in Defence

Babcock awarded 10-year dry-dock contract for HMS QEC aircraft carriers

Posted 16 May 2022

Babcock has been awarded a 10-year contract to provide dry-dock maintenance for the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth class (QEC) aircraft carriers.

Image courtesy Babcock

The new £30 million contract follows a previous maintenance period where Babcock completed the first docking for HMS Queen Elizabeth at the Rosyth site in 2019 and includes all routine maintenance and repairs that cannot be done when the vessel is afloat. In addition to the scheduled dockings, Babcock will provide facilities for any contingency dockings required over the 10-year contract duration while sustaining and supporting around 300 jobs.

The first planned activity will take place next year with a six-week work package.

This is a significant milestone for big ship dockings at Rosyth, which was the integration site for the UK carrier build and assembly programme from 2008 to 2019. Babcock has invested more than £100 million in skills, digitisation and site infrastructure over recent years at Rosyth. This is now one of the UK’s most modern, capable and competitive manufacturing and repair facilities for large scale marine and energy programmes, with a circa 2,000-strong workforce.

Alongside traditional maintenance practices, the ships’ docking period will further benefit from the digital transformation underway at the Rosyth site, which is already in place to support the build and assembly of the Royal Navy’s new Type 31 Inspiration Class frigates.

Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin said: "The Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers are the flagships of our Royal Navy and it’s crucial they remain ready to protect and defend the UK and our allies.

"Both carriers had their final construction in Rosyth, and I’m pleased they will return for their dry-dock maintenance, supporting vital jobs and skills in Scotland."

QECs require dry-docking periodically throughout their lives to undertake maintenance and repair activities that will ensure the UK continues to have a flexible and modern naval force that can respond to future threats.

The QECs continue to uphold security both in UK waters and overseas. HMS Prince of Wales recently supported Exercise Cold Response with her sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth carrying out vital training and exercises in waters close to the UK to keep her ready for operations anywhere in the world.

Steve Coates, DE&S Queen Elizabeth Class Group Leader, said: "Securing this contract is another important step on the QEC journey. The agreed partnership is a real testament to the great working relationship forged between the MOD and industry. The work that will take place will help to sustain vital jobs and skills at the Rosyth shipyard where the carriers were built and, by drawing on an extensive supply chain, will contribute to wider UK prosperity.

The contract was awarded by Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) through a robust and transparent competition, encouraging strong bids from viable dockyards with the requisite facilities and experience of docking large vessels, whether military or civilian.

Sean Donaldson, Babcock’s Managing Director of Marine Engineering and Systems and the Rosyth site, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the contract to provide dry dockings for the aircraft carriers over the next decade. The investments in our Rosyth infrastructure and facilities over the last 10-years mean we are ideally placed to deliver projects of this size and scale. The programme will also benefit from the extensive knowledge and expertise of Babcock’s skilled workforce which is steeped in carrier experience. It’s a really proud moment for us.”

With an expected service life of up to 50 years, the aircraft carriers are highly versatile and potent joint defence assets, able to meet the widest range of tasks around the world. They are the most capable and powerful surface warships ever constructed in the UK.

As a key partner in the UK’s Aircraft Carrier Alliance, Babcock optimised countrywide facilities and a wealth of specialised knowledge and experience to deliver the detailed design and whole ship assembly for the QEC programme from her keel to mast, ensuring this remains one of Babcock’s flagship programmes.


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