News story

First boat to support UK’s fleet takes to the water in Portsmouth

The first of the new generation of Pacific 24 boats has come off the production line at BAE Systems’ facility in Portsmouth.

Under a £13.5 million contract, the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary will be equipped with 60 Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIBS), to be delivered over the next three years. The contract will also secure 14 jobs and provide additional work to 10 support roles in BAE Systems’ Small Boats facility in Portsmouth dockyard.

The new boats will support the UK’s fleet, including the new aircraft carriers, on deployments around the world, and will be involved in a variety of tasks, from counter piracy and counter narcotics missions, to force protection, rescue and logistics operations.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

These innovative boats will play a vital role in the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, working from our new aircraft carriers and right across the fleet conducting anti-piracy, counter narcotics, and rescue missions around the world. Our growing defence budget means we can invest in a bigger Royal Navy and sustain jobs in Portsmouth and the local area.

The new boats have a more modern engine, lighter and quieter than the previous generation, and electronic control and fault diagnosis, meaning that any issues can be spotted and repaired more quickly.

They are also fitted with suspension seating to provide enhanced mitigation against shocks experienced in high speed boat operations. This seating significantly reduces exposure to vibration over longer periods in comparison with the fixed seats in previous models, which will also be fitted with the new seats from this year.

Defence Equipment & Support’s Director of Ships Support, Neal Lawson said:

I am very pleased to see the first boat in the water. These new vessels will provide a key capability to the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, and will play an important part in performing crucial tasks to defend the nation’s interests around the world. This is a major milestone in the programme and I look forward to welcoming the boats into operational service in the future.