Saturday, 5 July 2008

The Royal Navy Is Rebuilding The Yamato And Musashi

All the media cheered when the contract to build the two Queen Elizabeth class supercarriers was signed on 3 July. The order will safeguard 10,000 British jobs and that is about as far as the strategic thinking about the contribution of these ships to national defence went.
It's all very well having a couple of big boats in the bath but a navy needs a balanced force to support these targets as they are known in naval parlance, from air and submarine attack. A radar and sonar bubble has to reach to the horizon and appropriate weaponry and counter-measures for distant and close in threats deployed around the flagship to protect it. Only when this protection is in place, is the carrier able to project its offensive strike capability in hostile waters.
To protect the two carriers the Royal Navy plans to have eight Type 45 destroyers and seven Astute class submarines. It's not really enough hulls in the water given the worldwide commitments of the Royal Navy.
I suggest that naval ship design and procurement is changed to enable three 27,000 tonne carriers of the HMAS Canberra, Juan Carlos I, or Cavour type to be acquired. These are more flexible ships more appropriate to the types of war the UK will fight and more useful in peacetime for projecting soft power. The Daring class destroyers will be used to support the smaller carriers. For the maid of all work, patrol and drugs interdiction tasks of the Royal Navy, a dozen ships based on the USN littoral combat ship concept should be procured. Alternatively, a steel hulled upscaled Sea Fighter should be considered because of the benefits of its swath hull design which enables more helicopters or UAVs to be carried. And the FAA should be expanded to have more general purpose helicopter squadrons.

And the reference to the Yamato and Musashi in the title? Well, they were essentially defenceless without the support vessels and aircraft that the USN had sunk and shot down.

7 comments:

haddock said...

There is every possibility that there will be a major conflict within the lifespan of these anachronisms, but they will be no use at all in a civil war.
Amazing foresight, in a world short of oil, to rely on that for propulsion and not nuclear. Typical expensive cock-up. Any bets on french aircraft for it ?

Anonymous said...

Armies need boots on the ground, navies need hulls in the water. These carriers will be white elephants - together with the Trident submarines they will bankrupt the navy.

Trevy said...

If these ships are ever completed hopefully the Fleet Air Arm will regain control of its fixed-wing squadrons rather than rely on the RAF which will have its own priorities. History has shown that the RAF has not always been willing or able to provide air power at sea.

DWMF said...

There is a much cheaper way of acquiring hulls. The Russians have hundreds of destroyers and frigates doing nothing but gathering rust off their ports of Archangel and Murmansk.

Buy a job lot of 50 or so, scrape off the rust, re-weld as necessary, refit with new engines, re-equip with new radar and weapons, and Bob's your uncle!

These hulls have the thickest steel afloat, they are rock solid. This would give a damn sight more bang for your buck!

Gallimaufry said...

An interesting idea, but in the present political situation the Russians would be unlikely to sell us the ships. The cost of refurb and refit would probably outweigh any savings and an important design necessity is carrying and operating a helicopter.

DWMF said...

P.S. The Kirov battlecruiser might be up for grabs.

Gallimaufry said...

The Admiral Ushakov is about 8 times bigger than needed with two Russian reactor.