I was pleased to read on your In Port page (November 1) that the Government will spend over £63 million in the next decade on the procurement and support of our Royal Navy's surface ships and submarines.

It was also pleasing to read that Mr Gerald Pitts, now managing director of A&P Group Defence, is spearheading his firm's bid to secure a share of a £900 million Ministry of Defence contract to refit and repair ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

However, all that has been somewhat overshadowed by news that the Royal Navy could lose its ability to assault enemy held beaches, under plans being considered in the Ministry of Defence. Two specialist landing ships - HMS Albion and Bulwark - would be taken out of service under the proposals and there has been media speculation that the Government is considering scrapping the Royal Navy's entire amphibious assault capabilities and cut 1,000 Royal Marines.

The plan - part of a package of cost-cutting measures - has caused alarm among senior Royal Marine officers.

The MoD has said that no decisions have been made yet and that discussion of options was "pure speculation".

Some military minds believe the head of the Royal Navy, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, formulated the move as part of a package designed to balance the books and free up sailors for the service's two new aircraft carriers. Critics say the proposal would deprive the Royal Marines of its core mission.

Among other cuts envisaged is the early retirement of two mine-hunting vessels and one survey vessel.

Many members of the public do not want these cuts to go ahead. We know that not only are the Royal Marines the best in the world! (think their record in Iraq and Afghanistan) but they are specifically trained for amphibious work and provide 50 per cent of UK special forces, more than any other regiment or service.

If, like me, you oppose the loss of our military capabilities, please sign the petition to be found on the link below and make the powers that be think again.


C Jordan