UK — Defence Secretary responds to criticism over Navy tankers order

A let­ter from Defence Sec­re­tary Philip Ham­mond respond­ing to calls that the MOD con­tracts for new Roy­al Fleet Aux­il­iary tankers should have been award­ed to UK firms has been pub­lished in the Dai­ly Mail today.

Defence Sec­re­tary Philip Ham­mond [Pic­ture: Har­land Quar­ring­ton, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The new Mil­i­tary Afloat Reach and Sus­tain­abil­i­ty (MARS) tankers will main­tain the Roy­al Navy’s abil­i­ty to refu­el at sea and will pro­vide fuel to war­ships and task groups. 

They will sup­port deployed amphibi­ous, land and air forces close to the shore, will be able to oper­ate heli­copters, and are planned to enter ser­vice from 2016, replac­ing exist­ing Roy­al Fleet Aux­il­iary sin­gle-hulled tankers. 

Last week the Min­is­ter for Defence Equip­ment, Sup­port and Tech­nol­o­gy, Peter Luff, announced that Dae­woo Ship­build­ing and Marine Engi­neer­ing (DSME) is the Government’s pre­ferred bid­der for the £452m order of four of the MARS tankers and that they will be built by DSME in South Korea. See Relat­ed News to read more on this. 

Mr Ham­mond has respond­ed to crit­i­cisms in the media that the con­tract has not been award­ed to a UK com­pa­ny, or a com­pa­ny that would build the ves­sels in the UK, by send­ing a let­ter to the Dai­ly Mail which has been pub­lished today. Here fol­lows the full let­ter sent to the newspaper: 

“No British firm put in a bid and the Ital­ian com­pa­ny [Fin­cantieri] nev­er indi­cat­ed dur­ing the two-year bid process that they would build any of the tankers in the UK

“When we are build­ing com­plex war­ships or high­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed weapons, of course we must pro­tect Britain’s indus­tri­al base. But when it comes to non-mil­i­tary type equip­ment, I am clear that my respon­si­bil­i­ty is to get the best deal for the UK tax­pay­er and plough the sav­ings back into the front line. 

“In this case, the choice we were faced with was to buy South Kore­an and save hun­dreds of mil­lions of pounds for the tax­pay­er, or let the work to an Ital­ian ship­yard. I believe we made the right choice.” 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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