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Monthly Archives: June 2016

  • Supporting the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity - Press Release

    NavyBooks celebrates website re-launch with charitable pledge


    Our new-look website, which hosts hundreds of naval titles and thousands of books, ranging from amateur-penned memoirs to established thought-leaders in naval history, warships and maritime warfare, is to donate 1% of all revenue to The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) as its 2016 Charity of the Year.

    New NavyBooks owner and Managing Director, Ian Whitehouse, is a former submariner who served with the Second Submarine Squadron in Plymouth and now lives in North Cornwall.

    He says that the RNRMC was an obvious candidate to support because of his personal links to the Royal Navy. NavyBooks’ main customers typically also have close links to, and support for, the Royal Navy.  With the launch of the new website, and understanding our customers’ passion for the subject, we thought it was a good time to partner with The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, especially considering their support for the veteran community.”

    Steve Bush, NavyBooks editor, is also a Royal Navy veteran. A communications technician he joined the Royal Navy, at HMS Raleigh, Torpoint, in 1978. On leaving the Royal Navy in 2000 he joined Maritime Books, and edits the business’ flagship magazines, such as ‘Warship World’ and ‘Warship World Pictorial’, while also writing books and supporting the venture’s authors and contributors.


    NavyBooks is a new 2016 Cornish publishing venture building on a previous publishing business ‘Maritime Books’. Based in Liskeard it is a specialist naval publisher and bookseller. It publishes two magazines ‘Warship World’ and ‘Warship World Pictorial’ as well as books about the Royal Navy. Its annual publication ‘British Warships and Auxiliaries’ details every ship in the Royal Navy and was first published in 1979; it has not missed a year since. NavyBooks also operates an on-line retail business, with 100s of titles and 1,000s of books, selling to the general public and trade customers from its website:


    Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity

    The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity is the principal charity of the Royal Navy. It exists to support sailors, marines and their families, for life.

    Since 2007 it has funded projects and facilities that boost morale for those who serve today. It also distributes millions of pounds annually to military charities who care for the children, families and veterans of the Naval Service.

    For more information on The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, call 023 9387 1520 or visit


    This article is based on one previously published by Commander Rob Forsyth, Royal Navy in the February 2016 issue of The Naval Review. Commander Forsyth argues that, far from being 'independent and keeping us safe' as claimed, the cost of Trident and its replacement is making UK less safe by crippling our military capability. 


    The 2015 election failed to stimulate any debate on defence at all, never mind the nuclear deterrent (stand fast the SNP); the general public is blindly and trustingly accepting the Government's policy without access to the full facts. As Executive Officer of a Polaris submarine in the 1970's I concurred with the then government policy of Mutually Assured Destruction - because I was confident that it would only ever be fired as a second-strike retaliation should the USSR fire at us first. The balance of opinion amongst 'The Trade' – although not held by all - was that the Polaris Force was an expensive insurance policy which we were unlikely to use but was necessary. However, significantly, we also had the resources to send a Task Force to the South Atlantic in 1982 and later, in 1991, to make a significant contribution to the invasion of Iraq.

    Fortunately, although the USSR's stated ambition was of world domination by any means, its leaders were sensible enough to calculate the odds and either backed off or never had the intention of launching a major nuclear missile attack in the first place. We will never know for sure. Well-informed opinion now tends towards the latter.

    On 24 March 2002  Geoff Hoon, the then Defence Secretary, stated in a BBC interview that the UK was prepared to use nuclear weapons against 'rogue states' such as Iraq if they ever used weapons of mass destruction against British troops in the field; the implication being that the second-strike policy still remained the status quo. He also added some very significant words:  'What I cannot be absolutely confident about is whether or not that would be sufficient to deter them from using a weapon of mass destruction in the first place.' A Government policy paper of 8 May 2015 stated: 'We will not rule in or out the first use of nuclear weapons' which indicated that a pre-emptive nuclear weapon strike had now become an option.

    There has been no significant challenge to this major shift in policy even though a single missile with a single 100Kt warhead,  euphemistically called a 'sub-strategic missile although its destructive power is equivalent to approximately six Hiroshima bombs - exceeds international humanitarian law, never mind a salvo of 16 missiles each with multiple warheads. This has been accomplished with no public debate about the perceived threats nor has there been any discussion about the devastating effect that even one missile could cause. In consequence much of the electorate blindly trust the good judgement of Government on an issue every bit as important as whether we should stay in the European Union.

    One can assume that firing 16 missiles with a maximum warhead payload would only be used in a retaliatory Cold War MAD type situation. Happily no such threat exists. Even President Putin, and his expansionist policy, has no aspiration for a world war because he also is a man who can calculate the odds, as did his predecessors. Maintaining the ability to deliver a MAD-level response is keeping the capability alive just in case a superpower ever emerges with such aspirations.        ........................................ this is an extract from Commander Forsyth's full article published next week in Warship World Jul/Aug edition. In the Sep/Oct edition we will be publishing a response by Rear Admiral John Gower. To read more subscribe to Warship World, six magazines a year published by NavyBooks.



    We read and hear about warmer winters. Brian Hawkins, a retired BBC producer, looks back over 60 years to a winter which started out as one of the coldest, and to his involvement in "Operation Snowdrop" whilst he was serving in the Royal Navy on his National Service engagement.

    In early January 1955 I was returning from Christmas leave to my ship, HMS GLORY, a light fleet carrier, which had distinguished herself in the then recent Korean campaign. Berthed in the Royal Naval Dockyard Portsmouth, in the shadow of Nelson's flagship Victory, GLORY was preparing to join the reserve fleet.

    However adverse weather conditions dictated a change of plan, Glory was to be deployed on a humanitarian mission and join "Operation Snowdrop". The weather conditions in Scotland had been severe. The country north of the Caledonian canal was virtually cut off from the rest of Scotland. Relief operations by the Royal Air Force had already started from Kinloss, and from Wick airport; 2 Royal Navy Whirlwind helicopters were dropping essential supplies to villages isolated by 10 foot snowdrifts.

    Meanwhile we in GLORY sailed from Portsmouth for Port Glasgow, where we embarked supplies of food, animal fodder, aviation spirit and medical supplies. From Glasgow we steamed north, our destination Loch Eriboll, Scotland's most northerly sea loch. Here we set up a base from which Royal Navy helicopters could more easily drop supplies to the most northerly villages and crofts.

    The voyage north was quite spectacular, sailing within sight of the Scottish mainland and the nearby islands. The snow covered landscapes to each side of us dazzling in the bright sunshine under a  clear blue sky. We were enjoying the sort of environment that cruising holiday makers pay thousands to be part of.

    Loch Eriboll, as well as being the most northerly,is certainly the biggest sea loch, being a deep finger of inland sea almost 10 miles in length.  Anchored in it's mouth was to be GLORY’s home for the next few days. The depth of the snow on the land each side of us created a strange acoustic effect, an uncanny silence only to be disturbed by the low frequency throb of Whirlwind helicopters approaching our flight deck.

    One particular day the Whirlwinds dropped over 3000lbs. of supplies, including cattle food and kerosene, to 34 villages ..................................................... this is an extract from Brian Hawkins' full article published next week in Warship World. To read more subscribe to Warship World, six magazines a year published by NavyBooks.

  • 1982 - Falklands Surrender

    72 days after the Argentinian forces invaded the Falkland Isles a ceasefire was declared on 14 June; the commander of the Argentine garrison in Stanley, Brigade General Mario Menéndez, surrendered to Major General Jeremy Moore the same day.

    In the face of seemingly impossible distance and against a background of impending cuts to the Armed Forces, particularly the Royal Navy Britain put together and despatched a military Task Force, that sailed with 4 days of the invasion, to regain the dependency from the Argentine invaders.

    225 British personnel, 649 Argentine personnel and 3 civilians died in the conflict, nearly 2,400 were wounded. 16 ships were lost, over 80 fixed wing aircraft and nearly 50 helicopters were downed.

    It is said that senior officers are always ready to fight the last war and unprepared for the next. Could Britain today despatch and sustain a similar standalone Task Force - should it retain this capability in times of austerity - do we need this capability?

    What do you think?


  • Devonport Royal Dockyard & Warships

    In 1588, the ships of the English Navy set sail to attack the Spanish Armada through the mouth of the River Plym, thereby establishing the naval presence in Plymouth.

    In 1689 Prince William of Orange became William III and almost immediately required the building of a new dockyard west of Portsmouth. Edmund Dummer, Surveyor of the Royal Navy, travelled to Devon searching for an area where a dockyard could be built; he sent in two estimates for sites, one in Plymouth, Cattewater and one further along the coast, on the Hamoaze, a section of the River Tamar. Having dismissed the Plymouth site as inadequate, he settled on the Hamoaze area which soon became known as Plymouth Dock, later renamed Devonport. On 30 December 1690, a contract was let for a dockyard to be built: the start of Plymouth (later Devonport) Royal Dockyard. Dummer was given responsibility for designing and building the new yard.

    At the heart of his new dockyard, Dummer placed a stone-lined basin, giving access to what proved to be the first successful stepped stone dry dock in Europe. Previously the Navy Board had relied upon timber as the building material for dry docks. The docks Dummer designed were stronger with more secure foundations and stepped sides that made it easier for men to work beneath the hull of a docked vessel.

    Dummer wished to ensure that naval dockyards were efficient working units that maximised available space, as evidenced by the simplicity of his design layout at Plymouth Dock. He introduced a centralised storage area alongside the basin, and a logical positioning of other buildings around the yard. His double rope house combined the previously separate tasks of spinning and laying while allowing the upper floor to be used for the repair of sails. On high ground overlooking the rest of the yard he built a grand terrace of houses for the senior dockyard officers.

    Most of Dummer's buildings and structures were rebuilt over ensuing years, including the basin and dry dock (today known as No. 1 Basin and No. 1 Dock). The terrace survived into the 20th century, but was largely destroyed in the Plymouth Blitz along with several others of Devonport's historic buildings. Just one end section of the terrace survives; dating from 1692–96, it is the earliest surviving building in any royal dockyard.

    Thus the Royal Dockyard Devonport has a history going back over 300 years. From its inception, ships were being refitted in the new Dockyard and within twelve months, the first two Devonport Warships built had been launched. Many, many more followed - including some illustrious and historic names HMS ROYAL OAK, HMS WARSPITE and HMS EXETER. The last warship to be launched at Devonport was the frigate HMS SCYLLA, launched in 1968 and completed in 1969. The last large vessel to come off the slip was the Research Vessel Crystal, launched in 1971.

    NavyBooks will be publishing its next new book on 13 June 2016 - a revised, updated and reformatted edition of our 1981 book Devonport Built Warships. It includes new images, more details and extended captions for almost every one of the 145 ships built between 1860 and 1971; ships that include illustrious and historic names such as HMS ROYAL OAK, HMS WARSPITE and HMS EXETER.

    This book is intended to be the first of several to chronicle the shipbuilding activity of the Royal Dockyards since 1860, a year widely recognised as the beginning of the modern Royal Navy.

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