The UK government threw a one billion pound lifeline to Britain's shipbuilding industry, awarding contracts for three new warships to defense groups BAE Systems Plc (BAESY)
and Vosper Thorneycroft Holdings Plc
. BAE was named as prime contractor to construct two of the first batch of a dozen state-of-the-art Type 45 Anti Air Warfare Destroyers. Vosper will build the third warship at its shipyards in Portsmouth. Both companies will be involved in the design, and construction is expected to start in 2002.
The Ministry of Defence is expected to order a total of 12 Type 45 destroyers, due to come into service between 2007 and 2014. The MoD said the rest of the orders should be placed in 2004. The Type 45, which will have the capability to protect itself and other ships from the most sophisticated sea-skimming anti-ship missiles, will succeed the Royal Navy's existing force of 11 Type 42 destroyers which first came into service in the mid 1970s.