Smarter maintenance for Navy Fleet under £1.85 billion contract

Smarter maintenance for Navy Fleet under £1.85 billion contract


  • £1.85bn contract to maintain world-leading sonar and sensors for Royal Navy ships and submarines

  • Defense Secretary announces 450 jobs will be created or maintained across the UK

  • AI and data management to analyze availability and reduce repair times and increase ship availability.

UK security will be strengthened through a large new contract – valued at almost £2 billion – that will ensure the long-term availability and resilience of critical assets used by Royal Navy ships and submarines during the next 15 years.

Announced by Defense Secretary Grant Shapps on his first visit to Her 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. .

By using data technology, including artificial intelligence and virtual reality, to be more proactive and predictive maintenance systems, the contract will allow the Royal Navy to maximize the days they are ready to deploy.

The contract will support sonar (our ability to listen underwater), masts, periscopes and also electronic warfare equipment that allows the Royal Navy to detect and target potential threats. Fundamentally, by increasing the longevity of our sensor and sonar capability, we will significantly increase equipment availability, which is critical for continuous at-sea deterrence (CASD) and broader ship and submarine capabilities.

Touring the naval base and speaking to Royal Navy sailors and civilian staff, Defense Secretary Grant Shapps thanked the workforce for the incredibly important role they play in keeping the UK safe, particularly in a moment of intense global tensions.

Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said:

In a time of global instability, it is imperative that we minimize the time our ships and submarines spend in maintenance.

This is another partnership with Thales UK and our leading UK defense sector that not only boosts national security but also provides a boost to local communities and helps drive economic growth.

Devonport Naval Base is an incredibly impressive facility with personnel playing a role of such magnitude that it cannot be underestimated.

Around 300 UK jobs will be retained from a previous Thales UK support contract and a further 150 STEM jobs, including highly skilled engineering and apprenticeship roles, will be created in Devonport, Faslane, Glasgow, Portsmouth, Cheadle, Crawley and Bristol. This contract also safeguards jobs across an extensive UK supply chain.

The contract, awarded by Defense Equipment & Support, the MOD’s procurement arm, will upgrade facilities at HMNB Devonport, Faslane, Portsmouth and Bahrain and provide advanced test and repair capabilities. This enhanced presence in the coastal zone will allow equipment to be assessed at source, enabling rapid improvements in fault diagnosis and reducing repair times.

The Defense Secretary’s visit to HMNB Devonport follows a £750 million funding boost for the naval base, announced in November 2023, which will significantly improve infrastructure. The work, which will create around 1,000 construction positions, will also support the maintenance of existing and future submarines, and improve the shipyard’s ability to deliver major defense projects.

The South West recently became the country’s marine and maritime launch pad, recognizing its leadership in the sector. The area will receive an additional £7.5 million in funding to support leading innovation projects in the maritime space. The shipbuilding company directly supports more than 43,000 jobs nationwide, with more than 19,000 employees in the South West alone.

Alex Cresswell, chairman and chief executive of Thales UK, said:

Thales is delighted to strengthen our century-old partnership with the Royal Navy and support its vital role in the defense of the United Kingdom and keeping the world’s critical shipping routes open.

This £1.8bn contract with Thales will help keep more Royal Navy ships at sea for longer, taking advantage of the latest advances in artificial intelligence, data analytics and improved port facilities.

The Second Sea Lord, Vice-Admiral Martin Connell, said:

The Royal Navy’s warships and submarines rely on the latest state-of-the-art sensors and sonar to give us a key advantage in warfare.

The new contract is a significant commitment from the MoD and Thales-UK to improve the availability of our equipment, maximize its effectiveness and enable the Royal Navy to operate with confidence.

This significant investment in our ship and submarine sensors will ensure our equipment is at the forefront of technology.

Vice Admiral Paul Marshall, Director General of Ships, DE&S, said:

I am delighted to have been able to secure a 15-year contract with Thales UK that will ensure long-term support for important sonar, mast, periscope and electronic warfare equipment that is critical to ship and submarine capabilities.

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

Graeme Little, Senior Owner Responsible for the Naval Integrated Global Support Network Programme, said:

The signing of the contract is a major milestone for sonar and sensor support across the Royal Navy. I am delighted that we have implemented a contract focused on a value for money solution that will boost the availability and resilience of these critical capabilities and improve the lived experience of Royal Navy engineers.


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