15 June 1953, the 200 warships, mostly British, anchored in Portsmouth’s outer roadstead, demonstrating the power and majesty of the Empire, over which the sun never sets.
The decks burned with a polished sheen, rows of elegant sailors built along the sides loudly greeted the royal yacht. The gun barrels gleamed solemnly, the water in the Solent Strait joyfully poured and sparkled, and everywhere, wherever he gazed, the Royal Navy flew in the wind with White Ensign. And over all this splendor, tearing wings of snow-white cotton wool of clouds, 300 planes of the sea raced aviation.
Spithead - historical the name of the anchorage in the Solent Strait, between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. Traditionally, naval reviews are held here dedicated to the coronation of the next British monarch.
The grand naval parade dedicated to the accession to the throne of Elizabeth II was the last in the history of British fleet. Neither the high masts nor the gray sides of the ships could protect Britain from the impending catastrophe - the mechanism of the collapse of the empire was launched, and now the arrogant British could only wait for the last colony to separate, and the once great power would finally turn into “small Britain”.
And if there are no colonies, then there is no fleet. To contain hundreds of warships just for the sake of the notorious prestige, the UK could not afford - being tormented by economic problems, it radically reduced military spending. Powerful battleships together went for scrapping, the extra aircraft carriers and destroyers were gradually sold to other countries.
By the beginning of the 1980, the anthem "Right, Britain, by the seas!" Sounded like a mockery of British sailors. The fleet of Her Majesty degraded to a completely bestial state - the Falklands War showed that British ships could be safely shot from a strafing flight.
Flimsy frigates dying from unexploded missiles, outdated weapons and non-Avia aircraft, who did not dare to enter the combat zone to directly cover destroyers and amphibious ships ... Only the traditionally high level of British sailors saved the complete defeat and that 80% the bombs hit the ships did not explode.
Neither the excellent personnel training, nor the thoroughly thought-out logistic and combat support system could fill the absence of a normal air defense system. The Falkland War Chronicle describes the wild cases where the crews of British ships had to fight off the jets of the Argentine Air Force with friendly volleys from ... rifles. The conclusion is logical - a third of 80 British ships and vessels that have reached the combat zone received various damage from Argentine aviation. Six of them were sunk.
And this is the result of a collision with some distant Argentina, which has just 5 anti-ship missiles! And what can we expect when meeting with a more serious opponent?
The grim reports of shipwrecks in the South Atlantic slowed down Her Majesty’s fleet — frightened by Argentine bombs; Urgent work has begun on increasing survivability; synthetic interior decoration was replaced with non-combustible materials. New versions of the destroyers "Type 42" - with the established "Falanx" and increased anti-aircraft ammunition more or less in line with the accepted international standards in its class. Serial construction of Trafalgar-class multipurpose nuclear submarines continued, the light aircraft carrier Ark Royal was completed, the third Invinsible-class ship ...
And yet, through all the British primness, the weakness and paucity of Her Majesty’s fleet clearly showed through. The whole surface component was a replica of real warships - and, no matter how hard the British designers tried, it turned out to be impossible to build a full-fledged modern destroyer in the hull of a ship with a displacement of less than 5 thousand tons. The overgrown frigate "Type 42" has remained a "ugly duckling" against the background of its American, Japanese or Soviet peers.
By the middle of the 1990, a new era began in the history of the British fleet. "We are few, but we are in vests" - this phrase best describes the modern Royal Navy.
The British, as before, are not able to build ships in large series (in fact, this does not require a foreign policy situation). But as for the quality of the naval technology, the Britons create a truly unique weapon, often surpassing all world analogues in its class.
Super-destroyers of the Daring-type air defense system, Estyut multi-purpose nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers of the Queen Elizabeth type ... all this is accompanied by excellent training of personnel (only professionals are serving) and a detailed scheme of fleet application: what, where, when, what .
The number of surface combat units in the Royal Navy, at first glance, can cause a grin: total 4 universal amphibious assault ships, as well as 18 destroyers and frigates as of 2013 year (another destroyer HMS Duncan is now undergoing sea trials, its entry into service is planned on 2014 year).
Strange characters in front of the name of every British warship (HMS) is nothing more than the abbreviation of Her Majesty's Ship (Her Majesty's Ship).
Most of the British surface ships belong to Frigates "Type 23", also known as type "Duke". In the 13 units, all are built from 1987 to 2002 year.
On the technical side - the usual, unremarkable ships with a displacement of the order of 5000 tons, designed to perform escort, patrol and support tasks around the globe.
The combined diesel-electric-gas-turbine power plant (of the type CODLAG) allows you to move at speeds up to 28 nodes (it is reported that the lightweight HMS Sutherland developed 34 knots. During testing in 2008 year). 7500 miles sailing distance (14 000 km) at an economic speed of 15 bonds. - enough to double across the Atlantic.
The crew - 185 ... 205 people, depending on the task.
Armament is standard for NATO countries, taking into account some British traditions:
- 8 PKR "Harpoon";
- Marine "Wolfe" air defense missile system (32 UVP in the nose of the frigate);
- British 4,5-inch universal gun (caliber 114 mm);
- a pair of automated artillery installations "Oerlikon" DS-30M;
- small anti-submarine torpedoes;
- aft helipad, hangar.
Frigate HMS Northumberland
Strong multipurpose vehicle for low intensity conflicts. The main disadvantage of the frigate "Type 23" - its air defense system "Sea Wolf". Despite its formidable appearance and the 32, which are ready to launch, the characteristics of this complex correspond to the portable Stinger air defense system rather than to the full-fledged naval air defense system. The maximum range of fire - 10 km, we can assume that the British frigate "Type 23" is not completely protected from air attacks.
However, in reality, an air attack on the “Type 23” would be very problematic. After all, the “elder brother” always walks close by - the inimitable destroyer of the Daring-type air defense system (aka “Type 45” or type “D”).
"Daring"... In total, since 2003, Her Majesty’s fleet has been replenished with six ships of this type. The most modern destroyers in the world, in whose design the most advanced technologies in the field of existing sea air defense systems have been introduced.
Two radars with active PAR: centimeter - to detect low-flying targets against the background of water, and decimeter - control of airspace at a distance of 400 km.
Fantastic anti-aircraft complex PAAMS, capable of knocking down cruise missiles, racing at an altitude of 5 meters at a speed of Mach 2,5. The ammunition complex of the complex - 48 SAM of the "Aster" family with an active homing head (another surprise!). The firing range of the Asters is 120 km.
You can read more about this sea miracle here: http://topwar.ru/31074-drakony-na-sluzhbe-ee-velichestva.html
The largest ship of the British fleet today is HMS Illustrious - the only surviving light aircraft carrier type "Invincible".
At the moment, due to the decommissioning of the Sea Harbor "Sea Harrier", the ship is not used for its intended purpose and is classified as an amphibious assault carrier. It is expected that the old ship, launched in the distant 1978 year, will leave the Royal Navy next year.
Also, as part of the British fleet, there are several other large surface units - two helicopter dock carriers of the Albion type and an amphibious assault ship of the Ocean type. All three ships were built between 1994 and 2004 year.
Her Majesty's ship "Ocean" It is an analogue of the Mistral - a universal landing ship of similar dimensions, with a solid flight deck, but without aft dock chamber (landing craft are launched into the water using sloop beams). Air Group - up to 18 helicopters: multipurpose Lynx, Merlin and Sea King; heavy military transport "Chinook"; attack helicopters "Apache". The ship’s interior is designed to house 830 marines.
Landing ships type "Albion", in contrast to the "Ocean" deprived of a solid flight deck and a helicopter hangar, but have a dock filled with water designed for 8 self-propelled barges (4 tank descent and 4 light). Additional amphibious assault vehicles can be launched using sloop beams. The landing ship can carry paratroopers on 400 for one flight (briefly - up to 700), the 64 stern helipad of meter allows simultaneous take-off and landing operations of two Merlin transport helicopters.
When the situation goes beyond the colonial squabbles with the Papuans and the matter begins to take a really serious turn, it is the turn of the nuclear submarine fleet. Slippery black fishes do not know how to "show the flag" and spoil the view on any parade (phew! What freaks!). The only thing that these machines are able to do is to cut off the sea communications, drowning everyone who meets them on the way, or “cover” targets in the depth of the enemy’s territory with a volley of cruise missiles. And then, disgustingly grumbling with refrigerators and pumps of the reactor circuits, with a dark shadow, cross the ocean underwater to fall asleep again at the pier in Devenport (British submarine base).
In total, the British today have 7 multi-purpose submarines - five older Trafalgar 1980-s built and two newest Estuyt-type submarines.
Trafalgar is a modest submarine boat with a displacement of 4800 tons (underwater - 5300 tons). Submerged speed - 32 node. Crew - 130 man. Armament - 5 torpedo tubes, ammunition - up to 30 torpedoes Spearfish (swordfish) with a range of up to 30 miles (when fired at shorter distances, the torpedo speed can reach 80 nodes ≈ 150 km / h).
Since 1998, trafalgar-type submarines have been able to carry instead of a part of torpedoes tactical missiles of the Tomahawk.
The story of the “Estyut” nuclear-powered ships is much more interesting - HMS Astute and HMS Ambush are already in service, the following four boats are at various stages of construction (for example, HMS Agamemnon was laid two weeks ago, in July 2013 of the year). The seventh "Estujt" - HMS Ajaks is planned to bookmark in the coming years.
"Estyut" - the most modern in the world multi-purpose submarine project with considerable combat capabilities. Estujt extracts fresh water and oxygen directly from the seawater, and the only reason that it appears on the surface once every three months is a change of crew and restocking of food. In the design of the boat introduced many innovative solutions, it is invisible and inaudible to the enemy, instead of the usual periscope - a multifunctional mast in video cameras, thermal imagers and a laser rangefinder. The British are proud to report that the “Estyut”, even without leaving the base, is able to follow the movement of the “Queen Elizabeth II” liner on the entire route from London to New York.
The main arguments of the super-boat are 6 TA caliber 533 mm and 38 ammunition from torpedoes, mines and Tomahawk cruise missiles (currently the British fleet has adopted the Tomahawk Block IV - the most advanced modification of the Ax with the ability to reprogram in-flight and attack moving targets).
There are British and more terrible "toys" - four Vangard type nuclear-powered ships, carriers of submarine-launched ballistic missiles "Trident-2" - for 16 pieces in the womb of each "fish". Everything is simple here - bang! bang! and the end of life on Earth.
As for the less destructive means, then, in addition to all of the above, the British sailors have 15 mine ships, a training destroyer Bristol and two dozen patrol ships, including the icebreaker HMS Protecor.
HMS Protector off the coast of Antarctica
Her Majesty has her little secret - Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA). An auxiliary fleet of 19 container ships, tankers, integrated supply ships, universal landing ships and floating workshop RFA Diligence, 10 displacement 850 tons.
RFA is just the beginning. In crisis situations, the Ministry of Defense begins requisitioning vessels from private owners. Any means are used, for example, during the Falkland War, the company Cunard Line was requisitioned luxury liner Queen Elizabeth as a hospital.
RFA is the most important element of the fleet, allowing the ships of Her Majesty to quickly move to any part of the planet and carry expeditionary troops along with them. Without these ships, the British could not fight on foreign shores and would be sad under the cloudy sky of Albion.
Currently, the British fleet is stronger than ever in all the past 50 years. The Royal Navy is a well-balanced and well-trained tool for solving any pressing problems, from international operations within NATO to conducting combat operations on its own.
In the future, the fleet of Her Majesty is expecting some changes - by the end of this decade the epic with the construction of two Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers should be completed. The fate of these ships has been rewritten more than once - for example, in 2010, it was assumed that three years after the construction, the lead aircraft carrier would be mothballed and sold to another country (South Korea and Taiwan were among the potential buyers). Now the plans have changed again - both aircraft carriers may remain in the ranks of the Royal Navy, but will be rebuilt for a springboard; installation of catapults is considered unnecessarily wasteful. What will happen next - time will tell, the leading aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth should be commissioned as early as 2016.
Also, in the 2020-ies the British plan to begin replacing frigates "Type 23" with new "Type 26". The project was named Global Combat Ship ("global warship") ... that's such a subtle British humor.
Universal landing ship dock HMS Albion, St. Petreburg, 28.05.2007
Automatic Goalkeeper anti-aircraft gun on board HMS Albion. The British have learned from the Falklands
Landing ship dock RFA Mounts Bay
HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier construction
RFA Wave Ruler tanker
Strategic Vangard-type submariner