The next generation of support ships that will keep Royal Navy aircraft carrier operations fuelled and ready for action has reached a new milestone as four contenders are awarded contracts to develop their bid to build the vessels. The Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ships will be built for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and will be designed to keep the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and amphibious task groups supplied with everything from ammunition to food as they sail on operations around the world. Four contracts worth £5m apiece for the ‘Competitive Procurement Phase’ have been awarded to develop the design and build of the new ships.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “I am proud to see UK companies stepping up to the challenge of the Fleet Solid Support competition as we begin the next chapter of this British shipbuilding success story. I wish all the competitors well as we work towards realising a programme which will deliver ships essential for the UK’s security as well as vital jobs and skills.”
The FSS ships will increase the capability and development of the U.K. Carrier Strike Group to operate globally by replenishing its stores and ammunition. The four consortia awarded CPP contracts are (in alphabetical order):
- Larsen & Toubro, which includes UK company Leidos Innovations.
- Serco /Damen, which includes UK company Serco.
- Team Resolute, which includes UK companies Harland & Wolff and BMT.
- Team UK, which includes UK companies Babcock and BAE Systems.
The final manufacture contract will be awarded to the UK company acting either solely or as part of a group following this phase. The contracts will allow the contenders to develop their design proposals and the next stage will seek details of how they would fulfil the wider delivery needs of the programme. Once this phase is complete, a preferred contender will be selected and a manufacturer contract will be awarded. The Fleet Solid Support competition remains on track to deliver the ships the Royal Fleet Auxiliary need to support the Royal Navy, whilst maximising the contribution shipbuilding can make in the UK, including encouraging investment in domestic shipyards.