Royal Navy ‘phoenix’ needs cash to rise from ashes

A computer-generated image showing flight deck operations on board HMS Queen Elizabeth, which enters service in Portsmouth this decade
A computer-generated image showing flight deck operations on board HMS Queen Elizabeth, which enters service in Portsmouth this decade
The HMS Queen Elizabeth tree decoration

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GOVERNMENT investment in the armed forces is vital to support the ‘rising phoenix’ of the Royal Navy – or it will quickly return to ashes.

That’s the warning from defence expert and former naval officer Steve Bush who has carried out a review of the naval service.

He said the service was a ‘phoenix rising from the ashes of a Royal Navy slashed to the bone by repeated defence cuts’ with billions spent on new ships in recent years and more orders expected to be placed this decade.

But he warned against the inevitability of further defence cuts in the upcoming Strategic Defence and Security Review expected later this year after the election.

Mr Bush said: ‘The navy is undergoing a maritime renaissance – but so fragile is that recovery that unless the government commits to continued investment to support its strategic aspirations, the rising phoenix of the navy will quickly return to the ashes from which it is so desperately trying to emerge.

‘2015 is going to be a defining year for UK defence – a general election and the second Strategic and Defence Security Review.

‘Already the wording and posturing with regard to matters of defence are ringing alarm bells – there remains talk of more cuts to come.

‘Where the axe will fall will not become clear until after the election, but fall it will, and with it will come more pain for the Royal Navy and more harsh decisions with regards to what to give up.’

The comments were made in this year’s edition of British Warships and Auxiliaries.

Facing questions about defence spending on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, prime minister David Cameron said: ‘We inherited a situation in defence where there was a £35bn black hole.

‘We’ve closed that black hole, we’ve made our defence forces more efficient and if you look at what’s coming in terms of new aeroplanes, hunter-killer submarines, aircraft carriers...

‘We’ve seen, not just in protecting and defending our security but also in delivering aid in the Philippines, how useful our navy can be.’