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UK sets sights on interim strategic sealift capability

MV Hartland Point is one of four strategic sealift ships currently operated by Foreland Shipping under the terms of a 25-year private finance initiative (PFI) arrangement. (Crown Copyright/UK Ministry of Defence)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has begun to explore options for a future strategic sealift capability to begin operation in 2025.

A request for information (RFI) to inform programme and commercial strategies for a planned interim capability, lasting a minimum of five years and to an updated user requirement, was released on 20 October. This interim capability would succeed the MoD's existing sealift contract, which expires at the end of January 2024.

Strategic sealift provides the MoD with a capability to deploy cargo overseas from the United Kingdom in support of both standing commitments and contingent operations. The UK's current roll-on roll-off strategic maritime capacity, vested in the four Flensburger RoRo 2700 sealift ships MV Anvil Point , MV Hartland Point , MV Hurst Point, and MV Eddystone , is provided by Foreland Shipping (previously AWSR Shipping Ltd) under the terms of a 25-year private finance initiative (PFI) arrangement running to the end of December 2024.

The RFI for a projected strategic sealift interim solution seeks responses from interested parties relating to ship characteristics, classification, capacities, and crew requirements. It also requests information on any previous long-term charter/contract arrangements and the ability to provide ‘surge' capacity at short notice when required.

Formal industry engagement for the interim strategic sealift capability is expected to start in mid-2022. Full operational capability under the new contract is planned for January 2025.

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