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UK revamps shipbuilding strategy

UK revamps shipbuilding strategy

Large naval warships and frigates are set to be among over 160 vessels built under a bolstered shipbuilding plan.

Large naval warships and frigates are set to be among over 160 vessels built under a bolstered shipbuilding plan.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace have announced the launch of a revamped National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSbS), set to benefit from £4 billion ($7.1 billion) in government investment over the next three years.

The new plan, unveiled during a visit to Cammell Laird Shipyard in Merseyside, aims to ramp up shipbuilding in regional locations across the UK by supporting high-quality employment, technology development and increased investment.

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The NSbS was first published in 2017, outlining plans to transform naval procurement, securing export and design contracts for British naval ships to Australia and Canada.

The revamped £4 billion investment is expected to build on the original strategy, supporting shipyards and suppliers across the UK, and providing funding for crucial research and development into more environmentally-friendly vessels and infrastructure.

The strategy is tipped to deliver more than 150 new naval and civil vessels for the UK government and devolved administrations over the next 30 years.

This is expected to include large warships, such as Fleet Solid Support (FSS), Type 26 and Type 31 ships, and Border Force cutters, lighthouse vessels and the new National Flagship.

“As Shipbuilding Tsar, I am proud to be announcing our new strategy, this is an exciting time to be involved in the sector,” Defence Secretary and Shipbuilding Lead Ben Wallace said.

“With significant government investment, we will be levelling-up across our shipbuilding, workforce, from shipyard to supplier, from procurement to designer, creating tens of thousands of new employment opportunities, boosting living standards and pay.

“Our refreshed strategy will see the sector galvanised at a crucial time for our economy and see a vital part of British industry expand and flourish.”

Under the revamped NSbS, the government will also offer incentives like the Home Shipbuilding Credit Guarantee Scheme (HSCGS), aimed at providing UK shipyards with access to finance for underwriting domestic contracts.

The Department for Transport is also set to invest £206 million ($366.4 million) in the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions (UK-SHORE) to fund R&D into zero emission vessels and infrastructure.

“This country has a long and proud maritime history, which has allowed us to become the global outward facing country that we are,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.

“UK SHORE is the biggest, greenest maritime R&D investment this country has seen in generations and will further cement this country’s position as world-leaders in ship building and clean maritime technology.”

Additionally, a UK Shipbuilding Skills Taskforce would be established, led by the Department for Education.

The taskforce is expected to work with industry and training providers — including the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern — to identify and address skills gaps.

“We are committed to delivering the skilled workforce this country needs and our taskforce will bring together experts to develop a new strategy to boost the shipbuilding industry,” Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said.

“The work we are doing will support more people to build exciting, well-paid careers and level up opportunities across the UK.”

Moreover, a new Maritime Capability Campaign Office (MCCO) within the Department for International Trade is set to co-ordinate export support across government and industry.

“As an island nation with a proud maritime heritage, shipbuilding is a vital part of the UK’s industrial identity, supporting over 40,000 high-quality jobs across the country,” International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan added.

“As part of the refreshed National Shipbuilding Strategy, our new Maritime Capability Campaign Office will champion export and investments in this sector, unlocking opportunities for our fantastic shipbuilding industry to export their innovative technologies, services and designs around the world.”

[Related: New base announced for future nuclear-powered submarines]

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