Lords raise fears over state of navy’s fleet

HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in Portsmouth            Picture: PA

RICK JACKSON: The patriotism inspired by HMS Queen Elizabeth is wonderful

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FORMER First Sea Lord Alan West has repeated claims that the Royal Navy has insufficient ships.

Lord West joined criticism in the House of Lords yesterday of the current state of the fleet as peers raised fears about its ability to meet the nation’s commitments.

Liberal Democrat Lord John Lee of Trafford said at question time in the Lords: ‘In 1982 at the time of the Falklands, we sent 22 escort vessels, now we have probably hardly got 12 we can put out operationally at any particular time to meet all our worldwide commitments.’

Lord West, a Labour peer, then added: ‘We have insufficient escort hulls and we need more. Nineteen is simply insufficient for our nation.’

Defence minister Lord John Astor countered that the government was introducing six new destroyers, seven submarines and two carriers.