What is examined here is a sub-set
of (very) small European navies, deliberately skewed towards the lower end of population. This includes two geographically contrasting small states which, although EU members, are not NATO navies: Ireland
and Cyprus. Also examined are Iceland, Latvia and Slovenia, which although
NATO members, inhabit different geographic conditions. These states also differ as to whether they have a large or small EEZ (Ireland and Iceland versus Slovenia respectively). Most importantly, their economies are small, or they exhibit low defence spending. They cannot leverage their small size with a large wallet, unlike say Norway. They are the classic exemplars of very small states, typically footnoted in international relations studies dominated by the great powers. However, very small states may simply lack the fiscal base to sustain certain types of naval technology, and they can be more vulnerable to economic shocks
and some of the states examined here were at the forefront of the great recession. of 2008. To what extent has it eroded their already limited capacity to fund naval capabilities? Therefore, a second set of questions explored relates to the structural constraints facing small state navies. Should we expect them to merely invest in the most basic of coastal constabulary assets to the neglect of any sea-denial
role? Or could we expect them to innovate with radically asymmetric
naval doctrines, because they cant afford anything else? Relatedly, very small states have often been recipients of second-hand ships from larger powers. While some of this activity is hard-headed business, ships are also gifted as part of wider diplomatic calculations. How has this activity shaped small state naval forces?