I am sad to see the likely end of the venerable HMS Plymouth but I regret that my concern for the parlous state of the present-day Royal Navy must take priority. There is a wider issue at stake and the lack of public support for the preservation of HMS Plymouth is only one symptom of a much greater malaise, that of "sea blindness".
Notwithstanding the 'credit crunch', as long as the vast majority of the Great British Public can still fill up their tanks with relatively cheap fuel, heat their homes and select from a wide range of food, clothes, electrical appliances, gadgets, DVDs and other consumables in their local shops, their affinity with the Royal Navy will be limited. I doubt that many of the younger members even appreciate where most of these items originate and how they arrive at our shores after coming from, and through, some of the least stable areas of the world. Such people will feel even less affinity with historic ships like HMS Plymouth which have been crucial in protecting our interests, including our kinsmen and kinswomen, both at home and abroad, safeguarding our sources of raw materials and finished products and securing the trade routes along which 95% of our imports and exports must travel. This sounds like a mantra but some mantras exist because they have stood the test of time.
It is increasingly evident that not even events in far-away places will change opinions until the availability of items we take so much for granted is threatened. When our lack of maritime power prevents us from influencing events in remote places to the extent that their problems arrive on our doorstep, threatening our economic survival, it will all be too late. As for this Government, it seems more interested in eroding our history than in learning from its lessons.