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 carriersthe
CVFwill 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 shipsHMS ALBION and HMS BULWARKwill
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.