W2W - must not neglect defence

OUR flagship HMS Ocean has been sold to the Brazilians for £84 million.

This, after a £65 million refit only three years ago.

The £19 million we will make on the deal is barely enough to run two frigates for a year.

And, like the 40, expensively upgraded Harrier jets we sold to the USA for £34 million in 2011, Ocean still had an important role to play.

She and the two amphibious transport docks, HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion, accompanied by four logistic support ships, could deliver a large punch, supporting an expeditionary force of 5,000 men.

Rumours abound that this entire capability could be lost.

And it’s not just the ships under threat, but the Royal Marines, too.

Such a decision would have catastrophic consequences for our security and for the morale of the entire armed forces.

It would also have a detrimental effect on our special forces, half of whom come from the Royal Marines.

The loss of our amphibious fleet would leave us reliant on our new aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth.

However, this ship is not designed to land large numbers of troops on hostile shores and would be vulnerable to attack were she to do so.

Yes, it’s all about money, as always, and a cheaper pound is not helping.

But Government is about priorities and there can be none higher than the defence of the realm.

Already, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark are crewed alternately to keep costs down.

New Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has shown himself willing to fight for our armed forces, and I sincerely hope he does.

The possibility of conflict in these uncertain times is very real and we must not make the same mistake as past generations by denuding our defences for political expediency.