World Politics Review: U.K. Budget Cuts: Sinking the Royal Navy, Part One

27.10.10

Categorie: David Axe, Naval, U.K. |
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FRUKUS

Royal Navy chopper at FRUKUS exercise. Russian Navy Blog photo.

by DAVID AXE

It was an event worthy of the British Royal Navy’s 500-year history. On June 3 at Portsmouth Naval Base, hundreds of dignitaries and citizens gathered to celebrate the commissioning of HMS Dauntless, the second of six high-tech Type 45 destroyers now entering service. A band played, the crew marched in parade and the ship’s captain, Richard Powell, read the traditional “commissioning warrant.” There was even cake.

But the cheery event belied a looming storm for a naval service that once dominated the world’s oceans. On Oct. 19, the U.K. Ministry of Defense announced its long-awaited — and, for military professionals, long-dreaded — Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR) (.pdf). The end result of the SDSR process is a much smaller fleet and a net reduction in the U.K.’s ability, in the medium term, to influence world events. The implications are enormous for Great Britain and the world.

For months, the new Conservative government had warned of deep cutbacks in the Defense Ministry’s roughly $63 billion annual budget, part of the government’s aggressive plan to rein in decades of deficit spending. “Without healthy finances we can create neither the public services nor the national security we desire,” Defense Secretary Liam Fox said in August.

Royal Navy observers expected the so-called senior service to lose ships. But few expected cuts as deep as those announced in October. While the six Type 45s would remain, many of the navy’s most capable existing warships would go, as would one of two planned aircraft carriers. In a moment, the navy lost two of its three current small aircraft carriers, one of four amphibious landing ships, one-quarter of its frigates and destroyers plus several support vessels. For the ministry, these and other reductions would mean an 8 percent savings in annual defense spending.

Read the rest at World Politics Review.

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4 Responses to “World Politics Review: U.K. Budget Cuts: Sinking the Royal Navy, Part One”

  1. Prestwick says:

    This decision had to happen but only because of the 25 year long fiasco in successive Conservative and Labour governments caused a huge £36 billion black hole in defence spending and money availible. Otherwise I’m absolutely shocked at what has been canned.

    Because there isn’t a clear and defined replacement for the current generation of RN Frigates it could be decades before anything starts to get built which means that the current generation of Type-21s,22s and 23s will have to soldier on until at least the late 2020s.

    And the Carrier fiasco says it all. All one can hope, nay *pray* is that Britain’s finances recover to such an extent that they’ll be happy to keep both carriers. They can always equip the second one with a catapault as well.

  2. Brian Black says:

    The problem with defence during budget cuts is that due to all the multi-billion pound programes it’s often the first place politicians look for savings. Defence in the UK has been hit again and again since the end of the cold war. No other government department has seen similar changes over the years.

    However, when money once again becomes available, defence is not seen as a vote winner. If things improve in the UK before the next election health and education will be boosted while the military waits at the back of the queue.

    It’s not been all bad for the navy though. All the planned Astute class subs are to be built – just need the captains to learn how to drive them. The cuts have also prompted a little more imaginative thinking when it comes to cooperation with other European and NATO countries, France in particular.

    There has also been some talk of new cheaper and more adaptable ships for the RN. It’s difficult to work out what this might mean. Something other than traditional frigates? You probably don’t need typical, war-fighting ships to perform many of the navy’s routine operations.

  3. [...] the rest here: War Is Boring » World Politics Review: U.K. Budget Cuts: Sinking … Defence Industry, Navy announced-its, boosted-while, military, much-smaller, navy, [...]

  4. [...] have survived the Argentine attack and fully protected her crew. As the cash-strapped Royal Navy decommissions ships and planes wholesale — including both remaining carriers and all the Harriers — it’s worth remembering [...]

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