PLANS to build a mega dry dock in Portsmouth, large enough to house Britain’s new aircraft carriers, took a leap forward today after it was revealed a defence minister would meet a city MP to discuss the proposal.
MP Stuart Andrew, the man in charge of military spending in Britain, will be meeting with Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan to discuss the proposal – which could generate £1bn for the city in 10 years.
The move was confirmed by the defence secretary Gavin Williamson during a session in parliament when he was questioned by Mr Morgan.
It comes after The News revealed engineering chiefs were looking at plans on how they can revamp the city’s naval base to build a new dry dock, large enough to house the mammoth 280m-long, 65,000-tonne aircraft carriers.
Speaking in parliament today, Mr Morgan said: ‘The introduction of a dry-docking facility in Portsmouth for the nation’s new carriers could create and protect hundreds of jobs in my constituency worth a billion pounds to the local economy.
‘I’m very keen to see this being based in Portsmouth, the home of the Royal Navy, can the minister give a timeframe for when this decision will be made?’
Responding, Mr Williamson said he was ‘not in a position’ to do that but vowed he would ask the minister of defence procurement, Mr Andrew, to meet with Mr Morgan to discuss this.
‘Portsmouth plays a vital role in all that we do with the Royal Navy and we’re incredibly grateful to the city for the support it offers our service personnel,’ added Mr Williamson.
Currently, the only dry dock large enough to house the two Queen Elizabeth-class carriers for major repairs is Rosyth, in Scotland.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently in Portsmouth. She is due to sail to Rosyth later this year for maintenance before the arrival of her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, in Portsmouth.