Under the plans, the number of warships would be cut by almost half to just 25, with frigates, destroyers, submarines, minesweepers and all amphibious craft scrapped.
Even if built, the new carriers could sail without any British aircraft to fly from them after admirals "mortgaged everything" to persuade ministers not to abandon the £5.2 billion programme. The ships could also be delayed for years and redesigned to save money, defence sources have disclosed.
In a final appeal to the National Security Council, Navy chiefs yesterday offered to make cuts that would reduce the senior service to its smallest since the time of Henry VIII.
... It is understood that the Navy has offered to slim down to as few as 12 surface ships, leaving it with six Type 45 destroyers and six Type 23 frigates. In addition, its submarine fleet would reduce to seven Astute hunter-killers plus the four Trident nuclear deterrent boats. With the two carriers, this would reduce the fleet by half from its current total of 42 ships. ...
A No 10 spokesman said: “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”
- Full article, Daily Telegraph, by Thomas Harding and James Kirkup: Navy to reduce to smallest size ever to save carriers
- Also from Telegraph, 8 Oct 2010: Conservative Party Conference: forces budget will fall below Nato minimum
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