Once the world's preeminent sea power, Britain has cut its maritime power to levels unthinkable a generation ago.
However, the Senior Service has perhaps seen the worst, and better times are coming.
Since Britain's defense capabilities as a close ally of the US have a direct impact on our own defense spending, it is worthwhile looking at what's going on.
The largest warships ever built in Britain, the 65,000 ton Queen Elizabeth and class aircraft carriers are under construction as we speak. The QE will enter service first, and will carry a mix of F-35B and helos. Unlike the big US fleet carriers, this class is designed to operate closer inshore, and will complement the smaller US "pocket" carriers. The in service date for QE is 2016.
The draconian cuts to the RN also reduced the number of frigates and destroyers operated by the service. The numbers of the advanced Type 45 air defense destroyers were cut from 14 to 6. New frigates to replace worn ships of that type are just getting on to the drawing board.
An interesting concept for a class of sloop was floated (yes, I know) last year. The Black Swan, hearkening to a historic class of ship, would provide the RN with greater numbers of hulls to meet the many commitments they have, such as anti-piracy patrols and the standing anti-drug patrols in the Carribean region.
Not only would it give a boost to the RN, but it would strenghten communities throughout the UK, keeping vital skills and industrial capabilities alive and providing good jobs.
It is in the American interest to have a strong RN. Sixty years ago, at the Queen's coronation, the fleet review included scores of large, powerful warships. In 2012, we had the Thames Regatta.