Spanish shipbuilder Navantia, along with its British partner BMT, has unveiled their proposal for UK’s Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ship program during the DSEI 2019 exhibition, which took place from September 10 to 13 in London.
The FSS program calls for the design and construction of three logistics ships for the UK’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) which will supply dry stores such as ammunition, explosives and food to Royal Navy ships at sea.
The Royal Fleet Auxiliary currently operates two Fort Rosalie-class Solid Support Ships, RFA Fort Austin and RFA Fort Rosalie.
The new ships would have a total cargo capacity of up to 7,000 m3 (250,000 cu ft), be able to travel at a sustained speed of 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph) without resupply and would be capable of delivering non-bulk logistic material whilst underway and making 12 knots through the water and transferring single loads of up to 5 tonnes. As part of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the vessels will be civilian-manned and carry self-defence weapons only.
On 16 May 2018, a contract notice was placed for two solid support ships, with a probable option of a third later.
On 30 November 2018, the list of bidders for the contract was selected. The British consortium consists of companies Babcock, BAE Systems, Cammell Laird and Rolls-Royce while the international bidders are Fincantieri (Italy), Navantia (Spain), Japan Marine United Corporation (JMU), and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME, South Korea).
On 20 May 2019, Fincantieri and DSME announced they are withdrawing from the bid. However, Fincantieri came back to the competition at the end of the same month.