From the Telegraph: The Navy normally provides a minimum coverage of a frigate or destroyer fulfilling the role of Fleet Ready Escort (FRE) in order to be able to respond quickly to a potential threat at home or abroad.
However, slashed Defence budgets and the war in Libya has meant there hasn’t been a vessel available since the start of October.
The last ship to fill the role, called the FRE, was HMS Portland but that left for war games off the coast of Scotland in October, and it is now having a rest period in Plymouth on the south coast.
Former First Sea Lord Admiral Lord Alan West said: "I would hardly say it is a luxury. 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. . . ."
The shortage comes after the Government cut the navy’s surface fleet to 19 frigates and destroyers in last year’s defence review.
Critics warned the cuts would leave the navy overstretched. Since February nine warships have been deployed to Libya, leaving none left to be on hand in the UK.
It is believed the last time this happened was 1982 after every available ship left for the Falklands War. (photo: Royal Navy)