Old, established UK engineering support company seeks SA partners


Babcock, one of the oldest engineering firms in the UK, starting in 1891 and currently employing 35,000 personnel worldwide, providing maintenance, training and repairs for ships, land vehicles and aircraft and is seeking to partner with local defence industries like Denel.

Dipak Madhav, General Manager Business Development and Services, told defenceWeb: “We are looking at a number of projects with state-owned military companies and obviously with government it’s a process. We’ve been working on it for the last five years and we continue to facilitate discussion, ideas and concepts.”

He said his group was seeking business partners in Africa and South Africa.

Describing the organisation’s philosophy, Madhav said: “You’ve got the military man and his training, how fit he is, is managed by the military. What we do in the UK for Babcock, is Babcock manages everything else.”

Babcock is responsible for about 75% of British surface warship refits and upgrades and does 50% of the Royal Navy’s fleet maintenance, as well as other support services for the UK’s nuclear submarines. According to Babcock they maintain or repair 18 000 military vehicles around the world.

He said the group was looking to enter the South African market more directly, although it already has interests in South African companies.
“In South Africa, there have been changes; we haven’t been able to make the breakthrough; why can’t we offer these services? Reduce your operating costs, your capex (capital expenditure) if you can outsource some services you are managing, because we can manage it better because of the knowledge we have gained globally.”

He was referring to Babcock operating on six continents. Stressing efficiency and global experience, he said: “The way we do it is different from the way you do it, from a commercial point of view.”

Asked whether Babcock could help upskilling labour in South Africa for the purposes of maintaining SA National Defence Force ships, aircraft and land-based vehicles, the general manager said: “We train 45,000 people a year. We can do it, like, now. We offer training, we can offer maintenance, we can offer facilities management, we can offer refitting of submarines. We have a shipyard In the UK where we manage all these.”

Babcock official information states besides that shipyard, the group manages a total of four UK shipyards, including Faslane in Scotland, which houses the Royal Navy’s Trident nuclear submarines, as well as managing New Zealand’s largest naval base and maintaining that nation’s ANZAC class frigates. This global engineering support group also has a dry dock at Duqm Naval Dockyard in Oman.