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Call for Evidence

The Navy: purpose and procurement

Terms of Reference

You are invited to answer some or all of the following questions in as much depth as you feel able. You are not required to answer every question. Further guidance on submitting written evidence can be found here.


Part 1 – What is the UK’s ambition for the Navy’s role over the next 20 years?

  1. What naval threats is the UK likely to face and what standing commitments, including for NATO and UK Overseas Territories, does the government intend the Navy to undertake?
    • In particular what is the implication of a tilt to the Indo-Pacific?
  2. What naval forces (vessels, capabilities and bases) are required to combat these threats and to deliver these standing commitments?
    • What are the implications of cooperation with vessels from allied nations, for example allied vessels participating in carrier strike groups?


Part 2 – Are naval procurement and support plans delivering the capabilities required for this role?

There are several expected pinch points in equipment that pose a risk to the Navy’s ability to deliver planned capabilities. The inquiry will examine where risks to specific programs could threaten the Navy’s overall effectiveness, with particular focus on the following areas:

  1. Concerns have been raised over some core equipment and enabling capabilities for the carrier strike program: the withdrawal and removal of partners from the F-35 program has led to speculation that the UK will cut its order; the Public Accounts Committee reported in November that the Crowsnest radar system had been delayed by 18 months because of poor contractor performance and inadequate departmental oversight; and the tendering process for the Fleet Solid Support Ships (FSS) has been delayed multiple times with the current Solid Support Ships expected to retire between 2023-2025. How will this affect plans for Carrier Enabled Power Projection?
  2. Delays to the Astute class submarine program have been a longstanding area of concern, with the late hand over of HMS Audacious likely to have extended delays further down the tranche. How will these delays affect the replacement timeline for the Trafalgar class and the cost of the program?
    • What impact will delays to Astute have on the Dreadnought program, as some of the same production facilities are required for both models?
  3. The time at sea for the Type 45 destroyers has been limited in previous years due to long-term difficulties with cooling, propulsion and manpower. What is the status of efforts to address this, like the Power Improvement Program, and what impact will the Type 45’s readiness levels have on Navy capabilities over this period?
  4. The UK is likely to face a “frigate gap” until at least the early 2030s. The current Type 23 frigates will begin to leave service on an annual basis from 2023. There are concerns over the extended retirement dates, especially with regards to the integrity of certain hulls and lack of spare part packages across the board. The first replacement Type 26s and Type 31s are not expected to be in service until at least four years later. What capabilities will the Navy lose or need to deliver through other means as a result? How realistic are production plans for the Type 31s (already described as “aggressive” and including an ambitious delivery rate of one every 8-12 months, compared to 18 months for comparable European programmes for similar vessels)?
  5. The Navy’s Hunt and Sandown Mine Counter Measure Vessels will be replaced by an Autonomous Mine Hunting Capability currently under development. How likely is this to be able to replicate the vessels’ full contribution, including to partnerships with allies through deployments like Op KIPION, by the time they reach retirement in the early 2030s and what are the implications if it does not?
    • What other progress is being made on integrating UAVs into the Navy?
  6. Is the UK’s domestic shipbuilding industry able to fulfil its role in delivering the country’s naval capabilities? What has been the effect of the National Shipbuilding Strategy? Does the government’s decision in the Defence Industrial Strategy to determine whether to invite foreign competition on a case-by-case basis (rather than just for warships) increase or decrease the opportunities for UK shipbuilding? What will industry need to see in the government’s forthcoming update to the National Shipbuilding Strategy and 30-year plan for Naval and other government-owned vessels?
  7. How realistic are proposed exports of Type 26 and Type 31 frigate designs and what effect would they have on costs of the frigates for the UK? Since most foreign buyers will seek to produce ships domestically, how much value are these export deals likely to deliver to UK shipbuilding?
  8. The government’s Defence Industrial Strategy promises up to five Type 32 frigates and a new class Type 83 destroyer but no further details on these ships’ designs and roles have been provided: how can the government learn from previous programs in designing and delivering these two ships ?


The deadline for written evidence submissions is 30 May 23:59.  

This call for written evidence has now closed.

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