DEMAND for Royal Navy warships on operations around the world remains undiminished despite a series of brutal cuts, a defence expert has warned.
Steve Bush, a former naval officer and editor of Warship World, has urged caution in a number of areas ahead of another busy year for the navy.
It comes weeks after the Commons Defence Committee issued a similar warning.
The committee said it was concerned defence would been seen as a matter of ‘discretionary spending’ and warned any further cuts would result in a ‘disproportionate decline’ in the forces’ fighting power.
This year is expected to see a number of developments for the Royal Navy, including the launch of HMS Queen Elizabeth, and the completion of the design for its new Type 26 frigates.
Mr Bush said: ‘It is well documented in the recent past the Royal Navy has endured a series of brutal cuts to both capability and number of warships, yet demand for these ships for worldwide operations remains undiminished.’
He added: ‘It has been said the Type 26s will replace the Type 23s on a one-for-one basis. That would be good, remember the government promised the 12 Type 42 destroyers would be similarly replaced by the Type 45.
‘In the event, terminology was soon changed to “12 ships”, then “up to 12 ships”, followed by “eight ships” and eventually delivering just six.
‘To the government’s mind, increased capability meant each new ship was a good as two old ships, yet still missing the vital point that a single ship cannot be in two places at once.’
Construction of the first Type 26 frigate is due to begin in 2016 with an estimated completion date of 2020. The whole programme is expected to be completed around 2036 when the last Type 23 leaves service.
The design of the ships is not expected to be complete until late this year.
Steve Bush joined the Royal Navy in 1978, and served over 22 years in several ships and on several deployments to the Gulf.