I COULDN’T agree more with Dave McEwan Hill’s letter (August 18) about the waste of many billions of much-needed public money on the two massive aircraft carriers. These ships have very little relevance to defending our own waters or our interests around the world, and they are little more than a floating status symbol of the long-gone days when “Britannia ruled the waves”.

It will be several years before these hugely-expensive naval vessels even have any planes to carry, and of course the UK no longer has an aircraft industry capable of designing and building such sophisticated planes. So we must wait until the mid-2020s before the United States produces (and sells us at vast cost) the specially designed planes the ships need.

Of course the years of construction of the carriers brought much-needed employment to the Clyde shipyards and Rosyth Dockyard, which was very welcome, and that is in fact the main reason why the former Labour government awarded the contracts in the first place. It had very little to do with international defence or naval warfare, in which it is unlikely we would wish to become involved unless the Americans told us to.

A much more sensible use of public money would have been to build a large number of small specialised warships to defend our own coastal waters, and especially the vast stretches of sea around our northern and eastern coasts. These no longer have the protection of the RAF planes which operated from the now-abandoned RAF Kinloss. These specially-designed aircraft for many years patrolled the these areas, where the naval vessels and submarines of Russia and other countries wander about freely and mostly undetected.

But as usual the faceless ones at the Ministry of Defence got their priorities completely wrong. It never ceases to amaze me that UK governments can spend vast amounts of what is our money, not theirs, on vanity projects with little practical value.

Iain AD Mann,

7 Kelvin Court, Glasgow.