The contract covers a fleet of 38 workboats that will assist Royal Navy ships from UK bases and on operations all over the world. Tasks undertaken by the boats will include transferring up to 36 personnel to and from both of the UK’s carriers, officer and diver training, Antarctic exploration and explosive ordnance disposal.
Ranging in size from 11m to 18m, the workboats can be stowed inside the Carriers and winched to and from the water using on-board lifting equipment.
With cutting edge modular design, the ships are highly adaptable to operational demands. For example, in order to redeploy a boat from hydrographic survey duties to support diving for explosive ordnance, the survey module can be quickly lifted out of the boat and replaced with the diving module containing the high pressure air required for that task.
With glass-reinforced plastic hulls and advanced twin waterjet propulsion, the boats will all have the same steering and control system, reducing the need for training and making them simpler to operate.
The £48M contract will see 38 boats constructed at Atlas Elektronik UK, supporting some 15 jobs. A further 45 jobs will be sustained across the supply chain, including at E P Barrus in Bicester, KPM-Marine in Birmingham and Mashfords in Plymouth and through in-service support.
The first boat is due to enter service next year.
Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin said: “From the south coast to the banks of the Clyde, British shipbuilding is ensuring that our growing Navy has the reach it needs to protect our interests around the globe. These cutting-edge workboats will support the likes of our iconic new aircraft carriers and the Type 26 frigates, as well as sustaining 60 British jobs. This is another step in our £178Bn plan to provide our Armed Forces with the very best equipment to keep our country safe.”
Chief Executive Officer of Defence Equipment and Support, the MOD’s procurement organisation, Tony Douglas said: “These boats use modern materials and have been designed from the keel up to provide the Royal Navy with unparalleled flexibility and adaptability.
“DE&S is proud to maintain excellent working relationships with partners across UK industry, ensuring our Armed Forces continue to be provided with the equipment they need while also maintaining vital British skills and jobs.”