A £250m scheme to create a successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia has been scrapped in government spending cuts.
The national flagship plan was sunk by Rishi Sunak’s administration as Whitehall braced for a squeeze on budgets in the upcoming autumn statement.
The plan was championed by Boris Johnson when he was prime minister, but faced criticism as a lower priority for defence spending.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace told MPs he was prioritising the procurement of the multi-role ocean surveillance ship (MROSS) instead of the Royal Yacht.
“In the face of the Russian illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and (Vladimir) Putin’s reckless disregard of international arrangements designed to keep world order, it is right that we prioritise delivering capabilities which safeguard our national infrastructure,” he said.
That meant he had “also directed the termination of the national flagship competition with immediate effect to bring forward the first MROSS ship in its place”.
The vessel had been expected to be constructed in the UK and take to the water in 2024 or 2025, and would have toured the world as a “floating embassy”.
The Commons Defence Committee warned in 2021 that there was “no evidence of the advantage to the Royal Navy of acquiring the national flagship” and that the initial expenditure of around £250m, combined with the £20–30m a year running costs and providing a crew, would pile extra pressure on the senior service.
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