Taking Advantage of Idle Fleets

The MoD obtains equipment by one of two methods, CADMID or UOR/UCR.

CADMID stands for Concept, Assessment, Demonstration, Manufacture, In-Service and Disposal.

UOR stands for Urgent Operational Requirement, UCR, for urgent Capability Requirement.

The first is a gated and methodical process that is preceded with the R word, requirement. If there is no defined requirement, it doesn’t enter the CADMID process. UOR/UCR is a means by which equipment to meet an identified shortfall is obtained that short cuts CADMID. Sometimes this works, sometimes it does not, that is the risk one takes with short-cuts.

There has long been a desire for something in-between because CADMID can take a long time, and UOR, too risky. As an aside, it would seem that the SDSR 2015 proposed purchase of P-8 Poseidon falls somewhere between CADMID and UOR/UCR.

One of the SDSR 2015 statements was that 3 solid stores support vessels would be obtained to replace a number of older RFA vessels, there was no mention of plans to replace RFA Diligence or RFA Argus, both of which are looking at the end of their service lives.

RFA Argus

RFA Argus started live with the MoD during the 1982 Falkland Islands conflict as the MV Contender Bezant.

Contender Bezant was utilised as an aircraft transport, ferrying helicopters and harriers on deck.

MV Contender Bezant (Image Credit; RFA Nostalgia)
MV Contender Bezant (Image Credit; RFA Nostalgia)

Following purchase by the MoD in 1985 for £13million she was converted to an aviation training ship at the shipyard of Harland & Wolff, Belfast, with the addition of extended accommodation, a flight deck, aircraft lifts and naval radar and communications suites.  She is now an aviation support ship operating aircraft from her former container deck with the RORO vehicle deck converted to an aircraft hangar.  A Primary Casualty Receiving Facility was added before Argus was sent to participate in the 1991 Gulf War.  Another role of RFA Argus is that of RORO vehicle transport with vehicles carried in the hangar and on the flight deck, a role she performed in support of United Nations operations in the former Yugoslavia.  During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Argus was again present in the Persian Gulf as an offshore hospital for coalition troops, earning the nickname “BUPA Baghdad”.

Besides a brief stint in the film World War Z, RFA Argus is now best known for her starting role in OPERATION GRITROCK, the effort to eradicate Ebola from Sierra Leone.

RFA Argus

RFA Diligence

RFA Diligence is also a 1982 veteran, originally an offshore support vessel named the MV Stena Inspector.

Stena Inspector

After a £28m conversion in 1984 she now serves as a forward repair ship.

HMS Cornwall Alongside RFA Diligence

More recently, HMS Protector was  MV Polarbjørn, another offshore support vessel.

Polarbjørn (Polar Bear) HMS Protector 01
Polarbjørn (Polar Bear) HMS Protector 01

Commercial vessel conversions are demonstrably a proven method of providing non-combat vessels at reasonable cost.

Which bring me to the subject of this post.

Due to current economic conditions, there is a great deal of offshore support and container vessels sitting idle, waiting for either a) the market to pick up, or b) a buyer.

The Norwegian offshore fleet standing idle is reportedly now at 100 and climbing, and according to latest market research, there are 238 container vessels of various sizes, with nothing to do, most of which are small to medium size.

It is a buyers market.

With our new found agility and efficiency in DE&S, can we adjust plans, timings and requirements to take advantage of a fleeting opportunity?

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