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October 29, 2021

UK sells Royal Navy ships to Egypt for first time in 30 years

The UK Defence Equipment Sales Authority (DESA) has sold the retired Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships Fort Austin and Fort Rosalie to Egypt.

By Norbert Neumann

The UK Government has hailed the landmark deal as part of its Global Britain vision.

DESA is part of Defence Equipment and Support, the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) procurement arm, and is responsible for the disposal of the UK Armed Forces’ surplus military equipment and vehicles.

Both the Royal Navy Solid Support Ships were taken out of service earlier this year. The new lease of life could support UK jobs, with refurbishment works to be carried out before the vessels are exported.

A UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) source confirmed to Global Defence Technology that the company in negotiations with Egypt for the refurbishment work is Cammell Laird. The British shipbuilding company was formed in 1828.

Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin said: “Fort Austin and Fort Rosalie played an important role in sustaining our naval fleet for decades and I thank all involved in their essential work.

“Both the UK and Egyptian navies continue to strengthen relations to maintain peace and security in the region. As we nod to the past service of these ships, we can also look forward to the exciting future of welcoming our new Fleet Solid Support Ships.”

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The deal is part of the £24bn investment announced last year in efforts to develop defence exports and investments to advance the Global Britain agenda. The move also signs the UK’s commitment to counter evolving threats, as outlined in the MOD’s Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper.

Head of DESA Clive Walker said: “DESA is exceptionally happy to be working with the Egyptian Navy on the regeneration of two former Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships.

“This represents a tangible demonstration of the strengthening relationship between the two navies and the importance of the strategic relationship between the UK and Egypt.”

Fort Austin and Fort Rosalie supported the Navy in vital operations by ensuring the delivery of essential supplies such as food, ammunition and explosives.

The two ships will be replaced by Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ships, which will form part of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group. At the end of August, four consortia were successful at the pre-qualifying stage for the FSS build and were awarded Competitive Procurement Phase contracts to enable designs to be matured.

The consortia are Larsen & Toubro, which includes UK company Leidos; Innovations, Serco/Damen, which includes UK company Serco; Team Resolute, which includes UK companies Harland & Wolff and BMT; and Team UK, which includes UK companies Babcock and BAE Systems.

DE&S director general ships Vice Admiral Chris Gardner said: “Fort Austin and Fort Rosalie have both served the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Royal Navy and many of our allies with distinction, across the globe both at peacetime and during conflict.

“Their sale to the Egyptian Navy – the first sale of UK military vessels to this partner in more than 30 years – represents both an investment in a UK partner nation and an opportunity to continue supporting our industry partners who will prepare these vessels to hand over, which is central to the successful National Shipbuilding Strategy.”

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