HC Deb 20 March 1979 vol 964 cc1295-6
15. Mr. Pattie

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many of the Amazon class frigates were fully operational at 1 March 1979.

Mr. Duffy

Four, Sir.

Mr. Pattie

Is the Minister aware that eight Amazon class frigates have been constructed in the last four years? The Minister said that only four of those are operational because of a serious shortage of spares and a 20 per cent. increase in the refit time. Is he aware that captains are taking their ships to sea with some of their equipment not working, rather than risk further delays? What is he going to do to stop that deplorable situation?

Mr. Duffy

The position is not quite as described by the hon. Member. On the date selected for the question four Amazon class frigates were operational. Today, six are operational. Of the four that were not operational on the day selected for the question,"Avenger"was still undertaking operational sea training after refit and"Ambuscade"was in dock because of a defective gearbox. It was repaired on 2 March and became operational on 5 March." Alacrity"was in dock undergoing maintenance. It is due to return to the operational fleet in April 1979." Amazon"was in refit and is due to be completed in May and to return to the operational fleet in July after basic operational sea training.

My experience in the last three years is that wherever Amazon class vessels undertake overseas visits they are the object of admiration.

Mr. Crawshaw

Can my hon. Friend say anything about a possible successor to the Amazon class?

Mr. Duffy

The type-21 class—which is the Amazon class—was introduced as a general purpose frigate prior to the introduction of the type-22 class, which is intended primarily for anti-submarine warfare. I am glad to be able to inform my hon. Friend that the type-22 class is coming on stream. Two are undergoing sea trials. In its primary role the type-22 will have a more sophisticated ASW sensor and a wider range of weapon systems than the type-21.