Today, 24th November, newly appointed Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson MP, announced changes to the Type-23 base-porting arrangements that will see all eight Type-23 Anti-Submarine Frigates now based at Devonport.
The announcement comes as the Defence Secretary is on a visit to Plymouth, specifically HMNB Devonport, where he is expected to be briefed on the role of the base and its fleet. The visit has come amid intense lobbying from local MP, Johnny Mercer, who has been pushing hard on the rumours surrounding the future of HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark.
However, the speculation surrounding the future of the amphibious capability and Plymouth’s role within that were resoundingly quashed this week as Mr Mercer received assurances from the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff. Lieutenant General Poffley confirmed that the Better Defence Estate Strategy, which saw Plymouth becoming an Amphibious Centre of Specialisation, was still confirmed to be implemented.
Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson MP, said:
“Johnny Mercer has been making constant representations on the important and vital role that Plymouth plays to the Royal Navy and that is why we have made this decision today.”
Plymouth Moor View Member of Parliament, Johnny Mercer, had this to say:
“I’ve been lobbying the Defence Secretary relentlessly since he was announced in post only a few weeks ago and I’m pleased to say that is starting to pay off.
“I obviously had General Poffley come before the Defence Committee last week and in response to my questioning he reaffirmed Plymouth as the centre for the Royal Marines as part of the Better Defence Estate and the Defence Secretary’s announcement is further welcome news.
“However, I’m aware that this only part of the challenge and more work needs to be done to secure the future of HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark. I remain singularly committed to this task.”
The decision on the new base-porting arrangements, one of the first the new Defence Secretary has implemented since coming into post, will also see the five Type 23 General Purpose Frigates being based in Portsmouth.