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UK Signs £3 Billion Aircraft Carrier Contracts

Ministry Of Defence (UK)

MoD signs £3 billion contracts for aircraft carriers

The MoD today signed contracts with industry to build the two future aircraft carriers. The contracts, worth in the region of £3 billion, were signed with the newly-formed UK maritime Joint Venture, BVT Surface Fleet, and the Aircraft Carrier Alliance onboard HMS Ark Royal, one of the Royal Navy's existing aircraft carriers and currently the Fleet Flagship.

Contracts authorised today encompass work worth:

* £1,325M for the construction of giant sections of both ships by BVT Surface Fleet at Govan on the Clyde and Portsmouth;

* £300M for the construction of giant sections of the ships at the BAE Systems yard at Barrow-in-Furness;

* £675M for the bow section and final assembly and completion of the ships by Babcock Marine, with assembly taking place at Rosyth;

* £425M for design and engineering for Thales UK; and

* £275M for design and supply of Mission Systems for BAE Systems Integrated Systems Technologies (Insyte).

Defence Secretary, Des Browne, said:

"This is a historic day for everyone in defence. The two aircraft carriers will provide our forces with the world-class capabilities they will need over the coming decades. They will support peace-keeping and conflict prevention, as well as our strategic operational priorities.

"Today's contract signing seals the future for thousands of jobs, and ensures that we will have a Royal Navy fit for the 21st century."

Baroness Taylor, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, said:

"This is truly a national project, involving companies from the Clyde to the Solent. Construction work will create or sustain around 10,000 UK jobs at the peak of production.

I am delighted that we have signed the contracts for manufacture today and I look forward to first cutting of steel for this exciting project later this year."

The future aircraft carriers, to be named HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and HMS PRINCE OF WALES, will be the biggest and most powerful surface warships ever constructed in the UK. They will provide our forces with world-class capabilities, supporting peace-keeping, conflict prevention and our strategic operational priorities. They will be a highly versatile and potent joint defence asset, able to meet the widest range of tasks.

First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, said:

"I am delighted with today's news that the contract for the two new aircraft carriers, to be named HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and HMS PRINCE OF WALES, has been agreed and signed. These ships, with their embarked aircraft, will provide the UK with a potent and powerful aircraft carrier force that will deliver air power in support of the full range of future operations at sea, in the air and on land."

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy, said:

"Today's contract signature marks an important step forward in the Carrier Strike programme. These ships will provide additional options for projecting offensive air power at a time and place of our choosing, and I very much look forward to the arrival of both the carriers and the extremely capable Joint Combat Aircraft on the frontline".

Alan Johnston, CEO of BVT Surface Fleet, said:

"This is an important announcement for BVT and for the UK maritime industry at large, guaranteeing work for years to come across the country.

"We are looking forward to delivering these very important ships to the Fleet in the next decade and intend to begin construction work later this year."

Once the carriers enter service in 2014 and 2016 respectively, they are expected to remain in the fleet for at least thirty years.


1. Today's contract signing took place on board HMS Ark Royal at Portsmouth. The signing was also marked by events in Barrow-on-Furness, and the shipyards in Govan and Rosyth, where the ships will be built.

2. The joint venture formed by BAE Systems and VT Group on 1 July will be a key member of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance of companies which will construct and assemble the new carriers at these locations.

3. Other members of the Alliance include Babcock, Thales UK, BAE Systems Submarine Solutions at Barrow and BAE Systems Integrated System Technologies (Insyte).

4. In addition to the manufacture contracts, all parties have signed a legally binding Alliance Agreement, including an Alliance Charter, committing them to work together in a collaborative manner.

5. The carriers are to be named HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. They will displace 65,000 tonnes at deep load, by around 280m long and 70m wide on the flight deck, accommodate around 1,500 personnel and operate a mix of up to 40 aircraft. Their respective in-service dates are planned to be 2014 and 2016.

6. Construction of a hull section at Portsmouth is expected to create/sustain 1,200 jobs; construction of hull sections at Govan is expected to help sustain over 3,000 jobs on the Clyde; construction of a hull section at Barrow-in-Furness is expected to create/sustain 400 jobs in Barrow with additional employment in the North East; work at BAE Systems Insyste at Frimley, Surrey is expected to create/sustain 145 jobs; work under contract to Thales UK at Bristol and Crawley is expected to create/sustain around 250 jobs and assembly of the ships at Rosyth is expected to create/sustain 1600 jobs.

7. Contracts already placed include those for diesel generators, aircraft lifts, the steel for the ships and key electronics. On 4 March, the MoD announced the contract award for a number of long-lead items for the two aircraft carriers, including for the steel that will be used to build the ships. For more details, please click here.

8. On 11 February, a £35m contract was signed by Babcock Engineering Services with Glasgow-based subcontractors Edmund Nuttall Limited to modify the docks in order to accommodate the building of the carriers and widen its direct entrance.

9. For images of the ships, please visit the Defence News Imagery website or the Royal Navy website

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