To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what comparisons his Department has undertaken regarding the procurement of Royal Fleet Auxiliary fleet solid support ships with similar ships procured internally by the national navies of (a) France, (b) Germany, (c) Italy and (d) Spain.
19 June 2018
The procurement of the Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ships through international competition reflects the fact that they are Naval Auxiliary Support Ships whose primary role is the replenishment of naval vessels with bulk stores. They are non-combatant ships, manned by civilian Royal Fleet Auxiliary crews and are equipped with weapons solely for self-defence. We are clear that FSS ships are not warships.
We are therefore required by law to procure them through international competition, under our obligations set out in the Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011 and as outlined in the National Shipbuilding Strategy. It would not be appropriate to comment on the procurement practices of other nations.
The forthcoming tender for the design and build of the FSS ships will not include the provision of the ships' self-defensive weaponry. Sensitive elements of the ships will be included in a customisation package to be procured through a separate competition later in the programme and restricted to UK companies.