In December Queen Elizabeth officially welcomed the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier into the fleet.
HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales are the largest and most powerful ships in British naval history and the numbers behind them are certainly impressive.
920 feet long and 240 feet wide, HMS Queen Elizabeth cost £3.1 billion to build. When it is operational, it will typically carry 24 state of the art F-35 fighter jets, along with 9 Merlin anti-submarine helicopters and 5 Merlin Crowsnest early warning helicopters. Depending on the ship’s mission, this can also be changed to accommodate Royal Navy Commando Helicopter Force aircraft, Wildcats, RAF Chinooks or Army Air Corps Apache attack helicopters.
Given the sheer size of the carrier, 40 chefs will have their hands full feeding the ship’s 679 crew members. 1,000 loaves of bread will be freshly baked every day. 12,000 tins of bakes beans will be carried onboard during every deployment, along with 28,800 rashers. 66,000 sausages will also be carried and that would stretch more then four miles.
Impressive as the ships may be, Statista notes that redundancies have left the Royal Navy with only 29,280 personnel and that lack of manpower has created a serious dent in its strength and readiness.
You will find more statistics at Statista.
It recently emerged that a trio of Russian naval vessels transiting the English Channel were intercepted by a British mine-hunter rather than one of the fleet’s frigates, due to a shortage in vessels and personnel.
The British Ministry of Defense usually publishes details of such events but on this occasion, HMS Cattistock’s Russian rendezvous was kept away from the headlines.
Today, the service has 73 commissioned ships, 20 of which are major surface combatants, along with 10 submarines.
Its 29,000 personnel pales with numbers historically. In 1945 at the end of Second World War, the Royal Navy has 861,000 personnel, a number that fell to 128,000 in 1955 and 62,000 in 1991 when the Berlin Wall came down. By 2000, naval manpower shrunk to 38,880 before reaching today’s historic low.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.