The scrapping of these two-amphibious warship, what seems to be for the two new aircraft carriers is argued to be the worst procurement decision of the past half century.
The government have brought forward plans to make cuts into the Royal Navy, by scrapping HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark. Currently the government has said these plans are just ‘speculation’, but this speculation has caused the military to become concern over performance and a cross party support to stop this cut to the Royal Navy which are seen to be a threat to the United Kingdom’s security.
The cuts have made military officials not just concerned but worried on how they will be able to perform in the theatre of conflict. Rear Admiral Alex Burton, commander UK Maritime Forces handed in his notice after finding about the plans to axe UK’s only two amphibious warships. He tweeted following his resignation he could work around not having flat top aircraft carriers but ‘couldn’t work around delivering theatre entry without @hms_albion @HMSBulwark.’. James Glancy, a former marine officer who earned the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross in Afghanistan has come out in The Times saying ‘Some 72 per cent of the world’s population is accessible via the sea, so it is absolutely essential. If you want to affect an outcome, if you want to help with disaster relief, you need amphibious capability.’ This further supports the argument that having two aircraft carriers is seen to be a ridiculous defence policy, if you are unable to put any military personnel on land from the sea. The scrapping of these two-amphibious warship, what seems to be for the two new aircraft carriers is argued to be the worst procurement decision of the past half century.
I understand there has to be cuts made to balance the budget, I purpose instead of having 2 aircraft carriers the government could have built one and giving it the funding to support the continuation of HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark along with the 1,000 Royal Marines. This would give the Royal Navy increased capabilities instead of under the current government policy less, having one aircraft carrier for air support and soldiers from the amphibious warships to occupy and maintain their objectives on land insertion. This can be seen to be the best way forward to operate with one aircraft carrier and amphibious warships. The United States have recently commissioned a new amphibious warship named Libya and Russia has procured five Dyugon-class landing crafts sending a signal globally, there is a greater need for amphibious warships than aircraft carriers. A signal the Conservative government has failed to hear and understand.
The Defence Secretary Michael Fallon at the Conservative conference gave a speech, there would be a investment of £1 billion into the Armed Services. I fully support this investment into the Armed Forces, but I oppose using this investment to invest in equipment that has the potential for the UK to achieve less capabilities and threaten UK’s military standing in the world. This view is also shared by MPs from both Conservative and Labour. Luke Pollard MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport has made the most progress he has opened an online petition which has gained 3,500 signatures, introduced an Early Day Motion and holding the government to account over the alleged speculation over the scrapping of HMS Albion, HMS Bulwark and 1,000 Royal Marines. He is supported by Conservative Johnny Mercer MP who has said he will do ‘everything he can’ to stop the scrapping of the two amphibious warships. It is yet to be seen if there is the political will to save the cuts made to the Royal Navy. This is precisely the perfect time, the Labour Party can start winning the argument on defence is by taking defence issues like this and start gaining concession from the government on defence. Potentially becoming a party for the military instead of a threat to it and becoming electorally electable with a increased positive image on defence.
Photo also by Tehmoor Khalid
Tehmoor is a Young Fabian. Follow him on Twitter at @TehmoorKhalid