THE Royal Navy is losing its critical mass in ships and staff after a decade of cuts, according to a defence association.
The UK National Defence Association (UKNDA) said that 10 years of cuts has meant the navy has shrunk to a third of its Cold War size, despite the broadening of its mission portfolio.
Commander John Muxworthy RN, chief executive of the UKNDA, said the navy has been worst hit of all three services.
He said: ‘We have too few surface ships in today’s navy, too few submarines, too few aircraft, and too few people.
‘Having watched the service shrink through ill-thought-out funding cuts, morale in the navy has taken a nose dive. The government claims it cannot afford to maintain force levels – but the reality is we cannot afford not to.’
An article in magazine Warships International Fleet Review has traced the reductions in the navy between 1982 to the present day.
It predicts there will be 29,000 sailors and marines in the Royal Navy by 2020, compared with around 36,000 in 2004, and 73,000 in 1982.
In Portsmouth, HMS Edinburgh made its final journey last month, while Ark Royal was decommissioned in 2010, and HMS Invincible in 2005.
Lord Alan West, patron of the UKNDA and former First Sea Lord, has written an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, and to Secretary of State for Defence, MP Philip Hammond, raising these concerns.