Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100
MONDAY 15 JANUARY 2001
WALMSLEY, KCB AND
100. The destroyer?
(Sir Robert Walmsley) I do not think that is over
budget either but I am just going to turn now to the right figure,
if I can find it. It is a pre-main gate project and I do not have
the destroyer figure to hand so I cannot answer that.
101. Would you have the figures for the anti-armour?
(Sir Robert Walmsley) Yes, I do. The cost of the AAW
has dropped two per cent.
102. And the BOWMAN?
(Sir Robert Walmsley) BOWMAN is another pre-main gate
project, so I do not have it. It has not changed much.
103. You are able to provide me with one of
the four at the moment.
(Sir Robert Walmsley) That is because the report
104. I understand. I understand absolutely.
(Sir Robert Walmsley) BOWMAN is pretty steady.
105. Based on times of delivery or expectations
or perceptions of delivery, on what you have offered there two
of them are at least five years late and one is 10 years late
although one of those has been cancelled. I am not trying to make
a wider point here, but who pays the price in terms of the failure
to meet these targets for these delivery dates or in-service dates?
In any other sector, in any other business, in any other world,
someone would be told this just is not good enough. Who has been
(Sir Robert Walmsley) I have been told it is not good
enough in this room on several occasions. I cannot re-write history.
I wish I could. Projects which are late do not get better. I get
beaten every year for the same offence.
106. You have told us on two or three occasions
this evening already that projects which have been late have got
better. That has been one of your lines of defence.
(Sir Robert Walmsley) I meant recovering the slip.
You do not recover slip. Of course, if they are laterand
I do not offer this as an excuse, it is a consequence of being
laterthey tend to have more modern technology.
107. Vice Admiral, how does it make you feel
as a customer?
(Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham) It is obviously
a matter of concern if things arrive late, if the consequence
of that is that we are stuck with weaponry which does not meet
108. Surely "a matter of concern"
is an understatement. I ordered a settee to be delivered for Christmas.
It did not arrive and we had people sitting on makeshift chairs
at Christmas dinner. That was a matter of annoyance. Are you telling
me that when you cannot get a frigate within five years of your
expectation it is a matter of concern? Surely it is much more
(Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham) No, it is a matter
of concern. The Type 42s which we have are able to deal with the
role which they are required to fill today.
109. What would it take to make you as a customer
feel frustrated and angry? Only five years late where the frigate
(Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham) Frustrated and
angry is perhaps quite close to concern. I want it to change.
The important thing is that we are looking here, although it is
a pity, at history which I cannot change.
110. I am simply asking how it makes you feel
as a customer, making strategic planning based on what you in
good knowledge and good faith thought was to be delivered.
(Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham) It makes me feel
that we need to do a very great deal better. That is where my
efforts are bent.
111. Has the operational performance of the
Royal Navy in particular been protected by this failure?
(Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham) Its theoretical
ability is going to be less in 2002 than it would have been if
the Type 45 had arrived on time. As of today it was not expecting
to have a Type 45.
112. Like everyone on this Committee I do not
have the experience which you bring to the Committee. I have to
say I do not understand that answer. What is the theoretical ability?
(Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham) The Royal Navy
for the most part, and this is a simple fact of life today, is
up to its neck in operations. Its major concerns are today's operations.
It was not ever expecting to have a Type 45 in service in the
year 2001, so it does not notice the lack of it. By and large
most people in the Royal Navy are so focused on what they are
doing that I do not suppose they have given a great deal of thought
to it. That is my job and I am unhappy about it, but I cannot
rewrite history. This is a project going back ten years or more.
113. You have given a lot of thought to it,
unlike most people in the Navy. Do you feel that the fact that
it is five years late will compromise the capability of the Royal
Navy to do its job properly?
(Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham) The ability in
the Navy will be less in the years 2002 to 2007 than it would
have been if we had had this ship in service.
114. Is "less" close to "compromised"?
In the same way that "anger" is close to "concern",
is ability being "less" as a consequence of this, in
the phraseology you use, in some way similar to "compromised"?
(Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham) No. I am slightly
less anxious about it than I would have been if the world had
not changed a few years ago.
115. The world changed a few years ago and this
report should have changed a few days ago. Is there anything else
you want to tell us which is in this report which you just have
not managed to track down as being a major change?
(Sir Robert Walmsley) I do not think there is actually.
This is the only one which would have come to my mind.
116. So there is nothing else we have to ask
(Sir Robert Walmsley) You might find something else
in here. I am not aware of anything else.
117. May I make a suggestion? We have another
meeting on Wednesday. Between now and then we are absolutely sure
there are no changes. Can I have that undertaking?
(Sir Robert Walmsley) In the spirit in which you have
asked for it, Iwill. I cannot guarantee that every number has
118. This is a substantive change. We are not
talking a decimal point change on one of the numbers.
(Sir Robert Walmsley) In the spirit in which you asked
for the assurance, I can give you that assurance: this is the
only change. I can give that now.
119. Paragraph 3.14 has been the cause of some
concern. It says, "The first three Type 45 Destroyers will
enter service with some capability shortfalls because some capabilities,
such as sonar, have been traded-off to make the ships affordable
and to enable them to be brought into service sooner". In
the last week or ten days or so, we have sonar. The assumption
must therefore be that we cut back on something else. If we could
not have sonar before because it was not affordable and it is
now affordable, what are the cuts which have taken place?
(Sir Robert Walmsley) No, they have not actually.
What happened was that on 20 December we placed the prime contract
for the first three ships. It was at that point that we started
to put some certainty, as opposed to estimates, into what the
cost of those ships will be.
6 Note by Witness: Although the cost variation
for the pre-main gate work reported in MPR 2000 is +£206
million, the total acquisition cost for the project is little