|Given the expense of operating destroyer and frigate escorts, and (arguably) the main role of naval power being to provide a presence on foreign shores in amphibious sea-lift operations in support of army forces conducting expeditions - could we create a surge fleet capacity consisting of civilian cargo ships and ferries taken from trade?
Given the reduced manning requirements to operate civilian shipping compared to warships (of course with a resulting lack of damage control etc), and the availability of moderm "bolt on" weapons and "fitted for but not with", would it be possible to train a cadre of sailors, buy many of these bolt on weapons, and then in time of need take ships as needed?
The sailors trained by the RN, could be lent out to civilian shipping, to save money when not called-up to service. While we could fill out a properly conditioned hangar with numerous Sea-RAM, Phalanx, Harpoon and Stingray mounts.
I know it is common practice already to hire civilian shipping to move much of our heavy assets, so it isn't really too much of an extension. They wouldn't be suitable for the front-line as it were, but it would provide a great surge armed merchantman capacity.