An opportunity lost

Readers of the Jack Aubrey books by Patrick O'Brian might allow themselves a wry smile at this:
Jason Moore said:
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica]An opportunity lost

THIS weekend there is a major naval review in Mahon to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the construction of the military hospital in the centre of the Port. It was the first Royal Navy hospital to be built outside Britain and at the time Mahon was an important base for the Royal Navy. Admiral Nelson, himself, visited the island. Unfortunately, the Royal Navy doesn´t have any ships available to take part in the review.

[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica]The Defence cuts have meant that Britain can’t find a single ship to send to an event which is effectively a Royal Navy tribute. This is a scandalous state of affairs. Now, despite the cuts, which are pretty severe, the Royal Navy still has about 20 frigates and destroyers, two amphibious assault ships, a helicopter carrier, a light aircraft carrier, nuclear-armed submarines, about two dozen minesweepers, patrols boats and plenty of support vessels. Are you going to tell me that none of these vessels are available for a short visit to Minorca?

Apart from extending relations with NATO's partners, underlining how important Minorca was for the Royal Navy, there will probably be about 50,000 British tourists and residents on the island as well. What an opportunity to show the flag. Admiral Nelson, was always complaining about a lack of frigates in the fleet. It is a great pity that this severe shortage is once again robbing the Royal Navy of a unique celebration. Showing the flag was once a key role for the Navy, even that has now gone.
Notwithstanding the extraordinary naivety of the author, with Gibraltar in mind, what price the influence of 'soft power' when you need it?
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Turning the argument on it's head.Due to operational commitments elsewhere and the nedd to spend our resources carefully the RN has decided not to send a ship on a jolly to Minorca to celebrate the long since forgotten opening of a hospital 300 years ago.I doubt any British holidaymakers will be disappointed at the "no show" as the sun,sea and sangria were the reasons they went to Minorca rather than to see British matelots on a bender.

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