The Anonymous Widower

A Second Dazzle Ship

After seeing Snowdrop in Liverpool last week, as I walked along the Embankment, I noticed that HMS President had been given the same treatment.

Although it is not as bright.

May 7, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

The Navy Pops Into Waitrose

I couldn’t resist posting this picture of HMS Bulwark, by Waitrose in Greenwich.

The Navy Pops Into Waitrose

The Navy Pops Into Waitrose

It’s just a pity the gap inthe buildings isn’t larger, so that you could see more of the warship.

May 30, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

HMS Bulwark At Greenwich

HMS Bulwark is in Greenwich to mark the 350th anniversary of the Royal Marines.

Lsrge ships are always impressive on London’s river.

May 30, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

The Tripe Talked About Building Warships In The UK

I have been listening and watching the debate about BAE ‘s decision to end warship building at Portsmouth  and move this all to Glasgow.

Much of the argument has been based on emotional facts like Portsmouth has been building warships since the Mary Rose and political considerations of  keeping Scotland happy. Little has got anything to do with having a Royal Navy that is fit for purpose.

This article on the BBC, gives a pretty good assessment of the political story. This section is the heart of the article.

So was this a sweetener to Scotland, to stave off a Yes vote? The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was asked repeatedly in the Commons to say whether the Scottish poll had influenced his choice.

He made, broadly, three replies to the variety of ways in which he was posed that question. Firstly, he stressed that the decision to locate warship building solely in Glasgow was taken by BAE, with endorsement from the Ministry of Defence. It was, thereby, primarily an industrial rather than a political choice.

Secondly, he stressed the importance of cost. His entire statement was predicated upon the drive to contain rising costs in the aircraft carrier contract. The identification of a sole location was also, he suggested, driven by cost efficiency.

But, thirdly, he made a point with regard to the forthcoming orders for Type 26 ships. Mr Hammond’s core point in respect of the carriers was that a blunder had been made (by the predecessor government) in placing the contracts for these vessels before design was completed.

He would not repeat that error, he said, with the Type 26 contract. It would not be placed before design was “mature”. That would be at the end of 2014. He noted, twice, that would be after the Scottish referendum in September of that year.

So BAE, had to make a decision, before they know what orders are coming. They are a supposedly commercial organisation, so they will do what they see is best for the company. Given that costs are higher in Portsmouth than Glasgow for most things, I suspect that there was only two solutions; persuade the Government to buy lots of warships that we don’t need or close Portsmouth.

In the arguments I heard, no-one seemed to bring up the Falkland Islands. When Argentina invaded, as regards warships we were ill-prepared and had to scramble hard to get a task force together. But the rest as they say is history!

The one thing we can say with certainty, is that if we need to use the Navy in anger again, we’ll have the wrong ships, and they’ll be in the wrong place.

It was always thus!

I would suspect that the Navy goes through some of the most bizarre scenarios, and works out how they will handle them and that there will be a lot of improvisation in there.

Look at the operational history of HMS Ocean and you’ll find a lot of it, is in response to events. If you read the Wikipedia entry for HMS Ocean, you’ll find this gem.

While Swan Hunter viewed the ships as entirely military, “VSEL thought the design was basically a merchant ship with military hardware bolted on.” VSEL’s decision to sub-contract the build phase took advantage of lower overheads at a civilian yard as well as efficiency drives by its parent, Kværner. The cut-price build to commercial standards means that Ocean has a projected operational life of just 20 years, significantly less than that of other warships.

VSEL and Swan Hunter were completing for the work. But there was some serious innovation in the construction of this, in my view,  successful warship. It’s certainly got us out of trouble a few times.

Innovation has been lacking over the years in the design of warships, which partly explains, why we and probably every other Navy has the wrong ships for a serious crisis.

One thing that should be thrown in, is if warship building is so important and BAE are so good at it, why aren’t we exporting ships to other friendly nations?

So are we subsidising warship building and BAE to an unsustainable high level?

November 7, 2013 Posted by | News | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Mary Rose And The Vasa Compared

In many ways comparing these two preserved ships is a bit like being asked to judge between two great actors, artists or musicians, who is the best.

In some ways to appreciate either, you must see the other one, as I have done in the last few weeks.

The Vasa is obviously more complete and in a better state, due to being a hundred or so years younger and being in the less destructive waters of the Baltic. Compare my pictures of the Vasa with those of the Mary Rose.

One big difference, is that when the Vasa sunk, it was almost an empty ship as it had not been fully victualled, whereas the Mary Rose was a ship full of supplies and artefacts, so it gives valuable insight into Tudor life. The two museums reflect this difference.

In some ways though it is best to almost consider the Vasa and the Mary Rose as two separate galleries in the same museum.  Add in HMS Victory and HMS Warrior, with perhaps a visit to HMS Belfast and you have an almost complete living history of warship design.

In some ways though, those that work on both the Mary Rose and the Vasa are very close and a lot of the preservation techniques have been used on both vessels. If we ever find and raise another ancient wooden ship, we probably have the knowledge and competence to show it to everyone’s advantage.

The design and architecture of both museums may also find applications in other areas of archaeology, where we need to show delicate items.

July 18, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Mary Rose

One of the main reasons to go to Portsmouth was to see the Mary Rose.

The building might look rather bland on the outside, but the Tudor warship and the way it is displayed surrounded by objects retrieved from the wreck is truly spectacular.

Some of these pictures were taken from a glass-walled lift that ascends at one end of the museum giving superb views of the ship.

It will become even more spectacular inhopefully 2016, when because the ship will be completed dried out and preserved, they will be able to fully open up the views of the ship.

July 18, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , , | 1 Comment

HMS Victory

I hadn’t been over HMS Victory for many years.

it is a bit stunted at the moment, as the masts have been taken away for some work, but they now give you free run right into the depths of the ship.

July 18, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

HMS Warrior

HMS Warrior was the first ship I visited.

HMS Warrior was Britain’s first iron-hulled, armoured warship, when she was built in 1960 and she still floats in Portsmouth Harbour.

This site is her official web site.

July 18, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

Two Capital Ships In The Pool Of London

I then moved upriver to the Pool of London, where HMS Edinburgh had moored alongside HMS Belfast.

The Royal Navy is present in London for the celebrations of the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic.  There’s more about the celebrations here on the Royal Navy website.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

HMS Illustrious At Greenwich

I took these pictures of HMS Illustrious at Greenwich.

Apparently, she is going to be preserved for the nation, as is reported here.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment