Birkenhead shipyard Cammell Laird has helped launch plans for a new £150m disaster relief ship at London International Shipping Week this week.
Britannia Maritime Aid (BMA), the registered charity leading the project, wants the vessel to be built at Cammell Laird and equipped with innovative British technology.
The ship would be permanently based in the Caribbean, tasked with supporting disaster relief efforts and providing specialist training.
Tony Graham, Cammell Laird Chief Operating Officer, said the vessel’s design is a variant of Cammell Laird’s Ro-Pax platform, developed in conjunction with ship designers Leadship and first unveiled at the Nor Shipping trade fair in Oslo this summer.
Rather than being a one-off specialised vessel with limited applications, the first-of-its-kind disaster relief and training ship will have strong, versatile commercial Ro-Pax capability.
Mr Graham said in a news release:
“Cammell Laird is proud to be supporting Britannia Maritime Aid in developing a design & build offer for a UK Aid and Training Ship.
Working closely with the Leadship design house our commercial approach gave Britannia Maritime Aid confidence in their requirement trade-offs, procurement cost estimate and support cost estimate. This technical and cost due diligence underpins the Britannia Maritime Aid business case. Our commercial design ensures great value for money and protects the vessel’s resale value as a cutting-edge Ro-Pax. We have also managed to incorporate and consider advanced technology concepts such as autonomous vehicles to maximise its operational capability and its future relevance.
A British-built ship encourages the British public to feel a sense of ownership of a Britannia Maritime Aid vessel working on their behalf and sailing under the Blue Ensign.”
BMA’s vessel – to be operated by a British company – will include a training centre, landing craft, helicopters, drones, rough terrain vehicles, onboard medical facilities, briefing rooms, conference facilities, workshops and full mission bridge and engine simulators for trainees.
The ship will be able to carry up to 6,000 tonnes of vehicles and aid supplies – more than ten times the capacity of current vessels – including field hospitals, field kitchens, tents, fresh water and fuel for devastated areas.
It will also boost Britain’s disaster relief capabilities and ease the strain of aid operations on the Royal Navy while creating jobs in British shipbuilding and the Merchant Navy.
BMA says the ship’s regular crew will be supplemented by maritime trainees, cadets and apprentices who would gain ship handling, navigation, engineering, boat work and pilotage experience.