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Royal Fleet Auxiliary

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN HL6553, tabled on 3 April 2017

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in relation to the procurement of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Solid Support Ships, what consideration they have given to the challenges of overseas shipbuilding noted by Sir John Parker in his Independent Report to inform the National Shipbuilding Strategy about potential denial of opportunities for the UK supply chain.

Answered on

18 April 2017

The procurement strategy under development for the Fleet Solid Support ships will draw lessons from the approach taken by the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) tanker programme. Highly classified and skilled elements will remain in the UK, while commercial economies of scale will be exploited by competing for the main build contract internationally. At every stage of the process UK companies will have the opportunity to compete for contracts and we encourage them to do so.

There are clear cost advantages from maximising competition, which remains the cornerstone of defence procurement. This is consistent with the requirement to obtain value for money for the UK taxpayer in major contracts, and enables the Ministry of Defence to take advantage of the strong competitive international shipbuilding market.

While the MARS tanker build was undertaken overseas, the UK supply chain was still able to benefit from around £120 million worth of orders from this contract. The customisation and support of the MARS tankers is bringing further economic benefits to the UK, in the order of £30 million.