16 October, 2006

Britannia used to rule the waves.

Britannia rules the waves or it would do if the Royal Navy had the ships. The senior service is telling the Daily Telegraph that the government is going to have trouble finding the resources to help enforce UN sanctions on North Korea. Having cut the navy by about a third, ministers are now having to live with the consequences of their actions.

The Royal Navy's current surface fleet consists of two aircraft carriers, with a third in mothballs, eight destroyers and, in addition to various smaller specialised craft, 17 frigates. The RN website does not make clear how many of these ships are operational. Presumably any ships used to enforce sanctions will have to be moved out of other operational theatres.

Since 2003 UK defence spending has fallen (graph here ) whilst commitments have vastly increased. Once again, having cut defence expenditure to pay for other priorities, the politicians are finding that a strong military is not a luxury.

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