Royal Navy Strategic Studies Centre

The Royal Navy's hub for academic and intellectual engagement

Established in December 2019, the Royal Navy Strategic Studies Centre (RNSSC) serves as the 'think tank' for the Service. By harnessing internal and external intellect and progressive thought, we work to guide and strengthen future decision making and shape the fleet of today and tomorrow.

Our role is to inform, not to decide, and we do just that. We don’t provide the ‘staff answer’, we provide something different – an independent, challenging perspective, always based in academic rigour. If success can be said to be measured in demand, then I am pleased to say that we are not short of work.

Dr Kevin Rowlands, Captain – Head of the RNSSC

Our Mission

We will inform policy and strategy decisions by:

  • Appraising the Royal Navy on contemporary thought
  • Instilling a philosophy of critical thinking and challenge
  • Harnessing the intellectual capital of our people

Our Vision

To strengthen the conceptual component of fighting power.


Contact us: [email protected]

Our work

smiling hms montrose rating with colleagues in background

Our work 

The RNSSC works simultaneously on many different topics, including long-term critical thinking, quick-turnaround reactive analysis, and ‘red teaming’ of emerging ideas and concepts.

Our main customer is the Navy’s senior leadership who are looking for products, presentations, and events to inform the Royal Navy’s strategy and policy development.

However, no-one has a monopoly on good ideas and much of what we do is 'bottom up' with ideas generated from our wide network of horizon scanners and critical thinkers.


Want to find out more about the work of the RNSSC? Read the 2022/2023 RN Strategic Studies Annual Report.

The Advisory Committee


The Advisory Committee

Our Advisory Committee, which is chaired by the Royal Navy’s Director of Strategy and Policy, brings together leading figures from related spheres. Providing expertise in support of the Centre's direction of work, their diligent and ongoing efforts maximise the effectiveness and impact of our work.

The inaugural meeting was held on the 22nd March 2022 in the Admiralty Board Room in Whitehall.  It was an opportunity to introduce the Committee members to the RNSSC, our mission, structure and current work.

An in-depth conversation was held about direction, with the Committee able to offer their suggestions and advice for the future work of the Centre.

Short Form Work


Short Form Work 

We deliver multiple short-form reports. Most often two-sided think-pieces, these can be either responses to demand, or internally conceived notes on emerging topics of interest. The turnaround is fast and the output often sensitive and high priority.

Covering a vast range and breadth of subjects, examples of papers delivered recently include:

  • Ocean Literacy vs Sea Blindness
  • China: Xi’s Third Term – Preparing for Storms and Struggles Ahead
  • The Changing Characteristics of War – From Integrated Deterrence to Integrated Defence
  • The East African Community Maritime Security Dimension

Long Form Work


Long Form Work

Each term, the Centre sets a long form project or theme.

Future themes

  • Future Ship
  • Home Waters vs Persistent Engagement
  • Future Sailor

Past themes

  • Art of Admiralty
  • The Royal Navy and the Indo-Asia Pacific
  • The Royal Navy and Economic Warfare
  • The Royal Navy and the High North

Red Teamed Papers


Red Teamed Papers 

Another important aspect of the Centre is our 'critical friend' role to the Navy and wider Defence. This is 'Red Teaming', and involves the examination of draft concepts, policies or strategic papers in order to improve them, or previously published documents to better understand their implications.

Recent activity has included:

  • Integrated Review Refresh
  • New Themes for Future Defence Reviews
  • The RN’s Persistent Engagement Concept 
  • The Secretary of State’s Office for Net Assessment and Challenge (SONAC) Defence Command Paper Workshop
  • Art of Admiralty
  • RN Climate Change Strategy
  • DCDC Defence Doctrine


Monthly Digest


Monthly Digest

We publish a monthly digest of our work through the year, containing relevant articles, podcasts and contemporary information:

Please note, due to operational functions some information can only be accessed through secure channels.

Harnessing our intelligence

We work with many teams within the Service and wider MoD, with our offices co-located with the Naval Historical Branch underpinning our working ties.
Our internal strength goes even further than this, however.

Fellowship Programme 2024

The application for the Fellowship Programme 2024 is now live!

To find out more about the application criteria, click here.

Apply now

Previous events

Lunchtime Lectures

The RNSSC is running a monthly lecture series on maritime strategy topics. 

Academic experts challenge our perceptions on the key problems faced by the Royal Navy today, and start to outline what might be faced in the future.

Recent lectures have included;

Jan: “Building the Royal Navy’s Command Climates. Reflections from the Conduct and Culture Cell” - Col Tony de Raya MBE.

Feb: “A Game of Birds and Wolves” – Mr Simon Parkin. A look at Western Approaches Tactical Unit and the wargame that won the Battle of the Atlantic.
Mar: “The Strategic Context of the Eastern Mediterranean” – Dr Ziya Meral, RNSSC Visiting Fellow.
Apr: “Losing a War of Attrition” – Dr Richard Hammond, RNSSC Visiting Fellow.
Jun: “The Geopolitics of the Arctic” – Mr Samuel Jardine, Director of Research, London Politica.

Jul: “The Art of Strategy; Ends, Ways and Means” – Mr Benjamin Bilski.

UK Events

UK Events

  • Integrated Deterrence Workshop, King’s College London
  • High North Workshop, University of St Andrews
  • Corbett 100 Conference, King’s College London
  • Coastal Communities and Security Conference, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth
  • Economic Warfare Conference, King’s College London
  • The Chinese Navy, Council on Geostrategy, Houses of Parliament, London
  • 1SL Sea Power Conference, London
  • Annual Chief of Defence Staff Lecture, RUSI, London
  • The ‘Exoskeleton’ Force: The Royal Navy in the Indo-Pacific Tilt, RUSI, London

Overseas Events

 Overseas Events

  • Kiel International Seapower Symposium, Kiel, Germany
  • Paris Naval Conference: The Return of Naval Combat, IFRI, Paris 
  • 30th Anniversary of the Re-establishment of an Independent Lithuanian Navy, Klaipeda, Lithuania
  • Newport Arctic Scholar Initiative, Rhode Island, United States of America

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