Lord West of Spithead, former First Sea Lord and Labour Peer has criticised the Government for allowing the Royal Navy to shrink to its current size.
We have insufficient escort hulls and we need more. Nineteen is simply insufficient for our nation. The paying off of four Type 22 escorts in the Strategic Defence and Security Review since when £12bn of under spend has been created was a terrible error. The Strategic Defence and Security Review set out how the government was going to secure Britain in an age of uncertainty and central to that was maintaining trade routes and access to resources and protecting UK citizens and trade from terrorism, piracy and unlawful restrictions on freedom of navigation.
Now of course the size of the Royal Navy surface fleet is not something many would disagree with as being too small but if this is the case, can we really afford sending a Type 23 Frigate, one of those precious surface vessels to conduct counter narcotics and disaster relief missions in the Caribbean?[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.compasscayman.com/caycompass/2013/06/20/Navy-ship-on-standby-for-hurricane-season/”]
Is this really the best use of frigate, could we not forward position a patrol vessel, provide a couple of workboats and disaster relief supplies via some other means?
Does the clarion call of not enough ships sound rather hollow when we send frigates to chase drug runners and provide occasional humanitarian support?
In clinging to this kind of deployment the ‘overstretch’ theme is amplified.
There has to be a better way of providing counter narcotics and disaster relief in the area, see my previous post on project Sandy Bottom for further details