§ 9. Mr. Trotter
asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he is satisfied that after the withdrawal of HMS"Ark Royal ", the Royal Navy remains able to deal with the potential threat posed by the very large new Soviet warships such as the"Kiev"and"Minsk"which are armed with aircraft and long-range missiles.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy (Mr. A. E. P. Duffy)
Yes, Sir. I am satisfied that, with the support of our NATO allies, we can meet the potential threat.
§ Mr. Trotter
Does the Minister agree that these new Soviet aircraft carriers, which are twice as large as any ship in the Royal Navy, present a formidable threat to our sea lines of communication? Can he tell the House whether the"Kiev"and the"Minsk"operate in areas of strategic importance to our shipping?
§ Mr. Duffy
The"Minsk"is off the coast of West Africa. With the introduction into service of these ships the Soviet 1292 Navy will undoubtedly continue to improve its anti-submarine and anti-surface shipping capability. However, the threat that they pose can be countered by a concerted response from land-based aircraft, together with Royal Navy missile-armed warships and SSNs and, in due course, the Sea Harrier. The Royal Navy, however, will not have to deal in isolation with a potential Soviet threat. It will be able to rely on the support of NATO.
§ Mr. Cronin
Does my hon. Friend agree that HMS "Ark Royal"represented too many eggs in one basket and that the much smaller Soviet ships such as"Kiev"and"Minsk"are amply counter-balanced by the anti-submarine cruisers?
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles
What assessment has the Minister made of why the Russians are building these large aircraft carriers?