UPDATE: How the Royal Navy’s fleet of warships has shrunk over time

HMS Ark Royal. Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
HMS Ark Royal. Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
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There has been a sharp decline in the number of frigate and destroyer ships used by the Royal Navy over the last 40 years.

Following criticism from a parliamentary committee that not enough is being done to replace these ships, we’ve had a look at how their number has declined over time.

Retired naval officer Mike Critchley, who lives in Gosport, said the decline in fleet size would mean the Navy would be able to react quickly enough to major threats, such as the Falklands War in 1982.

He said: ‘In 1982 we were able to react overnight to the situation no one could force developing in the South Atlantic, even with a fleet the size it was it was a close run thing.

‘Today of course the situation could never be repeated and the size of the massively run down operational fleet means the Royal Navy is simply unable to fulfil the routine peacetime commitments the government would wish it to provide.

‘New warships are more capable than ever before but one ship can still only be in one part of the world at any one time - and still need to be in harbour for much of their life for routine maintenance and repairs.

‘The first duty of any government is the defence of these islands and its people, a commitment that seems to be frequently quietly forgotten.’