Versatile Maritime Force UK

The Times October 29, 2005

Admirals sink Navy to float Versatile Maritime Force
By Michael Evans
Modern warfare will force the Senior Service to yield mastery of the seas for a supporting role

THE Royal Navy of the future will not rule the waves but will be there largely to support soldiers in land wars, admirals said yesterday.
In an attempt to keep the Senior Service modern and relevant for the next 20 years they have come up with an alternative new name — the Versatile Maritime Force or VMF.

After the bicentenary celebrations of Britain’s most famous sea battle and the death of the Navy’s most illustrious admiral, Lord Nelson’s 21st-century counterparts acknowledged yesterday that in future the role of Her Majesty’s warships would be to support the Army and RAF in operations ashore. A huge investment programme is under way to produce bigger aircraft carriers, multi-role destroyers and stealthier submarines to improve Britain’s capability to fight enemies on land. The new concept was outlined yesterday by Rear-Admiral Alan Massey, assistant chief of naval staff. He said that the Navy would remain a global force, but would not act in “splendid maritime isolation”.

“We perfectly understand that our efforts will normally be part of a joint effort. The bulk of what we do will be linked principally to delivering effects on land, alongside our Army and Air Force colleagues,” he said. “To keep modern and relevant we are developing the Versatile Maritime Force. This is a broad description of the type of Navy we are aiming for in the next 20 years or so.”

There is a battle inside the Ministry of Defence for resources to fund new equipment programmes. And two of the biggest — for two large carriers (£3 billion for the ships and £10 billion for the aircraft), and the RAF’s Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft (£20 billion) — are weighing heavily on the procurement budget.

The Royal Navy is remodelling itself as a flexible service for every eventuality, to help to justify the investment. New Astute-class nuclear-powered submarines, now being built for service from 2008, “will carry more weapons, have much better communications and information systems and will be much stealthier”.

Their main weapon will be the Tomahawk “land-attack” cruise missile. No one is predicting that a Royal Navy submarine will be required in the next decade to sink an enemy warship. The last time that happened was in 1982 in the Falklands War, when HMS Conqueror hit the Argentine battle cruiser General Belgrano.

The two proposed aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth II and HMS Prince of Wales, intended for delivery in the middle of the next decade, would be capable of switching roles, from launching large-scale air assaults on land targets to carrying special forces and attack helicopters, Admiral Massey said. Also in the pipeline are eight Type 45 destroyers and four Royal Fleet Auxiliary landing ships.

In its Military Balance report published this week, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, based in London, said that it was difficult to make a case any longer for a “blue-water” Navy. Britain was facing a future of “complex irregular warfare” with new-era enemies. “Armies, marines, special forces and their supporting air and maritime elements will be heavily committed while strategic air forces and navies will remain largely irrelevant,” the institute said.

After years of cutbacks, the newly styled VMF currently contains 32 warships, 15 submarines, 97 frontline aircraft, one Royal Marine Commando brigade and 36,000 staff.

So, presumably Jack will now only be issued with one oar for his rowing boat and he'll be towing 45 Cdo in a rubber dinghy behind him.

The fact that we are an island, and have always been a net importer of supplies (even more so now that our primary & secondary industries are pretty much decimated), surely behooves us to retain (and maintain) a credible Naval capability.

As for being a supporting arm for future land-based operations, isn't that what the Royal Navy has been doing for the last few centuries? This seems to be a case of Naval support being used as an argument to strip yet more expensive assets from an already ravaged service.

Short termism seems to be the new black!
ah heads up, i reckon that music to the Argentinians ears !! :roll:
There's nothing new in this. Pick out a naval battle in the last couple of thousand years that hasn't had anything to do with a land campaign. The Falklands is a classic example of the type of joint operation the admiral in the article is talking about. He's talking about changes that will make the navy even better able to carry out that role. Now all we have to do is hope the treasury doesn't cancel the carrier program and the other enhancements the navy needs.

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