§ Mr. Lee
The current strength of the fleet at frigate size and above is two ASW carriers, HMS Invincible and HMS Illustrious; HMS Hermes (on stand-by); two assault ships, HMS Fearless and HMS Intrepid; 53 destroyers and frigates; four Polaris submarines and 28 nuclear powered fleet and conventionally-powered patrol submarines.
It is not the practice to give details of the forecast operational availability of warships for specific years. However, it remains the Government's policy that two carriers should be operational at any one time with a third in refit or stand-by, and to aim for a force level in the longer term of about 50 destroyers and frigates, all of which would be in the front line and none in the stand-by squadron. We are currently examining the provision of future amphibious capability once the existing assault ships, HMS Fearless and HMS Intrepid, come to the end of their planned lives in the mid-1990s. The Polaris fleet will be replaced in the 1990s with a force of four Trident D5 missile submarines; and overall numbers of nuclear-powered and conventional submarines are likely to remain generally constant, although the fleet will contain a higher proportion of nuclear-powered submarines.