THIS WEEK IN 1996: Minister blasts delay over replacing ship

Jo and Rhys Williams competing in a nighttime navigational competition in East Hampshire

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A government minister blamed shipbuilders VSEL for the continued delay in replacing the Portsmouth-based amphibious assault ships HMS Fearless and HMS Intrepid.

Speaking at the launch of the annual Defence Estimates White Paper, defence procurement minister James Arbuthnot admitted he was disappointed by the delay.

The ageing ships had been due to be replaced for several years but Mr Arbuthnot said the shipbuilding firm, once based at Barrow-in-Furness, had yet to state an acceptable price for the work.

He said: ‘If there is no acceptable price then there will be no contract.

‘But we are still negotiating with VSEL and we expect to make an annoucement soon.’

The white paper confirmed the government’s commitment to the replacement of Type 22 frigates with the Duke Class Type 23 ships.