Two hundred and five years ago, England beat the French and won the famous naval Battle of Trafalgar under the leadership of Horatio Nelson, who perished in the gunfire. It is a sad irony that very soon there will be fewer sailors in Britain's Royal Navy than served under the great admiral. Today's British Government is desperate to save money. 5000 Navy jobs are about to vanish. Many of the warships on which they worked are off to the scrapheap too. Nelson fought his toughest battle with 33 vessels. Britain will soon be left with just 19 plus a handful of submarines. It is not all bad news though. At least we will still have two new floating monuments to fiscal stupidity in the shape of the latest pair of huge aircraft carriers - each one costing four billion dollars - and both deliberately designed to baffle the enemy because they will not be carrying any of our aircraft at all. You see we couldn't afford to break the contracts to build the wretched things - but now we can't afford the planes to fly on them either. The first vessel, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will go to sea in 2016 but must rely on American or French aircraft. It is then set to be sold off when the second, HMS Prince Charles, is probably launched three years later. We can't even pay for the fuel. This is the parlous state of Her Majesty's Royal Navy today. With our shiny new non-aircraft carriers we are tumbling down the league of the world's most effective navies…. behind Thailand, Brazil and India. Britain will no longer be able to fight wars on the scale of Iraq or Afghanistan. Admiral Nelson was outnumbered by the French at Trafalgar but courageously won a famous victory. Now David Cameron, our Prime Minister, intends to ask if the French Government will help us out should we ever need to do battle. Nelson is probably rotating in his grave this morning. This is Ed Boyle for CBS News in London.
Copyright 2010 CBS. All rights reserved.