The UK is back in the top tier of naval powers, a senior naval officer has claimed. The comments came as the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers ‘met’ for the first time. The warships are among the biggest produced by the UK. Costings vary, but some estimates suggest the two vessels cost £6.4bn.
Commodore Steve Moorhouse, who commands the carrier strike force, said:
Having previously commanded both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, it was hugely exciting to be present as the two met at sea for the first time.
I know that sense of pride and accomplishment is shared by thousands of others, military and civilian, who have contributed to the Royal Navy’s carrier renaissance over the past decade or more.
The so-called “carrier renaissance” put Britain back at the top tier of maritime power, according to Moorhouse:
The strategic significance is profound. Building one aircraft carrier is a sign of national ambition. But building two – and operating them simultaneously – is a sign of serious national intent. It means Britain has a continuous carrier strike capability, with one vessel always ready to respond to global events at short notice.
Few other navies can do that. Britain is back in the front rank of maritime powers.
The carrier project has been dogged with controversy since it started. As The Canary recently reported, a majority of the fighter aircraft on Queen Elizabeth will be American, not British.
In response to a question in parliament in late April, defence minister James Heappey confirmed:
HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH will embark 18 F-35Bs for CSG21 in two squadrons: eight from the UK’s 617 Squadron RAF and 10 from the US Marine Corps squadron VMFA-211.
Dependence on the US was framed as a strength:
The Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers are international by design and the fact they can operate a mixed US/UK air group is a strategic advantage, offering choice and flexibility to both nations.
In reality, a clear majority of US fighters onboard brings into question the idea that the UK has returned to top level naval status. The Royal Navy’s new ships are an exercise in imperial fantasy and the new shipbuilding plans benefit only arms firms.
In his role as UK ‘shipbuilding tsar’ defence secretary Ben Wallace announced a ‘Blue Peter’ style competition to see who will build a further three warships. Except those competing will be arms firms not kids.
The contract is for three Fleet Solid Support ships, which will travel with the carriers. Wallace said:
As Shipbuilding Tsar, I am delighted to launch the competition for these crucial Fleet Solid Support ships. These vessels embody our commitment to a truly global presence by supporting the Royal Navy’s operations around the world. The competition reaffirms our dedication to invest in shipbuilding and support jobs across the UK maritime industry.
The winning firm will work with international partners to build the ships in UK dockyards as part of a project potentially worth £1.7bn a year over this parliament.
The UK claims to be an ambitious naval power in the top tier. But it can’t even fill the bays of its own aircraft carriers. Meanwhile, the new support ship programme looks like another cash cow for competing arms firms. But the UK government’s desperation to be a global power, and its vast spending to achieve that aim has no benefits and only serves to further line the pockets of arms companies.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/LPHOT Keith Morgan
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?