Royal Navy Will Evolve In 'Size And Shape'

Former First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, told MPs the fleet could have "more appropriate ships" in the future.

The Royal Navy will evolve in "size and shape" with perhaps "more appropriate ships", according to former First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones.

He has discussed the future of the Senior Service with MPs on the Commons Defence Select Committee.

It comes as HMS Prince of Wales embarked an F-35 fighter jet for the first time, on its journey to becoming fully operational.

It was a double first – the first time both the UK’s Queen Elizabeth-class carriers have been at sea at the same time with F-35s on deck.

What does the future hold for the Royal Navy and what role will it play going forward?

MPs asked Admiral Sir Philip whether it is achievable to have more ships at sea, further away and for longer, to meet expectations.

The former Navy chief said: "It's a question of scale – is the Navy big enough to be able to deploy on all the persistent present tasks that the Government is asking it to do?

"I believe it is. But what we will see over the next few years, is an evolution of the size and shape of that Navy, with perhaps more appropriate ships for each and every one of those tasks being available in a couple of years' time so we'll see some swapping in and out as more ships become available."

The Government's recent Integrated Review included the desire to expand the fleet.

The Type 31 and Type 26 frigates are already in the pipeline.

Admiral Jones added: "In the meantime, we will persist with a strategy we've used for a while now, which thinks innovatively outside the box about how to achieve as high a level of persistent presence and the capacity to be in as many of the places as we can be, using ships that we might not have used in that way before."

An F-35B fighter jet lands on HMS Prince of Wales for the first time (Picture: MOD).

Regarding the deployment of the Carrier Strike Group to the Indo-Pacific region, he said there are very few allies with that capability.

"So it's a statement of intent, it's a statement of cohesion with allies that we are prepared to do that, but again recognising that it's not only us that can do that – the French have deployed the Charles de Gaulle Carrier Strike Group out to that region before and will do so again," he said.

"One of the best things we can do there is work with them, to synchronise that, to make sure there is scheduling coherence in the way we do that and to try and make sure, as much as possible, that our assets are interoperable with each other."

Cover image: HMS Dragon, HMS Lancaster and HMS Argyll on Exercise Formidable Shield (Picture: Royal Navy).