What assessment he has made of Royal Navy requirements in the context of the military action in Libya.
Before answering my hon. Friend’s question, I am sure the whole House will want to join me in paying tribute to Warrant Officer Class 2 Graham Bean of 73 Engineer Regiment (Volunteers) who died on
Our assessment of the Royal Navy’s requirements was set out in the strategic defence and security review. Events in Libya have confirmed the review’s recognition of the need to retain naval forces at high readiness for operations.
I join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to the recently fallen; we will remember them.
Will my hon. Friend join me in paying tribute to the ship’s company of the frigate HMS Cumberland, with whom a number of us were able to stay as part of the armed forces parliamentary scheme? Will he take the opportunity to update us on the question of which frigate has replaced HMS Cumberland for the essential duties she has so far performed in assisting off the coast of Libya?
Speaking as someone who has done two tours of duty with the armed forces parliamentary scheme, I know how deep are the bonds of loyalty that can be formed with ships’ companies after such experiences. HMS Cumberland and her crew performed superbly in the initial stages of the Libya operation, evacuating British and other foreign nationals from Benghazi and undertaking enforcement operations in support of UN Security Council resolution 1973. She has now been withdrawn from service and her role off Libya has been taken up by the destroyer, HMS Liverpool.