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    People watch as Britain's new flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in Portsmouth, Britain, Wednesday Aug. 16, 2017

    No Ruling the Waves for Royal Navy as Major Warships Remain Tied Up in UK Ports

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    For the first time in living memory, Britain has no major warships on operations anywhere in the world, it has been revealed, as one senior defense expert warns UK military might is less than half what it once was.

    A combination of mechanical problems, maintenance, holiday leave and a shortage of crew manpower has resulted in all six of the UK's Type 45 destroyers — HMS Daring, HMS Dauntless, HMS Diamond, HMS Defender, HMS Dragon, and HMS Duncan — all being left tied up in Portsmouth harbor. 

    Similarly the navy's 13-strong fleet of Type 23 frigates are split between Portsmouth and Devonport in Plymouth to allow maintenance programs to be carried out as well as give sailors leave over the Christmas period.

    The only vessel still at sea is HMS St Albans, presently on duty protecting home waters. It is scheduled to take over as the British Royal Navy's flagship when HMS Ocean, a helicopter carrier, goes out of service early in 2018.

    In an interview, Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow in foreign policy at The Brookings Institution, where he specializes in U.S defense strategy and use of military force, admitted the situation was "a bit of an aberration.

    "But it is true overall, UK military strength is probably less than half of what it once was, say in the 1980s," he told Sputnik.

    Unprecedented

    Vice-Admiral John McAnally, national president of the Royal Naval Association, described the absence of deployed frigates and destroyers as being unprecedented. He blamed stringent cuts to the defense budget by successive UK governments for the embarrassing situation.

    In an interview, he told The Times: "This is an indication that the navy is too small. I am distressed and alarmed. I do not see that it is easily remedied. The only answer is an increase in the defense budget. It is too small to meet what government want the armed forces to do."

    Gulf Role

    Normally there is, at least, one frigate or destroyer deployed to the Gulf on a permanent basis, but HMS Diamond which was due to take up that role, returned to Portsmouth after suffering a propeller fault.

    HMS Duncan
    © Photo : Naval Forces of Ukraine press center
    HMS Duncan
    Naval chiefs are now prepared to send HMS Duncan to fill this void, although it will take part also in a NATO role in the Mediterranean at the beginning on the new year.

    A Ministry of Defense spokesman said: "The Royal Navy is deployed globally on operations and will be protecting our national interests throughout Christmas and the new year."

    This latest plight to hit the UK navy comes just days after it was revealed Britain's newest and most expensive warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, has been hit by technical problems, namely a leak around one of its two propellers during sea trials. It's not expected to be commissioned for at least another three years.

    Tobias Ellwood, the veterans minister, took to social media to reassure people over the problem on board the warship, built at a cost of £3.1 billion (US$4.15 billion). He posted on Twitter: "Let's keep things in perspective. It's a 65,000 tonne ship taking on a bathtub of water every hour. Not uncommon with big ships — will be fixed."

    Gavin Williamson, Britain's Defense Secretary​, insisted also the cost of the repair will not be met by the British taxpayer but by the companies involved in constructing the aircraft carrier.

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    Tags:
    sea power, naval forces, naval power, naval drill, navy, British Royal Navy, Brookings Institution, United Kingdom
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