The UK Ministry of Defence has selected South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) to build and deliver four new Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) tankers to maintain the Royal Navy’s ability to refuel warships and task groups at sea.
UK Defence Equipment, Support and Technology minister Peter Luff said the £452m deal, part of a multi-billion pound investment programme, is aimed at supporting the Royal Navy’s operations worldwide.
The programme is aimed to ensure the Royal Navy remains a formidable fighting force, and also includes the construction of Type 45 destroyers, Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers and Astute Class attack submarines.
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UK Defence Materiel chief Bernard Gray said that the tankers were capable of refuelling an aircraft carrier and destroyer simultaneously while also undertaking helicopter resupply of other vessels.
The 37,000t, 200m-long new Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) tankers will support deployed amphibious, land and air forces close to the shore and are designed to allow incorporation of upgrades and new technologies in future.
The four replenishment tankers have the capacity to supply enough fuel to fill two olympic-sized swimming pools in an hour.
Capable of operating helicopters, the MARS tankers will replace the existing Royal Fleet Auxiliary single-hulled tankers when they enter into service from 2016.
As part of the deal, up to £150m of associated contracts will be awarded to British companies to carry out support and maintenance activities in the UK shipyards that include providing key equipment, systems, design and support services as well as customisation, trials and specialist engineering support.
Image: Four new Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) tankers to maintain the UK Royal Navy’s ability to refuel warships and task groups at sea. Photo: Royal Navy.