Nowhere to be seen ... Royal Navy frigate
SWINGEING cutbacks have left the UK without a single warship specifically tasked with protecting the country's shores for the past month, the Ministry of Defence confirmed today.
The Royal Navy normally provides a minimum coverage of a frigate or destroyer fulfilling the role of Fleet Ready Escort (FRE).
This task is for the ship to be at high readiness for an emergency, including a terrorist attack, in UK waters or abroad.
However pressures on the Navy caused by cuts to its fleet in last year's strategic defence and strategy review (SDSR) as well as its commitments to the Nato mission to Libya, has left it unable to fill the role.
Former First Sea Lord, Admiral Lord Alan West said: "If there was a terrorism incident in UK waters, this would historically be the ship sent in to deal with it.
"It's a big problem. If we haven't got a ship ready to do this role then it's worrying. It's a very unsatisfactory position to be in."
In the SDSR, the Government cut the number of frigates and destroyers in the navy's surface fleet from 24 to 19.
The last ship to undertake the FRE role was the frigate HMS Portland which left the position on October 3 to take part in the Joint Warrior Nato exercise off Scotland.
A Royal Navy spokesman said: "Due to the successful deployment of Royal Navy units to the Libya campaign, it has been necessary to reprofile the commitments of some ships.
"Should a FRE activation be required, a Royal Navy ship would be allocated."
The spokesman explained that although there had not been a ship specifically tasked as an FRE, one of the vessels taking part in the Joint Warrior exercise could have been allocated within 24 hours' notice.
He added that the FRE would not necessarily be on patrol during its tasking but could be at high readiness to sail.
The spokesman said that as well as the FRE, the navy normally has a frigate escorting the continuous at sea deterrent (nuclear submarine) as well as fishery protection vessels. He added the next FRE would be formally notified on November 7 but if one was required prior to that they would be nominated immediately.
The Hundredth Monkey Effect
The hundredth monkey effect is a supposed phenomenon in which a learned behavior spreads instantaneously from one group of monkeys to all related monkeys once a critical number is reached. By generalization it means the instantaneous, paranormal spreading of an idea or ability to the remainder of a population once a certain portion of that population has heard of the new idea or learned the new ability.
The story behind this supposed phenomenon originated with Lawrence Blair and Lyall Watson in the mid-to-late 1970s, who claimed that it was the observation of Japanese scientists. One of the primary factors in the promulgation of the story is that many authors quote secondary, tertiary or post-tertiary sources who have themselves misrepresented the original observations.
An analysis of the appropriate literature by Ron Amundson, published by the Skeptics Society, revealed several key points that demystified the supposed effect.
Unsubstantiated claims that there was a sudden and remarkable increase in the proportion of washers in the first population were exaggerations of a much slower, more mundane effect. Rather than all monkeys mysteriously learning the skill it was noted that it was predominantly younger monkeys that learned the skill from the older monkeys through observational learning, which is widespread in the animal kingdom; older monkeys who did not know how to wash tended not to learn. As the older monkeys died and younger monkeys were born the proportion of washers naturally increased. The time span between observations was in the order of years.
Claims that the practice spread suddenly to other isolated populations of monkeys may be disproven given the fact that at least one washing monkey swam to another population and spent about four years there. It is also to be noted that the sweet potato was not available to the monkeys prior to human intervention.[
The story of the hundredth monkey effect was published in the foreword to Lawrence Blair's Rhythms of Vision in 1975. The claim spread with the appearance of Lifetide, a 1979 book by Lyall Watson. In it, Watson repeats Blair's claim. The authors describe similar scenarios. They state that unidentified scientists were conducting a study of macaques monkeys on the Japanese island of Koshima in 1952. These scientists purportedly observed that some of these monkeys learned to wash sweet potatoes, and gradually this new behavior spread through the younger generation of monkeys—in the usual fashion, through observation and repetition. Watson then claimed that the researchers observed that once a critical number of monkeys was reached—the so-called hundredth monkey—this previously learned behavior instantly spread across the water to monkeys on nearby islands.
This story was further popularized by Ken Keyes, Jr. with the publication of his book The Hundredth Monkey. Keyes' book was about the devastating effects of nuclear war on the planet. Keyes presented the hundredth monkey effect story as an inspirational parable, applying it to human society and the effecting of positive change. Since then, the story has become widely accepted as fact and even appears in books written by some educators.
Oh, wait ...