Harland and Wolff in Belfast and Babcock at Rosyth have been invited to compete for a contract to provide drydocking facilities for the Queen Elizabeth class carriers over ten years.

According to the contract notice, the requirement is to provide up to three dry dockings for the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers over the next ten years, in order to undertake maintenance and repair activities.

There will also be a requirement to provide a facility for any emergency dockings that may be required.

The Request for Information states:

“This requirement is open to UK-based companies only. Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers are the biggest and most advanced warships ever built for the Royal Navy. The fleet consists of HMS Queen Elizabeth (QNLZ) commissioned in December 2017 and HMS Prince of Wales (PWLS) commissioned in December 2019. The vessels will be utilised by all three branches of the UK Armed Forces and providing eight acres of sovereign territory. Both ships are versatile enough to be used for operations ranging from high intensity conflict to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) Naval Ships Support (NSS) Team based at Abbey Wood in Bristol manage the in-service support of the Queen Elizabeth Class warships (QEC) and the NSS team has a requirement to provide dry dockings of two aircraft carriers: QNLZ and PWLS over the next 10 years. The NSS Team will look to ensure competition and value for money are achieved and the successful bidder will be required to deliver all requirements under the Contract throughout the planned duration.

The scope will include three formal dockings (QNLZ 1, PWLS 2) over a period of 10 years and the dockings will include, but not be limited to, the following activities: Complete Lloyd’s Register (LR) Hull survey and revalidation; Complete LR survey of underwater appendages, including:

Rudders, Shafts and A-brackets, Plummer bearings and shaft removal, Sea Inlet Boxes and Sea Tubes; Complete LR survey of Anchor, chain and cables; Removal and replacement of underwater valves; Inspection and replacement of Cathodic protection systems, ships sensor; Ships Stabiliser deployment, inspection and repair; Repair of ships underwater paint scheme; Undertake underwater repairs to known defects. In addition to this there will be a requirement to provide a facility for any emergency dockings that may be required”

The proposed issue date of the contract is 28/02/2022 and the proposed completion date of the contract is 28/02/2032.

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Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago

I can see dry docking the carriers making sense at H&W provided it doesn’t lead to Rosyth winding down its large dry docks. NaB will have an informed view on this. But I get how you could crew a shot blast and repaint pretty easily as well as most other programmed repair type works. This would be independent of if the FSS went to H&W & friends. Where I would be more dubious was if there was a large scale internal refurbishment of something like a QEC as I am certain that there is not the workforce/skills in Belfast to… Read more »

Dern
Dern
1 month ago

I think this is why it’s vital that H&W get a FSS contract with a company like Navantia partnering with them, only way we’ll see that yard up-skill it’s workforce in the near future.

Michael
Michael
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Agree, but the EU’s virtual annexation of NI will cause problems for parts movements. Until Boris gets out of bed, it may not be worthwhile.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael

Alternatively NI being inside the EU’s customs union will allow the UK to play both sides against the middle and have shipbuilding projects be build to EU rules when it plays to our advantage.

Darren hall
Darren hall
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael

It’s a none issue…
Defence, defence equipment or items for the sole use of the MOD within a defence role are exempt from the NI protocol…

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

Why does Nab not contribute here? Read his pieces on STRN and Think Defence often enough over the years.

David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago

He has posted on arrse and on here but you’re right, not seen his pists in some time.

backaftie
backaftie
1 month ago

Rosyth is a non starter unless they make the dry docks deeper.
unloaded it literally scrapes in.
All the ship yards will want to use the dock when the carrier is not in it, so an emergency docking could take months if already occupied.
Best solution for the RN is to convert D lock at portsmouth and have one to use when they wish.

Andrew Thorne
Andrew Thorne
1 month ago

I think rebuilding capabilities at H&W makes a lot of sense. Scotland has all of the Navy’s new build frigate programme. It’s good to have some investment flowing to Northern Ireland to build skills for young people. Some skills might not be there but we can rebuild them.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Thorne

I see your point and that’s all very well for general maintenance … But what about extensive repairs and refits? They appear to strongly hinting about considerable conversion work as part of the first major refit, possibly of arrester wires, catapult systems, flight deck angled runway extension perhaps too, for UCAV ops. ‘If’ these plans come to fruition ( big if), then it probably has to be Rosyth. I believe the old HW site has the required big hole in the ground, but is there any other infrastructure on site??? Possible issues with an area subject to EU rules? If… Read more »

Lusty
Lusty
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

H&W has a few big holes, including Belfast Dock and their main building dock, made famous by their two gantry cranes. They also have a painting/blasting shop and a fabrication area.

I imagine such work would be carried out in Belfast Dock, but I’m not an expert in their facilities!

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Hi John,

Firstly, defence contracts are explicitly exempt from EU trade rules, so that will not be a problem. Think about how protective the French are with defence programmes…

I agree with you that Rosyth is probably the favourite for this contract for the reasons you describe, so I would see H&W getting the 3x FSS ships perhaps supported by Cammell Laird., which would nicely share the work around NI and English yards.

Cheers CR

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

H&W and Cammel Laird sharing the FSS work seems like a really sensible solution CR👌

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

I’m skeptical, if it works that’s great, but my brain is also thinking that there are the National Flagship and MRSS that will need ordering soon. If both CL and H&W are working on FSS who will those contracts go too?

ATH
ATH
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

H&W and CL are on rival teams for the FSS contract.
H&W are fronting for the main Spanish military ship builder. There roll in the build is open to question.
CL are part of a team that includes Babcock, BAe and RR.
This means it’s unlikely they will be working together on FSS.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  ATH

Hi ATH Agreed, however I was thinking in terms of the National Ship Building Strategy (NSBS) and how the government pushed two competitors to work together to build the carriers. Also, the current political reality in the UK. For example, CL has considerable experience building specialist vessels. So if their team lost the contract then I would not be surprised if, to meet the work share requirements of the NSBS, they were then included in the build phase. There is also the obvious political desire to ‘level up’ and ‘build back better’. So I again I would not be surprised… Read more »

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

QE Class is never going to have the following ie arrester wires, catapult systems, flight deck angled runway extension. there is little to no point when the carrier is designed around the F35bs BAEs dropped a huge bollock when playing with the UKgovs. QE 1st refit will update her systems to POW standard, Increasing crew space, and updating defense systems. Fitting of UCAV launch and recovery there is a design by Qinetiq based on the QE class. Pompey had a design Proposal for a Dry dock and the local Council was pushing for this works. H&W Is a gamble not… Read more »

Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago

Rosyth has to be a no brainer. The vessels were built there and QE has already completed an initial dry docking. Plus of course she will require a refit post CSG21. The knowledge of the ships is already there, plus of course Babcock purchased the crane.

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

That’s my gut instinct on it too Paul, one thing against it is if they end up building the new FSS and taking up the big drydock with them. If H&W get the FSS then I would imagine Rosyth will get this gig.

Its good that its going out to contract though rather than just one yard telling the MOD how much they’ll do it for.

ATH
ATH
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

This contract is not for a refit. If you read the spec it’s for the required class society check of the underwater fittings. This will be a quickly like the one QE had. In and out in a few weeks. I understand the plan is to do everything else needed (at least until a poss mid life upgrade) in small packages whilst the ship is in Portsmouth. The QE class won’t have traditional refits in the plan comes to fruition.

Jacko
Jacko
1 month ago

Belfast please! Pretty please!!

Alb
Alb
1 month ago

Rosyth can’t actually meet the requirement to deploy the stabilisers as the dock simply isn’t wide enough.

Karl
Karl
1 month ago

After the disgusting way NI has been treated for the past few years? It should be Harland. Scotland gets too much cake and asks for bigger portions. If its to remain a “United” Kingdom, then equity of workshare needs to be a priority.

Jon
Jon
1 month ago

Is Able UK capable of gearing up for this sort of work? I know they used to dismantle carriers and their dry dock is big enough.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jon
George Parker
George Parker
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

Big enough and then some. It could be a candidate for a future manufacturing and repair facility for every type of naval vessel. All it needs is the political will and private investment.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
1 month ago
Reply to  George Parker

Hello, George. I’m aware from email of your reply yesterday to my below, but so far no record of it here, evidently. Anyway, just to say I do not actually foresee any major industrial moves away from Scotland any time soon. I believe the overall UK mindset will remain focussed on as great a harmonious relationship as possible* due to our countries’ long and fruitful association (the desire of James 6th/1st, of course), despite the SNP. Still don’t comprehend SNP preference to be a small cog in EU, with the concomitant disruption to the above* that would ensue, rather than… Read more »

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

I don’t see the issue of staff and trained skills in a location any issue these days when big engineering contracts start skilled staff move to the location. Look at nuclear power plants sited nowhere near population centres as an example. Who ever lands the contract skilled staffed won’t be an issue. At town of over 25000 set up to build Hinckley point C. So a few welders and painters won’t be an issue.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
1 month ago

With significant Carrier docking and FSS in the pipeline over the next decade and beyond, there would seem sufficient motivation for UK build, assembly and maintenance investment by yards with the potential capacity. Add in security of supply requirements due to the continuing deterioration in world politics, and the necessity only increases, evidently.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago

From my bad memory I think there is 3 docks at rosyth. I think only one is big enough for the carrier. Invincible class could fit in another so could no doubt accommodate some future projects at same time. If the frigates are being built in a frigate factory I’m guessing they can dropped in the water basin not in a dock.
Only thing I’ve seen Harland and Wolff recently is a museum and a crane collapsing in the dock.
Will probably be what’s the cheapest with the best skills

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

With the long wait for the new FSS’s would it be worth the while to fix up the next best Fort’s in the meantime? It’ll give work, keep skills and could then be a good interim filler in for UK-shared operations?

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Im no expert on this, but I believe there are significant hurdles to overcome that effectively rules this option out. Apparently the RAS rigs are not compatible with the QE class ships! Altering them is not a simple task either, as these ships are over 40 yo, so are all their high power systems, which, it appears do not meet current safety standards. Believe this is one of the main issues preventing the upgrading of these ships. It’s not economically viable it appears. Totally agree that we should not be in this position, after all, we have known about this… Read more »

Spyder
Spyder
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

The crane incident was in 2007…14 years ago. There is no museum at H&W though owners Infrastrata did talk about looking at the tourist side of things as another revenue stream for the yard, and why not if it can be done safely and side by side with the engineering activities? People would come in their droves…the hugely successful Titanic Visitor Centre is next door. Have a look at their website; they are aggressively targeting people with the requisite skills to work in all of their four sites. They are commencing an apprenticeship scheme this autumn. Amongst other things they… Read more »

David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago

So many post on Scottish independence but following the train crash that is brexit, HW might be firmy within Eire within the next few years.

Time to reassess and perhaps Newcastle should be favoured. Thoughts?

Jacko
Jacko
1 month ago
Reply to  David Barry

Don’t hold your breath on that assumption!

Mike
Mike
1 month ago
Reply to  David Barry

Not a chance. As the well informed know.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
1 month ago

They could send it here! 500,000 Ton capacity Graving Dock and we can hull blast a ULCC / VLCC, change or overhaul the valves, do prop and stern seals, pull the shafts, repaint using say silicon paint all in 4 weeks. Cannot see it happening though! Ship repair is all about prior planning and it can reduce the time needed in the dock. You only need to do the underwater items (obviously!) in dock. Anything above the waterline including substantial structural work can be done afloat. If you replace Valves one for one that’s quicker but more expensive because you… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
1 month ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Interesting post as usual GB.