In the Navy

  • Officer suing Navy claims he’s victim of religious discrimination by being made to work on Trident
  • £3 billion aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales to return to dry dock indefinitely!
  • Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, hints future of Navy may depend more upon submarines than ships

Last week saw two major events affecting Britain’s Royal Navy. On the good news front, HMS Anson, the fifth of the Navy’s Astute Class nuclear-powered attack submarines, was commissioned at Barrow-on- Furness. The latest of the planned seven submarines in the class, she cost over £1.4 billion and is one of the most advanced submarines of her type in the world. Armed with up to 38 Tomahawk cruise missiles and Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes she is a welcome to the Royal Navy’s sub-surface fleet.

Interestingly, at the commissioning of HMS Anson the Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, hinted that the future of the Navy might depend more upon submarines than ships as he announced a review to assess the Royal Navy’s balance between its surface and sub-surface fleets. Amongst fears that modern high velocity anti-ship missiles make warships more vulnerable, he has asked the question whether the UK’s submarine inventory is big enough. The review is expected to take no longer that six months and may be part of a wider Spending Review examination of Britain’s defence posture.

Sticking with submarines, also of interest was the news that a Royal Navy officer was suing his employers after objecting to being assigned to the nuclear Trident missile armed HMS Vanguard. It appears that, on being posted to the submarine’s crew, he stated that he objected to nuclear weapons on religious grounds. Thereafter he claims he lost his security clearance, was removed from the submarine, and was forced to spend a year working onshore in Portsmouth after making his beliefs clear.

He has since resigned and launched legal action, taking the Ministry of Defence to a tribunal and claiming to be the victim of religious discrimination. We await the outcome with interest.

Back on the surface, however, there was not so good news about the Navy’s aircraft carried HMS Prince of Wales. No sooner had the £3 billion aircraft carrier set off from Portsmouth Naval Base for a voyage to the USA than it was forced to stop because of a mechanical issue. It appears that there are problems with the starboard propeller shaft which forced it to abort the trip.

It now looks like rectifying the problem may require the ship to return to dry dock at Rosyth in Scotland, and there is no indication yet how long such repairs may take. In a masterclass of understatement Admiral Sir Ben Key, the First Sea Lord said: “This is not at all what we would wish. It’s extremely unfortunate. It’s very disappointing.”

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