The Royal Navy’s planned Fleet Solid Support ships will be made by British-led teams, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced.
A competition to build the three new Fleet Solid Support vessels will be launched by UK Ministry of Defence (MOD)’s Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) in Spring 2021. These vital warships will be providing supplies and technical support to the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers once they enter service.
According to the MOD, international companies will be invited to work in collaboration with UK firms to feed in their skills and expertise, but the successful manufacturing team must be led by a British company.
A statement by DE&S said that the project “will help revitalise British shipbuilding by requiring a significant proportion of the build and assembly work to be carried out in the UK”. “This will have a huge impact on the local economies across the UK where shipbuilding is a prominent feature”, the statement added.
Hundreds of highly-skilled jobs will be created as a direct result of the announcement, with many more in small and medium-sized enterprises throughout the supply chain for the new builds to follow over the next few years.
The Defence Secretary confirmed the news ahead of his speech at the Atlantic Future Forum on October 21, where UK and US leaders gathered on aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth docked in Portsmouth to discuss co-operation across trade, defence and security. The speech outlined the UK’s commitment to shipbuilding and pledged further burden-sharing with the US and NATO, thanks to the cutting-edge capability of the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers.
Ben Wallace, Secretary of State for Defence, said:
“Shipbuilding has historically been a British success story, and I am determined to revitalise this amazing industry as part of this Government’s commitment to build back better. The Fleet Solid Support warships competition will be the genesis of a great UK shipbuilding industry, and allow us to develop the skills and expertise for the shipyards of tomorrow.”
The Fleet Solid Support ship competition will build on the success of the Type 31 frigate programme, which is being overseen by DE&S and will be built primarily in Scotland. That frigate build is expected to support 1,250 highly-skilled jobs and 150 apprenticeships across the country.
The Fleet Solid Support warships will incorporate next-generation technology with a purpose-built design and will eventually support HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales as part of the UK Carrier Strike Group, which will undertake its first operational deployment next year.