Recent government statistics revealed that the UK has experienced a drastic decline in its number of “military useful” vessels.
“Military useful” vessels are civilian ships that can be requisitioned to support the armed forces in defending the country or performing emergency response.
Data shows that Britain had 841 ships classified as “military useful” in 2009, but the number plunged to 495 in 2023.
The latest figure represents a staggering 41 percent decrease in 14 years.
One of the possible reasons behind the dramatic decline is the decrease in vessels registered under the British flag, according to a report by the UK Defence Journal.
The scrapping of older “military useful” vessels is also pointed to as a factor behind the drop.
‘A Concerning Trend’
A further breakdown of the decline shows the sharpest drop recorded in 2016 when the UK only had 701 “military useful” vessels from 841 in 2009.
It further dropped to 532 in 2021, with the decline most noticeable in passenger, tanker, and dry cargo merchant vessels.
According to the outlet, the concerning downward trend poses a significant risk to the composition and readiness of the country’s maritime fleet.
“Military useful” ships have a historical significance for the British armed forces as they assisted during the Falklands War of 1982 when various civilian vessels were requisitioned to deliver military supplies.