The UK media made a big deal out of a Royal Navy patrol ship, HMS Forth shadowing a Russian warship returning home from the parade @ St.Petersburg.
The offshore patrol vessel HMS Forth had barely returned from its deployment in Gibraltar when it was ordered to scramble and shadow the Russian Navy patrol ship Vasily Bykov, as it sailed home to the Black Sea on Wednesday.
But, there is no menace, at least not from Russia. The Bykov was peacefully transiting the Channel, returning home after taking part in Navy Day celebrations in St. Petersburg.
While Britain once had a globe-spanning empire, carved out and maintained by the largest navy in the world, that empire has been long gone – and the Royal Navy isn’t what it used to be, either.
London talks a big game, boasting about joining the US patrol mission in the Persian Gulf, for example.
The uncomfortable reality is that the Admiralty is down to 13 frigates, 6 destroyers, a handful of smaller patrol ships like the Forth, and an expensive new aircraft carrier that presently lacks any operational aircraft.
The UK is facing a number of problems at home, made worse by the austerity policies pursued by a succession of governments, and it can’t even fully fund the navy’s existing budget.
The Royal Navy has already been confronted with the uncomfortable reality that it simply doesn’t have enough ships to safely escort all the British tankers in the Persian Gulf.
The frigate HMS Montrose and the destroyer HMS Duncan can only be in so many places at once. This leaves the ships like the HMS Forth having to dash from one leftover outpost of the old empire to another.
According to the Royal Navy, later this year the patrol ship will be deployed to the Falkland Islands, off the coast and annexed from Argentina.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point News 2019.
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