Scotland

Retired naval chief criticises gender neutral ships

HMS Dragon Image copyright PA
Image caption Ships and boats have been referred to as female for centuries

A retired naval chief has criticised using gender neutral terms for ships as "political correctness gone mad".

It comes after the Scottish Maritime Museum stopped calling ships and boats "she" when the word on information signs was scratched out by vandals.

Admiral Lord West told the Today programme: "It is an insult to a generation of sailors... a ship is like a mother."

He said pressure to make changes was "a very dangerous road to go down".

Image caption Admiral Lord West described the move as "absolutely stupid"

Sailing vessels have been referred to as female and given feminine names for centuries.

Officials at the Scottish Maritime Museum, in Irvine, North Ayrshire, said they were looking to phase in the use of gender neutral signs following two cases of vandalism.

A spokesman added that the move "recognises the changes in society".

But Admiral Lord West said he was "very proud" of the historic tradition of calling vessels "she" or "her".

Image copyright Billy McCrorie/Geograph
Image caption Officials at the Scottish Maritime Museum said it had been targeted by vandals on two occasions

He said: "The ships are seen almost like a mother. They preserve us from the dangers of the sea and, indeed, also the violence of the enemy.

"To change it in this trite fashion is just absolutely stupid.

"I think the world has gone mad - I thought Brexit was bad enough.

"I think we've got to be careful letting tiny little pressure groups make people change things.

"There is nothing wrong sometimes with being sort of dated - some things that are dated are there for very good reasons and I am very proud of that."

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