Wednesday, 6 November 2013

That Sinking Feeling

When it was first intended to build the new two aircraft carriers in relation to the debate there was always the next question.  This is what would happen when they were finished and afloat. 

If they were truly built as a prestige job creation project then clearly jobs would be at risk in the future.  Consequently, as far as jobs were concerned they were just putting off the evil day if the days of UK shipbuilding were coming to an end.

To add to the interest are the figures that the construction costs will have doubled.  This has evoked little surprise and only a resigned acceptance of this norm of government contracts.  As a student of railway history my bet is that the HS2 will go close to £150 billion or more.

What is never or almost never mentioned is how much the carriers are going to cost to run and keep going.  Leave aside the slight technical problem that we do not have the aircraft to put on them and let us just assume that is a secondary issue.

If you think of an aircraft carrier as a sort of floating Chipping Norton with a military airstrip attached and then start totting up the costs of keeping that size and nature of community going the figures will be very large.  They will continue with limited scope for real economies short of turning the carriers into social housing or reefs for marine life.

When these vessels are commissioned and in use what are the likely long term real cost of keeping them going?  We have little or no idea and it is no use relying on government figures they will be candidates for whatever fiction prize they are eligible for.

But the costs do not end there.  There are the other things that are not done either because they are pushed aside or because they are accorded lower financial priority or do not grab the headlines.  These might involve real losses for various reasons.

If you go back to the mid 20th Century and look at the military and other project decisions taken then and think of them in terms of not how much they cost to build but what then were the running costs. 

Then add to that what were the opportunities and growing areas of the economy  which might have hugely benefited from access to funding and finance but could not get it one can only weep or rage or both.

It is all happening again and again and again.  But are we now past the point of no return?


  1. Also it has to be considered that they are no longer needed or soon will be after completion. Technological advances and future defense needs tells us so.

  2. Such weapon systems enable the small powers to dine at the big powers table - The big powers like to claim support from such people. And often do favours for the small fry. "the free world"