A Fleet Of Dug Out Canoes

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That is how a senior British Naval officer is describing the Royal Navy after word came out that the fleet will be cut in half. At one time the most powerful and feared navy in the world has now been reduced to little more than a coastal defense force. The fleet currently stands at 44 surface vessels. Plans now call for 19 of those ships to be deactivated. They will very likely be sold for scrap. Good Lord.

The Government has admitted that 13 unnamed warships are in a state of reduced readiness, putting them around 18 months away from active service. Today The Daily Telegraph can name a further six destroyers and frigates that are being proposed for cuts.

A need to cut the defence budget by £250 million this year to meet spending requirements has forced ministers to look at drastic measures.

MoD sources have admitted it is possible that the Royal Navy will discontinue one of its major commitments around the world at a time when Sir Jonathon Band, the First Sea Lord, has said more ships are needed to protect the high seas against terrorism and piracy.

News of further cuts to what was once the world's most formidable fleet comes as critics say failings across the Services are becoming increasingly apparent.

More details are emerging of the near-squalor that soldiers are forced to tolerate in barracks when they return from six months of dangerous overseas operations.

Questions have also been raised about the poor pay for troops and equipment failures which continue to dog operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The six warships to be mothballed are the Type 22 frigates Cumberland, Chatham, Cornwall and Campbeltown and two Type 42 destroyers Southampton and Exeter.

It is likely that they will eventually be sold or scrapped. There are also fears in the Admiralty that two new aircraft carriers, promised in 1998, might never be built.

This is very bad news for both Britain and for the West. The article also adds the helpful little bit of information that the British could not mount an operation to retake the Falkland Islands as it did in 1982. You can bet that little fact has not been missed by Argentina.

This is a picture of the USS Abraham Lincoln and the ships assigned to the carrier battlegroup. There are 21 ships. The US Navy has 12 of these. Good Lord.

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