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17 Mar 2005 : Column 408W—continued

Burgaled Breiz Trawler

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what steps were taken by (a) the Royal Navy and (b) other nations' military involved to broadcast a warning about (i) anti-submarine and (ii) other warfare training exercises in the vicinity at the time of the sinking of the Burgaled Breiz on 15 January 2004; and on which days between 14 and 31 January 2004 military exercises took place in this part of the English Channel; [221496]

(2) whether (a) UK and (b) other nations' submarines returned to (i) Plymouth and (ii) other ports (A) for technical reasons and (B) due to damage sustained to the vessel in the days after the sinking of the Burgaled Breiz on 15 January 2004; [221497]

(3) whether the Department has satellite records of the area of the sinking of the Burgaled Breiz at 12.33 GMT on 15 January 2004; [221498]

(4) what the itinerary was of each (a) UK and (b) other nations' submarine within UK territorial waters south of the Cornish coast on 15 January 2004; [221499]

(5) how many (a) UK and (b) other EU nations' military helicopters were (i) flying as part of an international military exercise and (ii) prepared for action in the sea area south of the Cornish coast on 15 January 2004; [221458]

(6) who the owner was of each of the life rafts found by aircrew from RNAS Culdrose based at 771 Search and Rescue Squadron when responding to the foundering of the Cap Burgaled Breiz on 15 January 2004; [221459]

(7) if he will list the (a) UK and (b) other nations' submarines which took part in military exercises in the English channel during January 2004; and on which days during that month each took part in the exercises; [221460]

(8) on how many occasions during the period from 1 January 2003 to 31 January 2004 UK naval vessels were involved in a Thursday war military exercise in the English Channel. [221461]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 14 March 2005]: Submarine Exercise Area Warnings are published in the Admiralty Notice to Mariners and on Admiralty charts. SUBFACTS (submarine activity in the area), which included the vicinity where the Burgaled Breiz was lost, were broadcast by the Coastguard every four hours from 150140 GMT. Other warnings of warfare training
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exercises are broadcast only if gunnery firings are to take place. The exercises taking place in this area on 15 January 2004 did not include any gunnery firings.

The German submarine (FGS) U26 arrived alongside in Plymouth on the day of the sinking at 0748 GMT on 15 January 2004 and sailed at 1600 GMT the same day. She returned to Plymouth on 22 January for a Port Visit before providing planned support to Flag Officer Sea Training from 26–29 January. HMS Turbulent sailed from Plymouth on 16 January for surfaced trials off Rame Head and returned alongside that evening, having
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suffered damage to a towed cable, while conducting those trials. No other submarines went alongside in Plymouth or other ports on the day of or in the days following the loss of the fishing vessel, either for technical reasons or for damage sustained by any cause.

We have no record of contemporary satellite images of the area where the Burgaled Breiz sank for any time period on the 15 January 2004. Such images may, however, be available from commercial sources.

Submarine activity in the English Channel and UK territorial waters during January 2004 was as follows:
HMS Torbay15 January 2004UK led exerciseAt 151253 GMT: 49 deg 32.33 min North, 007 deg 55 min West
HMS Torbay16–26 January 2004UK led exerciseSW of Cornwall
HNLMS Dolfijn15 January 2004On surface in transit to UK led exerciseAt 151253 GMT: 49 deg 32.33 min North, 005 deg 16.16 min WestResponded to relay of Mayday at 1300 GMT from FV reporting position some 11 nautical miles NE of her location.
HNLMS Dolfijn16–26 January 2004UK led exerciseSW of Cornwall
FGS U2215 January 2004On dived passage to Mediterranean SeaAt 151253 GMT: 49deg 30.05 min North, 004 deg 07.09 min WestContinued her transit through French waters
FGS U2615 January 2004Alongside in Devonport from150748 GMT until 151600 GMT
FGS U2616–22 January 2004UK led exerciseSW of Cornwall
HMS Turbulent15 January 2004Alongside in Devonport
HMS Turbulent16 January 2004Surfaced trials off Rame HeadOff Rame Head (entrance to Plymouth Harbour)Returned to Devonport that evening having suffered damage to a towed cable.

The French submarine (FS) RUBIS was routed by French Navy authorities from French exercise areas off Brest and in the Bay of Biscay into the ASW exercise area for the start of the exercise. Her route brought her in from the South, however, and she did not enter the Channel areas controlled by the UK. On completion of the exercise she was due to visit Plymouth (from 30 January until 2 February), but the weather conditions were too poor to enable a safe recovery of her towed sonar and she made a surfaced passage to Brest.

The ASW exercise did not commence until 16 January 2004. Helicopters may have been embarked on the vessels with helicopter capability which were alongside at Devonport on 15 January 2004 (four UK, two Dutch, one French) but this cannot be confirmed.

On 15 January 2004, two Dauphin helicopters from POST were flying in the area; one from approximately 0920 and the other from approximately 1310. The duration of these flights was not recorded but it is not thought that either would have exceeded two hours.

Helicopters from RNAS Culdrose were conducting training in the local area on 15 January 2004. Between 0830 and 1700 up to five Merlin, three Sea King Mk 5 and two Sea King Mk 7 took part in this training. The duty Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopters from Culdrose and Chivenor responded to the Burgaled Breiz incident, covering the time from 1249 to 1700.

The crew of the RNAS Culdrose SAR helicopter who responded to the emergency reports of the foundering of the Burgaled Breiz found one life raft in the area. This life raft contained a package of papers, which were not opened by the crew of the SAR helicopter, but were passed to the police via the Falmouth Coastguard. A second life raft was found by a French fishing vessel. It is not known if either life raft has been positively identified as belonging to the Burgaled Breiz.

UK naval vessels were involved in 44 elements of Thursday War" military exercises in the English Channel in the period from 1 January 2003 to 31 January 2004.

Clothing Contracts

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the contract delivery schedule is for battle dress under the cut and sew contract; and what the penalties are for late delivery. [221040]

Mr. Ingram: Under this Enabling Arrangement, the contract delivery schedule is agreed on each Warrant as it is issued. To date over 100,000 items have now been delivered under the cut and sew contract, including combat clothing items, which were received in advance of the agreed delivery date.

Penalties are not enforceable under English Law. The prime contractor has the incentive to perform properly under this contract, as the full five-year duration is subject to continued satisfactory performance. The company is required to make alternative arrangements if there is a risk of delivery failure. However, should they still fail to deliver on time, remedies under the contract include the right to claim damages commensurate with any consequent loss suffered by the Department.
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Contract Prices

Rachel Squire: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what grounds his Department determines whether a contracted price is achievable without subsidy and without additional payments from the Department. [219456]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 8 March 2005]: The Department does not subsidise defence contractors or pay for work that is not covered by a contract. Decisions on contract prices and amendments to contract prices are based on long term Value for Money and take account of factors such as equipment performance, timeliness of delivery, risks and their management, sustainability and support of equipment and, where appropriate, wider factors described in the Defence Industrial Policy, which is in Defence Policy Paper No 5, published in October 2002.

Departmental Efficiency

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the February 2005 estimates of his Department's efficiency delivery position mentioned in the Efficiency Technical Note. [221889]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 15 March 2005]: Work on revising the figures, to take account of the outcome of the Department's planning and budgeting process for the next financial year, is not yet complete.

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