The seas were once regarded as the property of the colonial navies around the world. The
English navy were one of the elite forces that governed the world’s waterways throughout
the 16th and 17th century. In the modern day, the United Kingdom rekindles its presence on
the high seas with the construction of medical frigates.
MP Penny Mordaunt has proposed that a slice of the foreign aid budget be used to construct
a hospital ship for the purposes of humanitarian aid in zones of disaster around the globe.
For countries prone to the dangers of natural calamities, such vessels can act as a vital
backbone to provide support and food.
Such vessels could be stationed in areas such as the Caribbean during hurricane season
and be used for evacuation and the dispersing of aid. This would mean that the RFA Mount
Bay can be relieved from its duty on the Caribbean coastline to serve the British navy in
other useful capacities whilst the hospital vessel takes over. The British military vessels currently used for overseas aid are not classed as medical ships under the Geneva Convention as they are armed and do not bear red crosses.
However, such military vessels have been fitted with 100 medical beds and stacked with first aid provisions despite it not being their purpose. Such military vessels could now be released from this duty by a potential new fleet of medical vessels. The high seas could one day be crowned with enough red crosses to provide care and support for countries that require foreign relief. It seems an excellent division of naval labour and a great way to funnel support into areas of need. Though Britannia may no longer rule the waves, a purposeful echo of our past naval superiority could be found in these new hospital ships.