From Lucy Fisher
A quarter of Royal Navy’s 76 ships are inoperable & dragging down Britain’s maritime aspirations, the defence secretary has said.
Forget "rule of thirds", Ben Wallace is ambitious to improve availability of fleet. Forward basing set to play a key part
"https://twitter.com/LOS_Fisher/status/1187294704272056320"https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/nava ... -8z9r7mv0d
Cannot see beyond the paywall, but surely (will be) interesting.
Afraid there is nothing particularly groundbreaking. Just the same topics that are frequently discussed here:
Naval missions in jeopardy as quarter of fleet not seaworthy
Lucy Fisher, Defence Correspondent
October 24 2019, 12:01am,
A quarter of the Royal Navy’s 76 ships are inoperable and dragging down Britain’s maritime aspirations, the defence secretary has said.
Ben Wallace told the defence select committee yesterday: “If I had more of our current fleet working, then I would have much more freedom to deploy to meet some of our ambitions and tasks. I’ve made it very clear to the first sea lord [the head of the Navy] one of my priorities is to get what we’ve got working.”
Only three of the six Type 45 destroyers are in service, he said. The ships, which cost £1 billion each, need fixing because they could not cope with warm water after problems in the Gulf. The availability of Type 23 frigates, the navy’s other key warships, has also been poor. In July The Times reported that six of the navy’s 13 frigates were in scheduled upkeep and could not be deployed. Four are still in maintenance.
Admirals and politicians have raised concerns about the fall in destroyer and frigate numbers, which totalled more than 50 in the 1980s and more than 30 in 2005. The navy has traditionally approached fleet operability using a rough rule of thirds: a third of its fleet on operations, a third preparing to sail out and a third in repairs and upkeep.
However, Mr Wallace said that he was determined to improve the availability of ships. “When you go to the Treasury and ask for more money, the Treasury will just turn around and say, ‘Well, we’ve given you all this money, and look, they [the ships] are not working.’ It makes the case harder when you go for more ships of the new type.”
The navy’s chronic recruitment problem, which has led to a manning crisis particularly among highly qualified personnel, has forced some ships to remain in harbour.
HMS Dauntless, a Type 45 destroyer, and HMS Lancaster, a Type 23 frigate, had to remain docked for months last year because there was no one to man them, it is understood. They were used as training ships for sailors preparing to embark on operations. Both have since gone into long-term maintenance.
The navy is in the early stages of a modernisation programme, which is likely to include more vessels being “forward stationed”. This means basing a ship abroad, with rotating crews flying in and out to begin and end tours, rather than sailing the vessel back to Britain.
Short-term maintenance can also be performed on site, with engineers flown out, meaning the ship can remain at sea for longer. Long-term scheduled refits are still likely to entail a ship returning to a British yard.
An experiment with HMS Montrose, a Type 23 frigate that is now in Bahrain alongside Britain’s four minesweepers and the landing ship dock Royal Fleet Auxiliary Cardigan Bay, has been deemed a success.
Insiders insist that the navy is still maintaining its commitments, including in the Middle East, Far East and Falklands. It also provides fisheries protection around the UK, escorts Chinese and Russian warships near British waters and performs disaster relief.