Government has made a ‘catastrophic decision’ in axing HMS Ocean

HMS Ocean in Portsmouth last week
HMS Ocean in Portsmouth last week
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James Bruce from Gosport says the sale of Royal Marines helicopter-carrier HMS Ocean to Brazil is a ‘catastrophic decision’.

He writes: ‘The sale completely undermines the integrity of the Royal Marines, an elite fighting force, and hugely reduces their amphibious capability. That’s because as well as helicopters for fast, low-level insertion of marines and troops on to land or on to a coastline, Ocean also carries landing craft.

In addition to this, Ocean was only commissioned in 1999 and is a young warship with another 15/16 years of life left in her.

When Theresa May first became prime minister, she stood on the deck of HMS Ocean and in her speech was ‘waxing lyrical’ about the pride and professionalism of our Armed Forces; indeed, in her new year message she mentioned the help and humanitarian aid that our forces gave to certain Caribbean islands, such as the British Virgin islands in the wake of hurricane Irma. Ocean was involved in this.

It is this sort of hypocrisy that annoys and angers serving armed forces personnel and makes them so disillusioned with politicians.

The NATO demand to spend two per cent of GDP on defence is not a target – it is the absolute, absolute minimum that we should be spending on defence and the government is not even spending that.

They are selling off vital defence assets and using the money received to cobble together enough money to make the defence budget appear just about respectable!

We should be spending 4.5 per cent of GDP on defence and that figure can be achieved over a period of years.

The government must cancel the sale of HMS Ocean to Brazil for a mere £80m and stump up the money to give her the maintenance and refit she deserves.

The public should be annoyed, because if warships are only to be allowed to serve for half their life in the Royal Navy, their initial build cost has now effectively been ‘doubled!’