Concerns raised over a lack of major warships deployed outside the UK

LCT 7074 during the Second World War

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AN ‘UNPRECEDENTED’ lack of major warships on missions beyond home waters has been described as worrying by a top naval officer.

All six of the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers are docked in Portsmouth, while 12 of 13 Type 23 frigates are either at Portsmouth or Devonport. It is said this is for maintenance and crew needs.

HMS St Albans is the only Type 23 on duty as the fleet ready escort, protecting home waters.

The news has worried Vice Admiral John McAnally, national president of the Royal Naval Association, who said the lack of available frigates and destroyers indicated the fleet was ‘too small’.

‘I am distressed and alarmed,’ he told The Times. ‘I do not see that it is easily remedied. The only answer is an increase in the defence budget.’

A navy spokeswoman said it is ‘deployed globally on operations and will be protecting our national interests throughout Christmas and new year’. She added: ‘There will be 13 ships and submarines deployed away and in home waters, as well as the at sea nuclear deterrent.’