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Four consortia funded for FSS competitive procurement phase

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has funded four industry teams to compete for the design and build of a new-generation Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ship capability intended to provide afloat stores support to the Royal Navy's (RN's) new Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) aircraft carriers.

Competitive Procurement Phase (CPP) contracts worth an initial GBP5 million (USD7 million) have been awarded to four consortia: Larsen & Toubro (which includes UK company Leidos Innovations); Serco /Damen; Team Resolute, comprising Navantia, Harland & Wolff, and BMT; and Team UK (including Babcock and BAE Systems).

The GBP1.6 billion FSS programme is intended to deliver three new ships to replace RFA Fort Austin, RFA Fort Rosalie, and RFA Fort Victoria. A previous competition was shelved in November 2019, with the MoD claiming that a value-for-money solution could not be achieved.

The FSS competition was restarted in May this year, with the MoD's Defence Equipment and Support organisation outlining a broad requirement for the delivery of three new FSS vessels by the end of 2032. Whereas the previous FSS competition had been open to international competition with no stipulations for UK industry involvement except for the installation of classified elements, a condition of the new competition is that the ships should be integrated in a UK shipyard. The MoD has also stipulated that the final manufacture contract should be awarded to a UK company acting either solely or as part of a consortium.

Announcing the award of the CPP contracts on 1 September, the MoD said, β€œThe contracts will enable bidders to develop their design proposals and the next stage will seek details of how they would fulfil the wider delivery needs of the programme. Assessment of these proposals will lead to the selection of a preferred bidder and award of the manufacture contract.”

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