The UK is selling an old aircraft carrier for scrap as its navy declines
US Navy Photo
"We have done all we can for over two years to find a home for the former HMS Illustrious in the UK, and regrettably all options have now been exhausted," UK Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said in a statement.
Unfortunately, the sale of the Illustrious coincides with an overall decline in Britain's naval and military power at large.
In an essay written at Reuters, David Axe details a decades-long decline in money and attention spent on maintaining the Royal Navy.
Indeed the Royal Navy, once the greatest in the world, has declined precipitously and no longer even employs fighter jets. The entire fleet stands at just 89 ships and one helicopter carrier, after the Illustrious was decommissioned in 2014. In comparison, the US has 11 helicopter carriers, and 10 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.
Meanwhile, the need for stabilizing naval presences has been growing. The Royal Navy has had repeated run ins with Russian ships that patrol the Atlantic and North Sea in the greatest uptick of covert submarine activity seen since the Cold War.
Both the US and France have sent carriers to the Mediterranean to combat ISIS, and British jets do participate in the fighting, but not from their own flat tops.
Earlier this month, a report leaked to the Times newspaper said that the British army would be "vulnerable" in the battlefield against Russia and that Russian President Vladimir Putin would have a "significant capability edge" in state-on-state warfare.
REUTERS/U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Remington Hall/Handout
Currently, the Royal Navy awaits the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers, which will support F-35B multi-role fighters and will hopefully help improve the capabilities of the Royal Navy. The Illustrious is slated to ship off to Turkey this fall.
"As the former aircraft carrier gets ready to leave Portsmouth, so we can look to the future and the arrival of the new Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, which will ensure that the Royal Navy continues to be a pre-eminent maritime power in the modern world," Mike Utley, former Commanding Officer on HMS Illustrious, said in a statement.
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