The Royal Navy's next generation of support tankers is to be built in South Korea. Defence equipment minister Peter Luff said Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering has been chosen as the Government's preferred bidder to build the four 37,000-tonne vessels costing £452 million.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that although a number of British companies took part in the competition, none submitted a final bid for the build contract. UK firms will however benefit from associated contracts - including the provision of key systems and equipment - worth £150 million. The winning design for the ships is by the British company BMT Defence Services.
"The Government remains committed to building complex warships in UK shipyards," Mr Luff said. The MoD's chief of defence materiel, Bernard Gray, said the competition for the contract had "sought to engage shipbuilders from across the globe. I believe the winning bidder's solution will offer the UK the best value for money."
The four Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (Mars) tankers will maintain the Navy's ability to refuel warships at sea and will provide support for amphibious, land and air forces. At more than 200 metres in length, each ship is as long as 14 double-decker buses and can pump enough fuel to fill two Olympic-size swimming pools in an hour.
Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said: "This is more bad news for British industry. First we lose out to France over fast jets and now we lose out to South Korea over Royal Navy tankers."