Royal Navy announces construction of three new supply ships for aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales

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THE Royal Navy has announced the construction of three new supply ships that will support the fleet’s two new aircraft carriers on their missions around the globe.

Wherever HMS Queen Elizabeth or HMS Prince of Wales go, they will be accompanied by one of the new three ‘solid support ships’ – providing ammunition, spare parts and supplies to sustain the carriers and their task groups thousands of miles from the UK.

At present, the RFA operates the solitary solid support ship RFA Fort Victoria, which was an integral member of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s task group last year – but she is almost 30 years old.

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Each one of the new supply vessels will be 216 metres long – making them the second longest ships in the Fleet – with a cargo space for 9,000 square metres of supplies and stores.

An artist's impression of the new support ship. Picture: Royal NavyAn artist's impression of the new support ship. Picture: Royal Navy
An artist's impression of the new support ship. Picture: Royal Navy
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Their flight decks will be able to host all the helicopters flown by the UK’s armed forces and the hangar can accommodate two Royal Navy Merlins, with additional space for cutting-edge drones.

The ships will require a crew of just 101, with accommodation available for an extra 80 personnel to support operations or embarked helicopters.

Head of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Commodore David Eagles said: ‘The Fleet Solid Support contract is a significant step towards the delivery of these ships that are a key part of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s continued growth and evolution.’

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The Ministry of Defence has selected Team Resolute as the preferred bidder for the £1.6 billion construction project, which is set to create 1,200 UK shipyard jobs and a further 800 jobs across the UK supply chain.

The final assembly will be completed at Harland & Wolff’s shipyard in Belfast, with additional work carried out in a shipyard in Cadiz, Spain.

Vice Admiral Paul Marshall, DE&S Director General Ships, said: ‘(The support ships) will deliver worldwide logistic and operational support to the Royal Navy, including the Maritime Strike Group on deployment.

‘Significant investment in emerging shipyards across the UK will also strengthen and diversify our industrial base. Alongside our investment in the Type 26 and Type 31 frigate programmes, this breadth will be vital to grow and support a highly capable and modern Navy.’