Today, the Defence Committee published the UK government response to its report “We’re going to need a bigger Navy”.
The Committee’s report called for the Government to expand the fleet, to plug capability gaps, particularly in weapons systems, and to support the British Shipbuilding Industry.
The Government’s response welcomed the Committee’s report and agrees with much of the Committee’s assessment of the strategic environment.
The Government’s response did raise a number of concerns that the Committee will follow up in future evidence sessions and correspondence including:
-The Government has once again rejected decades of consistent recommendations about how to support the British shipbuilding industry by explicitly declining to provide a guaranteed pipeline of work. The Government must urgently publish the National Shipbuilding Strategy refresh and use it to rectify this approach.
-The Government has not considered accelerating the Type 45 Power Improvement Project. In fact the timings make it appear that for at least two of the ships the time taken in PIP is actually being increased to more than 12 months.
-The plans to replace RFA Argus with the Multi Role Support Ships raise further questions. The Government should make clear if RFA Argus’s retirement date will be extended until the dedicated primary casualty receiver MRSS is operational and whether the MRSS will be configured to offer the same level of casualty support as the Argus.