COMMENT: We'll have to wait to see the defence detail

It's confusing to hear there is gathering speculation that some of the Royal Navy's fleet could be axed.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 12:00 am

Of course, this is nothing new. Down the years, other governments have cut defence spending and reduced the number of ships.

But it's strange that such rumours are circulating only a day after the present government published a document called Global Britain In A Competitive Age.

It’s also just a few months since prime minister Boris Johnson announced the biggest increase to the defence budget since the Cold War.

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The review of security, defence, development and foreign policy describes the vision for the UK's role in the world over the next decade and outlines plans to INCREASE national defence spending with a £6.6bn investment.

Yet now we hear via a reported leak that Type 23 frigates HMS Montrose and HMS Monmouth could be for the chop, together with the navy’s ageing fleet of minehunters.

It must be said the document doesn't refer to the ships mentioned by name, or indeed the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment – a Portsmouth-based infantry battalion that we're told is apparently also under threat.

So we'll have to wait for clarification until March 22, when the Defence Command Paper is to be published and we finally get some official information.

There is an understanding that the services need to adapt to meet a changing landscape.

As a Ministry of Defence spokesman says: 'As threats change our armed forces must change and they are being redesigned to confront future threats, not re-fight old wars.'

But until we see the detail, we're left to wonder if the rumours are true and a grey-hulled fleet that has been slimmed down over the years is about to get even smaller.