Sunday 31 October 2010

Buddy! CanYou Spare An Aircraft Carrier?

According to a report in the Mail on Sunday, do stop laughing, this is serious, the USA has signalled its intentions about its military presence in the vicinity of London during the July-August Olympics of 2012.

How good to see that the Americans seem to have taken my remarks on Tuesday 12 May 2009 on Olympics Security to heart and are taking steps to take care of themselves.

It seems that an aircraft carrier is to be in place to help with security, I suspect primarily of American citizens fleeing the rage of the British Media as they walk off with most of the medals. This is an offer the UK government may well not be able to refuse.

The more charitable of us, and perhaps some PR people might suggest, is that the denuding of local police forces in many areas to provide cover in London might lead to civil breakdown in rural areas of East Anglia and Kent. So, the hospital and other services provided by these vessels in emergencies such at Haiti will be on hand.

These could be needed because on present plans the NHS is unable to deal with any major emergency anywhere. Also, it is likely that Fire Brigades may be on work to rule to allow them to spend more time moonlighting and the UK Armed Forces will all be in therapy.

I suspect that purely for internal French reasons they will have an aircraft carrier to hand at the same time along with a large proportion of the rest of the their fleet. If you want a quiet holiday then, perhaps Toulon might be a good place.

If the government’s media operations were fleet of foot enough they could decide to hold an international Navy Month in the Thames and adjacent waters as a prestige event purely as an added attraction. Let ‘em all come.

In the meantime, the “Ark Royal” has been instantly decommissioned, not only for the running costs, but the extensive needs of repair and upgrading now needed. We are in the process of building two new aircraft carriers but this will take some years.

We cannot afford to do this, nor can we afford to run them when completed but we cannot afford not to build them either because of the way the contracts were drawn up by Gordon Brown.

One of these vessels is listed to be named “Prince of Wales”. At the moment the living one is being castigated for allowing precious antique furniture he saved for the nation to go to rack and ruin at Dumfries House in Ayrshire. However, this name sends a cold shiver down the spine.

It was in 1941 that Roosevelt and Churchill met on the battleship “Prince of Wales” to create the “Special Relationship” (see my blog of Monday 25 January 2010). On 10 December 1941 together with HMS “Repulse” it was sunk off Malaya by Japanese naval forces using aircraft carriers. Churchill had sent these battleships without the usual support and paid a terrible price.

This signalled the end of the age of the big battleship and the era of aircraft carriers. These in turn need major support vessels. In the second decade of the 21st Century it can be argued that militarily the age of the carriers is now over with all the missile technology and capability around. We need a fundamental review of just what sea borne defences we need and can afford.

Perhaps if the American carrier does arrive in The Thames in 2012 it can adopt a “hearts and minds” approach to pacify the locals.

What about organising a few tea parties?

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