Royal Navy is our heritage - but must also be our future

Don't worry children, it won't hurt a bit...

CLIVE SMITH: Third World War fears from the internet generation

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I’m going to put something out there – I’m a big fan of the navy.

I was born and bred in the Portsmouth area and while I find it distressing that the part of St Mary’s Hospital in which I was born is being torn down, this city will always be my city.

It’s no wonder that I’ve always loved being on a ferry on my way to France and having to reverse around the odd warship, sometimes seeing the sailors busy doing something or other that looks frightfully important but actually might just be tying a shoelace.

It’s even better when you come back into port, dodging the hovercraft, watching the people on the funfair, sailing past HMS Warrior, HMS Victory, and then spotting which, slightly newer, ships are tied up in the naval base.

In my opinion the navy is Portsmouth, and Portsmouth is the navy.

So I always get a little bit sad when I see or hear of another one of our warships coming into the naval base ahead of being decommissioned.

On Friday HMS Edinburgh arrived back in Portsmouth after a six-month patrol of the Atlantic. The ageing class of ships has been replaced by the new Type 45 destroyers, which are all based in Portsmouth.

Families cheered and waved flags as the ship came alongside at Portsmouth Naval Base, clearly bowled over to have their loved ones home again.

Edinburgh will be taking a tour of the UK to commemorate the Battle of the Atlantic before heading home for the last time in May.

But while the destroyers have a bright future – just look at the soaring radar masts of the high-tech destroyers Daring, Dauntless, Diamond, Dragon, Defender and Duncan – I hope the future of our fleet as a whole can be just as bright.

We remain an island nation. We remain a nation which seeks to help other countries in times of conflict or disaster.

We still need our fleet to keep us safe, to protect the parts of the UK and the commonwealth that are farther afield, and to let the world know that we won’t stand for piracy, drug smuggling and terrorism.

The Royal Navy is our heritage, our independence, our protector and our future.