New 600m MoD contract designed to secure jobs across the UK

A new 600 million contract is to ensure the Royal Navy's ships and submarines remain in top condition - securing more than 500 jobs across the UK in the process.

Manufacturer Thales will be responsible for the maintenance and repair of 17 different systems throughout the Royal Navy fleet after signing a 10-year agreement with the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Vessels covered in the Sensor Support Optimisation Project (SSOP) include Astute, Trafalgar and Vanguard submarines, as well as Type 45 warships, Type 23 frigates and Hunt and Sandown class minehunting ships.

The contract is expected to sustain some 530 jobs - including 230 Thales jobs at sites in Glasgow, Manchester, Somerset and Crawley in West Sussex, and a further 300 jobs through the UK supply chain.

It is also predicted to bring estimated savings of around 140 million over the 10-year period.

"This contract is good news for the Ministry of Defence and UK industry," said Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, who signed the contract during a visit to Thales' headquarters in Crawley.

"Not only will it secure over 500 jobs across the UK, whilst delivering savings of 140 million to the taxpayer, it will also provide essential support for the combat equipment that helps give the Royal Navy's fleet of ships and submarines a vital technological edge wherever they are based in the world."

The SSOP follows on from the Contractor Logistics Support contract, originally signed in 2003, which has provided support to the Navy's sonar and electronic warfare systems for the past 10 years.

Thales hopes the new deal for the in-service support of the Navy's major sensor systems can build on the success of its predecessor, with Victor Chavez, CEO of the firm in the UK, claiming it recognises the output it has delivered over the past decade.

Vice Admiral Sir Andrew Mathews, Chief of Materiel for the MoD's Defence, Equipment and Support organisation, said the contract would be vital in maintaining the "eyes and ears" of the Royal Navy's fleet.

He claimed such support would ensure that the Royal Navy will continue to be able to protect the UK's interests, wherever they may be.

Copyright Press Association 2013