Tuesday, January 16, 2007
How the mighty have fallen
There has been much publicity of late on how the Royal Navy has been cut to the bone – to the extent that it is now scarcely if at all a credible force. Yet, despite that, Britain – under the tutelage of Tony Blair – is still determined to play its part in prosecuting the war on terror, alongside its ally the United States.
To that effect, The Times tells us, the allies are beefing up their naval forces in the Gulf to "go after" Iran. Britain's contribution is the two 600-ton minehunters HMS Blyth and HMS Ramsey (pictured above), which will remain in the Gulf for an unusually-long two-year mission "to keep shipping routes open in the event that Iran attempts to block oil exports".
The American contribution is the 97,000 ton USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier, with its escort group, which entered the Gulf in December (carrier shown above right). It will shortly be joined by the 100,000 ton USS John C. Stennis with its carrier group (carrier shown above left). This is the first time since the invasion of Iraq four years ago that the US has deployed two carrier strike groups in the Gulf at one time.
Some interesting facts about the Stennis: it is constructed with 60,000 tons of structural steel; if lined up end-to-end, the bed mattresses carried on the ship would stretch more than nine miles; the vessel also carries 28,000 sheets and 14,000 pillow cases and has 2,000 telephones. Each of its two anchors weighs 30 tons.
The disparity says it all. Britain a naval power? Who do we think we are kidding?