Delays on Royal Navy’s new frigate ‘need to end’, MP says

HMS Queen Elizabeth Picture: Lee Marshfield

Britain’s biggest warship ever joins the Royal Navy fleet in Portsmouth

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AN INFLUENTIAL MP has urged the government to get a move on with a multibillion-pound plan to build new warships.

Julian Lewis, who heads the Commons defence committee, claimed contractors BAE Systems were ready to start work on the navy’s new Type 26 frigates, some of which will be based in Portsmouth.

The project has already been cut from 13 to eight new ships, while a target to start cutting steel in May has been delayed indefinitely.

Mr Lewis said delays to the project were the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence.

‘Isn’t it a fact that BAE Systems are ready to start cutting steel right now, and the only thing that’s holding things up is a lack of funds in the MoD’s budget?’ he asked.

‘The reality is, if we don’t start building these ships on time, surely we will end up with the same old story, that we will drop below the already inadequate total of 19 frigates and destroyers.

‘Or, if we don’t, we’ll have to pay a lot more money to keep old ships in service longer than they should be kept in service.’

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told MPs he would not sign the contract until he was ‘absolutely persuaded that it is in the best interests and value for money for the taxpayer’.