In pictures: cuts to the Royal Navy since the coalition government took power

Jun 14, 2011   //   by NavyLookout   //   Articles, Featured  //  7 Comments

Infographic: Royal Navy cuts May 2010 - June 2011

Click on the image to see larger version (hosted on Flickr).
Photo credits can be found here.

This shows the rapid dismemberment of the Royal Navy since the coalition government came to power in May 2010. Of course many of the problems can be traced back to the Blair/Brown governments who failed to fund enough new vessels but the 2010 “Strategic Defence Review” dramatically accelerated the shrinking of an already threadbare fleet.

HMS Ark Royal commissioned in 1985 but was refitted in 2009 and was capable of at least another 5 years service. HMS Trafalgar was scheduled to de-commission being nominally replaced by HMS Astute. However HMS Astute’s entry into the fleet has been long-delayed and sea trials plagued with problems. Type 42 destroyers, HMS Manchester & Gloucester are old ships and were due for retirement. However there were once 12 type 42s and they are being replaced by just 6 Type 45s (including HMS Dauntless & Diamond). The 4 highly capable Type 22 frigates were built in the 1980s but have been well maintained. (HMS Campbeltown was refitted as recently as Jan 2010) and were good for another 5-10 years service. HMS Walney was 19 years old and capable of at least another 10 years service. (Actually cut along with HMS Roebuck by the Brown government as a ‘light appetiser’ before Cameron’s ‘main course’ of cuts). The Royal Fleet Auxiliary has not received any new ships since RFA Lyme Bay in 2007 and does not have any new ships on order or being constructed. The decommissioned RFA Largs bay was only 5 years old and Fort George 20 years old. Both could have been expected to serve for at least 25-30 years. HMS Protector is a replacement for Antarctic patrol vessel HMS Endurance damaged beyond economical repair by a flooding incident off Chile in 2008).

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  • If some of our MPs where to look at history they would I’m sure sleep less comfortable at night. Looking back to the Falkland Island conflict’s near catastrophy when the then goverment signalled to the Argentine goverment through Nott’s cut that it was OK to go ahead and invade. HMG then sending a depleted fleet, very poorly fitted for the task, again through successive cuts, it was almost a disaster only through the determination and skill of those onboard that won the day, the ships incompatable, unreliable with systems far out of date, and some totaly unfitted for service ouside of the North Atlantic. Shame on the people who sent them.
    In the 1930s when again the fleet was reduced. We as a nation struggled to build up the warships fast enough to defend our shores. Luckilly we had the forsight then to start the build up. All done in the name of austerity, again well argued in goverment and well supported at the time.
    Now with the rapid build up of China’s fleet, ( it would be a bit of a shock if their new carrier and it’s supporting battle group was to appear off the Isle of Wight ) and the general future uncertainties in the Pacific and Indian oceans not to mention the renewed calls for the Malvinas to be returned to their rightfull people, and generaly to our maritime trade elseware in the world.
    With the time taken to design and build replacements and then get them into service taking up to five years, it looks to me we are at the mercy of any wayward nation who may chance his hand. Or do we do what has happened so often in the past, and jeopardize our nation and many of our men whilst we try frantically to catch up.
    Can we afford to gamble our national security and the life blood of our people in this increasingly uncertain world? I think not.

  • Decommissioning of HMS Gloucester
    Its always a sad day when a much-loved warship decommissions. HMS Gloucester has served this country well since commissioning in 1985, however she is on old ship and with many miles on the clock and 26 years service. When they become old, warships usually become increasingly expensive to run and obsolete. She cold have been refitted and maybe served for another 5 years but in the current climate of cuts this was never a likely option. HMS Gloucester will most be remembered for shooting down an Iraqi “Silkworm” anti-shipping missile fired at the USS Missouri during the first gulf war of 1991. So far she is the only ship in history to actually shoot down a missile during combat. She has served all over the globe during her career including The Gulf and South Atlantic. There were rumours she may be sold to the Pakistani Navy but scrapping in Turkey is a more likely option.

    The real ‘story’ is that HMS Gloucester is Type 42 destroyer of which there were once 14 ships (2 of them HMS Sheffield and HMS Coventry were sunk in the Falklands in 1982). This 12 ship class is being replace by JUST 6 Type 45 Destroyers. The Type 45s have been delayed coming into service due to technical problems and a long tortous design history. There were going to be 12 of them, then 8 and finally the order was cut to 6. The Type 45s are supposed to be great ships but however capable, they can only be at one place at once – Effectively HMS Gloucester will be replaced by half a ship!. Costs have also ballooned to over £1Billion per ship – unit cost would have been much less if 12 were ordered – just another example of the waste and mis-management of Britain’s defences. All this comes against the backdrop of drastic cuts to the Royal Navy. In fact Both HMS Cornwall (Devonport) and HMS Gloucester (Portsmouth) are bowing out today- never in the history of the Royal Navy have two ships been decommissioned on the same day.

  • DDay 6th June should serve as a reminder.Also the evacuation of our army it was expected to bring back 40,000.History shows howw we felt as a nation & the little ships proved we need a strong Navy.Argentina is sabre Rattling are we to have to rely on French Aircaft Carriers to defend the Falklands again?I for one cannot see that happening.We should stop decommisining & start rebuilding not only our navy,but our army& airforce as well& with the causalty rate bring back our own forces hospitals & welfare

  • Cameron commented today that “he should do the talking and they (The RAF in this case) should do the fighting.” about sums it up really they start wars and we fight wars. I find it utterly unreal that we have spent 100 million on a campaign in Libya which could have been done for alot less if we had kept the right kit instead of selling off carriers.It makes me wonder why he has done a U turn on nearly everything but is totally adamant about the cuts to defence to the point of absurd stupidity.

  • This government appears to be so ignorant as to be unaware that we are an island (surrounded by sea) with world-wide commitments and responsibilities and dependent on sea trade! We are best defended by strong naval and airforces rather than land force and need highly professional rapid reaction forces best positioned by sea or air, rather than a large standing army. We do not need to be in Afghanistan other than by assisting with naval and air support.
    Our government’s first responsibility is the Defence of the Realm, this government has already failed this duty. History tells us that the conflict we need to be involved in is invariably unexpected and here again naval and air assets are best for our needs. As to ships and aircraft numbers are important, in our likely future state the loss of even small numbers could be disastrous – remember The Falklands?
    The cutting of frigate and destroyer numbers and their support ships together with the loss of our carrier and Harrier force at considerable financial loss is lunacy.

  • If a Labour government had been in power, equivalent cuts would probably have been made. The Type 22s would have been highly vunerable, and although Ark Royal and the Harriers may well have been spared, the axe could have fallen on the 7th (and perhaps the 6th) Astute. With CVF/F35 absorbing such a large part of the RN’s equipment budget, it was always going to be the case that significant cuts would be made elsewhere.

  • The perspective needs to focused with regards cuts. The eedect on submarine operations without MPA support due to Nimrod cuts and the wider implications.

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