Military Review

New look or pale shadow? Status and prospects of the Royal Navy of Great Britain

In the past, the Royal Navy of Great Britain was perhaps the most powerful in the world, which became one of the prerequisites for the construction of the "Empire, over which the sun does not set." In recent decades, the situation has changed dramatically. The number of warships continues to decline, although such losses are offset by the quality of the new models. However, it is alleged that, as a result of this, the fleet acquired a new look, but did not become a pale shadow of itself from the past.

HMS Queen Elizabeth - currently the only KVMF aircraft carrier

The list of

According to open data, currently in the KVMF there are about 80 ships, submarines, boats, etc. There are combat and auxiliary units of all major classes, from submarine missile carriers and aircraft carriers to reconnaissance and transport ships.

One of the main and long-awaited combat units is the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth - so far the only representative of the project of the same name. The most massive KVMF ships are frigates of Type 23 or Duke-class in the amount of 13 units. A few years ago, the construction of 6 destroyers Type 45 (Daring-class) was completed. Of the large units, a couple of universal landing ships of the Albion project should also be noted.

The tasks of fighting mines are assigned to the minesweepers of the Hunt and Sandown projects - six units each. There is a fairly developed fleet of patrol ships and boats. It includes four River type ships and nearly 20 Scimitar and Archer type boats.

The KVMF includes the only component of the British strategic nuclear forces. It is represented by four Vanguard-class submarines carrying X-NUMX Trident II ballistic missiles.

Three relatively old multipurpose submarines of the Trafalgar project remain in service. To replace them, ships of the Astute type are being built. Three of these submarines have already begun service, the fourth is being tested, and it can be delivered already this year.

The Royal Navy's combat readiness is also provided by the availability of support vessels, coastal infrastructure, etc. The exact numbers of personnel in recent years have not been published. According to various estimates, in navy serves about 30 thousand people and about 10 thousand are in reserve. At the same time, there are regular reports of a shortage of personnel.

Plans for the future

In the foreseeable future, the KVMF will include several new ships and submarines of various classes necessary for increasing combat effectiveness. The possibility of creating new projects of equipment necessary for the development of the fleet in the distant future is also being studied.

Since 2011, the construction of the second Queen Elizabeth type aircraft carrier, Prince Of Wales, was underway. In 2017, the ship was launched. In the near future, sea trials should be passed, according to the results of which in 2020 the ship will be accepted into the KVMF. After that, two aircraft carriers with modern equipment on board will serve in the British fleet at once.

In the future, the surface fleet will receive at least 10-12 of promising frigates Type 26 (City-class). Two of these ships are at different stages of construction, four more are contracted. The rest so far exist only in plans. Ships with a displacement of 6900 t will be able to carry a wide range of guided missile and mine-torpedo weapons, designed to deal with various targets. In the future, the “Type 26” will partially replace the older ships “Type 23”.

Also, to replace the obsolete "Type 23" designed frigates Type 31e (General Purpose Frigate). While this project is at the stage of competition, and the winner has not yet been selected. KVMF wants to get a frigate with guided missile displacement of up to 4500 tons. The construction of the first series of five ships with the delivery of the lead in 2023 was announced.

UDC HMS Albion - one of two available

As part of the current construction program, the submarine fleet is also waiting for an update. The construction of submarines such as Astute continues, and almost half of the plans are completed. The fourth nuclear submarine of this type will be put into operation this year upon completion of the tests. The construction of three more is ongoing, which will go to service in 2020-24.

In 2016, they laid the head submarine with ballistic missiles such as Dreadnought. It is also planned, but has not yet begun the construction of three similar ships. Initially, they will be an addition to Vanguard SSBNs, but then will completely replace them.

Fleet in dynamics

At present, the UK KVMF cannot be called the largest and the strongest in the world, but reverse estimates will also not be objective. There are about 80 ships and submarines, which is enough to solve the main problems. At the same time, the situation with the combat and auxiliary personnel cannot be called unambiguously positive. From some points of view, the current state of affairs seems extremely difficult.

In some publications, the peculiarities of the development of the KVMF mention the fact that in 1990 the combat structure included 170 units of all classes, while now there are only 80 ones. Over the past 15 years, the number of destroyers has decreased from 31 to 19. Similar processes are observed with ships of other classes.

Destroyer HMS Daring Ave. Type 45

Thus, over three decades, the British fleet has been reduced by about half, which is proposed to be considered degradation. However, this interpretation is also criticized. The reduction in the number of ships and vessels can be considered an optimization of the KVMF and adaptation to new military-political conditions. In addition, there are justifying arguments about the priority of quality, but not quantity.

Indeed, recent projects in the field of surface fleet include the construction of not the largest, but well-equipped and armed ships. It is believed that this approach allows you to combine the required combat efficiency with an acceptable cost of construction programs and subsequent operation. In recent years, the UK defense budget has declined markedly, and the military has to pay increased attention to issues of cheaper rearmament.

Reduced potential

The KVMF of Great Britain has not the most numerous, but rather effective surface and underwater forces. They are responsible for coast guard and flag display, carry out nuclear deterrence, etc. However, there are several characteristic factors that increase and decrease overall combat effectiveness.

According to various estimates, in recent projects of surface ships, British shipbuilders managed to get outstanding results. It is alleged that Queen Elizabeth type aircraft carriers are capable of solving a wide range of combat missions through the use of modern F-35 carrier-based aircraft. Destroyers "Type 45", in turn, are one of the best in the world in terms of radar and air defense systems. Promising ships, while still under construction, will have to show advantages over both foreign and British.

SSB HMS Victorious - one of the elements of strategic nuclear forces

However, the realization of the qualitative potential is associated with quantitative problems. Only one (in the future - two) aircraft carrier, six destroyers and a dozen frigates do not allow the formation of several large ship groups for simultaneous presence in different parts of the oceans. For example, during the July events in the Persian Gulf, only one KVMF frigate was present, which could not prevent Iran from detaining the British tanker.

The problem of the quantity of equipment is solved in the simplest and most obvious way. KVMF sailors often participate in deployment with foreign colleagues. Great Britain is a key member of NATO, and this allows it to use someone else's help. However, this leads to some dependence on the Navy of third countries.

Opportunities and prospects

The surface and submarine forces of the Royal Navy of Great Britain cannot compete with the Navy of the largest countries in terms of the size of the payroll and combat qualities. However, the KVMF as a whole corresponds to the current desires, plans and capabilities of London. At the same time, the emergence of new opportunities would quickly lead to a revision of plans towards expansion.

Multipurpose nuclear submarine HMS Astute

On its own, the KVMF is able to carry out strategic deterrence of a potential enemy and to protect the country's coast from major threats. The demonstration of the flag in remote areas may be associated with difficulties, primarily of a quantitative nature. However, in this matter, the UK relies on the help of foreign allies.

Under the existing conditions, one cannot confidently speak of the unconditional development or degradation of the Royal Navy. There are significant problems, but there are achievements. Despite all the difficulties, shipbuilding and other programs are being implemented and, on the whole, give the desired results. Nevertheless, objective factors of an economic and political nature hamper the development of the KVMF in the most desirable scenarios.

It is obvious that over the past decades, the KVMF has seriously changed, and there are different estimates of such changes. It is likely that further events will be able to clearly show what the fleet has come to and how to perceive its current state. In the future it will become clear what became of KVMF - it acquired a new look or turned into a pale shadow of itself.
Photos used:
UK Department of Defense /, Wikimedia Commons

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  1. rocket757
    rocket757 5 September 2019 18: 17
    Should we be in "sorrow"!
    The concerns themselves, the problems are higher than the roof.
  2. Amateur
    Amateur 5 September 2019 18: 19
    And with whom were the little shavers going to fight? They had no colonies left.
    Malvinas Islands guard from Argentina. crying
    1. Boa kaa
      Boa kaa 6 September 2019 16: 39
      Quote: Amateur
      And with whom were the little shavers going to fight?

      Actually with us. More precisely, with the Northern Fleet of the Russian Navy. And, comparing the current capabilities of GB, we can state the fact that the KVMS is quite capable of significantly complicating the deployment of our forces to the Atlantic. And with the help and support of the Ams, we will not be "honey" in general.
      In addition, their SSBNs graze in dangerously close to our most important military-industrial and administrative centers (with a flight time of D-5 of the order of 10-15 minutes!)
      So, you need to tamp them with 877 VNEU, and let sirs drink tea on the shore ... so it will be calmer for everyone.
  3. Scharnhorst
    Scharnhorst 5 September 2019 18: 20
    Not the best analytics, sorry for the time spent reading the article.
    1. Sergey M. Karasev
      Sergey M. Karasev 7 September 2019 08: 00
      Exactly. "Is there life on Mars, is there life on Mars, science does not know about this" (c)
  4. arkadiyssk
    arkadiyssk 5 September 2019 19: 48
    In my opinion, a normal fleet. It is clear that after 1989 everyone relaxed and reduced their aircraft. But even now he can adequately support the United States in the North Sea with anti-RF capabilities. Able to protect its overseas territories. Several cool military bases around the world, such as DikeliAkrotii, DiegoGarsii. Well, we must understand that all of Europe has switched to the rails of militarization to contain the Russian Federation - 10 years and there will be a bunch of new technology for everyone. Here it’s necessary not to take revengeful articles on the Englishwoman, because she dared to laugh at our Kuzey, and soberly look at the fact that from year to year they all take two three steps, while we barely do one.
  5. Vladimir1155
    Vladimir1155 5 September 2019 19: 55
    the main sadness is that Russia is gradually sliding down to the level of England on submarines, that is, on the most important component of the fleet, on surface ships, almost parity with England, and we do not need aircraft carriers and udk, we do not have overseas colonies and not an island at all, but a land power .. . It is necessary to increase the number of submarines, planes, minesweepers, sell an aircraft carrier, and stop laying combat surface ships for 10 years, while 1155 will still serve, and then replace 1155 with small frigates.
    1. EXPrompt
      EXPrompt 5 September 2019 21: 12
      Quote: vladimir1155
      the main sadness is that Russia is gradually sliding down to the level of England on submarines, that is, on the most important component of the fleet, on surface ships

      But it’s nothing that in Russia today the 8APN 3 is under construction at the stage of various tests
      9 Ashes ==== 5 is built up to 2022-23 + 1 already delivered + 1 on running + 2 contracts are concluded
      +++ more .8 borea
      3 is already in the fleet + 2 tests + 3 is under construction

      Asyutov in Britain, let’s remember all 4 pieces ...
      1. Vladimir1155
        Vladimir1155 6 September 2019 19: 28
        I'm glad that they are being built, but they have much more tasks than the British, in 1941 the USSR had 200 submarines ....
  6. Red_Baron
    Red_Baron 5 September 2019 20: 29
    Just in case, I'll throw off similar articles from the near future.

    Ex-mistress of the seas. What will be the British fleet of the future?

    Readiness of the British AUG for a collision with the Russian Navy. News from Collingwood
  7. voyaka uh
    voyaka uh 5 September 2019 21: 42
    2 aircraft carriers
    6 destroyers,
    12 frigates,
    2 UDC.
    A fully balanced surface navy.
    Well, submarines are present. Nuclear submarine.
    1. Boa kaa
      Boa kaa 6 September 2019 16: 47
      Quote: voyaka uh
      A fully balanced surface navy.

      Well, not the mistress of the seas, as before ... However, given the centuries-old traditions of the sea nation, they will have to tinker with ...
      The main thing is not to miss the championship in the GZO and boats. And there it will be seen who will cover them from above. But, at least 1 AVM is necessary as air. Otherwise, it's a trumpet! yes
  8. Ehanatone
    Ehanatone 5 September 2019 22: 13
    To here, from empty to empty, typical tap water from Ryabov Kirill
  9. Avior
    Avior 5 September 2019 23: 29
    normal fleet.
    at any time, he can send an expeditionary group from an aircraft carrier with escort ships and landing troops, if there is time, then two such groups.
  10. Sahalinets
    Sahalinets 6 September 2019 03: 36
    What is what? Should Britain prepare for a new battle of Jutland?
    I don’t think so. In my timid opinion, their fleet is quite consistent with the tasks. Well, if a big mess breaks out, they will only help the US Navy.
  11. AAK
    AAK 6 September 2019 08: 59
    When "limes" held the entire world sea trade, then there was a corresponding "Home Fleet", now the realities are different, it means a different fleet ... At the same time, the GDP (this is, if anything, the gross domestic product :)) brit more than Russian will be, despite the fact that their territory is only 3-4 regions in the European part of the Russian Federation .. Further - the quality of the fleet: what types of ships do they have or used sea-based complexes (weapons, electronics, engines, hulls, etc.) much worse than Russian? But nothing ... Or do the Brits have mechanical engineering in general? Again, no, in almost all industries ... And in some ways they will be among the first in the world ... Yes, and 64 "trident" in one salvo - at least 300 warheads on objects on our territory, including Eastern Siberia. .. In general, for all the Brit's nastiness, I do not see any special reasons on our part for irony in relation to the spoiling Englishwoman ...
    1. Boa kaa
      Boa kaa 6 September 2019 16: 56
      Quote: AAK
      Or does the Britons have mechanical engineering in the pen? Again, no, in almost all industries

      Just the little shavers do not build their ICBMs, they still do not have an 5 generation aircraft. They get all this from the States ... They also do not develop state defense organizations ... and space systems do not really favor anything ...
      And so - EAGLES! only for some reason recently clack! lol
      And very susceptible to all sorts of provocations ... They creaked, then Brexit, then white helmets ...
      And gentlemen think themselves ... cats are slops! am
  12. yehat
    yehat 6 September 2019 12: 48
    I don’t understand one thing - the new Brutan Avik without a catapult?
    if so, I don’t understand why it was built on such a large scale
    As for the quality of the fleet, the Angles have always tried to equip at least part of their fleet with top ships, but this is becoming more and more difficult. Their industry is such that one can only dream of a second Dreadnought. Therefore, new samples with a claim to steepness come out very raw.
    the fleet, formally consisting of about 25 flags of a solid size, in reality is almost completely unfit for combat. Only scant patrol forces are in service.
    If the Britons were more sober about their capabilities, their fleet would be far more dangerous.
  13. Amateur
    Amateur 6 September 2019 16: 55
    Quote: Boa constrictor KAA
    And with the help and support of the Ams, we will not be "honey" in general.

    Do you really think that the Americans will start supporting small-shavens if they attack the Federation Council of the Russian Federation? These little shaves, perhaps, will support the Americans if they start a war.
    As in the joke: "God bless her with GB. It's still an island. Navigation conditions will improve." good
  14. chingachguc
    chingachguc 8 September 2019 12: 29
    The Falkland War revealed that the Royal Navy is in deep crisis. Since then, the situation has only worsened