The British Navy escaped a recent budget review with only minor cuts as the war in Afghanistan continues to squeeze royal defense coffers. In mid-December the Ministry of Defence announced that two ships, the Sandown-class minehunter HMS Walney and the coastal survey ship HMS Roebuck, pictured here, would be withdrawn from service and retired early. Walney, based at Faslane, Scotland, entered service in 1993 and is to be retired in 2010, seven years earlier than planned. Roebuck, based in Plymouth, was commissioned in 1986. Although expected to serve until at least 2014, she will also be retired later this year. The Royal Navy's highest visibility projects, including the Queen Elizabeth - class aircraft carriers, have survived the budget ax for the time being, though additional military reductions can be expected in the future. Other defense cuts impacting British maritime forces include early-2010 retirement for the Royal Air Force's Nimrod MR2 patrol aircraft. The service entry date for the follow-on Nimrod MFA4 has been shifted forward to 2012, and the RAF's V/STOL Harrier force will be reduced by at least one squadron.