THE Ministry of Defence has justified its decision to buy back parts from a former Royal Navy aircraft carrier.
Spare parts of Ark Royal, which was sold two years ago for £2.9m to a Turkish scrapyard, had to be shipped back to Portsmouth to replace sections of HMS Illustrious.
The sister ship suffered a small fire while on deployment off the coast of Somalia last August.
After the fire, it was realised there were no replacements parts for the damaged radio switchboard and the surrounding cabinet. But it was revealed that Ark Royal, which will be recycled into tin cans, had the same equipment fitted.
The fee for the parts have not been released by the Ministry of Defence.
But Admiral Lord West, former head of the Royal Navy, has said it would be interesting to see how much it cost them.
‘I think the Ministry of Defence was too quick to get rid of Ark Royal and that is showing now and I would like to know exactly how much they paid for the parts,’ he said.
‘It is embarrassing for them and shows they should have kept Ark Royal in Portsmouth in case something like this happened.
‘Then, they could have sold both her and HMS Illustrious together.’
A spokesman for the MoD said: ‘While the part in question was not one that would routinely need replacing, a small fire meant that we had to get hold of another one, which we did, paying £57,000 less than we would have done if buying new. It is not practical to keep spares of every single item on board a ship and it would not present good value for money to mothball entire ships retired from service to provide spares.’