The UK Ministry of Defense (MOD) has announced the award of Competitive Procurement Phase (CPP) contracts to four contenders.

These contracts will enable the contenders to develop their design and construction proposals for the Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ships project.

In May, the UK MOD launched a £1.6bn competition to acquire three new FSS ships that will keep the Royal Navy ’s two new aircraft carriers stocked with supplies while at sea.

The contenders are Larsen & Toubro, Serco/Damen, Team Resolute and Team UK.

The award of the CPP contracts, each worth around $6.8m (£5m), marks a new milestone in the FSS competition.

The FSS ships will enhance the UK Carrier Strike Group’s capability and development to operate globally.

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 realising a programme which will deliver ships essential for the UK’s security, as well as vital jobs and skills.”

Upon the completion of this phase, a preferred contender will be selected, and a manufacturer contract will also be awarded.

A UK firm serving independently or as part of a group will be awarded the final manufacture contract.

Selection of the preferred bidder is expected by Q4 of 2022, with a build contract expected to happen in May 2023.