Admiral uses speech to ramp up pressure for 
second aircraft carrier

Britain needs two aircraft carriers, not one, if it is to provide a credible answer to the global threat to maritime security, the head of the Royal Navy has said.

Admiral Sir George Zambellas, who is First Sea Lord and chief of the naval staff, said having two carriers ensuring continuous availability was “a modest extra premium to pay” for an “effective, credible, available, insurance policy”.

His comments come just days before the Navy’s new aircraft carrier and biggest ever ship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, is formally named by the Queen.

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Admiral Zambellas was delivering the keynote speech at the Rusi (Royal United Services Institutes) International Sea Power Conference 2014 in Whitehall.

He said the Queen Elizabeth class ships would deliver more than carrier strike for the Navy, but highlighted the importance of having two.

“Credibility hinges on a carrier being available when the need arises,” he said. “Hope is not a reliable method of ensuring capability availability when a crisis erupts.”

Admiral Zambellas’ comments echo those made by former head of the Royal Navy Admiral Lord West of Spithead, who last month said that without an increase in defence spending, the nation was “on the road to disaster”.

Lord West criticised plans for the near-completed second aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales, which suggested tying the latter up or selling it for a “bargain basement price”.

HMS Queen Elizabeth will be formally named by the Queen on Friday, when she will smash a bottle of whisky against it at Rosyth in Fife, where the 65,000-tonne vessel has been assembled and fitted out. Assembly of HMS Prince of Wales is set to begin at Rosyth later this year.