Exclusive – Anglo-French aircraft carrier cancelled – the real story

Liam Fox has scuppered the idea of a shared UK / French aircraft carrier.   Spend Matters have a good piece here including the first time I have seen the word 'buggary' included in that blog...and a classic Monty Python excerpt...but we can go one better.

We have just obtained a copy of a secret document from our sources in Whitehall, and despite great personal risk we have decided it is in the public interest to publish it.  It tells the full tragic story of what went wrong with this innovative and potentially highly cost effective idea.....


Notes from the first (and last) meeting of the Anglo-French Aircraft Carrier Strategy and Design Committee


Admiral Sir Archibald Nelson-Mountbatten  (2nd Sea Lord, Britsh Navy)   (ANM)

William Hudson, GCMG (UK Ministry of Defence)       (WH)

Amiral Napoleon Marquis de Sade de Carrefour  (French navy)      (NMSC)

Francois Leclerc (Minstere de Defence, France)      (FL)

FL opened the meeting with traditional French fraternal greetings ('ou est le stylo de ma tante?')

WH responded 'sur le pont D’Avignon'.

ANM called 'Heads' successfully, so once FL had inspected the coin, the meeting was held in English.

ANM said he was very happy to be discussing this collaboration.

FL said that 'collaboration' was perhaps not the best word to use with the French military leadership.  'Cooperation' had fewer historical resonances in France.

NMSC said there were a few things he needed to get on the table.  Notably, that the lunch break was a non-negotiable 3 hours, and wine would be served at every meal including breakfasts.  He was also worried that now female ratings were part of the ship's company, then clearly the British sailors wouldn't get a look in with all the handsome French sailors around.  Although from what he had heard, maybe les Anglais weren’t all that interested in the ladies, si vous savez what I mean?

ANM's response has been struck from the records.

There was then a long discussion about the recreational facilities to be provided.  A multi-purpose Boules and Croquet pitch was agreed as a good compromise.

WH commented it was a good job the Spanish weren't involved, we'd have to build a b****y bull-ring on the aft deck.

The likely mobilisation of the ship was discussed.  FL said he couldn’t really see it going any further than Marseilles, not much point really, maybe have a little sail around the Med in September, nice that time of year.

ANM stressed the need to provide South Atlantic and possibly Antarctic capability.  NMSC said he couldn't really see his men putting up with all that cold, it was only a few stupid islands anyway.

ANM's comment has been struck from the records.

It was agreed that the ship should have some guns.  Big guns were very much preferred if there was any money left after building the ship.

WH stressed that the contracts for construction would have to be let in a fair and transparent manner.

FL said he agreed, his procurement team in Paris were already working on it, and it would be let in exactly the same professional manner as all other French military contracts.  He was confident that British suppliers would have an excellent chance of winning the business.  NMSC appeared to have a coughing fit at this point.

Unfortunately, the project was deemed cancelled after agreement could not be reached on two key points:

  1. Whether the planes would take off / land from the starboard or port side
  2. Left or right hand drive?

The meeting was cordially terminated at 12 noon precisely (dejeuner).

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Voices (2)

  1. Jason Busch:

    Peter … you missed one key line from the negotiation. Rumor is that the real break down in talks came when the English disputed the necessity of bidets in the female quarters of the carrier …

  2. Lisa Reisman:

    What a hoot!!!

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