STEPS will be taken to reduce the amount of old spare parts being reused by the Royal Navy, but it will not become an obsolete practice.
At a public accounts select committee meeting yesterday afternoon naval staff were grilled on the cannibalisation of parts in the Royal Navy.
According to the select committee’s report, the cannibalisation of parts from the Royal Navy has increased by 50 per cent.
The navy has pinned this down partly to the introduction of the Type 45 destroyers such as HMS Daring and HMS Diamond.
Concerns were raised about vessels being out of operation due to parts being cannibalised off them.
On this subject, Rear Admiral Richard Stokes said: ‘That is not a position we get ourselves into.
‘I am not aware that we have ever had a Type 45 not available because we have ‘store robbed’ a component from it to support a higher priority platform.’
Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan, who was present at the meeting, questioned the panel about the future of the Royal Navy’s budget, as well as whether the upcoming Prince of Wales carrier would be a victim of naval cannibalisation, in order to support the Queen Elizabeth carrier.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence Stephen Lovegrove said: ‘I would not rule out the idea that equipment on the Prince of Wales may find herself being re-purposed on the Queen Elizabeth carrier.’
Rear Admiral Richard Stokes added: ‘The vast majority of cannibalisation that takes place is for low- value items.
‘71 per cent of items cost under £5,000, so the consequential cost is very small.
‘The big costs are in consequence to the build programmes, specifically on submarines.
‘The lesson for me has been in the Queen Elizabeth carrier.’
Royal Navy finance director Colin Evans said: ‘The report has shone a light on a really important area for us.
‘Looking forward I think there are opportunities for us to improve support, so it is an exciting time.’
Stephen Morgan MP said: ‘It is crucial that the government manages and invests in vessel support for the new carriers but ensures that the procurement is affordable.
‘I’m also concerned by the increasing trend of cannibalisation in our services where parts are being removed from one vessel to another, and the long term effects of this.
‘It’s hugely important for Portsmouth that the Ministry of Defence is providing effective support to the armed forces, the government is properly planning for the future needs of the armed forces and supports our great city at a time when, as a nation, we seek to grow the Royal Navy.’
Naval staff also confirmed that the seal used to repair a leak on the Queen Elizabeth carrier was brand new, and not an old part from elsewhere.