To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many minesweepers or mine countermeasure vessels are immediately available for service within British territorial waters.
There are currently 40 mine counter measures vessels, including minesweepers, in service with the Fleet of which 33 are operational or engaged in preparing for service or trials or training. Except for the four Hunt class MCMVs attached to the Armilla patrol, all these 33 vessels are available for NATO and national tasks within European waters in the normal way.
The information requested is set out in the table.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress on the modernisation of the United Kingdom's mining and mine counter-measure capabilities.
Since May 1979 the Government had carried out a comprehensive modernisation of the United Kingdom's mine counter-measures capability. We have ordered eight Hunt-class dual-role MCMVs, an entire new class of 12 River-class minesweepers, and five of the new Sandown-class single-role minehunters. We also retain a defensive mining capability.