Page last updated at 09:07 GMT, Thursday, 14 January 2010

Aircraft carrier contracts named

Aircraft carrier bow section being put on barge
Total sub-contracted orders for steel are expected to reach about 1.5bn

Contracts to supply the Royal Navy's next generation of aircraft carriers, worth a third of a billion pounds, have been announced.

Five new suppliers are to benefit from the programme to build the Queen Elizabeth Class flagships.

The companies will provide fire-fighting equipment, air conditioning, paintwork and scaffolding

Some of the contracts have been secured by companies based in Glasgow, Yorkshire and Manchester.

Supporting jobs

One of the most challenging contracts is an £85m contract to float the various blocks of the two super-carriers to their assembly point in Rosyth, Fife. That has been awarded to Henry Abrams of Glasgow.

Other contracts to provide heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, worth £120m, have been awarded to Imtech, a Dutch company with UK headquarters in Billingham on Teesside.

Paint and access, including all the scaffolding required during the build process will cost £105m, and has been awarded to Pyeroy of Gateshead, and Cape of Wakefield, which will form a joint venture based at Rosyth.

The ships' fire-fighting systems, including sprinklers, are to be provided by Tyco of Manchester, at a cost of £15m.

The 65,000 tonne ships are to have 2,500 kilometres of cabling, being installed for £8m by AEI Cables of Birtley in County Durham.

With much of the steel already ordered, the total of sub-contracted orders for the super-carriers is expected to reach about £1.5bn.

"Once in service, these ships will provide the UK Armed Forces with a vital and extensive naval capability," said Geoff Searle, director of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, which includes the three lead contractors and the Ministry of Defence.

"Most of these contracts, placed for the Aircraft Carrier Alliance will support local economies and jobs throughout the UK regions," he continued.

Challenging task

In the past 12 months, the first steel of the ships' hulls has been cut at Govan in Glasgow.

Work has also started on HMS Queen Elizabeth at three other yards, as well as the dock in Rosyth where the ships are to be assembled.

"This news should reassure those who doubt this government's commitment to the programme," said Quentin Davies, the UK defence equipment minister.

"These sub-contracts will contribute thousands of jobs throughout the supply chain in addition to the thousands of jobs at the main shipyards which are building the ships. The build phase of the Carrier programme is now well under way".

Michael Abram from Henry Abrams said being awarded the transport contract added to the company's long-seafaring history, and would be challenging.

"We now plan to employ naval architects, structural engineers, design engineers, graduates, and administration staff to work alongside our existing staff and consortium partners to ensure safe and successful delivery of all cargoes to Rosyth," he said.

The super-carriers are to be three times the displacement of the Royal Navy's current Invincible class of carrier, and the first of them is due to enter service in 2016.

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