Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Trinidad and Tobago looks to terminate OPV programme

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has given notice that it wishes to formally terminate the GBP150 million (USD234 million) contract with BAE Systems to deliver three offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), leaving the UK group with the prospect of selling the nearly completed vessels on the world market.

BAE Systems confirmed the requested cancellation in a statement on 21 September, although it stressed that it will "seek to engage in commercial discussions" with the Caribbean nation to find an "equitable settlement". A spokesman for the shipbuilder said it remains hopeful that the contract can be salvaged.

The programme – which has previously suffered both cost and time overruns – was entered into by a former Trinidad and Tobago government and the UK's VT Group in April 2007. Ownership of the programme passed first to BVT Surface Fleet (a joint venture shipbuilding company created in mid-2008 by BAE Systems and VT Group) and subsequently to BAE Systems Surface Ships when BAE Systems acquired sole ownership of the venture in September 2009. When it pulled out, VT Group provided GBP43 million of capital to BAE Systems to compensate for cost overruns and delays in the programme.

The first of the three OPVs, Port of Spain, is currently going through final work before acceptance by the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard; the second, Scarborough, has completed sea trials with what was previously viewed as an October 2010 delivery date and work continues on the third, San Fernando, with a view to sea trials in November. BAE Systems stressed on 21 September that all work relating to the programme is continuing.

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