in Defence

Thales to maximise Royal Navy's days-at-sea

Posted 5 February 2024

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced a new £1.8 Billion, 15 years contract with Thales to improve Royal Navy (RN) ship availability and resilience.

Image courtesy Thales / © Royal Navy

The contract, Maritime Sensor Enhancement Team (MSET), will sharpen the focus on equipment availability, predicting problems - through AI innovations and data management - rather than reacting when they emerge - and will support over 450 highly skilled, UK-based, engineering, IT and supports jobs, as well as many hundreds of apprenticeship and training opportunities all across the UK.

Announced by Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, on his first visit to His Majesty’s Naval Base Devonport, the Maritime Sensor Enhancement Team (MSET) contract with Thales UK will aim to provide full availability of the equipment that is the eyes and ears of the Royal Navy.

Touring the naval base and speaking with Royal Navy sailors and civilian staff, Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, thanked the workforce for the incredibly important role they play in maintaining UK security, particularly at a time of heightened global tensions: "In a time of global instability, it is imperative we minimise the time our ships and submarines are out for maintenance.

"This is another partnership with Thales UK and our outstanding UK defence sector that not only boosts national security but provides a boost to local communities and helps fuel economic growth.

"Devonport Naval Base is an incredibly impressive facility with staff who play a role of such magnitude it cannot be underestimated."

Vice Admiral Paul Marshall, Director General Ships at Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), said: “I am delighted we have been able to secure a 15-year contract with Thales UK that will ensure the long-term support for major sonar, mast, periscope and electronic warfare equipment that are critical for ship and submarine capabilities.

“Achieving this notable milestone is testament to the tremendous effort from all involved, both DE&S and Thales, where there has been determined focus on establishing long-term efficiencies and improvements that are vital to improving overall equipment availability.”

During the life of the MSET contract, the Royal Navy will undergo a significant transition including the introduction of the new Type 26, Type 31 and Dreadnought platforms, as well as autonomous systems.

MSET, a scalable service model, will provide greater stability and breadth in the level of support delivered to the Royal Navy during this complex transition period. By investing in new dockland facilities, AI, data analysis tools and skills, this will deliver greater resilience for the RN platforms.

Over the life of the contract, it will deliver an average reduction in Turn Around Times of 100 days per repair, spares lead times will be reduced by an average of 44 days and reliability improved by 10%.

Data Driven Decision making will enable MSET to see beyond the current support horizons and with the increased investment in emerging technologies, including AI, virtual reality and Big Data, create a more proactive and predictive maintenance regime.

Investments will include improving facilities at HMNB Devonport, Faslane, Portsmouth and Bahrain to deliver an advanced test and repair capability, allowing specialist technical and engineering skills at the waterfront to provide direct support to the RN.

It will create 450 high skilled jobs all across the UK and support the training 100s of apprentices in much needed engineering skills in numerous local communities, with a further threefold increase in supply chain spend, supporting approximately 1,200 additional staff.

Alex Cresswell, Chairman and CEO of Thales in the UK, said: “Thales is delighted to strengthen our century long partnership with the Royal Navy, and support its vital role in defending the UK and keeping the worlds critical sea lanes open.

"This £1.8 Billion contract with Thales will help keep more Royal Navy ships at sea for longer, by harnessing the latest developments in artificial intelligence, data analysis and improved dockland facilities.

"Data Driven decision making enables MSET to go beyond the current support horizons and make a substantial improvement in the availability and resilience of the Royal Navy whist preparing for AUKUS, the landmark security and defence partnership between Australia, US and UK.

"This will be the third generation of Thales apprentices, engineers and support staff helping to keep the Royal Navy at sea in an increasingly unstable world."






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