HC Deb 24 February 1977 vol 926 cc656-7W
Mr. Trotter

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what was the maximum number of men engaged at one time on the refit of HMS "Wakeful", at Chatham Dockyard; why it took nearly a year at the stated cost to refit this 500-ton tug; whether he is satisfied that the cost was reasonable; and what is his estimate of the saving that would have resulted if the refit had been carried out in a civilian yard.

Mr. Duffy

The labour force employed afloat and ashore in Chatham Dockyard on refitting HMS "Wakeful" averaged 70, with a peak of 160 for a short period.

During her eight years in commercial ownership HMS "Wakeful" was maintained to normal commercial standards by Lloyds survey at due dates and necessary repairs, but she had no full refit. When she was acquired for the Royal Navy in 1974 it was recognised that modifications would be required to bring her up to naval standards, which are, of necessity, more rigorous than commercial requirements. The work undertaken during her subsequent refit included a survey and rectification of defects, the preparation and implementation of maintenance schedules, the updating of communications systems and changes to allow the close approach of helicopters for the transfer of personnel and stores. I am satisfied that this work was essential and represents value for money.

It is the policy to undertake the refits of naval vessels in Her Majesty's dockyards whenever this is practicable and capacity is available, and there is no reason to suppose a contract refit would have been cheaper.

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