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The Future of the Royal Navy

British flagship carrier Ark Royal, slated for immediate decommissioning with no replacement until at least 2020. Photo by Ian Visits.

By Taylor Marvin

The UK continues to cut military spending in an effort to balance its massive budget shortfall. The Royal Navy’s getting the worst of it- the core of the British fleet will be reduced to non-carrier 19 surface ships, a cut that will definitively end the Britain’s status as an expeditionary naval power, probably forever. Whether you agree with the wisdom of these cuts or not it it’s obvious that they will have major implications for the balance of world naval power. War is Boring has a good older post on their significance.

“Under current plans, the Royal Navy circa 2020 will be a very strange force. There will be just six high-end warships to protect two 65,000-ton super-carriers, plus a mixed flotilla of old Type 23s and FSCs numbering just over a dozen. It’ll be a top-heavy force with too few destroyers to escort the carriers into a shooting war, and too few frigates to perform day-to-day patrolling during peacetime. It’s a fleet optimized for nothing.”

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Matt #

    I think you’ve missed out the best (worst?) part of this plan – there will be a period where Britain has a supercarrier, but no carrier worthy plans.

    October 29, 2010
    • admin #

      Don’t worry, that’s what French planes are for.

      October 31, 2010
  2. Matt #

    That should be planes.

    October 29, 2010
  3. Captain William C. Beal, USCG, (ret.) #

    Based on what I see, a large deck carrier force will never materialise.
    With the elimination of a viable naval air arm the Royal Navy becomes an enhanced coast guard with strategic capability via the nuclear submarine force. Without air cover, deployment of expeditionary assets against a determined enemy becomes suicidal at best. The time lapse between the present cut back and the commissioning of the future carriers would leave the air arm without the proper training, corporate knowledge and operational experience which takes years to acquire. Of course, the other side of this sad story are the lack of plans for aircraft suitable for carrier operations. Another story altogether.

    October 29, 2010

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