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MoD confirms £320m contracts to service Royal Navy offshore patrol vessels

Two contracts to service the Royal Navy’s domestic and international offshore patrol vessel fleets will cost £320 million, the Ministry of Defence has announced.

An eight-year contract worth about £250 million has been awarded to UK Docks Marine Services, based in the north east of England, to support a fleet that patrols across the globe.

The deal will create more than 100 engineer, technician, project manager and administrative roles within the company, with 25-30 based in South Shields, South Tyneside, and Gosport, Hampshire – while the remaining roles will be located overseas.

The team will service HMS Forth, HMS Medway, HMS Trent, HMS Tamar and HMS Spey.

A second contract for vessels patrolling UK waters has gone to BAE Systems in Portsmouth, with the deal worth £70 million over five years and set to sustain more than a dozen jobs.

The agreement to service three vessels — HMS Mersey, HMS Severn and HMS Tyne — will last until the ships’ retirement from navy service in 2028.

HMS Severn was one of the boats deployed to patrol the English Channel after a post-Brexit row broke out in 2021 between Britain and France about fishing rights around the coast of Jersey.

HMS Mersey has in recent years been used to monitor Russian submarines making their way through British waters.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Working closely with our industry partners, we are securing a future for these versatile and important Royal Navy ships, delivering on our promises for UK prosperity and sustained UK presence overseas.

“The project will also ensure dozens of UK jobs are supported, contributing to the vibrant health of our shipbuilding industry.”

Tasks undertaken by the fleet include homeland defence, global counter-terrorism, anti-smuggling, maritime defence, humanitarian support operations and engagement with UK’s Overseas Territories, allies and global partners.

HMS Mersey monitors Russian submarine
HMS Mersey pictured monitoring Russian attack submarine RFS Rostov Na Donu in 2021 (Royal Navy/Crown Copyright)

They are designed to be available for operational tasking for more than 300 days per year, the MoD said.

The second batch, to be serviced by UK Docks Marine Service, are 90 metre-long vessels, similar to the length of two Olympic swimming pools, and are equipped with a 30mm cannon and flight deck capable of accommodating a Merlin helicopter.

With a range of more than 5,500 nautical miles and a top speed of more than 20 knots, they are permanently deployed worldwide with patrols in the South Atlantic, North Atlantic, Caribbean, Mediterranean and the Indo-Pacific region.

The majority of the support work for the ships will be carried out at sites across the world, with UK Docks — who already supports HMS Protector, the Royal Navy’s Ice Patrol Ship — providing global engineering, technical and logistics support to secure spares, repairs and maintenance services.

The first batch, built by VT Shipbuilding — and now part of BAE Systems — are designed for high availability, with the 80 metre vessels regularly deployed off the UK coast.