HC Deb 17 May 1995 vol 260 c229W
Mr. Hicks

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the availability of docking facilities for nuclear-powered submarines. [25183]

Mr. Freeman

We are currently assessing the availability of the facilities for docking RN nuclear-powered submarines, taking into account nuclear safety requirements and latest estimates of the time the submarines will need to spend in dry dock. The assessment is concerned only with existing facilities and does not involve consideration of future refitting facilities needed for Vanguard class submarines.

Two factors have led to the need for this work. First, an on-going survey of existing docking facilities at both Rosyth and Devonport, taking into account increasingly stringent nuclear safety practices, has identified a requirement for improvements to be made to some facilities. Secondly, in addition to delays arising from this work, the time which some nuclear-powered submarines need to spend in dock during refit has increased, typically by about three months.

We are therefore considering ways of limiting the resulting disruption to the docking programme for nuclear-powered submarines, including the possibility of deferring the ending of nuclear work at Rosyth which was previously planned for 1997. The assessment will include discussions with both the nuclear regulatory authorities and the dockyard companies. No decisions have yet been taken.

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