A £3 billion white elephant?
I DON'T NORMALLY comment on politics but this one is too big a target to miss. This is the Royal Navy's newest aircraft carrier, the Queen Elizabeth . Costing in excess of £3 billion and assembled at the Rosyth Royal Naval Dockyard in Fife from modular components built in various other places in the UK she is, at 65,000 tonnes, the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy.
She was launched just a few days ago and is currently anchored off the Fife coast for final checks before proceeding into the North Sea for sea trials. It is intended that she will 'project naval power worldwide' which is all fine and dandy - every major power has such a policy for its naval forces - but the major snag is that she is not expected to be fully operational until 2026! HMS Queen Elizabeth
OK, I do realise that building, launching and equipping a major warship isn't quite the same as nipping down to your local dealer and buying a new car but isn't a delay of eight years before she can be an effective warship is a bit too long? By that time she will be in need of a major refit which would include upgrading many of her systems and that could put her in dry dock for over a year.
And it gets worse! The Queen Elizabeth has a sister ship currently under construction - the Prince of Wales - which will face the same problems before she becomes fully operational. In fact, there have been whispers that, when her construction is completed, she will immediately be mothballed until such time as she can be fully equipped to become an effective fighting vessel.
Since the Prince of Wales is likely to cost more than the £3 billion+ price tag of the Queen Elizabeth that is an awful lot of money tied up for several years before they become useful.
For the same price the Royal Navy could have had several smaller vessels which could have been commissioned quicker. The navy themselves has admitted that they don't have enough ships to do all that is asked of them so would more smaller ships which would be ready quicker not have been a better option?
Image Credit » Kasman