Canada’s decision to lease four ex-Royal Navy submarines in a deal worth £259m could mean substantial work for British industry.
The eight-year lease, which includes an option to purchase, will see Canada take all four of the Upholder-class diesel-electric submarines that were built by VSEL and Cammell Laird for £900m in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
VSEL said it will enter ‘early contract negotiations’ with the MoD over the reactivation of the subs, which are lying at VSEL’s Barrow-in-Furness yard in Cumbria. The company said it has begun talks with the Canadian government over a training and support package for the Upholders. Britain has been trying to sell or lease the submarines since they were decommissioned at the end of the Cold War having taken part in very little Royal Navy service.
GEC-Marconi, which may gain work through the deal, said it was too early to say what would happen to the submarines during their reactivation. Thomson Marconi Sonar could supply equipment or refit work packages for the Upholders’ new operator.
Britain no longer builds conventional submarines like the Upholders, and is probably now out of the running for a major South African submarine requirement. The Upholders were being offered to the South African Government in a package with four Yarrow-built corvettes.