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‘Take a wider view
bags 2011
WITH just one branch motion on
the agenda, a motion of urgency
by Admiral
for the general good’
from Plymouth branch made it a
straight contest between Hayling
Island and Plymouth as venue for
the 2011 conference.
THE Royal Navy’s Principal S/M Mick Withington (Isle of
Personnel Chief gave delegates Sheppey) had proposed the Mill
a peek at the contents of his
in-tray – and gave them an idea
THE NATIONAL President’s
Rythe holiday camp at Hayling as
a potential prototype for future
of the issues that keep him awake
address to conference this year
conferences, where everything
at night.
contained a number of stark
is on one site, accommodation
Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral warnings. and parking is plentiful and the
Sir Alan Massey, in his first Looking at both the association, conference could be combined
address since being knighted, and the Royal Navy which it with the fun of a reunion, attracting
spoke of the pressures on supports, Admiral John McAnally more delegates and observers.
manpower in the Navy, and went laid his cards on the table. But delegates overwhelmingly
on to consider the strengths – and “If, as your National President, backed S/M Arthur Gutteridge’s
the odd weakness – of the RNA. I have concerns, these are mainly counter-proposal which would see
Reassuring delegates that about segments of the association conference at Plymouth Guildhall.
he believed the Navy was “in who want to play the game to “You know it makes sense,” he
cracking shape”, Sir Alan said local rules, acting in isolation and told his shipmates. “Come to the
that the Senior Service was some in some cases detrimentally to heart of a Royal Naval city for
800 people short of its 35,000 the best interests of the RNA as a conference in 2011.”
nominal capacity, but would reach whole,” he told delegates.
full manning by April 2010. “I cannot stress too forcibly that
But even at full manning the association is democratic, that
Double success
there would still be headaches the views of all are given equal
“because there would inevitably weight and consideration, and that
for No 4 Area
still be gaps where we lack the the forum for debate is at branch
right specialist with the right
THE SWORD of Honour – the
meetings, area meetings, National
background and the right
president’s prize for the area which
Council and this conference.
experience to fill that hole,” he
achieved the greatest increase in
“Declamatory and defamatory
full members in 2008 – was taken
letters to the Navy News do not
In practice that translates into
by No 4 Area, who managed 62
usefully contribute to moving
around 17 per cent gaps – one in
new recruits.
the association forward, nor
six – and as these are kept as far
And the same area also took the
do venomous articles in area
as possible from the front line, in
Tasker Bowl for achieving most
periodicals or slanders uttered at
some HQ and support areas the
Gift Aid returns
branch or area meetings.”
gap becomes quite a bit greater.
The Briggs Dirk, for the branch
Admiral McAnally deplored the
Sir Alan said there were
of over 30 full members who
fact that HQ staff and officials
particular pinch points – around
managed the greatest increase
had to put so much effort into
20 in all – which “are debilitating”
in membership, was retained by
“rescuing situations” which could
and require close management.
Gosport, which added 20 new
cause serious problems.
● Standards are lowered at the war memorial in the Diamond, Londonderry, on the fi nal day of Conference
“The ones that cost me the
names to its books.
“I suppose in some ways what
weekend Picture: Nigel Huxtable
most sleep at night at the moment
The Briggs Rose Bowl, for
I am asking is for us all to take a Navy does, what it is for and why the carriers at £3.9 billion being
and that they had received a warm
are the shortfalls in submariners,
smaller branches, was won by
wider view of the association and it is so vital to our nation.” responsible for the crisis in the
welcome from the Navy.
aircrew, Royal Marines, principal
Stroud, which added nine new
to try to step outside our personal Among his thoughts, Admiral defence budget. They’ve been
“It is cheering to see how
warfare officers, leading seamen
full members to its roll.
boxes and to look at the association McAnally offered: planned for over ten years.
relocation to Portsmouth and
and divers,” he said.
In the overseas categories,
in the round, and to contribute all The UK, as a maritime nation, marina “Both nuclear submarine and marina
exposure to the serving Royal
“In five years, I hope those
Riyadh took the prize for large
we can to the general good of our relies on 95 per cent of everything frigate numbers are at tipping
Navy has worked in practice, and
will be sorted out and that we
branches, while Eastern Cyprus
RNA community,” he said. coming in and going out travelling points of critical mass and actually
clearly we are now being taken
continue to work at ways of
was the winner in the small branch
“This doesn’t mean stifling or by sea – very soon including 70 inhibiting strategic choice, as when
more seriously by them, and are
identifying and then rectifying
restricting debate, not at all, but it per cent of our energy. recently we had to gap Falklands
being considered as decisions are
potential pinch-point shortfalls
More from conference next marina
does ask those with a grievance to “What that means is that protection and deterrence by
made,” he said.
before they impact on the front
act inside accepted and civilised the lights could go out in, say, diverting a frigate from the Atlantic
behavioural guidelines in their Birmingham if the chain of one Patrol South to anti-piracy off
On overall manning levels,
dealings with others, and to use liquefied natural gas carrier every Somalia.
Sir Alan had a stark message:
the established procedures and 400 miles between here and “We need a Navy that is big marina
“Looking more strategically, I
processes to argue their case. the Middle East is broken, or enough to have a meaningful
personally think that 35,000 is
“It may be a longer way of interrupted,” he warned. presence, whether to deter
not enough to do all the things
doing it but it protects everyone in The extent of the Navy’s marina or defeat attacks, and versatile
that are asked of today’s Navy
the association, and it is important contribution to Afghanistan is enough to operate across the entire
and Marines.
to remember that we can’t have often overlooked – Royal Marines, spectrum of possible tasking –
Inter-Services Festival Competition
“If anything, we must argue for
it all our own way all the time – air assets, medics, logistics and everything from search and rescue
that’s what democracy means.” HQ staff, and augmentees by the operations in the North Sea to
The Navy could do better in
The President was equally frank shipload. focussed intervention and beyond,
Lord’s Cricket Ground
terms of recruiting more women
about the state of the Royal Navy. “But Afghanistan is not the and its support and training must marina
and members of ethnic minorities,
Tuesday 6th August 2009
“I should start by emphasising template for the future,” he said. not be hollowed out.”
he stated, adding that there is
that these views are my own – “Indeed, much as I sympathise, In terms of domestic
Ground opens 10am
a further dimension behind the
they’ve not been handed down to as we all do, with its brave people, arrangements, S/M McAnally
pure numbers – the realm of
Play commences 11am
me by somebody else,” he said. attempting to drag Afghanistan outlined to delegates the changes
quality, training, culture, ethos,
“Our Navy is facing a very from a Middle Ages theocracy to that had taken place since Dundee,
grit and leadership, “the qualities
difficult time. be a 21st century democracy is, to including the rationalisation Adults: £12 Under 16 and Over 65: £6
that will allow the Royal Navy
“Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, my mind, frankly absurd. of processes through the
to win, rather than just to turn
Available in advance from 01252 334415
the present First Sea Lord, has “We are where we are and establishment of management
up, when it comes to the day of
been a forthright and charismatic we in the RNA have to support and finance and administration
or on the day at the ground
champion of the Service he loves our Armed Forces, but the UK committees, both “empowered to
Sir Alan said the RNA could
and has served so well for so long. national interest only requires that get on with things rather than
help by spreading the good word
Inter-Services Competition Matches at Aldershot
“His successor, Admiral Sir Mark Afghanistan should not present a take every matter under the sun to
in the “deep hinterlands”, and by
Monday, 3rd August 2009 – Army v RAF
Stanhope, I think faces an almost threat to British security.
demonstrating the ethos of both
National Council for decision.” Tuesday, 4th August 2009 – RAF v Royal Navy
perfect storm – a Government “There is a limit to how
the Navy and RNA of patriotism,
Two deaths particularly
preoccupied with its own survival, much we can or should attempt
loyalty and comradeship.
saddened members of the
And while debate was healthy
probably the worst public finances to do good in the world, and I association – that of accountant
within an organisation like the
in our entire national history, a would not expect the campaign and “staunch friend of many years”
RNA, he added “once democratic
defence programme underfunded in Afghanistan as it now is to Paul Broom, and of 108-year-old
decisions have been taken by
by up to £2 billion a year, a continue beyond the life of the veteran Bill Stone.
those you have placed in positions
savage and underfunded war in next Parliament.” But there was the odd
of responsibility the time for
landlocked Afghanistan and an Admiral McAnally continued: marina highlight too, he said, including
argument, and fulmination, and
imminent defence review. “The nuclear deterrent and the the recruitment of S/M Henry
machination is over – or at least it
“We therefore have to give him new aircraft carriers are the Allingham, aged 113 and officially
should be.
all the support we can. touchstone of whether or not the the oldest man in the world.
“Nothing is more unattractive
“This should include taking UK remains a significant power The President reported that the
to both members and putative
every opportunity we can to on the world scene. move of RNA HQ out of London
members than continual
remedy ignorance of what the “It is ridiculous to talk about had been “a resounding success”,
bickering, and part of any survival
strategy for this great association
must be to be more attractive to
those who could be in it but who
Looking to the future
are not.
“I’ve got to say that sometimes WITH just one motion to discuss on the agenda – – conference “gives me the chance to get away from
the confrontational nature of and that being the venue for the 2011 conference (see the missus for the weekend,” he declared.
some areas and branches of the top right) – it was decided to put two topics forward S/M John Stewart (Saltash) sympathised (“He’s
RNA has not gone unnoticed in for consideration by the 83 delegates present at the very lucky – mine has come with me,” he observed)
wider Naval circles, and this will City Hotel in Londonderry. but also suggested that the date of conference could
undoubtedly hinder the closer The first asked how relevant is conference, the be moved out of the holiday season to help with costs
integration that we are all seeking. second wondered if areas were operating at full and accommodation.
“Remedial action for any capacity and should they have a broader role? In terms of spreading the word, S/M Keith Ridley
decision which doesn’t have your S/M Victor Allen (Chatham) was quickly on his (St Neots) suggested even simple measures such as
whole-hearted personal support feet to defend the relevance of conference, both for using the words ‘Royal Naval Association’ instead
can be implemented by the ballot business and to get people together. of the acronym ‘RNA’ would help – and he told
box on the next occasion of an S/M Charles Claxton (Chelmsford) remembered shipmates to look at towns where they do not have a
election. That is the British way.” the 1950s when there used to be 20 or more motions presence and “see what you can do.”
Sir Alan subsequently joined to address – the fact that there was only one in 2009 The much-anticipated raffle draw was this year
delegates at the civic reception, “to my mind indicates the members are happy with aided by one of the youngest observers at any
and at the (very enjoyable) post- the way things are going,” he said. conference – ten-year-old Katie Morton, daughter of
conference party in the City Hotel. S/M Paul Fitzgerald (Dartmouth) was more blunt Helston delegate Joe Morton.
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