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‘Cornwall was a wake-up call’
WITH his feet fi rmly under
the table after six months
as Britain’s second ranking
admiral, Commander-in-
Chief Fleet Admiral Sir Mark
Stanhope, (pictured, right)
gives Navy News editor Sarah
Fletcher a tour d’horizon of
the state of today’s front-
line ships, squadrons and
Royal Marine units.
WEEK, so we are told, is
a long time in politics.
Three years is an eternity in the
life of the Royal Navy.
materially more fragile, “ he said.
When Mark Stanhope left these
“That is a consequence of how
shores for the New World and
hard we are working it, and of
a NATO post in 2005, HMS
the deliberate decision taken four
Daring was still riding high on a
or fi ve years ago to reduce the
slipway; her sisters Dauntless and
amount of support we were going
Diamond were little more than
to give our ships, to help fund the
complex nautical jigsaws.
operational priorities – Iraq and
HMS Invincible was about to
“For instance, 3 Commando
bow out of service, but a clutch of
Brigade’s deployment to
new RFA amphibious ships were
Afghanistan this autumn requires a
on the verge of joining the Fleet.
dark blue ‘backfi ll’ which amounts
The Second Sea Lord’s
to one-and-a-half frigate ship’s ● HMS Cornwall’s sea boat conducts enhanced patrols off the Khawr al Amaya oil terminal in the wake of the hostage incident
organisation was lining up to merge
Picture: LA(Phot) Jannine Hartmann, FRPU East
with that of the Commander-in-
He added: “It’s true that we
Chief Fleet in new headquarters
have fewer ships but there are
terms of new equipment will be minehunters – and now Hunts at least were in hand. He added: ship’s company (see pages 25-28).
in Portsmouth.
more commitments and therefore
the Surface Combatant and what too – rotate crews in the Gulf. “Nobody wanted a Cornwall “But it’s not as simple as that.
War with the Taleban raged in
the programme is more diffi cult
shape, size and scale of numbers “Sea swap in Edinburgh and incident. It happened, and as a It is a very complex issue and
Afghanistan – and still does.
to manage – it’s a fi ne balancing
we’re looking at as to replace the Exeter was an experiment,” said consequence, I’m confident as raises all sorts of legal implications
British warships and sailors
act between making sure ships and
Type 23s, which are getting to be Admiral Stanhope. Commander-in-Chief that we’re and debate. Every nation is
helped safeguard Iraq’s oil
the people are employed doing the
old now.
“We did what we wanted to
very much better prepared and challenged with the legal aspects
platforms – and still do.
business the taxpayer is paying
“And we will be looking very
do, we analysed the results and
trained than if it hadn’t happened. of taking pirates in other peoples’
And the seizure of HMS
for them to do, and giving them
much with an eye to the mantra
we’ll use them in future for
It was a wake-up call. and international waters, the
Cornwall’s boarding party by
enough time
that there
Project Fisher, which is all about
“Some of the issues raised are jurisdiction and who is responsible
Iranians was still far in the future.
back home
is quality in
delivering capability through the
more challenging to solve than for the ultimate legal process.”
All this – and much more
to maintain
“The programme and
quantity. We
manning of our ships differently in
others, especially the equipment He explained: “Responsibility
besides – occurred while Admiral
the ship, train
tempo of operations
don’t want to
future. It was nevertheless a very
issues. But what we must make for dealing with the captives rests
Stanhope was serving in Norfolk.
and prepare
price ourselves
useful trial.”
sure of is that these changes are with the state which owns the
So when he returned to the UK
themselves and
are much busier than
into a market
He continued: “I think the
embedded in the way we do our warship which seized them. You
to take up the second most senior
have time with
they were, and the
where we can
reason it works for MCMVs is
business, not just boxes ticked so have to bring them home and
post in the RN, he was determined
their families.”
only have a
that they’re smaller and the ship’s
we can say: ‘Oh yes, we’ve dealt whether our own legal system can
to get to know his Navy again.
Fleet is materially
few limited,
name identity isn’t as important –
with that now and move on.’” deal with them is an issue in itself.
“I told my staff I wanted to be
fi ve months
more fragile.”
highly capable
you could put a ship’s company of
The Fulton report into the Legally it’s a very diffi cult issue.”
out in the Fleet 50 per cent of the
studying the
platforms –
40 people in this room and they’d
Cornwall incident – which was not It is and until the nations of
time for my fi rst four months in
state of today’s
we’d rather
identify and soon know each other
made fully public for operational the world resolve the complex
offi ce,” he explained.
Fleet, the admiral believes “the
maximise numbers.
reasons – made a number of problem, the admiral believes “the
“It was hard but we managed
balance needs to be adjusted
“We’re trying to cut our cloth
“Their community is bonded as
important recommendations incidence will get worse.”
it – I visited the Northern
because the sheer tautness of the
to suit the resources we’ve got and
a 40-man team and their ethos is
including improved training Piracy is an historic problem
Arabian Gulf, and the Antarctic
programme is unsustainable in the
although we can tell Ministers and
not simply built around the ship’s
for boarding the Royal Navy
in Endurance, and spent time
longer term.”
civil servants what we consider we
name. Labelling is important but
“Sailors will be sailors
has grappled in
with FOST, because I wanted to
He continued: “No Admiral is
need, decisions about the size of
you could call them ‘Portsmouth
There is a the past.
see how things had changed in my
ever going to say anything other
the future Fleet or the readiness of
MCMV Group 1’ for instance
new two-week and marines will be
As ever it
three years away.”
than that he could do with more
individual ships are not made until
and they would still have a team
marines, but their
adapts and
So did he fi nd a very different
Ministers agree them.”
identity to defi ne them.”
course at
changes to
“But we’ve shaped the Navy in
Like everyone else, Admiral
On Exeter and Edinburgh, ‘sea
HMS Raleigh,
quality of output and meet new
“The fi rst thing that hadn’t the last seven years to be ready to
Stanhope is hugely impressed by
swap’ did not prove as successful
followed by
sense of purpose is
demands and
changed is the people, I’m glad operate two carriers and we’ve had
the Type 45 destroyer.
– but it did offer many valuable
to say. I had assumed that – but I to plan carefully where we’re going
Six have been ordered and
lessons and ideas.
training, team
phenomenal – we’re If the
wanted to make sure by going out to place resources and people.
three are in the water. The fi rst of
“If you scale it up it doesn’t work
training and the
just so lucky to have
and about, and if I had any doubts “I would mention here that
class, HMS Daring, will be fl ying
the same way – a ship’s company of FOST testing.
in-Chief Fleet
I’ve been delighted by what I’ve whilst the new carriers will fl y the
the White Ensign later this year,
200 people takes longer to bond,” The admiral
them.” had been born
found. White Ensign they should not be
although she won’t be deployable
Admiral Stanhope explained. has already
in 1982 instead
“Sailors will be sailors and seen solely as Naval assets – they
for another 12 months because her
“One of the ideas of Project visited the course.
of 1952, does
marines will be marines, but their bring huge capability to defence
uniquely sophisticated equipment
Fisher is to have modules of FOST itself has changed, partly
he feel that he would have had the
quality of output and sense of as a whole, in the air and on the
needs another year’s trials.
capability and form your bonding as a result of the post-Cornwall
same opportunities?
purpose is phenomenal – we’re land and will be good news for
“A comparison of the Type 42
around each and every module. recommendations – as any ship’s
“It would have been a different
just so lucky to have them.” our Royal Air Force and Army
and 45 is incredible – it proves
Divisions bond quite well so that company who has passed through
career. The Navy has moved on
Although the people hadn’t colleagues as well.”
Daring is a new generation.
could be a good structure to work the organisation in the last year
but I’m sure I could enjoy similar
changed, the operational tempo The carriers are, of course, not
“The capability each one of
around – I don’t know the answer will readily testify.
opportunities,” Admiral Stanhope
and the strain on people and the be all and end all of the future these Type 45s will deliver is to that yet, but it’s one of the things “FOST has always been tough
resources had. Fleet. something quite exceptional and I Fisher is looking at. but it’s become more focused on
“The core values remain the
“The programme and tempo “Once we have this carrier order look forward to them joining the “But however we change the particular operational needs –
same. If you’re a good leader,
of operations are much busier secured – of which I am cautiously Fleet as quickly as they possibly way we deliver our manning, the there is directed, focused, training
professional at your job, innovative,
than they were, and the Fleet is optimistic – I know the focus in can. We’ve paid a lot of money for important baseline is: can we still as well as generic training,” said
if you’re ready for change, if you’re
these ships – which is probably
fi ght and win? Whatever we do has Admiral Stanhope.
tough and resilient in character
why we didn’t get the original 12 –
got to be able to pass that test.” “And we’ve taken away one of
then you will make your way
but in terms of capability they are
It is a fundamental question. the assessment critera – the one of
through and achieve what you
specialist legal advice
world-beaters.” One of the criticisms levelled ‘just satisfactory.’ Now you’re either
As for smaller ships, there at the Navy, particularly after the satisfactory or unsatisfactory.
He added: “There’s a bit of luck,
is a decision to be made in the Cornwall incident, is that it has “What did ‘just sat’ mean? It
a bit of being in the right place at
to forces personnel
next year or so on the Mine lost some of its fi ghting edge over
the right time, but life’s like that.
meant you were not yet ready to go
Countermeasures Vessels. the last few years.
As long as you’ve got all those
and do the business I was directing
Developments in technology,
things in abundance you’ll be up
“The moral component, which you to do.
Suffered a Military Injury?
including remotely controlled
there with the front runners.”
includes such things as courage, “We agreed last year this was
We deal with all types of injury claim involving
unmanned vehicles which can
But will the UK still have a
commitment and the ability to inappropriate – ships are either
the military.
Navy in 30 years’ time?
be operated from a variety of fi ght and win, is very important, good enough or not good enough.
“Of course we will still have a
We can assist you with your claim under the platforms, offer alternatives to the and one of the consequences of You can’t just slip under the bar,
new AFCS and advise you on whether to
traditional minehunters. the Cornwall incident was to you’ve got to get over it. It’s put
“I am sure of two things. One
pursue your claim in the civil courts under our
“In the future there’s lots of reinvigorate our thinking on this. an edge into the pass/fail criteria
is that the world is changing and I
‘no win no fee’ specialist military legal
remotely controlled capability The moral component is a diffi cult which didn’t exist before.”
haven’t got a clue what it is going
advice scheme.
out there that could probably and complex thing to analyse, If the Cornwall incident raised
to be like.
deliver some or all of the effect we although easy to recognise. doubts in the media about the
“And the other is that there will
currently get from our 16 MCMVs “You can’t bottle it and dish
Police Interview/
moral fibre of today’s RN, more
be a maritime component to our
– but do we want to lose them as a it out to every new recruit; it’s a recent events have prompted
Courts Martial
country’s security.”
growing path for our offi cers, COs mixture of everything from the questions about the Navy’s role
Nigel Burn and Gilbert
contact He explained: “If we want to
and crews?” the admiral said. ethos of being in the service, to given the growing piracy threat.
position the UK on the world
Blades are well known for
Nigel Burn or Tean Butcher
Bank Street, Lincoln LN2 1DR
“It’s a decision with far- pride in the uniform you wear, to National newspapers
stage as a nation to be listened
their Courts Martial
Tel: 01522 512345 between 9am - 5.15pm
reaching consequences and needs team work and leadership. reported that the Foreign and
to – a nation which has an effect,
expertise throughout the
or for Military Discipline Matters only contact
to be looked at carefully. We must “It’s a mixture of training, Commonwealth Offi ce had told
bearing in mind that our wealth
UK and Europe. Nigel Burn Mob: 07775 860608 after 6pm
not forget the wider role for these confi dence, and capabilities, and the Senior Service not to take any
comes more from investment
platforms in maritime security we have to be sure that we’re clear action against pirates – for legal
and trade abroad rather than
We can also advise on:
operations and presence.” about how we’re delivering and and human rights reasons.
homegrown, then we have to have
Employment Issues
While the admiral was away institutionalise it.” Not so, said the Admiral.
a way of infl uencing that.
with NATO, his Navy was trialling On the very morning before “It’s not a question of whether
Family Problems
“The Navy will form a part of
‘sea swap’ – an initiative to extend our interview, the Commander we have the capability. I know we that ability to infl uence, either in
House Purchases
a ship’s time at sea by rotating in Chief Fleet had spent two and have, and as a sailor, I’d like to get protection of the masses of trade
entire ship’s company. a half hours going through the in there and give my COs all the which comes in or providing
Destroyers Edinburgh and ‘lessons learned’ package from the freedom they need to sort these the basis of border security – in
Exeter tested the scheme in the Cornwall incident, making sure all bad boys out,” he said, echoing the whatever other ways the world
South Atlantic. Sandown-class the actions had been completed, or sentiments of HMS Somerset’s changes, we are an island nation.”
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