Meanwhile at the HQ of the British Coastal Defence Force:
In the last few months the RN has paid off submarine HMS Trafalgar, aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, 4 frigates; HMS Cornwall, HMS Chatham, HMS Campbeltown, & Cumberland and 2 destroyers; HMS Manchester & HMS Gloucester, 3 auxiliaries; RFA Fort George, RFA Largs Bay & RFA Bayleaf. Of the few new vessels joining the fleet, the 3 new Type 45 destroyers are not ready to be deployed on operations and submarine HMS Astute’s epic sea trails have been dogged by bad luck. The only other ship to join the RN is HMS Protector – a Norwegian ice-breaker which should be a good replacement for HMS Endurance.
HM Government may not want to pay for a navy, but they certainly have a need for one. The danger here is not in the loss of ships, grievous though the losses be. As the legendary Admiral Cunningham noted during his operations at Crete in 1941: "It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition." The ships that are being decommissioned now can, in time, be replaced. What cannot as easily be replaced is the skill, experience and esprit de corps of those who man the fleet today. That is a vital tradition that can be lost just as easily in peace as in war.