Select Committee on Defence Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter to the Chairman of the Committee from the Minister of State for the Armed Forces on base porting Royal Navy warships (1 July 2002)

  I am writing to inform you of the findings of a recent review by my Department of the future requirements for base porting Royal Navy warships and Royal Fleet Auxiliaries. During the course of the review, officials consulted widely with commercial port operators and other maritime organisations, with a view to identifying what scope existed for potential military use of existing maritime infrastructure.

  The work of the study team has been wide-ranging and thorough, and is now complete. Having given the report's proposals due consideration, I was, on 26 June, able to announce the base porting arrangements for submarines, namely that the first two batches of ASTUTE Class nuclear attack submarines will be based at HM Naval Base Clyde, and that the TRAFALGAR Class submarines will remain in Devonport.

  I am now in a position to inform you of the other main recommendations that I will announce on 2 July:

    —  There remains a clear need to retain the three existing Naval Bases, with broadly the same level of vessels base-ported at each, as at present. A limited amount of leasing of additional space in commercial ports may be required.

    —  The future aircraft carriers—the CVF—will be base ported at Portsmouth, replacing the current INVINCIBLE Class. Whilst it should be possible to berth two CVFs in Portsmouth simultaneously, for operational reasons this may not be desirable. Options are therefore being considered to make use of an occasional stand-by berth for the high-readiness CVF. Further work on the design, operating patterns and manning are needed before a final decision can be made, although studies show that Southampton could provide such a facility if required.

    —  The Type 45 destroyers will be based at Portsmouth, replacing the Type 42 destroyers.

    —  Devonport, as the base for HMS OCEAN and the two new amphibious ships—HMS ALBION and HMS BULWARK—will become the centre of excellence for amphibious shipping, together with the home of the Sea Training organisation (FOST) and the current mix of frigates, submarines and survey ships.

    —  The base ports for the remainder of the Fleet will remain as at present.

  Implementation of these findings will now proceed, subject to consultation with the Trades Unions.

  These decisions will provide a sound basis for the MoD's future investment in naval base infrastructure; long term planning by the relevant local authorities and regions; and career planning for the Service personnel and civilians who work in, and with, the Royal Navy.

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