Iain’s writing assignments have taken him flying over the Norwegian Arctic with the UK’s Commando Helicopter Force, on patrols with the Royal Marines in Ulster’s so-called Bandit Country (during the Troubles) and into sea minefields off war-torn Kuwait and even into the Bosnian war zone.
Winner of a British Maritime Charitable Foundation (BMCF) Special Recognition Award for his ‘consistent and unwavering contribution to raising maritime awareness over the years’, as a journalist Iain Ballantyne covered the front line activities of navies around the world.
Aside from being one of the few writers to voyage beneath the waves in a Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine, he has also visited closed zones in Russia, including Murmansk, Kronstadt and the Crimea.
When it comes to writing on naval history Iain’s action-packed account of WW2 sea combat, ‘Killing the Bismarck’, garnered a Mountbatten Maritime Award Certificate of Merit while his ground-breaking ‘Hunter Killers’ was the first book to tell the truth behind several dangerous episodes in the Cold War under the sea.
A one-time London-based defence and diplomatic correspondent for a national news agency, Iain has contributed to coverage of naval and defence issues in The Sunday Telegraph, Western Morning News and Scotland-on-Sunday, as well as prestigious publications published on behalf of NATO and the Royal Navy.
In addition to being founding (and current) Editor of the global naval news magazine ‘WARSHIPS International Fleet Review’ Iain also produces HPC Publishing’s popular ‘Guide to the Royal Navy’.
Aside from regularly commentating on geo-political naval affairs and maritime history for regional television and radio, Iain’s other varied pursuits in the past have included movie reviewing (for newspapers, magazines and radio) and co-devising a six-part wine game show (broadcast on the UK’s Channel 4). Iain also for some years worked on numerous projects for London-based Grosvenor Film, both in project conceptualization and script-writing.
Iain’s public speaking engagements have included giving a talk on the pursuit and destruction of battleship Bismarck at the National Museum of the Royal Navy and, most recently, a very well received talk on the same topic at the Naval & Military Club, St James’s. Earlier this year (2016) he spoke on issues surrounding renewal of the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent to the Defence Society of Westminster School.
Notable published books
‘Hunter Killers’ (Orion, 2013)
Also published in the Polish language (Rebis, 2015)
‘Killing the Bismarck’ (Pen & Sword, 2010)
‘Strike from the Sea’ (US Naval Institute Press, 2004)
‘Bismarck: 24 Hours to Doom’ (Ipso books, 2016)
‘The Deadly Trade: A History of Submarine Warfare’ (2018, Orion)
Buy it here.
26 May 1941. After a bloody chase lasting more than 1,700 miles, Britain’s Home Fleet is finally closing in on the world’s most powerful battleship. There will be a fight to the finish between more than 5,000 men of the Royal Navy and 2,600 servicemen of Hitler’s Kriegsmarine. Thousands will die… Published here for the first time, alongside a compelling narrative of the final 24 hours of the mission to sink the Nazi ship, are eyewitness accounts of Royal Navy sailors who saw the combat up close. Seventy-five years on from the epic mission to destroy the flagship of Hitler’s navy, these testimonies are the product of a unique project by Iain Ballantyne. Over a period of several years he interviewed a select group of surviving veterans in the UK and one in Canada, with transcripts of those remarkable on-camera interviews forming the basis of the exciting first-person stories that unfold here. These final testimonies provide fresh insight into one of World War Two’s most dramatic events.
PUBLISHER: Ipso Books
PUBLICATION DATE: 23rd May 2016
The Deadly Trade is an exciting and comprehensive account of how an initially ineffectual underwater boat – originally derided and loathed in equal measure – evolved into the most powerful and terrifying vessel ever invented, with enough destructive power to end all life on Earth. Much-respected naval writer Iain Ballantyne considers the key episodes of submarine warfare and vividly describes the stories of brave individuals who have risked their lives under the sea, often with fatal consequences. His analysis of underwater conflict begins with Archimedes discovering the Principle of Buoyancy. Our clandestine journey then moves through the centuries and focuses on prolific characters with deathly motives, including David Bushnell who in 1775 in America devised the first combat submarine with the idea of attacking the British. Ballantyne also looks at pioneers in the area such as Admiral Jacky Fisher who helped to revolutionise the entire Royal Navy in the early 1900s.
The Deadly Trade considers the advances in technology during the twentieth century, which helped to make the submarine one of the most feared arsenals in war. Today, nuclear-powered submarines are among the most complex, costly ships in existence. Armed with nuclear weapons, they have the ability to destroy millions of lives: they are the most powerful warships ever created. At the heart of this thrilling narrative lurks danger and power as we discover warfare’s murkiest secrets.
Publication date: 8th March 2018
The Arabian Gulf has been at the centre of the world stage and a major Oflash point’ for over 40 years. Expert naval historian Iain Ballantyne examines the role of the US and Royal Naval forces in this troubled area over the period from 1961 to this present day. He describes the various build-up of forces to counter numerous international threats and wars, be they the Israeli/Arab conflicts, Iran/Iraq War, the US hostage dramas, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the Coalition Campaign that followed, the years of blockade and, of course, the recent invasion of Iraq, overthrowing Saddam Hussein.
Publisher: Leo Cooper Ltd
Publication: First Edition edition (16 Jan. 2004)
KILLING THE BISMARCK: DESTROYING THE PRIDE OF HITLER’S FLEET – Buy it here
In May 1941, the German battleship Bismarck, accompanied by heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, broke out into the Atlantic, to attack Allied shipping. The Royal Navy’s pursuit and subsequent destruction of Bismarck was an epic of naval warfare. In this new account of those dramatic events at the height of the Second World War, Iain Ballantyne draws extensively on the graphic eye-witness testimony of veterans, to construct a thrilling story, mainly from the point of view of the British battleships, cruisers and destroyers involved. He describes the tense atmosphere as cruisers play a lethal cat and mouse game as they shadow Bismarck in the icy Denmark Strait. We witness the shocking destruction of the British battlecruiser Hood, in which all but three of her ship’s complement were killed; an event that filled pursuing Royal Navy warships, including the battered battleship Prince of Wales, with a thirst for revenge. While Swordfish torpedo-bombers try desperately to cripple the Bismarck, we sail in destroyers on their own daring torpedo attacks, battling mountainous seas. Finally, the author takes us into the final showdown, as battleships Rodney and King George V, supported by cruisers Norfolk and Dorsetshire, destroy the pride of Hitler’s fleet. This vivid, superbly researched account portrays this epic saga through the eyes of so-called ‘ordinary sailors’ caught up in extraordinary events. Killing the Bismarck is an outstanding read, conveying the horror and majesty of war at sea in all its cold brutality and awesome power.
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword Maritime
PUBLICATION DATE: Paperback reprint 24 Feb. 2014
HUNTER KILLERS: THE DRAMATIC UNTOLD STORY OF THE ROYAL NAVY’S MOST SECRET SERVICE – Buy it here
HUNTER KILLER: a submarine designed to pursue and attack enemy submarines and surface ships using torpedoes.
HUNTER KILLERS will follow the careers of four daring British submarine captains who risked their lives to keep the rest of us safe, their exploits consigned to the shadows until now. Their experiences encompass the span of the Cold War, from voyages in WW2-era submarines under Arctic ice to nuclear-powered espionage missions in Soviet-dominated seas.
There are dangerous encounters with Russian spy ships in UK waters and finally, as the communist facade begins to crack, they hold the line against the Kremlin’s oceanic might, playing a leading role in bringing down the Berlin Wall. It is the first time they have spoken out about their covert lives in the submarine service.
This is the dramatic untold story of Britain’s most-secret service.
PUBLICATION DATE: 21st August 2014