Burges Salmon has advised the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on the award of a £300m contract to train crewmen for the Royal Navy's latest Astute class attack submarines.
The 30-year contract was awarded to the Fast consortium, advised by Rosemary Bointon at DLA. Fast will construct a new training centre at the Faslane submarine base in Scotland. The funder was advised by Andrew Newbery at Norton Rose.
The award of the contract comes more than two years after the Burges Salmon team, led by partner Mark Paterson, won the competition to advise the MoD on the scheme. Burges Salmon is on the MoD's panel, but member firms also have to compete to advise on individual PFI projects.
The panel is going through a periodic review. Currently it includes Addleshaw Booth & Co, DLA, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith, Shepherd & Wedderburn, Simmons & Simmons and Wragge & Co.
“Any delays in the boat programme would affect national security”
Mark Paterson, Burges Salmon
Burges Salmon's role in this latest PFI deal followed on from earlier work for the MoD on its procurement of the Astute class attack submarines in 1997. The PFI deal was designed to deliver fully-trained crews to take the new Astute Class Boats into operational service from 2005 onwards.
Paterson said: “It was clearly important that we had that previous experience, and particularly that we knew a lot about the submarine programme. The two are interlinked. Any delays in the boat programme would affect national security and has severe repercussions in terms of contractual positions. In order to deliver the boats you have to have trained men as well.”
This level of interdependency is unusual in PFI deals. And the deal also broke new ground for the MoD by making the trained men the output of the project, as well as requiring the more conventional provision of instructors and equipment.
This introduced new risks which had to be balanced in negotiations between the MoD and the Fast consortium.
In addition to the technicalities of the contract itself, the project required Scottish property law advice. Dual-qualified Burges Salmon partner Carol McFarlane fulfilled this role. Associate John Smith and assistant Annette Blane also worked on the deal.