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Portsmouth England UK.Royal Navy Dockyard with aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth alongside the Princess Royal jetty. August 2017.

Royal Navy commissions to boost UK shipbuilding industry

Image credit: Peter Titmuss/Dreamstime

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has pledged to boost the UK shipbuilding industry with an initiative to bring support craft for Royal Navy aircraft carriers into service.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said plans to build three fleet support warships, set to launch in the spring of next year, will see a “significant proportion of the build and assembly work to be carried out in the UK”.

“International companies will be invited to work in collaboration with UK firms to feed in their skills and expertise, but the successful manufacturing team must be led by a British company,” said an MoD spokesperson. “This will have a huge impact on the local economies across the UK where shipbuilding is a prominent feature.”

“Shipbuilding has historically been a British success story, and I am determined to revitalise this amazing industry as part of this government’s commitment to build back better,” Wallace said. He will also use a speech today (21 October) at the Atlantic Future Forum to pledge the UK’s commitment to shipbuilding. 

The shipbuilding programme will “develop the skills and expertise for the shipyards of tomorrow”, he added. Furthermore, the “fleet solid support” ship initiative is expected to support hundreds of skilled jobs.

“The fleet solid support warships competition will be designed to challenge the shipbuilding industry. The goal will be to build ships fit for the future while boosting homegrown skills and leading to a highly competitive shipbuilding industry,” an MoD spokesperson said. 

They also said the warships will incorporate next-generation technology with a purpose-built design and will eventually support HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales as part of the carrier strike group, which will undertake its first operational deployment next year.

The initiative is also expected to support a range of jobs, especially in Scotland. “The fleet solid support ship competition will build on the success of the Type 31 programme, which will be built primarily in Scotland and is expected to support 1,250 highly skilled jobs and 150 apprenticeships across the country,” a spokesperson explained.

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