Tuesday, 21 May 2013
Yesterday hundreds of people turned out to wave goodbye to the Royal Navy's flagship HMS Ark Royal on her last voyage before being broken up for scrap.
The aircraft carrier, which was formally decommissioned in 2011, was towed out of Portsmouth Harbour watched by a large crowd of silent well-wishers and she sailed by. She is being towed to Turkey where she will be broken up by a ship recycling company.
A flotilla of small boats sailed with her as she was pulled by tug boats from the harbour.
The 22,000 ton Ark Royal - the fifth Royal Navy ship to bear the name - was launched in 1981 and was known affectionately by her crew as The Mighty Ark.
The decision to scrap the Ark Royal has left the UK without a fully functioning aircraft carrier for nearly ten years until the next generation of carriers come into service.
Retiring her five years earlier than planned was a controversial decision and one which is still disagreeable to many. As part of a £2.9m deal the Ark Royal will go to the same yard as her sister ship Invincible.
Her last journey would have been a very sad and poignant sight for many naval personnel.
One ex-sailor said he couldn't understand why she hasn't been kept and used as a tourist attraction. That may have worked well because Britannia, docked at Leith, is now a very profitable business. However, the powers-that-be decided to rid the UK of a perfectly serviceable ship in order to save money, yet they're happy to spend millions subsidising windmills.
My thanks to JRB for this post. He gave me the motivation.
Monday, 20 May 2013
A couple of friends emailed me this morning asking my opinion of the Telegraph's article 'Army launches recruitment drive for 10,000 new young soldiers ahead of redundancies'. (I don't subscribe to the Telegraph but was able to access it on my iPad, so if you have a tablet you can read it by downloading the Telegraph app).
One of my friends was outraged at what he considered was an insult to those soldiers who would soon be leaving the Army; some involuntarily.
Next month there will be another round of 5,000 redundancies and starting today the MoD will appeal, in a television campaign, for fresh applicants, aimed at the 16 - 24 age group.
Maybe this is why the MoD is starting a recruitment drive.
Critics argue that the Army is losing valuable expertise as it sheds trained soldiers in favour of young recruits, many of whom will be starting on just over £14,000 a year. I concur, because much of the skill training within HM Forces is expensive but, on the positive side, many skilled soldiers who have been made redundant will be employable in civilian life, even in the current employment market. Sadly, also there will be a good percentage who will be suffering war-weariness and all the health problems associated with numerous deployments in recent years.
The MoD defended its position by stating that around 11,000 leave the Army naturally every year so it has to constantly recruit.
Ministers are trying to reduce the size of the Army from 102,000 to 82,000 as part of deep cuts to the defence budget. It was initially proposed that numbers would be bolstered by more reservists from the Territorial Army, but it seems that employers aren't at all happy at the prospect of losing an employee for months rather than weeks. Also, as in any organisation, it's so much cheaper to have youngsters rather than older, more qualified and experienced personnel. Thankfully there are those who recognise their plight and make strenuous efforts to help.
The future of our Army is now becoming evident. A basically trained young force with depleted senior ranks. In a few year's time our Army will be but a shell of what it has been in my lifetime.
What does concern me is that army recruiting has now been outsourced to the private company Capita yet there is no indication that the MoD has made its recruitment department redundant as yet.
Who would have thought that the recruitment of our military was profit-making?
Sunday, 19 May 2013
Saturday, 18 May 2013
Friday, 17 May 2013
What did they think they would achieve by yelling "scum, scum, scum"? Who were these people? Some newspapers report they were organised through social media. I suggest they come from the same mould as rent-a mob or rent-a-thug. Everyone is entitled to protest but as has been proven again and again, it's the dignified protestors who are respected.
According to the Guardian they were 'students, anti-racist campaigners and activists in the radical left pro-Scottish independence movement'.
I shouldn't think many who support the Yes campaign will be proud of how these people behaved yesterday. Opinions can be expressed without the use of derogatory language.
If only they realised - although I doubt they have enough sense - that their actions did nothing for the independence cause but handed the No campaign a free gift.
As for Nigel Farage, he won't be too concerned. It was good publicity for his party, although dreadful PR for Scotland.