‘Militarily-useful’ vessels are defined as vessels that could be requisitioned in appropriate circumstances in support of the UK armed forces. The number of such vessels has fallen from 721 to 584.
According to the ‘UK armed forces equipment and formations ‘ report, there continues to be a decreasing trend in the total number of British registered passenger, tanker and dry cargo vessels.
“Militarily-useful vessels are defined as vessels that could be requisitioned in appropriate circumstances in support of the UK armed forces. The number of passenger, tanker, and dry cargo merchant vessels decreased from 721 to 584 in 2020, with product and chemical tankers showing the largest decline. In 2020, there were a total of 72 British-registered merchant specialist and fishing vessels. This is a decrease from 77 in 2018 and 2019.”
Click the below table to enlarge it.
This process is also known as STUFT (ship taken up from trade), it refers to a civilian ship requisitioned for government use.
The Falklands War of 1982 saw a diversity of ships taken up from trade, including tankers with potable water (see British logistics in the Falklands War) and fuels, freighters carrying food and munitions, and luxury liners converted to carry troops.
The report adds that these reductions “may be due in part to: a reduction in vessels registered under the British flag or the complete loss of vessels e.g. vessels being scrapped.”