What was true in Nelson’s day is true today. A “want of frigates” is a significant impediment to Royal Navy operations. Whether the political will exists in either the Tory or the Labour parties to fund a full Type 26 programme remains to be seen. We hear words, vague promises, murmurings, but not a single keel has been laid… yet all the while the RN’s existing frigate strength is diminished by too-soon journeys to the breaker’s yard.
TO WILLIAM MARSDEN, ESQ., ADMIRALTY.
[From Clarke and M’Arthur, vol. ii. p. 432.]
[About the 5th October, 1805.]
I am sorry ever to trouble their Lordships with anything like a complaint of a want of Frigates and Sloops; but if the different services require them, and I have them not, those services must be neglected to be performed. I am taking all Frigates about me I possibly can, for if I were an Angel, and attending to all the other points of my Command, let the Enemy escape for want of the eyes of the Fleet, I should consider myself as most highly reprehensible. Never less than eight Frigates, and three good fast-sailing, Brigs, should always be with the Fleet to watch Cadiz; end to carry transports in and out to refit it, would take at least ten and four Brigs, to do that service well. At present I have only been able to collect two, which makes me very uneasy.
I am, &c., NELSON AND BRONTE.