In a recent parliamentary inquiry, Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell put forward the idea of converting British Royal Navy warships from diesel to nuclear power. However, the benefits of nuclear power for smaller surface vessels such as frigates do not outweigh the significant costs and potential environmental problems. Furthermore, integrating such systems into existing fleet designs would pose significant technical and logistical challenges.
Rosindell asked the Defense Secretary about planned spending on the Royal Navy’s nuclear-powered surface ships in the coming financial years. He also asked about the Ministry of Defense’s timeline for converting the Royal Navy’s existing diesel-powered surface fleet to nuclear power.
In response, Minister of State James Cartlidge clarified that the Royal Navy has never had nuclear-powered surface ships and there is no program or intention to convert the current fleet to nuclear power in the future. The idea of converting frigates into nuclear-powered surface ships is out of the question for the foreseeable future, and there are no plans to add warp cores or hyperdrive engines either.
Nuclear power offers advantages such as greater range and autonomy, but the costs associated with retrofitting existing surface vessels and the need to address environmental concerns make it an impractical solution for smaller naval vessels. The Royal Navy will continue to rely on conventional diesel propulsion for its surface fleet.
In summary, the Royal Navy has no plans to convert its surface ships to nuclear power. The complexities and costs involved, as well as environmental considerations, make it an unviable option. The focus will continue to be on maintaining and modernizing the current fleet rather than developing nuclear propulsion.
1. Frigates: smaller surface ships of the Navy.
2. Customization: Changing or improving existing equipment or systems.
3. Nuclear energy: Using nuclear reactions to produce heat or electricity.