HC Deb 24 May 1994 vol 244 c111W
Mr. Page

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he is in a position to report the outcome of the Government's review of the Royal Navy's hydrographic service.

Mr. Hanley

The Government attach importance to a specialist hydrographic capability to provide effective support to Royal Navy operations in peace and war. We have consequently decided to upgrade the capability of the hydrographic service by the purchase of four new hydrographic vessels, which will be commercially designed with an improved technical capability. The new ships, which will be larger than the existing vessels, will be either leased or owned by MOD, depending on which option offers best value for money. Her Majesty's survey launch Gleaner will remain in service for the foreseeable future. We believe that the resultant squadron of five survey vessels will best meet the requirements of Defence, including the ability to respond to unexpected short-notice tasking. All the vessels will be manned by Royal Navy crews and will fly the white Ensign.