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11 Apr 02. Thales CVF team today announces its strategy for the shipbuilding phase of the UK MoD’s future carrier programme. This programme heralds a new era of British military capability, provided by the two new 50,000 tonnes aircraft carriers that will each operate up to 50 aircraft. With the Thales team strategy the carriers will be built in five separate sections called SUPERBLOCKS™, individually larger than a Type 45 Destroyer. Each is designed to be as self contained as possible, and contiguous with the ship damage control sections in order to minimise interconnections. As each SUPERBLOCK™ will be fully outfitted, a ‘virtual ship’ will be created that can be hooked-up to its adjacent partners to form the complete ship within a couple of months in dry-dock. This process will be co-ordinated by the Thales team member Halliburton KBR.

The Thales team has carried out extensive studies to show the best way to provide the necessary facilities and resources to design and build these two large ships, along with guaranteeing the delivery dates of 2012 and 2015 required by MoD. Thales’ inclusive approach actively engages the entire UK shipbuilding industry to ensure the widest possible access through open competition. Clearly the shipyards will optimise their chances of winning by competing for SUPERBLOCKS™ that match their own facilities, competencies and cost structures. Responding to the leadership of Defence Procurement Agency’s Integrated Project Team, this SUPERBLOCK™ approach marks a considerable advance in MoD’s Smart Acquisition policy.

Thales’ baseline strategy plans include Swan Hunter of Newcastle, BAE SYSTEMS Marine in Glasgow, Harland and Wolff of Belfast and Vosper Thornycroft of Portsmouth in the building of the SUPERBLOCKS™. Harland and Wolff as well as Swan Hunter have engineers contributing to the design concept in Thales’ new prime contracting office in Bristol. To optimise costs, each competing shipbuilder will provide the same segment for the two ships. The final work-up and commissioning is planned at Devonport Management Limited in Plymouth.

Chief Executive Officer of Thales Plc, Alex Dorrian, commented: “Thales is adapting the expertise from Halliburton KBR’s well proven commercial and offshore processes and applying it, for the first time, to the large scale construction of warships. The new skills and ship construction techniques incorporated into Thales team, will move naval ship construction into a new era, creating an efficient and capable industry that can compete in the world marketplace.”

Jaap Kroese, Chairman of Swan Hunter, said: “I am delighted to be contributing the expertise gained on the Alternative Landing Ship Logistics to the design and construction planning of the Thales team. Swan Hunter is investing in training, steel fabrication and dry dock facilities and will be well placed to win the equivalent of at least one ship.”

Welcoming today’s announcement, Harland and Wolff Sales Director, Brian McGrath said: “Harland and Wolff is delighted to join with Thales and the other team members to offer a shipbuilding strategy that will bring benefits to many areas of the United Kingdom. We look forward to playing a full role in the Thales’ team baseline strategy for both the design and assembly of these unique vessels.”

Thales Plc’s defence activities in the UK encompass communications, sensors, air defence, optronic systems, naval systems and avionics. The company employs 12,000 staff in UK companies with a turnover approaching £1.2bn. The world-wide Thales Group employs 65,000 people generating global sales of over £6bn.

The Thales CVF team of 200 staff in Bristol, is a talented and cohesive organisation that brings together the best of breed American, British, Dutch and French naval commercial innovation and expertise i

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