THE Royal Navy destroyers HMS York and HMS Edinburgh are to be sold to a foreign government.
The News understands the Portsmouth-based Type 42 destroyers are being offered for sale to navies with less firepower, such as Pakistan and Brazil.
The old warships are the last of the navy’s Type 42s still in service – but are considered to be in too good condition to scrap once they are decommissioned.
Instead, the government is keen to make diplomatic capital out of selling them to developing nations in order to protect Britain’s interests abroad.
York, which served in the Iraq invasion and was involved in the operations off Libya last year, is due to be decommissioned in Portsmouth next month.
Edinburgh, which had a £17.5m refit only two years ago, is set to be paid off early next year.
Type 42s, which served with distinction in the Falklands, are making way for the next generation of £1bn Type 45 destroyers.
An MoD spokesman said: ‘The long-serving Type 42 destroyers are currently being replaced by the Type 45 destroyers, the largest and most powerful destroyers ever built for the Royal Navy.
‘Although still in service, HMS York and Edinburgh are currently being marketed for government-to-government sale. Selling assets in this way strengthens international relationships and generates income that can then be reinvested in defence.’
One expert suspects the sale of York and Edinburgh could be used to attract overseas investment in the new Type 26 frigates the MoD is developing with defence giant BAE Systems.
The affordability of the UK’s Global Combat Ship project hinges on foreign navies also placing orders for the ships when construction starts in 2016.
Dr Lee Willett, of the Royal United Services Institute think tank, said: ‘If the UK is looking to entice a customer for the Type 26 Global Combat Ship programme, then part of the package could be to sell them a serving warship which, despite being a little long in the tooth, has an established service record and demonstrable recent operational utility as a way of helping a nation to make the step up.
‘Such a sale may help integrate such nations into future ship programmes with the UK.’