Keel laying for HMS Agamemnon, new Astute class submarine for Royal Navy

BAE Systems laid the keel on the newest HMS Agamemnon today, 18 July 2013, which will be the sixth Astute class submarine in Royal Navy service.

While we’re pondering this £800m piece of sheer bloody awesomeness, let’s have a look at the old 64-gun “Eggs and Bacon” that fought at Trafalgar. She was launched on 10th April 1781 at a cost of £38,303 15s 4d.

Launch of the ‘Agamemnon’, Buckler’s Hard, 1781 by Harold Wyllie

Debating the nuclear deterrent, British government releases “Trident Alternatives Review”

The British government has released the findings of its review into possible alternatives to replacing the Royal Navy’s Vangaurd-class SSBNs on a like-for-like basis. Alternatives discussed include dual-roled SSNs equipped with vertical launch cruise missiles carrying nuclear warheads and the F-35B joint strike fighter equipped with stand-off cruise missiles carrying nuclear warheads.

Trident Alternatives Review

This review is not a statement of government policy. For the purposes of assessing potential alternative approaches to deterrence, officials have had to develop theoretical threats, capabilities and postures as part of their methodology. The inclusion of these theoretical propositions should not be taken as an endorsement from the Government.

The report is structured in two parts. Part 1 sets out an analysis of the alternative systems and postures which might be available to the UK in mid-late 2030s and which could be expected to cost no more to procure than a like-for-like replacement of the current Trident-based submarine
deterrent. Part 2 addresses the deliverability of the shortlisted options, including detailed costs, risks and timescales associated with the various alternative systems and postures.

Banging an old drum (but I like the tune!)

Here’s an old drum that I like to pick up and bang. Nobody else really wants to hear the tune any more, but it’s still a personal favourite.

I’m talking about the money that the Royal Navy British government is wasting spending on the golden albatross unproven F-35 Lightning II instead of the combat-proven F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Let’s crunch some basic numbers.

Unit costs:

  • F/A-18E/F Super Hornet £44m ($67m)
  • F-35B Lightning II £130m ($197m)

Price per (36 aircraft) carrier air wing:

  • F/A-18E/F Super Hornet 1584m ($2412m)
  • F-35B Lightning II 4680m ($7092m)

So the savings to the British taxpayer (remember them… the people that elect the clowns politicians that make these mistakes decisions) on a carrier air wing of 36 aircraft would have been £3276m ($4680m). Two air wings (1 for each carrier) would amplify the savings to £6552m ($9360m).


That’s enough to fund the entire Type 26 frigate programme of 13 vessels and increase that programme to an operationally-efficient 16 (16x £350 = £5600) and build an eighth Astute-class submarine (£800m) and order 3 more River-class OPVs (£150m).

Yes, I am aware that my accounting is simplistic. Yes, I am aware that folks in the Fleet Air Arm and Royal Air Force want shiny new F-35 aircraft and would consider the F/A-18 as a “make do.” Yes, I am aware that money was already wasted redesigning the carriers for “cats & traps” then back again. Yes, yes, yes. But I still like my old drum and I still like the simple tune I play on it.

Royal Navy deploys submarine support vessel “East of Suez”

Note the heavily-laboured message to HM Government’s potential foes “East of Suez.” Vis, there will be Astute class submarines patrolling your neighbourhood for the foreseeable future.

Diligence due east of Suez as support ship begins mammoth mission

Support ship RFA Diligence slipped out of Portsmouth to begin a five to eight-year mission supporting the Royal Navy’s mission east of Suez.

The forward repair vessel acts as a floating garage/supply ship for warships, but especially submarines.

Picture: LA(Phot) Nicky Wilson, FRPU East

IF YOU didn’t catch RFA Diligence sailing out of Portsmouth Harbour on a glorious July morning yesterday, well, you’ve missed her for between five and eight years.

The ‘floating garage’ left the Solent to resume her mission east of Suez, supporting Royal Navy submarine operations in particular.

She’s spent most of her recent career in the Gulf region as a modern-day ‘depot ship’ for the Silent Service, acting as a floating workshop for hull and machinery repairs, as well as facilities for supplying electricity, water, fuel, air, cranes and stores.

Officially a Forward Repair Ship, Diligence can provide support to either the surface fleet or submarines – although it’s the latter she’s been mostly assisting in recent years.

She returned to the UK after a lengthy spell away late last year, since when she’s undergone some maintenance and refurbishment and carried out the first trials with one of the Navy’s new Astute-class submarines.

‘Dili’ practised ‘rafting up’ with HMS Ambush in Gareloch this spring – key to providing any front-line support to submarine operations.

In the longer term, the ship will also be working with other RN vessels east of Suez, notably the four minehunters the UK has permanently stationed in the region. Diligence can act as their mother ship – particularly when their current mother, amphibious support ship RFA Cardigan Bay, goes in for maintenance.

The ship was originally built for the merchant marine, acting as an oil rig support ship. She was taken up from trade during the 1982 Falklands War, subsequently bought by the UK, converted and renamed, being commissioned into the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in 1984.