Atlas Elektronik is to deliver up to 38 workboats for the Royal Navy under a £48 million contract announced by UK defense minister Harriett Baldwin on Wednesday.
The new fleet will assist Royal Navy ships from UK bases and on operations all over the world.
The tasks to be carried out by the boats will include transferring personnel to and from both of the UK’s carriers. Able to carry up to 36 passengers at one time, the workboats can be stowed inside the carriers and winched to and from the water using on-board lifting equipment, allowing them to support the enormous ships either in port or on operations.
Building and supporting the boats will also sustain 60 British jobs, including 15 at Atlas Elektronik UK near Dorchester in Dorset where the boats will be built.
Ranging in length from 11 to 18 metres, the boats will also perform other tasks including officer and diver training, Antarctic exploration and explosive ordnance disposal.
The boats will also be adaptable to operational demands meaning that, if the Royal Navy wished to quickly redeploy a boat from hydrographic survey duties to support diving for explosive ordnance, the survey module can be quickly lifted out of the boat and replaced with the diving module containing the high pressure air required for that task.
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 will enter service next year.
The boats will all feature glass-reinforced plastic hulls and advanced twin waterjet propulsion. Despite their varying roles, they will all have the same steering and control system, reducing the need for training and making them simpler to operate.