§ 8. Mr. Woodall
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the results of the recent Purple Oyster exercise; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Duffy
Exercise Purple Oyster 78 was held on an installation in the Claymore field at the end of last month. It was the latest in a series aof exercises designed to test arrangements for the protection of offshore oil and gas installations. Many procedures for dealing with a terrorist incident were practised, and I am satisfied with the progress made in 1349 training personnel who would be involved in a real incident.
§ Mr. Woodall
I thank my hon. Friend for that interesting reply. In view of the massive build-up of submarines by certain nations, I wonder whether the exercise is designed to repel possible invaders coming from under the sea, as well as possible invaders coming by surface or by airborne methods? Can my hon. Friend say whether any of our civilian forces took part in the exercise—and, if so, which ones?
§ Mr. Duffy
My hon. Friend will understand why I cannot disclose details, but I hope he will rest assured that current planning takes account of every possible threat. In this exercise, for example, it was assumed that terrorists had captured installations. Surveillance flights were made and reaction forces were deployed. I reply to the second part of my hon. Friend's question, the civilian who was deployed, notably, was the chief constable of the Grampian police force. Others included the flag officer for the area concerned, as well as various units of the Armed Services, including Her Majesty's ships, helicopters and aircraft of the Royal Air Force and units of the Royal Marines.
§ Mr. Buck
Why was the exercise called Purple Oyster? As I represent the constituency of Colchester, I find that name rather intriguing. More seriously, can the Minister tell us about the role of the Royal Naval Reserve in the defence of oil installations? Many hon. Members on this side of the House think that the Royal Naval Reserve has a substantial part to play in the protection of oil rigs. Perhaps the Under-Secretary would say something on that matter.
§ Mr. Duffy
Several exercises are held each year to rehearse the military arrangements for dealing with a terrorist incident on our offshore installations. These exercises bear a series of designations, of which Purple Oyster is only one. Others include Pink Mussel, Prawn Salad and Smoked Salmon. As to the second part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's question, the Royal Naval Reserve, here as elsewhere, plays an invaluable and an increasing part.
§ Mr. Dalyell
What was the contribution of the chief constable of the Grampian police force to all that?