Drastic Drop in ‘Militarily Useful’ British Vessels from 841 in 2009 to 495 in 2023
The UK has seen a dramatic decline in its ‘militarily useful’ vessel count, plunging from 841 in 2009 to 495 in 2023, signaling a significant shift in national maritime resources.
The fall in the number of ‘militarily useful’ British vessels from 841 in 2009 to 495 in 2023 represents a 41.14% decrease.
- 2009: The count of ‘militarily useful’ British vessels stands at 841. This year serves as a benchmark for observing future trends in the UK’s maritime capabilities.
- 2016: A report on UK armed forces equipment and formations notes a continued decrease in the number of such vessels. The count has dropped to 701 by the start of this year, indicating a significant reduction from the 2009 figures.
- 2021: The number of ‘militarily useful’ British vessels, including passenger, tanker, and dry cargo merchant ships, is recorded at 532, continuing the downward trend.
- 2022: The count further decreases to 495, with a notable decline in product and chemical tankers and container ships. This marks a continuation of the trend observed over the previous years.
- 2023: Current statistics highlight a stark drop to 495 vessels from the 841 recorded in 2009, culminating in a 41.14% decrease over this 14-year period.
According to report published by the UK Government regrading equipment numbers in and available to the British Armed Forces, there has been a substantial reduction in the United Kingdom’s fleet of ‘militarily useful’ British-registered vessels.
Defined as civilian ships that can be requisitioned under the STUFT (ship taken up from trade) protocol to support the UK Armed Forces, these vessels are vital for national defense and emergency response operations.
The 2023 statistics present a concerning trend: the count of these vessels, which includes passenger, tanker, and dry cargo merchant ships, has decreased to 495. This number represents a stark drop from the 841 ‘militarily useful’ vessels recorded in 2009.
The trend was earlier noted in the 2016 ‘UK armed forces equipment and formations’ report, highlighting a continual decline from the 2009 figures.
The historical significance of such vessels was demonstrated during the Falklands War of 1982, when a variety of civilian ships were requisitioned for military logistics. The current downward trend, particularly noticeable in product and chemical tankers, and container ships, points to a significant shift in the composition and readiness of the UK’s maritime fleet. Something, realistically, out with Government control.
The reasons behind this decline are likely to include a decrease in vessels registered under the British flag and the scrapping of older ships.