COMMONS

The Royal Marines and UK amphibious capability web forum

Following the announcement of the National Security Capability Review in July, a number of reports have suggested that significant changes to the structure of the Royal Marines and UK amphibious forces are being considered as part of this exercise. These changes are said to include the consideration of substantial reductions in the strength of the Royal Marines and the possible deletion of the Royal Navy’s Albion class ships. The Committee will examine the UK’s amphibious capability and its importance to UK defence.

Get involved

Recent reports have suggested that the Government is considering changes to the amphibious capability of the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines as part of the ongoing National Security Capability Review. The House of Commons Defence Committee are inviting members of the public to share their views on the potential impact of these changes. Views are particularly welcome from communities where Royal Marines, Army Commando units and amphibious ships are based, given that they would be most directly affected by any major decisions on reconfiguration.

The Defence Committee welcomes your answers to the following:

  • How important is the amphibious capability provided by the Royal Marines and Albion class ships to the UK?
  • What is the likely impact on unit morale and satisfaction with Service life if the reported changes and reductions are implemented?
  • What is the likely impact on the communities where these capabilities are based if the reported changes and reductions are implemented?

Deadline for submission to the web forum is Thursday 21 December 2017.

Submission guidance

Contributions can be anonymous, but if participants doing so wished to indicate any particular connection to amphibious forces (such as being in the family of a member of serving personnel) and/or their locality in a way which would not personally identify them, then this would be welcome. This includes any connection to any units from the three Services involved in delivering amphibious capability. This is a public forum and participants should not include any information which they would not wish to have published. The forum will be pre-moderated by Committee Staff. Comments that do not comply with Parliamentary Outreach’s online discussion rules  will be removed. Comments will not be covered by Parliamentary Privilege.

How we process and publish your information

Your personal data will be processed in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Clerk of the House of Commons is the data controller for the purposes of the Act. The data you supply in this forum will be processed for the purpose of informing the committee’s inquiry and contributing to a report.  The information will be archived as part of official record. If you have any questions or concerns about the collection and use of your information please contact the Committee Clerk at [email protected].  If you would like more information about your Data Protection rights, please contact the House of Commons Information Rights and Information Security (IRIS) Service on 020 7219 4296.

 

The Royal Marines and UK amphibious capability

*
*
*
*

Before posting your comment please read the terms and conditions relating to the use of this web forum. This forum is pre-moderated and comments that breach the online discussion rules will not be posted. Please contact [email protected] if you experience difficulties using this forum. Please note that your comment will not be treated as formal written evidence to the Committee and will not be protected by Parliamentary Privilege.

954 Responses to The Royal Marines and UK amphibious capability

Catherine Lewis says:
January 05, 2018 at 04:32 AM
I am not an expert in these matters, but I am a concerned citizen as I continue to be appalled by the depletion of our Armed Forces, now spread thinly around the world and frankly lacking the respect and resources they deserve.
Our naval capability, which of course includes the Royal Marines, has always been extremely important to this country. Without them the Falklands Conflict would have had a very different outcome and amphibious vessels were vital in that mission. Their practicality in any 'situation' is surely indisputable.
In both the Baltic and Mediterranean a naval presence is vital and not in a puny way. As a significant part of NATO we also need to 'keep our end up'.
The expertise of the Marines is not something to be diminished or discarded but to be retained and respected. Whether the rather poor decisions over scrapping and then building aircraft carriers was some sort of vanity project I don't know, but it seems to have been an almost deliberate squandering of a diminishing budget on a large but limited project. Funds need to be found for retaining the versatile amphibious ships and people who man them.
The world is, unfortunately, in a state of military instability and unease. It is not a time to be running down our already weakened military resources. The Royal Navy is a very important part of our defence capability and deserves better treatment.
Philip Gutteridge says:
December 31, 2017 at 09:22 PM
Many of the earlier comments for retaining and enhancing our (UK) Defence capability are very well thought out. Accepting these wholeheartedly from a capability standpoint, the following supplements are also of paramount importance:

(i). Morale in the UK Armed Forces is at a peacetime low in living memory and further cuts will do nothing to restore it.

(ii). If the Government goes ahead with these further cuts into the global substance of our capability (already drastically weakened since the Gulf wars), it may very well find that the general public administers proportional cuts to its belief in what the government says when it tries to assure us of its commitment to our safety and Defence.

(iii). Expect the humiliation and public embarrassment that is likely to come from the loss of Command of NATO’s North Flank to a lesser nation.

(iv). Given the obvious rearming of Russia and their conventional capability enhancements, it is very disingenuous of recent British governments to claim that we are readying ourselves to fight future rather than past wars. Whether we were to be fighting directly with an enemy such as the Gulf wars or Falklands conflict, or a proxy power such as the Ukrainians find themselves doing, we will be engaging equipment supplied by real adversaries - of which Russia is currently typical.

(v). If the British Government (of any and all political persuasions wants to save money on Defence in the long run, it should either vacate Whitehall or, more properly, spend whatever it takes on British sourced and produced equipment that will render it counter-productive for any adversary to take us on. This starts with defensive equipment but also extends into offensive capability such as the well equipped and trained RM and RN capabilities that can be used to protect/retake overseas interests or similarly hurt an antagonist in a counter stroke on something they value.

Finally, people in Government and in the Select Committee on Defence have up to date access to information and intelligence that we ‘lesser folk’ either pick up from people we know or glean from published sources after the event (so to speak). As such it is known, albeit not acknowledged by, that successive governments have been out manoeuvred by movements and doctrines such as PESCO on one hand and the commitment to remorseless increases in social welfare on the other and consistently raid the Defence budget to fund these competing projects. See the various graphs and statistical data published by Government Departments/ONS - buying votes doesn’t make for pleasant balance of payments reading. It’s a fools paradise. The Defence budget needs to be forever big enough to negotiate economies of scale for equipment and maintain enhanced production capacity industrially. This frankly means it needs to oscillate between 2.5% and 6% of GDP depending on whether we are maintaining established capability or gearing up with new technological equipment and personnel in the face of some foreign government who just happens to think it ‘might be worth a try’ with the British. There are no brownie points these days if families end up paying the bill needlessly in blood, limbs and death.

No more cuts! Reverse those implemented over the last thirty years as Russia has done (and as we know, our economy is bigger than theirs).

A very sad thing is that so many of the people in my circle have become so tired of this constant round of assurance by cliche’s and carefully chosen words (only to see programmes scrapped, delayed or watered down such as the weapon systems on the new patrol vessels) that they are switching off and disengaging with politics altogether because they cannot stand further ‘policy by sound bite’.

[Apologies for the lateness of this submission. We have been quite ill for well over a week and gave this our priority as we began to catch up with our emails]
John Seddon, ex-ARMY says:
December 29, 2017 at 02:33 PM
Royal Marines, SAS, Commandos,all ARMY and associated 'delivery platforms' are vital for the defence of UK.
The World now is far more dangerous than during the Cold War. UK needs to quadruple Defence Budget, retore ARMY to Cold War levels 200k troops+.
ISIS has not been defeated, it is like a cancer and will keep coming back, and besides there are emerging serious threats from Russian Alliance, N KOrea and Iran.
For UK MPs to continue damaging UK Defence with budget cuts, they should be tried for Treason and locked up.
Same goes for UK Police, now dangerously under manned and under resourced; due to incompetent HOME OFFICE Ministers. MPs have left UK in a weak position, like in 1939.
rgs, John.
George Taylor says:
December 28, 2017 at 04:22 PM
Why do people who don't know or who have very little knowledge about the Marines get to decide there future and the Navy who supply the ships that transport them to combat. Look at what's happening in the world right now and the Marines are probably already on standby we should be increasing there numbers not shrinking them and building better and much larger ships like the Bulwark
Jacqueline Chadwick says:
December 27, 2017 at 05:59 PM
There is now an obvious disconnect between foreign policy, defence policy and the operational capability of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.

The operational capability of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines depends not only on the performance of the ships, systems and equipment but also on the numbers of ships , sailors and marines. The operational capability is no longer coherent. On the one hand individual unit capability has never been greater, for example the DARING Class destroyers and ASTUTE Class nuclear submarines, but on the other hand we have two aircraft carriers with no aircraft and insufficient escorts and submarines to protect them, and too few sailors and marines. The result is that operational capability is reduced and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines are under strength and unable to meet the Government's commitments.

If we are to have an amphibious capability then the ALBION Class ships are essential. The alternatives such as ships taken up from trade or airlift by helicopters can fulfil some tasks but can never provide an alternative to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines amphibious capability.

The reduction in the strength of the Royal Marines has inevitably reduced the Corps capability and a further reduction will exacerbate this loss of capability. Placing the two ALBION Class ships at extended readiness creates the illusion of capability. The reality is that readiness and capability will be reduced, and therefore the ability to respond to the unexpected will be lost - be it war fighting, peacekeeping or humanitarian aid from the sea.

In this uncertain world it is essential that we have a coherent foreign and defence policy, and an operational capability in the Royal Navy (and Royal Marines) which is balanced and effective. Successive governments have failed to provide any of these.
Betty Hakes says:
December 22, 2017 at 10:45 AM


The report in the press that the Ministry of Defence is considering decommissioning HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion, and reducing the size of the Royal Marines is very worrying. I firmly believe that what was considered important when I served as a WRNS Officer in the late 1960s and early 1970s is still important today. As a maritime nation it is vital that we maintain an effective and balanced conventional defence capability and this must include the ability to carry out amphibious operations.

Amphibious ships and the highly trained men who operate out of them play a very significant role in providing quick reaction and the ability to operate in situations denied to larger strike carriers. This was exemplified in the retaking of the Falklands. The carriers were kept well away from the Islands for their own protection and the movement of troops and equipment ashore would have been impossible using helicopter lift from the capital ships. Decommissioning Albion and Bulwark with no planned replacements, and reducing the Royal Marine numbers yet further is very short-sighted. It takes many years to develop a capability and the loss of it would seriously impact the effectiveness of NATO's Arctic warfare ability.

The Royal Navy has got itself into a totally untenable position resulting from the decision to build HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. These ships, when they eventually enter service with their complement of F35 aircraft, will take a disproportionate share of the total RN operating budget to the extent that the very ships (frigates and destroyers) which will be required to provide protection to the carriers will be very limited in numbers. I feel very sad that the Royal Navy seems to be putting many of its eggs in one basket in pursuing this very costly and arguably unnecessary project to the exclusion of the needs of the rest of the fleet.

My hope is that we do not repeat our history as a nation of running down our effective defence capability until we find ourselves vulnerable and then when we need to defend ourselves we have great difficulty in so doing. The inevitable consequence will be that many of our service men and women will be sacrificed and the whole nation will suffer most terribly, all because of ill judged short term decisions.
Neil Clark says:
December 21, 2017 at 11:12 PM
The Royal Marines are one of the most versatile units in the UK armed forces. They are highly trained, have great flexibility, can operate on land and sea and provide almost half of all UK Special Forces units. To cut their numbers and get rid of ships on which they depend for their versatility is a huge mistake.
The Marines are an outstanding bunch of people and it will be incredibly difficult to replace them, once you start down that route.
norman keith glenister says:
December 21, 2017 at 05:22 PM
I entirely support and agree with the comments from other petitioners. I am not a RM but it is obvious the these front line forces are an essential part of our defence capability.
Kevin Shackell says:
December 21, 2017 at 05:14 PM
For over 300 years Great Britain has been able to project forces across the globe, mainly by amphibious means. The Royal Marines have demonstrated this time and time again
Having a force such as this, is a deterrent in its self.
Other countries hold the Royal Marines in High Esteem why would this not be reciprocal by UK Government?
The Royal Navy used to be a force to be feared this included The Marines
Why are we not protecting the navy (we are an Island after all)
A better strategic review of our defence would be to return Air operations to the Royal Navy and Army (from whence it came) the savings would be astronomical and the credibility of our defence would be reestablished .
We need government to think smart as another Falkland may be just round the corner.
Kevin Gunn says:
December 21, 2017 at 11:47 AM
The Royal Marines has always punched well above its weight for the Country in everything and anything it's asked to do, including amphibious operations, including humanitarian, is flexible enough to to do anything required at the time Iraq,Afghanistan ect, only branch of armed Forces that rarely has recruiting issues, massive mistake to get rid of any ships or even one single Royal Marine, the money needs to be found to keep the vertical small Armed Forces that are left intact, and capable.