UK Docks to Maintain Key MoD Marine Research Vessels


A TYNESIDE firm is celebrating after winning orders worth £150m to service Ministry of Defence research vessels over the next decade.

UK Docks, which has dry docks on the Wear and Tees will maintain HMS Protector, HMS Enterprise and HMS Echo - three ships which play a vital part in the Royal Navy’s supply chain.

The North East company, which began life in a small boatyard on the Tyne little more than 20 years ago has grown to become a national and international organisation operating around the globe.

And the defence contract, announced by the Ministry of Defence today, represents a substantial increase in the turnover of the company and safeguards and creates dozens of jobs.

The contract will also benefit the company’s marine-related supply chain as repairs and maintenance are carried out.


Director Jonathan Wilson said: “It’s fantastic news for us - the successful conclusion of months of hard work put into bidding for these contracts - and it takes us to another level as a company.

“It’s an exciting time for UK Docks - a great opportunity and responsibility we have been given by the Ministry of Defence - and we will rise to all expectations.

“We are very proud of our North East origins and it is great to see these contracts being serviced for the country by a company based in the region.

“We will be managing, coordinating and planning all maintenance activity from our facilities on Tyneside, but noting our dry docks on Teesside have the capacity to service all three vessels, whenever it is possible, the servicing work on them will be carried out there.”


The UK Docks contract forms part of a wider £1bn deal that will secure hundreds of jobs at shipyards right across the country, announced by Defence Minister Stuart Andrew today. 

The deal covers 17 ships and will improve how spares, repairs and maintenance work are carried out. 

Mr Andrew said: “This £1bn deal secures work for some of our world-leading shipyards into the next decade, supporting over 700 jobs for workers to ensure our ships remain at sea to defend the nation. 

“This vital work is not only great news for our Navy, but also underlines the importance of defence to our national skills and prosperity.”

UK Docks’ will service three Royal Navy marine survey ships - HMS Protector, HMS Echo and HMS Enterprise.

At 90 metres long the ships are of a significant scale andthe task of UK Docks will be to ensure all three are properly repaired and maintained until 2028.

HMS Protector provides a UK presence in the British Antarctic Territory and meets the UK’s treaty obligations for inspections, hydrographical charting and support of scientific research.

It can also be called upon to operate in the tropics.

HMS Echo and Enterprise deliver defence, global environmental data-gathering requirements and associated war roles.

All three play important roles in the navy and the ships need to be operational for334 days per year.

It will be UK Docks' responsibility to ensure their availability by, if necessary, overseeing maintenance and repairs across the globe.

UK Docks' founder, Harry Wilson, said: “It is an amazing moment for us as a company to win a contract of this magnitude, prestige and scale.

“It is an acknowledgement of the quality of work and the huge amount of effort that has been put in by the workforce of the company in recent years.

“I think it may have helped that we previously demonstrated our ability to successfully service some of the MoD’s under 50 metres fleet of support vessels from our facilities around the UK.

“That may have played a part in our taking the next step up in terms of the size and scale of responsibility.

“The contract brings investment into the region, will help further develop expertise and skills and I think it is a great vote of confidence in the North East of England.