Rumours Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales could be ‘mothballed’ are debunked by armed forces minister Mark Lancaster
RUMOURS one of the Royal Navy’s biggest aircraft carriers could be mothballed have been categorically refuted by a defence minister.
Armed forces minister Mark Lancaster expressed his frustration over the claims and vowed there were ‘no plans’ to scrub HMS Prince of Wales.
His comments came after fears resurfaced last week the 65,000-tonne leviathan could be sold off in a bid to cut down on a multi-billion pound ‘black hole’ in the Ministry of Defence's budgets.
The claims came during a debate in the House of Commons over the future of the two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers in which MPs said ‘sources’ in the Treasury were spreading the rumours.
Tory MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan – who sits on the public accounts committee scrutinising government spending – urged Mr Lancaster to ‘reassure’ MPs the rumours were ‘unfounded’.
Replying, the armed forces minister said the carrier would be delivered to the Royal Navy by the end of this year – although he did not specifically address the rumours.
However, now the minister his hit back and sought to put the concerns to bed once and for all.
In a statement to The News, the Tory MP said: ‘There are no plans in place to mothball HMS Prince of Wales.
‘If I spent my time debunking every rumour that surfaces on a weekly basis I’d have little chance to do anything else.’
HMS Prince of Wales is currently being built in Rosyth, Scotland.
This week saw a major milestone in the £3.1bn warship’s development, with the first set of supplies being moved on board the ship ahead of her sea trials later this year.
Prince of Wales is expected to sail into Portsmouth towards the end of the year, where she will join her sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Both vessels are expected to have a 50-year lifespan and have been custom built to operate the new stealth jets, the F-35B.