§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach)
My right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Adam Ingram) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am pleased to announce that the Ministry of Defence has approved the award of a contract with VT Maritime Affairs Ltd for the charter and logistic support of a new 1,854 tonne patrol vessel for use in the Falkland Islands.
The new ship will be a modification of the highly-successful River class ships, also chartered from VT, currently employed for fishery protection. Like them, the new patrol vessel will also follow an innovative public/private partnership arrangement for the provision of maritime capability. While manned by the Royal Navy, the department will pay a set monthly fee for the provision of the ship and a guaranteed level of availability, with an incentivised payment structure to ensure that any shortfalls are dealt with promptly and effectively.
The vessel will thus provide a significant increase in availability compared with the old, and increasingly difficult to maintain, Castle class ships that have provided the Falkland Islands patrol capability for the past two decades.
It is planned that the ship will enter service in 2007, and be chartered for an initial period up to 2012. Over this period, she will generate in excess of £2 million savings compared with continuing to run the old ships, while providing at least as good an overall capability at a much lower level of risk.