Outsourcing giant Serco marks 25 years working with Royal Navy


Outsourcing giant Serco is marking 25 years of support to the Royal Navy by revealing it operates nearly 100 vessels at six sites across the UK in Portsmouth, Plymouth, Falmouth, Faslane and two at Inner Raasay Sound.

On August 12, 1996, Serco Denholm took responsibility for in-port services from the Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service (RMAS) and in 2007, Serco was awarded a 15-year contract with the Ministry of Defence for the Provision of Marine Services (PMS).

Today, Serco operates vessels ranging in length from 11m to 93m and from 12 to 3,600 gross tonnes and Serco’s 600 skilled mariners provide services at the naval bases at Portsmouth, Devonport, Falmouth and Faslane, and to the BUTEC Ranges in the Kyle of Lochalsh, as well as worldwide.

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Rob Hales, Serco’s maritime and aviation capability director, said: “We are incredibly proud of our 25 years of service. We have a fantastic team of people, many of whom are veterans themselves and have long standing connections to the national maritime community and we provide an extraordinary level of service to the Royal Navy, delivering over 99% of tasks on time under some very demanding conditions.

“We look forward to continuing this support for many years to come, drawing on Serco’s increasing global maritime presence to innovate for our customers in the UK”.

At the start of the PMS contract Serco inherited an aging legacy fleet with some vessels being more than 30 years old and in need of modernisation or replacement.

The contract included a vessel replacement programme with the procurement, build and introduction into service of 29 new vessels, which Serco built with Damen, successfully delivering them on-time and in-budget.

These new vessels introduced leading commercial technologies into the Serco fleet, supported by retraining of Serco crews and admiralty pilots to safely operate the new fleet.

The new build programme was complemented by conversion and upgrade of existing vessels to meet the demands of the new contract.

In addition to the initial 29 new-build vessels, Serco has also provided innovative procurement solutions that have enabled the purchase of four additional vessels and one legacy vessel acquisition, SD Northern River, bringing the total today to 34 vessels.

Serco has also continued to drive new and innovative solutions to meet the changing demands of the Royal Navy, which has often included researching and adapting technology from the wider maritime industry to create tailored solutions for the Royal Navy.

With a team which combines decades of experience with highly specialised skills, Serco said it provides a wide range of services from towing submarines, trialling cutting-edge maritime technology, ferrying passengers, supporting military training exercises, and the provision and maintenance of buoys and moorings.

Throughout the contract Serco has partnered with small to medium size businesses to deliver specialist services. One such SME is Fife-based Briggs Marine, who have supported moorings maintenance since 2007.

Serco has been part of many significant milestones in the Royal Navy’s history during the last 25 years. Recent highlights include:

  • The procurement of the newest and most powerful tug, SD Tempest, which was specifically procured to support the Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carriers – SD Tempest was the first Advanced Rotortug to be built for a UK based customer;
  • Participation in the 2019 celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of the Continuous at Sea Deterrent (CASD50) and the firm’s support to submarines in the Clyde, with many Serco employees receiving long service awards.
  • The UK Carrier Strike Group (CSG21) deployment, which was the culmination of “years of hard work in preparation”.

Looking forward to the next 25 years, Serco’s Maritime Services team said it is fully committed to working closely with customers and stakeholders to support local and national agendas for diversity and inclusion, Carbon Net Zero, and the future of maritime careers.

Business Live’s South West Business Reporter is William Telford. William has more than a decade’s experience reporting on the business scene in Plymouth and the South West. He is based in Plymouth but covers the entire region.

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Following the development of a network of trained mental health first aiders, Serco recently signed the Mental Health in Maritime Pledge. In addition, Serco has introduced a Women in Defence Network, has signed the Women in Defence Charter, and actively participates in the Women in Defence Mentoring Programme.

Through its close working relationships with Maritime UK, the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the Solent Maritime Enterprise Zone (MEZ), Serco is working to raise awareness of maritime career opportunities and encourage young people to embark on a career in this fascinating sector, including in their own apprenticeship scheme for deck and engineering apprentices.

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