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Palfinger August 2022

Vanguard to Dreadnought 30 years of Naval Construction 1983-2013

(celebrating the 130th anniversary of The Royal Corps of Naval Constructors 1883-2013)Flysheet RCNC thumbnail

Compiled and Edited by: Charles V Betts

ISBN: 978-1-909024-74-8

Publisher: The Royal Institution of Naval Architects

Publication year: 2018

Pagination: 190 pages (Hardback)

Price: RCNC members (active and retired) £22.50 plus P&P.
(Reduced from normal price of £27.50 (thanks to a subsidy by the RCNC Mess) 

Click here to order your copy of Vanguard to Dreadnought 30 years of Naval Construction.

For more information about all of the Institution's Publications, contact the Publications Department at or telephone +44 (0)207 235 4622 Ext 341.


This 130th anniversary book was originally commissioned by the then Head of the Royal Corps, Tony Graham, for publication within the Ministry of Defence in 2013. After relatively minor changes it now has the permission of the Ministry of Defence for open publication. It tells the story of the modern history of the RCNC since the Centenary history was published in 1983. The book draws upon first-hand accounts and material from the annual RCNC Journal and from unclassified technical papers and official reports. The book charts the design, procurement and support of warships and their systems over the last two decades of the 20th century and the first decade or so of the 21st. It places these developments in the context of how the Ministry of Defence (MoD) organisation and warship acquisition and support have changed and the effect of these changes on the RCNC itself.

At the time of completion of “A Century of Naval Construction”, Secretary of State for Defence Sir John Nott’s defence cuts had been announced just before the Falklands War began in 1982, with the conflict mentioned as a postscript to the last chapter of that book. By the end of that decade, the defence environment had changed radically with the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Over the last three decades a succession of Defence White Papers have been issued, much reducing the size of the United Kingdom Armed Forces and leading to a number of major reorganisations. The RCNC became a constituent part of the Defence Engineering and Science Group when that was formed in 1987.

Despite all the change, the Corps still exists as a distinct professional body. The editor of this book is confident that the reader will find ample evidence of the continuing deep professionalism, innovation and leadership for which the RCNC, including the Royal Naval Engineering Service (RNES) with which it merged in 1976, has long been known. Its members remain convinced that the Corps has something important to offer to the next generation of MoD engineers, to the Royal Navy it has always served, and to wider national defence.