§ Mr. Mason
asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty (1) how many Wessex helicopters have now been assigned to H.M.S. "Centaur"; and on which dates they were delivered;
(2) how many Wessex helicopters have been promised to H.M.S. "Centaur"; when they should have been in service; and what is the most recent estimate of completion of delivery of the full complement.
§ Mr. Hay
H.M.S. "Centaur" has not had the facilities for supporting Wessex helicopters up till now, but the opportunity is being taken, during her current refit, to provide them. The Wessex squadron which will be assigned to her is already operational and "Centaur's" full complement will be transferred to her when at the end of this year, her refit completed, she sails for her operational station.
§ Mr. Hay
The Royal Navy has been operating helicopters for many years. Various types are already embarked in ships and have given satisfactory service in all parts of the world. New and188W improved versions are about to be introduced into the Fleet, particularly in the important anti-submarine rôle in small ships. It is only to be expected that some difficulties may be met in developing modern aircraft in new rôles to meet the stringent conditions imposed by worldwide operation at sea. The new naval helicopters are now in the final trial stages and our latest plans for their embarkation are, at most, only a few months behind those originally prepared.