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Major munitions contract
A new £2.4 billion contract to equip the armed forces with essential fire power will sustain 4,000 jobs around the UK over 15 years, Defence Minister Jeremy Quin announced on Monday (30th).
The Next Generation Munitions Solution will see BAE Systems manufacture 39 different munitions for the Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force and Strategic Command, including small arms ammunition, mortars, medium-calibre gun rounds and large-calibre artillery and tank shells.
An estimated 1,260 people will work on NGMS in engineering, operations and supporting roles across five BAE Systems UK sites. A further 1,500 roles will be supported along the supply chain, alongside 1,300 jobs as a result of consumer spending in local economies.
The announcement follows the £16.5 billion settlement for defence over four years that will modernise the armed forces and bring jobs to every part of the UK.
Autonomous minehunters to protect RN
The UK and France have reaffirmed their defence relationship by committing to a joint programme for autonomous minehunting systems to detect and neutralise mines around the world.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced a £184 million investment in the joint Maritime Mine Counter Measure programme, which will create new systems to combat sea mines and keep ships and personnel away from danger. The contract will support 215 jobs across the UK at Thales sites, and in the wider supply chain.
The Defence Secretary said:
“This £184 million contract offers a huge leap forward for the Royal Navy’s autonomous capabilities in the detection and defeat of sea mines. As the Armed Forces puts modernisation at the heart of its future strategy, these systems will protect vital shipping lanes, commercial traffic and our brave personnel from these deadly devices.
“The programme also underpins a deep and ever-strengthening relationship with France, and marks the tenth anniversary of the Lancaster House treaties between our two nations.”
The new system is designed to replace conventional crewed minehunting vessels, including HMS Shoreham and other Sandown class ships. Following a successful demonstration phase and trials, completed in October, the new contract will produce three sets of minehunting equipment, consisting of an autonomous vessel, towed sonar and a remotely operated mine neutralisation system. The first sets are due to be delivered in late 2022, for operational evaluation prior to entering service.
Surge in recruiting – Collingwood, Dartmouth now training new entry ratings
Interest in joining the Royal Navy has surged this year, prompting a third establishment to train new entry ratings. Applications to join the Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Fleet Auxiliary are up by around a third on 2019 figures.
To meet the growing demand, from January an additional 500 men and women will complete their initial naval training at HMS Collingwood. This is in addition to BRNC Dartmouth, which has just taken a second intake of junior ratings on the ten-week initial course after already successfully delivering one entry.
The task is traditionally performed at HMS Raleigh, but even though it’s ramped up capacity by an additional 330 raw recruits, more are needed. The RN has turned to Collingwood, its Warfare and Weapon engineering school and largest training establishment, to assist, while further intakes are also planned at Dartmouth.
Beyond the security a military career offers in uncertain times and the desire to help out in a crisis, Captain Peter Viney, head of RN recruiting, attributes the extra applications to the broad range of apprenticeships offered to all specialist branches and in all trades.
Above: Recruits on BRNC’s first initial training course for ratings.
Award for HMS Pursuer support team
Engineers ensuring the RN is ready to patrol the waters of the Rock around the clock have earned the Herbert Lott Award for Efficiency.
The engineers of the Gibraltar Squadron ensure its six craft are fully available to safeguard the British territory’s waters and protect visiting warships. One of the squadron is former HMS Sussex, and later Sussex URNU, P2000 sea tender HMS Pursuer.
As well as maintaining the squadron’s craft, they serve as engineers on Dasher and Pursuer (P273 below) on patrol, and coxswains of RIBs when out and about in territorial waters, their task being more difficult this year due to the global pandemic.
They have demonstrated “drive, motivation and initiative”, working “above and beyond” for months on end, in the words of the citation accompanying the award, presented by Commodore Steve Dainton, Commander British Forces Gibraltar.
HMS Shoreham – Update
SANO has received an update from our affiliated ship, HMS Shoreham. The letter of 4 November from the new CO, Lt Cdr Richard Kemp, updates us on the ship’s recent activities in the Gulf and advises that she will be back in the UK next summer.
Read here. See also about Shoreham disposing of a rogue buoy, below.
Shoreham takes out rogue buoy in Gulf
SANO affiliate ship HMS Shoreham has blown up a wrecked buoy drifting towards busy Gulf shipping lanes.
The Bahrain-based ship was carrying out training when she spied a buoy in the water, not marked on any charts, unlit, difficult to see and in an area heavily used by fishing dhows. Sailors monitored the buoy to determine its drift rate and likely course, based on weather conditions, which suggested it would soon end up in busy shipping lanes. Close inspection suggested it had already been hit.
Shoreham’s divers placed an explosive charge on the underside of the buoy, withdrew a safe distance and up it went, ending down on the sea bed. To confirm it was no longer a danger, the team inspected the wreck using sonar, more typically used to locate mines, and marked it on the charts for authorities.
Lieutenant Commander Richard Kemp, Commanding Officer, said:
“Ensuring the safety of shipping throughout the Gulf features prominently in the tasking of Royal Navy units in the area and Shoreham was only too happy to help keep fellow mariners safe by removing this hazard – as well as taking advantage of an opportunity to put their skills to the test.”