THE Royal Navy needs ‘at least’ two more Type 45 destroyers, an Admiral has told The News.
Lord Alan West said a fleet of 19 frigates and destroyers is not big enough for Britain and raised his concern about the lack of a contingency plan if the navy lost ships fighting in a war.
It comes after defence minister Lord Astor of Hever said there was ‘no provision’ for the loss of warships following the government’s cost-cutting Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010, which axed 10 navy ships.
In a written parliamentary answer to Lord West, the minister said: ‘In determining fleet sizes, no specific provision is made for the possible loss of ships on war fighting operations.
‘The Royal Navy has lost just four frigates and destroyers to enemy action in the last 50 years, all of which were during the Falklands War, and steps have been taken to learn lessons from these losses.’
But Lord West, who was First Sea Lord from 2002 to 2006, said he was ‘worried’ about whether the navy would be able to cope with such a small surface fleet.
He said: ‘I don’t believe there has been any sort of sensible calculation done on the size of the navy’s fleet.
‘I find it surprising that there is no back-up if we did lose a ship.
‘In the Falklands, for instance, we knew what allowances could be made for ships that may be lost. Now we are at the bare bones.
‘I think we are in desperate need of more than 19 ships. It’s just not enough and the government needs to come up with some way to increase that fast. We need at least two more Type 45s.’
Lord West claimed yesterday it would now cost ‘around £200m’ to build a Type 45 destroyer.
But this could not be confirmed independently.
In 2000, Labour announced plans to buy 12 new state-of-the-art Type 45 destroyers to replace the ageing Type 42 warships at an estimated cost of £5bn.
But in the end only six ships were built at a cost of £6.46bn.
A report by the National Audit Office in 2009 blamed ‘over-optimism’ and ‘poor project management’ by the MoD.