It is about time that the navy was garlanded

THE NEWS COMMENT: Tell us why our end of the M27 will not become Smart

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It seems that 2016 will go down as an infamously bad year in some quarters, beset as it was by global brutality, political uncertainty and unexpected death.

But while many will wave it off with some relief, that’s not a reason for unbridled pessimism for 2017.

Given the surprises brought by the last 12 months, it’s clearer now than ever that making predictions and assumptions is the mark of the foolish. However, we make no excuses today in highlighting reasons to be cheerful in the coming year, the chief of which is the prominence that the Royal Navy is set to play in the nation’s consciousness.

It’s great to hear that the achievements of the Senior Service will be trumpeted by the government in this year, to tie in with the arrival of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of the two supercarriers, to Portsmouth.

It won’t however, be news to anyone round here, though.

On a regular basis we report on the work the navy does, day in, day out – whether that is patrolling to keep shipping lanes clear in the Middle East, or being deployed in Nato or US-led task forces that aim to maintain stability.

We know – as do tens of thousands of people in this area, whether military or not – that the reach of the navy goes far beyond conflict.

It guarantees trade, it keeps the peace and it can prove a useful diplomatic tool as well.

We always take claims made by politicians about the navy’s strength with, if not a pinch of salt, then a pinch of context. Those in power will talk its ability up, those in opposition may be more inclined to demand it must be strengthened. We can see this in the current dispute over whether the navy is more powerful than it has ever been or is undermanned and under-equipped with ships. It’s entirely possible that both are true.

But any claim that ‘this is the year of the Royal Navy’ is welcome in these quarters, and frankly is long overdue. And, after a tumultuous 2016, it’s why we name this as something to which we can all look forward.

Here’s to 2017...