Britain to order Naval auxiliary tankers from Korean shipyard

Written by Nick Blenkey

marstankermicroBritain’s Ministry of Defence  has named South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering as the preferred bidder for four new generation 37,000-tonne tankers to be ordered for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) to support future Royal Navy operations around the globe.

With £452 million to be spent on the four new vessels, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luff, called the DSME bid “the best value for the taxpayer.”

A number of British companies took part in the competition, but none submitted a final bid for the build contract. In light of this, the best option for Defence, and value for money for taxpayers, said the Ministry, is for the tankers to be constructed in South Korea by DSME.


U.K. companies will benefit from £150 million of associated contracts comprising:

  • £90 million on U.K. contracts for the provision of key equipment, systems, design and support services. The winning design is being provided by U.K. company BMT Defence Services
  • £60 million investment in the U.K. from customization, trials and specialist engineering support.

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.

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 Royal Fleet Auxiliary single-hulled tankers.

At over 200 meters 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 in an hour.

The U.K.’s Chief of Defence Materiel, Bernard Gray, 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 whilst undertaking helicopter resupply 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.”

February 22, 2012

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