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Acute Shortage of Personnel Forces Britain to Decommission Two Vital Warships

The British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, reported on the decision to decommission both Type 23 frigates due to a shortage of personnel, despite HMS Argyll and HMS Westminster undergoing upgrades in 2017, incurring a cost of US$70 million (RM315 million) each.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — The Royal Navy has been forced to decommission two of its Type 23 frigates, HMS Argyll and HMS Westminster, citing a shortage of personnel to operate these warships.

This move reduces the number of Type 23 frigates in the British Navy from 11 to nine.

The decision to retire both warships comes at a time when the British Navy requires more operational vessels to safeguard national interests, particularly in the Red Sea.

The intention was to retire all 11 Type 23 frigates by 2035, replacing them with Type 26 frigates.

British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph first disclosed the matter and said, the shortage of personnel prompted the decommissioning of the two frigates, even though HMS Argyll and HMS Westminster underwent upgrades in 2017, incurring costs of approximately US$70 million each.

The Royal Navy had to redeploy personnel from one area to another to compensate for the shortage.

HMS Argyll


Each Type 23 frigate can accommodate a crew of around 180, comprising officers and enlisted personnel.

 Statistics from the British Ministry of Defence indicate a 22 percent decrease in recruitment for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines from March 2022 to March 2023.

Former Chairman of the British Parliament’s Defence Committee, Tobias Ellwood, highlighted the decline in naval capabilities, pointing out that during the Gulf War, the Royal Navy boasted 51 frigates and destroyers.

Presently, the British Navy is set to be left with only 16 frigates and destroyers, marking its worst state since 1945.

The personnel withdrawn from the decommissioned Type 23 frigates are expected to be reassigned to the construction phase of the Type 26 frigates.

Type 26


After decommissioning, HMS Argyll and HMS Westminster will either be scrapped or sold to interested parties.

“After their decommissioning, both Type 23 frigates, HMS Argyll and HMS Westminster, will be disposed of or sold to interested parties,” stated the newspaper.

Notably, several Type 23 frigates from the British Navy have been decommissioned in the past, with three sold to the Chilean Navy—HMS Norfolk, HMS Marlborough, and HMS Grafton.

Recently, it was reported that the Royal Navy advertised for a top job on social media as it struggled to fill the role internally.

Sources say the Royal Navy was forced to post the recruitment ad on LinkedIn because Britain’s armed forces have been facing a recruitment crisis.

“Unseen and unhindered, the silent strength protecting from beneath the waves. The Royal Navy is recruiting for a Director of Submarines, responsible for highly classified stealth, elite operations and trident, our nuclear deterrent. Candidates must be a member of the reserves forces or have served with the regular forces. Know someone who is up for the task?,” the advertisement said.

The candidate would be responsible for “elite operations” and the nation’s nuclear deterrent. — DSA

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