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Volume 457: debated on Thursday 8 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will update the committed and contingent figures in table 7 of Annexe B to Supporting Essay 6 of the Strategic Defence Review 1998; (124047)

(2) what the estimated annual operating cost is of conventional forces (a) committed to the protection of Trident and (b) with a contingent role in the protection of Trident, calculated on the same basis as the figures provided in the answer to the hon. Member for Crawley of 2 November 1998, Official Report, columns 349-50W, on Trident.

In addition to the four Vanguard-class submarines, all of which are dedicated to Military Task 1.2—Nuclear Deterrence—the current planned force elements assigned to support nuclear deterrence are shown in the following table. The changes in both committed and contingent forces since publication of Supporting Essay 6 of the Strategic Defence Review reflect the changing nature of the threat to the deterrent, and of our response to that threat as described in paragraphs 2.7 and 2.8 of the 2004 White Paper, ‘Delivering Security in a Changing World—Future Capabilities’ (CM6269).

Force element

Committed l


Attack submarines



Destroyers and frigates



Minewarfare vessels



Royal fleet auxiliary vessels



Survey vessels



Merlin ASW helicopters



Maritime and reconnaissance aircraft



1 Force elements committed to the military task as their primary role

2 Force elements held contingent are assigned to a number of tasks and are not planned routinely to deploy in support of the deterrent.

We do not routinely calculate the operating cost of specific committed or contingent force elements in support of the deterrent, and such estimates are necessarily illustrative, given the differing cost of varied operating patterns. A broad order estimate, however, of the annual operating costs of committed conventional force elements would be around £25-30 million.

A similar estimate for contingent conventional force elements would be around £250-300 million, although this is the estimated cost of generating these force elements for a range of tasks and it is not the cost of support to the deterrent.

These estimated costs are not directly comparable to those given in 1998, as the calculation has been conducted on a different basis using a more recent methodology.