Britain's warship builders have been given until Christmas to come up with a detailed plan setting out how they will meet the Ministry of Defence's procurement needs over the next decade by working in partnership rather than competition.
The deadline was set yesterday at a summit convened by the MoD's Defence Procurement Agency in order to discuss a new industrial strategy for the UK's naval yards.
Under the strategy, work will be parcelled out across all the UK's warship yards on an agreed basis, without them having to compete for the work. The DPA has asked the industry for a detailed plan of how it will match capacity to orders over the next decade at the same time as providing value for money.
The warship builders at the meeting included BAE Systems, VT and Babcock. The work programme over the next decade principally involves eight new Type 45 destroyers, two new aircraft carriers and 10 new auxiliary support vessels.
One participant said industry executives had been surprised at the speed with which the MoD wanted to move but added this was a good signal.
The MoD also said it intended to publish a report into the future of the UK's warshipbuilding industry, commissioned from the Rand Corporation of the US, before the end of the year. The report is believed to raise concerns about the UK yards alone coping with the workload unless some contracts are sub-contracted out.
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