Open letter from Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, to the Daily Telegraph regarding their recent article entitled 'Weakened Navy' (15th September 2017).
As head of the Naval Service I owe it to my people and your readers to set the record straight (‘Weakened Navy ‘can barely protect UK’’, September 15).
It is simply plain wrong to say that HMS Ocean has been delayed by engine problems. She sailed from Gibraltar on time and to plan and was laden with nine helicopters, hundreds of pallets of emergency aid, water, trucks and almost 700 personnel from all three services.
I would also highlight the role of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay which has been instrumental to the UK’s immediate military response and deserves to be recognised.
As for the wider Fleet, this week there have been over 30 ships and submarines deployed on operations, preparing for operations or in training. This includes frigates and destroyers that are patrolling our home waters, protecting maritime trade in the Middle East and leading a NATO task group in the Mediterranean.
The Royal Navy does have manpower challenges and we have not tried to hide this fact.
We are making good progress to put them right and earlier this week I was able to announce Royal Navy affiliations with a further four University Technical Colleges which are helping to train the engineers and scientists that the Navy and the Nation will depend on for our future security and prosperity.
It is reassuring that the Daily Telegraph recognises the pivotal importance of a strong Royal Navy but it is disappointing that such a story, with key errors, was printed with such prominence.
We must never lose sight of how hard our sailors and marines are working today, or how relevant their contribution will become as the United Kingdom forges a new, confident and ambitious role in the world.
Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC,
First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff