Editor’s Note: Following the publication of his article The Survivability of the Royal Navy and a New Enlightened British Defense Strategy in the January 2011 issue of THE SUBMARINE REVIEW, I wrote to Dr. Tony Wells congratulating him on his vision and his initiative in suggesting a dedicated Maritime strategy. I further asked if he is seeing any movements in that direction within the U.K. This is his answer.
I think that the politics of influence are working over the pond-my article has helped contribute to that process, and in addition the recent UK debacle over the failure to extricate UK citizens out of Libya in a timely manner has reinforced the need for Expeditionary Maritime Forces that can be on scene and respond quickly. This event, combined with the UK’s total failure to have any form of maritime air support in the no fly zone, reinforced the situation. Of course the one UK asset that played a serious role was the UK SSN firing its Tomahawks in unison with the US SSNs, and that great SSGN, USS FLORIDA (I have been privileged to have several rides on board FLORIDA). The fact that only one UK SSN was available was not lost on the powers that be in the UK. Worst still, since I wrote my article, the UK government decommissioned HMS Ark Royal to save money, and the last of the Harriers have gone home. Then, of course, the Libyan situation arises in short order.
I have stressed through some influential channels the need for the UK to work a maritime expeditionary strategy in consort with the US Navy, so that the UK remains fully in step with its main ally. I have suggested a joint US-UK program to examine this requirement in detail, so that the UK can seriously configure the Royal Navy for the long term.
The ball seems to be rolling. You may have read about the very recent letter that went to Parliament from a group of retired Royal Navy Admirals that received front-page publicity in the main UK newspapers and media. As a Submarine Force advocate l have tried to influence also the need for a greater UK Submarine Force level. As you and I know, numbers count, and the UK is getting woefully down near the lowest mark in spite of the high quality of the new ASTUTE class and the later TRAF ALGARs. They will need all the help that we can give them, and I am so pleased that the UK government has recognized the tremendous contributions that John Butler has made to the US-UK Submarine community over many decades by his decoration from HM Queen Elizabeth.
Thank you again, Jim.