§ Sir Frederick Burden
asked the Secretary of State for Defence, further to the reply to the right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. Silkin) Official Report, 16 November, c. 137, what work was done at the naval dockyards at Chatham, Portsmouth and Gibraltar, respectively, in order to equip the task force for the Falklands; whether any of this work was within the capability of spare capacity at Devonport and Rosyth dockyards at that time; and whether, in view of the reduction in the size of the operational fleet, the expansion of support facilities at Devonport and Rosyth is a result of experience in the mounting of the Falklands task force.
§ Mr. Blaker
At Chatham three ships were brought forward for operational service; the refit of one frigate was completed ahead of time; support was given to two other588W frigates before they deployed. At Portsmouth, locally based ships were prepared for deployment; 19 ships taken up from trade were converted and, as at Chatham, stores and equipment were prepared for use by the task force. At Gibraltar the SS "Uganda" was converted to a hopital ship and support was given to one frigate before it deployed.
The capacity for undertaking this work could have been found from a combination of the resources available at Devonport, Rosyth and Portsmouth naval base, which is being retained, with commercial yards undertaking as much of the conversion of ships taken up from trade as would have been necessary.
The expansion planned for Devonport and Rosyth is as a result of the 1981 defence review.