Team Resolute, comprising BMT, Harland & Wolff and Navantia UK, will deliver three Fleet Solid Support ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), providing munitions, stores and provisions to the UK Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers, destroyers and frigates.
Set to invest around £100 million into UK shipyards, including £77 million of infrastructure at Harland & Wolff’s Belfast and Appledore shipyards, and a further £21 million in skills and technology transfer from Navantia UK, Harland & Wolff will create one of the most advanced shipyards in the UK – significant for future export and domestic shipbuilding.
Expanding and enhancing Harland & Wolff’s shipbuilding facilities, the FSS fleet will be the first ships built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast since MV Anvil Point was launched in 2002.
The majority of the blocks and modules for the ships will be constructed at Harland & Wolff’s facilities in Belfast and Appledore, following the entirely British-crafted design by the Bath-based company BMT. Build work will also take place at Navantia’s shipyard in Cadiz in Spain, with the final assembly for all three 216-metre-long vessels – each the length of two Premier League football pitches – to be completed at Harland & Wolff’s Belfast yard.
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.
On behalf of Team Resolute, Group CEO of Harland & Wolff, John Wood, said, “This programme will bring £77 million of investment into the Harland & Wolff shipyards and create around 1,200 Harland & Wolff shipyard jobs, spring boarding Harland & Wolff back into the naval shipbuilding sphere and significantly enhancing our export opportunities for the future.
“This is the last chance to capture the excellent shipbuilding skills that remain in Belfast and Appledore before they are lost and pass them on to the next generation of UK shipbuilders. UK Government has seized this opportunity and in doing so ensured the long-term survival of our shipyards and significantly bolstered sovereign shipbuilding capability.”
Aiming to deliver 200 further education opportunities on graduate placements and apprentice programmes, the contract will build on the UK Prime Minister’s commitment to grow the economy by supporting thousands more supply chain jobs across the UK. Harland & Wolff’s welding academy is set to train 300 new UK welders during the contract, with 120 highly skilled jobs supported at BMT.
Production is due to start in 2025, with recapitalisation and yard improvements starting immediately. All three support ships are expected to be operational by 2032.