A UK-led consortium has been chosen as the preferred bidder to build new support ships for the Royal Navy creating 1,200 new jobs in UK shipyards and hundreds more in the supply chainin a timely boost for the nation’s economy. The £1.6 billion contract will see final assembly for the three vessels – each the length of two Premier League football pitches – take place at Harland and Wolff’s shipyard in Belfast.
They will be built to an entirely British design by Bath-based BMT which forms the rest of the Team Resolute consortium along with Navantia UK.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace described the announcement as a “significant boost” to the UK shipbuilding industry.
He said: “By selecting Team Resolute, the Ministry of Defence has chosen a proposal which includes £77 million of investment into the UK shipyards, creating around 2,000 UK jobs, and showcasing cutting-edge British design,” he said.
“Building on ambitions laid out in the National Shipbuilding Strategy, this contract will bolster technology transfer and key skills from a world-renowned shipbuilder, crucial in the modernisation of British shipyards.”
Speaking during a visit to Appledore, he described the deal as a “feather in the cap” for Harland & Wolff’s yards in Appledore.
He added: “Today’s announcement is £1.2 billion worth of investment in three major logistical ships that are designed to support both the carriers and warships at sea.
“It’s a real feather in the cap for both Appledore and Belfast – shipbuilding is coming back to Belfast.”
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Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Congratulations to Team Resolute, which includes the historic Belfast shipbuilding firm Harland and Wolff, for being selected as preferred bidders.
“This announcement is a fantastic testimony to Belfast’s shipbuilding heritage and reputation for innovation and expertise.
“The jobs and investment which this will deliver to Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK will create life-changing opportunities, while the training of hundreds of new UK welders will ensure a bright future for local industry.”
The contract is subject to final Treasury and ministerial approval.
Production is due to start in 2025 and all three support ships are expected to be operational by 2032.
The manufacture contract is due to be awarded by DE&S by the first quarter of 2023, subject to completion of a successful preferred bidder stage and final approvals.