§ 33. Mr. Reynolds
asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty whether, in view of the increasing emphasis on amphibious strike forces, it is proposed to limit the Royal Navy assault ships to the two vessels now envisaged; when those vessels are likely to be put into service; and when further Commando ships will be provided in addition to H.M. ships "Bulwark" and "Albion".
§ Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing
H.M.S."Albion" is expected to commission next July, and the two assault ships in about three years. There are no plans to have more than two assault ships and two commando ships in commission. When all these four ships are in commission the amphibious capability of the Royal Navy will be roughly double that of the Amphibious Warfare Squadron which they will replace.
§ Mr. Reynolds
This is rather disappointing news. It means that the Admiralty is not planning to have more than one task force afloat at any one time, Is it not a fact that as soon as the "Albion" is ready the "Bulwark" will go in for a rather extended refit? When will the hon. Gentleman be in a position to provide a seaborne task force. Including commando ships and assault ships, as forecast in paragraph 27 of the Defence White Paper?
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
It is true that the "Bulwark" will go in for a refit, but for much of that time we shall have two commando carriers available and, when they come forward, two assault ships. We have to balance the many claims on our resources—aircraft carriers, antisubmarine vessels and the whole submarine programme—with the demands of our amphibious forces.