It's not every day that you get to witness another small part of your country's military decline. But that is what i did yesterday as i filmed the homecoming of HMS Ark Royal, the only ship capable of carrying and launching fixed wing aircraft from the UK's once mighty fleet. In a short sighted and swift decision the UK Government decided to scrap our only aircraft carrier due to our nations straightened circumstances. Basically we can no longer afford it.
As the ship slipped quietly into Portsmouth Naval Base for the last time, it seemed fitting that she was shrouded in fog and sea mist, lest the rest of the world see what, in my opinion, is a very short sighted error, which in today's world of small wars, localised conflict and occasional disasters, may come to haunt our current governments decision.
As i filmed for Channel 4 News and the ITV Networks, i couldn't help feel a sense of sorrow for those aboard such a great warship that could have served for many more years to come. I myself served aboard HMS Ark Royal during my time in the Army and have great memories and photo's of my time serving alongside the Royal Navy. So the day had a double meaning for me personally.
|Me aboard HMS Ark Royal. 1991. (Rear row, centre)|
I know, good looking, rugged chap wasn't i ...? Those were the days though, single and travelling the world, meeting interesting new people and places... and nicking their country. Ah, back when the British had an empire and Britannia ruled the waves.
But those days are long gone, along with my hairline, and sleek muscled, toned body. Still, at least our government hasn't decommissioned me.... Yet.
So here is the film that Channel 4 fashioned from my days labour. A fine effort, even if i do say so myself, but i can't help thinking that i may have been a witness to just a little less of Great Britain than when i woke up that morning.
Rule Britannia... and God save the Queen in full chorus.