BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 1 August, 2002, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
Navy defends demolition of ships
HMS Boxer
HMS Boxer will be destroyed at sea
The Royal Navy has admitted it is to destroy two of its own frigates, saying they are "of no use to anyone".

The 15-year-old ships - HMS Brave and HMS Boxer - will be towed out to sea and shot to pieces as target practice by today's Navy.

But a spokesman for the Navy denied reports that the vessels are worth a total of 400m.


No one wants to buy them, they are worth nothing

Cdre Leaman, Navy spokesman

Speaking to BBC News Online, Commodore Richard Leaman said the ships are worth "nothing" because the Navy cannot sell them.

But the decision to get rid of the ships by taking them out to sea and firing at them, has faced criticism.

'Dangerous exercise'

One warships expert called it "scandalous" to "discard" the warships "half way through their useful life".

Editor of Warship World magazine, Mike Critchley, told The Sun newspaper: "The Navy has suffered at the hands of the politicians, who have embarked on a dangerous exercise of disposing of ships long before their replacements are built - and some are not being replaced."

But Cdre Leaman, director of Navy communications in London, said the Navy cannot get rid of them any other way.

"No one wants to buy them, they are worth nothing," he said, adding that the Navy's fleet of destroyers and frigates was not facing cuts.

HMS Brave and HMS Boxer were designed to seek out Russian submarines in the early 1980s.

But Cdre Leaman, said: "At the time they were part of a large anti-submarine task group and part of Cold War tactics against Russian submarines.

"When the Berlin wall came down and the Soviet Union collapsed they stopped being used."

'Previous era'

Cdre Leaman said today's requirements for ships are different and they are now building multi-purpose vessels, well equipped with weaponry to fight other ships.

"These frigates, albeit only 15-years-old, are from a previous era.

"The decision was taken five years ago to 'pay off' these ships as they are no longer relevant to the environment the Navy is fighting in now," he said.


They were going to be sold to Chile, but after the Pinochet affair here, the Chilean government decided not to buy them

Cdre Richard Leaman

At one point the ships looked destined to be sold to Chile, he said.

"But after the Pinochet affair here, the Chilean government decided not to buy them."

The use of the ships as target practice - which is a regular annual occurrence for Navy personnel - is valuable, he said.

'Emptied out shells'

"It is very useful weapon assessment and builds up the confidence of sailors - it is a hugely important activity for us," he said.

Speaking about the issue, Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram said the frigates were "emptied out shells" and insisted the practice was common among major navies.

The ships will be stripped of fuel and ammunitions to become a "lumps of steel" before being blown apart in the Atlantic Ocean.

Cdre Leaman said this was to ensure any environmental risk was eliminated.

See also:

13 Jul 02 | UK
04 Mar 02 | England
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes