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U.K. unveils new National Shipbuilding Strategy

Written by Nick Blenkey
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HMS Queen Elizabeth, the U.K.'s new aircraft carrier, which was block built around the country

SEPTEMBER 6, 2017 — U.K. Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has unveiled a new National Shipbuilding Strategy that sets out plans for the first batch of Type 31e frigates.

The strategy is based on recommendations in an independent report by Sir John Parker into British naval shipbuilding and outlines an ambition to transform the procurement of naval ships, make the U.K.’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 U.K.

The government’s plan to procure new Type 31e General Purpose Frigates sets a price cap of no more than £250 million (about $326 million) each for the first batch of five frigates. In line with standing U.K. policy on warships they will be built in the U.K. They could be built in a way which could see them shared between shipyards and assembled at a central hub. 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.

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 for the navies of Britain’s allies and partners.

The MOD is committed to new ships for the Royal Navy through its rising budget and £178 billion (about $232 billion) equipment plan.

Sir John Parker said:

“I am very impressed by the courage that the Secretary of State has shown – and the Government – in adopting my recommendations, which were very extensive, and will change the shape of naval shipbuilding over the country in the future.

“The next challenge is to come up with a world-leading design; one that can satisfy the needs of the Royal Navy and the export market. We have the capability to do that, the will is there and it is a tremendous opportunity for UK shipbuilding. I see no reason why industry will not rise to that challenge. There is an incredible keenness from around the country, from Scotland to Merseyside, to the South West and over to Belfast.”

The option to build the Type 31e frigates in blocks reflects how the biggest ship ever built for the Royal Navy, the 65,000-tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth, was constructed. The aircraft carrier was built in blocks by over 10,000 people in six main British cities. She was then assembled in Rosyth, before commencing sea trials in June and arriving in her home port of Portsmouth last month.

Her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, built in the same way, is also now structurally complete and will be officially named in a ceremony September 8. This method has also been tried and tested on the UK’s new polar research ship, RRS Sir David Attenborough, with shipyards across the country collaborating in the block build.

Download the strategy HERE

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