Very difficult to accept this report as one who was in the service when it was still a powerful fleet of great ships and good crews. Unimaginable to think that something so great could change so much in such a short time. UK will be forced to rely on France and America Drastic cutbacks in spending on the Royal Navy during the past decade means commanders are struggling to assemble a task force to participate in the UN-sanctioned blockade of North Korea. Navy chiefs have also expressed deep concern about their ability to defend their ships against a hostile missile or fighter threat after a decision was enforced six months ago to scrap the Sea Harrier fighter. Ships will be entirely reliant on the American or French navies to provide "beyond visual range" air defence with aircraft carriers. The Navy has been cut by almost a third since Labour came to power and commanders believe that any British contribution would amount to one or two ships. While the Navy has operational experience of interdicting drugs and arms smugglers in the Gulf and Caribbean, its resources are severely limited. Since 1997, the number of frigates and destroyers has shrunk from 35 to 25 warships, one of three aircraft carriers has been taken out of service and the hunter killer submarine force has been cut by two boats to 10. There are 38,000 sailors in the Navy. The Government was publicly warned that 25 frigates and destroyers were inadequate for the demands being made on the Fleet by the recently retired First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Alan West. A frigate would be able to carry out stop and search missions with its helicopters and armed boarding parties. A Trafalgar or Swiftsure class submarine could also be used to covertly gather intelligence off the North Korean coast. But without the Sea Harriers the ships will be vulnerable to attack if there are no US Navy Aegis class ships in the area. "Without Sea Harrier we are screwed and we cannot really protect ourselves adequately from the missile threat," the Navy officer said. The Fleet will not have adequate air defence until the first Type 45 destroyer enters service in three years.