The government has been forced to suspend a competition to build its latest warship amid concerns there were not enough bidders.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced a move to restart the competition on its Type 31e frigate programme at a later date, after receiving “insufficient compliant bids”.
The procurement process, which was announced last year, had featured a fixed price of £250m for each ship, and allowed the frigates to be constructed in sections by different companies across the UK, before being assembled at a central hub.
But bidders heard the government was delaying the process because it couldn’t guarantee an “effective and robust competition”.
Liverpool-based shipbuilder Cammell Laird was heading up a bid called “Leander” with defence giant BAE Systems. A company spokesperson said Cammel Laird remained “fully committed” to the programme and that they “will deliver a world class frigate if we win the Type 31e competition in due course”.
Despite the delay, the MoD insisted the programme would remain on schedule, and that the first ship would be delivered in five years, but conceded it would have to streamline the process.
An MoD spokesperson said: “The current competition will be restarted due to insufficient compliant bids received for an effective and robust competition.
“Making this decision now and starting a new procurement is the right thing to do to deliver the best outcome. We will present plans for a new streamlined procedure imminently.
“There have been no changes in our plans to procure a first batch of five new Type 31e frigates to grow our Royal Navy. We still want the first ship delivered by 2023 and are confident that industry will meet the challenge of providing them for the price tag we’ve set.
“This is an early contract in a wider procurement process, and we will incorporate the lessons learned and begin again as soon as possible so the programme can continue at pace.”
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