HC Deb 27 April 1966 vol 727 cc682-3
19. Mr. Burden

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give the reasons for the visit of H.M.S. "Dreadnought" to Rosyth for examination and repair.

28. Mr. Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what defects have been discovered in the "Dreadnought" nuclear submarine; and if he will make a statement.

32. Mr. Ronald Bell

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what constructional defects have recently been discovered in H.M.S. "Dreadnought".

Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu

As my predecessor told the House on 27th October, hairline cracks associated with some welds in the submarine have been discovered in the "Dreadnought" and we are carrying out a series of sea trials to study the behaviour of the affected areas and are undertaking detailed metallographic surveys.

The first of the series of sea trials has been completed and the submarine has returned to Rosyth to enable the affected areas to be studied and further surveys to be undertaken.

Mr. Burden

Would not the Minister agree that it is a very serious matter that these cracks should have appeared after this submarine has been in service for such a short time? Would he not further agree that, from the point of view of future submarines, this really necessitates a very close look at the work which was carried out and at the place where that work was carried out?

Mr. Mallalieu

It is serious, but no question at all arises of there being any risk to the ship's company. We are making a most detailed and careful survey.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the metal-forming techniques employed in building H.M.S. "Dreadnought" were the same as those employed by the Americans, or were they different?

Mr. Mallalieu

They were different in some particulars.

Mr. Lipton

Can my hon. Friend tell me how much this submarine has cost to date, how much more it is going to cost to make it fully seaworthy and whether we are ever going to get value for money out of this expenditure?

Mr. Mallalieu

We are getting enormous value from it already, finding out things we could not otherwise have found out.

Mr. Ridley

Have these defects been noticed in the "Valiant" and "Warspite", which are her sister ships?

Mr. Mallalieu

No, they have not yet.