Friday, July 4, 2008

£3 billion contracts signed for largest ever UK warships

£3 billion contracts signed for largest ever UK warships

An Equipment and Logistics news article
3 Jul 08

Contracts to build two Royal Navy aircraft carriers, the largest and most potent warships to be designed and built in the UK, have been signed by the MOD and industry today, Thursday 3 July 2008.

The contracts, worth in the region of £3 billion, were signed with a new UK maritime joint venture, formed by BAE Systems and VT Group, called BVT Surface Fleet, and the Aircraft Carrier Alliance onboard existing aircraft carrier and Fleet Flagship HMS Ark Royal at Portsmouth today, Thursday 3 July 2008.

The future aircraft carriers, to be named HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, will dramatically improve the UK's ability to project expeditionary air power over the coming decades and will be a highly versatile and potent joint defence asset, able to meet the widest range of tasks.

The carriers are expected to enter service in 2014 and 2016 respectively; once they enter service they are expected to remain in the fleet for at least thirty years.

Defence Secretary Des Browne said of today's announcement:

"This is a historic day for everyone in defence. The two aircraft carriers will provide our forces with the world-class capabilities they will need over the coming decades. They will support peace-keeping and conflict prevention, as well as our strategic operational priorities.

"Today's contract signing seals the future for thousands of jobs, and ensures that we will have a Royal Navy fit for the 21st century."

Baroness Taylor, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, added:

"This is truly a national project, involving companies from the Clyde to the Solent. Construction work will create or sustain around 10,000 UK jobs at the peak of production.

"I am delighted that we have signed the contracts for manufacture today and I look forward to first cutting of steel for this exciting project later this year."

Contracts authorised today encompass work worth:

£1,325m for the construction of giant sections of both ships by BVT Surface Fleet at Govan on the Clyde and Portsmouth;
£300m for the construction of giant sections of the ships at the BAE Systems yard at Barrow-in-Furness;
£675m for the bow section and final assembly and completion of the ships by Babcock Marine, with assembly taking place at Rosyth;
£425m for design and engineering for Thales UK;
£275m for design and supply of Mission Systems for BAE Systems Integrated Systems Technologies (Insyte).

The carriers will displace 65,000 tonnes at deep load, be around 280m long and 70m wide on the flight deck, accommodate around 1,500 personnel and operate a mix of up to 40 aircraft.

First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, said:

"I am delighted with today's news that the contract for the two new aircraft carriers, to be named HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, has been agreed and signed. These ships, with their embarked aircraft, will provide the UK with a potent and powerful aircraft carrier force that will deliver air power in support of the full range of future operations at sea, in the air and on land."

BVT Surface Fleet, the joint venture formed by BAE Systems and VT Group on 1 July 2008 will be a key member of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance of companies which will construct and assemble the new carriers.

Other members of the Alliance include Babcock, Thales UK, BAE Systems Submarine Solutions at Barrow and BAE Systems Integrated System Technologies (Insyte).

All parties have signed a legally binding Alliance Agreement, including an Alliance Charter, committing them to work together in a collaborative manner.

Alan Johnston, CEO of BVT Surface Fleet, said:

"This is an important announcement for BVT and for the UK maritime industry at large, guaranteeing work for years to come across the country.

"We are looking forward to delivering these very important ships to the Fleet in the next decade and intend to begin construction work later this year."

Some contracts have already been placed including those for diesel generators, aircraft lifts, the steel for the ships and key electronics.

Jobs expected to be created or sustained from the construction of the carriers include:

Construction of a hull section at Portsmouth - 1,200 jobs;
Construction of hull sections at Govan - over 3,000 jobs on the Clyde;
Construction of a hull section at Barrow-in-Furness - 400 jobs, with additional employment in the North East;
Work at BAE Systems Insyte at Frimley, Surrey - 145 jobs;
Work under contract to Thales UK at Bristol and Crawley - 250 jobs;
Assembly of the ships at Rosyth - 1,600 jobs.

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