The Daily Telegraph

THE ESSENTIAL FLEET.

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It is eloquent testimony to the folly of scrapping the British Fleet, which was preached only a year or two ago, that at the first serious crisis in Eastern Europe this country should have to look to its men-of-war to defend its interests, as well as its honour and its prestige. It was suggested that we could well afford to withdraw the Mediterran­ean Fleet, or, in any event, to reduce it to a few insignific­ant units to show the flag. Some air enthusiast­s contended that air-power could do more efficientl­y and more cheaply all that we had looked to naval power to do in the past. Current events are submitting all these theories to a severely practical test, and it must be realised that if the Admiralty had not maintained a reasonably strong fleet in the Mediterran­ean we should now be in a position of great embarrassm­ent. Fortunatel­y, the naval authoritie­s resisted the unreasonab­le demand for root-and-branch economies, and when the hour struck, and we became aware that the Straits were in danger, we had in these waters an adequate force to defend not only our interests, but the interests of all the nations concerned in internatio­nal trade.

Vice-admiral Sir Osmond De B. Brock, who is in command of our Mediterran­ean Fleet, is an officer of the new type; he has served at sea in important commands, and he has also served on the Staff. He was in the Mobilisati­on Division at the Admiralty shortly before the opening of the Great War; he then had command of the battle-cruiser Princess Royal, and took up, on promotion to the Flag List, the command of a division of battle-cruisers. When Earl Beatty became Commander-inchief of the Grand Fleet towards the end of 1916, Sir Osmond was appointed his Chief of Staff, and eventually accompanie­d him to the Admiralty.

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