Public Accounts Committee

Reuse of components in the Royal Navy inquiry

Inquiry status: open

The Public Accounts Committee will examine the reuse of components in the Royal Navy on Wednesday 10 January 2018.

Scope of the inquury

Ships, submarines and helicopters operated by the Royal Navy comprise thousands of complex parts. Replacing these, or keeping spares, is very expensive and requires planning but it necessary to maintain the UK’s Naval defence capacity.

Sometimes it is necessary to take a part from a functioning vessel to fill a gap in another—a process called ‘equipment cannibalisation’. According to a recent National Audit Office investigation, this practice has doubled in the last twelve years.

Whilst reusing parts is sometimes necessary, it is seen as a last resort.  Despite this, there were 795 instances of equipment cannibalisation in 2016–17. In over 40% of these cases ships receiving cannibalised parts needed them in order to be operational.

The National Audit Office found that the Ministry of Defence did not routinely monitor use, causes and impact of reliance on reused parts—even though relying on them can delay programmes, create engineering risks and dampen morale.

We will ask representatives from the Ministry of Defence and the Royal Navy what they are doing to become less reliant on reuse of parts, how they intend to monitor the problem, and how they can minimise any risks associated with it.

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