From the long gone days of Edward the Confessor, England has always had an interest in protecting her trade at sea. Onwards through the reigns of the first Richard, Edward the Third, Henry’s 5, 7 and 8, the importance of the Navee was ever increased. After the return of Charles the Second, the British Navy became the Royal Navy, and the long list of naval heroes was established. Anson, Drake, Nelson, Hawke, Frobisher, Fisher; the roll-call lasts as long as the evenings pass by. We always were a fighting nation, and our virtual DNA was best expressed in the Napoleonic Wars, where we fought, almost alone some of the time, against a tyrant who bestrode the continent of Europe, but where he was triumphant on land, at sea; the British were masters. It was the Navy who brought the armies, and yes, the Navy was there when retreat was forced, but whenever the Navy was called upon; as at Trafalgar, they prevailed. It was the Navy’s ships, manned by hard, disciplined seamen who fought the French and Spanish fleets whatever the cost. Without trade and treasure from overseas, Napoleon could only fulminate, and as long as the Royal Navy’s sails lifted above the horizon; he could not quash his only enemy.
The Royal Navy dominated the seas in World War One; but nearly went to defeat against the German submarines who were threatening to starve Great Britain in the last year of the War. It was only the introduction of convoys, together with better depth-charge systems and Royal Naval Air Service aircraft flying and spotting submarines, which defeated the U-boat threat.
In the years between the Wars, the Navy was again partly run-down, due to budget cuts and plain lack of interest from Isolationist Governments who believed that Hitler was simply a loud-mouthed ex-corporal who would soon shut up. They ignored the march into the Saar, the move to militarise the Rhineland was regarded as ‘normalising German Statehood; the annexation of Austria was reported as ‘proper’ because Hitler was Austrian, and the debacle with the Czechs, and of course the smartest (irony alert) politician in Westminster, complete with ‘piece of paper’ was looked upon as inevitable. The Royal Navy was partly modernised in the second half of the 1930’s, but the upgrade missed HMS Hood (sunk with a single shell from Bismarck), HMS Barham (torpedoed despite alleged anti-torpedo upgrade) and HMS Repulse (sunk by the Japs after sailing without any air cover whatsoever). We managed to win through, partly because the Krauts made more mistakes than we did; but mainly because the Japs attacked Pearl Harbour, and America came into the war, and saved the West for the second time in twenty years.
After the War was over, the inevitable rush to demobilise, to ‘save’ money by not building ships that worked and mattered, grew ever stronger. From one of the mightiest Navies this world has ever seen, the Royal Navy has slowly deteriorated into a pale shadow of the Service which, literally, saved our bacon. The bloody politicians, and the weaselling civil service of the Ministry of Defence who follow their masters’ call, have slowly but surely disembowelled the Service upon which Britain’s fate depends. When Putin sends a modern guided-missile cruiser into the seas around the north of Scotland, it took 24 hours before the ONLY Destroyer available could sail up from Devonport dockyard and ask the ‘effing Russians to kindly turn around and piss off! We don’t have any ‘effing ships to spare!
When you stand up in Parliament and praise your Navy, but forget that you have slashed billions off the budget for both ships and crew because you want to look ‘good’ by giving billions away in overseas aid; its time you faced reality.
The first purpose of Government is to be certain that they have made sure that their Nation can be defended. Politicians, of any colour or hue, hate the very idea of Defence; because Defence, in terms of modern equipment and manpower, costs shed-loads of cash, and must be planned for over many years. Politicians detest the idea of a valid Defence, because very little about an efficient Army, Navy or Air Force can be ‘spun’ to make them look good. There is nothing a leading politician, again of any hue, likes more than to be photographed surrounded by uniformed soldiers, sailors or airmen whilst celebrating a ‘Job Well Done’: but they hate paying the bills which come due. ( We have to acknowledge that not all politicians like being photographed adjacent to tanks or big guns, such as Emily Thornberry ‘Shadow Defence’). The pronouncements of certain politicians are famous for their double-dealing lies, saying ‘Whatever you want, you can have,’ to the generals, whilst stating exactly the opposite the their Ministry servants.
For a discussion case, let us examine the Type 45 destroyer, built by BAE systems, using British-built gear for power and weaponry. On paper, they look a formidable item, with their ‘world-class’ missiles, and ‘world-class radar systems’, they would seem to be capable of defending a fleet carrier, for example, which is their prime role. The Americans have ten active super-carriers, and each one never goes to see without a defensive screen of at least four Arleigh-Burke destroyers, two frigates, a guided-missile cruiser, and they usually throw in a nuclear-powered submarine just because they can. The new British carriers, which are supposed to carry 45 attack jets, need protection of a similar calibre, and with six Type 45 destroyers in the Fleet, one would presume that, once commissioned, the British carrier would be well served.
Fact…It takes seven-ten years to design and build an American Arleigh-Burke class Destroyer; but they work! Fact…It takes ten-plus years to design and build a British Type 45 Destroyer, and they end up tied to the quayside, because they ‘effing break down half the ‘effing time; because when the seawater gets warm, the intercooler breaks down!
The plain, simple truth is that we are badly served by both the political body, as well as the so-called Ministry of Defence. The insane idea that everything major in terms of defence spending must be British-built has landed us directly in the greedy hands of BAE Systems, because of take-overs, and buy-outs, and share swaps; they are the only game in town when it comes to Defence capability, it is either BAE, or nowt. We are building two aircraft carriers; but they take time to build, and we scrapped our only remaining small carrier. Why? To save some more ‘effing money; thats why! We also built six naval air reconnaissance jets, at huge expense, and then tore them apart because we couldn’t afford to fix the design faults which placed super-heated air right alongside fuel lines, and no-one cared until one blew up over Afghanistan; killing fourteen valuable people. We withdrew our only large warship from the Falklands, because we didn’t have any ships to send elsewhere, so the defence of the Falklands is down to a squadron of Typhoons, and a thousand squaddies with rifles!
We have no ships, we have no sailors to man them, because George Osborne and his mate Hammond sliced the budget, sacked the sailors; and when the recruiters come looking, who is going to trust them again? We are nearly screwed, and yet we managed to give away £36 Billion in Foreign aid over a four year period.