What is the Defence Marine Services (DMS)?

The Defence Marine Services (DMS) is part of the ACNS(Spt) business area within Navy Command and manages two PFI contracts for:

  • Provision of Marine Services within SD Marine Services Ltd (SDMS).
  • Provision of Marine Support to Range Safety and Aircrew Training with Smit International (Scotland) Limited (Smit), who are part of the Boskalis Westminster Group.

Users include:

  • Navy Command;
  • Land Forces;
  • Air Command;
  • Defence Infrastructure Organisation; and
  • Chief of Joint Operations (CBF Cyprus and CBF Gibraltar).

Marine services are provided through a 15-year service provision PFI contract with SDMS that was let in 2007.

Marine services embrace a wide range of waterborne and associated support activities, both in-port and out-of-port:

  • In-port activities take place at the Royal Navy’s major bases at Portsmouth, Devonport and on the Clyde, and include tugs for ship movements, ferry operations, movements and explosives, lighterage and barges.
  • Out-of-port activities include:
    • The provision of support to military exercises;
    • UK and worldwide maritime trials and training;
    • NATO Submarine Rescue System (NSRS) training, support to maritime ranges, BUTEC to Kyle of Lochalsh; and
    • The maintenance of some 350 moorings and navigational marks around the UK and in Gibraltar and Cyprus.

SDMS manages, operates and maintains around 110 vessels to deliver these services and support additional commercial tasks providing third-party income for the MOD. The contractual arrangements with SDMS provide modern marine services, delivering a fleet of vessels capable of handling current and future warships and submarines at an optimum level of efficiency. Serco also has a fully HSE-compliant dive team for underwater engineering support.

The service for Marine Support to Range Safety and Aircrew Training is provided by Smit (Scotland) Limited and runs until April 2018.

The service provides the following outputs to tri- Service users at seven locations around the UK coast:

  • Provision of a range safety craft service on seven DIO live firing ranges.
  • Provision of a vessel winching platform for an RAF SAR training establishment and a number of Joint Helicopter Force units.
  • Provision of a ferrying service and safety boat for tri-Service aircrew sea survival drills.
  • Provision of marine target towing for RAF fast jets (MTT), and Navy Command Maritime Sniper Training (MST).
  • Provision of craft for Navy Command boarding exercises, simulation of arms and drug smuggling activities and force protection exercises involving both Fast Attack Craft (FAC) and Fast Inshore Attack Craft (FIAC).

Smit manages and operates a total of 14 fast patrol type craft in support of Range Safety and Aircrew Training.


Doing Business with Defence Handbook. Edition 24 (2018).


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