New £48 million contract for workboat fleet

The Defence Minister has announced a £48 million contract for next-generation workboats which will support both British ships and British jobs.

The contract comes as the Royal Navy is increasing and Britain’s flagship carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is set to enter her new home.

The fleet of up to 38 workboats will assist Royal Navy ships from UK bases and on operations all over the world.

Tasks to be carried out by the boats include transferring personnel to and from both of the UK’s carriers when HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in Portsmouth.

The workboats will be able to carry up to 36 passengers at one time, and will be stowed inside the carriers, winched to and from the water using on-board lifting equipment. This will allow them to support the ships either in port or on operations.

The boats will also perform other tasks including officer and diver training, Antarctic exploration and explosive ordnance disposal. They are highly adaptable to operational demands thanks to their cutting-edge modular design elements.

Building and supporting the boats will create 60 British jobs, including 15 at Atlas Elektronik UK where the boats will be built. A further 45 will be sustained across the supply chain.

The contract will enable the design and construction of up to 38 boats as well as in-service support for the fleet for a further two years after the final boat is accepted. The first boat is expected to enter service next year.

Harriett Baldwin, Defence Minister, 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 £178 billion plan to provide our Armed Forces with the very best equipment to keep our country safe.”

Tony Douglas, chief executive officer of Defence Equipment and Support, 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.”

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