The U.K. Ministry of Defence (MOD) has signed a £20 million contract to buy parts for the Royal Navy’s 3 new offshore patrol vessels (OPVs).
It was announced in November last year that MOD would purchase the ships which will be built, subject to approval, by BAE Systems.
Yesterday, 12 March, during a visit to the company’s shipyards on the Clyde in Scotland, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne announced that MOD has committed £20 million to the programme.
The contract will enable BAE Systems to begin work on parts such as the engines and gearboxes, which require a longer time to make and therefore have to be ordered in advance of the main shipbuilding programme.
The Royal Navy’s OPVs are set to be built later this year by BAE Systems at their Clyde shipyards, which employ approximately 3,000 people.
Mr Dunne said:
“This £20 million is a significant milestone, critical to the successful delivery of these 3 vessels for the Royal Navy.
The OPVs will not only provide an additional capability for the UK but also, at its peak, the OPV programme will safeguard more than 800 vital skilled roles in the shipbuilding industry.”
OPVs can be used to support counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and anti-smuggling operations in the waters around the UK and other UK interests abroad.
Compared to the current River Class ships, the new OPVs will be larger, with more storage and accommodation facilities and a larger flight deck for Merlin helicopters.
The first OPV is expected to be delivered to the Royal Navy in 2017.
Press Release, March 13, 2014, 2014; Image: UK MoD