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Ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper I wanted to join the Royal Navy; it was probably all thanks to novels by Douglas Reeman and Cecil Scott Forester which I read at length in my youth. In the end it was not to be, but obviously I still maintain a big interest in the "grey funnel line". The errors and infighting of the present Conservative government in Britain are well-known and clear for all to see, but its treatment of the armed services, especially the Royal Navy, doesn’t usually make the headlines.

The government is planning yet another round of defence cuts which could see four out of 13 frigates sold off. Two amphibious assault ships could be scrapped and up to 1,000 Royal Marines could be made redundant. But the government maintains that the defence budget is growing. It is a scandalous state of affairs and means that the Royal Navy will be effectively cut to the bone and become little more than a coastguard force. Yes, there are the two new aircraft carriers but they will not be operational for at least another five years. And apart from the carriers there will be little else.

The British government should come clean and say that there is not the money for defence. It is not an excuse but at least it is the truth. Saying that the defence budget is growing and the Royal Navy will be bigger is just not true and the navy deserves better. It is a sad state of affairs and I would urge the government to think again before it is too late.