Boris Johnson called to revive hopes for mega dry dock for Royal Navy aircraft carriers in Portsmouth

BORIS Johnson is facing ‘urgent’ calls to revive a bid to build a mega dry dock capable of housing Britain’s two new aircraft carriers in Portsmouth.

Friday, 31st January 2020, 4:30 pm
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 6:52 pm

Excited city leaders previously claimed the project could create up to 100 jobs and bring £1bn to Portsmouth over the next decade.

However, talk of the overhaul has stagnated, with the Ministry of Defence saying it has ‘no current plans’ for a dry dock for the carriers.

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Pictured: HMS Queen Elizabeth as she passes HMS Prince of Wales in Portsmouth dockyard last year. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Now Labour’s shadow defence procurement minister, Stephen Morgan, has demanded the prime minister steps in.

In a letter to the PM – seen by The News – the Portsmouth South MP asked for an ‘urgent reply’ and said: ‘I am today writing to reiterate the reasons for building a dry dock facility in Portsmouth and kindly request that an urgent response is drafted to my request.

‘Locating a dry dock facility in Portsmouth makes strategic sense due to the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers being located there, and the city already being established as the heart and home of the Royal Navy.

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‘The economic benefits it would bring to the city have the potential to be transformative and would give a much-needed fiscal boost to Portsmouth.’

Under proposals considered last year, Portsmouth Naval Base’s Number 2 Basin could have been converted into a new super dry dock.

Speaking at the time, a spokeswoman for the Royal Navy confirmed they were looking at a dry dock proposal but said it was ‘far too early to have any indication of the results’.

But last night a navy spokeswoman said: ‘The Ministry of Defence has no current plans to construct a dry-dock facility for the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

‘Plans for a long-term in-service support solution for the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers are under consideration as part of the common support model for complex warships.’

The MoD added routine repair and refitting of the two £3.1bn supercarriers, that didn’t require a dry dock, would still take place at Portsmouth Naval Base.