Australia eyes up mothballed ships

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AUSTRALIA might buy Royal Navy ships mothballed by British defence cuts last year.

Australian defence minister Stephen Smith said he would discuss the decommissioned ships with defence secretary, Liam Fox, who is visiting the country with William Hague, the foreign secretary.

Mr Smith said: 'The United Kingdom has recently decommissioned some of its naval vessels. That is one thing that I will have a conversation with Liam Fox about.

'There is a prospect that may be of some interest to Australia, but we'll take that step by step.'

The British government said in October it would cut its defence budget by eight per cent, shrinking its armed forces and scrapping assets such as flagship aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal, pictured above. Other Royal Navy ships scrapped were four frigates, a landing ship and a larger landing platform dock.