The Ministry of Defence has denied that its fleet of hi-tech destroyers is sitting idle after figures showed they are spending more time berthed at UK military ports than on duty at sea.
Responding to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the MOD has confirmed its six Type 45 destroyers had spent a combined 1,515 days in UK ports for the year starting April 2015 with four of the £1 billion ships spending more than 300 days in British ports.
The warship to stay longest at its home port of Portsmouth was HMS Dragon, notching up 330 days, although this came after a nine-month deployment.
Former first sea lord Admiral Lord Alan West told the Portsmouth News: “We desperately need to get the destroyers out and doing their job.
“We are using Royal Fleet Auxiliary and offshore protection vessels to do jobs that historically would have been done with frigates or destroyers.”
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A Royal Navy spokesman said the figures did not show that the ships were sitting idle and said they could be carrying out active duties while based overnight at Portsmouth and other UK bases such as Plymouth.
He said: “We are meeting all of our operational tasks and our destroyers are not sitting idle.
“Ships operate out of ports while they are going through high intensity preparations for operations and while they conduct crucial defence engagement.
“Supported by a defence budget growing in real terms, HMS Daring has sailed to Malta en route to the Gulf, HMS Diamond is helping tackle arms trafficking in the Mediterranean, HMS Duncan and HMS Dragon will shortly sail for other operations and the rest of the class is preparing for refit.”
Earlier this year it was revealed that the Type 45s will have to be fitted with new engines because of reliability issues with the current propulsion system.
However, this work is expected to be carried out during planned refit periods to prevent disruption to the ships’ working programmes.