The competition to build up to three Fleet Solid Support Ships was suspended last year as a ‘value for money solution could not be reached’.
Kevan Jones Labour, Member of Parliament for North Durham, asked in a written question:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, for what reasons the decision was taken to suspend the tendering process for the Fleet Solid Support Ships on 6 November 2019; and whether this decision has reduced the chances of the tendering process being concluded within the 2019-20 financial year.”
James Heappey, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement, responded:
“The decision to stop the Fleet Solid Support ship competition was taken because it had become clear that a value for money solution could not be reached. The Ministry of Defence is currently assessing the options, and as part of this process will review the requirement and any procurement strategy. It is not possible to provide any further details until this work has been completed.”
Andy Netherwood, an individual that served 26 years in the Royal Air Force with operational tours flying the C-130 and C-17 as well as staff tours in Strategy, Policy & Plans, Capability Development and on the Directing Staff at the UK Defence Academy, offered some clarification on what the above statement likely means.
‘Review the requirement’ probably doesn’t mean abandoning the buy entirely. More likely it’s value engineering i.e. asking if the MoD could get the price down by removing certain user requirements.
— Andy Netherwood (@AndyNetherwood) January 14, 2020
Competing for the work was a British consortium consisting of companies Babcock, BAE Systems, Cammell Laird and Rolls-Royce (forming Team UK) and international bidders Fincantieri (Italy), Navantia (Spain), Japan Marine United Corporation, and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (South Korea).
Fincantieri and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering had already withdrawn, according to the Financial Times.
This left only Team UK, Navantia and Japan Marine United Corporation.
The Ministry of Defence earlier said in a statement:
“It is clear that the current approach will not deliver the requirement. We are now considering the most appropriate way forward for the procurement project.”
The UK Defence Journal believes this work should stay in the UK.