The Royal Navy has a vital role in protecting Britain’s imported energy supplies, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope has told the Portsmouth Evening News.
With North Sea supplies fast running out, Britain is becoming incxreasingly reliant on imported supplies of gas and oil, 30% of which comes from Qatar and the wider Middle East region. ‘If we fail to protect that, an energy crisis is likely’, explains Admiral Stanhope, ‘the general public don’t see the four minehunters we’ve got in the Gulf’.
He will also be urging Government planners to look over the horizon, beyond current deployments. ‘There were challenges before Afghanistan and there will be challenges after Afghanistan’.
On the new supercarriers, Admiral Stanhope stressed that their importance goes beyond purely Naval requirements, ‘It’s about defence as a wider concern, its about the ability of the UK to underpin its position in the world’.
More broadly, the head of the Navy argued that the public have very little understanding of the importance of the sea to Britain’s prosperity and freedom, and that we are ‘therefore highly reliant on the stability and security of the globalised world’.
For many years known as the ‘silent service’ for its inability to promote itself, it seems that the Royal Navy now has a powerful advocate in the Ministry of Defence. He is quite right to argue that Britain’s security is inherently linked to security abroad, history has shown that time and time again. Its not enough to pull up the drawbridge and look inwards, especially given the ever-increasing globalisation of the wider world. On the importance of long term planning he is also correct – service chiefs have to plan for the next war, not just the current one. Unlike politicians, who plan for approval ratings and the next election.
How much Admiral Stanhope will be able to achieve, given the perilous finding situation remains to be seen, however.