In a series of written questions to the Ministry of Defence, Maria Eagle MP and Kevan Jones MP inquired about the progress and UK involvement in the construction of Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ships.

Maria Eagle asked how many and what proportion of subcontracts for the FSS ships have been awarded to UK businesses, and about recent discussions with Team Resolute regarding the target of including a minimum of 60% UK content.

She also queried the response times for previous questions tabled by herself and Kevan Jones. Additionally, the Shadow Defence Minister sought details on the proportion of the FSS programme that will be manufactured using UK components and the involvement of the UK workforce.

This ship type is designed to supply solids (otherwise known as dry stores), such as ammunition, explosives and food, to Royal Navy ships at sea.

James Cartlidge, the Minister of State for Defence, provided comprehensive updates on the programme. He stated that the FSS contract will create more than 1,200 UK shipyard jobs and sustain around 800 jobs within the UK supply chain. The project includes substantial investments, such as approximately £100 million into UK shipyards, with £77 million allocated to infrastructure at Harland & Wolff’s Belfast shipyard. An additional £21 million will be invested in skills and technology transfer from Navantia UK.

“The Fleet Solid Support contract will create more than 1,200 UK shipyard jobs and around 800 jobs will be sustained in the UK supply chain. There is also substantial investment being made in the UK including around £100 million into UK shipyards, including £77 million of infrastructure at Harland & Wolff’s Belfast shipyard, the agreement will see a further £21 million invested in skills and technology transfer from Navantia UK,” Cartlidge stated.

He added that while the majority of the work will occur in the UK, the supply chain companies are still being engaged, and substantial investment is being made in UK shipbuilding and design.

“As prime contractor for the Fleet Solid Support ships, Navantia UK is in the process of letting a number of contracts to UK companies, including those already let with BMT and Harland & Wolff. The value of the individual contracts is commercially sensitive information. It is expected that approximately 60% of the contract value will be with UK companies,” Cartlidge added.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Lord Baddlesmere
Lord Baddlesmere (@guest_820464)
19 days ago

Interested to see how this workshare is calculated, Only direct costs? does it include marketing costs, project management costs, advertising etc I once saw a calculation that include sanitary supplies and toilet roll. There should be a simple pro forma for this

Jon
Jon (@guest_820466)
19 days ago

I was having a chat with someone from Navantia who was saying that first steel should be cut by this time next year. It feels like the build is still a three way conversation with BMT, Navantia and H&W at the moment. Everyone is sounding confident. Early days.

Andy reeves
Andy reeves (@guest_820479)
19 days ago
Reply to  Jon

why this time NEXT YEAR? yes there is an order book bigger than we can produce, which is od course good but what hass the highest priority? technology or numbers methinks it’s time for the nation to prioritise the capacity to produce the welcome orders

Jon
Jon (@guest_820509)
19 days ago
Reply to  Andy reeves

H&W’s immaturity. You can’t reboot a shipyard in a couple of months, and if we want the ships assembled in Belfast, there’s a time constraint.

Jim
Jim (@guest_820528)
19 days ago
Reply to  Jon

It’s a four way discussion because the treasury needs to Guarantee a 100% uncovered loan to H&W which it won’t do.

This contract will rapidly turn into the next Ferguson Marine with the entire ship being built in Spain.

This is what Navantia do, they lie about local production to secure the contract then build it all in Spain.

Exactly what they did in Australia as well.

Last edited 19 days ago by Jim
Hugo
Hugo (@guest_820538)
19 days ago
Reply to  Jim

End of the day we still need the ships built, and relatively quickly, even if it goes to Spain.

Baz
Baz (@guest_820569)
19 days ago
Reply to  Hugo

That’s what you get when the thatchers government destroyed shipyard jobs and skills

Andrew
Andrew (@guest_820586)
19 days ago
Reply to  Baz

The shipyards in the UK couldn’t compete except for expensive government contracts. First the merchant yards went and now we have three naval shipyards Barrow Scotstoun/Govan and Rosyth

Jim
Jim (@guest_820599)
19 days ago
Reply to  Andrew

That’s the same for all the shipyards in the entire industrialised world.

Japan and South Korea pump massive subsidies to keep their commercial yards going, no one in NA builds commercial ships and it’s the same for virtually all the EU.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_820689)
18 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Cruise ships are commercial ships.

Mike
Mike (@guest_820910)
18 days ago
Reply to  Baz

Baz having grown up in a ship building family you are completely wrong. What destroyed shipbuilding was as follows📧 A. Lack of real investment post WWII. B. Union demands not to change to modern building techniques. C. British yards being too expensive. D. British yards unable to compete with Japan and Germany in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s ( as japan is now finding with Korea and China). E. Too many small yards F. Tony Ben who Nationalised shipbuilding and wrecked the only 3 warship yards making money and selling around the world namely Vickers, Vospers and Yarrows. Also… Read more »

John
John (@guest_820927)
18 days ago
Reply to  Mike

Spot on , I’ve been saying the same for years .

Baz
Baz (@guest_821004)
17 days ago
Reply to  Mike

And I worked in shipbuilding since early 70s till 2019 thatchers mob didn’t want any manufacturing.

Jonno
Jonno (@guest_822385)
13 days ago
Reply to  Mike

Technologywise the British yards were slow to change to welded steel construction and other advances.

Mike
Mike (@guest_822431)
13 days ago
Reply to  Jonno

Jonno

Yes but look at the work Len Redshaw made with welding construction at Vickers. He drove modern shipbuilding even to the point of showing the Yanks how to build SSBN’s with Resolution in the early 1960’s. His legacy was destroyed by Vickers being Nationalised.

Expat
Expat (@guest_820542)
19 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Government is already talking to BAe, CL and Babcock, so no way this is going to Navantia as a full build. This issue is the loan breaks competition laws, I’m pro EU so its a bit ironic that we still can’t escape competition laws. But the government just need to be more creative on the loan side. It not a matter of Labour or Tory both have the same problem, how to fund a yards recovery without break international law.

Last edited 19 days ago by Expat
Jim
Jim (@guest_820571)
19 days ago
Reply to  Expat

The government awarded the contract Navantia last year so how can the government talk to Babcock, CL and BAE about this. The contract is a 100% award to Navantia for a fixed price contract with H&W and BMT as subcontractors.

As for the export guarantee my understanding is it has zero to do with EU competition rules and everything to do with the treasury not wanting to be a 100% underwriter.

Andrew
Andrew (@guest_820587)
19 days ago
Reply to  Jim

That’s not the public line

Jon
Jon (@guest_820614)
19 days ago
Reply to  Jim

EU competition rules have been a goto blame target for so long, some people can’t stop

Jim
Jim (@guest_820640)
18 days ago
Reply to  Jon

Exactly, nothing to do with the EU especially when building warships.

Expat
Expat (@guest_820662)
18 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Jim I said competition laws not mentioning the EU which are wto related. Then said it was ironic we left the EU only to still be bound by competition rules, not specifically EU rules. . Any country or trading block can lodge a complaint to the wto be it EU or Uganda. Boeing and Airbus had a dispute running for years due to government loans. Britsh government and other EU governments lent Airbus millions to develop the A380 which the US saw as illegal financial assistance. During the dispute import taxes were applied to non related goods to penalise the… Read more »

Expat
Expat (@guest_820663)
18 days ago
Reply to  Jon

Read my response to Jim below.

Expat
Expat (@guest_820657)
18 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Because the contract stipulated UK content and tech transfer, Navantia UK will be in breach if they offshore it. The customer, which is HMG can then go elsewhere because the supplier breached the contract. The articles I’ve seen state H&W need 200m loan, but there’s concern this loan will breach international competition laws. I’ve not seen anything on export guarantees. But I’ll look. However there was an underlying flaw in the competition Babcock and BAe should have never been allowed to team up, they did this to try and secure an overpriced contract and tried to play the politics knowing… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_820831)
18 days ago
Reply to  Jim

I thought sub contracting was to involve a range of yards as there would be too much work simply for &W at this juncture.

Jon
Jon (@guest_820684)
18 days ago
Reply to  Jim

If the Treasury screw up a £1.6bn contract because they won’t guarrantor a £200m loan, if they drive a British company into receivership and hand over FSSS shipbuilding to a subsidised foreign company, or even more absurdly cost the country more than £200m in starting the process again, the Chancellor will be Renamed Loony Hunt and his dad Spinning Hunt.

Jonno
Jonno (@guest_822384)
13 days ago
Reply to  Jim

I dont trust Navantia in this deal. Spain only looks after itself. They are very crafty at this and game us all the time.
Ajax started life there and look where that has got us.

Ian
Ian (@guest_825554)
16 minutes ago
Reply to  Jim

I think you may be confusing Navantia with Group Naval’s sub bid – Navantia did work on the Hobarts and they were all built in-country whereas the sub deal fell apart over a number of issues, resulting in the cancellation of the deal with GN and AUKUS.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_820472)
19 days ago

I am strong supporter of the re establishment of 20k > ton shipbuilding in the U.K and to put it bluntly H&W has virtually all the major assets it needs. Large Yardage, enormous build dock and the crucial Dry Dock. Nearly all of these were originally funded by the UK Taxpayer, and its location is optimum for deep water access. We have run down all the alternatives beyond the point of being recovered so quite simply it has to work as it is the last Jewel we have. It’s a shame MOD have had to bring in Navantia to manage… Read more »

Jim
Jim (@guest_820534)
19 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

I agree, I was very optimistic about this before and I really thought we needed H&W back online. I now thinks it’s a scam by the PE firm that owns H&W and Navantia. These ships if built at all will be built in Spain and we won’t get H&W back online. Babcock is the only company that could have done this but the treasury wanted to save a few quid and went with Navantia. This is much along the lines of what happened in Australia with Navantia. Navantia is a Spanish government owned company that is only focused on driving… Read more »

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_820541)
19 days ago
Reply to  Jim

I’d argue the babcock option was unrealistic, Babcock are still unproven, have yet to see how T31 turns out, and using the carrier dock would be a huge obstacle as the carriers are in and out of it.

Last edited 19 days ago by Hugo
Malcolm Rich
Malcolm Rich (@guest_820572)
19 days ago
Reply to  Hugo

They have more than 1 dry dock with an overhead crane so could have been an option as an alternative to a complete re-build in Belfast, I hope that H&W are revived so we have 3 ship yards running for the next 15 years at least.

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_820574)
19 days ago
Reply to  Malcolm Rich

The Babcock proposal when the competition happened was using the carrier dock. The only one large enough.

Malcolm Rich
Malcolm Rich (@guest_820579)
19 days ago
Reply to  Hugo

the drydock is 40m by 250m, I will re-look at the specs again but I am sure you are correct. Nothing compared to the 90m x 400m at H&W in Belfast 🙄

Malcolm Rich
Malcolm Rich (@guest_820583)
19 days ago
Reply to  Malcolm Rich

Answer my own question, the Bays are 26m (Beam) x 176m so could have fitted in drydock 2 especially if they are going for slightly smaller. Either way it is an alternative to getting it built sneakily in Spain.

Jim
Jim (@guest_820600)
19 days ago
Reply to  Malcolm Rich

I’m willing to bet the government knew all along these ships would be built in Spain but announcing they woukd be built at H&W was a great cover story and they knew full well they would be out of office before anyone figured it out.

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_820605)
19 days ago
Reply to  Malcolm Rich

Maybe they could, just find it intresting they wouldn’t have done that in their proposal, which suggests otherwise.
Either way, we’ll just have to wait and see.

https://www.navylookout.com/details-emerge-of-team-uks-fleet-solid-support-ship-proposal/

Last edited 19 days ago by Hugo
ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_820790)
18 days ago
Reply to  Malcolm Rich

Nope it isn’t as the Gantry Cranes are on No1 dock and the workforce are busy building T31’s. Getting H&W back up and running is really vital, it has all the main assets needed for carrying out large block builds properly rather than a lash up.
What everyone forgets is Babcock at Rosyth is also getting ready to decommission old SSN/SSBN, huge MOD investment and guess which docks they will use ?

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_820786)
18 days ago
Reply to  Malcolm Rich

Rosyth is an absolute no no, and it’s due to positive reasons. The Yard is on exactly the same learning path as H&W will be, they are learning how to build ships from scratch in a yard with zero history of doing so, Throwing the FSS at them would risk messing up the T31 build and besides which Dry Dock no1 is at present the only place a QE can be docked for refit / repair with an active workforce. Having that available is a contractual obligation in the MOD support contract. Funnily enough that is one of the benefits… Read more »

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_820792)
18 days ago
Reply to  Hugo

Spot on, and there is the small matter of the old Nuclear subs to consider.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_821134)
17 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Well the fact is No2 Dock has HMS Swiftsure in it pretty well nails that one down. No one is going to shift her anytime soon.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_820797)
18 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Jim you have completely contradicted yourself H&W is owned by H&W Group Holdings, but Navantia is Government owned so they aren’t both owned by the same PE Firm.

Joe16
Joe16 (@guest_820545)
19 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Interesting take at the end there, hadn’t really considered that side of things. I would hope that Navantia’s involvement will inject the required level of corporate capability at a high level, as well as the processes and tech required to actually build the vessels. But ultimately H&W is its own company, so maybe not. It’s unfortunately the state of the construction industry as well that there aren’t enough good/experienced/skilled people at all levels to do all the major projects in the country. I’m not against public ownership per se, it’d be difficult potentially to manage in terms of competition with… Read more »

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_821146)
17 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

I’m not so sure the H&W yard at Belfast (and maybe Appledore) being brought back into public ownership is a bad idea. It all depends on how we model their usage, we are used to a company owning and running the yard which works fine when you have multiple companies competing for contracts. The fact is that model in the UK is now pretty well a dead duck due to the specialisation of those that remain. The key to it is the NSBS and that pretty well splits the Naval requirements into neat stand alone categories. Submarines, Surface Warships (Frigates… Read more »

Joe16
Joe16 (@guest_821224)
17 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

I’m struggling to think of a western shipyard capable of delivering large escorts and larger vessels that don’t receive a level of government assistance/involvement beyond the issuing of the contracts for the vessels themselves. I certainly wouldn’t be against government involvement, although it’d have to be carefully approached. It’d be good to see Rosyth and Clyde both producing ships, but you’re right that government contracts alone would struggle to sustain both. The NSBS pushes for the government contracts to provide the impetus for investment and improvements that would make commercial ship building economically viable again, but I’m not sure whether… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew (@guest_820588)
19 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Except the workforce doesn’t really exist

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_820802)
18 days ago
Reply to  Andrew

Yet ! But nor did Rosyth 3 years ago, so it can be done, it’s in the plan to recruit and train.
I think there is a glimmer of hope that HMG will have to do something.
Politics overrides Treasury objections every time and NI Politics is a Hand Grenade with the Pin out.
IMHO they have 2 options, underwrite H&W financially (I wouldn’t) or play hard ball let H&W go into Administration and take it back into Public ownership as a National Asset.

Andrew
Andrew (@guest_820847)
18 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

I actualy don’t care in the least about infrastrata. I’m just concerned that if they fall apart it will cause Appledore to close again. As far as I’m concerned they can run it from navatia as long as some work goes to Appledore. They can put it together at Roysyth if they want. It’s a terrible pitty babcocks walked away from Appledore in the first place

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_821116)
17 days ago
Reply to  Andrew

Not going to knock anyone who cares about Appledore, it’s criminal what happened to it. And we do need a yard that can build smaller ships, the future for it may well be building the Proteus and Stirling Castle follow ons and maybe more OPVs. The issue about H&W is that it’s the only yard left that ticks all the boxes for larger surface ships. It has all the assets and infrastructure it just needs rebooting under a strong management structure. Rosyth cannot build anything more than T31 for decades to come, No1 Dock has to be available 24/7/365 for… Read more »

Andy reeves
Andy reeves (@guest_820477)
19 days ago

finally a piece of encouraging news.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_820496)
19 days ago

Are any MPs even remotely interested in capability and numbers for the military, or is it all about jobs? Let me guess. The MoD budget being seen as one big job creation scheme by HMG, is one of countless reasons why we are where we are. I only say this as it strikes me that these MPs asking questions like that never seem to care about anything else. If they don’t, will any minister or government? Shouldn’t they be concerned with: How much, so value for money. How many. When. What will it give our military. What do the military… Read more »

Jim
Jim (@guest_820535)
19 days ago

It’s the kind of low resolution thinking the permeates the media and politics. Britain has 33 million jobs and full employment to the point that it’s importing thousands of migrants to supplement industry but all the media can bang on about is a few hundred jobs here on there.

I’m more interested in getting H&W back online because it’s a major ship building and repair centre which will be very valuable in the future for the navy. Especially once the USA is forced to look abroad for ship repair to keep the USN going.

Malcolm Rich
Malcolm Rich (@guest_820573)
19 days ago
Reply to  Jim

I like the idea of the US using overseas ship yards but its unlikely to happen because of the Jones Act, originally for commercial shipping but now covers pretty much all ship building… protectionism at its best.

Jim
Jim (@guest_820602)
19 days ago
Reply to  Malcolm Rich

For ship building I agree however for ship repair I see opportunity. The US already uses yards in Japan for this so no legal reason they can’t.

The UK and particularly NI must be well placed to do this in the Atlantic for the USN if they eventually decide to do work in foreign yards.

The US has a maintenance backlog of epic proportions and it’s trying to squeeze every inch out of its existing yards for new production.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_820828)
18 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Jim just take a look at the investment HMG are putting into Babcock at Devonport and Rosyth for Subs, you may not be far wrong. The US is already eyeing up the possibilities of using the Australian AUKUS facilities for maintenance. So it’s doable.

DB
DB (@guest_820726)
18 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Could have been CSIS or the Hudson Institute but the Brass were talking about building ships in Japan and Korea to bring numbers up much more quickly.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_820827)
18 days ago

Morning M8. Sorry but I’m going to try and put a bit of positive thinking in to cheer you up (are you doing nights ?). Yep like most Politicians they are primarily interested in themselves and how to get re elected by their constituent’s. There are however Rays of hope as there are higher Political issues that trump MPs, mainly preserving a Government in power in the U.K. I don’t know which Politician commissioned the NSBS but from my point of view they need a medal, but from their successors they probably wish it had never happened. The NSBS is… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_820925)
18 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Afternoon mate! You have your grumpy git monitor on! No, I’m not on nights, I’m actually off. Life’s fine, or as well as can be having just sliced a piece of my little finger off on Monday while hedge trimming! And now hobbling around having had to climb over the back gate this morning and doing my foot in on landing…. This was due to me somehow managing to get myself jammed into the bedroom at Mums, with a Cat with a Sparrow in its jaws, having let the little git in via the back door earlier and followed it… Read more »

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_821122)
17 days ago

🥴 I once spent 2 days trying to get a field mouse out of my Kitchen, Cat walked in, smiled opened its mouth and dropped a present. After removing the kick boards pulling out all the appliances, turning the oven on and building little runs for it escape I concluded it was a cross between Houdini and Usain Bolt. Most of the time I could find it, see it but not move fast enough to catch it. And all the damned Cat did was sit and smile, seems we had the only Quaker cat in U.K. Play with yes, kill… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_821127)
17 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Agree on Nigel. I supported him on Brexit, even met him and campaigned for him. But not regards Trump. I’ve told myself to make a point of ifboring GE coverage as much as I can, I’m not voting for any of them. Sunak is an awful PM and some defence commentators said he’d be a disaster for defence. He’s only interested in grandstanding, money for Ukraine ( more grandstanding, though necessary) and big industry, so AUKUS, Nukes. He cares not for making the conventional forces bigger, the primary moan of most on this site. Indgenious idea with mousy. I cannot… Read more »

Darryl2164
Darryl2164 (@guest_820549)
19 days ago

Does it include the steel which will no doubt have to be imported

Crabfat
Crabfat (@guest_820660)
18 days ago

Not a nautical bod, so can anyone tell me what is the purpose of the three vertical structures on each side of the ship? Nice looking ship, by the way.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_820690)
18 days ago
Reply to  Crabfat

Should be to help transfer cargo to other ships.

Paul T
Paul T (@guest_820692)
18 days ago
Reply to  Crabfat

I don’t know the correct term but they are for RAS Operations, sort of Hoists.

Crabfat
Crabfat (@guest_820695)
18 days ago
Reply to  Paul T

Thanks Paul but as a FSS ship she wouldn’t do a RAS?

Dern
Dern (@guest_820703)
18 days ago
Reply to  Crabfat

No, very much would be doing RAS. For starters Fort Vic carries fuel as well as solid stores, not sure if FSS will as well, but RAS isn’t just fuel; the RAS rigs on FSS are rated to move 2.5t loads of solid stores between ships on pulley systems.

Crabfat
Crabfat (@guest_820752)
18 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Thanks Dern – I was thinking a RAS just meant ‘refuelling’ but, of course it also means ‘replenishment’. So all kinds of stores.
I stand enlightened!

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_822390)
13 days ago
Reply to  Dern

iirc FSSS wont be supplying fuel stores, not sure why, seems like weve gone the US route of exclusive classes for each, but we dont have nearly as many ships