The number of annual naval reviews, published as printed paper books, has been steadily reducing over the last twenty years, making those survivors even more valuable and keenly sought. The publishers have a well-earned reputation for high production standards and the use of lavish illustration. Nine specialists in their fields have written this annual under the editorship of Conrad Waters, providing solid assurance as to the accuracy of the work. Illustration is by crisp drawings and photographs, full colour being used where available and appropriate.
NAME: Seaforth World Naval Review 2012
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: edited by Conrad Waters
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword, Seaforth Publishing
BINDING: hard back
GENRE: Non Fiction
DESCRIPTION: The number of annual naval reviews, published as printed paper books, has been steadily reducing over the last twenty years, making those survivors even more valuable and keenly sought. The publishers have a well-earned reputation for high production standards and the use of lavish illustration. Nine specialists in their fields have written this annual under the editorship of Conrad Waters, providing solid assurance as to the accuracy of the work. Illustration is by crisp drawings and photographs, full colour being used where available and appropriate.
The major navies and the more important smaller navies have been reviewed. This is a particularly difficult period of naval activity to review because the situation is rapidly changing. The economic crisis, gripping much of the world, is forcing drastic reductions and program cancellations in many navies, notably in the USN and the RN. However there are also areas where arms races are continuing, or just starting, and more of the smaller navies are now designing and building some of their own ships rather than relying on buying older surplus vessels from Britain, America and Russia. The aircraft carrier is also entering service with an increasing number of navies.
New warships are now increasingly designed with stealth technology to produce incredibly small radar signatures. The gun continues in use, but the missile and the helicopter are primary armament for most modern warships.
The great current pre-occupation is in the use of unmanned vehicles. Initially this concentrated on helicopters and reconnaissance platforms of various sizes and with nano-UAVs entering service even a ship’s boat can be equipped with its own naval aviation. Some helicopters are full size machines able to carry similar weapons and loads to those carried by manned helicopters, and work is well-underway to produce dual function helicopters that are equipped to be flown by a human crew but may more frequently operate under remote control and have some autonomous capabilities. These UAVs are being joined at sea by large super-sonic jet attack aircraft and refuelling tankers, gradually reducing the number of missions flown by manned aircraft. The first UAV carriers have been proposed and most aircraft carriers will host UAVs at some point.
As STOVL and VSTOL aircraft increase in performance and size, almost any warship or auxiliary will be able to act as host to disperse naval aircraft and warships previously regarded as only being able to carry one or more helicopter may soon be regularly acting as small carriers for high performance jet combat aircraft, some of which will be UAVs.
Navies are also paying closer attention to littoral warships and this is producing some interesting designs.
As a result, this book is written at a time of challenge and excitement. The contributors have risen to the challenge and the book is informative and incisive. They have noted the changes, some major changes, in all navies. The Royal Navy is being transformed, having prematurely lost its fast jet fixed wing aviation and its carriers. The two new super carriers are still under construction and some slippage has occurred. At the same time vessels of all sizes are being withdrawn and scrapped, while the RAF has decided to abandon maritime patrol to save money, with the new Nimrod aircraft being scrapped as they completed production and prepared for introduction into service. Although the RN has seen some major expansion of capability in those ships being introduced, it is very close to critical mass and an inability to maintain manpower. The result has been a steady drain of trained sailors to other navies.
May we live in interesting times.