Defence experts reject claims the Royal Navy is a thing of the past

HMS Dragon. Picture: LA(Phot) Rhys O'Leary
HMS Dragon. Picture: LA(Phot) Rhys O'Leary
British military dog Mali who has received the PDSA Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross with his current handler Corporal Daniel Hatley

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A POLITICAL party’s claims that the Royal Navy is irrelevant and should be cut have been dismissed as ‘bonkers’ by defence experts.

The Green Party’s defence spokeswoman Rebecca Johnson said fighter jets and the navy belong to ‘a different era’ and Britain’s armed forces should instead focus on a ground force featuring more women.

Naval expert Mike Critchley

Naval expert Mike Critchley

Ms Johnson, a nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation expert who works with the United Nations, said Britain’s naval force is ‘very much about the 19th and 20th century’.

The nation’s priority should instead be on ensuring there is a higher proportion of women in the country’s ground forces, she said.

In a TV defence debate, Ms Johnson said: ‘Our naval force is very much about the 19th and 20th century.

‘Fighter planes also by and large belong to a different era.

The Green Party's Rebecca Johnson

The Green Party's Rebecca Johnson

‘When we look at what security actually requires then it is ground forces equipped and trained with more than just nine per cent 
women.

‘UN Security Council resolutions are arguing that the more women there are in the security services, the more better equipped they are to deal with security problems on the ground.’

She added: ‘Large warships or nuclear weapons in the wrong place are worse than useless.’

But Ms Johnson’s questioning of the relevance of the Royal Navy provoked indignation from defence experts.

Former naval officer and publisher of Warship World Mike Critchley said: ‘It’s just bonkers.

‘[Rebecca Johnson] has obviously forgotten that we are still an island nation and 95 per cent of our food and raw materials and things like fuel come by sea and it is one of the duties of the Royal Navy to keep those sea lanes open and keep the lights on in this country.

‘We live in a very unstable world.

‘The navy does a vital job but because it does so in places across the world much of its work is done out of sight of the UK and therefore it is out of the public’s mind and forgotten about and people often don’t realise how important it is.’