The Royal British Navy is rapidly running out of ships and men to run them, so much so, that they have had to post a job offer for a top-post on LinkedIn.
The Royal Navy dominated the world's sea lanes for more than three centuries during the colonial era. Even during World War II, the Royal Navy mustered up 900 ships in the English Channel to protect the allied assault on Nazi Germany.
The 1982 Falklands War against Argentina, which was also primarily a naval war, saw the British Royal Navy muster up 127 ships, including 53 frigates and 13 destroyers, in the South Atlantic.
Today, however, the Brits only have 16 'major surface combatants' in their stable (10 older Type-23 frigates and 6 modern Type-45 destroyers), with a total strength of just 70 ships — a far cry from what once was a true world-faring navy.
The manpower shortage is even more acute.
The situation is so bad that the Royal Navy had to post a recruitment ad on LinkedIn for the Director of Submarine — a top post handling Britain's 'elite underwater submarine operations' and nuclear deterrent.
Posting a job ad on LinkedIn for recruiting junior sailors and specialised roles is not uncommon, but a LinkedIn ad for such a critical position — a Rear Admiral — who will oversee covert operations of not only seven Astute-class nuclear attack submarines but also Vanguard-class submarines that operate Britain's Trident missiles, has invited sharp criticism — made even worse by the fact that the Royal Navy was unable to find someone qualified for this job internally.
The Royal Navy has just 29,000 full-time sailors in active duty, a number which is rapidly falling. It has the highest dropout rate (more than 22.1 percent) among the army and air force, and in the past year, it lost close to 1,640 sailors.
Adding to that, there are not enough new sailors joining the Royal Navy, to the extent that it has had to mothball and retire older ships to keep its existing ships running.
“We will have to take manpower from one area of the Navy in order to put into a new area of the force,” a high-ranking official said to The Telegraph.
In fact, the Royal Navy retired two of its recently upgraded Type-23 frigates, HMS Argyll and HMS Westminster.
The shortage of crew is so dire that HMS Argyll, which is currently undergoing an overhaul – a fact that hints the Royal Navy intended to operate it for the next five to six years – was retired.
Ben Wallace, a Conservative MP and former Defence Secretary, claims that the shortage of manpower is due to Gen-Z (referring to people born between 1997 to 2012) not being as willing to join the military as people from earlier generations did.
With the Royal Navy in such a depleted state, how Britain will be able to combat the Houthi situation in the Red Sea, while simultaneously operating in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea against China's increasing assertiveness, remains to be seen.
Editorial Associate at Swarajya. Writes on Indian Military and Defence.
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