HC Deb 10 July 2003 vol 408 cc939-40W
Mr. Wray

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which Royal Naval vessels have been brought into service since 2000; how many of them have engaged in active deployments; and what capability they brought to the operation. [124060]

Mr. Ingram

The following vessels have been brought into service with the Royal Navy since 2000:

  • HMS Albion;
  • HMS Portland;
  • HMS St. Albans;
  • HMS Kent;
  • HMS Shoreham;
  • HMS Ramsey;
  • HMS Blyth and
  • HMS Tyne.

'Active deployment' has been taken to mean deployment away from the UK on standing military tasks or operations.

Units of the Royal Navy have been on patrol in the Gulf since October 1980, after the Iran/Iraq conflict of that year. The Royal Navy permanent contribution consists of an escort supported by a tanker of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, within the operational area (which includes the Gulf, Gulf of Oman and Northern Arabian Sea) at all times. HMS Portland and HMS Kent have both undertaken that deployment.

HMS Shoreham, HMS Ramsey and HMS Blyth carried out mine clearance activities as part of Operation Telic.

For completeness, Royal Fleet Auxiliary fleet tankers, RFA Wave Knight and RFA Wave Ruler have also entered service since 2000. To date neither have undertaken an operational deployment.

RN assets bring a range of capabilities which, while allowing them to fulfil specific tasks are inherently flexible. While on deployment on specific tasks RN assets also undertake a range of additional activities, including Defence diplomacy tasks.

Mr. Wray

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on(a)the role of the Royal Navy since 2000 and how it has changed since 1997 and (b) the progress made in achieving the aims of the Strategic Defence Review. [124063]

Mr. Ingram

Since 2000 the Royal Navy has continued to perform the role recognised in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review by contributing to the security of the United Kingdom, her overseas territories and citizens world-wide; by helping to maintain international peace and security and supporting the Government's foreign policy aims and UK overseas trade; and by assisting the UK in discharging her international responsibilities as a leading member of the UN, the Commonwealth, NATO, and EU.

This requires a powerful and well-balanced maritime force, capable of rapid deployment and sustained joint and/or combined operations of an expeditionary nature wherever the UK's national and international interests demand. Since the SDR, the emphasis is moving from large-scale open-ocean warfare to expeditionary power projection operations in conjunction with the other two services, with a premium placed on versatility and deployability.

Significant progress is being made in the Royal Navy to achieve the aims of the SDR. This includes the ongoing programme to replace the Invincible class aircraft carriers with two larger, more capable vessels. In addition, support to amphibious forces has been strengthened by the delivery of six RoRo vessels, and by the introduction into service over the next three years of the two landing platforms dock (replacement) ships, and four landing ships dock (auxiliary)—the latter offering greatly improved capability and lift capacity. The type 45 destroyers will begin to replace the capability currently provided by the type 42 class from late 2007 onwards and, with the principal anti-air missile system (PAAMS), will provide an enhanced specialist anti-air warfare capability. The first three new astute class nuclear powered submarines are on order and will succeed the Swiftsure and Trafalgar classes to provide a greatly enhanced capability to the Royal Navy.