HMS Queen Elizabeth was floated out of dry dock in July 2014, is expected to start sea trials this summer and will be accepted into the Royal Navy later in the year. HMS Prince of Wales is expected to be floated out in 2017 and commence sea trials in 2019. The final cost of both Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers will be subject to commercial negotiations with the Aircraft Carrier Alliance towards the end of the contract in 2019. I am therefore withholding our current outturn cost estimate as its release would prejudice the commercial interests of the Department.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has also ordered five Offshore Patrol Vessels. The first ship, HMS Forth, was floated out in August 2016 and is currently completing final preparations for Contractor Sea Trials (CST). The second ship, HMS Medway will be floated out this summer. Construction of the remaining three ships is under way following the cut steel ceremony to mark the start of the build programme for the fifth ship, HMS Spey, on 21 April 2017. All five ships will enter service by 2021 at a total cost of £635 million which includes the cost of support.
The first of the four Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) Tankers, RFA Tidespring, launched in April 2015 and is currently undertaking UK customisation work ahead of Capability Assessment trials later this year. On current plans, RFA Tidespring will enter service with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary by the end of 2017. The remaining ships Tiderace, Tidesurge and Tideforce have all been launched. Tiderace undertook the majority of her CSTs in January 2017, and will complete them by mid 2017. The remaining two ships are expected to undertake their CSTs later this year. The MOD’s current planning assumption is that all four MARS Tankers will enter service by the end of 2018. The programme is correctly forecast to deliver approximately £45 million under the approved budget of £595 million.
Four Astute class and the first Dreadnought class submarines are currently in production.
I am withholding information on their respective planned launch dates, details of sea trials and commissioning activity as disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the Armed Forces.
I am also withholding forecast cost information for the Astute class submarine programme, however I refer the Rt hon. Member to the answer I gave on 7 February 2017 to Question number 62350 to the hon. Member for Bridgend (Madeleine Moon) which gives the latest published figures for actual expenditure on the programme up to financial year 2015-16.
For information regarding the latest forecast cost for the Dreadnought class submarine programme I refer the Rt hon. Member to the reply given by my noble Friend, the Minister of State, the Earl Howe, on the 6 June 2016 to the noble Lady, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, in the House of Lords to Question HL328.