April 25, 2016
March 29, 2016
Published on 28 Mar 2016
The German raider SMS Möve and her captain Nikolaus Graf zu Dohna-Schlodien were already legendary during World War 1. Their exploits sound like pirate tales of the Golden Age of Piracy: Ever eluding the Allied fleet, the Möve brought down over 30 ships, captured multiple hundred crewmen and brought home over 100.000 Mark in gold bars when they returned the first time.
March 28, 2016
Published on 8 Dec 2015
One of a pair of new aircraft carriers that are being assembled in Rosyth, near Edinburgh, is just one year from being completed.
The Queen Elizabeth will be the largest ship that the Royal Navy has ever built, when it is finished in December 2016. The BBC’s Andrew Anderson was given special access to look around the inside of the huge vessel.
March 27, 2016
Published on 26 Mar 2016
More pictures from Flo’s Great Grandfather: https://imgur.com/a/R1T92
It’s chair of wisdom time again and this week we talk about the Russian Navy in the Baltic Sea, submarine warfare and trench mortars.
March 5, 2016
ESR posted this video on Google+, saying “Mind…utterly…blown. This is how computers worked before electronic gate logic. There’s a weird beauty of mathematics made tangible about it.”
Uploaded on 13 Jul 2011
A 1953 training film for a mechanical fire control computer aboard Navy Ships. Amazing how problems of mathematical computation were solved so elegantly in “permanent” mechanical form, before microprocessors became inexpensive and commonplace.
February 21, 2016
Published on 20 Feb 2015
On 4 August 1960 HMS Vanguard was towed from Portsmouth Harbour to the Breakersyard at Faslane in the Gareloch,Scotland, just a few miles from where she first set sail in 1946. Under the command of Lt. Cdr. W.G. Frampton were two officers and sixty ratings. She had been sold to the British Iron and Steel Corporation for £560,000.
January 24, 2016
Last month, Save the Royal Navy looked at the aircraft that will fly off the decks of HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales:
The SDSR stated that 42 F35-B Lightning aircraft will be delivered by 2023. These 42 aircraft form the carrier’s main armament. A foolish political fudge has given the RAF control of the Lightnings, to be jointly manned and operated with the RN. For Government, this conveniently boosts the RAF’s ORBAT while allowing the same aircraft to be counted again as part of the carrier’s equipment. Although the RAF may not like it, the needs of the carriers will have to dictate their operation. There is simply no place for the “part time carrier aviator” The aircrew need as much time at sea as possible to develop their own skills, the skills of aircraft handlers, the ship’s company and the fleet as a whole. Like all RN vessels the carriers will operate at a demanding operational tempo and need aircraft embarked for much of the time. Any RAF inclination to use the aircraft in the land-based deep strike role will have to be second priority.
The initial 42 Lightnings will be split between 2 frontline squadrons. 809 Naval Air Squadron and RAF 617 Squadron with around 15-20 aircraft each, building up to the full strength of 24 per squadron. There will also be a requirement for at least 5 aircraft to form an OCU (Operational Conversion Unit for training). An OEU (Operational Evaluation Unit for testing and trials) will also require a few aircraft. Allowing for a sustainment fleet of aircraft in deep maintenance etc, then it is clear that many more than 42 aircraft are needed to form just 2 full-strength squadrons. Between 2010 and 2014 the received wisdom was that the UK would only ever purchase a maximum of 48 F35-B but the SDSR announced a planned eventual purchase of as many as 138. This is good news which should give some strength-in-depth, potentially providing 2 more squadrons. Both the RN and the RAF should be able to fulfil their ambitions for the Lighting. Whether the RAF will push for a purchase of the conventional F35-A which would not be compatible with the carrier, but has slightly better range and performance than the VSTOL variant is a discussion for the future.
Of course the caveat to all this good news is the actual performance of the F35. There are armies of armchair F-35 critics and many of their concerns are valid. Although it may prove to be a poor “within visual range” fighter, its networking, sensors, stealth and strike capabilities will be a giant advance over any previous UK military aircraft. Furthermore the RN has a fine track record of taking equipment with many apparent deficiencies and turning them into a great success. (Fairy Swordfish anyone?)
On the other hand, Ben Ho Wan Beng argues that the carriers will not actually be able to project much power:
A tactical combat aircraft complement of 12, or even 15-20, is rather small for traditional carrier operations, especially force-projection ones that are likely to predominate considering the SDSR’s expeditionary-warfare slant. Indeed, it is worth considering the fact that the two British small-deck carriers involved in the Falklands War carried 20-odd Harrier jump jets each, and they were about three times smaller than the Queen Elizabeth-class ships.
In fact, each new carrier might even be operating with a much fighter complement fewer than 15-20 in the years leading up to 2023, giving lie to the phrase “in force” used by George Osborne when he spoke of equipping the carriers with significant airpower.
In any case, the small fighter constituent means that if the Queen Elizabeth carrier were to get involved in a conflict with an adversary with credible anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities, the vessel would be hard-pressed to protect itself, let alone project power. With a displacement of over 70,000 tons and costing over three billion pounds each, the new British carriers will be the crown jewels of the Royal Navy; indeed, HMS Queen Elizabeth is slated to be the RN’s flagship when she comes into service. The protection of the ship would hence be of paramount importance in an era that has witnessed the proliferation of A2/AD capabilities even to developing nations. Hence for a Queen Elizabeth carrying 20 or less Lightnings in such circumstances, it remains to be seen just how many of the aircraft will be earmarked for different duties.
Should a F-35B air group of that size put to sea, at least half of them will be assigned to the Combat Air Patrol (CAP), leaving barely 10 for offensive duties. It is worth noting that of the 42 Harrier VSTOL jets deployed on HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible during the Falklands War, 28 of them – a substantial two-thirds – had CAP as their primary duty. It is also telling that of the 1,300-odd sorties flown in all by the Harriers, about 83 per cent of them were for CAP.
Faced with modern A2/AD systems such as stand-off anti-ship missiles, how likely then would the carrier task force commander devote more resources to offense and risk having a vessel named after British royalty attacked and hit? Having said that, having too many planes for defense strengthens the argument made by various carrier critics that the ship is a “self-licking ice cream cone,” in other words, an entity that exists solely to sustain itself.
The task force commander would thus be caught between a rock and a hard place. Allocate more F-35Bs to strike missions and the susceptibility of the task force to aerial threats increase. Conversely, set aside more aircraft for the CAP and its mother ship’s ability to project power decreases. All in all, with a significantly understrength F-35B air wing, the Queen Elizabeth flat-top would be operating under severe constraints, making it incapable of the traditional carrier operations it could have carried out with a larger tactical aircraft complement. Indeed, one naval commentator is right on the mark when he argues that two squadrons with a total of 24 aircraft should be a “sensible minimum standard” for each carrier.
January 23, 2016
Published on 20 Jun 2015
If I said to you “What’s Port?” and your answer is “A fortified wine from Portugal served by the Wardroom Steward at Mess Dinners” you’re either a Royal Naval Officer or someone who could probably benefit from watching this video. There’s no cure for being a Royal Naval Officer, but the cure for sucking at World of Warships is just one click away.
January 10, 2016
While I was offline, Colby Cosh discussed the status signalling power of the modern aircraft carrier:
Aircraft carriers are such fascinating objects. With the exception of manned spacecraft, there is probably nothing that signifies national prestige quite as boldly as a flattop. It is almost the best single marker you can identify of the difference between states properly called “powers” and those that are just — well, will I be forgiven for saying “Canadas”? They attract enormous amounts of attention and analysis from military experts and amateur opinionators.
And, in a sense, this is disproportionate nearly to the point of self-evident unreason. The age of battles between aircraft carrier groups began with the commencement of the fight in the Coral Sea: May 4, 1942. It pretty much ended when the Americans sent four Japanese carriers to the bottom at Midway, 30 days later.
Since that abbreviated epoch, the countries capable of operating aircraft carriers have mostly avoided hot wars with each other. American ones have the run of the seas and find no trouble. Others constantly leave their owners wondering if they are worthwhile.
Perhaps this means that on the whole carriers have done their job. But a constant theme in their history is the fear that they make nice fat targets for the weaker side in a conflict. India’s carrier Vikrant played a key role in blockading Bengal during the 1971 war over Bangladeshi independence, but the Indian Navy was nervous about a seemingly foreordained single combat with Pakistan’s diesel submarine Ghazi (formerly USS Diablo), and got lucky when it sank in an apparent accident. The U.K., whose remaining scraps of empire pose a unique defence problem, sent a carrier, HMS Hermes, to the Falklands — and then the Royal Navy held it off, wincing all the while, at the edge of the theatre, barely within Harrier range of the islands.
Hermes is still on duty today as INS Viraat, a successor to Vikrant; one of the interesting things about carriers is that, as with submarines, their lives will often have two acts in different navies. That is the case with China’s existing, first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. She was christened Riga in Soviet days and inherited by independent Ukraine as Varyag. A Hong Kong travel agency bought the hull, claiming it intended to turn it into a floating casino. (Getting the ship out of the Black Sea under the nose of Turkey might otherwise have been tricky, and wasn’t easy anyway.)
December 27, 2015
In the Chronicle Herald, Andrea Gunn reports on the Royal Canadian Navy’s refit program for the twelve ships in the HMCS Halifax class, being done in Victoria and Halifax:
A $4.3-billion, decade-long life extension and modernization of Canada’s Halifax-class frigates has now been completed on more than half the fleet.
Work started in 2010 on the mid-life refit and modernization process, which has been concluded on HMCS Halifax, Fredericton, Montreal and Charlottetown at the Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard, and on HMCS Calgary, Winnipeg and Vancouver at Seaspan in Victoria.
The other five vessels, HMCS St. John’s, Ottawa, Ville de Quebec and Toronto, have all entered refit and are at various stages of completion and testing. All major work for the program, which is on schedule and on budget, is set to be finished by 2019.
The project’s aim is to extend the lifespan of the fleet to sustain Canada’s naval operations during the design and construction phase of the new fleet of Canadian surface combatants, set to be delivered by 2033. The Halifax-class frigates have been in operation since 1992, and planning and preparation for the modernization project began in 2002.
Royal Canadian Navy Commodore Craig Baines, commander of the Atlantic fleet, recently returned from two months of major multinational exercises that utilized three of the modernized vessels. HMCS Halifax, Montreal and Winnipeg participated in Joint Warrior, and Winnipeg and Halifax participated in Trident Juncture, the largest NATO military exercise since the Cold War.
“From where we were previously to where we are now, it’s like you have a brand new ship,” Baines told The Chronicle Herald.
The modernized vessels are equipped with a new radar suite and have had major upgrades to the communications and warfare systems. But it’s the $2-billion upgrade to the fleet’s combat management systems — a completely redesigned command and control centre with plenty of new features — that is largely responsible for that new ship feel.
December 26, 2015
Published on 25 Dec 2015
The SMS Emden was a light cruiser serving in Asia when World War 1 broke out. Instead of fleeing with the rest of the German East Asia Squadron under Maximilian von Spee, captain Karl von Müller stayed behind and waged a devastating cruiser war against the Entente effectively crippling the supply lines. But the luck of the Emden could not hold out forever. Find out more about the incredible story of the SMS Emden.
December 16, 2015
Published on 12 Dec 2015
Indy sits in the Chair of Wisdom again to answer your questions of WW1. This time we are talking about submarine warfare during the First World War.
December 10, 2015
Published on 7 Nov 2015
Yi’s life has been turned into a Confucian parable: a highly competent person who bore betrayal stoically and stayed loyal to the king. Since there was no record of his early life, that pattern is reflected in the way his early life is described. That pattern of thinking clearly influenced the historians who did cover Yi’s life, but while it stands out as unusual to those of us who aren’t familiar with that tradition, it has a subconscious impact on the people who were raised with Confucian thinking and wrote this history from it. If we looked at Western history from a foreign perspective, we would likely notice similar patterns being overlaid onto Western ways of telling history as well.
December 3, 2015
Published on 24 Oct 2015
After his success at Myeongnyang, Yi began rebuilding the Korean navy and strengthening his partnership with the Chinese. But then, Toyotomi Hideyoshi died. Japan’s new leaders had no interest in continuing the war, but although they sued for peace, Korea now held the upper hand and was determined to punish the people who had committed so many massacres against their people. Yi and the Chinese fleet bottled up the Japanese at the fort in Suncheon. When the Japanese called for reinforcements, Yi interrupted them in Noryang Strait. Again they were outnumbered, 500 to 150, but the Chinese commander did not yet understand Yi’s long range style of warfare and immediately closed for close combat. Yi ordered his flagship to rescue their allies, and as soon as the Japanese recognized him, they focused fire on him. This allowed the Chinese, suddenly forgotten, to fire freely on them. The Japanese realized their error and tried to flee, but Yi would have none of it. Beating the war drum himself, he urged his ships to chase the Japanese – to punish them for all the slaughter they brought to Korea. It was then that he was struck by a fatal gunshot. Before he died, he ordered his son and nephew to command the battle for him. They dressed in his armor to hide his death from the troops and continued beating the dream. Together, they carried the day – only for Yi’s tragic death to be revealed at the moment of victory. But although Yi did not live to see it, 300 Japanese ships were captured and destroyed that day and the rest of their invading force was rounded up soon after. For his tireless service, his brilliant leadership, and his unwavering devotion to Korea, Yi was given the posthumous title of Chungmugong, the Martial Lord of Loyalty.