Saturday, January 12, 2013

How are the mighty fallen!

That's a quote from the Bible (2 Samuel 1:27, to be precise), but it accurately sums up the parlous state of Britain's Royal Navy after years - decades! - of official penny-pinching and budget cuts to fund social programs.  As Robert Kaplan pointed out in the Wall Street Journal this week, almost in passing, "The Japanese navy boasts roughly four times as many major warships as the British Royal Navy".

At the time of the Falklands War in 1982, the Royal Navy's operational warships comprised 2 aircraft carriers, 2 assault ships, 17 destroyers, 38 frigates and 26 submarines.  In 2010 it had 1 aircraft carrier (in name only - it no longer has fixed-wing aircraft able to fly off it), 7 destroyers, 17 frigates and 11 submarines.  Those numbers have since been further reduced.  This massive reduction is due solely to reductions in defense expenditure.

In contrast, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force operates 4 helicopter carriers, 8 destroyers, 30 frigates, 6 light frigates and 21 submarines.  It's likely to boost its numbers even further in response to China's growing military expansion.

A century ago, the Royal Navy was the largest and most modern fleet in the world - the service that all other navies envied and tried to emulate.  Now . . . not so much.




Anonymous said...

Kipling's Recessional comes to mind every time I think of the RN.

Differ said...

Maintaining excessive welfare at the expense of national defense isn't smart, but Britain is trying to reduce its debt. Japan's economy has more per capita public debt (229% than anywhere else; I'm surprised their "navy" is as big as it is. Still it is sad that the UK's Senior service is in such a parlous state. I suspect the RAF's three pilots will be forced to start sharing a plane soon!

Anonymous said...

Let's face facts folks, the Brits now believe in the socialist european model, they don't have a Navy, NATO has a Navy and they only want to pay as little as possible for it.
Who suggests you not put your trust in elected officials.

Angus said...

That explains at least in part why the Argentines are rattling their sabers about Las Islas Malvinas a.k.a. The Falkland Islands -- the Brits can probably no longer field a naval force to defend them.

Anonymous said...

In other news, Argentina is now talking again about the Falkland Islands.

SiGraybeard said...

And if Argentina - who has had a warship repossessed for default on their debt - should move on the Falklands, I think the naval battle of midgets still has Argentina taking the Islands the UK retreating with its tail between its legs.

tweell said...

Nah, the Brits still win, as Argentina has been doing the socialist boogie faster and longer.
Argentina has 4 destroyers, 9 corvettes and 3 subs, and these are all welded to the pier - the ships have spent less than 2 weeks out at sea in the past year while the subs haven't submerged more than a few hours each.

Argentina's air force is in the same shape - 8 fighters and 41 ground-attack craft, all old and in poor repair.