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Her Majesty's Navy no longer rules the waves

Discussion in 'Modern Warfare' started by ManuSankar, Jun 4, 2012.

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  1. ManuSankar

    ManuSankar Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    Diamond Jubilee: The Queen no longer rules the waves

    The Coronation was marked by a Spithead Review – but Her Majesty is being denied one now because the Royal Navy has been sunk by wave upon wave of spending cuts

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    Lost at sea: the Spithead Review marking the Queen’s Coronation in 1953

    For mile upon mile they stretched, their flag-bedecked ranks receding into the haze. The ships of the Royal Navy, 165 of them, drawn up at Spithead on June 26 1897 to mark the diamond jubilee of Victoria, for 60 years Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and her dominions beyond the seas, and, since 1876, Empress of India.

    There were 21 battleships and 44 cruisers, their names conveying the confidence of a world-spanning Empire: Victorious, Renown, Powerful, Terrible, Majestic and Mars. A vast, intimidating presence intended to impress on friend and foe alike the continuing potency of the British behemoth. And what was more, the assembly of this great fleet had required the recall of not a single ship from the Mediterranean or the far-flung squadrons guarding the imperial sea lanes.

    Jingoistic hyperbole was the order of the day. “If the British taxpayer does not feel more than a thrill of satisfaction at a sight so splendid and so inspiring,” gushed one newspaper, “he is no patriot and no true citizen.”

    The Solent was a mass of small craft jammed with sunburned day-trippers, fussing around the black hulls of battleships riding at anchor. The pleasure boats parted only for the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert. It carried the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII, taking the salute from the quarterdeck on behalf of his mother. Victoria, 78, was exhausted by the jubilee celebrations and had opted to observe proceedings by telescope from Osborne House, her retreat on the Isle of Wight.

    One hundred and fifteen years later and Britain is celebrating only the second diamond jubilee in its history. The occasion calls for a naval review, a staple of coronations and other great moments in the life of the nation, but it is not to be. The Royal Navy, the country’s saviour in two world wars, is a sorry shadow of its former self, so depleted by successive rounds of cuts that it can no longer muster a dozen ships for the occasion. So embarrassed are the ministers and civil servants at the Ministry of Defence who have overseen these disastrous reductions that they have quietly drawn a veil over the issue, hoping no one will notice the absence of a major role for the Senior Service in this week’s celebrations.

    A serving commander in the Royal Navy, recently returned from operations, says the MoD has made it clear that no comment is to be made in public on the subject. “It would have been just too embarrassing,” he says. “There aren’t many ships and those we do have are a long way away. It was just too difficult to mount a spectacle worth having.” Lord West, a former First Sea Lord, the professional head of the Navy, says an attempt to stage a review would result only in national humiliation. “I suppose now we could get a couple of submarines out and five or six frigates and destroyers, but it would be very small and not very splendid,” he says. “That gives one a feel for how things have changed. Because the number of ships has reduced so dramatically the event would be too small to make a meaningful and sensible fleet review.”

    The contrast with yesteryear is stark. Naval reviews have been held since 1415, when Henry V surveyed the fleet gathered for the invasion of France. In this century reviews have marked the coronation of George V in 1912, the mobilisation of the fleet in 1914, the coronation of George VI in 1937, the coronation of the present Queen in 1953, her silver jubilee in 1977 and the bicentenary of Trafalgar in 2005. The Queen’s golden jubilee was another casualty of defence cuts, with no review.

    “A fleet review is an opportunity for the Queen to see her ships and sailors and for the men of the Royal Navy to pay their respects to the monarch,” says Steve Bush, editor of the naval directory British Warships & Auxiliaries. “It is an event of great tradition and spectacle. The Trafalgar review of 2005 saw more than 100 ships mustered but almost half were from overseas navies, the biggest being the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.” Since 2005 the Navy has lost its Harrier force and the ability to protect itself, and strike, from the air. Illustrious, its sole-remaining carrier, now operates only helicopters, as does the amphibious assault ship Ocean, the only other ''flat-top’’ in the fleet.

    The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, a career officer before marriage, must look back ruefully on June 15 1953, when they boarded the frigate Surprise to review the armada gathered off Spithead to mark the Coronation. The Navy was anything but short of carriers then, benefiting from the surge in construction during the Second World War. Eagle, Indomitable, Illustrious, Theseus and Perseus, lined the way, together with Canada’s Magnificent and Australia’s Sydney. Other carriers were away on operations, from the Mediterranean to the Far East. In all some 300 ships, cruisers, destroyers, frigates and minesweepers, took part in the review, overflown by some 300 aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm.

    The fleet had shrunk dramatically by the silver jubilee of 1977 but was the third biggest behind the navies of the United States and Soviet Union. Two aircraft carriers, including Ark Royal, attended, with two cruisers, one assault ship, 17 destroyers, 18 frigates, 14 submarines and a host of minor vessels and auxiliaries. There was no need to flesh out the review with foreign vessels, just 18 attending.


    And today? Allowing for inflation, Britain’s GDP is four times greater than in 1953 but the country appears incapable of maintaining a viable fleet. Today it comprises two helicopter carriers, 1 active assault ship, six destroyers, 13 frigates, 42 minor vessels and 13 auxiliaries. Take away escorts on operations or in refit and the Navy would, as Lord West says, struggle to field more than a handful for a review. But one thing our increasingly Ruritanian fleet is not short of is admirals. There are 28 full, vice and rear admirals, one per major combat unit, surely the most over-managed structure in the country.
    “I don’t think it’s particularly likely that we could muster another fleet review,” says Sir Sandy Woodward, commander of the task force that in 1982 retook the Falklands. “A diamond jubilee review should be a grand thing.”


    In contrast, the navies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, are growing. Last year the Indian navy staged its presidential fleet review off Mumbai. There were 81 vessels, 10 more than the entire Royal Navy, including the carrier Viraat (ex British carrier Hermes). She still flies Sea Harriers, giving India a lead over its former naval mentor.

    David Cameron must take his share of the blame for the parlous state of the Navy. It was he who did away with the carrier Ark Royal and the Harrier force, effectively ending the Navy’s ability to mount independent expeditionary operations – until the (alleged) introduction of a new carrier in 2020. He also did away with nine new RAF Nimrods as they were about to be introduced into service, denuding the fleet of long-range aerial surveillance and anti-submarine protection.

    But governments of both shades are answerable. It can be argued that billions of pounds have been squandered reinforcing failure in Afghanistan, money that could have prevented the hollowing-out of the service, which guards the 95 per cent of British international trade conducted by sea.

    There is also the question of procurement: the Navy, like the other services, is very bad at buying affordable and effective equipment. The new Type 45 destroyers cost £1 billion each but lack the land-attack capability of their cheaper American counterpart. Only six can be afforded. “Ministers have ordered cuts upon cuts in the number of ships and aeroplanes for the Navy,” says Tim Ripley of Jane’s Defence Weekly. “No matter how capable the weapons of today are, a ship can only be in one place at a time. This Government wants our armed forces to be smaller and to do less.”

    After visiting the 1897 review, Rudyard Kipling was moved to compose the poem Recessional. The Empire was at its apogee but there were intimations of decline.
    Far-called, our navies melt away;
    On dune and headland sinks the fire:
    Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
    Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
    Britain, a maritime nation dependent on the sea lanes, has allowed its blue-water navy to melt away. The reckoning awaits.

    Diamond Jubilee: The Queen no longer rules the waves - Telegraph
     
  2. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    The rule of UK on the Waves ended with the end of WW.II
     
  3. DragonKnight

    DragonKnight Lieutenant SENIOR MEMBER

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    Actually it's more like "The Sun no longer shines forever on Britannia's Navy"
     
  4. GUNS-N- ROSES

    GUNS-N- ROSES Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    the decline of the royal navy is connected to decline of UK post second world war.

    if one observes history carefully, all great empires have one thing in common a very strong expedetionary navy. in india too, mauryas, guptas and cholas had a very strong navy with a reach upto indonasia.

    post invasion of islam kings our naval capability dwindled.

    rise of british, french, portugese empires post 14th century was a direct result of strong maritime capability.
     
  5. ManuSankar

    ManuSankar Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    Even after that,they had a powerful blue water navy.Its purpose was to search for and destroy Soviet submarines in the North Atlantic, and to operate the nuclear deterrent submarine force.The actual decline of numbers started after 1980.After the collapse of Soviet Union they no longer needed such a large fleet.That caused the fall in numbers.
     
  6. jagjitnatt

    jagjitnatt Major ELITE MEMBER

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    I still respect the Europeans for their progress during and before the industrial era. They were a massive power. UK alone ruled the world. At times, I feel sorry for them. They had it all, and deserved it too. No one could dare defeat them.

    Eventually Europeans themselves fought with each other and destroyed their golden era.
     
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  7. G777

    G777 Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    We need to more ships, or a new song. I know what ship I would build to fix it.
     
  8. Guynextdoor

    Guynextdoor Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

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    Which country are we talking about here?
     
  9. Picard

    Picard Lt. Colonel RESEARCHER

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    United Kingdom.

    They're participating in F35 programme when they'd be better off building a new carrier and buying Rafales or Sea Typhoons for it.
     
    1 person likes this.
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