Saturday, 7 January 2012

Aden Old Photos 4: Ships at anchor

I make no apology for continuing until this reel of 36 photos is exhausted!

This next pair are reminders of the glory days of Aden as an active harbour. On the web there are many stories of when the liners were at anchor the shop owners would open their shutters any time of day or night and sell their goods at, ahem, "bargain" prices! We saw military and civil vessels of all kinds. I am pleased I have these two photos. The first is the SS Oriana (I have been advised via a posting elsewhere on the web), and the second is the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Now it's time to nail my colours to the mast.

I was stunned when it was announced Britannia was to be decommissioned. As a child of a service family it meant to me Britain was renouncing her naval ambitions. Britannia was never a vessel of naval aggression, but her very existence was a symbol (something politicians never understand, it seems to me) of Britain's belief in her naval forces.

That was under a Labour government. This was trumped by the Conservative policy of depriving the British Navy of any aircraft carriers.

I accept all the austerity talk has to be talked, and the politicians have done a fine job of it. I also accept the need for certain types of vessels changes over time, but Ark Royal was sea worthy. The politicians said we wouldn't need to worry about not having a carrier. Within months the politicians were proved wrong, in my opinion. I would argue that militarily, supporting the civilians in Libya (and I am not going to argue the moral rights and wrongs) would have been better served from a carrier.

Just in case you think I am a child of Empire and miss its existence and believe in British military supremacy (a fallacy if ever there were one), I would like to put you right on that. Britain is no longer an important country. Britain is a small country (and always has been) whose history was of Empire, but where is it now? We have dismantled it.

Just like the Venetian, Dutch and Portuguese glory days, Britain's place in the world has been eclipsed (or usurped?) by greater and younger powers. It's sad but true. And if you replace the world Britain for England in a few places, the sad truth is even more obvious.

This line of thought is leading off into other areas which I don't think I will explore here. Maybe another time when I have more time and can marshall my thoughts better.

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