Decommissioning aircraft carrier will save £105m

A Royal Navy shot of a helicopter winching exercise

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The controversial decision to scrap HMS Ark Royal will save a total of £105m by 2015.

Official figures showed withdrawing the vessel from service would save £10m in 2011/12 rising to £35m in 2014/15.

Plans to withdraw the Ark Royal’s sister ship HMS Illustrious from service in 2014 would save a further £35m by 2015.

The figures were released in a parliamentary written answer by defence minister Andrew Robathan in reply to Tory Andrew Rosindell (Romford).

Mr Robathan said: ‘Savings from the withdrawal from service of HMS Ark Royal in December 2010 are estimated at £10m in financial year 2011/12, £25m in 2012/13, £35m in 2013/14 and £35m in 2014/15.

‘Savings from the withdrawal from service of HMS Illustrious in 2014, which is our present planning assumption, are estimated at £5m in 2013/14 and £30m in 2014/15.’

The Strategic Defence and Security Review decision to withdraw the Ark Royal and its fleet of Harriers from service has left the Royal Navy without the ability to launch jets at sea.

HMS Illustrious will operate as a helicopter carrier until HMS Ocean returns to service after a refit in 2014.

Leading military figures have warned David Cameron that the decision undermined the armed forces’ ability to mount operations. Signatories to a letter to the Prime Minister included Field Marshal Lord Bramall, a former chief of the defence staff; Major General Julian Thompson, the Falklands commander; and Admiral Sir Jeremy Black who commanded the carrier Invincible in the Falklands.