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Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 13 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK submarines have been fitted with the Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles and are ready for service; and what other improvements and refits have been carried out upon submarines. [110025]

Five RN submarines are Tomahawk capable. Three are currently fully operational, with the fourth, HMS Spartan, undergoing sea trials before returning to the fleet in mid 2003, and the fifth, HMS Trafalgar, undergoing a fleet time maintenance period planned to complete in the first quarter of 2004.In common with all RN vessels, submarines are subject to improvements and modifications throughout their operational lives. Details of all improvements and refits conducted could only be provided at disproportionate cost. However, in addition to the fitting of Tomahawk, recently completed major upgrades have included major sonar improvements, a Submarine Command System upgrade, addition of the Spearfish Torpedo Weapons systems and various communications equipment upgrades. Re-fuelling of the submarines' nuclear reactors has also been undertaken during Long Overhaul Periods.Additionally, I refer my hon. Friend to my recent answer on 24 February 2003,

Official Report, column 311W, to the hon. Member for New Forest (Dr. Lewis) detailing the last upkeep periods that included a major upgrade for the current Swiftsure and Trafalgar Class submarines. Also HMS Vanguard is currently undergoing the first Long Overhaul period and re-fuelling of the Vanguard Class submarines.