PORTSMOUTH will get its share of the Royal Navy’s new Type 26 frigates — but it may have to split them with Plymouth.
Battle lines have been drawn between the two dockyard cities during various debates about where the Royal Navy’s future Type 26 frigates should be based.
But in one of his last parliamentary appearances as defence secretary, Philip Hammond said for the first time that the fleet of 13 future frigates is likely to be split between the two bases as the current fleet is split – with six in Portsmouth and seven in Plymouth.
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said it is something she will be discussing with the new defence secretary, former Portsmouth minister Michael Fallon, who took over the role this week.
Ms Mordaunt said: ‘That decision won’t be taken until the next Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) including numbers and how things will be split.
‘I was delighted in Michael Fallon’s appointment because he will be a very good defence secretary and he understands our city well now, and he will understand how we have that narrative about being a centre of excellence for the surface fleet.
‘So we are in a good position going into the SDSR.’
In the House of Commons earlier this week, Mr Hammond was asked by Plymouth MP Oliver Colvile: ‘Given that Britain is an island state that is very dependent on our trade routes, has my right honourable friend yet decided how many Type 26s we will need and where they might be base-ported?’
Mr Hammond replied: ‘The programme for Type 26 envisaged 13 frigates being ordered.
‘It is likely that the fleet will be split, as the current frigate fleet is split, but no final decision has yet been made.’
The Type 26 frigates will replace the navy’s 13 Type 23 frigates.
Seven of the 13 Type 23s are based in Devonport, and six in Portsmouth.
They are HMS Kent, St Albans, Lancaster, Iron Duke, Westminster and Richmond.
The Ministry of Defence is expected to commission some of the initial work on the new frigates later this year.
They will start to enter service in around 2020.