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    UK’s Submarine Ambiguity Amid Naval Challenges and AUKUS Uncertainties

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    The Ministry of Defence has recently affirmed that HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark will stay operational, though uncertainties persist regarding their potential deployment.

    This matter gained prominence after John Healey, the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, submitted written inquiries to the Secretary of State for Defence.

    Inquiring about the status of the vessels, Healey asked if HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark would be taken out of extended readiness and when they might resume active duty.

    Healey said, “Whether he plans to take (a) HMS Albion and (b) HMS Bulwark out of extended readiness,” and “when will (a) HMS Albion and (b) HMS Bulwark return to active service?”

    In response, James Cartlidge, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, referred to a previous statement made on April 17, 2024, regarding the ships’ status.

    Cartlidge stated, “For reasons of operational security, we do not disclose timetables of future readiness levels for Royal Navy (RN) vessels.”

    “However, I can confirm that, as has been the case since 2010, one Landing Platform Dock (LPD) ship will be held in extended readiness so that she will be capable of being regenerated if we have strategic notice that she will be needed,” he said.

    Cartlidge cited operational security concerns for not disclosing specific timelines for Royal Navy vessels’ readiness levels.

    However, he confirmed the ongoing practice, dating back to 2010, of maintaining one Landing Platform Dock (LPD) ship in extended readiness, ensuring its capability for swift activation if strategic need arises.

    Cartlidge clarified that HMS Albion would assume HMS Bulwark’s position in extended readiness, while HMS Bulwark would be brought back from extended readiness and maintained to promptly fulfill defense requirements if necessary.

    “As such, HMS Albion will take HMS Bulwark’s place in extended readiness and HMS Bulwark will be regenerated from extended readiness and maintained so that she can be ready to deliver defence outputs if required,” he elaborated.

    Despite the government’s assurance of their continued service, this arrangement raises doubts about their immediate return to active duty.

    HMS Bulwark, initially slated to rejoin the fleet post-maintenance and upgrades, will now remain in a state of readiness, poised for deployment solely in critical situations.

    Both HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark were once on the brink of decommissioning, but due to public and defense community outcry, their retention was secured.

    However, their future remains a subject of debate, with extended readiness acting as a temporary measure rather than a complete reinstatement to operational status.

    Relevant articles:
    UK remains tightlipped on if it will increase submarine fleet, UK Defence Journal
    Future of assault ships remains uncertain despite commitment, UK Defence Journal
    AUKUS: A solution to the risky UK gambit, Lowy Institute
    Russia tight-lipped on reports navy commander sunk by Black Sea losses, Al Jazeera

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