Portsmouth MP wants answers over plan to build new patrol vessels

CONTRACT Last year BAE handed over Apa, an ocean patrol vessel it built for the Brazilian Navy
CONTRACT Last year BAE handed over Apa, an ocean patrol vessel it built for the Brazilian Navy

Top American admiral visits Portsmouth Naval Base

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AN MP has written to the prime minister demanding a definitive answer to whether two new navy vessels will be built in Portsmouth.

Mike Hancock, the MP for Portsmouth South, has asked David Cameron whether two new offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) will be built for the Royal Navy.

As reported in The News, city leaders are calling for the construction of the OPVs to plug a construction gap at the shipyard from next year, when work is due to be completed on the two new aircraft carriers.

But Mr Hancock says the government is giving contradictory messages about the likelihood of the plan.

He said: ‘I have written to the deputy prime minister, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and spoken to senior officials in the navy to try to determine exactly what the situation is with regard to these ships.

‘Worryingly, I have received mixed messages from all sides.’

Mr Hancock has asked David Cameron to settle the issue and state whether the order will be placed and where the ships would be built.

An announcement on whether the OPVs would be built was due to be made earlier this year but was delayed, The News has been told.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt says a delayed announcement could be a good sign.

‘The fact they have delayed it is an indication they are looking at it again,’ she said.

‘So we will keep the pressure on. One thing I would stress is that the future of the dockyard is bright – we have got the carriers and the surface fleet – but I want us to do more than that.’

BAE Systems, which builds the Royal Navy’s warships, is in the middle of a review of its shipbuilding operations in the UK.