Britain's Largest Warships Support British Manufacturers

Following the success of catering equipment previously manufactured and supplied to Britain’s largest warships, the Ministry of Defence has returned to Gloucestershire based catering equipment manufacturer Target Catering Equipment for their latest marine based project.

HMS Queen Elizabeth - Britain’s Largest Warship

It all began in the year 2000, when Southampton based marine catering equipment supplier and distributor, Kempsafe, approached Target as they needed to engage a company that could fabricate bespoke stainless-steel items for their marine based projects.

With Target Catering Equipment’s Managing Director, David Pedrette, having a background in marine engineering, this made Target the perfect partner for Kempsafe. This led to Target being engaged and becoming involved with many marine projects, which included designing and fabricating bespoke items such as; stainless steel cupboards, counters, tabling, sinks and more.

With the ability to provide these services to their customers Kempsafe continued to grow as a company and in 2003 won a prestigious contract with the Ministry of Defence.

Confident with the quality of products being produced, Kempsafe commissioned Target to design and manufacture several 8 and 10 dish servery counters suitable for the MOD that would be installed on HMS Invincible and HMS Ark Royal aircraft carriers.

The project involved preparing product designs based on site visits to look at previously manufactured units and galley arrangements, gathering all remaining information available from previous manufacturers that had remained on board the ship, which included the original hand-over documentation.

Taking this information and combining it with the feedback from the ship’s crew meant that Target could redesign and improve the products they were proposing to meet the exact requirements of the MOD.

Designs were prepared, approved and signed off by the MOD. The bespoke products were then manufactured, quality control tested, inspected and delivered to the distributor for installation.

Naval chefs ready for action on board HMS Queen Elizabeth

Commanding officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Captain Jeremy Kyd receives his first meal onboard.

Following the success of these initial products, a year later, several 3 and 4 dish servery counters were manufactured and installed for the MOD on the Astute class submarines. And in 2009, Target were again commissioned to design and fabricate various bespoke items including, servery counters, hot cupboards and stowage lockers for what was set to be Britain’s largest and most advanced warships, the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carriers.

Cutaway of HMS Astute Class Submarines

The Great Recession of 2008-2013 then hit UK businesses hard and pushed Kempsafe to engage an alternative equipment manufacturer which offered equipment at a more competitive rate for projects including those for the MOD. However, this was not enough to save the company. In 2016, Kempsafe went into liquidation and the company was wound up. This resulted in one of the former employees setting up a new company, Wathen Marine Catering Equipment Services Ltd. which went on to gain many of the contracts that had previously been awarded to Kempsafe, including MOD contracts.

Over the years, the MOD carried out scrupulous trials and testing, and continued issues arose with the equipment that had not been manufactured by Target Catering Equipment and so it was decided that no matter the cost, going forward the MOD were to revert to the previous product quality and specification supplied by Target.

In August 2018, Target was commissioned to design and manufacture more 3 and 4 dish servery counters for the MOD to be installed on the new HMS Astute Class submarines being built in Barrow-in-Furness.

The challenge was that the units were to be manufactured to the exact design and specification that had previously been tried, tested and approved 15 years ago, to ensure quality was not compromised again through cost engineering a cheaper specification.

Target reviewed the current manufacturing techniques to ensure identical consistency of product quality and specification. Relying on historic manufacturing archives and the knowledge of long-standing employees that remained within the company to recall the exact manufacturing procedures and high standards that had previously been used.

Target servery counters all set for installation on board HMS Astute submarines.

Units have since been designed, approved, manufactured, quality control tested and delivered on time and to the exact specification to the distributor for installation onto the latest, Astute Class Submarine vessels ready to keep the crews of our Royal Navy well fed with piping hot food.

“They say an army marches on its stomach, and we are proud to be a British manufacturing company playing our part in keeping the Royal Navy crew fed, happy and well nourished.” Says David Pedrette Managing Director at Target Catering Equipment.