Navy needs more than 13 frigates, says peer

CALL Admiral Lord West of Spithead
CALL Admiral Lord West of Spithead
At risk? Type 26 frigates

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A FORMER head of the Royal Navy has claimed the country is ‘standing into danger’ because the government is not planning to build enough ships.

Lord West of Spithead, a former First Sea Lord and security minister, warned the 13 frigates planned by the Ministry of Defence were insufficient.

At question time in the House of Lords yesterday, he asked defence minister Lord Astor of Hevor: ‘Have we really decided this great maritime nation of ours only needs 13 frigates?

‘Only four years ago, 18 was considered too risky. At the time of the Falklands we had 40. Has there been any realistic assumption of the requirement of the number of frigates – and I’m talking frigates not destroyers and other things – or is the number 13 purely based on an arbitrary cost figure?

‘In the final analysis, the defence of the nation is the top priority for any nation of whatever hue and I do believe we are standing into danger.’

Lord Astor replied: ‘Our current planning assumption is for the construction of 13 Type 26s with a planned service life of around 25 years.

‘I do agree that defence of the nation is the top priority and that is why we are building the Type 26 global combat ship programme.’