The Ministry of Defence has issued a ‘Request for Information’ to industry looking for British shipyards to participate in the Fleet Solid Support Ship programme.
The RFI states:
“The Authority is interested in expressions of interest from UK shipyards who are capable of making a meaningful contribution to the manufacture of three (3) Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) and Royal Navy (RN) by 2032. In line with the Contract Notice for the FSS Procurement published on 21st May 2021, one of the Authority’s Procurement Objectives is that integration of all FSS ships and installation of sensitive systems subject to national security restrictions will be carried out in the UK.”
The request also states:
“The Procurement Kick-Off event will mark the start of the Competitive Procurement Phase (CPP) with Bidders and UK shipyards, and is scheduled to take place at the Aztec Hotel, Bristol on 1 September 2021. UK shipyards will be invited to attend from 12.00 midday for the networking segment of this Kick-Off Event.
The opportunity for UK shipyards to become involved formally in the Procurement will be via Bidders in the FSS Procurement, representatives of whom will be present at the Kick-Off event following the award of CPP Contracts. Agendas for the Kick-Off event will be provided as part of the formal invitation.”
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.”
What’s the status of the programme?
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, you can read more about this at the link below.