WHITEHALL was on the defensive last night over claims a £500m black hole was threatening the future of one of the navy’s aircraft carriers.
A report by The Times claimed the Royal Navy was desperately seeking to save the cash after wasting money on a deal to build five new offshore patrol vessels.
It claimed the Senior Service was considering mothballing HMS Prince of Wales, which is currently being built in Rosyth, Scotland, and will be based in Portsmouth.
The news shocked union group GMB, who called for an urgent response from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon.
Gary Cook, GMB’s former regional organiser in Portsmouth, said: ‘It’s deeply worrying that the MoD is flirting with proposals that could harm our shipbuilding communities.’
But the MoD yesterday hit back, stressing there was no threat to the carrier – although no direct reference was made to the alleged £500m black hole.
A spokesman said: ‘We are fully committed to operating both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales and to naval shipbuilding on the Clyde.
‘Britain has the largest defence budget in Europe and it is growing as we invest £178 billion pounds in new ships, submarines and aircraft over the next decade.’
BAE Systems added it was ‘on target to exceed planned cost-savings’ in the shipbuilding project.