Announced yesterday by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the new military afloat reach and sustainability (MARS) tankers will maintain the Royal Navy’s ability to refuel at sea and will provide fuel to warships and task groups.
According to a statement, the 200m-long vessels will support deployed amphibious, land and air forces close to the shore, and will be able to operate helicopters. They are planned to enter service from 2016, replacing existing Royal Fleet Auxiliary single-hulled tankers.
Bath-based BMT Defence Services provided the winning design based on its AEGIR vessel.
Peter Luff, minister for defence equipment, support and technology, said the deal with DSME represents the best value for taxpayers.
The MoD added that a number of British companies took part in the competition, but none submitted a final bid for the build contract.
UK companies will, however, benefit from £150m of associated contracts, including £90m on UK contracts for the provision of key equipment, systems, design and support services and £60m investment from customisation, trials and specialist engineering support.
Bernard Gray, chief of defence materiel, said: ‘The competition for the contract sought to engage shipbuilders from across the globe. I believe the winning bidder’s solution will offer the UK the best value for money.
‘The MARS tanker is an exceptionally versatile platform — able to simultaneously refuel an aircraft carrier and destroyer while undertaking helicopter re-supply of other vessels. I am looking forward to the award of the contract and the work that will follow in the lead-up to the delivery of the ships.’