According to a very reliable source on another site that I frequent, two RN destroyers - Exeter and Southampton are due to enter "extended readiness" in the very near future. Both ships were due to decomission next year, but it appears that in a change to their programme, and as a savings measure, they will now go alongside into "extended readiness" and never go to sea again. This is significant for several reasons - firstly it is an almost 10% cut in the RN escort fleet - taking it to just 23 hulls. Once ships go into "ER" (and by that I mean Reserve and not Refit) they do not come out of it. Given that we now have 3 escorts in long term refit, the UK has less than 20 escorts available to go to sea - the lowest number ever, and less than we sent down south to the Falklands. We couldn't do a Falklands scenario now numberswise, even if we sent every escort ship in the fleet. What makes this stink is the fact that the Govt has yet to announce it, and probably won't announce it - they can say that the RN has 25 Escvorts at varying levels of readiness, conveniently ignoring the fact that 3 are in long term (i.e over 6 months to get to sea again) refit and 2 are going to be in mothballs (ie stripped of all usable parts and at 6 months notice for sea, ahead of decomissioning next year). The MOD will say that "new and more capable ships are replacing them". This is an outright lie - the 42's were designed for replacement by the 45's, the first of which is now due in service in 2009 and is apparently having major technical difficulties. Its unlikely that we will see substantive and operationally effective replacements for at least 5 years - when we've got 4 45's online and with the bugs ironed out. The rest of the ships in service were designed in the 60's and 70's and have a weapons fit to match. All the major upgrade programmes have been cut or cancelled under new labour. In 1997 we had 12 destroyers, 23 frigates in service, with another 3 in build. In a couple of months we will have 6 destroyers - the youngest of which will be 22 years old in service, plus 17 frigates - with 4 probably going to be sold to the highest bidder in the near future. On paper 6 escorts are in build, but they are years from service. We've seen a nearly 45% cut in the RN escort fleet under new labour, upgrades cancelled and now have one of the oldest escort fleets in NATO. The kleptomaniac captain darling, and the cyclops have gutted my service to pander to the needs of scum, chavs and the poor. Nelson must be rolling in his grave.