Minister of State for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne has indicated defence investment greatly benefiting the Royal Navy over the next decade.
The Ministry of Defence recently published its latest equipment plan for spending over £166 billion Pounds on new equipment including aircraft carriers, submarines and other platforms over the next decade with the Royal Navy benefiting significantly.
The plans to invest in new equipment and support over the next 10 years have been labelled affordable by the National Audit Office.
Over the course of the 1990s and the 2000s, the navy began series of projects to improve its fleet, with a view to providing enhanced capabilities, although many programmes were reduced in scale. This has led to the replacement of smaller and more numerous units with fewer, but larger, units. The main examples of this are the replacement of thirteen Type 42 destroyers with six Type 45s and the replacement of the three 20,000 tonne Invincible-class aircraft carriers with two operational 70,600 tonne Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.
Minister of State for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne said:
“This long list of next generation capability, combined with other existing naval systems, forms an efficient, carefully designed and credible whole. This is all the more striking when taking into account the substantial investment to strengthen our UK maritime defence industrial base including a ship building strategy with Scottish shipyards at its core but with a resonance that extends across the UK. This means the Royal Navy is being equipped with world class ships and is set to become the most modern Navy in the world, assuring a better and more secure future for Britain.
Defence investment is also evident below the waves. In August, HMS Artful, the third of seven of the Navy’s Astute Class hunter killer submarines was put to sea for the first time – a result of £1 billion investment in leading edge British technology, submarine building and know how. We also recently awarded a £270 million contract to upgrade the Spearfish heavyweight torpedo. The Astute Class boats are the largest and most advanced attack submarines to be ordered by the Ministry of Defence; providing unprecedented levels of stealth and attack capability for the Royal Navy.”
Chancellor George Osborne recently announced over £500 million of funding for HM Naval Base Clyde. Upgrade work due to begin in 2017, will secure 6,700 jobs and pave the way for expansion to about 8,200. The investment will be spent on ship lifts, sea walls, jetties and other major projects.
The investment is another step towards Clyde becoming the Royal Navy’s Submarine Centre of Specialisation, according to the Ministry of Defence, the long term intention is for Faslane to be home to all of the UK’s submarines with all of the nuclear armed and most of the conventionally armed fleet now based there.
Commodore Mark Adams, Naval Base Commander Clyde, said:
“Several years of hard work have already gone into preparing HMNB Clyde to be the home of the UK Submarine Service. The base regularly successfully hosts Trafalgar Class submarines for both routine visits and to undertake periods of extended maintenance and we are delighted to welcome HMS Talent and HMS Triumph on their move from Devonport. HMNB Clyde and the surrounding Argyll and Bute communities are renowned for their hospitality so the crews and their families can be assured of a warm welcome.”
Also stationed at Faslane are the Sandown class minehunters of the First Mine Countermeasures Squadron and the armed patrol vessels HMS Tracker and HMS Raider where they make up the Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron, providing maritime force protection for high value shipping in the Firth of Clyde. HMS Pursuer is also stationed at the base, but is a University Royal Naval Unit craft.
Minister of State for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne also said:
“While HMS Queen Elizabeth continues her steady progress towards operations, her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales is also rapidly taking shape. We have recently achieved another milestone as ‘Lower Block 4’, the largest hull section of the ship, weighing 11,200 tonnes and constructed in Govan was “skidded” into place, i.e. aligned and assembled with the awaiting forward sections of the ship in the Rosyth shipyard. This means around 30,000 tonnes of the superstructure is in place. So far, over £3 billion has been invested in the Queen Elizabeth Class work in Scottish yards, supporting some 4,000 jobs and hundreds of apprentices at both Rosyth and the Clyde.”
While visiting Portsmouth at the start of the year, the Chancellor also announced almost £100 million of infrastructure development in new dock facilities at Portsmouth Naval Base to further support the arrival of the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers. The new work will encompass berthing and jetty improvements, new power supply and distribution, and significant dredging in the approach to the harbour to enable the base to accommodate the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy.