India’s Top Shipbuilding Conglomerate Competes With Global Defense Firms For British Royal Navy Contract

Indian shipbuilder Larsen & Toubro (L&T) is competing with American, British, Dutch, and Spanish companies to win a contract with the British Royal Navy.

The contract is a part of the Navy’s Fleet Solid Support (FSS) program for developing the designs of logistical ships to support the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

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According to the announcement made by the British Ministry of Defense, four industry consortia participating in the competition include “Team UK” comprising Babcock and BAE Systems; “Team Resolute” made up of Northern Ireland shipbuilder Harland & Wolff and British naval design company BMT.

Indian shipbuilder Larsen & Toubro has teamed with Leidos Innovations and Serco, a British support services provider, has joined hands with Dutch shipbuilder Damen.

Four contracts worth £5 million ($6.9 million) apiece for the ‘Competitive Procurement Phase’ have been awarded to develop the design and build three 40,000 tonne supply ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), the logistics arm of the Royal Navy, Defense News reported.

HMS Queen Elizabeth
Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth carrier-strike group.

These warships will replace the Navy’s RFA which is currently in service for supporting the new carrier task groups.

The MoD’s announcement shows that the FSS program has been fast-tracked after some delays over pricing issues as well as discussions on whether the ships should be built in the UK. It was reported that the program was almost abandoned after the MoD expressed its dissatisfaction with all of the bids proposed by the companies.

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With the latest progress in this procurement contract, the preferred bidder is expected to be announced by the fourth quarter of next year and a contract is expected to be announced in 2023.

The total cost of the FSS program is pegged at £1.6 billion ($2.2 billion). The MoD has set aside additional funding for transitioning the ships into service as well as for conducting capability trials, according to Defense News.

“The contracts will allow the contenders to develop their design proposals and the next stage will seek details of how they would fulfill the wider delivery needs of the program.

Once this phase is complete, a preferred contender will be selected and a manufacturer contract will be awarded,” the MoD said in its statement.

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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, “I am proud to see UK companies stepping up to the challenge of the Fleet Solid Support competition as we begin the next chapter of this British shipbuilding success story.

I wish all the competitors well as we work towards realizing a program which will deliver ships essential for the UK’s security as well as vital jobs and skills,” he was quoted as saying in the official announcement made by the British MoD.