Friday, 9 April 2010

First Correspondence

Recently,I was asked a number of questions by way of personal messages on a forum.

It would be inappropriate to reproduce those messages here but I will reproduce my somewhat hurried responses under the title "Correspondence".

The questions were about naval warfare and the fleet composition of the Royal Navy.

My first reply was as follows:

"Since 1990,I have been of the opinion that the British fleet should consist of the following:

4 large mutirole air attack/air assault carriers (replacements for the current ships Argus,Albion,Bulwark,Invincible,Illustrious,Ark Royal and Ocean)

6 large landing ships both to transport an army division and the heavier assets of the Royal Marines (replacements for the 6 Point and 4 Bay class ships).

6 large replenishment vessels (replacements for (both) Fort,Wave,Rover and Leaf classes,10 ships in total).

1 (ideally 2) large theatre support ships to provide a wide range of support and service support facilities to deployed air,land and sea assets (replacement for Diligence).

32 single class,general purpose,big hulled frigates (replacement for Type 22,Type 23 and eventually Type 45).

16 minehunting sloops/brigs.

4 survey sloops/brigs.

4 patrol sloops/brigs.

12 hunting submarines.

4 bombing submarines.

1 ice patrol brig (Endurance replacement)

All of the above was very affordable before thousands of millions were wasted over the last decade,much of it still is.

Certainly a slightly scaled down version of the above should still be affordable.

I should add some notes:

All of the above surface ships were intended to be based on just three combinations of hullform and machinery although they would differ greatly internally.

The idea is to minimise spending on development and maximise production runs to gain the maximum economies of scale.

Merging complementary roles such as air attack and air assault into one ship class also ensures robust availability (as well as flexibility).

Costs were intended to be spread over a 32 year replacement cycle to create a steady workload for designers and builders and a steady financial burden on the navy's budget,probably around £1,500 Million a year for construction.

The Royal Navy's budget is over £7,000 Million a year.

The large ships would probably have been around 100,000 tonnes,the frigates probably 10,000 and the sloops around 5,000.

All were intended to meet the same requirements for range,endurance and speed so they can operate together.

The large size of the surface combatants in particular was intended to minimise the need for oilers to support single ship patrol tasks,allowing a smaller number of larger replenishment vessels to concentrate on task group support,thus reducing costs.

The carrier capability was intended to save about £1,500 Million a year by allowing the air fleet to be reduced to one domestic air defence wing,one fleet ready wing and one fleet standby wing.

The savings were primarily intended to to be used to allow a larger army to be maintained.

Amphibious operations were based on three strong elements (air attack,air assault and beach landing) rather than the five,weaker elements we plan on at present (air attack,air assault,beach assault,beach landing,port landing).

An amphibious operation is only as viable as it's weakest element.

A general theme was to reduce operating costs by using a smaller number of larger hulls where practical but using those savings to maintain hull numbers where they are beneficial,frigates for example.

The landing ships were big,simple ships but unlike current amphibious vessels.

They were also intended to be used for logistical roles post landing phase.

The above fleet was intended to be able to sustain the following major operational capabilities:

1 ready air attack group;1 ready air assault group;1 standby air attack/air assault group in training/reserve and 1 air attack/air assault group in refit.

1 standby landing group including 5 landing ships,station ship and escorts with 1 landing ship in refit.

1 replenishment group with escorts.

The rest of the frigates were intended for standing patrol tasks.

In addition there were sufficient vessels for fisheries protection,strategic detterent,survey and mine warfare roles.

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