The UK Ministry of Defence has selected Team Resolute, a British-led, multi-national consortium, as the preferred bidder to construct its three new Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ships. The £1.6 billion ($1.8 billion) contract will see manufacture of major components split between the UK and Spain with assembly of the new vessels to take place in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Team Resolute is made up of Navantia’s new UK subsidiary who will act as the prime consortium’s prime contractor, BMT who will be responsible for the vessels’ design and shipbuilders Harland & Wolff who will assemble and fit out the support ships at their drydocks in Belfast.
Team Resolute beat out bids from Larsen & Toubro and Leidos Innovations, Serco/Damen, and most notably Team UK which was made up of many of the UK major defense companies including BAE, Babcock and Cammell Laird.
Speaking on behalf of Team Resolute, Group CEO of Harland & Wolff, John Wood, said: “Team Resolute will be making a significant investment into the UK and help to level up UK Government defence spend across the whole Union. We will create high quality UK jobs, apprenticeships and four facilities across the UK which will have shipbuilding capabilities fit for the 21st century.”
Vice Admiral Paul Marshall, DE&S Director General Ships, said: “FSS will deliver worldwide logistic and operational support to the Royal Navy, including the Maritime Strike Group on deployment.” He also noted that “Significant investment in emerging shipyards across the UK will also strengthen and diversify our industrial base.”
A UK MoD statement said that through the contract £77 million will be invest in UK shipyard infrastructure “to support the British shipbuilding sector” and create “one of the most advanced yards in the UK, significant for future export and domestic shipbuilding and offshore opportunities.” The statement explained that:
“Under the contract, the majority of the blocks and modules for the ships would be constructed at Harland & Wolff’s facilities in Belfast and Appledore, with components to be manufactured in their other delivery centres in Methil and Arnish. This programme, which would also support a significant British-based supply chain, would be undertaken in collaboration with internationally renowned shipbuilder, Navantia.”
With some criticism of the awarding of the contract to a company based outside of the UK, the government was keen to point out that the FSS shipbuilding program will create 1,200 new UK jobs, with a further 800 expected to be created by the program’s supply chain.
The new ships will be 216 meters long, 35 meters wide and provide stores and munitions to the Royal Navy’s frigates, destroyers and aircraft carriers. The new FSS ships will replace RFA Fort Victoria and are planned to have a cargo space capacity of 9,000 square meters.
In other UK naval news, earlier this week, the Royal Navy announced the ordering of its second batch of Type 26 anti-submarine warfare frigates.