The lady with the Crown *1: # defence of the realm?

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I watched the documentary ‘The Coronation’ a few Sunday evenings back. It was a remarkable film from start to finish, with the first time ever that Her Majesty was filmed talking candidly about the ceremony, about the crowns, about her early life. I was truly fascinated by the sight and sounds of those ceremonies; and thought about the betrayals by ranks of politicians, down the decades of Elizabeth’s reign; betrayals to the point of treason, and I would like to discuss these traitors with the reader today, and over the coming days and weeks; beginning with Defence.

Princess Elizabeth left Heathrow for a duty visit to Kenya, and a short break with her husband. Her father, George 6th, worn out by his work, and stricken down by the lung cancer from all the cigarettes he smoked, died in his sleep. His daughter, used to being a Naval wife to Philip, and as a stand-in for her father, left England a Princess: and returned as a Queen, with all the weight of her Constitutional responsibilities landing on her slim shoulders like a pair of blacksmiths’ anvils; tied together with golden cords; reminding her of her duties every day of her life. Her task is to listen and to advise, both to the politicians who have screwed, bludgeoned and battered their way to the top of their Parties, and to the far more distant calls from a populace who believes that she may have the power to give some relief to their own personal dilemmas.

We were at peace, our Empire was in the long, bitter process of disbanding, and a young Queen had pledged to serve us all her days. But let us examine how SHE has been served, and just as many times badly served, by those same politicians. We are a seafaring nation. We trade within Europe, we trade with the wider World; but apart from the Channel Tunnel, everything arrives or departs by sea, primarily; and by air, to a much smaller degree. We had a Navy to be proud of in WW2, but the politicians and the alleged civil servants in the Ministry of Defence, who acknowledge that there are no votes in a Defence Force, have starved, shredded and emasculated our Navy. When Elizabeth 2nd sailed into the waters around Spithead on June 15th 1953 for the Coronation Review, our Naval Might was self-evident. From Motor Gunboats to Trawlers, Minesweepers to Frigates, Destroyers to Cruisers, Submarines and Aircraft Carriers, we had them all, in Spades! Apart from the Americans, we alone could project Sea Power across and around the world. Our Royal Navy was disciplined, educated in battle, and successful in those battles, we had men who had tasted blood, and were ready to sally forth to meet and vanquish any possible enemy.

The Cold War ended with the collapse of Communism and of Soviet Russia. We had, still, a formidable Army, furnished with all the accoutrements of modern armoured warfare, we had a Navy which could still pack a punch, despite its diminished Peace-time size, we had an Air Force which could deliver a nuclear weapon, and a fighter element which could swagger with the best. Most importantly, we had the men who marched, and were prepared to fight, the men who crewed the destroyers, frigates and submarines, the carriers which supported some of the best aircraft in the world, and the pilots and support staff who flew and maintained both bombers and fighters. But then the Politicians got involved, and the accountants at the Treasury thought up this new tactic named ‘the Peace Dividend’; figuring out how much could be saved if we didn’t have all these nasty warlike things, and ‘hard’ people who threatened, and practiced, to kill other people: and how, now that the threat was gone, we really didn’t need much of, well, anything which might go ‘bang’ or even worse, actually destroy someone who was threatening us.

When the Russians shoved a small Squadron up through the English Channel earlier this month, we could find just one twenty-five-year-old frigate, H.M.S. Westminster; to convoy two modern Russian vessels, a frigate and a corvette, through the English Channel. Not much is being said about the dire straits of the Type 45 ‘Daring’ destroyer fleet, each costing out around £1 Billion (thats £1,000,000.00) each. Seems as though BAe Systems, the Royal Navy’s ONLY private shipbuilder, made a little boo-boo when designing the propulsion systems, with an intercooler which is about half the size it should have been. As this means that the ships turbines cannot get the cooling they need if the water turns a shade ‘WARM’; the six Destroyers, all six Multi-Billion poundsworth, are sitting tied up to the Portsmouth docks while shore parties try to figure out how to slice a hole in the side of the ship, to get the old bit out, and a new bit in. As the old ‘A Team’ saying goes; ‘I love it when a plan comes together!’

Our nuclear attack submarines, built up at Barrow-in-Furness, aren’t coping much better, with accidents before they’ve been wet for more than three hours. The Submariners run a ‘Commanders Course’ which is called ‘The Perisher’ which is designed to find the good guys, and let the rest go astray in submarine terms; and one fine day, one unfortunate candidate was in charge of the newest Nuke, HMS Ambush which has, in terms the Royal Navy trumpeted abroad; ‘World-Class Sensor capabilities’. He was cruising submerged whilst approaching the Straits of Gibraltar, and, presumably utilising these ‘World-Class Sensor capabilities’ to check if there was any surface traffic around; decided to surface the boat (subs are always called ‘boats’; its a Navy thing). He forgot to use the second periscope, the ‘Learners’ were grouped around the first one; and bent his brand new multi-million-pound submarine by hitting a large merchant ship. OOOPs! As its not an easy job to repair a bent submarine, that particular ‘boat’ will be out-of-service for about nine-eleven months; if they are lucky!

We have so few coastal patrol vessels we cannot stop one hundredth of the vessels smuggling asylum seekers, bogus or otherwise, and if we had them, we probably couldn’t crew and man them. We have two Aircraft Carriers, one commissioned and ready for sea, the other nearing completion. There’s only one problem, we haven’t got any jets to fly off them, at least we won’t have any for at least two more years, but thats alright; after all, if the 65,000 ton behemoth did wish to sail in harm’s way, there are no destroyers to provide protection; because they’re all tied up in Portsmouth, and the submarine? That’s being fixed; ready shortly! The carriers are fitted with a sweep take-off bow, to accommodate the hugely-expensive and problem-prone F-35 VSTOL variant fighter/bomber. They were originally to have catapult capability, but the ding-wits at the MOD, aided (if that is the correct term) by Labour and Tory politicians, changed everything, at a huge cost; so we can only fly off VSTOL jets, or helicopters. Wonderful!

From this: in that afore-mentioned Spithead Review..……………….to this: in a mere 64 years!

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