§ Mr. David Nicholson
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about naval equipment procurement plans.
§ Mr. Freeman
I am pleased to confirm that an order valued in the region of £40 million has been placed with BAeSEMA to build an ocean survey vessel for the Royal Navy's hydrographic service. The new ship will be built by Appledore Shipbuilders Ltd. in Devon under sub-contract to BAeSEMA and will carry out systematic hydrographic surveys in the world's oceans, replacing the existing specialised vessel HMS Hecla. This order recognises the importance to the Royal Navy of a continuing specialist hydrographic capability and is part of the Government's plans to replace current hydrographic vessels and equipment as it becomes necessary, which were announced by the then Minister of State for Defence Procurement in the House on 8 March 1994.