§ Lord Hardy of Wath
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What progress has been made toward finalising the arrangements for the UK's future military strategic sealift capability. [HL4975]
§ Lord Bach
We are pleased to announce that negotiations with AWSR Shipping Ltd have been concluded and a PFI contract that will run until 2024 has been signed. The full service will be available from 2003. AWSR will provide, operate, maintain and manage six roll-on-roll-off vessels and supply crews for the whole of the period of their contract; 180 new jobs for British seafarers will be created. After a phase-in period, crews will be sponsored reserves. Based on a projected usage, the service is worth some £950 million, of which some £800 million is likely to be spent in the United Kingdom.
All six ships will not be needed all the time for Ministry of Defence work. When not engaged on MoD tasks they will be available for commercial trade.
The service will play a central role in fulfilling our Strategic Defence Review commitment to enhance the Armed Forces' equipment lift requirements and allow the movement of the joint rapid reaction forces quickly to overseas theatres as required.