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Author Topic: Base-ported Operational frigates 1977  (Read 2532 times)

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Offline kyn

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Re: Base-ported Operational frigates 1977
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2016, 16:35:18 »

Ministry of Defence

Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command
28 January 1977


The Future of Chatham Naval Base

A.   MOD letter dated 2 October 1975.
B.   PO Medway dated 13 July 1976.

1.   Further to Reference A, I am directed to inform you that the Admiralty Board have now reviewed the future of Chatham Naval Base.

2.   The Board have noted that, since the occasion on which it considered this matter, the current Long Term Review of Dockyard Load and Capacity has demonstrated a clear requirement for Chatham’s dockyard capacity for the foreseeable future.  As you are aware, the stream SEN refitting capability will be needed over the same period.

3.   As regards to other components of the Base, the Board has taken note of the views expressed in Reference B.  It is the intention to base-port three or four frigates as well as the existing survey vessels at Chatham until the mid-1980s.  The Stand-by Squadron is increasing to five ships and it is expected that it will remain at about this level until at least 1979 though plans thereafter are uncertain.  After January 1981 it is planned that ships based at Chatham will use a mobile FMU from another base.

4.   The Board presumes that economy of overheads will be taken into account when the detailed VEXMED proposals are submitted and that any effects on the Fleet Accommodation Centre will be raised at that stage.

5.   In the meantime the Board have agreed that the Chatham Naval Base Development Plan should be used as a guide to the injection of priority proposals in the Naval Works Programme in the coming years.

Commander G A Greaves, Royal Navy
Secretary to
Flag Officer Medway
HM Naval Base
Chatham ME4 4TA

25 May 76[/center]

Dear George

1.   Thank you for your letter of 12 May 1976.  The Commander-in-Chief will be ready to discuss this with Admiral Berthon on 9 June.

2.   The point about the need for confidentiality is taken but I believe the Management-in-Confidence marking is exactly designed to meet the staff problem and that the security clarification is not directly relevant.

3.   Those directly concerned do understand the need for careful handling, bit we will remind them.

Captain D W Beadle, Royal Navy
Secretary to Commander-in-Chief
Naval Home Command
HM Naval Base
Portsmouth PO1 3LR

12 May 1976

Admiral Berthon has read with interest the Commander-in-Chief’s letter about Naval Home Command Structure together with the paper enclosed, and would like to discuss those aspects of it which are pertinent to Chatham and the Medway Area during the Commander-in-Chief’s visit on 9 June.  There is one point however over which Admiral Berthon is particularly concerned and about which he has asked me to drop you a note – this is the question of confidentiality.  As you know the whole subject of the future of Chatham Naval Base has blown hot and cold since before the closure of the Nore command in 1961 and anything which could possibly be construed as a whisper of closure or reduction can set off all sorts and rumours and fears locally amongst the civilians.  In consequence one of Admiral Berthon’s cardinal principles in this appointment has been to maintain confidence in the Base and its future.  He is most anxious therefore that the contents of paragraphs 18 and 19 of the paper enclosed with the Commander-in-Chief’s letter should not trigger off any apprehension at Chatham about the future and asks that those concerned with the question on CNH’s staff and at Portsmouth should be kept to as small a number as possible, should be made fully aware of its sensitivity, and should accordingly play it very close to the chest/bosom.  He also wondered if you would consider upgrading the classification of the Commander-in-Chief’s letter to Confidential to accord with the latest MOD pronouncement on the subject.

Offline kyn

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Re: Base-ported Operational frigates 1977
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2016, 15:50:30 »
There are some more documents from this file to post, but yes it really does sound like the end was coming and they knew it!

Offline Dave Smith

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Re: Base-ported Operational frigates 1977
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2016, 15:33:07 »
Kyn.That read like it was, "the writing on the wall" for Chatham Dockyard !

Offline kyn

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Base-ported Operational frigates 1977
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2016, 19:06:12 »
Staff in Confidence

Speaking Brief for Call on First sea Lord – 18 January 1977

Chatham Naval Base – Base-Ported Ships
1.   The case for a balanced Naval Base at Chatham has been fully made in the past, most recently in my predecessor’s letter of 20 December 1974 and his haul-down report.  I am in full agreement with this point of view.

2.   Probably the most important single factor in maintaining a balance for Chatham Naval Base as a whole is the number of Base-ported Operational frigates.  Up until the end of 1976 there were eight such ships, but by the Spring of 1977 this number will have reduced to five (LLANDAFF to Bangladesh; MERMAID to the Malays; and JAGUAR to the Standby Squadron).  For the remainder of 1977 there will effectively be only two Operational frigates (DIOMEDE and PLYMOUTH) with two others in refit for much of the time (ESKING and JUNO) and one effecting changeover resulting from Gibraltar refit in the first half of the year (BACCHANTE/SCYLLA).  On present plans by mid-1978 two further ships will have gone (PLYMOUTH to major refit and, it is now understood JUNO to chop Base Port to Portsmouth).  This will leave three frigates based at Chatham from mid-1978 onwards (ESKIMO, ACHILLES and SCYLLA.

3.   I consider that the reduction of Base-ported ships from eight to three in the space of less than eighteen months is likely to prove most unsatisfactory in the overall picture of the Chatham naval Base and may have a number of implications not all of which can be foreseen, and I strongly recommend that of at all possible the numbers should not be allowed to drop this low.

4.   The one case where it would appear on the face of it that there is scope for adjustment is JUNO.  This ship was originally programmed to go to Major Refit at Portsmouth in 1976; resulting from a variety of causes her refit was adjusted by stages until she is now undergoing Normal Refit at Chatham from March to September 1977.  The latest Pink List Supplement shows her Base-ported at Chatham under the 2nd Frigate Squadron until the end of 1977, then chopping to the 5th Frigate Squadron but with no indication of a change of Base Port.  It is however understood that the intention is for her to change Base Port to Portsmouth as outlined in para 2 above.

5.   I understand however that nothing irrevocable has yet been done on the personnel side to dictate that this change of JUNO’s Base Port must go ahead.  Furthermore it would not take effect until nine months or more from now, which would allow time for any adjustments to be made.  I also understand that JUNO’s Ship’s Company still shows a preponderance of Chatham preferees, and that neither her late CO nor his relief have any strong feelings either way.

6.   I therefore recommend most strongly that if at all possible JUNO should continue to be Base-ported at Chatham after her forthcoming refit.


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