Defence chiefs want to scupper Britannia plan

The Ministry of Defence looks unlikely to accept an offer to rebuild the Royal yacht Britannia, even though this would provide it with 20 years’ more service for a cost estimated at about £40m-50m. An unsolicited proposal for reconstructing Britannia is understood to have come from DML, the owner of the Devonport dockyard, although neither […]

The Ministry of Defence looks unlikely to accept an offer to rebuild the Royal yacht Britannia, even though this would provide it with 20 years’ more service for a cost estimated at about £40m-50m.

An unsolicited proposal for reconstructing Britannia is understood to have come from DML, the owner of the Devonport dockyard, although neither DML nor the MoD will confirm this.

The costs involved compare with estimates of up to £100m for an all-new successor to the royal yacht, but the MoD is understood to have given the DML offer a cool reception.

‘A few holes have been shot in the rebuild plan,’ said an MoD insider.

The MoD needs to consider the idea of reconstruction, he said. ‘But but this is only a very tentative option among a large number of others.’

While DML would not confirm it provided the rebuild proposal, Reg Shield, DML’s sales and marketing general manager, said the company had estimated Britannia’s reconstruction cost at £40m-50m. ‘The work we have done shows that rebuilding her is an entirely feasible and technically sound option,’ Shield said.

The last Government considered ordering a new ship for £60m, but Shield said yacht experts saw costs of at least £80m as more realistic.

This view is supported by DML’s rival Rosyth dockyard, which said a new ship might cost £50m-100m. Rosyth said that if the opportunity arose, ‘we would be interested in bidding’ for any Britannia rebuild.

An MoD spokesman said the Government ‘is taking a close look at all the options surrounding the requirement for, and provision of, a new Royal yacht, including the options for privately financing such a vessel. It is not envisaged that any of the various options will involve the use of public money.’

The cheapest option, a £17m refit to give Britannia five more years, was rejected by the previous Government.