Navy warship to be recycled in Liverpool

The Royal Navy looks set to sidestep the controversy that often accompanies the decommissioning of warships - by recycling at home.

The MOD has received the green light from planners to have former assault ship HS Intrepid broken up and recycled in Liverpool by British company Leavesley International.

The company was selected as preferred bidder last year following an open competition for the job, which includes strict environmental standards.

Leavesley now has the required planning permission and environmental licences in place to enable it to proceed with the work at its facility on Merseyside.

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Baroness Taylor, said: “This contract reinforces MoD’s determination to ensure former Royal Navy vessels are disposed off responsibly, and in full compliance with international environmental legislation.”

MOD Defence Equipment and Support Disposal Sales Authority assistant director of operations, Richard Norris, said: “This is an exciting initiative, which demonstrates the UK’s commitment to safe and proper disposal.

“It will be the first time an MoD vessel has been recycled in the UK for many years and provides an excellent example of the public and private sectors working together to achieve environmentally and commercially sound recycling.”

The 12,000 tonne vessel, which has been moored in Portsmouth harbour since she left service in 1999, has since been replaced in service by the much larger and better equipped assault ship HMS Albion.

Globally, ship recycling is a controversial business.

Heavily regulated companies in the industrialised West compete with breaking yards in Asia where owners are keen to get hold of cheap steel from the hulls but environmental and safety standards are often lax.

In 2005-2006 the aircraft carrier the Clemenceau, once the pride of the French Navy, became an embarrassment to the country as it was turned away from several ports due to the toxic materials on board – and was finally returned to France for recycling.

David Gibbs

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