Thursday, December 7, 2023

Naval warfare faces 'Dreadnought moment', says UK First Sea Lord

The new capabilities deployed by Ukrainian forces to neutralize the Russian fleet in the Black Sea amount to a “Dreadnought moment”, for Admiral Ben Key, the First Sea Lord of the British Admiralty. This is a brutal and profound change in paradigms and doctrines, as was the case with the arrival of the first Dreadnought-class battleships at the beginning of the 20th century.

Battle plans become obsolete once the first shot is fired. This phrase, cited and adapted many times, is primarily used to warn politicians and strategists about excessive confidence in their strategy and simulation. War is, in fact, one of the most complex forms of human interaction that exists due to its scale and radical dimension.

It is, as such, indisputable that the Kremlin and the Russian General Staff had never anticipated, before February 24, 2022, that a major military operation against Ukraine could evolve into a war of attrition which has lasted for 19 months, and which has left more than 250,000 killed and wounded within its armies.

Thus, neither the preparation of the Ukrainian armies, nor the resistance of the population and the political authorities, nor the reaction of the Western bloc, had been anticipated by the Russian strategy, which then spoke of a "three-day special military operation ".

These materials and technologies revealed by the war in Ukraine

What is true for strategies is also true for equipment. Thus, during this war, numerous equipment and technologies, hitherto neglected or misunderstood, obtained their letters of nobility from the military staffs.

Cruiser Moskva - sunk
The destruction of the cruiser Moskva, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, marked the beginning of a slow descent into hell for the Russian Navy in Ukraine.

This was the case of light MALE drones like the TB2 at the start of the conflict, then of long-tube artillery systems, like the CAESAR, long-range artillery systems like the HIMARS, the Gepard anti-aircraft gun or even the Shahed 136 drone.

Paradoxically, if the land and air war in Ukraine has often focused the attention of analysts, it is very possible that it is in the area of ​​naval warfare that the influence of this conflict could be felt the most in the years and decades to come.

This is essentially what the First Lord of the British Admiralty, Admiral Ben Key, expressed, referring to a “dreadnought moment” which would be underway in Ukraine regarding the naval war.

Naval Warfare at the Dawn of a Dreadnought Moment

The British admiral was referring to the conceptual revolution brought about by the simultaneous arrival of large-caliber naval guns, with great precision (for the time) and unprecedented range, mounted on propelled armored ships by powerful steam boilers, which led the great admiralties of the early 20th century to profoundly revise their paradigms.

Naval forces encountered other radical and rapid changes, with the advent of submarines in World War I, aircraft carriers in World War II, and nuclear-powered ships in the Cold War. .

Dreadnought moment - swordfish from HMS Ark Royal hitting the Bismarck
Sometimes one dreadnought moment chases the other. This was the case on May 26, 1941, when Fairey Swordfish torpedo planes from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal hit two torpedoes on the battleship Bismarck, causing damage to the helm which forced the crew to scuttle the ship.

For Admiral Key, the response provided by the Ukrainian armies to the absolute naval supremacy of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea, by using missiles in coastal batteries, reconnaissance drones, and an increasing number of naval and submarine drones , corresponds to a new “Dreadnought Moment”.

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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