§ Mr. Allason
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will announce his decision on when HMS Hermes is to be replaced.
§ Mr. Sainsbury
HMS Hermes has already been replaced in her ASW and AAW carrier roles by an Invincible class aircraft carrier. These ships have a secondary amphibious support role, but we are also addressing the case for dedicated helicopter lift in support amphibious operations. At a presentation given to industry earlier this month, my Department outlined the possible requirement for an aviation support ship. Companies have been asked to express their interest in competing for this ship. I envisage issuing formal invitations to tender later this year.