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Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves. Britons never will be slaves.
Posted by: McQ on Monday, October 16, 2006

At one time Britain's Royal Navy was the most formidable naval force the world had ever seen. The very existence and survival of the British Commonwealth was directly attributable to the power the Royal Navy projected.

Although the RN has a storied past, it is presently a shadow of its former self. Concerning the upcoming UN force necessary to enforce the UN sanctions against North Korea we learn:
But senior Royal Navy officers last night cast serious doubt over Britain's ability to make a significant naval contribution to the proposed UN force, claiming that drastic cuts in government spending on the navy over the past decade had severely reduced their ability to participate in major foreign operations.

"I am staggered that the Government is trying to make this commitment when it knows what our Armed Forces are going through," a senior Royal Navy officer last night told The Daily Telegraph.

"But it knows that to keep our presence on the Security Council Britain needs to demonstrate what we can do."

Defence experts predicted that the most the Royal Navy could contribute was a single frigate, a Royal Fleet auxiliary support vessel and a Trafalgar class hunter killer submarine.

But senior navy officers expressed deep concern about their ability to defend their ships against a hostile missile or fighter threat after a decision was enforced six months ago to scrap the Sea Harrier fighter.

As a result of government cutbacks any British ships deployed to the South China Sea to enforce the UN resolution would depend on the American or French navies to provide "beyond visual range" air defence with their aircraft carriers.
Astonishing.

This isn't some ode to the good old days of colonialism. Don't get me wrong. But it is a nod to good old self-defense, especially for an island nation, for heaven sake.

The most they can muster is a frigate, a support ship and a sub. And they will have to depend on the French as well as the US for protection against over-the-horizon air threats.

While much of Britain may harbor anti-American sentiments, it appears their government has no problem relying on the American taxpayers to ensure their freedom and survival through our defense spending (and that of the French!) while they spend their lucre elsewhere. Funny how that works, eh?
 
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When in the TV show Connections, James Burke (UK historian) wanted to show the influence of sea power on history and the apex of technological sophistication it had reached (and its connection to the mid 19th century french textile industry), he began the arc on the bridge of a US guided missile cruiser. The show was filmed in the late ’70’s.

This the current nadir for the RN. I expect it’s stock to go lower still.

That whirring sound you hear is Nelson, spinning.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
For someone who always demands respect for our own troops you show some pretty grievous disrespect for other nations’ when you utterly forget the thousands of British troops who went with us into Afghanistan and Iraq. We’ve relied on their protection in many instances, while we spend our lucre on tax cuts for the rich, so that sword cuts both ways. Ranger tab or no, I’m sure you’d be rather forcefully reminded of that fact if you were to attempt such trash talk among our staunchest ally’s troops who (unlike some) have actually been on the front lines.
 
Written By: Platypus
URL: http://pl.atyp.us
It’s not just the Brits. As far as I can see, The United States of America is essentially the only country in the world with a navy that could

"defend their ships against a hostile missile or fighter threat". from, oh, even a mediocre power like China. Assuming the conflict isn’t taking place near home.

Am I wrong in my belief that we’re the only country in the world with more than one aircraft carrier?

Anyway, another point is to look at this in context. What the Brits are really saying is "we don’t feel like rearranging our forces to provide enough ships to make what we could conveiently send, safe."

I mean, I know they have at least one carrier. What’s it doing these days? Apparently something more interesting.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I think a bit much is being made of this. Almost ANY fleet in the world would rely upon the US navy to provide AEW and Fleet Defense from it’s carrier force; ONLY the USN has the capacity these days.

I’ll take the Brit frigate and a Brit SSN... excellent assets to have. Please note the the UK is 15,000 kilometres from the DPRK, save for the US Navy who else is sailing so far to provide the forces necessary?

Glasnost, I haven’t a clue as to what the THREE RN carriers will be doing that is more fun than this, but I do wonder myself.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
is there anybody in this f... world to help US. Except french very powerful army of course ...
 
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
Platypus, just for exercise (although it’s low impact), I’m going to tear your post apart:
For someone who always demands respect for our own troops you show some pretty grievous disrespect for other nations’ when you utterly forget the thousands of British troops who went with us into Afghanistan and Iraq.
Why should a post about how the UK governemnt is neglecting their navy have an irrelevant mention of the UK’s international troop commitments?
We’ve relied on their protection in many instances, while we spend our lucre on tax cuts for the rich, so that sword cuts both ways.
A) The rich have more money taken from them, they should have more returned in a cut.

b) Since 1917, the British have been subsidiary to us in joint defensive operations. That sword has cut one way, on balance, since then.
Ranger tab or no, I’m sure you’d be rather forcefully reminded of that fact if you were to attempt such trash talk among our staunchest ally’s troops who (unlike some) have actually been on the front lines.
The ally’s troops would certainly commiserate with him in good fellowship. No doubt the majority of them independently share McQ’s low opinion of the state to which the UK government has forced the RN.

Verily I say unto you, oh Platypus, in the vector field of cluelessness which is life, thou art a singularity.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Joe wrote:
"Glasnost, I haven’t a clue as to what the THREE RN carriers will be doing that is more fun than this, but I do wonder myself."
Depositing the overly aged airframes of their unreplaced Harriers as artifical reefs, on a worldwide tour with Greenpeace trumpeters in prcession on Zodiac back.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
For someone who always demands respect for our own troops you show some pretty grievous disrespect for other nations’ when you utterly forget the thousands of British troops who went with us into Afghanistan and Iraq.
Maybe the words "Royal Navy" got past you.

And I’m not blaming the sailors, I’m blaming the government of the UK. It is they who have put the RN in the pitiful situation it now finds itself.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"But it knows that to keep our presence on the Security Council Britain needs to demonstrate what we can do."

Funny how this problem hasn’t affected the French one bit.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Maybe the words "Royal Navy" got past you.
The Royal Navy includes the Royal Marines, who have drawn some pretty tough assignments on the ground - and I do mean ground. How did that get past you? At least I have the excuse of not pretending to be an expert on military matters. What’s yours?
 
Written By: Platypus
URL: http://pl.atyp.us
It is they who have put the RN in the pitiful situation it now finds itself.
Every time someone says pretty much the same thing about the US government vis a vis US troops, they’re accused of not supporting or respecting those troops. Why is such an accusation any less valid when the government and troops in question are British? Nice double standard you’ve got there.
 
Written By: Platypus
URL: http://pl.atyp.us
The Royal Navy includes the Royal Marines, who have drawn some pretty tough assignments on the ground - and I do mean ground. How did that get past you? At least I have the excuse of not pretending to be an expert on military matters. What’s yours?
Talk about streeeeeeeetching.

Yikes.

Look, when you have a worthwhile argument come back, but this one is pretty freakin’ pathetic.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Well I will say this, the RN can be run down and the British and the RAF can be doing OK, there is no contradiction between the RN being shop-worn and the rest of the British forces being engaged profitably. The Army, Marines, and the Air Force are ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING. The RN, like the USN has the problem that it has no real job, at the moment. There is no Soviet Navy, no German Navy, and not much of a Chinese navy to pose a challenge to the fleets of either the US or Britain. Consequently, they decline in size, hopefully not in quality. After all, it IS the Ground Forces of each nation and to a lesser extent the air forces (meaning the RAF, USAF, Army and Marine aviation) that are bearing the brunt of operations. I don’t blame the Blair or Bush regimes or governments, depending on whether you like them or not, for allowing a draw down of forces in their respective navies. Right now navies aren’t that useful to the problems they face, subject to much back-pedaling and clarification later.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"while we spend our lucre on tax cuts for the rich"

Piss off, Platypus, it’s not your lucre. It’s not taking from the non-rich and giving to the rich. It’s taxing them them less. Don’t be a complete, moronic, *ss.

 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
I don’t read it as they "can’t" spare any more ships, I read it as they simply don’t want to spare more than that, for whatever reasons. I don’t read anything else into it regarding the state of the RN.

Even a downgraded RN is still good enough in my books.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Every time someone says pretty much the same thing about the US government vis a vis US troops, they’re accused of not supporting or respecting those troops.
Nonsense. That’s what happens when you call them rapists and perverts and murderers. The Chain of Command and the logistics apparatus are fair game for criticism in any conflict, and both have had their problems.

Unless you’re talking about them all being Hitler only fueled by HALLIBURTON!!!! In that case, you might as well join the other side for all the good you’ll do us. And them...
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
Every time someone says pretty much the same thing about the US government vis a vis US troops, they’re accused of not supporting or respecting those troops.
Nonsense. That’s what happens when you call them rapists and perverts and murderers. The Chain of Command and the logistics apparatus are fair game for criticism in any conflict, and both have had their problems.
Aw heck, Pablo, that the perpetual cry of the "I should be able to criticize at will but not have to put up with any rebuttal" bird. You just learn to tune it out.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Remember the news stories that the British did counter-insurgency better than us, mainly because they didn’t wear sunglasses or something...now they’ve taken over some provinces in Afghanistan...how is that coming along? Progressing nicely like Malaya, I presume?

Okay, that’s a cheap shot. Sorry.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
But senior navy officers expressed deep concern about their ability to defend their ships against a hostile missile or fighter threat after a decision was enforced six months ago to scrap the Sea Harrier fighter.
I visited the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich last month. They’ve got a Sea Harrier out on the front lawn, with a little sign explaining that they’re decomissioning them this year. I guess I wasn’t paying attention; I assumed they were retiring them because they were no longer required. Silly me.
 
Written By: Bitter
URL: http://qando.net/
Am I wrong in my belief that we’re the only country in the world with more than one aircraft carrier?
Actually yes. The French have one nuclear carrier approximate (though smaller) to our own (Charles de Gaulle) and one helicopter/V(S)TOL carrier (Jeanne D’Arc). They also have 4 Ouragan class LPD’s which serve a similar role to our USS Tarawa helicopter/V(S)TOL amphibious transport and the Mistral and Tonnere which, though designated as command ships actually have the capability of deploying 16 helicopters. Not to mention stealth destoryers (frigates) and SSN’s. There is also reported to be another, larger carrier in development.

The Russians currently have one full-fledge nuclear carrier plus one LSD which could conceivably operate as a helicopter/V(S)TOL carrier. They also have at least one new carrier under construction.

India operates one old British Hermes class carrier (Viraat), one Soviet carrier which they purchased (Vikramaditya) and is building at least one full-decked carrier of their own.

Brazil operates one carrier, plus two LPD’s which are helicopter and V(S)TOL capable.

The Italian Marina Militare operates one British-style V(S)TOL carrier, plus three LSD vessels which are also helicopter/V(S)TOL capable and are expected to deploy a new larger aircraft carrier by next year.

So the capabilities to offer assistance in the role of power projection certainly exist, however other nations have yet to offer their assistance to us as far as I’m aware.
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
holy crap! brazil has a carrier? wow. while not as shocking as, say, uganda having one, i gotta say i’m shocked. brazil is not a wealthy nation, or wasn’t the last time i checked the stats on the legions of slumdwellers living in/on the dumps of rio.
 
Written By: ed
URL: http://
The reduction in our military power has worried me for some time. It started in earnest under the Thatcher government in the 1980s (I shed a tear for the Ark Royal as it shrank) as the idea became smaller but more effective. It has continued on under the current government with the amalgamation of proud and distinguished regiments and further cutbacks to the military. I think that back in the 80s the original cutting was partly due to the mindset of politicians engaged on the frontline of the cold war - we did not need to spend money on conventional forces, we needed to spend money on Polaris, Cruise and Trident. All of these are/were operated by the Navy of course but they call for much less manpower; a handful of subs and less in the way of carriers and frigates.

I think that part of the problem is that people are unwilling to spend as much on defence as they used to be though I am unsure whethere that is a political malaise or if it is truly reflective of the population. Either way it is a bad situation that we have been digging ourselves into. Then again I am someone who believes that the reintroduction of national service might be quite a good idea.
 
Written By: Kav
URL: http://livingrealworld.blogspot.com
Let’s hope Argentina doesn’t get any ideas.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Let’s hope Argentina doesn’t get any ideas
I think any ideas Argentina had died with the junta in the Falklands War. Of course, that was also the last hurrah for the RN. It’s sad that the world’s premiere seafaring nation (post-medievel era) has lost the drive and ambition to maintain its own navy. Weep for Britain and its people, my friends. They are a noble breed enjoying their last years of peace and prosperity. And I haven’t much hope for a resurgence (see Charles, Prince of Wales).
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
Am I wrong in my belief that we’re the only country in the world with more than one aircraft carrier?
The Poet Omar is right, France is planning a second and larger carrier.
Actually they spend more on defense than any other European nation. While its $50 billion annual budget would barely sustain the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. They possesse one of only two European militaries capable of rapid interventions abroad and operate Europe’s only genuine large deck nuclear aircraft carrier

Steve J.
 
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
Apparently the British do plan to rectify this deficiency. All is not lost.

http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/2005/12/design-preparations-continue-for-britains-new-cvf-future-carrier-updated/index.php
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
That’s a good point, timactual, but let’s not forget that 10 Downing Street is going to have a new occupant in the near future. Smilin’ Tony Blair is stepping down and will, theoretically, be replaced by Gordon Brown, but that has been thrown into doubt as Brown’s campaigning ability, frankly, sucks. John McDonnell is another possible contender for the Blair throne, although he’s an outright hard-left socialist, denounced by members of his own party.

Should Labour lose more seats in Parliament, or the government falls for some reason before then, "Call me Dave" Cameron may well be packing up the house and moving into Downing Street. 39 years old, former cocaine snorting, rakishly handsome David Cameron (he doesn’t seem to like Dave) is, on the surface, a solid Thatcherite conservative, but who really knows what his policies will be if, and that is a big if, he comes to power. Still, the Conservative Party seems to be banking on him as its leader for the next decade or so. Don’t let’s rule them out yet.

Although I’m thrilled that the RN is trying to take a step forward in rebuilding and developing a new, modern power-projection force, it remains to be seen whether these very optimistic plans will come to fruition.
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com

 
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