The Ministry of Defence backtrack on the under-threat Gosport site was declared by defence minister MP Tobias Ellwood in Commons this afternoon.
Its future was plunged into uncertainty in 2016 when the MoD unveiled its ‘A Better Defence Estate’ plan – earmarking 91 military sites across the UK which would close by 2024.
But Mr Ellwood today told MPs the disposal of HMS Sultan will be ‘delayed’ until no earlier than 2029, much to the delight of the Conservative MP for Gosport, Caroline Dinenage.
‘I’m delighted that the Ministry of Defence have finally concluded what local people have always known, that closing HMS Sultan would be a huge mistake for the MoD the Royal Navy and Gosport,' she said.
‘This area has a proud history of serving our armed forces and excellent facilities such as these are vital to ensuring our personnel are equipped with the skills they need to defend our country.’
The cost-cutting proposal to close HMS Sultan ‘staggered' naval experts in 2016, when it was though responsibility for the site’s mechanical engineering training would be moved to other naval institutions across the UK.
Ms Dinenage, who branded the hub’s potential disposal a ‘betrayal of the Gosport community’, launched a campaign to demonstrate the detriment of its closure in 2016.
She met with former defence secretary MP Michael Fallon after the announcement was made in 2016 and brought Mr Ellwood to Gosport to see the site first-hand a year later.
In today’s MoD estates update it was also announced the HMS Nelson Wardroom in Portsmouth would be safe until 2023, having previously been earmarked for closure by 2021.
Dubbed the Defence Estate Optimisation Programme, the report specifies both HMS Sultan and the HMS Nelson Wardroom’s potential disposals have been pushed back ‘following detailed work to assess the optimum laydown required to support operational capability’.