Warships Pod

Warships Pod

WARSHIPS POD aims to put a spotlight on the world’s navies and features warships past, present, and future. We’ll cover current defense issues alongside interviews and commentary on the Royal Navy, US Navy, and all other navies across the globe, as well as looking back at historical events. This is the podcast for WARSHIPS International Fleet Review, a monthly magazine.


May 10, 2024 52 mins
Our guest on this episode is Dr Helen Fry, the author of more than 25 books on the social history of WW2, not least British intelligence activities, spies and the like. 

She is a leading authority on many related topics, including on the ‘secret listeners’ who eavesdropped on what enemy Prisoners of War were discussing. This was in order to gain insights into what was going on in the foe’s war effort and also the mind...
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    In part two of their discussion, Warships Pod host Iain Ballantyne and guest Doug Littlejohns touch on numerous things, not least nuclear deterrent matters.

    As in the previous episode, the situation during the Cold War is compared with today’s, including the problem of Royal Navy submarines that carry the deterrent becoming elderly and badly in need of replacement.

    Doug recalls his role in selling the upgrade...
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    March 11, 2024 31 mins
    In the first part of a discussion with Captain Doug Littlejohns, who commanded a nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarine against the Russians during the old Cold War, the primary topic is whether or not we are on the brink of World War Three.

    Doug provides insights gained when he played key roles tasking NATO submarines during 1980s spikes in tension and also from working in the corridors of power in the Ministry of D...
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    December 12, 2023 35 mins

    A National Audit Office (NAO) report on ‘The Equipment Plan 2023 - 2033’ in the UK makes for grim reading, revealing a massive so-called ‘black hole’ in the Defence budget, which means there is apparently no money for key projects, including future warships.

    In part two of the discussion, host Iain Ballantyne and guests Gary Blackburn and James Bosbotinis weigh up the shortfall in funding. They also ponder what ...
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    December 8, 2023 35 mins
    This episode begins with a discussion by host Iain Ballantyne and guests Dr Gary Blackburn and Dr James Bosbotinis about the bid by Venezuela to annex a major part of neighboring Guyana.

    How might navies attempt to prevent escalation as the communist client state of Russia and Iran considers its next move against an oil-rich Commonwealth nation? How the Venezuelan Navy stacks up against Guyana’s forces is part of the ...
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    October 30, 2023 69 mins
    In a fascinating and absorbing discussion host Iain Ballantyne and guest Tom Sharpe discuss the US Navy destroyer USS Carney shooting down cruise missiles and drones over the Red Sea. As a former warship captain, Tom provides deeply insightful expert analysis on how the incident may have unfolded.

    But the podcast first grips listeners with Tom’s insider perspective on tense anti-terrorist patrols aboard British frigat...
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    Our special guest for a deep dive into British naval espionage during the Cold War is Mike Hurley, a veteran of undersea deployments in dangerous waters.

    As a very young submariner in the late 1950s Mike endured marathon patrols in diesel-electric submarines, most notably HMS Taciturn.

    In this fascinating discussion with Warships Pod host Iain Ballantyne, Mike reveals how Taciturn ventured into Arctic waters ...
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    In part two of their podcast discussion Iain Ballantyne and Gary Blackburn provide their opinions on the Hollywood movie ‘Oppenheimer’, about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the so-called ‘father of the atom bomb.’

    It includes a discussion on the historical context of The Bomb’s use to end WW2, especially in light of the US Navy already bringing Japan to the brink of surrender via a blockade enforced by its submarines. So, wh...
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    In part one of this discussion between Dr. Gary Blackburn and host Iain Ballantyne, they investigate the recently published UK Defence Command Paper (DCP). 

    It was meant to lay out how British national defence and security will be achieved, especially in light of the on-going Ukraine War. However, it is regarded by some as nothing more than a ‘word salad’ - an opaquely worded smokescreen to hide the fact that Britain ...
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    In the second and final installment of our discussion with British submarine captain Commander Rob Forsyth, we hear how a hard-charging Soviet spy vessel forced him to order HMS Repulse to ‘crash dive’. It happened as the Polaris missile submarine deployed from Scotland on a deterrent patrol in the early 1970s. 

    With the UK and its NATO allies locked in the Cold War confrontation with the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact,...
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    We continue our occasional series talking to Cold War undersea warriors with the first installment of a two-episode dive into the submarine career of Commander Rob Forsyth.

    Entering the Royal Navy in the 1950s, after a brief excursion into the surface fleet, Rob found himself aboard the submarine HMS Auriga, undertaking a patrol during the Cuban Missile Crisis of late 1962.

    With Warships Pod host Iain Ballant...
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    In part two of a discussion by Mark Grove and Dr Gary Blackburn with host Iain Ballantyne, the tasty and varied menu includes naval aspects of the Ukraine War and whether or not a new Battle of the Atlantic is shaping up as Russia seeks to win its so-called ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine it has sought to establish stronger links with China, so this begs the question, which Iain puts out there: what does Moscow have to...
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    In part one of a two-part special, guests Dr Gary Blackburn and Mark Grove discuss an array of hot topics with host Iain Ballantyne.

    Iain asks Gary and Mark to give their perspectives on submarine aspects of the Australia- United Kingdom-USA (AUKUS) defence pact following the recent big announcement on the way ahead in San Diego. They consider the implications, along with the scale and nature of the challenge, both in...
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    Michael G. Welham is our guest, talking to host Iain Ballantyne about the mysterious world of undersea warriors known as ‘combat divers’.

    Michael has been involved with diving, both military and civilian, for some 40 years. He was a Royal Marines Commando, with skills in diving, canoeing, and parachuting. Mike was also a member of 21 Special Air Service Regiment and of 95 Commando Naval Gunfire Support Royal Artillery...
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    In this podcast our guest is a legend of the Submarine Service. He is Doug Littlejohns, who had a remarkable career in the Royal Navy, both as a submarine captain and in command of an intelligence-gathering warship during the Cold War.

    Across a fascinating podcast discussion with our host Iain Ballantyne, we hear from Doug about his exciting time on the famed Perisher submarine command course; daring surveillance miss...
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    January 12, 2023 109 mins
    In this episode host Iain Ballantyne talks to Andy Benford, a Cold War undersea warrior who saw service in diesel ‘dirty boats’ of the British and Australian navies and aboard nuclear submarines, not only in hunter-killers but also the UK’s Polaris deterrent force.

    Aside from Andy’s brush with death during a notorious 1972 hovercraft accident in the Solent, they also discuss what inspired him to join the Royal Navy an...
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    December 12, 2022 58 mins
    In this episode of the Warships Pod, host Iain Ballantyne is joined by two long-time
    and highly valued contributors to Warships IFR magazine and also to the “Guide to
    the US Navy.”

    They are Dr Robert Farley, who currently teaches at the Patterson School of
    Diplomacy and International Commerce, University of Kentucky and David Axe, a
    journalist, author and filmmaker based in South Carolina.

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    Our guest for this episode of the Warships Pod is Dr. Philip Weir, a much esteemed naval historian who specialises in the history of the Royal Navy in the first half of the 20th Century. His most recent book is ‘Dunkirk and the Little Ships’. 

    Discussing that famous event is the major topic during his chat with podcast host Iain Ballantyne. In looking at the ‘miracle of Dunkirk’ of May and June 1940 - a story that sti...
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    In this special episode, as the United Kingdom and the world says farewell to Her Majesty The Queen, Queen Elizabeth II, host Iain Ballantyne talks to long-time WARSHIPS IFR contributor Richard Johnstone-Bryden.

    Richard is the author of several books that highlight the strong connection between the Royal Navy and The Queen. When writing ‘The Royal Yacht Britannia - The Official History,’ Richard worked under the close...
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    We have as our guest this time David Larter, a noted commentator on US Navy matters and also global naval developments.

    First up for discussion will be the naval side of Ukraine War, with David giving his perspective on the Russian blockade, plus growing realisation of the global impact of Ukrainian grain shipments being blocked.

    Podcast host Iain Ballantyne asks what can be done. Can it be broken by force? I...
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