Public Accounts Committee

Reuse of components in the Royal Navy inquiry

Inquiry status: Concluded

Report published 23 March 2018. Government response published 23 May 2018.

Report and response published

Scope of the inquiry

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.


Read all transcripts, written evidence and other material related to the inquiry on Reuse of components in the Royal Navy.

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