SEA BREEZES DECEMBER 2010 • VOL 84 • NO. 780
Just days before the 205th Anniversary of Vice Admiral Lord Nelson’s famous victory over the combined French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar, the Coalition Government in Britain announced the results of its Strategic Defence and Security Review.
What no enemy has achieved over centuries has been carried out by our own government – the emasculation of the Royal Navy. This was no strategy review, it was purely and simply a cost cutting exercise, for which a heavy price may have to be paid in the future.
HMS Ark Royal (Invincible class of aircraft carrier) built in 1985 will be axed almost immediately and the carrier HMS Illustrious will become a helicopter carrier until 2014 when she will be withdrawn. The destroyer and frigate fleet will be cut to 19 ships, whilst the ‘Harrier’ jump jet fleet will be axed in 2011. Amazingly their replacement, the Joint Strike Fighter (F35), will not be available until circa 2020 leaving a ‘carrier strike’ gap of almost 10 years. The two new aircraft carriers, the first likely to be completed in 2016 and the second in 2019/20 will not initially have a strike force of jets, but one will carry helicopters and the other probably mothballed immediately or sold. Countries opposed to Britain must be chuckling and our allies concerned.
British power and global influence was to a great extent made possible by the reach of our navies, Royal and Merchant. The protection of our Merchant Navy, trade routes and country must surely be given more priority. To make matters even worse the RAF’s Nimrod programme has also got the bullet. Although essentially spy planes, these aircraft also carried out important search and rescue operations and submarine hunting duties.
Make no mistake these cuts make this a very bleak week for our Royal Navy and for Britain as a proud seafaring nation. They send out a clear signal of diminished capability and indeed real weakness – a message that will be carefully noted in some countries. Stand by for Argentina to again look at the exposed position of the Falkland Islands.
The Sea Breezes team has very much appreciated your support throughout 2010 and wish you and yours a Happy Christmas and a healthy, prosperous New Year.y
Captain Hamish A C Ross (Editor)