The Falkland Islands are to be left without the protection of a British warship for the first time since the war with Argentina because the Royal Navy no longer has enough ships to meet all its commitments.
The frigate HMS Northumberland, which is armed with guided missiles, torpedoes and a Lynx helicopter, was due to be sent on patrol to the islands this month. But it will now be replaced by a Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessel not equipped for offensive combat operations.
The controversial decision was forced on senior naval commanders by the increasing problem of overstretch facing the Royal Navy.
Cuts to the size of the fleet over the last 10-years – the Royal Navy has just 22 frigates and destroyers compared to 65 in 1982 – has left the service with too few ships to meet its responsibilities.
The Royal Navy is likely to face more cuts in the near future whil
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