Britannia spurns the waves

Remember when Britannia used to rule? Apparently that sort of thing has gone out of fashion:

Allowing for inflation, Britain’s GDP is four times greater than in 1953 but the country appears incapable of maintaining a viable fleet.

This was the scene at Her Majesty’s coronation in, yes, 1953:

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, a career officer before marriage, must look back ruefully on June 15 1953, when they boarded the frigate Surprise to review the armada gathered off Spithead to mark the Coronation. The Navy was anything but short of carriers then, benefiting from the surge in construction during the Second World War. Eagle, Indomitable, Illustrious, Theseus and Perseus, lined the way, together with Canada’s Magnificent and Australia’s Sydney. Other carriers were away on operations, from the Mediterranean to the Far East. In all some 300 ships, cruisers, destroyers, frigates and minesweepers, took part in the review, overflown by some 300 aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm.

And what could the Royal Navy muster today for a fleet review, with Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee imminent?

Today it comprises two helicopter carriers, 1 active assault ship, six destroyers, 13 frigates, 42 minor vessels and 13 auxiliaries.

They could probably defeat the nascent Wyoming navy, but they’re a long, long way from ruling today’s waves; as Kipling complained, “All our pomp of yesterday / Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!”

1 comment

  1. Jeffro »

    3 June 2012 · 1:46 pm

    The sun now sets on the British Empire.

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