European and UK procurement rules appear to be blamed for sourcing of steel for new Royal Fleet Auxiliary tankers.
UK defence minister Philip Dunne said these regulations meant that the Ministry of Defence could not contractually mandate the use of particular suppliers after being asked about the TIDE Class Royal Fleet Auxiliary tankers.
The news comes amid thousands of jobs losses in the UK steel industry, which has come under pressure from a range of factors. The Royal Fleet Auxiliary is civilian manned and supports the Royal Navy, for example supplying ships on operations at sea with fuel.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron raised the issue of the use of British steel in the tankers through a written parliamentary question.
He said: “To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what (a) market value and (b) weight of UK steel has been used in the manufacture of the TIDE Class Royal Fleet Auxiliary tankers.”
In his response, Mr Dunne said: “Under European and UK procurement regulations, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) could not contractually mandate the use of particular suppliers.
“Decisions on the source of steel are a matter for the contractors who take into account the cost, timeliness of availability and the quality of steel used in defence contracts. These considerations allow defence contractors to deliver value for money for the taxpayer.”
“The Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability contract to build the four Tide Class tankers was awarded to Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering in March 2012.
“Although UK companies participated in the competition to supply the vessels, none submitted a final bid,” he added.
“In January 2015, the MOD awarded a contract worth approximately £15 million to A&P Group Ltd in the UK for the provision of UK customisation, Capability Assessment Trials and Support for all four tankers. The work will be managed by A&P Group Ltd’s Falmouth shipyard.
“Manufacture of the four Tide Class tankers will in total require 44,000 tonnes of steel. Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering source this steel locally in South Korea. The market value of steel depends upon a number of factors, including geographical location and quality.
“The MOD does not hold information from which the market value of the steel used in the manufacture of the Tide Class tankers could be determined.”
(Photo: Port talbot large by Grubb at English Wikipedia)