British Naval Fleet decimated: How the Royal Navy has lost 55 ships since Falklands War

The Royal Navy has seen a marked decrease over the last 30 years, now brought into focus as the UK’s naval superiority in the Middle East is questioned. A crisis is unfolding in Iran, as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has captured a British tanker which strayed into the Gulf of Oman. The Stena Impero, which was boarded and diverted by the Iranian military on Friday, is now impounded at the Bandar Abbas port in the south of the country. Experts are questioning whether the government’s failure to establish a hard line in the region is because of a shrinking naval presence.

The Royal Navy was once one of the largest naval forces in the world, a fact which brought Britain into prominence as a global power.

In the 18th century, the force held outright maritime supremacy, a fact which gave the British Empire the ability to spreads influence throughout the planet.

However, in the twilight years of the 20th century, the Royal Navy was dwindling in numbers, and this trend has continued into the new millennium.

New figures published by the Times today revealed the British Navy has markedly shrunk since the Falklands War in the 1980s.

During the Falklands war of 1982, the number of vessels in the Royal Navy stood at 131 to 134 ships.

In 2019 the navy is almost half what it once was, at 79 vessels in total.

This includes ships under construction at the time and awaiting active deployment.

The only ship type to increase since the Falklands war is the patrol ship, of which there are now two more on duty.

Here is a full rundown of ship types and their numbers from 1982 to 2019:

Aircraft carriers

1982-3: 2

2019: 2 (includes in construction/awaiting deployment)


1982-3: 12

2019: 6


1982-3: 43

2019: 15 (includes in construction/awaiting deployment)

Assault ships

1982-3: 4

2019: 2


1982-3: 16

2019: 10

Mine hunters

1982-3: 21-23

2019: 15

Patrol ships

1982-3: 22

2019: 24

Survey ships

1982-3: 12

2019: 5

Tobias Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East and a government Defence Minister, told the Times the Royal Navy is too small to perform on an international stage.

He said: “The threats we’re facing are changing in front of us, the world is getting more complex.

“If we are wanting to continue to play this influential role on the international stage it will require further funding for our armed forces, not least the Royal Navy.

“Our Royal Navy is too small to manage our interests across the globe.”

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