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Ben Wallace visits Harland & Wolff to announce return of naval shipbuilding

Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, visited the Harland & Wolff shipyard to announce that the Ministry of Defence has selected Team Resolute as preferred bidder to build the Fleet Solid Support warships for the Royal Navy, with a contract that will create 1,200 Harland & Wolff shipyard jobs, 800 indirect jobs and generate hundreds of graduate and apprentice opportunities in shipbuilding.

Team Resolute, comprising Harland & Wolff, BMT and Navantia UK, has been appointed to deliver three crucial support ships to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), pledging to invest £77 million in Harland & Wolff’s shipyard infrastructure to support the British shipbuilding sector.

Team Resolute will be awarded a £1.6 billion contract (before inflation) to manufacture the vessels providing munitions, stores and provisions to the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers, destroyers and frigates deployed at sea, subject to HM Treasury and Ministerial approval.

The entire final assembly will be completed at Harland & Wolff’s shipyard in Belfast. The three 216m long vessels – each the length of two Premier League football pitches – will be built to Bath-based BMT’s British design.

Blocks and modules for the ships’ will be constructed at Harland & Wolff facilities in Belfast and Appledore, and this work, which will also support a significant British-based supply chain, will be undertaken in collaboration with internationally renowned shipbuilder, Navantia.

The contract will deliver 200 further education opportunities on graduate placements and apprentice programmes, as well as supporting thousands more supply chain jobs. Harland & Wolff’s welding academy is set to train 300 new UK welders during the contract.

The ships will be the second longest UK military vessels behind the two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. They will have commonality with the RFA’s Tide class fleet tankers, also built to a British BMT design.

Production is due to start in 2025 and all three support ships are expected to be operational by 2032. The manufacture contract is due to be awarded by DE&S by the first quarter of 2023, subject to completion of a successful preferred bidder stage and final approvals.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “This is a welcome boost to the UK shipbuilding industry. By selecting Team Resolute, the Ministry of Defence has secured £77 million of investment into UK shipyards, creating around 2,000 UK jobs, and showcasing cutting-edge British design.

“Building on ambitions laid out in the National Shipbuilding Strategy, we are also bolstering technology transfer and key skills from a world-renowned shipbuilder, crucial in the modernisation of British shipyards.”

Commenting on the news, John Wood, Group CEO of Harland & Wolff said: “We were delighted to welcome the Secretary of State for Defence to our shipyard today. By selecting Team Resolute, the Ministry of Defence has secured £77 million of investment into the Harland & Wolff shipyards and created 2,000 UK jobs.

“I am pleased to see UK Government seize the last opportunity to capture the skills that remain in Belfast and Appledore before they are lost for good and ensure the survival of our Belfast shipyard for future generations as a UK Government national strategic asset”


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