Any truth in this?

Parliamentary report recommends building support ships in UK

The report further calls on the Government to factor in revenue returned to the Treasury when scoring bids between domestic suppliers and foreign competitors and to acknowledge that many foreign shipyards receive both direct and indirect state subsidies.

The report also states:

“The Royal Navy depends on support ships operated by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) during deployments. Royal Fleet Auxiliary Solid Support Ships are designed to carry a wide range of stores to support other ships in the fleet including munitions, fuel and supplies. To maintain a sovereign naval capability, consisting of all types of ships, building vessels operated by the RFA is crucial for the retention of skills needed for future warship production. Despite this, the National Shipbuilding Strategy states that only Royal Navy destroyers, frigates and aircraft carriers will continue to have a UK-owned design and be built and integrated in the UK.

As such, the Government has decided to open the procurement process for three new Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ships out to international competition with Navantia, a Spanish state-owned shipbuilding company, considered the frontrunner. The MoD states that European Union protectionism rules prevent the FSS contract being run as a UK-only competition.

The Government also believes that it can obtain lower costs and force higher levels of efficiency from domestic shipbuilders by tendering on the international market. Despite concerns raised in Parliament and by trade unions, the Government has no plans to issue any further definitions for the purposes of the National Shipbuilding Strategy. Research conducted by GMB shows that ‘warships of all kinds’ are not subject to compulsory competitive tendering.

Article 346 of the Lisbon Treaty states that ‘Any Member State may take such measures as it considers necessary for the protection of essential interests of its security which are connected with the production of or trade in arms, munitions and war material.’ The MoD alone is responsible for its definition of warship.”

Based on evidence from experts in the field, the report calls on the Government to ensure domestic yards receive the Fleet Solid Support Ship Contract in order to ‘retain the skills needed to construct, refit and upgrade complex warships in the future’.
There is no shipyard (or combination thereof) anywhere in the UK that could build something of the scale of the FSS - and particularly not in the timescales required and considering the concurrent work on T31 and T26.

Rosyth is not a shipyard, no real fabrication capability of real scale
Nothing left in Pompey
Appledore too small and closed
Govan busy with t26 and araldite
Scotstoun - an outfit centre only
H&W - not a shipyard and no workforce of any scale
A&P Tyne - could build blocks, but with difficulty
Cammell laird - no panel line and at capacity if they win T31

It would have been great had the NSBS specified all UK Govt operated / owned ship to be built in UK, but that would also have required an investment programme to create a real shipyard - as opposed to the fragmented bits that we have left.

A real shipyard could make a stab at competing in niche build markets, given a fair wind and making the most of T26 success. The b8ggers muddle we have left is unfortunately not capable of that.
Hyundai is buying up DSME so that changes things. Hyundai build good military stuff, and the new SSS is half BFO stores ship, half LPD(A)
All BFO store ship I think you'll find.......and the RNZN may yet have something to say on Hyundai.
New Defence Secretary signals support ship work should go to UK yards

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt was speaking at the Royal United Services Institute today, where she said:

“It’s long order books and steady drum beats in our yards that strengthen our supply chain and bring down the overall cost of procurement. What is needed is a closer partnership with industry that gives them the confidence to invest and build and us the confidence that we can and must buy British.”

Jude Brimble, GMB National Secretary, said earlier regarding news the contracts could go to Spain:

“The Royal Fleet Auxiliary contracts are the key to unlocking the country’s massive shipbuilding potential. But Ministers refusal to put the UK’s interests first will mean that instead of a massive programme of shared economic and employment re-distribution, our firms will be competing against each other for slivers of complex warship work.

It beggars belief that the Government wants to give this golden opportunity away to foreign competitors when working class communities up and down the country are crying out for decent work.”

Who is bidding?

It is hoped that the bid will be won by Team UK (a UK consortium consisting of Babcock International, BAE Systems, Cammell Laird and Rolls-Royce).

Overseas shipyards who have been invited to tender for the FSS programme include:
  • Fincantieri: 70% owned by Fintecna S.p.A the Italian owned investment agency
  • Navantia: 100% owned by the Spanish government
  • Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME): received a USD 6billion rescue package from the Korean Development Bank and Export-Import Bank of Korea
@instinct and @Not a Boffin may have views on the work of DSME.
Going with DSME would require a watertight (SWIDT) contract of a magnitude of exactitude never-before experienced in UK defence procurement.


Book Reviewer
Politics and requirements need to be separated pure and simple. We either get perceived value for money or we get the capability that we have asked for.

Similar threads

Latest Threads