HC Deb 15 January 1996 vol 269 cc427-8W
Dr. David Clark

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how, many cracks have been discovered in the hulls of his Department's type 23 frigates; when these cracks were discovered; on what ships they have been discovered; when his Department was warned that cracks could appear; what actions were taken by his Department following this advice; how much it will cost to repair the damage; and if he will make a statement. [8990]

Mr. Arbuthnot

Cracking in an intricate steel structure such as a warship, subjected to randomly varying sealoads, is not unusual. The cracking itself is not usually a matter for immediate concern, but any occurrence is assessed and kept under review until the next convenient opportunity for repairs.

During the construction of HMS Norfolk, the first type 23 frigate, the need for stiffening in part of the deck structure was identified using previously untried techniques. The construction of Norfolk was too far advanced for the full design change to he incorporated at that time but it was done during her first programmed docking period in 1993. All subsequent ships of the class were built with this modification included. The total estimated cost of incorporating this modification into the whole class is about £1 million.

Minor steelwork cracking has occurred in some subsequent type 23 frigates, but this has not been assessed as requiring special action. Repairs have been carried out as part of the normal ship upkeep measures and the costs have not been separately identified.

At no time has the safety of any of the type 23 frigates or their crews been at risk.

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