Smarter maintenance for Navy Fleet under £1.85 billion contract

UK security will be boosted through a vast new contract – worth nearly £2 billion - that will ensure the long-term availability and resilience of critical naval assets

  • £1.85 billion contract to sustain world-class leading sonar and sensors for Royal Navy ships and submarines
  • Defence Secretary announces 450 UK jobs to be created or sustained across the UK
  • AI and data management to analyse availability and reduce repair times and increase ship availability

UK security will be boosted through a vast new contract – worth nearly £2 billion - that will ensure the long-term availability and resilience of critical assets used by Royal Navy ships and submarines over the next 15 years.     

Announced by Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, on his first visit to His Majesty’s Naval Base Devonport, the Maritime Sensor Enhancement Team (MSET) contract with Thales UK will aim to provide full availability of the equipment that is the eyes and ears of the Royal Navy. 

Utilising data technology, including AI and virtual reality to be more proactive and predictive maintenance systems, the contract will see the Royal Navy maximise the days they are ready to deploy.     

The contract will support sonar - our ability to hear underneath the water – masts, periscopes and also electronic warfare equipment that enable the Royal Navy to detect and target potential threats. Crucially, by increasing the longevity of our sensor and sonar capability, it will significantly increase equipment availability which is critical for the Continuous at Sea Deterrent (CASD) and wider ship and submarine capabilities.    

Touring the naval base and speaking with Royal Navy sailors and civilian staff, Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, thanked the workforce for the incredibly important role they play in maintaining UK security, particularly at a time of heightened global tensions.       

Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps said:

"In a time of global instability, it is imperative we minimise the time our ships and submarines are out for maintenance.

"This is another partnership with Thales UK and our outstanding UK defence sector that not only boosts national security but provides a boost to local communities and helps fuel economic growth.

"Devonport Naval Base is an incredibly impressive facility with staff who play a role of such magnitude it cannot be underestimated."

Around 300 UK jobs from a previous Thales UK support contract will be sustained and a further 150 STEM jobs, including highly skilled engineering roles and apprenticeships, will be created across Devonport, Faslane, Glasgow, Portsmouth, Cheadle, Crawley and Bristol. This contract also safeguards jobs from across an extensive UK supply chain.    

The contract, awarded by Defence Equipment & Support – the MOD’s procurement arm – will improve the facilities at HMNB Devonport, Faslane, Portsmouth and Bahrain and deliver advanced test and repair capabilities. This enhanced waterfront presence will allow equipment to be triaged at source, thereby enabling rapid improvements in fault diagnosis, thereby reducing repair times.     

The Defence Secretary’s visit to HMNB Devonport follows a £750 million funding boost to the naval base, announced in November 2023, that will significantly improve the infrastructure. Creating around 1,000 construction roles, the work will also support maintenance of existing and future submarines, and enhance the dockyard’s ability to deliver major defence projects.     

The Southwest recently became the country’s Marine and Maritime Launchpad, recognising its leadership in the sector. The area will receive an additional £7.5 million in funding to support outstanding innovation projects within maritime. The shipbuilding enterprise directly supports over 43,000 jobs across the country, with over 19,000 employed in the Southwest alone.   

Alex Cresswell, Chairman and CEO of Thales in the UK, said:    

"Thales is delighted to strengthen our century long partnership with the Royal Navy, and support its vital role in defending the UK and keeping the world’s critical sea lanes open.

"This £1.8 billion contract with Thales will help keep more Royal Navy ships at sea for longer, by harnessing the latest developments in artificial intelligence, data analysis and improved dockland facilities."

Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Martin Connell said:   

"The warships and submarines of the Royal Navy rely on the latest cutting-edge sensors and sonars to give us a key warfighting edge.

"The new contract is a significant commitment from the MoD and Thales-UK to improving the availability of our equipment, maximising its effectiveness and enabling the Royal Navy to operate with confidence.

"This significant investment in our ship and submarine sensors will ensure our equipment is at the cutting edge of technology."

Vice Admiral Paul Marshall, Director General Ships, DE&S said:  

"I am delighted that we have been able to secure a 15-year contract with Thales UK that will ensure the long-term support for major sonar, mast, periscope and electronic warfare equipment that are critical for Ship and Submarine capabilities.

"Achieving this notable milestone is testament to the tremendous effort from all involved, both DE&S and Thales, where there has been determined focus on establishing long-term efficiencies and improvements that are vital to improving overall equipment availability."

Senior Responsible Owner for Naval Support Integrated Global Network Program, Graeme Little, said:     

"The signing of the contract is a significant milestone for the Support of Sonars and Sensors across the Royal Navy, I am delighted that we have put in place a contract focussed on a Value for Money solution that will drive availability and resilience into these critical capabilities and improve the Lived Experience of Royal Navy Engineers."

Ministry of Defence
Defence Equipment and Support
The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP