The shringing Royal Navy.

So where are the Ships?
 
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A naval historian once said to me there were two naval battles in the 20th century which went against all the odds.  One was the Battle of Midway in 1942 where the Japanese should have sunk the lot. The other was the Falklands conflict in 1982 where the Argentinean Junta with its four-hundred aircraft against just twenty Sea Harriers should have sunk at least one if not both of Admiral Sandy Woodward’s carriers.

The hundred day war as it came to be known,  I leave entirely to the impressive mountain of books and articles already collecting dust on the book shelves around this country.

However could we fight this type of conflict today?

The answer would simply be no.

So what has gone wrong in the intervening years, when even in 1982 the Royal Navy could  just about scrape  together a task force to go down there  whilst  today it couldn’t 

To repeat the question what has gone wrong?

In general terms it’s really quite simple, fifty years ago £1.6billion would give the Royal Navy at least seventy frigates.  Today it will just buy one Guided Missile Destroyer and the next generation such as the Zumwalt class destroyer already costing around £5billion.  It’s now clear this is unaffordable  for many nations including this one.

So do we need a Navy?

Without laboring the point we are an Island surrounded by ocean.

So what is the solution to the escalating costs of warships?

Let’s apply the famous acronym KISS. (Keep It Simple Stupid.)

 

So what is a warship.  HM for the use off?

One  hull preferably watertight with various weapons attached to it.

However, before  we look at what type of warship -   we first need to look at something mostly overlooked. 

The operational life of a warship which on average is around twenty to twenty-five years.

This poses the most important dilemma to a modern warship designer, simply because what do you design today that could survive against weapons ranged against it.  That have yet to be even conceived.

Lets look at two examples of this problem.

In the Falklands we saw the County Class Destroyers after twenty years’ service reduced to using their primary weapon system Sea Slug to blow holes in the runway at Port Stanley. The type 42 destroyers ten years into their twenty five year operational life unable to destroy Exocet or even shoot down low flying A4 Skyhawk’s.

So what is the solution to stop a warship becoming obsolete in the latter years of its operational life?

 

 
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Queen Elizabeth class Aircraft Carrier

Type 45 Destroyer

Type 26 Global Combat Ship

2

6

10

£10,000,000,000

£8.000,000,0000

£9.5,000,000,000

Total estimated  running cost of these ships in the service of a  Future Royal Navy  including estimated  mid life refits, and  operational requirements which excludes  any replacements or  a major conflict  such as the a rerun of the Falklands. 

£124,000,0000,000

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