Surface Forces: June 29, 2004


Great Britain is looking at something old and something new as it moves forward in planning the future shape of the Royal Navy. The old strategy was to build a complementary set of high/low mix ships for its Future Surface Combatant (FSC) mission, to come into service in 2015 and beyond. In the 70s, the Royal Navy built the type 22/42 high-end/low-end frigate combinations and is planning to replace its Type 23 frigate with the FSC. Initial discussion was focused on a single multipurpose class, but the Royal Navy would prefer not to send a highly capable (and highly expensive) warship capable of supporting helicopter operations to chase small boats or drug smugglers. Currently, the RN is considering the procurement of 10 high-end 5,000 ton ships along with 10 smaller corvettes of up to 2,000 tons each. 

The new strategy also plans to replace the current fleet of Royal Navy supply ships delivering consumables such as fuels, ammunition, and food, with new vessels built to commercial standards under the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) program. Using commercial standards helps keep down the cost of procurement, and construction can take place in any number of shipyards around Europe. Commercial practices,  such as using a higher degree of automation in operations,  helps keep the total operational cost down by keeping crew sizes smaller. First ships are expected to join the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in 2011. Doug Mohney


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