Atlas Elektronik UK (AEUK) is to supply and support a new fleet of modular, multipurpose workboats for the UK Royal Navy (RN) under a GBP48 million (USD62 million) Ministry of Defence (MoD) contract.
To be known as the SEA class, the new modular and reconfigurable craft, ranging from 11 m to 18 m in length, will be derived from the 11 m platform already in production for AEUK's ARCIMS (Atlas Remote Capability Integrated Mission Suite) system. Although the workboat contract was signed in February 2017 following the evaluation of proposals from four bidders, the award to AEUK was only publicly announced by the MoD in August.
The replacement of the RN's existing workboats – known as Project Vahana – is managed by the Commercially Supported Shipping (CSS) Boats team in the MoD's Defence and Equipment Support (DE&S) organisation. In an invitation to tender issued in 2015, the CSS Boats team said it was looking to replace legacy craft – including diving tenders, hydrographic survey launches, and ships' workboats – with "a commercial off-the-shelf single design boat, with a modular upper deck arrangement that can be adapted to suit each role … aimed at maximising commonality of equipment across a number of existing boat capabilities".
AEUK's scope of supply covers the delivery of up to 38 workboats, plus an extended in-service support package running from 2018 to 2024. While three different size platform variants will be built – 11 m, 15 m, and 18 m – all versions will feature glass-reinforced plastic hulls, twin waterjet propulsion, common steering and control, common components, and a modular design.
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