Britain's new carriers-'Three decks essential for a major naval conflict

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    Malcolm Lewis

      At last the Royal Navy is close to being back in the carrier business as HMS Queen Elizabeth eases her way down the River Forth from Rosyth shipyard out into the North Sea for trials. Only one plane now but more to come. Her sister (or is it brother, or even son) HMS Prince Charles will join her before too long.
      During the UK’s last major sea battle to regain the Falklands Admiral ‘Sandy’ Woodward commanding the Task Force was adamant that he had to have two carriers operational at all times. If he no longer had ‘two decks’ available to ensure the safe return of his aircraft he claimed the war would have been lost.
      At the outset of the war HMS Illustrious was in dry dock for scheduled maintenance and only Invincible was readily available. The MOD was able to quickly stop Hermes going to the breakers and she bravely joined the fleet heading south as the flagship.
      This highlights the need to have three carriers in service (three decks) to have an effective force in readiness at all times. Sadly, it seems unlikely the UK’s fleet will have the ability to fulfil this role.
      I believe it is also possible that the Prince of Wales may not be commissioned because of cost restraints so we will then only be a ‘one deck’ navy. Let us hope the UK is not involved in a major conflict in the near future.

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