THE SCALE of savage cuts to Britains once-proud Navy is revealed today by these shocking aerial pictures.
Taken above Portsmouth harbour, they show 15 ghost warships being mothballed, scrapped or sold off.
Saddened sea salts said the snaps spelled out Royal Navy, RIP — Rust In Peace.
And it proves that no more can Britain claim to rule the waves.
Last month The Sun revealed that six MORE warships are in line to be mothballed. Critics said the Navy could soon be left with just 18 major sea-going ships — compared to 108 at the time of the Falklands War in 1982.
Our pictures show the aircraft carrier Invincible — officially in a state of extended readiness but never likely to set sail again.
Another 12 being decommissioned awaiting sale or the scrap-yard are Fearless, Intrepid, Sir Tristram, Cardiff, Newcastle, Glasgow, RFA Grey Rover, Dulverton, Brecon, Cottesmore and Leeds Castle. Also on the list is Sir Galahad, built to replace the namesake bombed during the Falklands war.
Type 42 destroyers Southampton and Exeter have been earmarked for mothballing in a state of reduced readiness. And Type 22 frigates Cumberland, Chatham, Cornwall and Campbeltown, which are not pictured, face the same fate. Also on the way out are the Rame Head and the frigate Grafton, which is to be sold.
Steve Bush, editor of Warship World magazine, said: Since the Strategic Defence Review in 1998, the Royal Navy has been savagely cut in a continuing cycle of reviews and ‘force adjustments.
The Government has brought new vessels into the fleet, but not one ship ordered and commissioned since 1997 has entered service armed with anything more than a close-range weapon system.
We have just 44 major warships. Of those seven are at reduced readiness and six are at extended readiness. Only 18 are ready for sea.
Last night a senior Royal Navy officer insisted: The number of ships pictured is not unusual. For decades Portsmouth has been the central care authority for the Navys retired and reserve ships.
Additionally, the Royal Navy is in the middle of an unprecedented ship-build programme.
Portsmouth Naval Base Commander Commodore David Steel said: There are 44 warships based in this vibrant naval base, 27 of which are currently at sea.
We have 11 ships here awaiting disposal that are all at least 20 years old, and four of these have already been replaced with more capable units.