MEPs at Britain’s Ministry of Defense said the domestic navy was at risk of being unable to cope with an “increasingly hostile and unpredictable international environment”. “We have the shipyards and the know-how to build ships: the government just needs to apply, give contracts to the British shipbuilding industry and trust,” explained the defense committee chair. A Ministry of Defense spokesperson responded.
MEPs have called on the government to build more ships because the navy as it may “may not be able to meet all ambitions” as outlined in the Integrated Review of Foreign and Defense Policy, published in March this year.
The report revealed that at some point in 2020, five of the 16 Type 45 destroyers were in service.
MEPs also warned that the new “National Pioneer” to replace the £250m Royal Yacht Britannia would bring no benefits to the Navy, but would only increase the “ongoing pressure on an already tight maritime budget”.
In general, the Royal Navy needs more ships equipped with lethal weapons and the latest technology. We have the shipyards and the know-how in building them: the government just needs to place orders and give the UK shipbuilding industry the contracts and confidence it needs to get them, said former Defense Committee chair Tobias Ellwood.
Warning against Russia and China
Budget cuts mean orders have been slow, the report said, and when the ships are built and reach sea, they behave “like porcupines – well-defended herbivores with limited offensive capabilities.”
It has been described that the UK is increasingly dependent on its allies to support its defensive capabilities, while in the future the Navy may be needed to fight for control of the sea or prevent enemies from reaching British waters.
According to defense deputies, the navy is “too young and too specialized” to face threats in the next 20 years, including those from Russia and China.
“The Royal Navy will be asked to do more with less,” they wrote, adding that potential adversaries could easily come to the same conclusions.
Britain faces an increasingly hostile and unpredictable international environment.
The report also assessed that MPs had received “no evidence of benefit to the Royal Navy from the purchase of a flagship” – a replacement for the British Royal Yacht.
Tobias Ellwood explained that in order to keep the Royal Navy among the world’s leading navies, “the government must provide a rapid program of modernization and development” and that the next 20 years “will be a test”.
“Britain faces an increasingly hostile and unpredictable international environment, but the government continues to cut funding, withdraw equipment and require the Navy to rely increasingly on older ships over the next five years until new ships become available,” said Ellwood.
A Ministry of Defense spokesman said the UK was “on the way to becoming Europe’s leading naval power”, but acknowledged the report was correct that new ships, submarines, innovative weapons and technology must be delivered.
Main image source: Alex Sciolin/British Ministry of Defense
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