British yards welcome new national shipbuilding strategy

David McGinley, group managing director of A&P Group David McGinley, group managing director of A&P Group

UK Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has unveiled an ambitious new National Shipbuilding Strategy which meets the challenge set by Sir John Parker last November and sets out plans for the first batch of Type 31e frigates.

Sir John Parker’s independent report into British naval shipbuilding proposed far-reaching recommendations to transform the UK maritime industry and boost the prosperity of regions, shipyards and maritime supply chains across the country.

The new Strategy, which was announced in early September, sees the Government accept Sir John’s recommendations and step up to what he called a prospective ‘renaissance’ in British shipbuilding. It outlines an ambition to transform the procurement of naval ships, make the UK’s maritime industry more competitive, grow the Royal Navy fleet by the 2030s, export British ships overseas, and boost innovation, skills, jobs, and productivity across the UK.

It announces the government’s plan to procure new Type 31e General Purpose Frigates. A price cap has been set of no more than £250M each for the first batch of five frigates. They could be built in a way which could see them shared between yards and assembled at a central hub as was HMS Queen Elizabeth, the UK's new aircraft carrier, which was recently delivered. The first ships are set to be in service by 2023. Shipyards will be encouraged to work with global partners to ensure the vessel is competitive on the export market.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said: “This new approach will lead to more cutting-edge ships for the growing Royal Navy that will be designed to maximise exports and be attractive to navies around the world.

“Backed up by a commitment to spend billions on new ships, our plan will help boost jobs, skills, and growth in shipyards and the supply chain across the UK.”

The Strategy sets out the government’s commitment to work with industry to reinvigorate and maximise export success. The Type 31e will be designed to meet the needs of the Royal Navy and with the export market in mind from the beginning. This could see industry’s customer become not only the Royal Navy but also the navies of Britain’s allies and partners.

Commenting on the announcement Cammell Laird CEO John Syvret CBE said: "Today's announcement is the most significant change to the UK military shipbuilding industry in decades. This is bold and ambitious and will provide the industry with a unique opportunity to pursue export opportunities and create a cost effective and self generating highly skilled industrial base. In adopting the shrewd recommendations of the Sir John Parker report the Government's new National Shipbuilding Strategy will revitalise the sector making the procurement process more competitive and streamlined, leading to significant efficiencies and economies of scale to the benefit of the UK taxpayer.

"Having an internationally competitive industrial base will create jobs and wealth for multiple communities around the country. Growing the UK navy, and working in partnership with our large blue chip technology industries can result in Britain once again being a proud and world leading shipbuilding nation. Here on Merseyside, Cammell Laird will be looking to continue its proud tradition of naval shipbuilding, deploying the innovation and cost benefits from our commercial work to support the Ministry of Defence. We believe we are well placed to play a leading role in building the first batch of Type 31 frigates for our Navy. Moreover, due to our 130 acre site, infrastructure, workforce and management teams, we have the ambition determination and capacity to deliver the export version our international allies."

David McGinley, group managing director of A&P Group has also commented on this fantastic news for British military shipbuilding: “A&P Group whole heartedly endorses Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon's National Shipbuilding Strategy and the Government's decision to buy five British built type 31e frigates to support the Royal Navy Fleet.

“The Shipbuilding Strategy reinforces Sir John Parker's 2016 review of the UK market place which recognised the capability, scale and engineering strength of UK commercial shipyards and the value they deliver to the Royal Navy.

“As the UK’s largest provider of ship repair, conversion and marine services, A&P Group operates world class engineering facilities and has demonstrated its extensive engineering expertise on the Astute Submarine Class and the prestigious HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales air craft carriers. The success of the Air Craft Carrier Alliance was a reflection of the commercial sector’s skills, resources, experience and value and we look forward to collaborating with the MoD on the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

“A&P Group supports the Government's commitment to procuring five frigates for the Royal Navy and its plans to export vessels to other navies. This will help to secure the UK's commercial shipbuilding sector and allow innovation, skills and training to flourish. It will also underpin shipbuilding in the UK.”

By Jake Frith

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