February 2018

5th – 11th February

Consequence to axing Royal Marines amphibious ships

Plans to shrink the Royal Marines by axing amphibious ships has been met with criticism from the Commons defence committee, who state that it will “significantly undermine” Britain’s security. MPs have warned that this cost-cutting proposal would be “militarily illiterate” and “totally at odds with strategic reality”.

The National Security Capability Review led to proposals to cut up to 2,000 Royal Marines as part of an attempt to fill a £20billion budget black hole over the next decade. It has been suggested that cuts will include the retirement of amphibious ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, as part of wide ranging reductions to all three services.

Although Theresa May and Gavin Williamson rejected these proposals before Christmas, MPs say that unless the Defence Secretary can secure more funding, the Marines remain at risk. To read the full article, click here.

The Current Strength of the Royal Marines

The table below compares the number of amphibious vessels in the UK compared to other countries. (Planned amphibious vessels are indicated in parentheses)

 

LPD

LPH / LHD

LSD

LST

UK

2

1

3

0

USA

10 (2)

9 (2)

12 (2)

0

Russia

0

(1)

0

19 (1)

China

5 (2)

(1)

0

29

France

0

3

0

1

Australia

0

2

1

0

India

1

(4)

0

9

Japan

0

2

0

1

S Korea

2

2

0

4

Italy

1

2 (1)

0

0

Egypt

0

2

0

3

Turkey

(1)

0

0

4

LPD – Landing Platform Dock; LPH/LHD – Landing Platform Helicopter/Landing Helicopter Dock; LSD – Landing Ship Dock; LST – Landing Ship Tank

Sources: The Military Balance 2017, International Institute for Strategic Studies, with additional information from footnote sources from the ‘International amphibious capability’ section of chapter 6.

Graph

The graph above illustrates the Strength of the Royal Marine force between April of 2013 until 2017. A decline can be seen in recent years. As of October 2017, there were 6,530 Royal Marines and if cuts proceed this number will fall to roughly 4,500. To find out more about the Strength of the Royal Marines, click here.

Is there a future for amphibious ships?

The Ministry of Defence’s Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre predicts that by 2045, 70% of the world’s population will live in cities and as a result there will be around 280 megacities (cities with a population of 20 million or more). It has been suggested that these megacities will be in littoral areas, and consequently amphibious vessels would enable the Armed Forces to operate in these otherwise challenging areas. In addition due to climate change, rising sea levels and other extreme weather events, there is a greater likelihood of a need for humanitarian intervention and disaster relief by sea, which amphibious platforms are best to deliver. To find out more about this, click here.

 

 

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