UK consortium named preferred bidder for Royal Navy support ship contract

The UK Ministry of Defence has selected a preferred bidder to build support ships for the Royal Navy.

Harland & Wolff

British-led Team Resolute, comprising BMT, Harland & Wolff and Navantia UK, has been appointed as the preferred bidder to deliver three support ships to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA).

Credit: Harland & Wolff

Team Resolute will be awarded a £1.6 billion contract (before inflation) to manufacture the vessels providing munitions, stores and provisions to the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers, destroyers and frigates deployed at sea.

The entire final assembly for all three ships will be completed at Harland & Wolff’s shipyard in Belfast, with the three 216-meter-long vessels built to Bath-based BMT’s entirely British design.

The majority of the blocks and modules for the ships will 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 program, which will also support British-based supply chain, will be undertaken in collaboration with Spanish shipbuilder Navantia. Build work will also take place at Navantia’s shipyard in Cadiz.

“This is a welcome boost to the UK shipbuilding industry. By selecting Team Resolute, the Ministry of Defence has secured £77 million of investment into UK shipyards, creating around 2,000 UK jobs, and showcasing cutting-edge British design,” UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

The ships will be the second longest UK military vessels behind the two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. They will have commonality with the RFA’s Tide class fleet tankers, also built to a British BMT design.

Designed to support Net Carbon Zero by the end of their 30-year service lives, the RFA vessels will be equipped with energy efficient technologies to reduce power demand and will have the capability to reduce their carbon intensity by adopting low-carbon, non-fossil fuels and future energy sources.

Production is due to start in 2025 and all three support ships are expected to be operational by 2032. The manufacture contract is due to be awarded by DE&S by the first quarter of 2023, subject to completion of a successful preferred bidder stage and final approvals.