Naval club figures and the Lord Mayor back city frigates bid

A computer-generated image of what  the Type 31 general purpose frigate could look like
A computer-generated image of what the Type 31 general purpose frigate could look like
Tanks being removed from the D-Day Museum earlier this year

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NAVAL club bosses and the Lord Mayor have backed a bid to bring all of the Royal Navy’s future frigates to the city.

Senior figures from the Portsmouth Royal Naval Club and Royal Albert Yacht Club (RNRAYC) have shown their support for The News’ Bring Them Here campaign.

The initiative – supported by Portsmouth City Council – is calling on the government to base-port all of the Royal Navy’s new Type 31e and Type 26 frigates in the city.

Brian Bellinger, vice-chairman of the RNRAYC in Pembroke Road, believes Portsmouth is the ‘obvious place’ for the frigates to call home.

Asked about his thoughts on the campaign, he said: ‘This is the home of the Royal Navy – I totally support it. We have to be mindful of other ports but Portsmouth has the infrastructure, the tradition and a skilled workforce, it’s the obvious place.’

The club’s chairman, Keith Toomey, said the possible arrival of the new wave of frigates could replicate and sustain the city’s excitement surrounding HMS Queen Elizabeth.

He said: ‘The new carrier coming in made everybody so optimistic about Portsmouth. It would be just incredible to have the new frigates as well. The city is on the up.’

While no decision has yet been made about where the frigates will be based, Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones has said their presence would create a city jobs boom.

Weighing in, former First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy and president of the RNRAYC, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, said: ‘I have lived here all my life – it’s important Portsmouth has a good selection of ships. Of course there is a bigger issue of balancing Portsmouth and Plymouth here, but getting the carrier was a prize. If the city could get the Type 31s as well it would be super. The Navy has a great future and this is the naval city.’

The Type 31e and Type 26s will replace the navy’s Type 23 frigates – of which six are based in Portsmouth.

Addressing the campaign, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, councillor Ken Ellcome, said: ‘It’s a brilliant idea. If we can get the frigates it will see jobs and prosperity for the whole of the Portsmouth area.’

The Bring Them Here campaign, which started in September, is also backed by the regional organiser for GMB – a trade union which represents hundreds of the city’s dockyard workers.