Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luff, has visited the Republic of Korea to help develop the defence industrial relationship between the UK and the East Asian country.
As part of his visit, Mr Luff travelled to the dockyards of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) near Busan on Monday for a tour of where the UK’s four new Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) tankers will be built.
The MOD announced in February this year that it had ordered a new generation of 37,000-tonne tankers for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) to support future Royal Navy operations around the globe.
The MARS tankers will maintain the Royal Navy’s ability to refuel at sea and will provide fuel to warships and task groups.
They will support deployed amphibious, land and air forces close to the shore, will be able to operate helicopters, and are planned to enter service from 2016, replacing existing RFA single-hulled tankers.
At over 200 metres long, the four tankers will be approximately the same length as 14 double-decker buses, and be able to pump enough fuel to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools an hour.
The £452m contract with DSME guarantees that the taxpayer will get best value for money from this programme, while the RFA will get the capabilities they require.
The global competition attracted bidders from around the world and confirms that the Government’s policy of open competition, as outlined in the National Security through Technology White Paper earlier this year, is the right one.
UK companies will however benefit from £150m of associated contracts comprising: £90m on UK contracts for the provision of key equipment, systems, design and support services (the winning design is being provided by UK company BMT Defence Services); and a £60m investment in the UK in relation to customisation, trials and specialist engineering support.
Marking the 62nd anniversary of the Korean War beginning, Mr Luff laid a wreath at the UK monument at the UN Memorial Cemetery in Busan on Monday. The cemetery was established in 1955 to honour the service and sacrifice of UN forces, including the 1,078 UK personnel who lost their lives during the three-year conflict.
And today, at a press conference in the British Embassy, Mr Luff welcomed the announcement of a new contract for the supply of Rolls-Royce’s MT30 gas turbine to power a new FFX frigate for the Republic of Korea’s Navy. This is the first order for the MT30 in Asia.
Welcoming the contract Mr Luff said:
“I am delighted to be in the Republic of Korea for the announcement of this important contract. Rolls-Royce is a world-renowned company and a long-established supplier to the UK and Armed Forces around the world, with an excellent aerospace and maritime pedigree.
“Its MT30 engine is a testament to British design and engineering skills and has already been selected to be fitted to our Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.
“As the Deputy Prime Minister made clear during his visit to Seoul in March, the MT30 offering enjoys the full support of the British Government.
“This contract shows that Defence is – and will remain – a vibrant and successful sector in the UK.”