2 T45s, 2 T26s, SSN, MCM capability, 2 Points + Tanker) is a credible force that will be the match for most nations. However, in my view we need 3 CBG/ARG groups to provide this capability 100% of the time) - requiring an Argus replacement or better.
I think what the RN does need to think hard about is what is needed in the North Atlantic and what global forward presence is actually required and appropriate for the UKs size and ambition.
For the North Atlantic and UK FRE requirement, I’d argue that 1 ASW T26 at sea plus 1 ready at short notice is needed, plus 3 SSNs, thus requiring a fleet of 3-4 T26s, plus @4 Fisheries/Security OPVs.
For global presence, with exception of the Gulf, a combination of presence Sloops (OPV with increased self defence) and large multi role (SF, HADR, MCM, Survey) motherships is sufficient IMO. For the Gulf, a forward base Frigate is probably the best solution (requiring 2 overall) In addition I’d like additional globe trotting SSNs but it’s not affordable currently.
Lastly, I’d like to see some real armed fast Patrol craft with teeth for all bases, as it’s only a matter of time IMO where an incident will occur and the current lightly armed / unarmed force will be found wanting.
I would as such re-org the current fleet in the next few years to have active:
- 7 SSNs
- 2 CVFs
- 2 LPDs
- 6 T45s
- 12 T23s (10 with TAS)
- 12 MCMs
- 5 Survey (Echo + Scott + Magpie + Protector)
- 9 OPVs (4 B1s/B1.5s + 5B2s)
- 24 Fast Patrol Boats (16 P2000s + 8 new armed craft)
- 3 LSDs
- 1 Aviation Support Ship / PCRS (Argus)
- 3 FSSs
- 6 Tankers
- 4 Points
Between now and the mid 2030s, replace the MCMs and Survey Ships (not Magpie nor Protector) with say 3 Bay Sized motherships plus 3 more “Sloops”. The T23s would be replaced one for one with T26s. The B1/B1.5 Rivers replaced on a one for one basis with “Sloops”. And lastly, Argus replaced with a Ocean sized LPH.