The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded QinetiQ with a 15 year contract worth £200m to supply a range of scientific expertise and maritime research facilities.

The agreement is called Maritime Strategic Capabilities Agreement (MSCA) and includes access to the Ocean Basin at Haslar, which will be used to assess the design and manoeuvrability of scale models of submarines and ships in different sea conditions.

The deal also includes the provision of a ship towing tank, shock laboratory machines, a life support systems laboratory, an experimental diving tank and the hyperbaric medical unit.

In the longer term the MSCA will also provide the essential research to enable new classes of submarines to enter into service.

Director general safety and engineering at MoD, Admiral Tibbitt said that the agreement “secures the long-term availability of cutting edge submarine and marine science expertise necessary to support the continued safe running of today’s flotilla and to enable the design of future submarines and vessels.”

A facility-sharing agreement has been negotiated with France for the UK to use the GTH cavitation tunnel at Val de Reuil, and for France to use the Ocean Basin at Haslar for submarine hydrodynamic and manoeuvring testing.

Both nations have committed themselves with a Statement of Intent, signed at the UK-France summit in March 2008, to work towards signing a long term legal agreement by mid 2009.

By Daniel Garrun.