Cut-price naval ship sold to Australia

Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson. Pictute: LPhot Ioan Roberts

Defence secretary refuses Treasury demands for military cuts

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THE Ministry of Defence has sold naval support ship RFA Largs Bay to the Australian government for a cut-down price of £65m.

Australia beat competition from Brazil, Chile and India to land the ship, which cost UK taxpayers £154m to build just seven years ago.

Experts had predicted Largs Bay would sell for at least £100m after the government deemed the 16,000-tonne vessel surplus to requirements in last autumn’s Strategic Defence and Security Review.

The ship, which has been in service with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary since 2006, sailed to Haiti last year with tonnes of aid supplies in the wake of the earthquake there.

She also helped bust drug runners in the Caribbean and took part in counter-piracy operations off Somalia.

The amphibious support vessel will undergo sea trials before entering service with the Royal Australian Navy in 2012.