Naval Vessels (Nuclear-Powered Engines)

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th July 1972.

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Photo of Mr John Loveridge Mr John Loveridge , Hornchurch 12:00 am, 20th July 1972

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether he will ensure that in future the majority of ships laid down for the Royal Navy are designed with nuclear-powered engines; and if he will make a statement on what proportion of ships planned for delivery in the next five years are so designed.

Photo of Sir Peter Kirk Sir Peter Kirk , Saffron Walden

No, Sir. Nuclear propulsion in the Royal Navy will be restricted, for the foreseeable future, to Polaris and Fleet submarines. Fleet submarines comprise about a quarter of the naval warships planned for delivery in the next five years.

Photo of Mr John Loveridge Mr John Loveridge , Hornchurch

I was glad to hear what my hon. Friend said about submarines. Is he fully aware of the advantages available, at practical costs, of ships whose cruising speeds approximate to their maximum speeds, and, if he is, will he do as the great Winston Churchill did before him and provide the most modern fuel base for the Royal Navy to replace fuels which are almost as archaic as coal?

Photo of Sir Peter Kirk Sir Peter Kirk , Saffron Walden

We provide the most modern practical fuel base in gas turbine engines. The cost of nuclear power for surface ships is far too high to consider at the moment.