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The Royal Marines and the UK amphibious capability web forum

Defence Committee

Recent reports 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 invited members of the public to share their views on the potential impact of these changes.

The Defence Committee asked for public views on the following questions:

  • 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 was Thursday 21 December 2017.

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954 Contributions (since 27 November 2017)
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Total results 954 (page 2 of 96)

Malcolm Bradshaw

21 December 2017 at 09:54

I feel that not to maintain our current level of amphibious capability would leave the UK in a poor light with our partners in NATO and in the eyes of the world. The ability to land Royal Marines and other forces anywhere at a time and place of our choosing must be maintained. The expertise that has amassed over the years cannot be quickly relearned in a time of crisis. The amphibious shipping cannot be simply bought in. The multi capability role shipping have shown their worth time and time again over the years (flood, famine, disaster relief etc) We must retain our capability even at the cost of other areas of the defence budget.

Charles Thomas

21 December 2017 at 09:19

Without doubt you risk our countries capabilities for not only Amphibious Warfare you also risk the Amphibious Defence of our shores , and the flexibility of such adaptable force We are an Island and with the Economy is a state of change we should be solidifying our defences not Squandering them

Adrian Wakeford

21 December 2017 at 00:26

It is suggested that in order help to balance the MOD’s budget it would be appropriate to remove the Landing Platform Docks (LPD) from service and to reduce the size of the Royal Marines. Turning first to the removal of the LPDs it must be realised that the UK’s amphibious ships are designed as a system with each class of ships providing specific capabilities that the other ships do not possess or only possess to a lesser extent. It is also the case that significant risk is already being built into the UKs amphibious capability as a result of previous defence savings measures. • The Helicopter Carrier HMS Ocean provides a significant air assault capability using embarked helicopters, a small surface assault capability through four Landing Craft Vehicle and Personnel (LCVP). HMS Ocean is going out of service in 20187 with no like for like replacement but one of second Queen Elizabeth QE Class Carrier is planned to be used in the helicopter assault role. The QE Class will have a good aviation assault capability and will be able to carry a reasonably large force of troops but there are no LCVPs so surface assault cannot be mounted. An additional major question is that at ten times the cost of HMS Ocean will a QE Class ship actually be risked as close to the shore and if it is not the longer transit times will slow military build-up. • The LPDs have a more limited air assault capability with only two landing spots and no hangar but have the UK’s most significant amphibious surface assault capability. There is significant on-board space for troops and vehicles, there is a floodable dock and each ship carries 4 LCVPs plus four of the larger Landing Craft Utility (LCU). These latter craft can carry multiple vehicles or a single main battle tank. The LPD is also provided with the main amphibious and landing Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (C3I) capability. The risk already built into the LPDs is that only one is at short notice readiness and the other is “mothballed”. • The Bay Class Landing Ship Dock (Auxiliary) (LSD(A))s have a similar capability for embarked forces to the LPDs and have docks but these can only accommodate one LCU or 2 LCUs. Hence the main role of the LSD(A)s is to augment troop carrying capacity of the LPDs and provide a docking facility compatible with landing craft carried by those ships. The risk carried regarding the LSD(A)s is that one of the four ships was sold off following the 2010 Defence Review and only one of the remaining three ships is usually available for amphibious exercises or operations as the other two are deployed on other RN tasks due to the shortage of RN destroyers or frigates. • Finally, it should be noted that there are also Point Class ships but these are RO-RO ferries much more suited to using harbour facilities and ill-suited to amphibious use. From the above it can be seen that the amphibious ships have been designed as complementary parts of an amphibious system. Should the LPDs be removed from the system significant troop and vehicle transportation capability will be lost and the expensive C3I capability will need to be moved to another class of ship eating into any savings made. Most significantly the UK’s surface ship to shore assault capability will be drastically reduced and the ability to rapidly build up a balanced well supported force ashore would be lost. It would be ironic if whilst taking into service the powerful but expensive QE Class aircraft carriers the UK became impotent in the increasingly populated and unpredictable coastal areas of the world because there was a lack of relatively cheap amphibious ships. The option to reduce the size of the Royal Marines (RM) is also being considered. The RM is a small but largely self-contained force of amphibious infantry that has been reducing in size over the decades most recently deliberately surrendering two hundred posts to the RN to help that service with its manning crisis. This change has necessitated reorganisation and re-roling. It is questionable whether such a small force can reduce by as many as a thousand posts and still be viably self-contained. The reduction in manning levels in such a small organisation could lead to systemic failures which will then necessitate regeneration measures that will be more expensive in the long term than any savings made. If taken, this saving measure would risk a major UK military capability. Incidentally a major pool of Special Force volunteers would be endangered. Across Defence it is clear that year on year increasing risk is being taken by Government Ministers. Obviously, it is expensive to provide a world class Defence capability across all three Services. However, our enemies and our potential enemies are watching us carefully. They will exploit us where we have chosen to weaken ourselves, not where we have chosen to remain strong. No government could expect to survive a military catastrophe resulting from their own budgetary decisions

Dr M Hargreaves

21 December 2017 at 00:22

The Royals Marines are integral part of the UK heritage, form part of the national identity of the armed forces and world renowned for their elite status and as one of the few countries who possess an amphibious capability of high class. Dismantling this capability as any of the UK's current defence capabilities will have a detrimental affect on our security and our ability to be influence NATO and 'project UK influence/power'. The reduction in the numbers of Royal Marines since 2010 and speculated reductions will and no doubt have had a significant affect on morale and job satisfaction with the Corps. Similar to the recent reductions in the Royal Navy, RAF and Army, the effect on morale will negatively effect the retainment of experienced and skilled individuals and the recruitment numbers. This is evident of the recruitment targets being missed and the offer of incentives for previous service personnel to rejoin. Civilian roles in this environment become increasingly more attractive. If the speculated reductions in RM numbers combined with the loss of HMS Ocean and/or having a single LSD or the speculated loss of both the LSD's will result in the UK effectively losing the Amphibious capability which we need as an island nation with overseas territories. The amphibious capability is not one that can be switched off and on easily and the capability has been built up over many decades, the RM's can not be substituted by Army Infantry units as their role is a specialist capability of an elite unit. There will also be a detrimental effect to the pool from which special forces are drawn if the RM are reduced. The LSD's are essential to not only deliver the RM but also the heavy equipment of the Army to shore. The RFA support ships are not fast enough, do not have the full capacity or the command and control function. Whilst the new QE carriers can in the short term plug a gap with HMS Ocean being retired a dedicated replacement for Ocean is required. Do we really wish to bring a 65,000T, £3bn Strike carrier close to the shore to deliver troops whereas a dedicated LSH of smaller size and lower value would be the correct solution. The RN needs more sailors to man the hulls that we possess rather than cutting hull numbers. The statement also applies to the Army and RAF in terms of capabilities, assets and personnel numbers, we are now operating on the bare minimum of assets and personnel I would support an increase in the defence budget not just for the RM/RN situation but across all three services. Taking the trident budget back under the treasury would be a significant starting point to help retain capabilities/numbers and ensure that the procurement of new equipment can continue.

James Griffin

20 December 2017 at 22:13

Any decision to remove or to reduce our amphibious capability would be place this country in significantly greater danger. Why? For at least 4 reasons. 1. We are an island, an obvious geographical observation- but one which means we need to be able to defend maritime interests as a priority 2. We have existing commitments overseas, which includes the defence of overseas UK territories in the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar and the Caribbean 3. The world is becoming far less stable with far greater security risks than even a decade ago. Maintaining strong general defence is counter balance to this risk and 4. an amphibious capability greatly extends the reach of our armed forces- it amplifies the wider capabilities of our armed forces and increases combined service operations- precisely what is needed in modern conflict

Darren Riche-Webber

20 December 2017 at 19:09

Each ship cost about 130 million to build back in 1996 when ordered which is around 255 million pounds today before tax, so net with an average tax claw back of 40% they cost around 78 million pounds back then or 153 million pounds at today's prices. When compared to the US San Antonio class (albeit a bit larger) they are far more cost effective and better value. Very good command and control facilities, (as the Fearless class showed in the Falklands) carry out Humanitarian duties better than a Queen Elizabeth Carrier could (which those ships are not built for), has helicopter facilities, can carry vehicles as heavy and as large as main battle tanks and carry and operate landing craft, they are tailored to the Rapid Response Force,. On the scale of it, they do not cost to a lot of money to run, are potential mother ships to smaller drone ships (vertical take off drone aircraft) or manned ships as well as landing craft. As stated earlier they are Command and control ships, and as well as this facility on the sea, you will not always have a ready and friendly dock side to disembark troops, vehicles with logistics and in many cases can do this far faster, (the same as with having a nearby airstrip in regards to one of many reasons Aircraft Carriers are needed). Many countries are investing in these capabilities. Many Royal Navy/RFA ships operate in helping regions around the world and ships such as the Albion class are more effective due to their design, especially in having a well deck, so ships such as these and the future must be funded if not wholly, but a certain percent by the overseas aid and humanitarian budgets in many cases. These two ships came into service in around 2003 so the ships are only at or just past their half life. Albion has just had a 93 million pounds refit. Bulwark costing just 300,000 pound a year for her readiness is cheap and if looked after could extend her hull life to the Royal Navy's benefit as she is not being subjected to dynamic loads at sea. These ships are very versatile, they carry out military missions and humanitarian and aid missions. The future humanitarian, development and foreign aid budgets will be re-aligned in terms of helping to provide funds from those respective budgets for the operating and replacement of these valuable ships and other assets. The foreign aid budget in nearly 80% of the UK public eyes is far too high and wasted. The defence budget should be for defence be it in needing to be offensive or defensive, not nuclear deterrence or pensions either, but the defence budget is used for other areas, why? More people are learning about the potential betrayal by UK governments in being subservient to PESCO and still abiding by the UK industry destroying EU procurement policy and other such like things. Getting rid of very capable ships by saying we do not need them, yet France offering us a mistral ship is similar to saying McLaren don't race cars anymore, but then Mclaren asking to borrow a race car from Torro Rosso to race in, but obviously, there is a EU frame to this. Do not use the excuse for releasing crew for the new carriers, as the carriers are incredibly light in needing crew as they are so automated which is something past governments tried to, or thought would be cheaper to get rid off in the design, but has retained, so the crew requirement is not needed from the Invincible's, Ocean or indeed, the Albion ships. The other questions should be: Are these still Staff (naval) requirements, if so, why are they being cut, when politicians still ask our military to carry out operations that need ships such as these, and in the future politicians will ask why we have not this capability, as has happened in the past. The other thing is this. We have many nice things in this Country that others abroad would like, if you cannot protect those nice things, we probably should not have them, as we need to give the same value to protect, as we do to have and enjoy. The wickedness that still continues from UK governments upon the UK military has to stop. There has not been any real growth since..... Defence is an easy target by politicians as they feel it never loses votes if cut. This continued dangerous policy in cutting the front line and defence in general will lose future peace and not help stop future wars or solve international problems we feel the UK needs to be involved in, or fight wars this Country may find herself in, which mean in the main, British people. Losing capability will cost more lives if this Country along with her people have to take military action, as has been the case in the past too.

Brian Ebdon

20 December 2017 at 08:25

The amphibious ships give us the ability to deploy at a moments notice highly trained Royal Marines to anywhere in the world. There are British nationals, dependants and military personnel all round the globe which it is our responsibility to protect. One of the tasks often over looked is the evacuation and rescue of our people from potential trouble spots in this unstable world. To achieve this we need to put troops and their vehicles and equipment ashore. You just need to look at what HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion have achieved along with their predecessors HMS Fearless and HMS Intrepid. With the retirement of HMS Ocean we need to keep the LPD's in service. Loosing these ships and our amphibious ability will be a false economy in the long run. The Bay class RFA's should not be used as a cheaper substitute for the Assault ships. The cutting of 1000 Royal Marines is yet another false economy and will severely affect morale and our armed forces capability. The Drafts that are not so popular with Royal Marines will be kept through operational necessity. If the Commando role is further reduced then this will effect retention and recruitment. They want a balanced Royal Navy yet with Trident and the two new carriers the navy is far from balanced. I believe that we should not make any more reductions to these vital assets. Once gone the skills and experience through years of operations will be lost and will cost us more to regain in the future.

Graham Ransom

19 December 2017 at 11:14

Here we go again, a government committed on cutting back it's Armed Forces. Are they forgetting that the UK is an Island and the main way to get off it, is by ship. Back in the late 70's the Defence Board again decided to get rid of the 2 amphibious ships HMS's Intrepid and Fearless, then the Falklands war came along and without these 2 ships we could not have carried out the campaign to a successful conclusion. Removing the current amphibious ships and 1000 Royal Marines Commando's, our front line capability will be drastically reduced. The decision makers got rid of our aircraft carriers before the replacement one's were ready. Now we have a carrier but no aircraft, where's the logic in that!! When a major disaster happens, the government of the day will send in the Marines with it's landing craft capability to get Aid to those that require it most. With the UK moving away from the EU how can we ensure that the UK can defend / carryout military tasks when the need arises with the manpower cutback. UK is still committed to NATO (I hope), are they happy that we are reducing our front line task force. Don't cut one area just to pay for another as in the long term it will be regretted. The Armed Forces should not fall in to the same trap as other public services that have had cut backs and now can not cope with current work loads SAVE OUR ARMED FORCES

John Donnelly

18 December 2017 at 15:12

I fear that this 'decision' falls in category of 'I did not this would the outcome'. The Harrier Force comes to mind in relation to new carrier. What will protect it from attack? Also,Nimrod Maritime capability. It is embarassing,to say the least, for us to go 'cap in hand' to other nations to ask them to fulfill a role that we have given up, however temporary. I feel that giving up a UK amphibious capability would fall in the same category. Defence reductions cannot be achieved by 'salami slicing' in this manner. It is, after all, the prime of the government responsibilty to protect the nation. What do need armed services for if not to to 'right wrongs'?

Richard Preston

18 December 2017 at 10:33

As an island and a nation that depends on the sea for over 90% of imports and exports the one service that should be preserved if necessary at theb cost of the others is the Navy. Infaxct we need to increase the number of frigates snd destroyers in order tro protect the new carriers and to defend our worldwide interests. The Marines provide the land force that can be deployed quickly with its own logistic and support system. It also contains the highest standard of sokldier who would not join the Army were the RM to be disbanded or reduced to a pale shadow of its current self.

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