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New Golden Age of shipbuilding as new UK-built warships boost Navy building programme to up to 28 ships and submarines

  • Defence spending boost driving new Golden Age of shipbuilding
  • Defence Secretary announces Royal Navy shipbuilding programme to rise to up to 28 ships and submarines to deliver a more secure future
  • Up to six new amphibious warships for the Royal Marines to be built in the UK

With up to 28 warships and submarines in the pipeline, backed by defence spending rising to 2.5% of GDP, Britain is seeing a new Golden Age of shipbuilding, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps will say.

Speaking at the annual Sea Power Conference in central London, the Defence Secretary will announce that up to six new state-of-the-art warships will be built in the UK to strengthen Royal Marines special operations, as part of the Government’s plan to deliver a secure future for families across the United Kingdom.

Backed by defence spending rising to 2.5% of GDP by the end of the decade, the announcement means that there are now up to 28 warships and submarines planned or in build to benefit the Royal Navy.

New procurement rules help rapid fitting of military laser to Royal Navy ships

The cutting-edge DragonFire laser will be installed on Royal Navy warships for the first time from 2027 – far quicker than previously envisaged thanks to new defence procurement model which came into force this week.

Able to fire at any target visible in the air at around £10 a shot and with an accuracy equivalent to hitting a pound coin from a kilometre away, the powerful DragonFire weapon will provide highly effective defence against drone and missile threats.

Laser weapons were originally expected to be rolled out to UK armed forces in 2032.

But under a raft of reforms to defence procurement that came into effect this week and prioritisation within defence, the weapon will now be operational around five years earlier than planned.

A key part of the new reforms is delivering a minimum deployable capability quickly to personnel and finalising development once in-service, ensuring that personnel can access the tools they need for an evolving threat.

HMS Richmond takes over from HMS Diamond to protect shipping in the Red Sea

As Houthi attacks against commercial vessels continue, Royal Navy warship HMS Richmond takes over from HMS Diamond to ensure freedom of navigation in the Red Sea.

HMS Diamond joined Operation Prosperity Guardian, an international task force to protect merchant shipping in the region, in December and has maintained a near constant presence in a ‘high threat area’ of the Red Sea. The destroyer came under fire in three separate attacks by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, successfully destroying nine drones using her world-class Sea Viper missile system and guns.

The UK continues to be at the forefront of the international response to the Houthis’ illegal attacks on commercial shipping – participating in Operation Prosperity Guardian, intercepting weapon-smuggling to Yemen, imposing sanctions to hold members of the Houthis to account and conducting necessary, proportionate and targeted strikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen.

‘Pinnacle’ career move as Royal Marine takes charge of Royal Navy operations for the first time

A Royal Marine will be responsible for commanding and orchestrating the Royal Navy’s global operations for the first time in history.

Vastly-experienced officer Brigadier Rich Cantrill will be named Commander Operations (COMOPS), the senior naval officer responsible for overseeing protection of home waters and Royal Navy and Royal Marine actions and activities worldwide.

Current incumbent, Rear Admiral Edward Ahlgren, will handover command to Brig Cantrill later this year, meaning for the first time a Royal Marine will take up the role based at the Maritime Operations Centre at the Northwood Headquarters in north-west London.

Diamond downs drone number nine in her third action in the Middle East

HMS Diamond has downed her ninth drone protecting shipping in the Middle East.

Once again two brilliant flashes of light briefly illuminated the Middle East night as first a Sea Viper burst from its silo and again seconds later as the missile impacted a Houthi drone, smashing it to smithereens.

On Saturday night, the Type 45 destroyer conducted her third engagement since arriving in the region shortly before Christmas in response to the ongoing threat against merchant shipping lawfully sailing between the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean.

Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin RUSI Lecture 2023

Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin gave his annual RUSI Lecture on 13 December 2023.  See the full speech here.

£121 Million Investment into future Submarines supports 250 Jobs

Two contracts, worth collectively over £100 million, have been awarded to Babcock to support the development of the UK’s future nuclear deterrent.

The first, worth £66 million, has been awarded to Babcock to provide in-service submarine support expertise into the development of the UK’s Dreadnought Class submarines – the future of the UK’s nuclear deterrent. Covering the next 4.5 years, the contract will see Babcock provide the Ministry of Defence with technical and management support, engineering best practice and submarine maintenance achievability.

In addition, Babcock has also been awarded a £55 million contract by BAE Systems for Weapon Handling and Launch System (WHLS) and Submerged Signal Ejector equipment for boats 2-4 of the Dreadnought Class. The contract will support a further 100 jobs across the UK and will see Babcock work with BAE Systems and the MOD together to ensure the Dreadnought Class is delivered on time.

Defence Secretary sends Royal Navy destroyer east of Suez to safeguard security in the Gulf

HMS Diamond is en route to join Operation Kipion, the UK’s maritime presence in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean, the Defence Secretary has announced.

As a powerful demonstration of the UK’s commitment to regional security, the Type 45 Destroyer will bolster the UK’s naval presence in the Gulf and work to deter escalations from malign and hostile actors who seek to disrupt maritime security.

The Type 45 destroyer will conduct operations to ensure freedom of navigation in the region, reassure merchant vessels and ensure the safe flow of trade. She will join HMS Lancaster, which deployed to the region last year, as well as three mine hunters and a Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) support ship.

Veterans services stepped up as Veterans UK brand set to be phased out

Veterans services in the UK are to receive a fresh start as the government today accepted the majority of recommendations from the Independent Review of UK Government Welfare Services for Veterans.

The Veterans UK brand will be retired next year, as part of a move to better communicate the variety of services which the MOD provides for veterans and the wider Armed Forces Community. The move will clarify the services on offer and the MOD will establish and communicate an appropriate replacement in due course. See full deatils here.

Royal Navy flagship sails to lead international carrier strike group deployment

Britain’s flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth sails this week, 9th September 2023,  from Portsmouth as she heads north to lead a Carrier Strike Group deployment alongside ships from partner nations.

The aircraft carrier, crewed by up to 900 sailors, with her F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters and Merlin helicopters will lead a mixed group of warships from various nations as they head to the Norwegian Sea and waters of northern Europe.

The UK Carrier Strike Group deployment comes just days after HMS Prince of Wales departed Portsmouth for the United States, where she will undergo trials and operate a multitude of aircraft and drones.

UK donation of hydrographic equipment keeps Ukrainian waters safe

The UK Hydrographic Office, an agency of the MoD, has donated £1.6 million worth of equipment to the State Hydrographic Service of Ukraine, helping to keep the seas around Ukraine safe and support commercial shipping amid ongoing Russian attacks.

The equipment – which includes two full Single Beam Echo Sounder systems and two Multibeam Echo Sounder systems – will be used to carry out hydrographic surveys.

These surveys collect accurate data of the seabed and marine environment. The data can then be processed and used to produce and maintain nautical charts and navigational information to support safer navigation in the area.

UK and Netherlands confirm future amphibious relationship

The UK and Netherlands agree to explore opportunities to develop a future littoral strike platform, providing future capability to both nations’ Commando Forces

Signed by UK Defence Minister James Cartlidge and Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren in Den Helder, on the 50th anniversary of the Joint Amphibious Force, both nations also agreed to further collaboration on amphibious exercises and training in future.

Future UK Multi Role Support Ships (MRSS) will be equipped with a sea to land strike capability, designed to operate in amphibious task groups – known as Littoral Response Groups – helping highly-trained Marines to deploy to crises globally, fully equipped with their vehicles, boats, aircraft, and weaponry.

Royal Navy ship deploys for hurricane season as Defence Minister reaffirms commitment to British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean

HMS Dauntless, the UK’s most advanced destroyer recently deployed to the region to support British Overseas Territories during hurricane season and counter drugs trafficking in the region.

The ship and her company will shortly begin patrols, providing a first-response capability during the coming hurricane season as well as working and exercising with local services and authorities in the region. She will also work with the US Coast Guard and other agencies to counter illicit trafficking in the Caribbean Sea.

Lump sum payment for war widows

A one-off payment of £87,500 for eligible spouses in recognition of those who forfeited their pensions prior to 2015.

Widows of serving personnel who forfeited their pensions prior to 2015 could be eligible for a one-off payment of £87,500 as part of the government’s continued support for the armed forces, their families and veterans.

The new joint initiative from the Ministry of Defence and the Treasury will address old rules in which a cohort of bereaved spouses, civil partners and eligible partners forfeited their pensions if they remarried or cohabited before 2015.

The scheme and one-off payment are designed to support those whose spouses’ death was attributable to service. The application window, open later this year, will remain open for two years with support for applicants provided by the Veterans UK Call Centre, and welfare support available through the Veterans Welfare Service for those who require emotional support during the process.

Sea Power Conference keynote speech

A speech by Admiral Sir Ben Key at the First Sea Lord’s Sea Power Conference, part of the London Sea Power Series.  Link to full speech here

UK and Australian visit to British home of next-generation nuclear submarines

Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese and UK Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace have today visited the shipyard where the next generation of AUKUS nuclear submarines will be built for the Royal Navy.

Australia and the UK will both build the new submarines, known as ‘SSN-AUKUS’, to the world-leading British-led design, with construction of the UK’s submarines taking place in Barrow-in-Furness.

HMS Birmingham steel cut milestone supports thousands of UK jobs

Steel has been cut on the first of the second batch of Type 26 warships, following a £4.2 billion contract awarded to BAE Systems in November 2022.

The Minister for Defence Procurement, Alex Chalk KC, marked the occasion at the steel cutting ceremony, with HMS Birmingham becoming the fourth of eight anti-submarine warships being constructed for the Royal Navy at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Govan, Glasgow.

HMS Mersey in Estonia as all three UK Armed Services operating in support of Estonian security

Royal Navy ship HMS Mersey has been deployed to the Baltic Sea for the last week, operating with the Estonian Navy and Royal Air Force in support of the nations’ security as Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) partners. This follows Mersey’s recent engagements with Swedish and Finnish Navies.

10,000 organisations sign up to the Armed Forces Covenant

More than 10,000 organisations have committed to improving the lives of service people and their families, with John Lewis becoming the latest signatory to mark this major milestone.

The retailer is the latest in a long line of large and small organisations to confirm their pledge to our serving Armed Forces personnel and veterans, demonstrating a commitment to work with and for our personnel.

Royal Navy ship seizes weapons transiting in the Gulf

Royal Navy ship HMS Lancaster seized weapons from a vessel travelling south from Iran whilst on a routine maritime security patrol on 23 February 2023. A United States fixed-wing Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform detected a suspected smuggling vessel travelling at high speed in international waters in the Gulf of Oman during the hours of darkness.

The vessel was also tracked by HMS Lancaster’s Wildcat helicopter. The smugglers initially ignored hails from the Royal Navy and attempted to navigate to Iranian territorial waters but were apprehended before they could do so. In accordance with international law, a team of Royal Marines stopped and boarded the vessel. They discovered suspicious packages which were recovered to HMS Lancaster.

Review launched into welfare provision for veterans

A major review into the veteran welfare services for veterans has been announced today by the Office for Veterans’ Affairs and the Ministry of Defence

The review will focus on examining the effectiveness and efficiency of the range of welfare services for veterans and identify any duplication, or gaps in support.

HMS Anson departs Barrow-in-Furness

HMS Anson, the fifth Astute Class submarine, has sailed from Barrow-in-Furness to begin her journey to His Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde.

Marking entry into the Royal Navy, HMS Anson was formally commissioned in ceremony last year, and is the eighth Navy vessel to bear the name, originally named after Admiral George Anson.

Mine-hunting ‘mother ship’ arrives in Plymouth

A specialist ship to support Royal Navy operations – a mother ship to launch drones to find and destroy undersea threats – has arrived in Plymouth today.

£100 million boost as naval shipbuilding confirms return to Belfast

A £1.6 billion contract has been awarded to Team Resolute to manufacture the vessels providing munitions, stores and provisions to Royal Navy ships.

New UK subsea protection ship arrives into Merseyside

Britain’s critical subsea infrastructure is set to be strengthened as the first of two future undersea surveillance ships today arrived into Birkenhead.

£15.4 million contract for first cutting-edge Navy crewless submarine

A £15.4 million contract for a cutting-edge crewless submarine has been awarded to Plymouth firm MSubs by the Royal Navy. The vessel will be delivered to the Navy in two years’ time and will further advance the UK’s ability to protect our critical national infrastructure and monitor sub-sea activity.

New legal powers to support Armed Forces families and Veterans

Defence Ministers have backed a stronger legal requirement on local services to support Armed Forces personnel, their families, and the Veterans community.

From today (22 Nov), councils, NHS Trusts and other local bodies across the UK providing services to the Forces community, will be required to adhere to a new legal Duty that reflects the key values of the Armed Forces Covenant.

This means that authorities must now consider how their decision-making impacts upon members of the Armed Forces community. For example, schools should consider if a parent is a member of the Forces community and give due consideration to their requirement for flexible leave depending upon the requirements of their military career.

1SL Tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Submariners – Black Caps

To recognise the unique ethos of the Submarine Service within the Royal Navy, approval has been given for all qualified submariners, ratings and officers, to wear black cap covers as of July 2021. Black covers will now be the default except for ceremonial events.

WRNS

In November 1993 the Women’s Royal Naval Service was disbanded & integrated with the Royal Navy three years after WRNS first served at sea in RN Ships. Today the RN is regularly recognised as among the top employers for women.