Royal Navy worries as cuts leave British waters unprotected

Royal Navy ships

It was the first time the Royal Navy had ever failed to provide a warship for emergency stand-by, a senior officer said.

Reductions to the Royal Navy’s fleet in last year’s defence review, as well as its commitments to the Nato mission in Libya, has left it short of ships.

‘I don’t think we’ve done this before, certainly not in recent times, in the last ten or 15 years,’ a spokesman for the navy said.

‘Due to the successful deployment of Royal Navy units to the Libya campaign, it has been necessary to reprofile the commitments of some ships,’ he added.

The navy normally provides a minimum coverage of a frigate or destroyer fulfilling the role of Fleet Ready Escort. The task is for the ship to be at high readiness for an emergency – including a terrorist attack, a drugs operation or for search and rescue – in British waters or abroad.

The MoD insisted British waters remain ‘well protected’. The number of frigates or destroyers in the navy’s surface fleet was cut from 24 to 19.

Former First Sea Lord, Adm Lord Alan West said: ‘It’s a big problem. It’s a very unsatisfactory position to be in.’


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