While no frigates or destroyers are deployed, 13 Royal Navy surface vessels and submarines are currently deployed around the world.
Vice-Admiral John McAnally, president of the Royal Naval Association, said that the lack frigates and destroyers overseas was unprecedented and indicates the fleet is too small.
“I am distressed and alarmed. I do not see that it is easily remedied. The only answer is an increase in the defence budget. It is too small to meet what government want the armed forces to do.”
All of the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers are in Portsmouth, while 12 of 13 Type 23 frigates are either at Portsmouth or Devonport. HMS St Albans however is on duty in home waters as fleet ready escort.
An MoD spokeswoman said:
“The Royal Navy is deployed globally on operations and will be protecting our national interests throughout Christmas and New Year. There will be 13 ships and submarines deployed away and in home waters, as well as the at sea nuclear deterrent.”
Recently, HMS Diamond had to abort a deployment to the Gulf due to issues relating to her propeller shaft.
Former First Sea Lord, Lord West, said:
“It’s all very well calling it the ‘year of the Navy’ but there is insufficient money in the defence programme for the programme that is laid down.
There has been hollowing out of defence and in the Navy’s case this means that there is not enough training, there aren’t enough spares, the work that needs to be done on the 45s hasn’t been started on any of them yet.
There are insufficient people to man various ships – the hollowing out is very damaging, and in the Navy’s case it has an impact on our ability.”