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The Royal Navy Is Facing the Challenges of the Future

The Royal Navy Is Facing the Challenges of the Future

Personal Message From The Chief Of The Naval Staff, Admiral Sir Alan West, To The Royal Navy. Source: Royal Navy, London, Great-Britain.

The Secretary of State has today announced the Government’s plans for Defence. These have important implications for the future of the RN and I would like to make you aware of the key outcomes.

The overall emphasis remains on modernising to better meet the threats that have emerged since the end of the Cold War. To achieve this a significant investment is already underway to ensure our Forces use technology to both maximise the effect we deliver and to integrate better with our allies. But to deliver this investment where it is needed we have had to reassess every aspect of what we do to ensure that this ambitious modernisation remains affordable and achievable.

Firstly we have looked at what sort of operations we are likely to undertake. The SDR assumptions hold good, but the emphasis has shifted from running two Telic-sized operations together, to more numerous small scale ops such as Sierra Leone. We will retain the ability to conduct high intensity ops. We have also looked at reducing the number of units deploying specifically for individual tasks by making better use of the JRRF pool. Whilst clearly a ship can only be in one place at one time, the potential gains to be realised from investment in network enabled capability, combined with the revised planning assumptions, result in all 3 Services requiring fewer units than before. For the RN this means our DD/FF force will reduce to 25, SSNs to 8 and MCMVs to 16. In addition the peace process in Northern Ireland will result in the disposal of the NIPVs. We have selected which ships will go to ensure that we retain a balance of capabilities. By improving the quality of the networked capability of our major warships we will be able to deliver the desired military effects from a reduced number of platforms. We have therefore decided to set our requirement for T45s at 8 ships.

The ships affected will be paid off over the next 2 years. These are: Cardiff, Glasgow, Newcastle, Norfolk, Marlborough, Grafton, Sandown, Inverness, Bridport, Brecon, Cottesmore and Dulverton.

Although the size of the SSN force will reduce to 8 in 2008, delays to Astute will mean that there will be no early disposals in the short term and indeed Superb will be extended in service by one year.

In parallel with these reductions, there will be a commensurate reduction in peace time deployments. This will ensure we keep our force levels and tasks in balance.

As a result of these reductions the Navy will reduce from some 37,500 to around 36,000 people. This will be achieved by normal staff turnover and there are no plans for redundancies. Recruiting will continue.

In explaining these reductions to our people it is important to focus on the following:

The government has re-confirmed the central role in joint expeditionary warfare that the Navy will continue to play.

The core capabilities of the Navy remain intact and in particular: the carrier strike capability continues to lie at the heart of the versatile maritime force with CVF due to enter service from 2012. The amphibious forces will continue to benefit from new investment and ships.

We must continue the shift in emphasis away from measuring strength in terms of hull numbers and towards the delivery of military effects. The new ships and submarines will be far more capable than those they replace. The T45, Astute and LSD(A) programmes will begin delivering ships in the next few years. Work continues in the MOD on the MARS (future RFA, JCTS (replacement PCRS/Argus) and FSC programmes.

We will continue to offer satisfying and rewarding career opportunities to our people.

Further briefing material will be forwarded shortly and a series of presentations will take place later today by nominated senior officers throughout the country.

I do not instinctively welcome the early disposal of good ships and these have been most difficult decisions. They are however essential if we are to ensure that the finite resources available to defence are targeted at the requirements of the 21st Century rather than what we inherited from the 20th. I am confident that these changes will leave the Navy better organised and equipped to face the challenges of the future.

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).