Defence Secretary sees Olympic security plans taking shape
Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond visited Royal Fleet Auxiliary personnel in the south west of England today to hear about security plans for the Olympics.
Mr Hammond visited the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy in Dorset where Olympic and Paralympic watersport events will take place during the 2012 London Games.
He also met a local MP, Dorset Police and port authorities onboard Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) ship Mounts Bay to hear about local plans for the Games and to discuss security at the Weymouth Olympic venue.
Mr Hammond said:
"It is a pleasure to visit Weymouth today to see the benefits that the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games are bringing to the town and to the wider South West region.
"The Sailing Academy here is without doubt a world class facility and, together with local businesses and services and the backing of the local community, this summer's Olympic and Paralympic watersports events will be a great spectacle for Britain and the world to enjoy.
"The Royal Navy will form an integral part of the security operation around Weymouth during the Games, with HMS Bulwark and RFA Mounts Bay and a contingent of Royal Marines assisting the Dorset Police in securing the area."
Mr Hammond announced in December the extent to which Britain's Armed Forces will support the security effort for the Olympic and Paralympic Games which will start at the end of July 2012.
While the safety and security operation for the Games remains for the police to lead on, the Defence contribution to Olympics security will include specialist capabilities which only the military can provide, as well as some more general support.
In total, the MOD expects to provide up to 13,500 personnel, and the Defence assets that will be deployed include:
- HMS Ocean, the largest ship in the Royal Navy's fleet, which will be berthed in the Thames at Greenwich, providing logistics support, accommodation and a helicopter landing site
- HMS Bulwark, in Weymouth Bay, providing maritime command and control, accommodation, helicopter and small boat basing, and logistics supply
- Typhoon jets, stationed temporarily at RAF Northolt in London, and helicopters, likely to be Puma and Lynx, operating from HMS Ocean to support airspace security
- appropriate ground-based air defence capabilities also to support the airspace security effort.
While in Weymouth this morning, Mr Hammond also attended a Cabinet meeting on the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London, chaired by the Prime Minister, David Cameron. The meeting focused on how every part of the UK can take full advantage of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the unique chance that the country has to sell itself to a massive international audience.
With under seven months before the opening ceremony, the construction phase is 95 per cent complete and the project continues to be on time and on budget. Since work began on the East London site in 2008, £6.39bn worth of contracts have been awarded to over 1,500 businesses in the UK, with £12.77m worth going to the South West.
This afternoon, Cabinet Ministers have been visiting towns and cities across the United Kingdom to see for themselves how businesses, sports facilities, schools and organisations are benefiting from the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
"As we kick off 2012, the year of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Diamond Jubilee, this is the perfect time for the Cabinet to come together and ensure we are doing absolutely everything we can to make the most of this unique opportunity to showcase all the great things the UK has to offer to the rest of the world.
"As Ministers visit Olympic venues, businesses, schools and organisations associated with 2012 right across the UK, I want the message to go out loud and clear, from tourism to business, sport to investment, we are determined to maximise the benefits of 2012 for the whole country.
"Today, as we mark 200 days to go, and six out of the eight Olympic venues having already secured their future, we are well on track to delivering a lasting legacy for the whole of Britain."