Royal Navy admiral blasts delays in delivering top military projects

The flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth being constructed
The flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth being constructed
MP Penny Mordaint and headteacher  Iain Gilmour with, from left: deputy head girl Esther Court, head girl Cerys Dowley, head boy Joshua Stark, and deputy head boy Max Fitzgerald      

Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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A RETIRED admiral has hit out at the government for a culture of delay and budget-busting in the navy’s top military projects.

Vice Adm Bob Cooling was the commander of Britain’s last aircraft carrier, HMS Illustrious – which is currently being scrapped in Turkey.

But today the retired navy chief has issued a scathing critique of Whitehall over delays to the new class of supercarriers.

It comes after the Ministry of Defence pushed back the arrival of the first 65,000-tonne giant, HMS Queen Elizabeth, to her Portsmouth home from May until later this year.

The MoD stressed the vessel will enter sea trials in the summer and will be delivered into service this year.

But Vice Adm Cooling has said the delays ‘bear a striking similarity’ to those of the Type 45 destroyers and the Astute-class of submarines, and added he was worried about the spiralling costs such setbacks would create.

Speaking to The News, he said: ‘I have no doubt that MoD contracts are far from perfect but time and again defence industry contractors fail to meet critical milestones.

‘This is not just a maritime phenomena, it is evident across multiple land and air systems as well.

‘Frankly it is a national embarrassment and ever more so when the equipment once delivered then fails to meet stated requirements.

‘The Type 45s’ inadequate propulsion system is a case in point. One would hope that there will be no repeat of such critical failures with the new aircraft carriers, but they are being built by the very same company.’

An MoD spokesman said the introduction of the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, together with the F-35B fighter-jets and the multimillion-pound Crowsnest surveillance system, will ‘transform’ the UK’s ‘ability to project power around the world’.

‘HMS Queen Elizabeth will be accepted by the Royal Navy as planned this year and we will also take delivery of a further six F-35Bs in addition to the eight already delivered,’ the MoD official added.

‘With sea trials expected to start in the summer, we recognise that there are challenges ahead and remain committed to delivering the full range of joint F-35B and carrier operations by 2026.’