Yards vie to build landing ships

British shipyards have been invited to put forward ‘expressions of interest’ for contracts to build the two new landing ships trailed in the Strategic Defence Review. The order for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s ships could be worth up to £200m. GEC Marine-owned VSEL, Kvaerner Govan and Appledore Shipbuilders are among those expected to be front-runners […]

British shipyards have been invited to put forward ‘expressions of interest’ for contracts to build the two new landing ships trailed in the Strategic Defence Review. The order for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s ships could be worth up to £200m.

GEC Marine-owned VSEL, Kvaerner Govan and Appledore Shipbuilders are among those expected to be front-runners in the project.

The Ministry of Defence said this week that it planned to carry out initial feasibility studies this year and in 1999 and aimed to issue an invitation to tender for the ships’ design and construction later next year.

Companies’ initial ‘expressions of interest’ are due by 16 September.

The new ‘alternative landing ship logistic’ vessels must be able to carry 350 troops and vehicles which would fill 500 lane metres of space. They must also be capable of carrying 70 tonnes of stores, fuel and ammunition. The ships will carry and operate helicopters and include military communications and some armament.

They will replace the landing ships Sir Geraint and Sir Percivale in 2002 and 2003.

The MoD confirmed this week that it is looking at ‘innovative approaches to financing and risk sharing’ a reference to the Private Finance Initiative for the project. This could mean the ships being supplied through a prime contract, under which they are owned by the contractor but leased to the MoD.

Bids for the short refits for the 1960s-built Sir Geraint and Sir Percivale, which would allow them to continue to operate until they are replaced, are due in by 8 October. Eight companies were invited to bid earlier this month: Devonport and Rosyth dockyards; Cammell Laird; A&P Tyne; Tyne Dock Engineering; Tees Dockyard; Harland and Wolff; and Garvel Clyde.