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Labour unveils 'Built in Britain' test for defence projects amid Navy ships' row

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Labour tonight sets a “Built in Britain” test for UK military hardware as it steps up its fight for a bumper defence deal to stay on these shores.

Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey called on ministers to finally award the £1.5billion contract for three Fleet Solid Support vessels to a British consortium.

A Spanish-led team is bidding for the work to build the Royal Navy supply ships, which campaigners say will support 2,500 jobs.

The battle comes as a major Whitehall defence and security review is underway.

Mr Healey said: “For five years, defence ministers have dithered over this decision when it’s a no-brainer to build these vital new ships in Britain.

“They are selling Britain short by not putting the work into UK shipyards.


No other major military nation has ordered naval support ships from foreign yards.

“What can be built in Britain now, must be built in Britain – and long-term defence and security procurement must also involve plans to develop the UK’s future capacity to build in Britain.

“This is one test by which we will judge the Government’s new integrated review of defence and security.”

The 40,000-tonne vessels will resupply Royal Navy aircraft carriers, destroyers and frigates with food, ammunition and explosives.


For national security reasons, Royal Navy warships can only be built in the UK.

But because the supply ships will be part of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, they are not classed as warships – meaning they can be built abroad.

Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions general secretary Ian Waddell said: “We very much welcome the 'Built in Britain' test and believe it should be applied to every major industry project that is funded by the taxpayer in order to preserve our skills base and ability to design, build and maintain complex projects.

“These ships are the cornerstone for the future of the British shipbuilding industry.

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“Placing the order in the UK will bridge the gap between the end of the aircraft carrier programme and the next tranche of ships on order which will provide highly-skilled employment for a generation in areas that need it most.

“If the Prime Minister is serious about levelling up in the regions he will jump at the chance of building these ships in Britain as a straightforward means to pump investment into our regions and get the economy up and running again after the coronavirus lockdown.

“Working people in our shipbuilding communities simply don’t understand why ministers are insisting on inviting foreign shipyards to tender."

Community steelworkers' union general secretary Roy Rickhuss said: “We know that steelworks in the UK have the capacity to produce the bulk of the materials needed for the proposed Fleet Solid Support ships.


 

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Warship building in the pandemic – progress on the Type 26 frigate


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Like every aspect of life in the UK, the industry that supports the Royal Navy has been impacted by the effects of COVID-19. We spoke to BAE Systems, the Ministry of Defence’s largest supplier, about how they have adapted to the new conditions.



At the start of lockdown on March 23rd, all BAES staff were sent home but within 2 weeks around 10,000 production employees had returned to their adapted workplaces. Around 24,000 management, technical and administration staff remained working from home. BAES and many defence companies were initially involved in a focussed effort to meet immediate medical needs, participating in the Ventilator Challenge and produced thousands of ventilators for the NHS. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including face shields, aprons and surgical gloves were also donated by these industries to health and social care staff. Specialist products for use in hospitals, such as hooks for isolation cubicles and isolation cockpit shields for air ambulance pilots, have also been manufactured.

For those working at home, there are new challenges such as ensuring secure internet access, adjusting to virtual team management and children appearing in the background during video calls. BAES already had a strong culture of health and safety in place and say this provided a good foundation when adapting workplaces to be COVID-secure. In co-operation with trade unions, spacing out of people in office areas and hygiene measures have been implemented. Returning staff are given an extensive induction about the new working practices. There are now strict limits on the number of people who can work in a single compartment on a ship or submarine and where close proximity cannot be avoided, workers are issued with additional PPE.




In the last 3 months, BAES has delivered a ship and a submarine to the RN. Although much-delayed prior to lockdown, HMS Audacious finally left Barrow for Faslane on 4th April although it may be some time before she is ready to commission. The 4th River-class batch II OPV, HMS Tamar was accepted by the RN on 25th Feb and her ship’s company had already moved on board when lockdown started. She sailed from the Clyde on 27 March, slightly ahead of the original plan. Her accelerated entry into service culminated in her being commissioned into the RN with a ceremony held while moored on the river Tamar on 4th June.

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In March 2020 the bridge unit was added to the forward section of the lead Type 26 frigate, HMS Glasgow. The Type 26 features a double-height bridge and very large windows – similar to the Type 45 destroyers.
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Although not quite recognisable as a warship yet, the size of the 8,000 tonne frigate can start to be appreciated from this image. (Photos: BAE Systems)
HMS Glasgow is being constructed in two halves at Govan and the bow section is due to be rolled out of the Shipbuilding Outfit Hall in late 2020. The stern section will be rolled out a couple of weeks later and the two halves joined on the hardstanding outside.

The mast and funnels will be lifted onto the structurally complete hull before she is placed onto the barge that will lower the ship into the water. The float-out date of the structurally-complete vessel has not yet been fixed, but is expected to be in the last quarter of 2021. The ship will then be towed down the Clyde to the Scotstoun yard for several years of fitting out. The unhurried schedule dictated by the MoD will see HMS Glasgow handed-over to the RN in 2025 then undergoing lengthy trials before entering service in 2027. Manufacture of blocks for the second Type 26, HMS Cardiff began last year.

In Portsmouth, BAES have continued fleet support activities, despite new working restrictions. HMS Prince of Wale continues to undergo a Capability Insertion Period. Like HMS Queen Elizabeth, she did not leave the builders fully complete and more equipment is being added incrementally. Planned work packages on HMS Queen Elizabeth, Dauntless, Westminster and Lancaster have all been completed, allowing them to sail as planned. Refits of HMS Daring, and Duncan are ongoing while HMS Dragon is completing a Fleet Time maintenance period.

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HMS Spey was formally named at Scotstoun in October 2019 but her acceptance and delivery is likely to be impacted slightly. COVID-19 issues have delayed the RN generating a full ship’s company. BAES is still negotiating the delivery schedule with the customer – probably be in late 2020.
Three more F-35B jets (BK-19, 20 and 21) were due to be delivered to the UK in early October. Lockheed Martin says their arrival will be held up by about a month due to the effects of the pandemic in the United States.


BAE Systems is just one of a very few large prime contractors that build and maintain the fleet but they could not function without a large supply chain of SMEs. For the smaller companies that supply critical components and services, the lockdown has inevitably harder on them. Nigel Whitehead, Director External Relations, BAE Systems plc, told the Commons Defence Committee this week that, out of around 500 key suppliers, 10 of them are in financial difficulty and BAES is actively supporting them through this difficult period. 120 of the suppliers say they are going to run into delivery difficulties and planning is going on to understand and mitigate the impacts. BAES receive around 75 shipping containers each month of equipment and materials from overseas and issues around quarantine means more local suppliers are being sought where possible.

Avril Jolliffe, Director Strategic Business Development at Thales UK, another defence prime said: “Some of our suppliers did actually stop working, they are all now open. We’ve had a couple of suppliers come to us in financial distress, and we have helped them out.” Overall Jolliffe was pretty positive and said they were in a good position, considering all that has happened, noting their preparation work with supply chains for leaving the EU has helped with the pandemic response. “Defence has been pretty resilient really” she added.

Historically UK defence procurement and industry was not exactly known for its agility but seems to have adapted well so far. There will inevitably be some delays to programmes and companies are still in a phase of understanding the impacts, learning lessons and adapting. There is still uncertainty as government rules continue to change on weekly basis and there is still the spectre of a ‘second spike’ in cases. For major programmes such as the Type 26 frigates and Dreadnought class submarines which will run over decades, BAES are confident that the disruption of 2020 will not affect delivery dates and time can be made up later.

Despite the positive response from industry, there can be little room for complacency and there is widespread concern that the financial fallout from the pandemic will see big defence cuts following the Integrated Review next year. In order to stimulate the economy and protect sovereign manufacturing, the MoD should instead be funded to bring forward orders and commit to more technology demonstrator and research programmes. Not only does the global situation demand greater investment in defence but the industrial base can provide secure, high-skilled jobs needed for economic revival.

 

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New commando uniform for Royal Marines
27 June 2020


Royal Marines Commandos are to get a brand new uniform under the most significant transformation and rebranding programme launched since World War 2.

Elite commandos of the Royal Navy are undertaking a bold modernisation project – known as the Future Commando Force programme – which will overhaul the way world famous Green Berets operate around the globe.
As part of this restructuring, Royal Marines will have a new uniform, fit for a new era of warfare, that is in-keeping with the maritime traditions of the corps, and also honours their commando forebears.
The NATO procured uniform – which is been procured from USA-based firm Crye Precision – is lighter weight, has higher tear-strength, is faster-drying and is more breathable than typical 50/50 cotton/nylon kit.
It also has a subtle change in camouflage design – instead of the previous multi-terrain pattern – the uniform now uses Crye Precision’s MultiCam pattern.
And, in the week that saw the 80th anniversary of Operation Collar, the first commando raid of World War 2, the marines have drawn on their heritage by returning to the traditional Royal Marines Commando insignia, just like the design first worn by commandos when they launched daring raids into Nazi-occupied Europe.
The flash with red writing and navy-blue background will be worn once again, as commandos evolve to conduct more raids from the sea, persistently deployed to counter the threats of the modern-day battlefield.
For the first time the White Ensign features on one sleeve, as a clear indication of the Royal Marines’ integration with the Royal Navy.
The iconic Fairbairn-Sykes Dagger patch of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines has been redesigned and is based on the first pattern of the legendary fighting knife made in 1940.
" The practical benefits to this uniform shouldn’t be underestimated. It has been specifically selected to serve commandos as they carry out operations all around the globe in the most extreme environments. "
Lieutenant Colonel Ben Reynolds Royal Marines




Lieutenant Colonel Ben Reynolds RM, who led with the procurement and design of the new uniform, said: “The Royal Marines are integral to the Royal Navy and an extremely versatile elite force, able to operate from mountain and Arctic wastes to jungle and littorals.
“The Royal Marines’ Commando Uniform 2020 reflects our distinctiveness and the unique capabilities we bring to defence, in addition to the Royal Navy’s eagerness to invest in our development towards the Future Commando Force.
“The practical benefits to this uniform shouldn’t be underestimated. It has been specifically selected to serve commandos as they carry out operations all around the globe in the most extreme environments.”Marines are already receiving the new combat shirt and trousers, field shirt and trousers, a utility jacket and utility belt and will begin wearing the new uniform from this Autumn.
The new uniform – which harks back to the fabled commandos heritage while modernising their equipment – is part of a wider transformational drive which will change the way Royal Marines operate.
Under the Future Commando Force programme more Royal Marines will operate from the sea, utilising new and innovative technology as high-readiness troops, forward deployed and ready to react, whether that’s war-fighting, specific combat missions such as commando raids, or providing humanitarian assistance.
Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, said: “The Royal Marines require a uniform that they can rely on in the most hostile of environments on earth. This robust, breathable and lightweight kit will ensure our commandos remain fighting fit and able to deal with the full range of threats we rely on them to face.
“It is fitting that on the 80th Anniversary of the first commando raid of World War 2, this uniform now bears the traditional Royal Marine Commando insignia. A poignant link to their history as the commando force embarks on a modernisation programme that will keep them in their place as the world’s best amphibious force.”
The Royal Marines’ Commando Uniform 2020 was procured in just over one year, utilising the NATO Support & Procurement Agency, demonstrating the Royal Navy’s appetite to invest in the Royal Marines.

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Source: https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-a...2020/june/27/200626-royal-marines-new-uniform
 

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Britain moves to boost Ukraine’s naval chops

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A Russian warship takes part in maneuvers in the Black Sea on Jan. 9, 2020. The drills involved warships and aircraft that launched missiles at practice targets. Ukraine has been wary of Moscow's naval activities in the region, soliciting Western help in training its forces. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik via AP)



LONDON — Britain is stepping up its military support in Ukraine with an announcement that the U.K. will lead a multinational maritime initiative to train the Ukrainian navy.

During a visit to Ukraine on Aug. 17 British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed the Royal Navy is coordinating a training initiative which also involves Canada, Denmark and Sweden.

The training initiative will be complemented by U.S. security assistance support, said the British Ministry of Defence in a statement.

Other nations are expected to join the naval training effort, said the MoD.

The British-led training will focus on areas such as navigation, operational planning, military diving, sea surveillance, firefighting and damage control.


The Royal Navy also plans to deploy warships to the region later in the year, Wallace said.



Last year the Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan visited Ukraine as part of the NATO’s Sea Breeze exercise. That followed a visit by the survey ship HMS Echo.


The U.K. has been conducting maritime training with the Ukraine for a while. Last year the British announced they were enlarging the scope of a wider military training effort, known as Operation Orbital, by deploying training teams from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines to boost a Ukrainian Navy facing increasing threats from Russia in the Sea of Azov.

The Ukrainians are trying to rebuild a maritime presence following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Ukraine lost most of its navy, including 75 percent of personnel, 70 percent of ships and key infrastructure.

It faces a rising number of threats from the Russians in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, and its armed forces continue to counter Moscow-backed separatists in the Donbass region of the country.

Last year the Ukrainian navy unveiled a 15-year, three-stage strategy to rebuild naval capabilities starting with the aim of developing capabilities to establish control over territorial waters and beyond by 2025.



Britain announced late last year it was extending Operation Orbital by three years to March 2023, and despite a COVID-19 enforced suspension, now lifted, the U.K. armed forces have trained over 18,000 Ukrainian military personnel.

 

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The Royal Navy’s Echo-class survey vessels

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HMS Echo and HMS Enterprise are the Royal Navy’s hydrographic oceanographic survey vessels (SVHO). Designed to survey both coastal and ocean waters, they have also proved flexible and adaptable to a variety of other roles. Here we look at the history, design and service life of these two ships.



Background
In 1997 the Royal Navy’s hydrographic ships were repainted from white with buff funnels to ‘Pusser’s grey’ this reflected their increasing integration with warfare and utilisation for missions beyond surveying. Amphibious warfare and, in particular, submarine operations need support with high-definition bathymetry and atmospheric data, sometimes in near real-time and new ships enabled by modern data processing and communications technology would provide this. With ever-decreasing hull numbers, and declining manpower strength, the RN wanted its next-generation survey vessels to have a small crew and designed from the outset for other roles. The ships would need to basic self-defence capability and facilities to act as mine warfare logistic support and command ships as well as perform Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) missions . While HMS Scott is optimised for specialist oceanography, the SVHOs have a greater all-round capability, designed mainly for hydrographic survey in the littorals and continental shelf.

In the mid-1990s the RN planned to replace its two remaining coastal survey vessels, HMS Bulldog and Beagle, and the newer HMS Roebuck, with three modern vessels that could conduct both ocean and coastal survey work. It was not until June 2000 that it was confirmed that two ships had been ordered from prime contractor, Vosper Thornycroft. The £130 million project included 25 years of through-life support and the construction of both ships which was sub-contracted to Appledore Shipbuilders in North Devon.


The hulls of both ship were constructed side by side in Appledore’s undercover dry dock and the lead ship HMS Echo was floated out into the river on the 2 March 2002, followed a few weeks later by Enterprise on 27 April. Echo was supposed to be completed by August but technical problems at the shipyard and issues with the new azipod propulsion delayed the programme. HMS Enterprise was accepted into service ahead of HMS Echo in September 2003 but her working azipods were removed in Portsmouth. They were donated to Echo in October 2003 so as to speed up her entry into service. HMS Echo formally commissioned on 7 March 2003 but was laid up temporarily in Falmouth awaiting a solution to her propulsion defects. HMS Enterprise was cold-moved to Plymouth, commissioning on 17th October while her crew trained alongside awaiting delivery of new pods.

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Pods
Azipod propulsion was pioneered by ABB in Finland and by the late 1990s, the technology had matured to the stage that they were being fitted to a number of merchant vessels. In simple terms, the DC propulsor motor, directly attached to the propellor is hung from a pod below the stern of the ship. The pod is rotated to achieve steering and electrical power to the pod can be supplied from a generator cited anywhere within the vessel. This has many advantages over conventional shaftline propulsion arrangements. The principle benefits are fuel efficiency, vastly increased manoeuvrability, reduced vibration, simplification of machinery layout and elimination of shafts and rudders. Azipods were initially selected for one of the early iterations the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft designs but later eliminated when they were found not to meet naval shock resistance standards. For more information, click the link below.


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Power generation comes from three MAN B&W 6-cylinder RK270 Diesel-Generators with a total power output of 5.4MW, supplemented by a smaller generator, mainly for use in harbour. The PWM (Pulse Width Modulation)-controlled compact azipods are rated at 1.7MW along with the 0.4MW bow thruster. The ship can be controlled by a joystick, traditional helm or automatically via the DPS and integrated navigation system. The VT integrated platform management system (IPMS) controls and monitors power generation, propulsion and auxiliary plant, tank gauging as well as damage control functions and is accessible through workstations around the ship. There are very high levels of automation with the machinery spaces usually unmanned and generation capacity automatically brought on or offline, depending on the ship’s speed requirement. The SVHOs are not especially fast, with a maximum speed of around 15 knots, but have a good endurance of around 9,300nm at 12knots. For more, click the link below:

 

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  • HMS-Enterprise-Azipods.jpg

    HMS Enterprise has her bottom cleaned while dry-docked in Falmouth 2018. The azipods actually pull the ship forward, the opposite of conventional shaftline propulsion which push the ship forward through thrust blocks.
Core mission
At the heart of the ships is the Integrated Survey System, comprising the Kongsberg Simrad EM1002 Multi-Beam Echo Sounder (MBES) which features a hull-mounted transponder beneath the ship. This is designed for comprehensive and rapid recording of bathymetric and oceanographic data. Additionally, the EM 1002 MBES is optimised for coastal waters down to 1000 meters The EM 3000 MBES is a very high-resolution seabed mapping and inspection system for shallow water. The more basic and EA 400 and EA 500 single beam echo sounders (SBES) are also used to measure depths accurately in shallow waters..... For more, click the link below.


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The ships are armed with two Oerlikon 20mm/85 KAA cannons. The gunner is strapped into the GAM-BO1 mounting and manually aims and trains the weapon. These guns have been in service with the RN since the mid-1980s and are basic but adequate for maritime security and force-protection work.



A varied service history
Since entering service both ships have seen been deployed globally including survey work as far afield as the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, the Black Sea, Antarctica and Norway. Both ships have served with EU Operation Sophia rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean..... For more, click the link below.


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In 2013 HMS Echo was deployed on an 18-month surveying mission covering the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and the Gulf. Seen here in the Gulf, the spacious quarter-deck can be appreciated.

For more, click the link below:


 
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HMS Vengeance returning from a patrol,29th july 2020. Damn.

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