Most countries have coastal navies for defence against attack from the sea. A few also have ocean-going navies to control and contest control of open seas. However only the US and the UK aspire to build a third navy designed to operate in the coastal zones of other nations:
When British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced in February that his ministry would create two “littoral strike groups,” some naval experts turned their heads in confusion.
The announcement, after all, came with few details about the cost, required trade-offs and the concept of operations. For those looking for more information, expect to have to wait until the first part of 2020.
In a recent interview with Defense News during his visit to Washington, Gen. Gordon Messenger, vice chief of the U.K. Defence Staff, said a study on the plan for the littoral strike groups will be out roughly “a year from now.” He added that questions about funding will “certainly” be part of the broader U.K. spending review expected later this year.
“At the moment, the money has been found to examine the concept and develop the concept, and I think until we have the information that that phase will bring, it’s very difficult to put a timeline or a sort of hard figure against it,” Messenger said.
“Clearly that’s going to need to be weighed up against other priorities. But it’s a way of us understanding more about it. It’s a capability that is attractive, it’s a capability that we think will have relevance in the future, but until we really understand more about it, it’s difficult to weigh up against other priorities,” he added.
It’s bizarre that Britain is even considering “littoral strike groups” when it doesn’t even posses much of an Ocean-going navy. Without control of the open seas what good is littoral strike?
But of course the RN isn’t a navy of an independent power, the politicians in London don’t ever see it operating on its own (the only recent exception are the Falklands where the Argentine junta forced the hand of a rather unwilling British government), but merely as an auxiliary navy for America’s own USN. As such it is understood the littoral strike groups will get to their target courtesy of America’s control of the seas, where they will fire away as part of US-led global police adventures.
London politicians who once enjoyed the services of Nelson are now seriously studying building up naval flottilas whose only capability is that they can park themselves off the coast of the next Bosnia/Iraq/Syria/Venezuela and lob missiles/bombs/shells at it in support of policy of another, greater power.
Far from an expression of power, it strikes me as bottom-feeding. It’s one thing to find yourself overshadowed by a larger entity, it’s another to give up your dignity as it happens.