LONDON, July 31 (UPI) -- Britain's Ministry of Defense military has decided to outsource some engineering and other technical support for its sea-based nuclear deterrent.
The ministry said it has signed a contract with ABL Alliance -- it is comprised of AWE plc, Babcock and Lockheed Martin UK Strategic Systems -- to provide support of the Trident Strategic Weapon System at the Royal Naval Armament Depot Coulport and the Strategic Weapon Support Building Faslane. Both installations are part of Royal Naval Base Clyde.
The support contract is for 15 years.
As a result of the arrangement, 149 civilian positions at the Ministry of Defense will be transferred to ABL Alliance under the government's Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment Regulations. Among them: specialist SWS industrial and technical grade personnel; warehousing personnel; and workers in logistic support services.
Supervisors and managers in these areas are included in the transfer.
Thirty-nine navy posts will be seconded to the alliance.
"Following the conclusion of our commercial negotiations, we have signed a 15-year contract to outsource elements of support at Coulport and the SWSB," the ministry announced. "The contract is with an industrial alliance of contractors ... under a prime and strategic subcontractor arrangement, with AWE plc in the role of prime contractor.
"This will ensure that the highly skilled workforce at Coulport and in the SWSB can be maintained in the long term, delivering vital support to the Trident system."
Royal Naval Armament Depot Coulport has provided support to Britain's Polaris and Trident Strategic Weapon Systems for decades. The ministry, however, decided continued support at the facilities should transfer to the private sector.
AWE Plc. has operated the country's Atomic Weapons Establishment under government-owned/contractor-operated arrangements since 2000 and the new contract extends their role.
Babcock currently carries out all of Britain' major submarine maintenance programs. LMUKSS is part of the consortium that owns AWE plc, and has an existing role in providing Strategic Weapon System support in the SWSB and at Coulport.
"With their impressive track records, (we are) confident that these companies have the knowledge and experience to operate Coulport and the SWSB to the high standards we expect, and will build on the skills of the existing workforce," the Ministry of Defense said.
The Ministry of Defense is engaged in formal consultations with relevant employee unions and the takeover is expected to take effect in January.
In other developments, the European Defense Agency and the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation have formally agreed to closer collaboration to enhance European defense capabilities and strengthen the technological and industrial base of member countries.
"From now on, integration into OCCAR of programs originating from EDA's work on capabilities and harmonization of requirements, will run smoother, delivering maximum efficiency for our customers," said OCCAR-EA Director Patrick Bellouard.
The European Defense Agency is part of the European Union. OCCAR manages collaborative armament program among six EU countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain.
A collaborative project is the works is improving aerial refueling capabilities of member countries.