New shipbuilidng plan will keep Royal Navy in the global elite, says First Sea Lord

Sir Philip Jones
Sir Philip Jones
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BRITAIN’S top sailor has rejected claims the Royal Navy could be in danger of having a cheaper fleet of less-advanced warships.

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones has said he is confident the Senior Service will remain a world leader in defence.

His comments come in the wake of the release of the UK’s National Shipbuilding Strategy – a report which recommends how Whitehall can bolster the navy.

Sir John Parker’s report has called on the government to create a new fleet of ‘simpler and cheaper’ frigates – the Type 31 – which will help increase ship numbers and could be exported abroad.

The plea comes just days after a damning report by MPs from the Defence Select Committee, who claimed the Royal Navy was ‘woefully short’ of warships.

When questioned if Sir John’s recommendation of simpler frigates being introduced would lead to the end of the navy getting cutting-edge ships, Admiral Jones said: ‘No, not at all.

‘Firstly the Type 31 has got to be seen in the context of the rest of the shipbuilding strategy for the Royal Navy that’s already in place.

‘We’re on the cusp of completing the build of the two largest warships the Royal Navy has ever had, the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers; we are about to start the build of the complex high-end Type 26 frigates and we will cut steel on the first one of those in Glasgow next summer, we’re also building Astute-class submarines and now have a route to building Dreadnaught-class submarines – we’re building offshore patrol vessels and we’re building Royal Fleet Auxiliary (ships).

‘So a large, comprehensive and necessary shipbuilding strategy is in place for the navy.’

The First Sea Lord agreed with Sir John that the navy had been guilty of keeping ageing warships in service past their sell-by date.

And he welcomed plans on how this can be changed to ‘inject pace’ in the navy’s future shipbuilding strategy.

He added the navy had not been ‘too picky and demanding’ in the past over ship advancements and said he ‘absolutely supported’ Sir John’s recommendations agreeing it would ultimately help to enhance the service.