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Last Updated: Monday, 18 September 2006, 21:29 GMT 22:29 UK
Naval review to 'cut overheads'
HMS Illustrious
The bases are "complex and expensive", Mr Browne said
An in-depth review of UK naval bases will aim to reduce overheads and focus on the front line, Defence Secretary Des Browne has said.

The Royal Navy's infrastructure requirements at its bases in Devonport, Portsmouth and on the Clyde will be the primary focus.

It would ensure their "capacity is no more and no less" than was needed to support the fleet, Mr Browne said.

The Ministry of Defence said it was too early to "predict the impact on jobs".

The review forms part of the Defence Industrial Strategy, which was introduced late last year.

Launching the strategy last December, the then Defence Secretary John Reid said the strategy should make sure the Armed Forces receive the right equipment at the right time and for the best value for money.

We need to ensure that their capacity is no more and no less than we need to support the needs of the fleet now and in the years to come
Des Browne

Mr Browne said: "The Defence Industrial Strategy set out a challenge to the UK maritime industry to reduce its overheads and invest in the facilities and skills needed to meet the demands of the Royal Navy's future warship programme."

The same challenges now applied to the naval bases, he added.

"They are complex and expensive organisations.

"We need to ensure that their capacity is no more and no less than we need to support the needs of the fleet now and in the years to come.

"The review will assess future requirements and examine a range of options including some that could lead to radical reductions in overheads and naval base capacity."

Recommendations from the review are expected to be presented to the government in the spring of next year.

An MoD spokesman said trade unions would be consulted throughout the process.

The announcement forms the latest in a series of modernisation plans for the armed forces.




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