The Fleet Solid Support Ship project has been given an “amber/red” rating by the Infrastructure Project Authority, warning that the cancellation and resumption of the competition to build the vessels placed the £1.6bn project at significant risk.
The project was suspended in October 2019 following suggestions that efforts were being made to relaunch the project with a requirement that the ships be built in the UK. The competition was later relaunched, more about that below.
According to the 2021 Annual Report on the Government Major Projects Portfolio from the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, which can be found here, The Fleet Solid Support Ship project is categorised with a level of risk.
“Compared to financial year 19/20-Q2, the Infrastructure Project Authority’s Delivery Confidence Assessment rating increased from Amber to Amber/red.
This is primarily due to the following factors:
- A Programme re-set, including approval for a revised Outline Business Case following the cancellation of the Fleet Solid Support competition in October 2019.
- Progress has continued spanning the reporting period, achieving a number of key activities and advancing through the approvals that are required to enable a new procurement to start in 2021, as announced publicly and directed by the Secretary of State for Defence on 21 October 2020.
- The Outline Business Case was considered and passed through Navy Command and Defence Equipment & Support assurance processes in November 2020 and completed Investment Approvals Committee consideration as expected in December 2020.
- As of 31 March 21, the final Departmental approval is still awaited. This approval will enable the new competition to commence, with the internal project and commercial aspects in place and ready to proceed. Delivery confidence remains under constant review.”
What does ‘Amber/Red’ mean?
The IPA describe this rating in the following way:
“Successful delivery of the project is in doubt, with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas. Urgent action is needed to address these problems and/or assess whether resolution is feasible.”
The Tempest jet project is also rated as “Amber/Red”, you can read more about that here.
What are the Fleet Solid Support Ships?
Earlier this year, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace launched a competition to build three new Fleet Solid Support Ships to provide vital support to Royal Navy operations across the world. The vessels will provide munitions, food, stores and provisions to support the UK Carrier Strike Group at sea.
DE&S’ Director General Ships, Vice Admiral Chris Gardner, said previously:
“The launch of the Fleet Solid Support competition presents a really exciting opportunity for the shipbuilding industry to support the design and build of a new class of ship that will primarily resupply our Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. It is also another step in implementing the National Shipbuilding Strategy and increasing our domestic maritime construction capacity and capability alongside the Type 26 and Type 31 programmes already underway. The FSS ships will join the QEC Task Group, carrying out replenishment at sea to supply stores and ammunition to sustain operations, which is essential to meeting the UK’s defence commitments. To do this the ships will be able to transfer loads of more than two tonnes at a time while at high speed.”
The manufacture contract award is expected to be made within two years, following approvals.
You can read more by clicking here.