BRITAIN’S new aircraft carriers cannot be protected by the Royal Navy in its current form and would have to ‘go home and sit in a base’ in any conflict with a major nation, a Tory MP has said.
Former soldier Bob Seely said any admiral would admit to the carriers’ vulnerability given the lack of surface ships in the Navy’s fleet.
Britain’s new £3.1 billion carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, was accepted into the Royal Navy fleet last month in Portsmouth, and will be followed by sister ship the HMS Prince of Wales in the coming years.
But Mr Seely was critical of the size of the Navy’s existing fleet, saying: ‘There are so few surface ships, 17 I think.
‘The reality is, talk to any admiral and they will admit - give them a few drinks or a drink or two - that the carriers are not protectable by the Royal Navy in its current size.
‘And in any conflict or threat of conflict with peer or near-peer nations, those carriers would go home and sit in a base because they are not protectable unless they would be surrounded by a US fleet, and they have no protection against ship-busting ballistic missiles.’
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘We keep all threats under constant review and our new aircraft carrier is well protected by air and sea assets as well as robust defensive systems.
‘Our carrier strike group will be able to operate around the globe allowing Britain to meet future threats and support operations.’