The UK Royal Navy has become too small to implement its duties because of severe cuts to spending as a result of Britain’s huge budget deficit, according to a British naval historian.
"The cuts over the last 20 years have severely undermined the fleet's ability to deploy its forces, even to the levels that the government commits it to", said researcher Alexander Clarke.
The researcher said the Royal Navy has lost the capacity to deploy warships to the Falklands, known to Argentines as “las Malvinas”, and the Persian Gulf with just 19 destroyers and frigates currently in service. He added that the Navy also does not enjoy the capacity to maintain escort duties for the Reaction Group anymore.
“For every ship deployed the Navy needs at least another two because one will be on its way back from its tour and another will be in refit or training”, said Clarke.
"We are short in submarines, we are short in air defence until we get the aircraft carriers and their F-35 warplanes, we have no outer air defence", said Clarke, a PhD student at King's College London.
As a result of the shortages, said Clarke, Britain faces having to ask France or the U.S. to plug the gaps by providing Air Defence escorts.
His warning was backed by retired naval officer Commander John Muxworthy of the UK National Defence Association who said that during the Falklands War in 1982 Britain had access to about 60 frigates and destroyers.
"Now we have got 19. You have to use the rule of three with ships - one fighting, one training and one recovering”, he said.
"Just divide 19 by three to see how many we have got available for operations. People will fall about laughing if you claim we have enough.
"The Royal Navy has been emaciated. It is no longer a fleet. It is a flotilla.
"Britain is disarming when many countries around the world are rearming. The consequence is that we will lose lives, lose operational capabilities and we will be a shadow of our former selves”, added Commander John Muxworthy.